Thursday, October 8, 2015

On National Poetry Day

That time I thought I could not 
go any closer to grief 
without dying.

I went closer
and did not die.
Surely God
had His hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
"It's not the weight you carry

but how you carry it -
books, bricks, grief -
it's all in the way 
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down"
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world 
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled -
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

Mary Oliver: Heavy

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Corners of my home: The Blue Room

I finally finished decorating James's bedroom; a long planned, but often procrastinated project. A few weeks ago, however, we bit the bullet, had a huge declutter, and set the wheels in motion.  He decided he wanted a blue room, which was fine, but our ideas about shades of blue differed somewhat, so we had some extensive negotiations on the final colour. I worried that the very strong blue James liked, would be too dark; he thought my pastel preference was boring.  Eventually a slight compromise was reached on James's part ( a very large one on mine), and the room was painted. And it is blue - very blue indeed - much more blue than I would have gone for. But, you know, it works! Having two windows, South and West facing, means that the room benefits from lots of light all day, and so the strong colour is not overpowering. He said he knew that, and of course he did... it is his room after all.

Anyway, with the decorating completed, it was time for the accessorising. New window blinds, bed linen, cushions, his favourite posters, and other wee bits and pieces, make this a bright but cosy room for a boy. 

I converted the built in cupboard into a desk space. I am very pleased with this, considering it was my first power tool project - thanks to Pinterest and You Tube for the inspiration and assistance. James loves it and it's proved to be a great addition to the room. 

I remembered I had a remnant of Star Wars fabric lying around in the old stash, and made a quilted seat pad. I just traced the shape of the seat onto paper and used it as a template. It was a really speedy make, and It felt so good to just have an idea, and then the finished product, in the same afternoon!

Oh, and there is one more outstanding project that will just finish the room off. I am making a couple of quilts using the fabric from the old window blinds. The yellow should give a nice pop of contrast colour. They will take a bit longer than the seat pad, but hopefully they'll be done soon.

So - that's a quick tour around the blue room. I hope you enjoyed it. I am thrilled, with the room and I keep sneaking through just to admire it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

In Autumn


I've been meaning to stop by the peat bank for a long time now. It's actually been a couple of years since we last cut any peat. I think it would have been the summer of 2013. I knew there was still some down there, uncollected and I wanted to check it out.
Saturday afternoon was sunny and pleasantly warm, and James was up for an outing, but not too far, he said. A perfect opportunity for a trip down to the moor. 
There was some peat stacked up, and stray blocks lying around. James busied himself collecting them up and inspecting the bank. I guess we have enough for a few fires there, so we'll get them bagged up soon, and bring them home for the winter. 
It was such a glorious autumn afternoon and we spent ages exploring our wee bit of the moor - marvelling at all the mosses and plants growing there, and just enjoying the colours of the season.  "Why do we not come here all the time?" asked James. Indeed... I just hope he feels the same in a few years time when he's strong enough to wield that tarisker!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Visit

We loved having my sister and brother in law with us for a few days. They have been on a trip back to Scotland  from Canada, and I was so pleased that they were able to make it up to the island. 
There aren't too many photos, but there were lots of cups of tea, good food, and chat around the kitchen table - a few trips out, visiting a special place and just generally relaxing in each other's company.  It was just so nice to be with someone who has known me all my life - I needed that... We also made some exciting plans for a holiday in Canada next year. I think James is ready to go right now!

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Cleaning, shopping, cooking, making preparations, as we get ready for my sister and brother-in-law, who are visiting us at the croft for a few days. I'm really looking forward to seeing them. James even practiced his Hebridean welcome down at the harbour today. Hope you're all having a great weekend xxx

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A pink dress

So, I made my Dottie Angel frock. I'm quite pleased with it. It's not perfect by any means - its fair to say that this was a learning experience all round. For the fabric, I used an old duvet cover, which I picked up in the charity shop - very pink and flowery, and for the pockets, a pretty lilac piece that was in my stash - it may be Laura Ashley.

It seemed a straightforward enough make. I had read a lot of information online, from others who had made the dress, and noted that they made a few adaptations in the making of the dress. As this was my first time using a proper pattern, though, I decided to follow the pattern exactly. I took my time and read it through several times,before I cut. Even so, I made a few mistakes in the making, but if you  screw up your eyes, it looks almost passable. I saw a lot of online discussion on the use of bias tape on the seams, neck and armholes, but I really liked how that looked. My main trouble with the bias tape was sourcing in in the first place. It seemed impossible to find the right widths and colours here. I ended up ordering from the US, so had to wait for a couple of weeks until it was delivered. I know I could have made my own, but I just wanted to sit down and get on with the job, with the right equipment. Anyway - I'm quite pleased with how it eventually turned out. It reminds me of the big, comfortable pinnies that my grandmothers wore around the house, and I'm happy with that - big deep pockets to keep the crochet in too.

