Thursday, October 26, 2006

In another life . . .

. . . I was a Primary teacher at Calderwood Lodge. Yesterday my pal Ingrid joined the ranks of the officially retired and we gave her a right good send-off. It was splendid to see all the old guard once more, even though few of us are still at Calderwood. It seems to have been taken over by young things in jeans. Trouble is, it seems no time since I was a young thing in jeans. I'm still wearing the jeans . . .

Listening to the gossip I realised how far away from it all I've become; not just school but the whole Jewish yearly round. To my shame I even forgot all about the High Holidays that have just been - it's all fallen off my radar. I need to keep in touch with my Jewish friends more. I was also reminded how much I love Jewish catering - the food at the party was to die for. And yet in another way it was almost as if the intervening four years had never been. Everyone looks just the same and we laughed and joked and reminisced and commiserated the way we always did. I don't want to step back into the past, but it's nice, sometimes, to poke a toe in again.

Talking of toes: I've bought some horribly expensive stuff to zap the wart/verruca/extrusion on my big toe. This is all because I'm too chicken to go to a chiropodist (I have tickly feet - okay?) and the usual wart/verruca/extrusion remedies all contain salicylic acid, which is really aspirin by any other name and gives me a pain in the pinny. Said horribly expensive stuff comes with dire warnings of skin turning black and toes dropping off! Eeek!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bloggishness returns

It's been so long since I blogged that Blogspot seems to have forgotten who I am! This may be a temporary return to bloggishness, but I do miss it and am hoping to get back into Blogland soon.

Family news: M-I-L is still with us and far from being any trouble, is making herself useful. My house has never been so dusted and the dogs are delighted to have company when I'm out, which seems to be frequently at present - maybe that's why we're getting along okay. Less happily, I'm seriously worried about my sister-in-law. Please pray for her if you're so inclined. It looks as if Paul's going to live in Nottingham. I wonder if that means I'll see more of him . . .

Friends next: It's great to see Mrs Blethers becoming a rising star in Blogland. I do like to bathe in others' reflected glory *g*. It looks as if Bishop Martin has also joined the Worshipful Company of Bloggers. A belated welcome, my Lord Bishop. And finally, Walter has finished the book that his visit to Scotland a year ago inspired. Gaun yersel' son!

Me: I need to get September/October out of the way before normal service can be resumed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Black Bounty

A dog walker is rarely out without a poly bag or two. Just as well today, when I found myself lured by greedy visions of brambles baked into crumbles and made into jelly, and best of all, stewed with sugar and port and eaten with yogurt.

I was out walking at Ardentinny, a little off the beaten track so the dogs didn't disturb the folk on the beach, or worse, nick their sandwiches and barbecued bangers. I'd picked a few brambles there at the weekend, but today there were hundreds in all their shiny, polished glory, black and glossy and beautiful. Unfortunately bramblers have to compete with Nature in the form of bluebottles and wasps, so these days I always cook the brambles rather than eat them raw - although I have consumed so many in my life I must have eaten any number of wee beasties!

There's something so satisfying about getting a free meal that I don't mind the scratches or the occasional extra protein.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Broaching the Subject

The subject in question being Fidelio. We had a great sail yesterday - sun and a good wind from the north. We took Jess along but left Jonny sunning himself in the garden since he's not a keen sea-dog. Jess, however, is happy wherever I am so donned her wee doggy life-jacket happily and even consented to being tied to the boat when things became a bit exciting.

We beat all the way down past the point at Ardentinny and to the entrance to Loch Goil. It took nearly five hours, although they passed so quickly I found it hard to believe when I looked at my watch. Of course a delicious picnic helped - BLT and plenty of tea.

We were one and a quarter hours coming home! We flew! And broached three times - my first experience of this scary loss of control. Trouble was, the wind was both behind us AND coming from the side, channelling down the glens. Rob had the spinnaker up and was using it more like a fore-sail, twitching away at the strings to catch the wind just so, and I had the tiller - in both hands half the time as we scooted along tipped right over. At the first broach I had no idea what to do, since all the steering equipment must have been out of the water and no matter how hard I pulled, I had no control. Fidelio turned herself into the wind and everything flapped alarmingly. Lucky that Jess was tied in or we'd have had dog overboard as well!

I was more ready for the second broach, which was actually even worse because Rob lost his hold on the spinnaker line, but I just let Fidelio have her head this time and we recovered fine. After that the spinnaker came down - so rapidly and hard that it appeared through the chute from the other end. We broached again with just the sail, but then the wind stopped blowing from the side and things calmed down enough to put the spinnaker up again and whizz home leaving a teriffic wake behind us. What a pity the thing that tells the speed isn't working. I'd love to know how fast we were going. Certainly faster than other boats that were motoring!

I think I've just had the sailing equivalent of being bloodied!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Airport Alert

Chaos at the airports! Today some very good friends from the US were due to fly home early this morning. I feel awful for them - are they still hanging about at the airport? Would their plane have been one of the ones targetted? When they do eventually get on a plane, how terrifying will it be? They're not exactly in the first flush of youth or the best of health. I can't contact them, so I'll just have to sit here biting my nails and praying until I hear they're safely home.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mellow fruitfulness

It's hardly autumn, although some of the trees up the rectory drive seem to think it is and are dropping yellow leaves, but my garden is producing all manner of delicious provender and that makes me very happy. Today I made a summer pudding with a selection of berries (raspberries, wild strawberries, blueberries and the first few precious redcurrants from my new bush) and two rhubarb crumbles. Yesterday we ate new potatoes (Nicola), peas (meteor) and tiny courgettes. I wanted carrots but that would really be cradle-snatching - I'll have to be patient another week at least. My gooseberry bushes are bowed under the weight of fruit and they'll be the next candidates for crumble, pie or maybe just stewed. The early raspberries are nearly done, but the later ones are just beginning. I've frozen the best ones and made jam with the poor relations.

