Il Postino – The Postman ….. and my later found letter

 

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” your smile spreads across your face like a butterfly “

The Postman is a film , a graceful masterpiece , based on the true events of a transformative friendship between a shy postman and the exiled poet , Pablo Neruda . It is a moving tribute to the power and beauty of poetry , a tale of brotherhood , and a charmingly quirky romance filled with metaphors and inspiration , grace and simplicity .

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On a tiny island off the coast of Italy in 1953 , the postman has been given the job of delivering mail to the towns new resident. He is astonished by the remarkable amount of mail from women that Neruda receives . He begins a relationship with the poet to learn the secret . Thru their friendship , Neruda not only helps the shy postman capture the heart of the towns most beautiful woman , he also inspires him to see himself and his quiet fishing village in a lyrical way .

 

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symbols and themes

 

high cliffs and rundown town

 

ocean waves , letters , poetry

 

love , friendship , transformation

 

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This film was nominated for many Oscar awards including best original score , best actor , best director and best screenplay. It won the Oscar for best picture of 1995 . Massimo Troisi , who portrayed the postman , had been suffering from a heart ailment and was unable to work more than an hour or two on the filming each day.  Sadly , he died in his sleep at the age of 41 the day after shooting ended .

 

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Personal note : how letters become dreams on paper

I received a phone call from a stranger four years after my husband had died . She asked me if I had been Ted’s wife and told me she had a gift for me . We met anxiously and she kindly explained the happenings that now brought her search to me . She had checked out a book , a book of poems , and in between the pages was a handwritten letter with small drawings on the back of the paper. It began with, ” to my little deer ” and ended with just his simple signature, “Ted”. This stranger who had only recently moved to our small town , explained how she and the librarian had traced the last previous date on the check out file to my husband . Instantly , I had recognized his handwriting . As I read his words , the letter became alive as if I were holding a beating heart in my hands . They were loving thoughts with a sadness for an argument we had the previous day and asking for understanding . I knew what he was referring too and the memory breathed again . I don’t know why I had received it when I did , but I believe he knew and that it being found in that particular book and so many years later was his intention . An inspired letter can be as riveting as a stare . He understood life in its miraculous beauty … its poetry … his wish was fulfilled .

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Letters home , excerpts from Bulgaria

ImagePlovdiv :  Historic city situated between Rhodope  Mountains, ( legendary homeland of Orpheus )  the Thracian Plains and the Balkan Mountain range. One of the worlds most ancient cities and Europes oldest inhabited city. A slightly dilapidated place with a beautiful sense of fading grandeur.

ImageYesterday, I travelled on my own to Plovdiv by mini-bus. I felt rather confident as I now know about a dozen, simple Bulgarian phrases and each day try to learn more. . no one speaks English in village and everything is written in a script called Cyrillic. So first challenge: the bus stop in village Gita in front of posta at 7:30a.m…..I join school children and others, all staring and smiling and running in and out of small local store , shadowed by the huge concrete statute in ruins of Lenin ( only 30 yrs. ago this country was under communist rule) . Inside the store , the shop keeper stands behind a large counter and gets for you what you want from the long shelves behind her ( I was so nervous the first time and forgot completely what I had come for )!  Sitting on the wooden bench waiting , as I watched the villagers begin their day , a young Roma woman wearing a colorful floral printed head scarf over her long dark braided hair , old leather boots , a man’s long woolen overcoat wrapped round with heavy string , dangling silver earrings and nose pierced , carrying over her shoulder a wooden handled garden tool,  walked by like a queen from Constantinople ( Istanbul, Turkey is less than 300 miles from here) . She stood tall and proud gazing straight ahead on her way to the fields surrounding Gita .