 I'm glad I made this rough draft, instead of cutting into some of my precious vintage, though, and I really enjoyed the process. Will I make it again? Yes, I will, but probably not until next spring. I am determined to improve my dressmaking skills, and am already planning an attempt at another pattern. Don't wait up though... xxx

Friday, September 11, 2015

Around the croft

Well - not much has been happening around here, this year, as you can well imagine. Yet - everything has changed. We sold all the livestock last year, when John became ill, and I re-homed our hens during the summer. I developed a mild intolerance to eggs all of a sudden, and also, James and I want to spend more of our holidays travelling, and visiting family, so it seemed the right decision all round.
I've had the vegetable beds removed, and the wilderness of weeds that had sprung up over the last couple of seasons hacked back. This will be cut regularly, and I hope that eventually it will resemble grass. It will never be a proper lawn, but close enough. there are some trees around the edges of the plot, and I want to have that as a woodland area, with bulbs,wildflowers, and some more trees. A nice seat here and there and it should be how I envision it. I have to say that taking out these beds was a very hard thing to do, when I think how hard John worked to put them in. I don't think he would be very pleased, to be honest, but they would have been almost impossible for me to get back into production, and to maintain them. Our needs have changed now, and we have to adapt to them.

As far as the croft land itself goes, I still have the one up at the house. My neighbour is using it, intermittently, for his sheep, and that suits me just now. Later, when I have more idea of what I am doing, (and who I am), I can decide how I am going to use it. The lease to the bottom croft - our original one, has been sold. This happened back in the spring, when John was still alive. It has gone to the son of a local crofting family. John was so happy that this young man was taking over, and getting started with his own croft.

Still - we are enjoying some early autumn colour in the garden just now - dahlias, lilies, crocosmia and a kind of spirea like shrub, which I don't know the name of. I also tried a couple of agapanthus in pots this year, and am pleased to see them flower this week. We have some salad too.

I''m beginning to have some thoughts on how to plan the space outside to suit our new circumstances. The Caravan of Delight will sadly be going. Not far - just up the road to a neighbours, but it needs to make room for a garden shed. It was a useful annexe to the house, but a shed will be even more so now. I am thinking I will put a few small raised beds over at the far end of  where the washing green is, and use the space around the polytunnel more. The polytunnel itself will be recovered soon.

This lovely sunny sheltered spot, where the henhouse used to sit, will be made into a proper seating area , and I plan to have more flower and herb beds around the perimeter. At the moment, I have a makeshift area for pots of lavender and my agapanthus, but I have big ideas for this space...

So changes are beginning to appear around this croft and garden. The focus now is on making life easier to manage, and to create a practical and beautiful space, if I can. Of course, the planning is easier than the doing, but for now, it's one step at a time. xxx

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Being sad

Yes - this, really. I've been pottering around, getting one or two bits and pieces done, thinking I'm managing quite well, and then up pops another wave of sadness.  Michael Rosen says  "it comes along and finds you" - and he's right.

It found me a week or so ago, when an elderly friend of John's called in. During the visit, he remarked sadly that the older he got, the fewer friends he had. As he left, we both had tears in our eyes, and, as he drove off, it somehow felt like a real goodbye.

It found me one morning, when James came sleepily into the kitchen, saying that he had had a dream. I listened, although knowing, as he told me that his Dad had come back, and when he woke up, he thought for a moment that it was true, but then knew it wasn't. We both cried, but - oh - how can I know that longing he must feel ...

It finds me in all sorts of places - the officious wording of a business letter can make me feel vulnerable, turning on a TV show that he used to like, but not being able to watch it, treating myself to a danish with my coffee, and remembering that the last time I did this, he was right here, sitting at this table with me. I wonder what has happened -  to this man who was so full of life - such a strong personality - all that intellect, all that energy? Where has it gone? 

I know there will be many moments like this - there are lots of first times coming up - other things I have avoided, or can't face yet. But, I suppose we'll get through them, somehow. A friend, who lost her mother last year, called, and she talked about the idea of grief as seasonal - you have to go through the 'winter' and then 'spring' arrives and you begin to feel a bit better, then 'summer' is better yet, but autumn and winter will follow again, and so on we journey. I suppose for me it has been a bit like that, only massively speeded up - sometimes the seasons change several times a day... I'm just drifting with the flow, and really - what else is there to do?

I switched the TV on the other day, as I sat down to fold yet another gigantic pile of laundry. Where does it all come from? Anyway, flicking through the channels, I came upon a documentary film of Ethel Kennedy, and the story of the lead up to and eventual assassination of her husband. There were contributions from her children, who were all young at the time. It was hard to watch, with  those emotions still so raw for me, but I gave myself up to it, and mechanically folded tee shirts and underwear, tears coursing down my cheeks. I never knew about her, or the family. I was too young to remember much about those times, even though I am named after her sister-in-law. But what an inspiring woman - 11 children, one (the filmmaker herself) born after her husband's death. There was just something about Ethel Kennedy that touched my heart, and I felt her loss, and the world's loss - but I also felt some of her strength, saw how her great faith sustained her. I was sad, but comforted, and somehow it was a good thing. 

 September is almost here, and I do like the autumn. I have a few plans in the making, as we head towards the end of the year - a couple of trips, some projects - nice things to look forward to. I'll be back blogging normally too - I know I said I would only be posting pictures over the summer, but I must have forgotten about that bit. Thanks for dropping by, over the last couple of months, I'll reopen for comments next time, Until then, I wish you all a wonderful and happy week ahead. xxx  


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