May I just say, YUM!

P.S. The only disappointment is the apple tree which hardly ever bears any fruit and is barren again this year despite a good lot of blossom. Methinks I'll have to get it a little friend.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sad but true

So my sister-in-law buys this candle and it's decorated with some fancy stuff which is labeled 'inflammable'. She lights the candle and after a while the decoration catches fire. So she writes to the makers of the candle: you said the decoration on your candle was inflammable and here it's gone up in flames!

Who'da thunkit?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Life on the Ocean Wave - again

The trouble with taking pictures of your boat in action is that you're usually on it. At best you can get pictures of bits of sail or rigging and they usually have sploshes of water or are at odd angles. If you phone your friend as you sail past their house, by the time they find the camera and run out, you're probably a dot on the horizon. However, this seems to be the only way I'll get a photo of Fidelio in full sail. Meantime, here's one of her deck, taken from Blairmore pier on the Open Day a couple of weeks ago.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Well that was fun

Yesterday's jolly at the church hit the spot on so many levels I can't decide where to begin.

First the sun shone - a good omen, especially as the ever-present midges prefer damp weather and the church looks so pretty on a sunny day. The service was two hours long but for me it didn't seem so because I felt engaged all the way through. This was partly because I had to sit right at the front with the choir and so felt part of the proceedings and partly because I had three things to do - which I suppose was rather excessive, but there are so few folk to spread the jobs around.

It was so nice to see so many people from St Ninian's, which was my church when I lived in Glasgow (we've all got older and greyer and people kept telling me I look like my mother, which is a compliment I think because she was a great character) and I really enjoyed being surrounded by so many friends from all over.

But the very best thing about yesterday was the fellowship within our own congregation. For once church politics were forgotten, grouches laid aside and everyone pulled together to put on a splendid occasion. There was real warmth from the people who welcomed the new rector into our church. Everyone had taken part in some way to make the day happen and I felt we all shared a sense of possession, if that's the right word, of the whole. Our lovely bishop, with his warmth and sincerity and exuberance, made it feel like a family occasion which combined dignity with a pleasing degree of comfortable informality which is something I love about this diocese.

And speaking of informality - while I'm all for children in church, I do think a two hour service is a bit much for a baby and the one who attended yesterday was vociferous in its protest. Sometimes it was difficult even for me at the very front to hear above the racket. When you have children you have to make certain sacrifices in your life - sleep, for example - but it really is rather bad manners to inflict a bawling baby on a trapped audience who can't escape. I'd have thought a little walk in the Bishop's Glen to distract it or help it to sleep would have been better for all concerned. Just my opinion, of course, as a Grumpy Old Woman, but when the bishop, who in another life is an opera singer, has to raise his voice to be heard, what chance do the rest of us have?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Finally . . .

. . . managed to solve the insurance problem by changing my underwriter. I spoke to a much more intelligent and creative person on the help-line and hopefully all is now well and my friend can drive. *Phew* Life can get so complicated!

We're all gearing up here for the institution of our new rector on Tuesday *waves to KB*. My computer table is covered with notes reminding me of all the things I have to remember to ask people. Whatever did we do before the advent of the Yellow Sticky? We're expecting arout 100 folk, which will severely test the seating capacity at Holy T, not to mention the car-parking. I just hope they don't arrive too early, because our other problem has echoes of Clochemerle. The general opinion has been, up to now, that if the back of the graveyard and the trees have been good enough since c.1840, why would we want to spend good money on plumbing?

Anyway, my prediction is that when we all reconvene at the Catholic church's splendidly appointed hall for the bunfight after the service, there will be a dirty dive for the loos!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ranty ranty rant!

Oh I so hate bureaucracy! Grr! Gnash!

All I want to do is help out a couple of friends who are over from America by lending them my car for a few weeks. It's an ancient little thing and if I wanted rid of it I'd probably have to pay someone to take it away, but it runs just fine. My friends aren't planning to drive the length and breadth of the country, just around and about where they're staying.

First it didn't pass its MOT, but that had to be sorted anyway and now it is. Last week I phoned my insurance company to ask if it would be possible to have my friend put on the insurance temporarily. I mentioned that he was American and visiting and held a current US driver's license which has always been okay for a hire car and they said, sure, no problem, just phone us with the details when you're ready. Today I phoned with the details and all I got was a 'no'. This despite my friend's impeccable credentials, current clean US license etc etc. Apparently if you don't have a UK license, you can't be insured - even third party, fire and theft which is the minimum standard.

It's enough to make you want to hit someone (the smug b****** on the end of the phone would be a good start).


Saturday, June 17, 2006


Things are looking up again on the home front. Mum-in-law has decided not to go back to her house, even when it's repaired, but look for somewhere near us and we may have found her a cottage. It's in the grounds of a 'hotel for the elderly', as these places are euphemistically called round here, but is entirely self contained. She would have as much independence as she wanted, but if the need arose, there would be back-up in the form of medical attention or meals or whatever from the main house. It sounds ideal, so fingers crossed.

We've rescued quite a lot of stuff from the fire - mostly china and glassware and a few pots and pans that can be cleaned up and papers and photos that were tucked away in drawers - smoke-damaged but definitely worth saving.

