Monday, February 28, 2011

Crocus

Glorious sunshine for the last day of February.
A photo from the garden - taken this morning.

Tonight l'm making Cream of Cauliflower Soup also known as Crème ou Velouté Dubarry - named after the Contesse Dubarry, a favourite of Louix XV - the cauliflower represented the powdered wigs of the time.
It's an easy soup to make- Here's the LINK :)


This morning, flowers cracked open
the earth’s brown shell. Spring
leaves spilled everywhere
though winter’s stern hand
could come down again at any moment
to break the delicate yolk
of a new bloom.

The crocus don’t see this as they chatter
beneath a cheerful petal of spring sky.
They ignore the air’s brisk arm
as they peer at their fresh stems, step
on the leftover fragments
of old leaves.

When the night wind twists them to pieces,
they will die like this: laughing,
tossing their brilliant heads
in the bitter air

Christine Klocek-Lim


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Out doors

In a world that seems set by disasters simple pleasures mean everything.
There have been lovely moments here today.

It started when l got up this morning and the toast, perfectly browned, seemed to leap enthusiastically into my hand - a sure sign that a good day was coming...

I visited with my daughter and granddaughter first thing - Mel already had her washings hung out in the sunshine and kept busy cleaning and gardening. Olwyn and l spent time talking and playing together - her cuddles filled my heart with joy.
My oldest son took his wee brother out for hours- they played football, went to the park, romped around, bought sweets, etc.. Sam should sleep tonight!
When l got back home my husband was busy working up at the very back of our place so we met up for lunch before we went back out to work together. I cleared up all the old pots and baskets and planted Viola's. It just felt great to feel the sunshine on my back and to see the place getting cleared up a bit more for Spring.

We have lots of different types of trees up in that area of garden and in a few weeks we'll be tapping the Silver Birch to collect sap for wine making. The Birch sap tastes so pure and slightly sweet - you can even drink it straight.
In Scotland the Silver Birch is also known as 'Lady of the Woods' (christened by the poet Coleridge 1802) and has long been known as a 'traditional tonic' and medicinal plant. It is one of my favourite trees - not just for the colour of the bark or it's sap but because of the gentle way it seems to move and sway even in the strongest of winds.


Yesterday we all went to visit with my dad for his 80th birthday. We had a lovely time but as always it was hard to say goodbye.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Sprinklings

It is my dad's 80th birthday this Sunday.

I have written a little about him- this is the short version :)


My earliest memory of my dad was watching him from the window as he made his way across a field with his piece box (lunch box) tucked under his arm. He was headed to work in the steel works that day.


I can still remember sitting on his knee and laughing at his jokes and us playing pranks on mum. I remember the strength of his big hands when we went out walking - the warmth of my little hand inside. I remember him taking me to the shop for a 'pokey bag' of sweets.


My father has lived a thousand lives, been a million places and has been everything to me. I asked him when l was only two for the moon, 'get it daddy, get it!' and he still remembers and often asks me if l am still reaching for it. Whenever l see the moon l can think only of my father and of my dreams and of his wish for me to pursue them. He has a smile as big as sunshine. I can still remember as clear as if it were yesterday him smiling down at me from the mirror as he shaved. My dad is the funniest man alive- he has fantastic wit and l am so pleased that l have inherited his sense of humour. Sometimes we laugh so hard together it makes us cry. We can keep jokes going back and forth for days and he has a plethora of adventurous tales that everyone enjoys – especially me.


My dad loved puddings – rhubarb crumble and steamed rice he relished. I remember once when my mum had to go into hospital and my dad cooked the dinners – oversized chunky chips and large deserts! Even now he can make the best whiskey marmalade in the world!


My father loved to read- he was never without a book or the paper- and the endless cups of coffee. I remember us watching cartoons together – Mr. Magoo was our favourite and he loved keeping up with the football, boxing and wrestling. I loved watching how animated he would become when he watched a match.

He drew bulldogs - quick as lightning squiggles that l still ask him to do when l visit.

At parties Dad had a trick for hanging balloons from ceilings and walls – he'd rub the balloon on his belly to build up static much to the delight of all us kids watching – my dad was magic!


He is a lifetime of wonderful memories of times and places near and far.

At sixteen he joined the Merchant Navy -and his travelling adventures began.

