Seed heads in their dessicated, skeletal beauty. There is something fey and otherworldly about their silent winter appearance. Today they swayed gently in the icy wind, my hand steadying them for a capture. If you teach yourself to stop and look, there is always something, even in the depths of winter within the hedgerows showing you it's simple charm.
Monday, 8 December 2014
It has been quiet on this blog for a while now. This year I changed jobs, a huge change for the better, and I have nearly finished the first module in a creative writing degree. The writing here on this blog started the move towards story writing for me. The writing here has been so valuable in developing me as a writer, and in me making writing a bigger part of my life.
I've been thinking a lot recently about what makes us happy, what keeps us afloat and without a doubt for me it is making sure I do a range of things that add up to a whole, balanced individual self. I'm sure you get a sense of those things from my posts- they are varied and multiple. Some are robust and healthy like regular walks in the wood and others are off track and fragile as spider's webs. They are like a web, a complex knit together of activities, actions and things that when balanced make a little seam of happy. I'm sort of quite proud of that, that I have begun to realise I can take control of my life. And at the same time I'm desperately sad for those who through illness, sadness and pain remain without these feelings of hope.
Writing plays a huge part in this for me. There is nothing like the small ripples in my brain when a person or a story or a feeling comes together on the page. I've always had this and I've always written, but the course has directed me to actually persevere and I can now write stories, proper stories with real people in them, with a beginning and a middle and an end. They also aren't all heartbreaking, some of them are actually quite hopeful and dare I say redemptive.
If I am brave enough I will post one soon.
Friday, 17 October 2014
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
'Autumn leaves are brown and gold, brown and gold, brown and gold. Autumn leaves are brown and gold- in my garden'.
I have been feeling like there is a little bit of Autumn in my heart. I've avoided age and mortality for years now but all of a sudden, a single significant birthday and it's here, right inside me those brown and gold colours. I'm all of a sudden tired, everyone is always younger than me, wrinkles, becoming invisible. I could go on in the same self obsessed lamenting for hours if you would let me. But... Today in the woods, where I always seem to get an epiphany of sorts, it just clicked. I can't be me without the years. I can't be a wife, a mother to my flame haired rascals, a writer, a person trying hard to discover grace and compassion wherever she goes- I can't be that person without having lived what I have lived. It is a truth so simple and searing that I missed it entirely. I've been a 'someone' to people I have loved and still love. I've written off bad decisions (and bad men) with 'rather it happened that it didn't', I've hurt some people terribly but I have survived it all and I am sure I have always been forgiven. If not in the hearts of everyone I've touched, I know in the heart that ultimately matters.
I'm still sad to see time spinning by and I'm always willing it to slow for one more 'squeeze cuddle', one more sticky little hand in mine. I'm still buying eye cream for the first time and I'm still lowering the length of my skirts. But there has been so much up until now, and God willing there will be so much more to come.
Sunday, 7 September 2014
'When the fireweed turns to cotton summertime is forgotten'.
It's a Canadian saying but I think it works the same here. And despite my best efforts I can see Autumn will be showing itself to me in full force, that I can't ignore, in the next few weeks.
Fireweed is my favourite. It's royal purple blooms tower above me in the summer weeks. The best is yet to come when the cotton appears though- the children grab handfuls and it flys around their fiery red hair like snow flakes in the orange late evening light. We come home with a white downy covering, all the way home sowing the seeds for next summers purple beauties.
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
I was tired on Monday night but I had promised the boy and the dog an evening walk. I had a busy weekend and Mondays are always testing. I just struggled half way round the woods, I was grumpy and really, really wanted to sit down- just for a few minutes. But as I kept going I started to get my stride. Do you know that feeling? When a second wind takes over and your body just moves itself, at a faster pace and you feel ever so slightly revived. My son took my hand we went down his 'secret path' and I really saw the woods again. And in seeing I definitely think the change of seasons is underway. Just look at those snowberries.
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
I could post you a hundred pictures of this beach but I still don't think I could convey to you without my words what it means to me. To us I should really say - my husband's family holidayed here. A much regretted sale of a house decades ago never forgotten. That familiar feeling, a slight rush of happiness when you set a foot in sand, when you remember times past and look forward to future family times; a special place.
I am not sure much can compare to bringing your coffee cup out of the house to the beach, sat on your deck chair watching the kids build sandcastles for hours and hours. Fishing in rock pools, swimming in shallow waters with pockets of warmth, moving back to the sea wall as the tide returns in.It always returns in.
Sunday, 20 July 2014
My dear friend Nic has been recording 100 fun things with her boys over the summer and she has really inspired me. She always inspires me to have more fun and to be grateful for everything. As a family we thought we could combine recording the joyful poetry of everyday life with fun and have agreed on a family list! Let's see how it goes and happy summer everyone :) Jo xx
Monday, 23 June 2014
Can you see it - just there in the light illuminating that fern frond? That beauty, the poetry of the everyday as I call it, brought a catch to my throat and tears to my eyes. It can be a fleeting moment in nature, it can be my daughter telling me for the 5th time today that I am 'the best cooker' (she knows I love cooking and love cooking for my family). Or just a kind word or a memory of being loved and cherished. The thriving stoic little leaves of an apple mint plant I smuggled from an ornate garden and am nurturing in a silver pot in my garden. All of these things the touchstones of my life. It's the observing and the recording that make you value them and use them to shore yourself up for the hard days.