The boat is proving a splendid distraction. Yesterday saw Himself and me up early to catch a very low spring tide. We met at our village pier - he with the boat, I with a ladder on top of the car. We then proceeded to provide entertainment for the patrons of the pier café and several passers by as Himself climbed a lamp-post (a special pier lamp-post that has a signal light on top - I don't know what it's called) with the aid of the ladder, while I hauled in Fidelio's mast so that he could reach the very top and replace the wind-direction thingy. We only discovered this was broken after we'd enlisted the help of the crane at the marina to raise the mast and we've been trying to figure out how to get at the top of it without actually shimmying up. However, after this slick manoeuvre we proved ourselves complete amateurs by leaving a fender tied to the stepladder. When we realised it wasn't there and returned to the pier to pick it up, we came in a mite too fast and hit the pier with a mighty crunch (okay I hit it, being the driver). Luckily no damage ensued apart from a tiny dent in the pulpit which I wouldn't even have noticed was there had it not been pointed out to me *g*. They should issue boats with bumpers!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Up in Smoke

My mum-in-law's house went on fire on Wednesday night and within half an hour she lost everything - except the most precious thing of all, herself. She showed remarkable presence of mind for an old lady and dialled 999 as soon as she saw the smoke and then got herself out of the house. With two fire engines, police, ambulance, the gas and electricity boards and most of the neighbours in attendance, she then watched her whole life go up in flames.

Fortunately my husband's cousin stays round the corner and was able to take her in and look after her, and let us know what had happened. We were just on our way to bed when we got the phonecall - that heart-plummeting moment when the phone goes late at night - you just know it's bad news. Our first instinct was to drop everything and go to her, but living with ferries has its disadvantages and we soon realised it wasn't an option at that time of night and neither was driving up the peninsula since the car had about 5ml of diesel in the tank, so we had to stay put until first thing next morning.

How do you tell an old lady of 86 that she has nothing left but the clothes she stands up in? It just doesn't seem to have sunk in and I must say it's pretty hard for the family to take on board as well. At least Rob abd I knew what to expect having been through this before when our son's flat went up several Christmases ago. But it's hard to be prepared for the awful blackness and the smell, not to mention the contents of the house being in a sorry heap in the back garden.

The fire seems to have been started by the electricity meter (which mysteriously disappeared after Scottish Power came to disconnect the supply). The meter cupboard at the front door held coats and a couple of Hoovers. All that's left of them is a puddle of melted plastic. The forensic fire investigator is busy doing a reconstruction job to back up his assertion that the meter was to blame. That's pretty scary, considering all the fail-safe devices that are supposed to be in place there.

So we took her out and bought her some toiletries and some new clothes to be going on with, but at the age of 86, she has to start all over again. The insurance assessor has written everything off - the smoke damage was incredible - but we've managed to rescue her jewellery, her silver tea-set and her jelly pan (her most prized possession) and twenty pounds of assorted jams and marmalade might be salvagable although I think they're probably a little over-cooked.

I hope that if I live to be that age, I'm as sanguine and composed as Mum. I know it's only stuff, and I know she still hasn't grasped all the facts and implications, but wow - she's one tough old bird!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Show that you're some swimmer!

Mrs Blethers and I have taken up swimming in the early morning in a vain attempt to ward off the effects of gravity and the march of time on our aged bods. It so happens I have to be in the vicinity of the baths at around 7.30 am these days and since she lives a hop and a skip away, we decided to take the plunge, so to speak (although actual plungeing is strictly verboten and has been ever since I can remember at our baths. There used to be a springboard but you weren't allowed to spring from it).

We both used to be pretty good swimmers in the past, but while she still has a fine style, I swim like an old lady with my head above the water these days. I really must try out some goggles. I just have this problem of feeling blind without my specs or contacts and adding goggles would be like insult to injury. I once tried swimming with contacts in - actually I forgot to take them out - but they swelled up to about the size of saucers and floated away. Driving home was interesting.

BUT - I feel all virtuous and exercised! Getting home to the dogs raring to go for a walk was a bit of a bummer, but I told myself it would be doing me even more good and off we went up the hill. As it turned out, virtue had its reward because I saw a cuckoo clear as anything (it looks a bit like a dissolute kestrel with droopy wings) sitting atop a pine tree. It obliged me by flying across the golf course cucking and ooing so I was able to pinpoint it.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Another life on the ocean wave (I suspect I'm going to become boring on this)

It's so long since I posted here that Blogger asked me for my user name and password, neither of which I could remember. :/

At last yesterday, Rob and I got out for a sail in Fidelio. We'd been waiting all weekend, but the weather was too poor. On Sunday the wind was really strong and gusty and even the seasoned sailors didn't go out, but yesterday there was actually some sun and the wind, although flukey, was manageable. During Fidelio's transportation from Loch Earn the wee arrow-thingy at the top of the mast got broken by an inconveniently placed tree and now is no use whatsoever in telling us which way the wind's coming from so we had to rely on the old fashioned way. This was fine, except it behaved in a most capricious manner, changing direction in an instant and going from flat calm to 'OMG we're going to capsize' in a way that certainly gave us some practice!

And talking of practice, I'll need to practise hopping nimbly onto the pontoon from her when we attempt to park - or whatever boats do - in our berth. Yesterday was a distinctly inelegant homecoming and we just managed to avoid ramming our next-door neighbour as I made it onto the pontoon but failed to put the rope round the cleat and pull backwards in time to stop Fidelio bumping her nose on the walkway. Fortuantely no damage ensued although I daresay our reputation in the eyes of the salty old guys who seem to live in their boats and view us and our bumbling around with amusement has been further lowered.

