Sunday, August 22, 2010


Well, well, well. . . I turned fifty today!
And yes, I very much like the sound and fit of it.

If I write the years out like this

. . . i ii iii iv v vi vii viii ix x xi xii xiii xiv xv xvi xvii xviii xix xx xxi xxii xxiii xxiv xxv xxvi xxvii xxviii xxix xxx xxxi xxxii xxxiii xxxiv xxxv xxxvi xxxvii xxxviii xxxix xxxx xxxxi xxxxii xxxxxiii xxxxxiv xxxxv xxxxvi xxxxvii xxxxviii xxxxix xxxxx . . . then fifty looks young and swarming with potential.

Perhaps we're all newborns, old as planets and with the density and lightness of stars?


Last night, we gathered to celebrate - fifty, yes, but so much more than that. Life. Love. Community. Health. Music. Trees. Root vegetables. Time... this time, with all its complexity, mystery, bounty and unpredictability. We talked and sang and ate by candlelight.

We read Jeanette Winterson's Why I adore the night and my old home's flood-damaged 'dreaming wall' welcomed being turned into a notebook for drawings, jottings and considerations of Now.


Thank you, too, dear blog friends, for being a part of my life, my soul group. You help make the intangible tangible and the impossible seem possible - and so much more besides.

I am grateful.



  1. Happy birthday, Claire and welcome into the second half of your life, in some ways the better half of your life - most of the angst of childhood and adolescence gone, most of the struggles of adulthood gone.

    Now you enter into the fertile years, the years of freedom from self consciousness:

    As Jenny Joseph tells us:

    When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
    With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
    And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
    And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
    I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
    And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
    And run my stick along the public railings
    And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
    I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
    And pick the flowers in other people's gardens . . .

  2. Happy Burdy [burp!] Claire,

    Looks like you had yourselves a whopper. You go girl.

  3. Happiest of Birthdays, Claire dear! Leaping over the threshold of fifty, your hands held by many friends, how wonderful to be so loved. And now that you've vaulted that awesome fence and have safely landed, you will see all the dross you have left behind. And that fifty carries with it a fabulous freedom. I wish you much joy.

    L, M.

  4. Happy birthday beautiful Claire and welcome to the very best of life. Thank you for gracing my life with your art and presence. I wish you cake and oceans and shooting stars and art and peace and mad giggles and strange beauty.

  5. Happy Birthday, Claire. Happy life that includes those who write on the wall, sing, celebrate. Fifty may well be the moment when we discover that we do contain a capacity for the infinite; it can bring on a wooziness, temporary or lasting. Either way, we are no longer the same.


  6. I raise my glass to your fabulous fiftieth year!

    Rules for turning fifty:
    1. Eat more cake. (I know Rebecca would agree with this one!)
    2. Drink more Champagne.

    (I think two rules are plenty.)

    Happy days, Claire!


  7. Happy birthday! I wish you many many more years in this wonderful world.

  8. John - Lentenstuffe - a burdy burp back! (See, I'm bolder now I'm fifty!) Thanks for sending good wishes. I intend to take your suggestion to heart and to 'go, girl'!

    Are you 'there' yet? Fifty, I mean? Your photo shouts 'no', your poetry 'yes, yes, of course - fifty was a long, loooong time ago'. (You understand that I mean both comments in the very best sense?!)

  9. Kind, wise Elisabeth - thank you for your birthday wishes and your 'from-within-the-fifties' welcome. It is with gratitude and anticipation that I enter this next half-century. I am blessed to share life with some exceptional older women; inspirational women who live courageously and who I have to run to keep up with at times! 'Tis right so... ; )

    And then there are the younger women and men who express a whole other timbre of wisdom and perception.

    I love Jenny Joseph's poem - the title's terrific, isn't it?(the way she issues forth with exuberance from the word go, and without apology.) Thank you.

  10. Dear Sparrow
    Fifty = a fabulous freedom. Yes, I believe you are right. I feel it - something different - and have yet to familiarize myself with what 'it' is. This morning it's headiness and grounded-ness at one and the same time - like combing fingers through clouds whilst knowing the earth's comfort and discomfort, its warmth and coolth underfoot.
    I am ever so thankful we have met, M.
    Then. There. Here. Now.
    Thank you for sharing my birthday. L,

  11. Dear Rebecca - capacious, exuberant, courageous fifty-something (-eight, is it?) woman. I love the way you engage with It All. Every bit of it. You live what you advocate and advocate what you live. Pretty awesome! Thank YOU for what you open in me - it has something to do with transparency and permission, I think. L, C xx

  12. Marylinn (whom I first encountered in conversation with Rachel and Rebecca in Rebecca's 'front room'), you are certainly a woman in touch with our capacity for the infinite... you have a gift for articulating and synthesizing concerns that are common and peculiar to us all. I have been powefully touched by this in you.
    Thank you for your words of welcome. L,

  13. Dear T - thank you for raising your glass to my fifties. I raise mine to you and yours, too (clink, clink - eye contact, eye contact - sip, gulp, swallow!).
    As for these two rules? I think I could like by them! (I was sipping left-over champagne and eating cheesecake & lemon meringue phi with my son just past midnight last night! If it can be done, it must... ).
    It's been a treat to meet you, T. Oh, and I meant to tell you I was at friends' home the other and discovered they'd lived in Seattle for five student years before settling back in Dunedin. They have several paintings and prints on their walls made by Seattle artists. You'd have enjoyed seeing them! The world is small, really, isn't it? Distance easily crossed on stepping stones... )
    L, C x

  14. Beloved Snail - hello! I've not long ago responded to your message on my tortellini page; I said how much I love the name you have chosen to go by in our blogosphere world.
    Thank you for your birthday message here, too. I agree with you about our world - it is wonderful, even as it's terrible, bewildering, wrenching.