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Once on the mini bus , three teenagers and I try to talk….we are each so curious as we struggle to understand one another….”ciao, ciao” as they got off , saying my name perfectly and me , I know , badly pronouncing theirs! Bus stop in Chirpan, 10 miles from village :  a lady in magazine kiosk kindly writes on paper for me the departure times into Plovdiv (35 mi. ). I have an hour so I decide to walk the town streets with my little paper cupped expresso just like I see everyone else doing. I strolled the winding stoned sidewalks with trees forming canopies of filtered sun light. Enjoying the charm , I came upon a brightly painted neighborhood bakery where I bought a big pastry of cheese and fruit.  Now back to the bus stop where six more people are waiting. Half an hour goes by…..no bus appears…..a man drives up in an old car , much chattering between people , and suddenly , young woman sitting on bench next to me who I had shared my pastry with , asks if I want to come along in car to Plovdiv for 4 lev , all in body signals. So , four of us get in , everyone happy and off we go with radio music blaring and windows down ! We pass thru other small villages in this valley of antiquity surrounded by mountain ranges and large fertile back soiled farm lands , past sheep and shepherds , donkey carts piled high with hay and many roadside vegetable stands.  Less than one hour later we arrive in Bulgaria’s second largest city.

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With amazement , I walked the old Roman section high into the hills where many ruins and Byzantine churches stand , passing by monks and orthodox priests dressed elaborately in clocks of velvet with jewel trim and strange looking headpieces alongside traditional women and young modern girls in European high fashion dress .  Further , I find a nearly hidden antique stall of treasures , crowded with a vast array of unusual objects .

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Some English was spoken by the young shop keeper and I joyfully bought a woolen hand stitched folk jacket from the nineteen century and a Turkish necklace . I then headed back to the station where a bus was ready to depart back to Chirpan . …..to be continued 

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Note :  Roma ( gypsy )

Many live here in my village ….. with old wooden wheeled carts filled with others trash ….. for centuries they have been engaged in recycling . They are also often peddlers , traders , herbalists and healers. On some days while I walk thru the village , my path leads me to their music of singing and the violen , bagpipes , accordions and flutes . The sound is like a heavy stream of water rushing in a forest brook with a strong wind blowing leaves and twigs everywhere. ” They are like many stars scattered in the sight of God , many groups in many countries with a common code of behavior that includes dignity and respect for being Roma . Within their culture is a need to go beyond and flourish , to achieve equality and emancipation from poverty , exclusion and misery , to become full citizens in the lands they inhabit and to achieve the potential of the creative genius that their existence so clearly suggests”.

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Immanuel , Prince of Peace

ImageIsaiah 61 : 1 – 3

 

” The Spirit of The Lord God is upon me , for The Lord hath anointed me to tell good tidings unto the meek ; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted , to proclaim liberty to the captives , and the opening ( of the eyes ) to them that are bound ; to proclaim the acceptable year of The Lord ; to comfort all that mourn ; to appoint unto them in Zion , to give unto them beauty for ashes , the oil of joy for mourning , the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness ; that they might be called trees of righteousness , the planting of Jehovah to be beautiful “.

 

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From my heart to yours : May the peace of Jesus be with you always 

 

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Note : the two paintings above are William Blake , the sculpture is mine 

 

 

The Artist Immortal

ImageWhen we first met that late summer day on the beach of the small harbor town I had moved to with my five young children, he surprised me with his smile and asked my name and the year I was born. I answered and he responded with a very calm manner like a european gentleman, “I had just begun university that year and had been waiting all my school days for you to be born and now, I am so pleased that you are finally here”! He was a genuine romantic and his sweet presence evoked in me that warm day a tenderness that was to remain. And later,the paradox of his character held for me days of wonder and love image. The first time I sat to have him paint my portrait ( preparation sketch is up above ) was filled with intensity. I will always remember how he worked and with hundreds of brushes cleaned and organized by size in jars surrounding him, pencils in his shirt pocket…and in a place far removed from the reality of his back- porch studio room. As time went by , sitting on a stool , I felt in a trance of love and it appeared that he had stopped breathing as his brush moved with a rhythm over a canvas I could not see. This involvement between painter and muse brought me to depths I had not known…and later an understanding why all his former models seemed to be in love with him. Weeks later after he had completed the painting , he brought me a gift.( I saw his car driving slowly past my little house back and forth)…he was often shy like that. It was an unusual bouquet of driftwood he had collected, tied with a ribbon and a card enclosed with a small pencil drawing. And thereafter when we had married, he often brought these gifts of his heart home to me.imageHe was the one who further inspired in me a deep appreciation and awe for nature. Having a barn studio in the country, we would often walk together, he leading with a small garden clippers , gently clearing pathways for us to enjoy, pointing out birds singing, wild flowers and how the wind showed itself. He had hooked up, in the strangest ways, comical outdoor showers at the ends of some of these narrow paths and would delight bathing under the sun. He once told me that the most exotic part of my body was my forehead(covered with bangs) because it was always hidden. He was endearingly funny. I learned to laugh again , having previously experienced a very sad divorce. We shared joy: family life, growth, spirituality and a new baby boy….and tragedy: the barn burning down with almost his entire collection of art, his suffering from cancer and sadness that he wouldn’t see his son grow up. Being with him was so easy, like being with myself. When he died that winter, I felt like a deep hole in a tree instead of the flowering branch of summer . In that hole, over time, I came to discover a new sense of the Divine, a third eye and the glory of rebirth. Image Rooms     december 2013 .