Oh and my sermon went okay on Sunday, as far as I know. I decided to do a little PR on behalf of the Worship Group, since it seems we are to blame for all the ills in the church according to some members of the congregation. I think they're under the impression that we take over every few Sundays out of choice, thus banishing the priest and forcing him/her to Rothesay in order to fulfil his/her sacerdotal obligations. Or maybe they think it's an ego thing. Whatever, it could hardly be further from the truth. But at leat one of the 'antis' came up to me afterwards and said, "If your raison d'etre is to keep the church open and available every Sunday then I'm all for it."

I'll take that as a positive then.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Life on the Ocean Wave . . .

My life has suddenly become incredibly full and busy this month, although mostly in a good way. It's exam month and my services are required at the school several times a week - maths today and I don't even get a lunch-break! But the exciting thing is, Rob and I have suddenly become boat owners thanks to the incredible generosity of a dear friend who finds she no longer has room for a boat in her life. So we are now the lucky owners of Fidelio, a 21 ft sailing boat - small but perfectly formed as they say.

Since we live on the shore it would seem sensible to put down a mooring outside the front door, but our particular bit of shore has rocks the size of double-decker buses under the water and the currents are dodgy too, so we've opted to berth her in the local marina where you just walk along a wooden pontoon and step aboard - infinitely preferable to getting your bum soaked in a rubber dinghy before you even set off IMO. I'm not sure how impressed the dogs will be with our new acquisition. They've been on her before and spent nearly all the time sitting on top of me. However, they weren't frightened of the sail, as a previous dog of ours was and I'm hoping we can persuade them to curl up below and snooze eventually.

I tried the extrovert test and I seem to be more extrovert than I thought! It must be the jollity of May.

Your Extroversion Profile:
Activity Level: High
Cheerfulness: High
Friendliness: High
Assertiveness: Medium
Sociability: Medium
Excitement Seeking: Very Low

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Today we had a leaving party for our dear Rector, Hugh. I hate to see him leave us, and even though I know he's going to be around Dunoon for the foreseeable future, it's hard to let go. It's amazing to think it's only been five years. We did him a great send-off though!

We had a delicious lunch in Chatters, followed by various speeches and tributes. His two wee grandsons ran around both looking like miniature Hughs and one eventually fell asleep in grandpa's arms. Awwwww! My Psalm 23.5 had another outing, sung by Chris, John, Dennis and myself in plainsong, to much gratifying giggling from the assembled crowd and I compounded the poor man's embarrassment by writing him a hymn which we all sang lustily at the end:

Now thank we all our Hugh
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things doth do
For which his flock rejoices.
Who with the help of God
Doth guide us on our way,
Who for this daunting job
We’re here to thank today.

Now Hugh is sixty five,
It’s time for him to go now.
Oh who will sweep the drive
And who the grass will mow now?
And who will light the fires
Or chop down all the wood?
Or shimmy up the spire
And make the gutters good?

Hugh came to us from Crieff
We thought he was a loner,
But after courtship brief
Was wedded on Iona.
Now Hugh is wreathed in smiles
With rainbows all around,
He’s joined the Francophiles
And true love he has found.

All praise and thanks to Hugh
Our friend and inspiration.
For it’s all down to you,
This church’s transformation.
You showed us how to love
Each person in each pew,
So praise to God above
Who sent his servant Hugh!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Jesus wants me for a . . .

Two swallows on the wire and a cuckoo cucking and ooing in the Bishop's Glen means summer approaches. I've begun to oil the garden furniture (the seat fell to pieces, alas) and rashly cast various clouts despite May being a mere smear of green buds rather than oot. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, I must brush up on wifeliness. It appears I don't even rate as an okay Christian wife according to this blog: How to be a good Christian wife. This chick has to be kidding. I can't believe she really thinks she should be up and in full make-up at the breakfast table - but not sitting down, in case the noise of her chair scraping as she leaps up to replenish the toast-rack should disturb her Husband (note the capital) as he tucks into his bacon and eggs and reads the paper (which she has previously ironed, no doubt).

Apparently I SHOULD NOT POUT if dear Husband fails to deliver a smacker as he leaves for work. Nor should I pout if he doesn't enjoy the snack I've thoughtfully provided (a fat husband is a faithful husband) on his return. And I should just get me to the kitchen and bake more cakes and pastries to harden his arteries if he doesn't want to talk to me after dinner. She doesn't mention blogging as a post prandial pastime. I wonder when she does hers . . . before breakfast while she's applying the lippy?

But the BEST BIT is at the end. I quote: "And of course, you will be pleasing Jesus and isn't that what it's all about?"

Jesus wants me to kill my Husband???

I think it's a joke . . .

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Playing Among the Stars

I was going to blog about last night's gig in Tighnabruaich, but Mrs Blethers beat me to it. It was like a step back in time. One of these events that takes you swirling back to your childhood and the church hall where people got up and did 'turns'.

Regrettably, I seem to have remained in that childhood because I still had to sweat and clamp my mouth shut to keep the giggles at bay. There is just something delightfully absurd and rather comforting about 'people of a certain age' (as Chris calls us) juggling specs and scrappy bits of paper with the words written on in case they forget and starting off in the wrong key and generally bumbling about. The actual performances, when they got going, weren't half bad for the most part, which was just as well because, as I've said before, my giggle threshhold is low, and anyway, we had our turn to do right at the end (fortunately not too many had gone home although by the time we went on it must have been well past their bed-time. It was certainly past mine!)

So that's our first gig over. It went okay, despite the incredibly bright lights suddenly dimming just at a page turn. No scrappy bits of paper for us. I felt it was almost cheating to stand there with the music in front of me after all the feats of memory that had preceded us.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Image hosting by Photobucket
Poor Jess. She so hates going to the furdresser. It's not so much the experience of being there that is traumatic, although she is entirely uncooperative (unlike JD who adores being pampered), but the aftermath when she has to face the world effectively naked.