    Perhaps we light candles as a way of acknowledging the dark and as an act of faith? Light illuminates and dispels darkness.

    Have a wonderful week in Autumnal Holland. L, C

  15. Claire,
    Happy happiest of birthdays! My heart did a flip-flop when I saw that photo of the cluster of lights in your studio. It looks magical and like heaven should look.
    I watched a short movie about the sea tonight and saw creatures living in the deep dark parts of the ocean. How scary the world can be without light. Cloudy blue eyes and teeth too big for the mouths that contain them. And then we watched birds flying through the water to catch fish and it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. How incredible to have a universe above and below us. We are lucky creatures, we are.
    Cheers to your day. thanks for being a light in the world.

  16. Of course Jeanette Winterson's version of dark is just as beautiful. Be light when light strikes you and dark when dark strikes you. They will both strike in fabulous ways.

  17. Congratulations Claire, and may the next 50 produce more of your wonderful creativity .

  18. Rachel - the movie you've been watching sounds magnificent. Could you let me know what its title is, please?

    The world we live in, the one we can see and smell, taste and touch is such a tiny part of a much, much greater reality. Would you agree? And yet, the bits we experience every single day can be bogglingly beautiful and infinitely mysterious. We are lucky indeed to have a universe above and below us. A then there are the ones within us, too.

    Small wonder there's never a dull moment!

    Jeanette Winterson sees things so clearly. I love what you say about being light when light strikes and dark when darkness strikes, and about each of these states having something worthwhile and 'striking' about them. Thanks for your happy birthday greetings, Rachel. L, C

  19. Hello richardg - warm thanks for your kind words.

    I wonder whether you have considered writing a blog? I would like to encourage you to... your comments are always a pleasure to read.

  20. It's called "Blue Planet" from the Discovery channel. We watched it on Netflix - the one about "The Deep" *enter mysterious and scary music here* It was pretty incredible the creatures that live at those depths and never ever ever see light and how they survive. It's scary was total darkness can do to living things.

    we are such a small part of the world and yet we always try to be so big in it. I love the idea of being surrounded with universes (universi? =) ) and also surrounded with the one in ourselves. So much space to roam!

    xo Rachel

  21.'s the website for the show:

    Claire, your name: clarity, yes,
    I know that, for a fact - you are
    clear-eyed, clear as a certain
    kind of southern sky, airy - as in
    lightness of being, and see, a lair's
    there for you to retreat to, or
    to study Lion's Mane jellyfish
    and other artful amoeba.

    To you newly friend (newly 50), a wish:
    for clarity, lightness of being, a place
    to retreat to, jellyfish that pretend
    to be lions and art wherever you look.

  23. It looks like a magical night. Oh how I wish I had the ability to be in two places at once!

    Happy 50 years young.


  24. I love what you say about being surrounded by the universe within us, Rachel - 'so much space to roam'!

    Who was it who said we are endlessly mysterious, most of all to ourselves?

    Thanks for the movie title and the link... I find it miraculous that there are creatures perfectly adapted to suit just about every crease and corner of our world, even those where there is no light (at least as we know it and measure it)... just the thought of this is enough to take my breath away. L, C x

  25. Dear Mary, thank you for this birthday treat.
    And for TP and meeting - you are a lovely spirit.
    L, C x

  26. Hi Vanda - I wish you'd been able to be in two places at once, too! Thanks for the word 'young'. (I feel it, therefore I am?) Looking forward to seeing you soon, your PhD all neatly buttoned up. L, C xx

  27. Claire,
    I'm not sure who said that, but I like it! And it's true!

    There are mysteries of this world she's not quite ready to show us, I think. Or maybe never will. And we keep trying to figure it all out, don't we? Explore as much as we can? I think the deep deep sea is her closet she doesn't want anyone going in to and I don't blame her. There are colors down there you can't imagine!
    Maybe it's her testing area for new creatures: Top Secret.

  28. Dear Rachel

    I think of the sea as a second heaven and every bit as infinite.

    Both realms have a right to their secrets - if only we ever-curious humans didn't have such a hard time accepting this?

    In our quest for more (more, more), our curiosity all too often leads us violate the very things we love and treasure most? Perhaps we need to let mystery be mystery until the earth/the ocean is ready to reveal what it is she needs to reveal? And in her time? L, C x

  29. Claire,
    We human have the same way of doing this to people, too, I think - dig into their secrets. Sometimes so we don't feel so alone, sometimes to make us feel better about ourselves, sometimes we are just nosy.
    Cheers to the mystery in us and the world around us.

  30. I agree with you, Rachel - we and the creatures (and spaces) we share our planet with are similarly programmed when it comes to this 'reveal/conceal' question! We almost can't help ourselves, for all manner of rhyme and reason.

    May I salute the unknown and mysterious in you?
    L, C

  31. Claire: small world indeed. Come to Seattle and we'll test out my rules!

  32. I'd love to come to Seattle, T - rules or no rules! Who knows... this might well happen one day? ; )