Window – One Year Apart:WPC

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28/9/16 – Dawn on the Hebridean island of Barra, after a night of heavy rain.

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28/9/17 – 8am. The window in the room where I blog … no rain for months.

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Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law. Please request permission to copy photos.

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This Time Last Year: Hokey Cokey

This time last year I was standing in my good friend’s kitchen, wondering about the Hokey Cokey.

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This singing game was often the highlight of dances when I was a kid. It was the time we could join with the adults and go silly in a big circle – doing all the actions and singing loudly.

The best part, though, was always the last verse when we all charged back and forth into the centre, arms waving down and up and laughing. It begins –

You put your whole self in,

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You put your whole self out.

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You put your whole self in

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 And you shake it all about.

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You do the the Hokey Cokey

 

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And you turn around.

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That’s what its all about – See!

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Then there’s the loud chorus of –

Oh! Hokey Cokey Cokey! Oh! Hokey Cokey Cokey! Oh! Hokey Cokey Cokey! That’s what its all about!

I’ll leave you to fill in your own images. Photos I’ve included here are

No. 2. Dun Telve, 2.000 year old Broch near Glenelg. 3. Barra Beach in the rain. 4. (Someone else’s) Lunch before flying out of Barra Airport. 5. Kippers & smoked fish in Morrison’s supermarket. 6. 15th C. painted ceiling in Morrison’s house, part of John Knox’s House, Edinburgh. 7. Staircase in Duart Castle, Mull: Seat of the Clan McLean. 7. Helix Park, Falkirk.

Click this link for more on this singing game

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This blog of images and text – Story Twigs the Imagination! – is Copyright © under Australian Law. Please request permission to copy any photos.

 

 

 

Rocamadour: Ritual Wanderlust

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have stopped in this gorge on their way through France to the Santiago Di Compostela. There’s a shrine to a Madonna here.

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When we’ve come this far, we may as well keep going along the only street.

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Buildings cling to the canyon walls, while a castle crowns the crest.

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How do we get up there? Where are we?

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Climb more stairs at the castle, past the clock tower which begins to toll the hour. Shakily, step out onto the ramparts to get a better view: a sense of where we are in the world.

DSCF0593Looking down, there’s the Sanctuary with its basilica and chapels. Put one foot in front of the other. Go in and light a candle. Sit. Go back in time. Read the words on a mural ” Aimer, Evangeliser, Servir.” (To love, to proclaim, to serve.) Sit still in the space.

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Later, we followed the sheltered path, down past the 14 Stations of the Cross, where millions have walked before.  We talked of history and how fortunate we are to live now.

….

I’ve taken a while putting this post together. ‘Wanderlust’ doesn’t seem the right word to me. I’m more of a WanderLuck person.  Now, especially with my camera, I notice good fortune more that ever.

When I was travelling in 88, setting out as a storyteller for the first time, I was given a copy of an Armenian story by New York storyteller Diane Wolkstein. She wanted me  to write it out again in my own way. It felt like a test. I did a fearfully poor job of it then. Years later I realised what a significant tale it is.

….

Here’s a shortened version of what I read then in Virginia Tashjian’s collection “One There Was And Was Not.” Like most stories, it’s so much better told, face to face –

One there was and was not, a man who walked off in a temper one morning to find God. He was a poor farmer who’d struggled all his life. He wanted to tell God, once and for all how unfair his life had been.

On the way he met a ravenous, skinny wolf who wanted him to ask God why he was always so hungry, then a beautiful, rich woman, who was so lonely and next, a huge tree by a riverbank withered and thirsty. Each listened to his complaints, without judgement, and requested that he ask a similar question of God on their behalf. The man agreed and went on his way.

He met God sitting on a rock in the middle of nowhere. The man asked for answers for those three he’d met on the way. When God heard his complaint, he agreed with the fellow and gave him the gift of luck.

On the journey back, the man reiterated the solution to each character as he had been told … but was in too much of a hurry to dig up the treasure choking the tree roots and rejected the rich woman’s proposal. He had to get back home for he had been given the gift of luck.

And the wolf’s god-given solution ? ” Soon he would meet a very foolish man and once he had devoured him, only then would his hunger be truly satisfied!”

(I’ll leave you to imagine the ending.)

Thanks for your time.

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Wanderlust

References

Rocamadour

Shrine

Stone Surprised: Weekly Photo Challenge

Surprise? Wonder? The unexpected? Stones surprise me. I can’t help being attracted to stones – as a three year old I happily spent summer hours digging holes in our back garden for them.

