Sunday, April 30, 2006

Spring - a poem

The old man and his little granchild walking under blossoms was one of the moments that I was thankfully equipped with my camera.

Autumn Rose Tapestries

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


The cooler weather and the rich autumn colours
have inspired the resident Hermit to
go a-weaving tapestries.
Inspiration comes from things seen
out walking with other travellers,
and things seen within the spacious
grounds of the Hermitage regions. They are rich
in colour and show the best of nature's
season of colour.
copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Master Ducks - Saltwater Patterns

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Primal Mystery


Swamp Gum

(Who are we? What are we doing?

What is the meaning of life?)
copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Southern Catalpa

This tree has huge leaves,
and the canopy is full
yellow this time of the
season, glowing in the
autumn sun...

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Autumn Leaves And Rosehips

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Sequoia Soaring

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Firewheel Blooms

The blooms on this tree are
like jester's hats, red with
yellow balls on the end.
They also look like crowns,
or they could be sunrays in
copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Maya's Portrait

photo aletta 2006
Maya, in this photo taken Sunday, reminds me of the little girls on biscuit tins of the thirties. Those beautiful brown eyes deep in thought. All that lovely roundness in both her face and her curly blond hair

Sacred Space

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Monday, April 24, 2006

April Shower

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wild Instinctual Nature

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Earth Library Revelations

The earth library is giving up revelations daily --
I search the news and one day it's
a fossil fish that evolved to have
legs and walk on land,
to become what we know as the crocodile.
Then a report on old civilizations like
Pompeii, where life has been
prefectly preserved for
centuries, the earth giving up treasures,
for study and new knowing.
These folks knew the world was round,
as a sculpture of Atlas was
revealed, complete with his global sphere.
I noticed the earth had given up this
piece of beautifully coloured iron,
just the other day, down by the
sea side near the Hermitage forest. The
earth had just decided to reveal it.
No doubt it has its own story to tell.
Perhaps with all these things, with
earth slowly revealing itself, it's
wise to sit and read, and change our
copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Elders Visit The Hermitage - Unique Trees

Monterey Pine Elder

Ash Tree Elephant Elder

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sturdy Ancestors - Camphor Laurel

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

The Path of Pain to an Alternate World

aletta mes 2006
Ronnie sat on the side of the bed staring vacuously into space, but not for long., It was not healthy to let her mind wander, not any more, and it was inconceivable that it would ever be again. she would have to wait until little sister had her shower. Time was not passing very quickly at all, no matter how greatly she needed it to. Ronnie's mouth just inside the lip was swollen and sore from all the biting she had been doing. Pain causing herself to remain distracted from the place, that very dark place which her mind kept wandering back to.

She rocked back and forth trying desperately to think and feel anything but the touch of his skin, the smell of him, even the taste of him. Ronnie had been keeping a pearl hat pin by her bed, the pain of sinking it into her thigh would stop the thought and sensations streaming into her. Life would not be entirely her own until she could control it. She was angry and hurt but not defeated.

In some twisted way it may even have helped that her mother had been less than kind, less than helpful. Her rapist was mother's friend and her response "you just don't want me to have friends" raised her anger to such levels the sadness burned off, instantly and did not come back. The shower stopped running and she put on her dressing gown and slid quickly into the shower, and as she had for the preceding week scrubbed and scrubbed until her skin was raw and all she could smell was the scent of her soap, the one given her as a present from mom because she had admired the illustration on the wrapper of the bar of "Maya". It suited her, because the scent too was aggressive, angry, passionate.

Sleep was fitful, interrupted by sensations of crawling skin and the awful feeling there was someone hiding in the shadows of her room. Ronnie tried praying but it was dissatisfying, she felt disassociated from a god who did not save her. What kind of deity gives a rapist free reign on a girl, and innocent child who does not even have the kindness of a mother to come home to. In the early morning Ronnie was up, stretching, checking out her posture and alignment in the mirror.

Slowly, over a few more weeks the girl in the mirror became Ronnie and Ronnie herself disappeared. The girl looking back at her was a dancer, a graceful slip of girl with no personality of her own. A beautiful creature with complete control over her body, able to keep away pain in favour of beauty. She was alone with her favourite music every moment she could. Her teddy bear was shelved and in that sacred place next to her bed her ballet slippers now were there at night to watch over her.

Ronnie had not liked her life a very long time now, six months for a child is a very long time. Her father sprung it on the family that he had a new job that would take him to the other side of the world and all things familiar, despite all protestations were gone. No more toys, no more school chums, no more relatives or pets. Her mother, always unstable and largely unavailable had become even more so in the months after moving overseas, and her little sister, well she was only three, daddy was either working or dealing with mother and sister. Ronnie was "older" and could manage to spend some time alone.