Jess feels the heat. When her coat's thick she pants in the least amount of heat and sits in any shallow water she can find (unlike her usual hydrophobic behaviour). She also goes into a panic if anything gets tangled up in her fur. The other day she threw a wobbler because she'd somehow managed to get bits of thistle stuck to her foot and behind. Since she's pretty low slung, it's inevitable she'll pick up stuff where we walk. So off to the furdresser she goes every three months.

She comes out looking gorgeous. Christine does a great job with both of them but Jess in particular suits a short coat with her ears and feathers left long but trimmed tidy. Trouble is, she considers herself naked and scuttles away to hide in the manner of someone caught with no clothes on (last night's 'Hustle' comes to mind with the naked Micky and Danny scuttling through the streets of London - pause to wipe brow and reinsert tongue in mouth). This morning she's still deeply embarrassed and has taken to her bed once more, hugging Rob's slipper.

Poor, traumatised baby!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

After the Resurrection

Easter seems an age ago and yet this time last week we were sunk in the gloom of Good Friday! It was a good last Easter at HT for Hugh for lots of reasons. We hosted the town's Easter Songs of Praise, which as usual, Hugh made different from what folk are used to. The service was an arc - a parabola - beginning meditatatively from the cry of the penitent thief on the cross in the form of a Taizé chant, then gradually growing to a crescendo, using appropriate hymns and readings from John's gospel and finishing with communion (I am the Bread of Life). There were a few murmurings about 'proper hymns' (ie Victorian ones) at the end but most folk seemed uplifted by the whole thing.

Our little choir, Eight Plus One, became Four Plus One and we sang 'How Can I Keep From Singing' from the sanctuary arch. It went pretty well - fortunately the Four represented each of the four parts. I could feel myself sagging on the last note, no matter how hard I tried to keep it in tune :( It wasn't a high note, just a long one. Hopefully not too many folk noticed. Tomorrow night in Tighnabruaich I'll try to do better. At least we'll be Eight and I'll have a soprano ii mate. John is taking the keyboard and on Tuesday we tried 'Fly Me to the Moon' with the fake kit-drum rhythm. It sounded excellent to my ears, although I suspect we'll never quite come up to John's hopes. (I'm thinking of buying him a pair of cymbals to strap to his knees so he can be a complete one-man-band. On Sunday night he was playing the organ - hands and feet - directing the congregation and singing a solo obbligato thingy to 'Ubi Caritas').

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I wonder if the maple leaves are out.

Number Two Son is off to Canada today bound for a conference in Montreal. You'd think that after all the globetrotting he's been doing recently, he might have it down to a fine art. But no. Apparently you need dollars in Canada - fancy that! The university pays his expenses, but retrospectively of course. Oh well, he's a big boy and I should stop worrying, I suppose, but I do wonder how somebody who is prepared to board a plane to a foreign country without a penny (or should that be dime) to his name can possibly be related to me.

Oh, and despite the coldness of the wind and this morning's drizzly rain, spring has finally sprung here at Heathbank. I heard the first chiffchaff the other day and the cuckoo flowers are out all along the wall in the back garden. There are even a few stray bluebells on the hill at the back. Nature is determined to go ahead whatever the capricious weather does. I'll be glad when some of the trees actually show some green though. The horse chestnut along the road, usually far ahead of the rest, is only just bursting its buds.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Gosh, during Holy Week I feel as if I'm never away from the church! Today I was up there along with Chris transforming the Gethsemane garden into an Easter garden. It's much more fun than flower arranging and saves me from thinking of myself of a worthy 'lady of the church' *g* The great clods of dripping moss gathered from Puck's Glen are hardly authentic for a desert garden, but we have to rely on artistic licence. We do that a lot. We plotted how to depict Mark's account tomorrow morning and John's tomorrow night. The young man in white robes is played by a rather coy angel who could do with his wings clipped. The folded grave clothes (a folded hanky) are a little small to accommodate the Risen Christ who waits in the wings to replace the coy angel tomorrow evening.

Tonight we will light the new fire with a wonderful big bonfire under the trees (hoping not to set either them or the rector alight) and then renew our baptismal vows by candlelight. Magic.

Thing is, so few folk actually take part in all this. After the bittersweetness of Maundy Thursday and the bleak despair of Good Friday the feeling of release and renewal as Easter morning arrives with such joy and hope is something I couldn't bear to miss. But IMO you have to experience the down before you can appreciate the up. You have to suffer with Jesus as well as rejoice with him.

On the Heathbank garden front, Rob and I, with some help from Michael who just thought he was coming to walk the dogs, shifted four tonnes of stones from the gate into the new parking bay in our drive yesterday. Despite my specific instructions to the supplier to send the 'wee' lorry, they sent the big one that can't get through the gate. I even measured the darn gate for them! My muscles are reminding me that I'm not as young as I think. See, I'm really 15 - this grey hair's a mistake.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

So where's Spring?

Finally it's a nice sunny morning here at Heathbank and I'm planning a morning's digging the veg garden. So far my spring gardening has been curtailed by all the frosts and the late snow. I pruned the clematis and hydrangeas and a few other shrubs last week and immediately we had a hard frost - something we've hardly had all winter! Anyway, the grass got its first cut yesterday - in between snow showers! The lawnmower is on its last legs. Rob had to savage an old computer HD to mend it (don't ask - I haven't a clue). The smaller mower I used to use blew up last season, alas. The grass is mostly moss anyway, but at least it's green - except for the brown patches on the back lawn created by the dogs.