I don’t hoard stones – only have a couple at home that still ‘speak’ to me. Funny that.

Last year I had to photograph this beauty before I parted with it … gave it away as a Thank You note. The recipients were very gracious and said they’d put it in their garden.

It was the best one I’d found while I was walking along the shore at Glenelg, on Scotland’s west coast. I crunched along the rocky beach, looking over to Skye, listening to the soft swish of the water and the occasional sheep bleat from the hills. There wasn’t a soul around and then I looked down.DSCF4798

Look at all the stories in these stones. How did they get those marks? Where have they come from? How long ago? Is that a man’s face? What happened to him?  I spent another happy hour searching.

When the sun went in, I stumbled away with the stones I couldn’t leave behind in my pocket. DSCF4796

Stories are like that.

When I think of a story about surprises and stones, I recall a favourite Tibetan folktale, an initiation story, called The Boy, His Sisters, and The Magic Horse from Gioia Timpanelli’s collection. (I’ve mentioned this story before in an earlier post.)

An old hunter’s young son refused to kill any animal. Next morning the boy’s surprised when his father leads him to a freshly dug hole and tells him to get in. Although he’s very afraid, the son does as he’s told and his father slides a big stone over the top. His father then scrapes on it “Open or not as you please” and walks away.

After some hours, while the boy sits motionless, but for the tears down his cheeks, three monks come walking past. They see the sign on the stone which makes them curious and they stop. If anything, most stones would usually have ‘Om mani padme hum‘ written on them. The lamas debate what to do, agree to open it up and are surprised to see a boy looking up at them. They help him out and the boy’s adventures begin …

Surprise is an essential elements in any story…as well as in everyday life…just have to stay involved and pay attention…never know what might happen next…when you least expect it…all part of coming to terms with the certainty of uncertainty.

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Reference sources

Om mani padme hum. Wikipedia. Accessed 13 April 2017. (See photo of stone with this  inscription)

TIMPANELLI, Gioia. The Boy, His Sisters and the Magic Horse in Tales from the Roof of the World: Folktales of Tibet. New York, Viking, 1984. pp 3- 13. (NB. Tale is also known as ‘The Young Man Who Refused to Kill.)

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

WOMAD NZ: The days were just packed! WPC

The World Of Music and Dance is held in March each year. Peter Gabrielle started this kind of festival in Britain 35 years ago. The friendliness of the local people, this venue in New Zealand as well as the line-up,  have made it a repeated success since 2003. It attracts big crowds.

Here’s the main stage “The Bowl” in Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.

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And just a few of the 20+ performances I attended –  Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up Against the Odds

It’s always interesting to spot another person taking photographs. My curiosity gets the better of me. What are they looking at?

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Yes. I was there to see the wooden lighthouse at Katiki Point, still standing on the edge of the wild Southern Ocean since 1878. But I had to keep an eye on that photographer.

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Couldn’t catch the birds flying past + the waves breaking!

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My Zoom wasn’t as big as his.

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What are the odds he’d get this close to a big seal? Just look at the expression on its face. What is it thinking? Get back. You’re too close? Oh my goodness, not another nosey beak!

I’m reminded of something that happened on an earlier trip to New Zealand over twenty years ago –

My friend and I expectantly trotted down the track, through low scrub towards the beach on the edge of nowhere. We couldn’t see the sea but we could hear it. It was a beautiful, clear day and the sign had said that the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins could be sighted at this time of the afternoon.

On this driving holiday of New Zealand’s South Island, we were free as birds to stop, explore and move on when we felt like it. We were having a good time. We didn’t need binoculars. This landscape was large.

The Hide which ended our trek was small and dark, but with a step up and a viewing gap where we might scan over the low trees to the beach below. I swung myself up and in, surprised to find another person already inside.

Arms folded, she was leaning against the wall with a cigarette in her right hand. We said hello. She raised her eyebrows in a nod, and exhaled. I stepped up to the wide view. She sat down on the plank, along the back wall. When asked about any sightings, she replied that no, she hadn’t seen any. We waited. She lit another cigarette.

We waited. I was happy just to watch the sea move. Time passed. She suddenly stepped up beside us and looking out said, “They’re late!” I was speechless.

“The sign said they get here at 3.30pm every afternoon, and it’s past that now.”