The only escape left in her entire life was ballet class. concentration and pain to control her body so she would become the perfect instrument for a choreographer to paint with made the escape to the other realm easy. Simply, when the music played and the grippy rosin had been evened out by crushing it into fine powder underfoot her spirit, the indefinable soul driven person inside took over. For as long as the music and the rosin held out she could dance and live in another world where none of this had ever happened, nor ever could.

Ronnie had several months to her immediate goal, an audition. The offer made to her by a choreographer with whom she had taken some master classes was going to become a reality. Every fibre in her body was working only to that goal and nothing else. If she was not totally dedicated before, the attack on her innocent body had made it a certainty, it would happen. Parents were no obstacle, mother was self involved and father was involved with mother's needs and would happily concede whatever it took to make life as easy as possible.

Her school work remained immaculate and done on time, she now spoke English as well as anyone else. Those clever people at the board of education had made it so easy to succeed in this grade because she had done it all before, in dutch, yes, but it had not seriously warranted pulling her back a grade as if she was an idiot. It did seem as if the world was conspiring against her. It could work for her, Ronnie had the determination not to let the bastards win by breaking her spirit, not the school board, not immigration, not her mother, and not her rapist, most definitely not him.

She knew how hard it would be. Her hips, her Flemish hips, were too wide. Though a few months ago she was the right height by now she was a couple of inches over the ideal. Her turnout was barely sufficient and her extension would need a lot of improvement. What her teacher did not know, was that all the discouraging words were not working, Ronnie took all those words and used them to build herself a master plan, it was critique of the most constructive kind.

What was unthinkable was returning to being just Ronnie, a child., that had forever been taken away from her. If her plans for a life in the ballet would fall through she would have to face all the demons at once. Demons such as the impossible role of the virgin bride which this little catholic child would never be. Demons such as the other men who would want to touch her, and were perfectly wonderful people, but she could not bear their touch and would not want them feeling hurt by her revulsion. Perhaps the greatest demon was her anger, which had been building up for months and could take on a life of it's own, she could not let the demons out.

So no matter how her toes hurt and bled it was nothing compared to the pain of having to be "normal", when that ship had sailed and sunk in the harbour, but not before being lit up in flames lapping at every timber and sail. For as long as she could keep dancing, she could be civil to her fellow persons, laugh at their jokes and ignore comments such as "she's stuck up" and "I think her bun might be wound a little too tight". If she could keep on dancing she could be a good daughter and sister. If she kept on dancing she would be tired enough to sleep a few hours from the sheer exhaustion.

Ronnie knew eventually her body, which was clearly wrong for the ballet, wide hips and hyperextended limbs, but it would buy her time. Each passing hour and day would leave the horror of that day, that sweltering summer day pinned under the fat sweaty, hairy heaving bastard far behind. She could envision herself melting into the ground, reassembling as a slight figure in a gauzy skirt, executing perfect fouèttés and seemingly suspended at the top of every jèté so the audience would gasp. Eventually a time would come, a time after the audition, many auditions, many performances, many, many more classes when the sweaty bastard was not even an image anymore, he lived on only in the occasional inexplicable anxiety triggered by a smell or taste or aversion to certain people. Unfortunately the time would come when those perfect fouèttés and jètés were excruciating and another plan needed to be put into place or the demons would do all they could to destroy her. for now Ronnie was dancing, and it was good.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sparrow girl - Easter and the Laws of Thermodynamics

The rituals of the Christian calendar were a mystery to me when I was little. I lived in a predominantly protestant part of the Netherlands, but in my case my parents raised me without a religious identity of any kind. My parents were not of the same religion, one was protestant and the other roman Catholic, neither attended church, in fact both had turned their back on the religion of their childhood in favour of those being explored by my somewhat eccentric and always existentialist parents. By age four, when this memory of mine takes place, my parents were following the teachings of the Buddha quite seriously, and also exploring the occult and paranormal as a bit of a hobby.

I had come to accept Christmas as a time for decorating trees and eating lots of good stuff with friends and family who were rarely seen the rest of the year. The significance of the history of this wonderful feast were not known to me. Easter also was a time for special foods and candies rarely seen at other times.

Eggs of course were part of daily life, or at least nearly so. My eggs were normally soft boiled and in an egg cup accompanied by a slice of toasted bread. The anticipation of this breakfast was in itself an event. My mother miraculously timed the egg to perfection and the toast had been toasted alongside on the cast iron stove in the kitchen all was warm and fragrant, and the egg was soft and runny.