Sometimes if you look, you see.
Maybe for a season, this summer season I will record and hold close the poetry of my life.
Sunday, 1 June 2014
It was a busy weekend with my oldest's theatre school show on Friday night and attending a wedding with the family on Saturday. Good times.
Sundays, well Sundays are for pottering. We started the day with big fluffy pancakes- I've been making pancakes for the kiddos for breakfast for years but just recently found the perfect recipe. It's by the Reith sisters from their 'Three Sister's Bake' cookbook. I've posted about them before and I cannot recomend the book enough. This pancake recipe is foolproof. You know when you watch the bubbles forming on the pancake surface and then flip them and they just begin to puff and rise, such basic, beautiful kitchen alchemy - well these pancakes do that every time.
Later on I tried the Earl Grey Tea Bread from this months The Simple Things magazine. Again this recipe worked a treat and is a lovely tea loaf, dense, moist and not too sweet. I just could not resist a recipe that involved grinding a spoonful of Earl Grey tea leaves with sugar- just a little more kitchen magic.
Lastly inspired by Jen over at Little Birdie blog I got snipping at my chive flowers and made some chive vinegar. Already the blush pink of the liquid looks enticing. I doubt it will be laid by for a few weeks, rather used for salad dressing through the week.........
Monday, 26 May 2014
We did a bit of planning for the bank holiday weekend- we need to with two small kiddos with a ton of energy. I've told you about Finlaystone Country Park before, it's our special family place. For the past few years we have taken out an annual pass. Unlike a National Trust membership that we had before we have really made use of the Finlaystone pass. We headed there on Friday, the kids took in the pirate ship (in the middle of the forest and made from wood), the swings and we did their favourite 'hill walk'. Lunch in the cafe which is now run by the Reith sisters, of the Three Sister's Bake fame - the food was delicious and they were very patient and child friendly! We ended the day with a walk around the formal gardens, beautiful summer light making the flowers look magical. Just look at the ethereal blue of those Himalyan Mountain Poppies (Meconopsis).
I managed to fit in seeing Boo Hewerdine with a good friend- a musician I have loved since I was 14. It was good to hear some of the old songs, some brilliant new ones and Boo's hilarious, wry take on a fascinating and often under appreciated song writing career.
Other highlights were removing an over grown shrub from our garden at home and some replanting. I have had to admit recently that gardening is a new passion. My other half described gardening as 'my hobby' and well, it suddenly dawned on me that it is. It's grown on me slowly, every year since we moved to this house my Dad has given me tomato and courgette plants. This year I have grown the courgette plants and a range of other herbs myself. I'm amazed that I can do it. Start small and learn as you go is my advice, oh and Elspeth Thompson's wise words to hand helps me too.
Today was a family bowling outing with a pizza lunch, a final garden centre trip for a new hydrangea and now early nights all round but with good memories to carry us through the week ahead.
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
This post is for a very old friend. I promised him at Christmas that I would send him the link for my blog and I haven't. It's possibly that I felt self conscious about him reading this- I'm not sure on reflection why. At one time he probably knew me better than anyone alive. Maybe it's my habit of compartmentalising my life and of being woeful at keeping in touch.......
I remember when I was younger I did nothing but talk, we talked about everything and anything, analysed things, speculated, read and discussed. My friend loved the first line in L'Etranger by Camus. How I knew so much about nihilism and philosophy then I'll never know- I've forgotten almost all of it. And I've never really found that talking again. When I see my oldest friends it's there but time and life and children all alter you. I miss that talking.
We would lie on the pavement and look at the stars, honestly we did, and completely without irony. Long drives in our parents cars on a few pounds of petrol, those beautiful country roads are with me still. I was lucky very lucky to have had such connected relationships.
That picture is me circa the times I'm talking about in this post- on an art trip to London. Taken by my friend Jacqui.
Thursday, 24 April 2014
Well there you go- Easter 2014 gone in a flash. Two cakes, a lot of chocolate, lovely family visiting and our 10 year wedding anniversary. I also got to hold my new, beautiful wee niece. She is tiny and perfect and meeting her was the best feeling. I hope you all had a great long weekend. Easter is special to me, it is sad but ultimately uplifting and I think regardless of what you believe it is hope for the year ahead and a new beginning. I know this will be an exciting year with lots of warm sunny days to come.
Saturday, 5 April 2014
Now and again it is good to have some treats. Every few months my littlest and I head down to Glasgow's west end for ice cream and good, good coffee at Nardinis. Little booths where you can sit and sip and slurp, childhood memories for me from the Largs Nardinis and afterwards a wee trip to the shops. This time as well as a toy shop trip (they do great 'lucky dips' at 50p a time- perfect for an inexpensive treat for little ones) we went to my favourite vintage dress shop 'Vintage Guru'. It was a window on times to come, she clip clopped around in the most fabulous gold 60's sling backs whilst I tried on Easter dresses. The shoes were too small for me but we bought the bunny brooch to 'share '. Such good times, and more to come, of that I'm sure. Jxxxxx
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Well there it went again - the weekend passed by in a flash. These days of mine are always rapid, two bright, inquisitive bundles of energy see to that. It's often only when I review my pictures during the week that I see how many lovely memories we are making.
Spring is definitely on its way, just look at that blossom, the bright sun on those bulrushes. A wee flash of pink with bright red hair playing hide and seek and my favourite window in my home town. Everyone has a favourite window don't they?