My ‘compadre with total recall’ sprouted some of what we’d read on the sign – the hundreds of kms adults swam every day to bring back food for their young, how small the colony was, the size of the birds, how much fish they caught …

She sat down again. We waited in silence: motionless; just smoking.

“I’m not waiting any longer,” she suddenly muttered, as she screwed the butt into the ground with her boot. Relieved to see her go, I said, “Hooray!” ( No …truly, it’s an Aussie way to say “Cheerio!”) and settled back into the chin-on-hands position and stared down at the surf crashing onto the shore.

No ‘parcel of penguins’ landed on that golden crest. But we did, finally, spot one dark shape flounder thru the foam – only to be hurled unceremoniously onto the beach. This solitary Yellow-Eyed Penguin, picked itself up and, after staggering a little like a drunk waiter, made its way up the steep sand, head down. It was awesome to watch each determined, tiny step. The bird was gone in about ten seconds. We stayed on for a while longer but saw no more penguins.

……

Today, these “rarest of penguins in the world” are more endangered than ever. The latest challenge has been outbreaks of avain diphtheria … amongst other things. For more info see the highlighted link.

Nature really is up against the odds. We humans are the oddest creatures.

Now, having written this down, I wonder what that woman was really looking for.

—-

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

How Mary Medlicott “twigs” on her Storyworks Blog

Here’s a great example of how Story “twigs” your imagination.

Mary is a longtime storyteller and author of several  compilations of stories and more. I have been following her blog for over a year now … and I learn so much.

Reblogged here with permission. Thanks, Mary

Thursday night, we went to see King Lear in the Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Barbican. It was hard and long and brilliant and Anthony Sher was a completely believable and utterly moving Lear. As his three daughters responded to his request to tell him how much they loved him, it was immediately clear…

via Storytelling Starters ~ Dear as Salt — Mary Medlicott’s Storyworks Blog

Edinburgh Revisited: To see ourselves as others see us

I visited Edinburgh with friends recently and have revised my knowledge of part of its history. The Old Town looked the same…

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As ‘unofficial tour guide,’ in the Thistle Chapel of St Giles Cathedral, I pointed out the defiant, Latin motto of the chivalrous Order of the Thistle which means,  Who dares meddle with me! (Such fighting talk! I had to put such defiance into a historical and military context – See Sources at the end of this post)

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I regularly had to explain signs or spoken expressions or customs that I have long taken for granted. Not only the Scots accent, but words themselves baffled my American friend. However, songs often work where speech fails, so I sang a favourite Burn’s song ‘John Anderson, My Jo’ and explained what it meant.

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Brought up surrounded by Lowland Scots vernacular, at school I had to be careful not to use it. The Scottish Education Board insisted that children like me, from a working-class family, had to  be taught to speak, read and write ‘Proper’ English. It wasn’t till high school that I was given my Lowland Scots dialect in print, to study.

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796) was one of the significant literary figures of 18th & 19th century Scotland. He wrote literary forms, crossing his local dialect with English – a ploughman with more education than most and a way with words. He reinvigorated our Scots’ national identity at the time and continues to do so. A contemporary of Voltaire, Goldsmith and Goethe, he wrote poems and songs which became, and are still, a expressive part of Scottish culture.

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Here’s my friend Naomi striking the pose in The National Portrait Gallery. (She too has a prodigious memory for songs from her childhood.) The success of Burns’ first compilation, Poems, Chiefly in the Scots Dialect, made him the darling of Edinburgh society in 1786. He lived here for two years before returning to his native Ayrshire.

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Before he died in 1796 aged 37, Burns had written hundreds of songs and set many to old tunes. These made him even more feted across Scotland and internationally. He was the ‘Pete Seeger’ of his day and thought, for example, ‘There is a certain something in the old Scots songs, a wild happiness of thought and expression.’ (Letter to Mrs Dunlop of Dunlop 1790)

Many of the poet’s ‘pithy’ phrases had that certain something, are still used like proverbs. I’ve heard conversations closed with a summary quote from Burns like “Aye – the best laid plans o’ mice and men …!” Auld Lang Syne is sung the world o’er.  Many think of Burns still, as ‘Everyman’: a typical Scot, working-class, humanist, lover of Nature and Freedom: a champion of common sense, astute and yet romantic: always imagining a better world.