Talking of dogs, it's a well known fact that dogs and owners look alike, or at least share similar characteristics. Last week up at the church there were three spaniels - Jess and JD and another belonging to a small, anxious person. The small, anxious spaniel certainly bore a distinct resemblance to its owner and I looked at JD and realised that with his goofy overbite and scruffy appearance we did indeed share some characteristics. I'm not sure who Jess resembles. Perhaps she's her own dog. At the moment she looks like an animated furry gonk - a visit to the furdresser is long overdue.
Image hosting by Photobucket

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Birthday Boys

Belated wishes to Jimmy:

Happy Birthday Jimmy the Poet!

And today is my wee brother's birthday:

Happy Birthday Stevie!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Holy Rude and Wholly Polite

Any qualms I had about being one of the oldies at the Church of the Holy Rude yesterday were swiftly allayed when we walked in to a sea of grey heads. The poor conductor, who was used to conducting two of the finest choirs in the world, let alone the UK, gradually lost the will to live as he tried to coax top C's from a soprano section with an average age of about 75 and to get the moribund alto section to sing anything but flat. The basses had two dynamics - forte and bawl - and the tenors, despite the conductor's polite suggestion that it was better to sing sharp than out of tune, droned along like a batch of elderly pancakes.

I enjoyed myself though. I did my best with the singing, and since I was on the front row, I was one of the ones who did look at the conductor - in fact we were eyeball to eyeball much of the time. He was a lovely man and tried so hard not to be irritated by our failings. I met up with some folk I haven't seen since I left Glasgow and got myself invited to an ordination, enjoyed the lovely atmosphere of the ancient church and had some very pleasant company.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Hot, cross bunnies

Today I'm making hot cross buns for the first time this year. The name always appeals to my childish sense of humour and I imagine lots of overheated, angry rabbits scurrying about to fulfil their Easter Bunny duties. It's traditional to eat hot cross buns on Good Friday, although I'm not sure why - something to do with the cross on the top for sure. Anyway, mine will be my contribution to the picnic tomorrow when I go to Stirling with Mr and Mrs Blethers to take part in a choral workshop in the Church of the Holy Rude (yes, that *is* how it's spelled - cue more childish humour).

Thanks to the wonders of my beloved iPod I've been able to practise some of the music for the workshop - much to the startlement of the dogs who both suddenly remembered urgent doggy business outside!

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Image hosting by Photobucket

Today is Mothering Sunday in this part of the world. It's a weird feeling, because although I'm a mother myself - I could easily be a grandmother - I still feel a daughter on this day. I find this very strange because my mother has been gone for eleven years, and although I frequently talk to her, I know she's not around any more. She died in the spring and her ashes were scattered among the bluebells in a wood she and my father loved (he's there with her now). I always feel very close to her when the bluebells start to come through as they are now, with promise of a mass of blue on the hillside behind my house as spring progresses.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ain't technology wonderful?

Last night I had my first taste of iChat's video link chat. It's really awesome - Skype with pictures! My husband Rob is in London setting up a computer for a colleague. They each got the camera so that they could conference (can that be a verb?) while working at the computer. It's just a wee gizmo that sits on top of the computer, and although seeing myself on camera is always a shock - where did all those wrinkles and grey hair come from? I still feel 16, dammit - it was great to see Rob and Bill (neither of whom appear to have *any* wrinkles) and to 'look' around Bill's new flat. The dogs went bananas when they heard Rob's voice in the room and rushed to the door to greet him, barking joyously, but eventually settled down once he didn't actually appear - just another human mystery dogs have to live with, like why their owners could possibly eat smoked salmon without sharing.

Okay, next time I'm on video link I'm going to put on some make-up and brush my hair *g*

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What's happening to my posts?

How odd. Blogger is eating my posts. They appear in the archives but not on the main page.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Judging others

It's surprising how quickly we judge people isn't it? And surprising how often we're wrong.

Yesterday my 'work' started up again and I spent the day closeted in various cupboards in the school. I had met the first boy before for a maths exam and, to put it kindly, it was a struggle. Yesterday was music and when I opened the envelope and found a Credit paper there I thought there must be a mistake. Surely he'd not manage Credit level! How wrong I was - he did really well, better than any other kids I've scribed for.

The last couple of weeks have been spent in the process of choosing a new rector for Holy T. I've felt a great weight of responsibility over this because, for the first time in my life, I'm one of the folk doing the choosing, and what's more, as secretary of the Vestry I have to co-ordinate the whole process. We were duly offered a candidate and told to discern whether that candidate was right for us. How terrifying is that? What if we got it wrong? Church is such an important part of my life that to have to live for the next five years or so with the result of a failed discernment process would be disastrous!

All the incredibly spiritual people advising me - the bishop, the present rector and a couple of others whose perception I trust - told me not to worry, God would help. Fine. But how do I know what's God and what's me?? All I know is that *I alone* am not a great judge of character and I have been known to get things very wrong.

Well, the process is over and the candidate chosen. I think it's a great choice and I'm delighted. So is everyone else concerned. Time will tell if we're all right.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Snow at last

I've been wishing for snow all week since everywhere else in the country seems snowed in. A meeting in Perth was postponed because the folks from up north are snowbound, but here it was wall to wall sunshine, albeit freezing!

Rob and I decided to take the dogs up Blairmore hill since frozen is good for walking up there (Blairmore is roughly translated as 'big bog!). We set out in lovely sunlight, but by the time we were halfway up it started to snow. Below us, the weather remained sunny, but at the top we could hardly see a thing - including the way down. You have to find a certain wall and follow it for an easy descent. We missed the wall completely, so our way down was 'interesting'. The dogs loved every minute and charged around in the snow, noses to the ground in ecstacy.

