Monday, 30 March 2009

We are Legend...


I was reading Joyce, of Hot Flashbacks Cool Insights, this morning. She has a very funny new post about Blog statistics and Googling her name. It reminded me of my own experience.

About four years ago I received an email from someone who like my poem, except their description was of a poem I'd never written! Puzzled and curious I did a Google search for the poem and discovered another poet, on the other side of the world, with the same name as me. This Michelle had an email, so I forwarded her fan email on to her. It led to us exchanging life stories. We even posted postcards to each other - for the sheer fun of writing "To Michelle Frost" - "From Michelle Frost" on the back. :-D

Back then we Googled our name and discovered there were loads of us out there. We both rather liked the fact there were so many of us. It's a bit like an instant sisterhood. We even joked about sending out invites one day and having a grand gathering ... where everyone would be wearing the same name tag! We discovered that we (Michelle Frosts)... owned an art gallery, played professional golf, worked as a doctor and did interior decorating.

Today I went back for another quick Google search and found a whole bunch more of, equally quirky and interesting, us. And I do mean a "whole bunch" - there are about 200 Michelle Frosts on Facebook alone! The down side is realising we really are not at all unique, name wise. The plus side has been discovering that we are, all of us, very interesting people...

I see nowadays we are doing amazing pottery in Canada, quilts in Australia, craft work in England, researching osteoporosis in the UK and practising law in North America. We do sport and games as well as Arts and crafts. We teach, we act, and we are writing books, blogs, poems and articles all over the place. We've even gained a Guinness World Record for completing a marathon on stilts!

Michelle Frost the stilt walker is attempting the London Marathon this year, on April 26. She needs sponsors (she's raising money for the UK charity REACH) and you can add a donation by clicking the link here to help support my own namesakes. ;-)

On that note I've set myself a challenge of sorts. I'm contacting a few of us out there and I'm going to see if any reply. If they do, and are willing, I'll add their replies (and web links) to future posts. :-)

Thursday, 26 March 2009

He's back :-)

Last year I wrote several updates on the adventures of the wild rabbit who took over our garden. We first discovered him, as a tiny baby bun, sleeping in my herbs (Potted Rabbit) ...

Over last summer he ended up prefering to snooze under our barbecue (Barbecue Bun) as a "teen"...
Well, he disappeared last autumn and I figured that was it, but this weekend I look out the window and... there he was!

I had to take this photo at a distance, so he's a bit blurry. He's also a LOT bigger.

Welcome home Bun Boy. :-)

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Song for Mother's Day weekend

My mom's favourite - Windmill In Old Amsterdam.



Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Russell Crow... the One that got away

A month before my soon-to-be husband came out to Africa to marry me someone new came into my life. It truly was a whirlwind romance and completely unexpected. I've often told my husband how lucky he is, because when Russell Crow made his proposal... I was tempted! Sometimes I pull out the photos and think how different my life would be now, if I'd just accepted that twig...

We went to bed as normal, but woke up to find this stranger in our back yard. We had no idea how he got there, but it was clear, from the first moment, that we were in the presence of someone of importance. We had chickens when I was a kid and I knew enough to know he was a bantam. He was also sporting some very stylish speckled and striped feathers. The moment he saw us watching he lifted his head and crowed his tiny lungs out, proclaiming how important he knew himself to be... and that's how he got the name Russell Crow.

Bantams are a unique group of fowl folk, naturally tiny and spunky, but this one was more than that - he had style. The first thing Russell did, after crowing his status, was walk past us and into our house. Yes, we did try to shoo him outside, but he made it very clear (with screaming, flapping, feather-dropping hysteria) that he was NEVER going outside again. We figured he must be a scared lost pet, so we left him pottering around the lounge and started a door-to-door search for his owners.

For three days we tried to find out who Russell belonged to without any luck. During that time he took over entirely. He'd spend the day trying to eat the pattern off the carpet, or clucking gently over some interesting crumb in the kitchen and each night he'd fly up to his favourite roosting spot, on the shelf of an antique piece of furniture of course!
Every night we'd cover him with an old towel, or he'd be crowing his head off at 4:00 am when the sun rose.

