05 December 2019

The gift of light


We are now in the early days of the busiest time of the year, or what feels like it.  I don't know about you but I suspect that I am busier in the summer months but because it is warmer and the daylight is around for much longer you don't feel busy in the quite the same way.  This time of year is not supposed to be a time for being busy, it is a time for slowing down, for quiet time and going gently, perhaps that is why we can feel frazzled when we try and do so much, it is difficult to say no when there are so many wonderful things going on around us.

The past two years we have avoided all this hustle and bustle by going away, last year for the whole of December and the year before the week leading up to Christmas.  Both these trips were to places where we were hidden from the crazy, busy of this season.  We are not going away this year so I have been thinking about ways of doing the same whilst being at home, while I ponder how this will work I do not want to be paralysed by the thoughts that we need to hide a home to find the peace and quiet.  It is a difficult balance.

I spend a lot of my life planning, making sure that each week is a balance of time at home and time out and about, a balance of quiet and busy, all the time I am holding that space making sure it works for us.  I have learnt the hard way how important it is to include the quiet time, the peace, the time for breathing out.  As I head into this time, with a month of many illnesses behind me, my planning has become drawn towards the quiet, being at home more, interspersed with time with friends or going to events - but as always only one thing a day.

If I am going to celebrate or observe an event or festival in some way I need to feel a connection to it.  Over my years as a parent I have searched for a way to observe the weeks in December that were more than a build up to a day of eating large amounts of food and giving and receiving gifts.  I found what I was looking for a few years ago and have continued to use this, changing it slightly each year to reflect the changes in the children.  We use this time to think about our connection to the world around us, focusing on one aspect each week.  The first week we consider the mineral kingdom, our connection to the Earth the physical foundation of a life, the ground we stand on.  The second week we consider the plant kingdom celebrating the bounty and nourishment we receive, the growers who make this possible for us, the rain and sun that creates a balance of growth and decay,  the life of this kingdom unlike the still, solid mineral world.  The third week we consider the animal kingdom, we remind ourselves of our relationship with animals, how we share our capacity of movement with them, consider their traits and how we might be like particular animals.  The final week we consider Humans, how all the other three kingdoms contribute to our existence, our place in the universe, how we are with other people, how we can support each other and look after each other.  We explore these themes, ideas and thoughts through stories, poems, songs and now that the children are older we have been talking about what they mean to us.  It is not a time to be critical, it is a time of thinking,

The four weeks of December is also a time of moving through the darkness to the return of the light, the last few weeks of the days shortening.  It can be hard time especially if you live somewhere like me where the sun is rarely seen, with heavy grey clouds filling the sky day after day.  Staying positive is hard.  Somehow the chinks of positivity can be found, by being grateful, for thinking about all the wonderful things we have done this year,  spending time with those we love, what we could do in the future, the possibilities, maybe sowing the seeds of a new beginning.

The gift of light 
I thankfully hold
And pass to my neighbour
Its shining gold
That everyone may
Feel its glow,
Receiving and giving
May love and grow

How do you celebrate and stay positive at this time or year?

28 November 2019

November in Photos

November has been a difficult month for me, one of illness after illness, different each time, with a short break in between before I have caught the next thing.  I have spent most of the month resting inside, with short walks here and there for my sanity and a healthy dose of fresh air.  I am looking forward to an illness free December now.  As November draws to an end I am once again joining in the Photo Scavenger Hunt over on I live, I love, I craft, I am me... here are my photos inspired by words and words inspired by photos.

Seasonal View


A rare coinciding of lovely weather and feeling well meant that a last minute invitation to hang out with friends for an afternoon could be taken up.  We had a lovely paddle on a local lake, enjoying the last splendour of the autumn colours, followed by dinner at their house.  It was tinged with sadness as we heard of their plans to move away from the area.

Oops


My enforced hibernation has meant that I have been doing a lot knitting this month two hats, a pair of fingerless mitts, one of a pair of mitts and finishing off a cardigan.  Lots of knitting means more needles around and about and I have managed to break several.  The pair on the left should look like the pair on the right but they have lost their metal ends which enables them to be attached to a cable linking the two needles together.  I also managed to break a double pointed needle too!

Seashore


This time last year we were spending our last few days at home before heading off for a month in the sun.  All the Christmas cards were made and sent, the presents all bought, wrapped and posted or bagged up to be hand delivered and the house was nearly ready to be closed up for a month.  I cannot believe that it was a year ago.  We are very lucky to have friends who call a small island in the Bahamas home, we had flights to pay for but the accommodation was free.  We are hoping to return next year for a similar trip.

Card


We don't just make Christmas cards here but birthday cards too.  This is the one that Alice made for Cameron's birthday earlier this month.  He loves his mountain biking.

