Today was a day for small mercies and vast gratitude; for basking in the wonder of friendship; for being amazed at the view when I look back; for being hopeful about the possibility of the future; and for being profoundly glad of the present. It is always a miracle. Here and now is the best place to be, and I want to be in it fully.

So this post is short but – hopefully – very sweet. Who better than Mr Michael Leunig?

The pen is mightier than the sword

And mightier than the literary award;

Without the pen we’d be unable

To leave those notes on the kitchen table;

With three small crosses at the end.

Made for no one else to see,

The literature of you and me.


For all my subscribers, dropper-inners and new visitors, thank you. Your kindness and encouragement spurs me on, and buoyed me through some challenging days lately. We walk together, even when apart…


A few videos have popped up in the past few weeks – for rainy days when the TV has blown a gasket!

This link will take you to a video of me reading a beautiful piece by Michael McGirr.

This one will take you to a talk I shared about Summer of the Seventeenth Doll at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre, one of my all-time favourite plays.

And here, you can watch me read my piece for My Enduring Love Affair With Writing – a bit dysfunctional, but there we are!

Yep, me, me, me…

Forgive the bonfire of my vanities. The real message of this day is THANK YOU!

9 thoughts on “Small but heartfelt

  1. The priest, lets call him Father Sensible, had some wonderful things to say about love at St. Benny’s, Batehaven on Sunday.
    The quote from the bible was the one about love, and exactly the same message would have been delivered in Catholic churches around the world at the same time, allowing for the earth to rotate to accommodate our sleep patterns…”A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Now, that was a bit of an ear opener. He, the priest not God or Jesus, translated the quote…”even as I have loved you” to mean that true love is selfless love. However, in the world, away from our meditations, we love because we want to be loved, all of us, and that is the human condition. Selfish love. Not a lot we can do about that, unless we learn to love unconditionally. Woah. That means loving…well you know… forgiving.

    1. Hi Patrick,
      Learning to love unconditionally, self and others, seems to be the main road, doesn’t it? I guess we all take diversions down rocky by-ways, but the main thing is to find our way back when we can. To try…
      It can be very trying!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I really liked your talk on ‘My Enduring Love Affair With Writing’,it reminded me of the movie ‘Cloud Atlas’!
    for lots of reasons too numerous to mention,but the main reason I guess is the thread of an unfinished book running throughout the movie and how everything is connected even if we don’t know it.
    Plus I did a post
    on Lana Wachowski and the poem
    ‘Philosopher’s Wool’ –

    Eager alchemists
    Shaking stubborn fists
    At the universe
    Often made things worse
    For those standing by
    Whose astonished cry
    Could be heard through walls
    As black smoke filled halls: Is this truly wise? What if someone dies?!
    An unholy blast
    Might expunge the past
    When flame touched cow’s blood,
    Saltpeter and mud,
    Or burned base metal
    In an old kettle
    Until the whole room
    Stank of common doom,
    Of unwashed sinners
    (Mere rank beginners)
    Stumbling ahead
    With incautious tread
    On the littered floor
    Where, amid the gore,
    Truth was said to lie
    Waiting for some dye
    To imbue with gold
    (As writers of old
    Had said would happen)
    Ordinary men.
    Surely, it was thought,
    Wealth was what art brought
    To occult research.
    From Minerva’s perch
    The owl flies aslant,
    Though we think it can’t,
    And must hit the mark
    Even in the dark.
    So in alchemy
    The learned set free
    In a certain flame
    What is zinc by name
    (“Philosopher’s wool”
    In an ancient school),
    As such metal learns
    Flight by what it burns
    And drizzles down white
    If the timing’s right.
    A history of zinc
    Hardly makes us think,
    Except by way of
    Likenesses to love,
    Which, when heated, too
    Becomes something new
    As it changes shape
    Under magic’s cape.
    Once zinc turns to snow,
    Its flight up will show
    Heights lovers may fall
    Should they, after all,
    Succumb to that state—
    A precipitate,
    An alloy of pain,
    A chalky gray stain—
    Which whitens with flakes
    What it most mistakes
    To be kindred hate.
    Love and hate obey,
    Through this very day,
    Laws that come from high;
    Centuries go by
    And still we fail,
    Still mix the pail
    Of our desire,
    Still look in fire
    For crucible’s gold,
    Though we cannot hold
    Nature to account
    For the wrong amount
    If gold becomes zinc
    And the missing link
    Is thus missed again
    In a dirty rain.
    Zinc is wool, we’re told.
    So let love be gold,
    Elusive at best
    Or a kind of test
    Whose secret’s best kept
    When salt rain is wept.