Dad was in Karachi the very day Pakistan separated from India (1947) and he helped transport Hindu women to safety. He swam in the Suez Canal, brought a monkey back home from Sierra Leone, Africa (bought at the time for 200 cigarettes -part of the 1000 he won at poker!). He traveled throughout the Mediterranean, the Indian ocean, the Red Sea, visited many countries like Egypt, Portugal, Spain, Canada, India, etc. Once in the Bay of Biscay during a severe storm steam rollers and ammunition broke loose in the hull all at the same time!

My father travelled on many different vessels (some now on display at the Museum of Transport-Glasgow). He sailed on the Royal Scotsman, the Aviswell, the Baron Graham, the Baron Ford, etc.

He was stranded for days in the St. Lawrence River because of dense fog, during which time the ship was leaking so they were thankful when they eventually made it back to Montreal for repair.


Dad would return home to Scotland with bunches of bananas, butter and cheeses- much to my Granny's delight because during this time (just after the war) items like these were scarce. But most of all he returned safe, full of adventures and stories.




There is a photograph of my father (above) in a hospital bed with a broken leg. He was working as a male nurse at the time in Hackney, London and posed for this photograph which later became the advertisement poster for a huge nursing campaign. It was postered throughout the London underground, on billboards and at the local exchange.

He was a clever and versatile man who could find achievement wherever he found himself working.

During his years in London he became an auditor for New Consolidated Goldfields – a British gold-mining company. He worked in registrations for gold, copper and diamonds.

He then went on to work for the Trafalgar Insurance Company – dad's office was between Green Park and the Marble Arch- from his desk you could see the tennis courts at Buckingham Palace but he said he never saw anyone playing tennis.! He got five raises in his first year!


In 1959 my father went to Ireland and entered the Belfast Bible College – in 1960 he became Head Boy. My father used this degree to do ministry work among the Jews in London and as we grew up he worked as a local Minister. My father has preached all over the place- from Aberdeen to Toronto, Canada – an exceptional public speaker. You can imagine the values that l was brought up with- taking the Lords name in vain was very bad - swearing was NEVER an option. My father was strict but fair.


I remember holidays that were a tangle of cases legs and shouting children. At Dunbar my dad swam so far out into the ocean that we could no longer see his head – my mother stood frantically waving her arms on the shore shouting for him to return- he had no fear. I remember it raining on that holiday and us playing drafts and dominos in the caravan. My father would hoist us up so easily onto his shoulders, hang all four of us from his arms - two kids on each side- until we let go. Happy days without care and full of love.



I remember our holidays to visit my grandparents- taking the train and boats- sitting up on the side of the boat, my legs dangling over the side with my fathers arms around me- safe – sure that l would not fall.


The help and wisdom he gave to me as a child is still with me and I cherish and use it still.

I was a slender child with runners legs and he encouraged me to sprint in the long meter races. l remember his advice, fall in behind the person leading and let them set the pace until the end- then move! I became a good runner.

Dad encouraged me to read, to speak correctly and corrected my grammar. He could spell any word you could think of and so it became a game for me to find one that would catch him out - l remember using the back of shampoo bottles as inspiration in this quest!

One of the biggest things that my dad brought to our lives was his love of music. The family all played instruments too – mine was guitar. My father taught us to sing with him in harmonies from a young age. As a young man he was asked to sing in 'soirees' and church gatherings with his own father and sister– my dad sang bass. Our home was always filled with song- we sang grace every night before dinner, l am singing it now in my head- it sounded beautiful.

He taught me to stand up for myself, to fight but never start one. To be true to yourself and always reach for the moon.


He is the kind of man that would give you the shirt from his back, the kind that laughs before adversity and complains only about injustice. The kind that places low value on material worth- high worth in the people around him. He is turning 80 years now but still has a twinkle in his eye, a smile and a laugh never far away - you just want to be around him and turning from his door is always a sadness.


In memories of childhood my dad is beside me, listening, laughing, encouraging, cuddling me...

and all he has given is part of me forever.


I am so proud to be his daughter.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Time for tea & knitting

The strawberry tea cosy is for my daughter, Melissa. I just finished it tonight :) I made up this pattern myself by l know that there are knitting instructions you can download HERE.

Knitting for me is so similar to my time spent in the garden or out walking- it gives me a place of peace- a time to think and meditate and when needed a time to resurface.