Striped


All that knitting and needle braking necessitated a ratch through my project bags where I found this scarf which I seem to have been neglecting.  I cast this on at least eighteen months ago if not longer, it is for Alice and was meant to be a ninth birthday present, she is now ten and half so maybe I will have it finished by her eleventh birthday?

Own Choice


My local town has fifteen signs dotted around which are very tongue in cheek.  Like any town it is has its fair share of street signage directing traffic or pedestrians, to keep us safe, signage for every aspect of our lives, their meanings are clear and keep everything running smoothly.  The 'extra' signs are an antidote to this, injecting a little humour.  I am a very visual person, so this sign is one of my favourites as I imagine people doing as it commands.

17 November 2019

Gratitudes


It has been a long time since I have written a gratitude post.  I used to write them most Sundays, joining with a fellow blogger, a lovely tradition reflecting on the week and to find gratitude in the every day.  Taking the time to reflect and slow down can be difficult in the busyness of life, especially as we head into the build up to Christmas.  If you want to join me, please post a link to your post in the comments below.

Appreciating the joy and beauty of the every day ordinary.

This month I have been grateful for...

...amazing friends who have supported me when I have been unwell

...a wonderful holiday and the hospitality of our friends

...our wood burning stove and a good supply of seasoned wood

...making new connections with a lovely family

...nourishing learning alongside a dear friend

...my local farmers market

...a beautiful Martinmas celebration with friends

...the generosity of gifts for Cameron's birthday from friends and family 

...the beautiful colours of Autumn

...inspiring museum workshops  

...time to rest 

...the volunteers who run the Archery club that Cameron is part of

...the gorgeous light on cold and frosty mornings

...time to talk to my Mum on the phone 


❊❊❊❊❊❊❊❊❊❊


I will do a monthly gratitude post and you would be most welcome to join me. The next one will be on Sunday 15 December.

13 November 2019

Fifteen


We celebrated a birthday in our house this week with a quiet celebration, Cameron is not a fan of large groups or birthday parties.  He wanted to go mountain biking with a friend so that is what he did.  As he celebrates his fifteenth time round the sun, I write these words for him

This has been a year of big changes for you, some days you seem to visibly grow before our eyes, this time last year you were shorter than me now you are 2 inches taller than me, growing inches this year.  Your appetite is hard to keep up with at times, you always seem to be hungry, there is so much that needs feeding for you that it makes me happy to see you eat so much and so well.  You have no interest in cooking but you know what food you want to nourish you and keep you healthy.  Your voice is dropping and you are slowly building your adult strength, I cannot keep up with you when we go for a walk your legs go on for ever.

You started this year with a tentative connection to a new friend and have ended it with strong connections to two lovely friends.  It has given me such pleasure to watch these connections grow and flourish.  You have spent so long on the edge of a group whom you have known for years but were struggling to connect with, unsurprising as they are so rude and unkind to you.  This last year has shown you that there are people out there who are like you, gentle, kind souls, and now you no longer wish to spend time with the group of old friends, a decision that makes me so happy and I know you will not regret.  It is has had a effect on your happiness too, you are so much more content now.

You are so tolerant of the time we spend with your sister's friends, children who are much younger than you but who love to hang out with an older child.  They all love it when you join in their games or sit and chat with them, they look out for you too seeking me out to tell me when you were hurt at a home ed camp and then coming back later in the day to find out how you were doing.

You are learning to honing your leadership skills as you often take charge when playing in groups, you bring everyone into the game as fairly as you can, negotiating with everyone with your strong sense of fair play.  You like to come and talk to me about this afterwards seeking reassurance and guidance that you are on the right track.

This has been the year when you have loved being left alone in the house.  It has always been in your terms, but it is what you have wanted.  You have always been a home boy and happy in your own company, so being left alone in the house is perfect for you.  You have had three days on your own, with dad's company in the evenings, which felt like a big step but again it is what you wanted, you had a great time but it was wonderful to see you big smile when we returned home after our travels.

You have shown me that being the parent of a teenager is a wonderful privilege.  You have a great sense of humour and comedic timing, you often have us all in stitches with your one liners particularly at meal times.  There is no monosyllabic grunting from you, in fact sometimes I ask you if we could just take a short break as my head hurts with all the knowledge you are passing on to me.

I have now been a mother for fifteen years, the most amazing fifteen years of my life.  Thank you for being tolerant of my mistakes as I learn all the time what it takes to be the best parent I can be.  I am so proud to be your mum.

Happy Birthday, my love.

Eleven
Ten
Nine
Eight


07 November 2019

A Peek into my Day


Outside my window the early morning sun catches the hills creating a streak of light across the horizon.  The trees are putting on a beautiful display this year, so often strong winds will strip the trees before they have had a chance to show us their wonderful colours.

