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.