On my way home

he was standing there

at the edge of the room

of vision lore

a great mysterious appearing door

not known to exist before

I shut my eyes tight

the new sun struck the rough shore

life held so safely

by curtains of doves

fluttering above

like echoes of sea waves more.

 

Her feet he held

bared on the ground

upon placed winged slippers of white

she was paralyzed no sound

the graveyard appeared by a stream

the dragonfly skimmed its blue wings

ripples moved the shocked world

in weavings  of calm

and her feet left the ground .

he stood there

at the edge of the room

on my way home.

 

Edward Francis Dickerson ( Ted )

1932 – 1997

The echo of his life is loud .

For you , Casey Edward ,  beloved son

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Sleep, Pajamas and a Recipe

ImageSleep is baffling. It holds my fascination because of the dreams : mystical doorways to inner-worlds.ImageThere are many stories of people having great creative break thrus in their dreams : Paul McCartney’s beautiful tune for “Yesterday”….Elias Howe’s invention of the sewing machine and the haunting poems of Edgar Allen Poe who suffered from dreams we call nightmares are only a few. I had a dream once on the night my daughter left for Africa. I remember the clarity of it like your image in a mirror and upon awakening, I found my sketchbook and immediately drew what I had seen : a tunic sweater with a detailed pattern written and floating above. I hadn’t knit since girlhood and had then only learned a few basics, but the vision was so unusual that I quickly bought yarn and needles and began “knitting a dream”. It turned out looking exactly as I had seen it. If I wear one of my tunics into a yarn shop, the owner often asks me , ” how in the world did you make the sleeves to look like that”! It has since become , in its variations, the model pattern for all my knitting. I realize it’s so simple if compared to “Yesterday” but it truly enriched my tomorrow’s.

ImageThe Haunted Pajamas by Francis Perry Elliot. 1911 “to my Winifred”

 

” I believe sir”, said Jenkins looking up, “the gentleman has sent you……

” By Jove, a suit of pajamas “! I exclaimed, holding them up.

” The gentleman says sir”‘ studying the letter ” that his present of a pair of pajamas may seem surprising, but you won’t know how surprising until you have worn them”.

I suggest this delightful book that can be found to read for free if you google the title….for bedtime reading.

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When I told my daughter, Jacqueline, that I had begun a blog, she asked me what kind of recipes it had….I laughed….”all blogs have recipes mom”! So here is a post for you, sweet girl, for a more restful sleep.

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Sweet Green Sleepytime Juice

2 large organic oranges-peeled

1 organic lemon – peeled

1/2 bunch of watercress

8 stalks of celery

1/2 head organic romaine lettuce

place all ingredients thru a juicer, stir if necessary and drink one glass immediately.

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Note: Pajama bag: place clean nightclothes in here and put under pillow for tomorrow night

for Jordan and Braxton……sweet dreams little boys….zzzzzzzzzz

 

Poetry Love Crown

ImageI was in love with him the moment I saw him. I tried not to be. I left the island and him six months later. That was three years ago. Some days I see the answer and think I understand and other days it feels like the seasons became mixed up, like a day that forgot to turn into night. Yet he remains within me and shows himself often and in his voice is poetry. My sonnets released thru him from secret tunnels I can no longer hide myself in.