When we got down, there was no sign of snow at all. However, I got my wish.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I'm beginning to understand how the grumpers and complainers in my church must feel when all is not going as they want it. God hardly got a look in from me yesterday - I was far too exercised by what was going on around me.

Allow me to explain.

First - it was a DIY Sunday. I usually quite enjoy these; there seems to be a unity among the congregation, as if we're all pulling together to get things right for God, and if we make mistakes - well, we did our best. But yesterday, wrong decisions seemed to be rife. Despite the fact we've been singing the Schubert setting of the 1982 liturgy for nigh on two years, a decision was taken to use Merbecke, which is a setting of the 1970, so the words were all wrong in the liturgy books, and we had several visitors who must have been floundering! I wanted to argue the decision when it was taken, but went along with it for the sake of peace - I should have stuck to my guns. Grr!

Second - the new ghetto-blaster and CDs provided the music. Not bad in itself, but of course the recordings don't take account of the bellowers in the congregation who drag every tune back to a plod. To overcome this, presumably, the person in charge of the ghetto-blaster *conducted*! Most of the tunes happened to be in 3/4 time which, taken as one to a bar, lilt along nicely, but alas - the conducting reduced us to a heavy plod once again. I can't even bring myself to describe what the bawling plodders did to 'Shine, Jesus Shine' - not one of my favs, but okay if it's done with a swing - argh!

We're spoiled with the music in Holy T. I just wish that as soon as the organist is away we didn't revert to mediocrity with such alacrity. Surely the Mass would be better just said and we could simply sing the hymns - I don't suppose God has any objection to being bawled at but it might help the rest of us keep our minds on what we're there for.

Third - a certain flamboyant member of the congregation kept us sitting for ten minutes at the end while he said the same thing twenty different ways (how wonderful am I) and nothing was mentioned about the rather successful Links lunch that was provided by a couple of hard-working but unassuming folk on Saturday for the benefit of a project in very poor region of Africa. It would have been an opportunity to collect a little more money. Why didn't I stand up and say something? I hate myself when I'm so wet!

Trouble is, all this makes me realise that I'm no better than the folk who object to any tiny thing being changed from what it's always been. I want it done MY way, dammit! I can feel a tartan skirt and a blue rinse coming on . . .


This amused me enough to try posting it here. Despite being only two questions long and despite none of the profiles given being wholly accurate, I thought the results close enough to the mark. Plus I want to see how it turns out in Blogspot.

the Peacemaker
Test finished!
you chose BX - your Enneagram type is NINE.

"I am at peace"

Peacemakers are receptive, good-natured, and supportive. They seek union
with others and the world around them.

How to Get Along with Me

  • If you want me to do something, how you ask is important. I especially
    don't like expectations or pressure.

  • I like to listen and to be of service, but don't take advatage of this.

  • Listen until I finish speaking, even though I meander a bit.

  • Give me time to finish things and make decisions. It's OK to nudge
    me gently and nonjudgmentally.

  • Ask me questions to help me get clear.

  • Tell me when you like how I look. I'm not averse to flattery.

  • Hug me, show physical affection. It opens me up to my feelings.

  • I like a good discussion but not a confrontation.

  • Let me know you like what I've done or said.

  • Laugh with me and share in my enjoyment of life.

What I Like About Being a Nine

  • being nonjudgmental and accepting

  • caring for and being concerned about others

  • being able to relax and have a good time

  • knowing that most people enjoy my company; I'm easy to be around

  • my ability to see many different sides of an issue and to be a good
    mediator and facilitator

  • my heightened awareness of sensations, aesthetics, and the here and

  • being able to go with the flow and feel one with the universe

What's Hard About Being a Nine

  • being judged and misunderstood for being placid and/or indecisive

  • being critical of myself for lacking initiative and discipline

  • being too sensitive to criticism; taking every raised eyebrow and twitch
    of the mouth personally

  • being confused about what I really want

  • caring too much about what others will think of me

  • not being listened to or taken seriously

Nines as Children Often

  • feel ignored and that their wants, opinions, and feelings are unimportant

  • tune out a lot, especially when others argue

  • are "good" children: deny anger or keep it to themselves

Nines as Parents

  • are supportive, kind, and warm

  • are sometimes overly permissive or nondirective

Renee Baron & Elizabeth Wagele

The Enneagram Made Easy

Discover the 9 Types of People

HarperSanFrancisco, 1994, 161 pages

You are not completely happy with the result?!

You chose BX

Would you rather have chosen:

  • AX (SEVEN)
  • CX (TWO)
  • BY (FOUR)
  • BZ (FIVE)

  • My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
    free online datingfree online dating
    You scored higher than 33% on ABC
    free online datingfree online dating
    You scored higher than 50% on XYZ
    Link: The Quick and Painless ENNEAGRAM Test written by felk on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Psalm for Hugh's retirement

    Psalm Twenty-Three-and-a-Half.

    Hugh is our gentle shepherd; therefore we want for nothing.
    He maketh us to sit down and listen to the Lord; he maketh us to sit upon the pew and wait for the Lord; he maketh us to kneel upon the hassock – yea, even upon the bare wood.

    He drifteth silently through the sanctuary of the Lord as a benign spirit.
    He calleth upon the Lord in a loud voice; he calleth upon the Lord in a quiet voice and in the silence; and the Lord cometh.

    And he explaineth to his sheep with exceeding diligence that the Lord shouldst be their refuge; he exhorteth his flock to worship the Lord in all things, to see the Lord in all things and to hold fast to the Lord alway; and the Lord cometh.

    He moweth the green pastures, and keepeth them short; he braveth the wild beasts of the air that bite, and the Lord rewardeth him; He giveth unto him a new mower – yea, a mower to sit upon.