Around the house there is washing drying and piles of washing waiting to be put away,  a board game  lies abandoned on the dining room table having been played and left, lego mini figures arranged in tableaux on various surfaces, a chair full of teddy bears, it is all rather tidying considering how much time we have spent at home over the past week or so.

We have had a few plans this week which have all been quietly shelved as illness has slowly made its way through all of us.  Thankfully we are on the mend now and looking forward to returning back to our usual rhythm.

I am thinking about my brother.  A lot.  He has had a very difficult few years and this has been the worse.  He has been rarely out of my thoughts this year.

The cold and damp weather is now here, it is at times like this that I am thankful that we have a good supply of seasoned wood for our woodburning stove.

In my kitchen an oil bottle stands empty waiting to be refilled, a selection of jars drying having been washed before being put away to be used again another day, two jars of sauerkraut are gently fermenting and a further jar contains oil and yarrow leaves steeping to made into a salve at some point.

Our enforced hibernation means that I have been doing a lot of knitting, I am creating mittens, a hat and more rows on Alice's tunic.  The cardigan is now off the needles and waiting for the ends to tidied away, the underarms to be joined and a gentle blocking.

It is our local monthly farmers market this Saturday I am going to pick up our usual supplies.  I love spending time at each stall, chatting to the producers, getting to know them, making local connections to the food we eat.

One of the orchestras I play in has a study day on Saturday which I would really like to go to I am hoping that I will have stopped coughing enough to be able to join in.

I am reading, The Women who Run with Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs a book that I have read much about - all really positive -but now that I am reading it, am finding it really hard going and rather disappointing.  I have read so many sentences that are full of flowery prose and had to read them again and again to make sense of them, if at all.  I am close to giving up on it, perhaps it will be a book that I will dip into now and again.

My lovely husband bought me my first smart phone recently, I don't make use of many of its functions but I am loving being able to listen to podcasts at home and when out and about.  I am listening to and loving the weekly Wardrobe Crisis, I can really recommend it.  You might think fashion, nah that is not for me, give it a listen it is so much more than that and we all buy clothes.........episode 94 is amazing.

After our enforced hibernation, which I have actually really enjoyed, I am looking forward to meeting up with friends I haven't seen for weeks.

I am pondering our menu for the week ahead.  I am a meal planner, planning dinner and tea for a seven day period, meals based round the contents of our weekly veg box, I will shop for the rest of the ingredients tomorrow.

Over the past year I have been finding out about herbs and their medicinal/nutritional uses, I am learning slowly building my knowledge one herb at a time.  Whilst we have been ill recently I have been making many herbal tea mixtures to support our return to good health.

A friend told me a couple of quotes this month one in particular is my favourite quote this month, Better finished than perfect.  I definitely need to take this to heart as I often procrastinate rather than get on with things.

I am wearing a blue top with white stripes, a denim sleeveless dress and navy leggings and still no socks in the house.

A peek into my day

03 November 2019

Sowing Seeds


I am thankful this week is coming to and end.  I am not really a fan of Halloween, as a child it wasn't a big event as it is now, but people dressed up and had parties, I found it all rather terrifying, now, as an adult I don't feel a connection to it all. I know that so many do and have a great time dressing up and maybe also making mischief, it is really not for me.

We are now halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice a time some call Samhain (pronounced sow-ein), a halfway point of the dark days, a halfway point of our resting and recharging that I talked about recently.  We had a small Samhain celebration this week.

We can really see the visible signs that the earth is slowing down, the leaves are providing us with their stunning visual palate turning the most beautiful colours and falling from the trees.  I love to watch the leaves as they make their descent, have you noticed that each tree's leaves have a different way of making their to the ground?  Have a look when you are next out and about amongst the trees.  They and other plants are nearing the start of their period of dormancy.

As we, in the Northern Hemisphere, continue to move further away from the sun our temperatures will continue to fall, bringing with it the frosts, that some might have already had, and later snow, some parts have already had some of this too.  These colder temperatures bring with it the death and decay in the plant world an important part of the cycle of their life.

Whilst the earth is resting and recharging we can reflect on all that it has provided for us over the past year.  We give thanks, for the rain, replenishing the earth and sustaining life.  I know for some parts of the world rain is in short supply and in other parts they are flooding with so much rain.  We must learn to adapt our behaviour and how we manage our resources to be more resilient to the changes in the weather so that we are ready for droughts or flooding.  We give thanks for the abundant harvest from the earth, the food and medicine it provided to sustain our lives.  When we stop and think for a moment about all the food that we eat it has all been provided by our beautiful planet, it is so amazing.  We give thanks for the air that we breath sustaining our lives, allowing us to speak and sing.  This is another resource, like water, which we cannot live without and which we must adapt our behaviour.  I am so lucky to live somewhere with really good air quality the air tastes horrible to me in built up urban areas, places that people are living and moving around in all the time.