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Eastsound Bay

 

remember the fish on the shore

love was a glowing blue eye

remember we stared and stared more

and then found a place on the bay to lie

two lovely eyes

a winter to die

two lovely eyes.

 

remember my statute that would cry

its broken arms you tried to heal

you came over me like a holy light

following the fish on the shore for more that night

two lovely eyes

a winter to die

two lovely eyes.

ImagePersonal note: after thinking of actually posting this and feeling nervous about sharing myself this way, I thought to search into the meanings of certain symbols that often come into my poetry.

symbolism:

Fish

Water holds ancient symbolic meanings of the subconscious. The fish was sacred in Greek mythology. In Christianity it is a symbol of abundance and faith and Jesus. Pagan traditions recognize it as an attribute of the goddess. As a Celtic symbol it stood for wisdom, inspiration and prophesy and in the Indian mythology,transformation and creation. And in Buddhism it means happiness and freedom being one of the eight sacred symbols.

Winter

Life is still, indwelling and silent….a time of introversion and contemplation.

Eye

In Christianity, the eye of God is depicted hovering over a tent, symbolic of the Tabernacle, the temple of the faithful. Here the eye represents the Spirit of God peering into the soul. In Egypt we see the eye of Horus. In this context it is a symbol of protection and life. In dreaming the meaning of eyes indicates an opening into a new dimension. It may also show an ability to see past what is common and to spiritually arrive to the place where your inner vision perceives all things in their Divine glory….even the simplest of things becoming imbued with an exquisite quality inherent in all of nature.

I pondered all of this and understood.

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in gratitude for the beauty of life

Paulo Coelo and my daughter

ImageHe was born in 1947 in Brazil to devout catholic parents and attended , as a boy, Jesuit schools. He was a rebellious teenager and his father committed him to an asylum three times. In the 70’s, he wrote song lyrics for Brazilian musicians protesting the countries military rule being jailed numerous times and tortured. In 1986 he walked the medieval pilgrims route between France and Spain called the Santiago de Compostela. The walk and spiritual awakening he experienced in route inspired him to write his first novel, The Pilgrimage.ImageThe scallop shell is the universal symbol for pilgrims and acts as a sign to show ” the way “.

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Written in 1994, it is a novel of forgiveness, the inspiration for the title coming from Psalm 137, and a love story focusing on the female aspect of the Divine. The tales main character is Pilar, an independent young woman who is frustrated with university life and is searching for greater meaning. She meets up with a childhood sweetheart who has become a spiritual teacher and they set off on a journey thru the French Pyrenees. It’s the first in a set of trilogies about a week in the life of someone ordinary to whom something extraordinary happens.Image

personal note :

Sometimes something is said or happens that you know at that very moment it will remain with you and that you will think of it again on your deathbed …like all the most important days of your life, a sweeping film moving at fast speed. This is one of mine, “Mom, in this book is the story of my life”! ( referring to By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept)  I bought the book!  She was in her young 20’s then and had graduated, joined the Peace Corp, married, received a masters degree, became a mother, always keeping her dreams alive.

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The following quotes from Paulo Coelo remind me of her, my very beautiful daughter Andrea, better known as Nani, and often to me “Pilar”.

“Let’s lie down on the ground and feel the planet’s heart beating”.

“I am just like everyone else who listens to their heart; a person who is enchanted by the mystery of life. I resolved to become the person I had always wanted to be”.

“Follow your dreams, transform your life, take the path that leads to God, perform your miracles, cure, make prophesies. Listen to your guardian angel. Transform yourselves”.

added note:  When I  asked her if I could post her photo, with her not yet knowing what I was going to write , this was her responce :  “Of course you can use that photo on your blog! The look on my face is exactly how I feel everyday of my life” !

 

Written in deep gratitude for you, dear Andrea

Orlando ….. Inspired by novel by Virginia Woolf

ImageIn his youth, Orlando is told never to grow old, miraculously , he never does.  The film is about a person who achieves in one lifetime what most of us can only dream of doing : seeing four centuries of experiences thru the eyes of both sexes. It’s not so much about a story or a plot as it is about a vision of human existence. What does it mean to be born as a woman or a man, to be born into wealth or poverty, or into the traditions of a particular nation?