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One of the bard’s gentle rejoinders comes from the poem To a Louse“Oh would some power, the gift to give us, to see ourselves as others see us.” (i.e. The first line of the last verse in English … for the complete poem in Lowland Scots, click here)

As a saying, it pulls me back to reality. It’s a hard phrase to beat – as is my fellow traveller’s blog post about her Edinburgh experience.  Please click “A Guid Crack” to read Naomi’s impressions of a first visit to Scotland’s capital city.

Blogs really are a good way to express different points of view and entertain readers at the same time. They are a gift that can help us see ourselves as others see us.

Thanks, Naomi. Here’s to Wild happiness and more singing!

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All text (except links) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Sources : For more info, click these links

The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle ( Wikiwand)

Mull, Brett, “Construction of Culture: Robert Burns’ Contributions to Scottish National Identity” (2012). Undergraduate Honors Theses. Paper 271. University of Colorado.

Nemo me impune lacessit ( Wikiwand)

Robert Burns“. Poetry Foundation. Chicago, 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

Scots Language (Wikiwand)

Todd J. Wilkinson, Robert Burns and Freemasonry. Alexandra Burns Club, 14 November 2016. Web

Allan Woods, Robert Burns – Man, Poet and Revolutionary . 22 January 2009. Socialist Appeal International Marxist Tendency 14 November 2016 Web.

Snippet 4: Highland Hens

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Driving off on a single track road one morning –  to see where it ends. Trees ‘marry’ when they meet over the road. It’s a lovely day for it.

We heard from locals in Glenelg that the views across to Skye are great from there. And there was a tea-house where we could stop before the return journey.

There was only a straggle of cottages along the bay. Some older that the rest. But where was the Tea shop? A local directed us to the last house.

The Tea Hut at the end of Corran village

The Tea Hut at the end of Corran village

It was cool in the shade so the wood stove was lit inside. It was snugly filled with armchairs and one big table. After cakes and an enormous pot of tea, I wandered past ruins, towards the loch.

Old houses - rock walls, some corrugated iron roofs - the last in the village

Old houses – rock walls, some corrugated iron roofs – the last in the village.

… and met the happiest of hens.

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Happy highland hens

They had a play-mate who bounded up and pranced among them.

Hens' playmate with Skye ahead

Hens’ playmate with Skye ahead.

She was a bit bemused when I told her she’s put them off the lay.

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Corran-end of the road Glen Arnisdale

The end of the road in Glen Arnisdale. Time to turn around wistfully … and drive back to Glenelg in time for a great lunch in the garden.

Another perfect Autumn day.

White Samite, Mystical, Wonderful

 

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This abstract image reminds me of a scene in the Grail legend, when the vessel, covered in white samite, is reverently carried aloft through the Great Hall.

The words, ‘Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,’ come from Tennyson’s poem Morte d’ Arthur , and was a line I heard but couldn’t see: something not of my time and wasted on me in high school English class.

Many years later, on a raw, winter’s day in Cornwall,  I stood at the edge of Dozmary pool, listening to Canadian Ed Kylie telling the story of King Arthur’s death based on Tennyson’s poem. This was the  place where Excalibur was said to have been returned to the Lady of the Lake. In my minds’s eye, I did see the glittering sword flung, turning, end over end through the air. The arm I imagined coming up was pudgy and chilled pink.  All I could see of the ‘samite’ was a draped, white, sodden bedsheet. I couldn’t see more of the story for the cold.

Wikiwand can give me interesting facts about samite. It was the most important silk weave of Byzantium, reserved for kings and church leaders. But, clothing is such a personal, fragile artefact. I like to feel fabrics. Mostly, it’s the colour and patterns, the warp and weft that draws me in. I have only poured over many fascinating remnants under glass in museums – from christening gowns, to shawls and mummies.

Visualising the colour and texture of fabrics and matching these to the clothing characters wear helps make them, and the story, more visual, more believable, more memorable.

The ‘fabric’ in this image might not only be white Samite, but also

  • a cloak for the wicked lead in Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen.’
  • the stone horse’s hide in the Asian folk tale about a magic brocade, when the horse is magically brought to life.
  • Sleeping Beauty’s coverlet
  • the magic tablecloth Mannannan spread before Cormac when he was in the Land of Faery
  • a dress for the woman in the moon
  • What do you imagine?

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Abstract

This week’s Photo Challenge was to turn the concrete and familiar into something new and mysterious.

Sources: Poem – Morte d’Arthur, http://www.bartleby.com/42/637.html

Wikiwand entry’Samite,’ https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Samite

All text (except that in italics) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.