Russell decided that the only human worthy of his attention was - me. I'm not sure exactly why I was "the one", but I suspect it was my caftan. In the mornings I wore a caftan, instead of a dressing gown. It was covered in big splotches of bright colours and Russell was mesmerised by it. He'd follow me around, head to one side, cooing gently, his eyes never leaving my colourful caftan. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by "feathers" even brighter than his own. Whatever the case, Russell was in love.

He started showing his affection by becoming protective; anyone coming near me would get firmly kicked. Since Russel was barely calf high this wasn't exactly terrifying and the resulting laughter would really fluff his feathers in outrage. He knew there was only one other way to impress me and make me his... he started bringing me nesting material. That meant overcoming his fear and going out into the garden, where he'd bring me twigs, with gentle crooning serenades and formal head bobbing. Russell knew how to treat a lady!

The day we finally found his real owners was a sad day, I must admit I'd rather fallen for Russell's crooning charm. His owners told us that they had owned two bantams - Russell and another young male. On the night he came to us a stray dog had leaped the fence and killed the other bantam. Russell had escaped by flying over the fence, but in his panic he'd fled several streets, which is why it took us so long to find his owners. The good news from this sad story was that the owners decided to purchase two new bantam hens to be Russell's new companions. He lost a giant gaudy girlfriend and gained two new wives... I'm sure he was happy with that. ;-)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Crow Clan Photos

I forgot! I managed to take some photos last week of the Crow family. This first one shows all three - Mrs Crow and Kid Crow together, dad a bit higher up, keeping lookout.

The whole family together in the fields - you can just see Mrs Crow's grey waistcoat (crow on the far left).


Fabulous Feedback

... I've finally reached the stage where readers are coming back with comments and the feedback so far have been just amazing. Not only do people like it, they get it. They get the characters and the unspoken things I wove between the words. To have your readers "get" what you were aiming to say is just... mind blowing!

This was the part I was both longing for and dreading. This is where all the questions in your head are finally answered. Questions like: "Are the characters believable?", "Did I give too much away and spoil the mysteries?" or "Was I too subtle and the mysteries weren't understood?"

I know there will be people who won't like it, That's natural, people have different tastes. At this stage I'm simply happy that not only those who like Science Fiction/Fantasy like my book, but even people who aren't that keen on the genre are returning with positive feedback. I'm going to post a few portions of replies here, to blatantly wallow in my own smugness. :-)

"You actually got me thinking about some other story than Twilight...and that hasn't happened since before Christmas.

well done believable bad guys...all beautifully acceptable within their cultural norms... wonderful.

I love your characters...they are travelling with me during my day, tickling my mind with their mysteries..."
~ P W ~
... "Errors pick up this book, and see the people, and you just get engrossed and want to learn how their stories unfold and what happens to them. You just don't want to put it down till you Know How They Are.

...i was going to finish, or read more today, but i couldn't wait, so i started reading again and finished this Wonderful Book at 4 this morning. I do NOT stay up till 4 am any more, till yesterday/uh, this morning. I LOVED THIS BOOK!!"
~ L J ~
"I loved your book!!! You did a wonderful job of plot development, character development, etc. The ending was very moving and I had tears in my eyes when I finished. In my mind the mark of a very good book is when you feel satisfied with the ending but sad when it ends cuz the story is so good you want it to go on and on ... and that is how I feel about this one - can NOT wait until the next story comes out ... are you working on it yet ???"
~ D M ~
..."I was thinking that I should drop you a line to say:-

a) I’m *seriously* impressed
b) I’m reading it again – first time I’ve re-read a book immediately after reading it in ages
c) I’m telling everyone I know that real talent comes from Zimbabwe!"
~ M B ~
"The book was excellent.
In the fantasy genre, but not limited to fantasy ... a whole world, with its own history and mythology, compelling characters, whose stories she has interwoven to create a delightful journey for the reader through a moment in time when all the characters' stories come together... and how that all turns out, requires you to read the book."