Symbols and ThemesImage

Fact and Imagination

Gender Differences

Conforming to Society

Clouds over London…….Orlando’s Manor House…….Manuscript of Poetry

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Note about Tilda Swinton :

A visually striking Scottish actress born in 1960, who over the years has preferred art to celebrity, and is a mother to twins. She was nominated for many awards for her role in Orlando and the film received Oscars both for costume design and art direction. Notice that as Orlando progresses throughout the years, during each new incarnation, Tilda’s eye color changes.

Personal note :

Being far from my birth home in America, now in a pastoral culture of what seems from a century past, I found this film thought provoking. I have been in Bulgaria now, six weeks.  They are enchanted, glorious, astoundingly beautiful days in an ancient and poetic country that feels familiar to me like a lucid dream……Orlando feels familiar to me too.

The Sunday Crown of Fibonacci

ImagePerfection of Divine Creation : the mathematics of Beauty

 The Golden Mean spiral is a doorway that weaves the ethereal and material dimensions together. Once you discover this in nature it will become evident even in the smallest details. Look at a sunflower, a shell or a pine cone. It is also called Sacred Geometry. Many artist use this divine sequence in their own work.ImageLeonardo Da Vinci referred to the Golden Ratio as the ” divine proportion “.  “To develope a complete mind: study the science of art ; study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else “.Image

 

Music Holds the Keys to Life My Mother

imagehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT7_IZPHHb0http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMTuXnLiZ2k

She hung a print above my bed of a girl with a very long neck, an oblong face and eyes deep and black. The artist, Modigliani , remains one of my favorites today. Everything in my bedroom matched. She chose tiny yellow flowered wallpaper along with the same printed curtains. A bed, dresser, mirror and chair were antiqued to a sepia sheen with fruits and flowers painted on the drawers. These were copied and became some of my first drawings. That dresser is still now in my bedroom and remains precious to me. She even wallpapered the inside of the drawers.ImageShe was always so clean and neat and her appearance was beautiful . This mattered to her, especially her hairstyle. As a child she made bedtime sweet, like a happy ending to a summer story .First a bath and braiding my hair one on each side until I was ten. Always fresh sheets and a little chat about the day as she sat on the edge of my little bed.(this seems like a fairy tale to me now)….and a prayer called Jesus Tender Shepherd Hear Me. I never was left to face the night alone.

Into that dresser mirror when I was 12, I spoke out loud to my image and said, “my mind is telling me something different than what my mom is telling me is important and true!”  From that moment I began my own path and kept secret many thoughts about life. But in my bedroom her loving spirit hovered even though I felt so misunderstood.

I used to say , before my mother died, that we weren’t very close, but that is not true. I always felt close to her in my heart. She just wasnt able to have the awareness of who I was……or who she really was either. It frightened her. She was scared of a lot of things, inner truth and water and dogs( even though she let me have one once). And she so disliked dirt and disorder, hippies and rock music. I wish now that I would have spent more time with her. I don’t know enough about her, she never said much about identities . But I do know this, I was tenderly and affectionately loved as a child and now I know that I was always loved this way. She was a member of the symphonic choir , a soprano and often a soloist in the church choir. I love music because of her and I am so grateful! When the symphony orchestra played she would often take me along instead of my dad who didn’t like classical music. But sometimes in the kitchen I would see my parents dancing close together and it would take my breath away.

She was delicate and wounded in ways I did not know, yet she loved. My appreciation of fabrics, textiles and colors are her influence, my art is too. And when she played her piano and I secretly would lay beneath it as a child and young girl, my soul would leap at her expressive heart coming thru her small fingers like a butterfly escaping from its cocoon.Moonlight Sonata is my mother.

My recent creation of a sculptural ” momento mori” ( immortality) series is in honor of her.I began it this past summer and I continue here in Bulgaria. Her memory consumes me and I often cry. I believe that she lives in perfection now. I feel her often beside me walking thru the rolling pastures surrounding this village. One night recently I woke wondering where that sweet singing was coming from….it was her  voice coming out of me…a song I remembered only just then as a child’s memory…all 3 verses from my mothers voice let loose from inside of me.

I would like to share this video of Florence + the machine with you mom. I think you will understand now. It’s up above.