    He climbeth to the very roof of the Lord’s house and cleaneth the gutters; he dangleth upon the ladder so that his flock may have light; even to the top of the bell-tower he climbeth and he showeth no fear: he putteth his trust in the Lord and the Lord holdeth him upon the ladder and he doth not fall.

    He hath cut the very trees from the hill and hath lit many bonfires; he hath created a new view to the waters; he hath shewn the Lord’s house upon the hill to the weary traveller across the sea.

    Hugh is our gentle shepherd; therefore we want for nothing.
    He putteth his trust in the Lord and the Lord sees that he is good; he waiteth upon the Lord in the quiet places and in the wet places and in the cold places; he leadeth his flock in the paths of righteousness through the dark moments and he rejoiceth with them in the times of plenty.

    O give thanks to the Lord for his servant Hugh, for he hath had a right judgement in most things;
    Give thanks to the Lord for his good shepherd who hath led his flock with a gentle and loving hand.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics    Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics

    Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics

    I don't need it to be St Valentine's Day to tell you

    But it's a good reminder!

    Okay, okay, blogging now . . .

    I just had a minor breakthrough on the migraine front. I spent the weekend fending one of the ****ers off with only partial success. By Sunday afternoon it was dug in and I retired to bed to sit (or rather lie) it out. However, Rob, probably in desperation for a night's sleep in his own bed, suggested I take another Imigran at night. I did this and had a reasonable night but by the morning was back to square one. 11 o'clock he suggested I try another. I almost didn't because I don't like to waste them, but here I am 10 o'clock at night, still on my feet and swilling Lucozade and munching oatcakes!

    I missed the Monday Worship group meeting, alas, but I gather it went okay.

    Monday, January 30, 2006


    That's another hurdle over - on Sunday I did my first spot in the pulpit. It wasn't as terrifying as I thought it might be, in fact I wasn't nervous at all. I attribute this almost entirely to the fact that what I'd written was the result of a great deal of collaboration with the group and also that I felt the friendly vibes that everyone was behind me. Whenever I ventured a look round the congregation there were smiling faces and eye-contact, even with the distraction of noises at the back, which in my teacher days might have stopped me talking to give the *GLARE*.

    Just one more person to go and then we'll all have crossed the Rubicon.

    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    Something Fishy

    If I ever meet the ****wit who chucked an old fish pallet into the ditch right beside the place I walked my dogs today, I'll slap them round the chops with the nearest wet fish. Now my car stinks of rotten fish, as do my dogs. Alas.

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Avocado soup

    I love avocados so much that a different way of serving them is always welcome. I also like recipes that don't require much in the way of fiddling and this one fulfills both requirements. So, on to the soup:

    Take one small avocado per person (or presumably one large between two). I'll now assume we're making this soup for 2 people.
    Put the flesh into a blender along with a tablespoon of lime juice and whizz till mush.
    Add about half a pint of chicken stock. You can judge the amount by how thin the soup is getting. It should end up with the consistency of single cream.
    Add either a little green chilli or some green peppercorns or maybe some tabasco to give it some bite - depending on your taste - and about half a teaspoon of salt. depending on how salty the stock is. Whizz it up again until it's nice and smooth.
    Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving with freshly baked brown bread.
    Delicious and good for you!

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Sleepy lark

    I'm a lark rather than a night-owl - I really am - but at this time of year everything gets skewed. It begins on Christmas eve because I always go to church at midnight and don't get to bed until 2am, then the madness continues throughout the holidays, being reinforced at New Year. Going to bed earlier doesn't help because I'm not sleepy after getting up so late. I could set the alarm, but that would be unfair on the Old Man because he likes to sleep late on his holidays. Gah! On Monday it's going to feel like the middle of the night when the alarm goes off at 6am!!

    Other news - M and C have a new dog, a Cavalier KIng Charles spaniel called Hamish. So that's three varieties of spaniel in the family! The boys want me to show them the ear-cleaning routine, alas. All spaniels have trouble with their ears and JD and Jess run the minute the word 'ear' is mentioned or the bottle of cleaner comes out of the cupboard. Looks like poor Hamish is going to follow suit. We're all going to meet this afternoon, on neutral territory. I hope they all get on. Hamish is neutered, so he and JD should be okay, but Jess gets very flirty with small, boy dogs and JD might decide to defend her honour!

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    Seven meme

    I was tagged by my friend Chris to do this, so just for her, here goes:

    Seven things to do before I die:
    Visit Pompeii again and explore it properly. Last time I was there I had only a few hours. I reckon it needs at least a couple of days, write a novel, visit America, make a will, tidy up the hard disk on my computer and delete all incriminating material, paint the bedroom (I'm sure that last will never get done). That's only six but it's all I can think of. . .

    Seven things I cannot do:
    Play the piano, sing lower than Middle C convincingly, write poetry, turn a cartwheel, the Times crossword, train my dog Jess to do anything unless food is on offer, turn back the clock.

    Seven things that attract me to my spouse:
    He's kind, he's fun to be with (most of the time), he's clever, he's thoughtful, he can fix just about anything, he's a bit of a Peter Pan and he seems to love me.

    Seven things I say most often:
    I'm just on my way, I'll be ready in a minute, where's the phone? Rob!, dogs! okay then, indeed.

    Seven books (or series) I love:
    The Starbridge novels, Lord of the Rings, anything by Louis de Berniere, the Rebus novels, the Jungle Book, anything by Bernard Cornwell, Kidnapped.

    Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time):
    The Man From UNCLE movies, The Way We Were, The Great Escape, All Quiet on the Western Front, Pretty Woman, Lord of the Rings, Chicken Run.

    Seven people I want to join in, too:
    I don't know seven people who read this!