When l knit l enter a state of calm repose

l think of my mother and grandmothers

their hands in mine now

I think of how quickly time passes

like the wool as it slips through my fingers

I knit to remember

to celebrate

I think of the person who l am knitting for

and how they have shaped my life

like stitches in time -

interwoven.

-- Horizon

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Grandy

Grandmas don't just say "that's nice" -- they reel back and roll their eyes and throw up their hands and smile. You get your money's worth out of grandmas. -Author:unknown


These last couple of days l've been busy babysitting my wee granddaughter Olwyn (2) – she certainly keeps me going with her blether and l am now officially known as 'Grandy'.

Today we had fun making soup – while l was busy making bread/soup up on the counter Olwyn filled her own giant jam pot on the floor. She loved opening all the kitchen cupboards, drawers and rummaging through the vegetable basket. She filled her big pot with plastic cookie cutters, parsnips, carrots, etc. and stirred it all with a extra long wooden spoon – quite a sight. She was so proud to take some soup home to her mummy- thinking she had made it herself!

I've also been busy sewing and hanging new curtains (3 meter drop x 4), knitting my daughter a strawberry tea cosy and have been across the water for shopping.

All the family are busy but doing well- so now l'm away to bed. Grandy is beat.

Blether

(ble-thir) dialect, chiefly scot.
~n. 1. person who chatters incessantly; one who babbles on and on.
~v. 2. to engage in conversation, long-winded or idle talk
1- ("That wee yin o' yours is an awfy blether gettin'")
2- ("Ah met yer granny doon the toun, we hud a richt guid blether the gither")

Monday, February 21, 2011

Scary Folk

Emily Portman was one of the nominees up for 'best original song' at the BBC Folk Awards a few weeks back. Her song was - STICK STOCK from her lovely album 'the Glamoury'.

Folk enchantress spins 12 eldritch fairytales
'A bewitching collection from one of the new British folk scene's most beguiling presences. Portman's concertina couples with strings, harp and guitar in seductive arrangements, while her deceptively innocent voice self-harmonises lyrics soaked in folk tales, myths and disturbing dreams (check "Little Longing", a lullaby to a sawdust baby). "Tongue-Tied", "Three Gold Hairs" and "Mossy Coat" draw magical energy from the streets and seascapes of her Newcastle hometown, while the strange dischords of "Stick Stock" are needle pricks against a malevolent stepmother.' **** Rob Young UNCUT.

STICK-STOCK
This song is about a murderous stepmother who kills her stepdaughter and bakes her in a pie. It has a devilish tune and l can't get it out of my head...arghh!
I've got loads to do today so will leave you with her song below.
Perhaps the tick tock tick tock rhythm will get me into the swing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Missing Callum

We're thinking about getting another dog - it's been a while now since Callum. I'd love another Border Collie- think my husband would prefer a Border Terrier since his dad has two, we're just thinking though...
Photo to the side is of our Sam and old Mac.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Out for a drive

The past few days have been a school holiday up this way so my husband and l took the two days off from work which has been nice.

Yesterday we decided to go for a drive out by Loch Striven and sit to enjoy the open landscape while our son climbed and ran around.

This drive is about 28 miles round trip from where we live, heading south at first through Innellan to Toward point and then turning north along the Glenstriven road.


This is a remote and rugged place – a place of extremes. The weather changes here are often swift and unpredictable – the beauty and atmosphere raw – excesses of light and shadow, hills that rise abruptly from the water, towering rock set against sky– the sheer physical presence of it all. I love this landscape, l love the emotional response it conjures in me- the creativity to write, to paint, to dream.

It's an old place too and you can feel it - with old dyke walling, woodland and standing stones at the head of the loch, hills masked in mist, remote and unearthly - the distances sunk in silence.



Near the end of the loch is the parish of Inverchaolain - pronounced 'Inver-hool-an' and means, 'mouth of the narrow stream'. The present church that you can see in the photograph is not old, it was built in 1912 to replace the one that was destroyed by fire the year before. The original church sat about 200 yards up the hill and was dedicated to St. Bride, as many churches are around this area given the close proximity to Ireland – St. Bride, or Bridget, being the Abbess of Kildare (467-525). This little church is always open, has two lovely stained glass windows and the kirk-yard burial ground has many graves of historical interest.

I've posted a few more photographs taken yesterday below.