Thursday, 12 March 2009

Feathered Friendship

Yesterday our crow family did something really strange and rather interesting. They also "talked" again and this time I was able to get a closer look at my conversation partner - it's definitely Mr crow. For those who haven't been following - our area of farmland and wilderness is claimed by a crow mixed couple. Mr crow is a sleek glossy carrion crow and his wife is a hooded crow, wearing a very smart charcoal waistcoat. :-)

I've been feeding them left overs and scraps for almost a year now and they've slowly become more tame. It's been slow because these are farm crows and used to being chased away. Last year they had one chick and their "teenager" still lives with them - kid crow. ;-) They're a very close family, sharing together, chatting to each other. Kid crow sometimes wanders off alone, but then Mom goes after the kid, yelling and scolding. She's still not happy letting her chick wander off, even though kid crow is adult sized and over eight months old at this stage.

Every time I feed them I make the same noise, to bring them over. I "click" like a rider does to a horse. Recently I heard one of the crows reply with a "CLACK CLACK" sound when I clicked. Since then they've been quiet again, but yesterday it happened again. I went out to throw them some stale bread and they flew closer. Close enough that I can now report it is Mr Crow that CLACKS. He has a very fine deep voice. He sounds exactly like someone hitting a post with a hammer.

Both the crows and I had to wait as there were dozens of gulls flying over. These gull are bigger than the crows and more aggressive so I try to wait till they're not around before throwing out food or I throw some over the wall for the crows and then scatter more in the yard for the gulls. It doesn't always work, but at least it gives the crows more of a chance to dash in and grab bread. Yesterday the gulls were simply too many and too hostile. I tried yelling and waving my arms at them (must have looked demented, come to think of it), but they wouldn't let the crows near. Eventually both the crows and I gave up and let the gulls have the bread.

Later, I was upstairs pottering on the computer when I heard loud gull cries. I thought they might be on the roof and went over to the window (upstairs is in the loft/roof space and the windows open onto the roof). The gulls were flying over the house and I watched them, thinking anti-gull thoughts because they are so noisy and anti-social. I was thinking "I wish I was a HUGE crow, then I'd fly out there and chase you all off!" when a shadow caught my attention. Mr and Mrs crow had come over and were flying slow and low between me and the gulls!

It was so strange and rather nice. Were they simply protecting their food source from the gulls or am I now an honorary crow family member? Kind of... Aunty crow? Whatever the case, it felt very nice to have them come over and support me in feathered friendship. :-)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

To all Bloggers

I'm re doing my Blog layout and have created a new list for Bloggers that create and sell wonderful things. I'll be moving some, like Rima and Vita, from "Blogs I Love" to "Blogs that Sell Wonders".

If anyone else wants their creations or craft blog listed, please let me know.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Beauty Full

... An internet friend I knew years ago, who has Native American blood, used to sign his emails Walk in Beauty. I got so used to seeing it that I never thought about it, except it sounded pretty… walking in beauty. I posted a Navajo prayer on my blog a long time back which deals with walking in beauty. There are many different variations of these prayers online I’ve become even more fond of another version in recent times. (I’ve posted that one here below this) What I didn’t know, until very recently, was the history and meaning beyond the Navajo use of the word beauty.

What is beauty? To many people it means something appealing to look at, something pretty or attractive. To others it means something breathtaking and emotionally stirring. I’ve always belonged in the latter camp. I remember commenting when I was much younger about death being beautiful and receiving a few odd looks. I suppose I did sound rather bizarre and morbid, but I had no words then to express what I actually meant – that an eagle diving to grab its prey is terrible beauty, just as there was the day my grandfather kissed my hand and we said goodbye without saying a word. He died the next day, as I knew he would. It was the first time I knew a death before it happened. I ran from it and from him, unable to cope with that burden of knowing, but still so aware of the beauty that had passed between us in that second I’d looked into his eyes and known he was saying goodbye.