This was before the mass raising of chickens who never saw the light of day. These eggs came from chickens most often known to us personally or from one of the merchants at the market, who came with cage of birds also sold (unbeknown to vegetarian me to become meat for soup). The eggs had bright yellow yolks and were mixed brown and white, some had feathers and straw stuck to them so they always required washing before cooking with them.

I very much liked chickens. I had spent much time sitting with them in the chicken house at the back of my grandmother's house in Rotterdam. Not unlike cats they cuddled of you stroked and petted them, and they made a wonderfully calming sound when you did.

Easter was a time for hard boiled eggs, lots of them, best of all we painted them. They were boiled with beets and others with onion to turn them red purple, yellow and orange, and the rest was painted with watercolour paint and a fine brush. My mother would meticulously plan the painting and first pencilled the outline on the eggs and then I was allowed to fill in some of them with pain in whatever colour I chose. some also had words on them, but I could not read. Mostly I filled in the circles and flowers and triangles. The eggs were for friends and family and neighbours so there were several dozens of them.

We kept some, of course, and I always hoped some would not be claimed and we would have even more. Hard boiled eggs sliced on toast with mayonnaise and a little black pepper was a bit of heaven and we so rarely had them that way. At new years when there were visitors we had them on small squares of toast with mayonnaise ad pickle. Being that we had little money the slices had to be very thin as we had many friends and not so many eggs and pickles. It was not looked down on or thought of as cheap, everyone was pretty much in the same boat, the point really was one of hospitality, sharing, not showing off.

The most often seen wildlife in the Netherlands was the bunny. Rabbit was a frequent pet and a staple meat, across the street one of the families who lived in a house with a yard used the bunnies to keep the lawn trimmed and every spring there would be a new set of bunnies doing the moving. It did not occur to me then but I suppose the previous year's bunnies were used in soup and stews through the winter.

At the baker and the local candy shop (Jamin's) bunnies, chickens and eggs appeared this time every year in chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and even white chocolate. some were covered in tin paper, pink and blue and green. Baskets holding several confections on a grass made of stringy tissue paper and tied up with a bow was the thing of dreams. I'd never had a basket like that and I was jumping up and down in front of the window to see it better. Oh if only I could have the pink basket with the chicken and little eggs on green grass tied up with a bright blue bow.

Easter morning my feet hit the cold linoleum but the cold was not a concern, I was wholly focused on what the Easter bunny might have brought me. I peeled around the corner to the living room and there sitting on the coffee table was the most beautiful basket with a big brown chocolate chicken surrounded by a variety of little chocolate eggs, some in tin paper and others covered in a sugary shell of candy pink and robin's egg blue.
aletta mes2006

After breakfast consisting of the treasured toast with hard boiled egg, mayonnaise and black pepper we were going for a walk. The day turned out o be very sunny and quite warm. I only needed to wear my green cardigan over my lilac dress. I wore my Sunday best shoes and little white gloves. I would not leave the basket with the chicken behind. I carried it proudly over my arm. I resisted eating any of it since it looked so beautiful just as it was and I wanted to be seen with it.

As no day is entirely perfect it was inevitable some part of the day would not deliver only that which was good. The sun, the warm and wonderful sun, alas proved a little too warm. slowly during our walk on the sunny side of the street had melted the chocolate chicken into the green tissue paper which looked like grass. I noticed it only when we were nearly home. I was inconsolable. My parents who were not made of money, and even if they were there was not one candy shop open on a Sunday would and could not replace the chicken or the one or two eggs that had also melted. Instead, very patiently my parents sat with me several hours, and slowly peeled the tissue paper away from the chocolate as best they could. The smallest bits of chocolate found their way on a thickly buttered slice of fresh bread, happily consumed by a little girl. A little girl who'd just learned something about sunlight and the effects it can have on substances such as chocolate. Happily the bow and basket were spared being mucked up with melted chocolate so the basket was entirely useable still and for years to come was taken shopping to the market (real and imagined) and later would house my Lego. We received many compliments on our painted eggs, and received so many eggs in return that happily there were many more days of eggs on toast than I dared hope for. What a lovely holiday!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Autumn, Fish And A Duck

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Young Ginkgo

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Twin Pines

copyright Monika Roleff 20o6.