    which I had not heard of until this morning when some German friends brought it to my attention through a post they wrote at their blog.
    Looking at your handwritten letter made me think that I always sign 4x’s at the end of a personal letter because my surname is often associated with alcoholic beverages,so to me it’s a way of connecting my identity to the personal mark of love I intone to somebody while writing something personal.
    Which made me think on this paragraph I came across this morning from a guy I met in 2011,who I admire but don’t necessarily agree with,especially on some of his more infamous theories. But the guy is a real down to earth
    ‘tell it from the heart’ type guy (even if some of his theories aren’t) who a least tells a story that makes you think about what he is saying.
    And isn’t that what storytelling is all about anyway ?

    “Try ceasing to identify who you are with your body,your name and the reflection in the mirror.Try seeing those things as experiences and not who you are.Try observing your life and the world from the perception of the real you-eternal Consciousness,All That Is,Has Been and Ever Can Be.”

    I think you achieved that quite well in “Sinning Across Spain” to tell the truth,no matter what some tasteless (and probably jealous…if the truth be known) critic writes about it.The book is a classic,and I don’t blow smoke up peoples butts for the sake of it.I call a spade a spade when it comes to books.If I don’t like a book I either say so,or say nothing,I don’t praise books I don’t like,and I don’t care who wrote them,friend or foe.
    Of course I would never tell a friend that their book sucked,but I wouldn’t lead them up the garden path about it either.

    1. HI Darren,
      SO MUCH FOOD here.
      Thanks as ever for your camino of thoughts.
      And for your support re the book. It really wasn’t a criticism I took seriously. But the tone of it was something like mild cyber-bullying, I now realise, and so I was hurt. The critics have been very kind, and readers have been moved, and it has found its way to those who are its village. Of course there will be those who don’t like it – there are people who don’t like my favourite writers – but I am just grateful that it has found thoughtful, considered homes.
      Thanks again for all.

  3. I read about your blue mood at ‘The Good Oil’ and it sounds like you are at an emotional crossroads in your life
    (never a fun place at the time you are there,I know).
    Here’s something to maybe consider,I’ve never done this myself,but I know a lot of people who have,and they swear by this stuff as a major life changer.
    Take a look at these You Tubes with an open mind and see what you think.
    It may be for you and it may not…but I thought I should put it on the table for you to consider.

    Something to think about,but not for everybody though.
    And it is legal in Brazil and a few other places over there.
    Could make a good book as well ?-)

    1. Funny, Darren, I’ve been hearing about this phenomenon a lot. Probably not for me, but I will follow all the links when I have better internet connection, and consider what there is for me to understand. Always feel I need to do that when several people mention the same thing in a short time. And Sting always takes interesting paths!

  4. P.S. You don’t have to post that last comment,or this one.
    I was the only way I knew how to send you those links.

  5. Hi Ailsa
    Been thinking of you lately…here is the book my daughter Charlie read and really enjoyed about a wild snail that I shared with you but never sent you the link.

    Your post when you wrote: ‘Here and now is the best place to be, and I want to be in it fully.’ reminded me of this book, even though I have not read it personally but my daughter shared parts of it with me.

    The books overview reads: “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world illuminates our own human existence and provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.

    Take care, keep snailing. xLisa

    1. Dear Lisa,
      I went and looked at the previews for the book, and it spoke to me immediately. What a great instinct you had to send me that link. I had forgotten to seek it out, but am now on the case. I don’t want to buy it as a digital book, because of the anecdotes about the snail eating paper. I feel that the least I can do is get the substance that is snail-food.
      Thanks so much for such a delicious reminder – and for your care in remembering it and seeking out the link.
      Buen camino y GRACIAS!
      Ailsa x

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