Maybe it came from my time in a convent school, with all that emphasis on suffering. Perhaps it’s also because my mom always told me, when I was little, that what a person was inside was more important than what they looked like. Whatever the case I’ve always thought there is an incredible beauty in the spirit of people conquering life’s hardship with courage and grace.

I don’t care what you look like, show me your soul and then I’ll be impressed by your beauty!

But what does beauty mean to the Navajo? What does it really mean to Walk in Beauty?

I went wandering internet pathways this week and discovered that there is no direct translation for the original Navajo word that is used to describe the Navajo ceremony of the Beauty Way. The closest English has is “beauty”, but it is a simple word for a vast concept. To the Navajo, as far as I’ve found, beauty is balance and harmony in every sense. It is the balance of healthy body and a peaceful mind. It is the harmony of wo/man living at one with Nature and everything you can think of related to a perfectly balanced body-mind-spirit. There are websites online discussing how the prayers to walk in beauty were used to help returning soldiers come to terms with the horror of war and learn to be balanced in normal life once again. These prayers are also directly linked to health and healing.

To walk in beauty… nothing to do with what you look like, but everything to do with who you are – integrity and honesty at the very soul level; keeping your self balanced and in balance with the world around you. To be beauty full (as my friend Penny puts it) rather than beautiful. It’s quite a daunting path to walk, but what’s the point of life without some challenges?

I think I might give this one a try…

...want to walk with me? :-)


Navajo Prayer


In beauty may I walk

All day long may I walk

Through the returning seasons may I walk

Beautifully I will possess again

Beautifully birds

Beautifully joyful birds

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk

With dew about my feet may I walk

With beauty may I walk

With beauty before me may I walk

With beauty behind me may I walk

With beauty above me may I walk

With beauty all around me may I walk

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk

It is finished in beauty

It is finished in beauty


Thursday, 5 March 2009

Return to the Centre


Last weekend I hauled out our old photos from my school days. It was a strange feeling looking back thirty years into those forgotten faces. What surprised me was realising how much of who I was, and how I saw things, was influenced by where I was standing when I viewed them.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain that in a way that makes sense. The only thing that comes to mind is a wheel or a merry-go-round. They both have a central axis that they spin from, without that there is no movement. People are the same. We each have a core centre that keeps us turning through our lifetime. What we see in the mirror, and of each other, is merely the outer rim of the wheel, the edge of the merry-go-round. This is that part of who we are that is exposed to the world - our ever-changing socialising and work self. The centre never changes. It is our core personality, our purest form of our self, mind and spirit. You can change the outer rim “you” a thousand times in a lifetime, but the centre always stays the same.

Looking back at my old school photos I can now see what I couldn’t see then – the centre of my own wheel, the core of my self. It was a strange feeling and for some reason it made me cry. I think it was because back then I never realised I had a centre core. So, on Sunday, I sat and had a good howl in my bedroom... which I couldn’t explain to anyone since it didn’t even make sense to me at the time. I cried for the girl in the photo who was about to dash out the school gates right into (what she would think) a brick wall. I cried for her, because back then she thought she was the rim instead of the centre.

I spent quite a few years after school thinking I was spinning out of control without realising there was always that centre me I could have returned to. Have you ever done that on a playground merry-go-round - returned to the centre? At the edge everything moves really fast and the world becomes a blur. It can feel scary and out of control, but if you walk back to the centre everything slows down and you can even see which way you’re turning.

This weekend I went back out to the edge with that schoolgirl version of myself and remembered what it felt like to be me before I started spinning too fast. I realised that the core of who I am now was who I was then. My hopes, my ethics, my sense of spirituality… they’ve all stayed the same. Even through times when I spun too fast, or felt like I wasn’t moving at all, that me was always there. Who I am, who I was, are both who I will be. It’s a good feeling realising that my core is strong, even if I didn’t always realise it. If I could travel in time I’d go back to the girl in the photos and say “When things speed up too fast, return to the centre,” but then I realised… I just did.