Talking Flowers

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Ancient Pomegranates

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

images aletta mes 2006

enjoy the day.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy Easter To All

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

For The Love Of Easter Dahlias

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Crab Apples and Lavender - Women's Things

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Local Raven

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Easter Moon Approach

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Bartering with the Reaper - Part II

images aletta mes 2006

The news of my impending demise was a greater tragedy to some than others. There was the quiet shock where friends and family were just very quiet and careful not to mention the subject, Lest perhaps the mentioning of it might even bring on death itself. Whenever I brought it up there was wincing and the predictable "Please don't talk like that." They had no idea, nor perhaps did they care much, that talking about it was just exactly what I needed to do.

As time passed I learned never to speak the word death as it applied to me in the presence of some members of the family. To the ones I did occasionally mention it it was quickly dismissed with "Oh, if we know you it is a long while off."

Now while all this confidence in my ability to keep the reaper at bay is a compliment, I suppose, of sorts. It diminishes the impact it is having on me on an almost daily basis. How can you not be aware once you've been told you are going to die within the foreseeable future, possibly as soon as today, much like trying to ignore an enormous blister on you heel. It might not be on your mind most of the day, but when it is time to put on your shoes or soak your feet, just try ignoring it.

In psychology we are taught to allow the client to talk about the most awful truths in their lives, because it diminishes the hold that awful truth has on the person. Having counselled the terminally ill myself I know the positive effects it has to be able to talk about the fear of death and more particularly those last moments.

One relative actually stopped visiting me and admitted it was just too depressing. At least she was honest. Not a bit of help, but honest. I imagine she is not the only one. There has been a steep decline in friends and family spending time with me. then too I have my fans, the people in my life who seem to think I can beat this. I find it puts a lot of pressure to bear on living longer. I might want to live longer, but I really would like to do it for other reasons than living up to their expectations. The most prominent among these fans are my kids, now how can I stop trying to beat the reaper when my kids have utter faith in me that I can?

I don't often think how I feel about all this, I am usually to busy trying to tap dance around the sensibilities of others. Death is offensive to most people, if you are mortal then it follows they are too. No-one wants to be mortal, everyone seems in a race to live longer and better through whatever means, so seeing someone quite young about to die raises the spectre of failure. This has become a society of losers and winners. somehow the ideal person is wealthy looks very young, is immensely active and quite possibly will not die until their hundredth or later birthday has passed.

The fear of death is also a profitable enterprise. Large amounts of money are thrown at research to keep death and ageing away. Much less money is thrown at less than well people struggling with their last days. Most probably this is the reason that services for the progressive/terminal diseases make certain demands. To be eligible for most you need it on paper that you will not live more than 6 months. I have to wonder, what if you are taking part in their program and live longer, what then? Other services (therapy) demand that you show progress, otherwise the therapy is discontinued, a slowing of progression is not considered progress.

That is a lot of pressure on the patient, to know you will lose a service that is helping you because you do not fit the rigid criteria. Should you live longer, or fare better than the doctors had expected, doubt is thrown (once again) on the diagnosis, which is either changed, or more testing is warranted. Not fitting in the expected prognosis is treated as a failure. As a patient you feel lousy for failing to match up to the standards of the disease. Odd how not one thinks it is marvellous that you've done better, nor wat to know how you did it so something might be learned from it that might even help someone else.

I try to be brave, I try not to bring up the subject much, but it does eat at me, some days more than others. If I have a bad patch, when my chest feels soggy with edema and my eyes are swollen, when odd pains strike, or when I lose consciousness, or when suddenly I cannot hold things, or control my bodily functions, I feel dread.

So far I've got past all my bad patches and I have progressed very much more slowly than projected, but as time passes, I am ever more tired. Tired of the walking on eggshells over death, tired of fighting to hold on to my health as best I can, tired of putting others at ease, tired of seeing obituaries of people on support groups whom I've come to know of know of, tired of wondering at what point I will become so burdensome as to require warehousing.

I have those days when I want to put aside all thought of it and do as if, as if it is not there. But it is there it cannot be ignored. I have the other kind of day when I feel like giving it up, it is oh, so much work to hang in there and fight.

Before and After

Vi's photo altering intrigued me so this morning I tried it out myself. I happened to be sorting through some of my Prague photos from last summer and chose a part of the famous astronomical clock tower to play with. I have recently started using Paint Shop Pro (8) again and am still learning all its possibilities. Here is a feeble attempt (beats doing laundry!):

and here it is after some alteration:


Folks here'bouts say it is difficult to grow Hosta's. I just transplanted nine of them here at Sakin'el to a rock garden around the roots of an old tree. They just keep appearing about the place. It will get about 15" accross and have two incredible flowers on tall salks this fall, then disappear.

Lady Sea

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.