While the earth rests we too should use this time to rest, giving us a chance to renew and replenish our energies.  We can use this time to think of new plans and new beginnings, for sowing the seeds of our future in our minds and storing it until the time of the light and warmth returning.  A seed of a something you want to do, to be, to learn or adventures you want have.  We are not going to use this time to set them in motion but to incubate them and let them start to take some shape.

We can also use this time to reflect or start to clear our minds of our fears, troubles or insecurities those thoughts that we go over in our minds.  It is a good time to start the process of letting go of them, perhaps by writing them down or drawing them, whatever way works best for you.  If you have access to a fire, perhaps in your house keeping you all warm, you could burn them as a way of helping you to release.

For Inner Tranquility
Quiet I bear within me
I bear within myself
Forces to make me strong
Now will I be imbued
With their glowing warmth
Now will I fill myself
With my own will's resolve
And I will feel the quiet
Pouring through all my being
When, by my steadfast striving
I become strong
To find within myself
The source of strength
The strength of inner quiet
Rudolph Steiner

Our strength, our inner strength is what will carry us through this period of dark, dormancy and rest. It will help us to release our fears, we have started that journey bringing them into focus and recording them, maybe you have burnt them in the fire, now we need to make peace with them to help us move on.

Our inner strength will guide us to a seed of a new beginning, one that we will take within us and allow it to sit there quietly, as a seed does in the earth awaiting germination and development.  When we are nearing the end of this important time of rest and recharging, allow this seed to come into focus in your mind ready for you to take forward into the Spring, the light and the earth warming once again.

31 October 2019

October in Photos

October you are are my favourite month of them all.  This year you have been a month of contrasts, busyness at home, quiet and calm away on holiday, warm wet weather at your start, closing with beautiful cold frosty days, the leaves changing from green to yellow, orange and red.  As you draw to an end I am once again joining in the Photo Scavenger Hunt over on I live, I love, I craft, I am me.... here are my photos inspired by words and words inspired by photos.

Umbrella


Alice and I went for a walk in some beautiful woodlands whilst Cameron mountain biked with a friend.  The forecast was for it to be dry and cold, a forecast is well a prediction and on this occasion totally wrong.  It rained. Hard.  We had coats on but for warmth not waterproof.  We sheltered under the trees watching the rain pouring down so close to us but we were dry under the trees, it soon stopped and we were on our way again.

Wet


We had a wonderful holiday in Scotland this month, staying with friends near Fort William.  There are many things I love about this part of Scotland not least the trees, many of them are covered in lichen.  Absolutely covered.  A beautiful natural adornment that you can see from some distance.  Lichens are not parasitic they do not harm the plants that they are growing on.  In fact they are beneficial, as they are useful to other wildlife, providing nesting material for birds and food and shelter to invertebrates which are food for other animals.  A woodland rich in lichens will support many more species of wildlife than any other.   They grow very, very slowly, 1- 2 mm (0.04 - 0.08 inches) a year, and they thrive in undisturbed, wet conditions.

Puddles


This is a photo from my archives, one it would seem I have used here before.  It has been surprising that I haven't seen a single puddle when I had my camera with me.  This puddle is the remains of a serious volume of rain that fell in the month of November 2015 the legacy of several storms back to back which culminated in the most serious of them all destroying so much of my beautiful county.  We were so lucky to have quick thinking neighbours who were out in the terrible conditions ensuring that the water flowed away from our terrace of houses, my mind was elsewhere at the time.  I really hope this Winter does not bring too much rain for anyone.

Overflowing


This is my yarn.  A mess.  Overflowing its storage space.  This cupboard is in Alice's bedroom, she tells me that I need to do something about it as the door will not shut properly.  She is right, I do.  I need to make some baskets that make better use of the space than the boxes and bags that I currently use.  This photo is a reminder to me that I need to do that job soon......

Splash


Throwing stones into water is immensely satisfying don't you think?  A beach with stones, they are just crying out to be thrown into the water.  On a walk for the John Muir Award that Cameron is currently completing, all the teenagers were throwing stones in the water, mostly to see who could make the biggest splash.  I am surprised that no one fell in as some of the rocks were heavy and it looked, to us adults, as if they were going to follow the rock into the water.  They were huge rocks so the splashes were big, they had small rainbows too.

Gift (Own Choice)


Alice's best friend has a birthday next week, she wanted to make her a present and decided on a chest of drawers for her dolls clothes.  She drew up a plan, with measurements and Daddy helped her to make it.  It stands 33cm (13") high and the drawers run really smoothly.  It is beautiful and I'm sure will be well received.