Monday, February 14, 2011

Young Love

My youngest lad got two Valentine cards this year, a heart-shaped cookie and a sweet love letter from a girl in his school - lucky boy!


The letter had such an honest simplicity about it- it was clear and spoke straight from the heart. Sometimes l think that we, as adults, have so much to learn from childhood innocence and courage.


Happy Valentine's Day!



You're the one

Oh you're the one, can't you see

Just for me.

I'm funny, you're funny

I'm cheesy, you're cheesy

You know l love you sweetie

and l know you love me

I know you're the one.

I love you and you love me

And l am certain of that.

We're certainly going to be

together forever.

We are sure of that,

sure of that.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

A time for change

I don't usually post on political matters but have to say that since the beginning of the protests in Egypt l have, as people all around the world have, been watching events as they unfolded.


It has been an exciting time for change- we've been watching world history unfold before our eyes, a country for the first time in 8000 yrs. demanding and claiming their right to a democracy and equality. The overthrow of Mubarak brought to an end an era of dictatorship and sent a message to others like him that the power of common people has sway.


I was inspired to see these brave Egyptian people come out into Tahrir Square, sit in front of tanks, chant, stand up to the Mubarak supporters and even when things seemed to go against them – stand resolutely together. It was an inspiration to us all – these people wanted change, knew their rights and were demanding good governance. Power to the people!


The people on Avenue Bourguiba and Tahrir Square are good, decent Muslim and Christian Arabs demanding what we all want – a decent life for their families, education for their children, a job and, above all, self-respect. How could letting them run their own country possibly be worse than what has gone before?

--Stephen Day was head of the Foreign Office's Middle East Department


Which leads me to the point of this post – are we as prepared to stand up for ourselves?


For example, the present Coalition government is at this very moment consulting on the sale of over 285 thousand hectares of national woodland in order, so they say, to help reduce the economic deficit. The paranoia of this 'economic deficit' being used to scare us all into accepting any cuts and privatisations is enabling right-winged ideology only dreamed of by previous Thatcherite intents.

If this land is privatised we are looking not only at restrictions for public access but the possibility of private/foreign developers, even possible deforestation! Auctioning of the forests to private owners and the rich will just put more of the UK in the hands of the entitled.

Why does this government want to privatise and sell everything? Does it even have the right to sell-off publicly-owned forests?

Will Education and the National Health Service be next?


I worry for my children- for their national heritage and future.

When does our land stop being our land?

I am now a protestant.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fine Fettle

In Fine Fettle. Defn: alive and kicking, chipper, in good spirits, flourishing, full of beans, hale and hearty


After a week of rain, snow, hail, sleet, high winds etc. l am happy to report that as l type this post, the sun in all its splendour is rising over the hills - across the Clyde. Its rays are casting a hazy glare over the water causing me to squint my eyes when l look out of the window. The sky is of the softest blue with nought a cloud to be seen - lovely!

This has put me in a fine mood and l am raring to go- l want to clean out my office space, put some washings on the line, open all the windows and mop the floors, etc.

Yesterday l got a great deal on tubs/lids at the local supermarket so l bought eight of them – four for my youngest son and four for anything else l want to store away so I'm going to be busy reorganising.

Our new folk cd by Emily Smith arrived yesterday - a great young Scottish folksinger. I'll be listening to her as l get on.



Wednesday, February 09, 2011

My one weakness

I have just made...


It's in the freezer now for a few hours until it firms up or until l'm brave enough to eat it.
Have you any idea how fattening this is??!

Anyone for tea and cheesecake?


Ingredients:

Crust:
3 1/2 oz. flaked almonds
6 oz. (3/4 cup) sugar
7 oz. plain sweet biscuits
3 1/2 oz. unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 13-oz. can condensed milk
2 oz. (1/4 cup) honey
10 oz. (1 1/4 cups) cream
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Snow

A blanket of white fell over our town once more in the early hours of Monday morning. I peeped out from my bedroom window (3am) and the world seemed so fresh and new - tree branches wrapped in white fur with sculptured gardens beneath.

Unfortunately it wasn't long before the snow turned to sleet and the sleet turned to slush -miserable conditions for walking.


Snow


Little flurries fly past the window,

spirals spinning softly

with winds breath pulled this way

and that, a blanket of quiet

then gone.

-by me




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