Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding....

Today, the nation celebrated. No-one on earth does pageantry quite the way the British do it, and every moment of the wedding was magical. Precision timed. And yet, so personal and rather like a family wedding. Prince Harry always makes me smile, and he was a star today. His brother's best man. He was not going to be a "supporter" - no, he was going to be the best man. Seeing those boys standing there together made me think just how proud their mother would have been.

The two princes are real men. They work very hard at demanding jobs. They try to be as normal as possible, and they have fun as well, and it shows. William and Kate have been together for a long time, and they are at ease with each other, and that shows too - they clearly love each other very much. And she looked superb. Elegant, and absolutely stunning. The dress was a triumph. Her sister was breathtaking as bridesmaid. I don't think I have ever seen a more beautiful bridesmaid's dress, and how lovely that she walked with the two little flower girls.

It was simple and lovely. The music was beautiful. The trees in the Abbey were gorgeous. The whole thing was perfect. Sigh. And all those people! 2 billion watched, apparently. There were a million people on the streets lining the route, and half a million at the Palace. Another 300 000 in Hyde park, and then there was Trafalgar Square too........

The new generation of the royal family is looking good. And the Queen looked wonderful too. Happy and lovely. She is 85 now, and the Duke will be 90 soon. Amazing. A lifetime of service, given willingly.

And now the highlights are on and I am going to watch it all again. At least now I know they are safe and no lunatic attempted anything. I hardly breathe while they ride about in open carriages - even knowing there are marksmen all over the place and thousands of security people, including helicopters in the sky.

A wonderful day. Congratulations to them both!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weddings and gardens......

It may rain on Friday. This is not good. The sun needs to shine for the Royal Wedding. In the early hours of this morning, there was a rehearsal - the carriages, and the soldiers, and all the rest. I woke up really early and switched on the news and watched a while. Something different for the early commuters to watch!

Jean and I went off to drop more things at the charity village this morning and stayed for coffee and carrot cake. The oil seed rape is in flower everywhere, and I keep forgetting to take my camera with me when I go out - it is beautiful - so bright and yellow, and with the blue skies and sun, and the mayflower in the hedgerows all in flower at the moment, travelling through the countryside is just lovely. This looks like England, if you know what I mean. Green. Sheep and lambs in the fields. Cows grazing. Sigh. It really is lovely.

So I came home, and went straight out into the garden to potter. I have now lost the ability to move. I had things to plant out, even though I would normally wait a few more weeks - the plants are now so huge, and have to be planted, so we will see if they survive. Hopefully there will be no frosts. Water restrictions seem inevitable unless the rains come. After Friday.

So, in another frugal move, I am emptying the bath water into the water butts. Having David home to run up and down the stairs with buckets is very useful. We will not consider what happens when he goes back to uni. I can't work out a way to siphon the stuff out of the window yet. Our water is metered, so re-using it should save money too.

In answer to your question, Vee, yes, I take down the eggs from the trees and put away the Easter things, but leave out the spring ones. So the trees now have birds and butterflies and flowers on them. The bunnies are back in their boxes! The colours stay in the house - the spring colours. I change to summer at the end of May.

So....... what are you all doing on Friday? Are you watching the wedding? Having a party? People all over the country are apparently having street parties - Jean is having a garden party in the afternoon, and there will be scones and cake, no doubt, and bunting up as well. It is a public holiday here. It is fun to watch with friends, I must say. My friend in NZ and I may well skype so we can discuss The Dress.

I love weddings. I really hope it is a wonderful day for William and Kate, and that their marriage is long and happy. I also wish his mother could have been here to see her son marry his love.

I will be back.....

Monday, April 25, 2011

A wonderful Easter weekend.....

One of the great delights of blogging is getting to meet blogging friends in real life. Becky and I have known each other since 2006 via our blogs, and we have met in London before, but today was different. Today, she and her husband came to visit me here in the middle of England, and I was able to show them where I live, and the places (and some friends) I talk about. Well, I didn't "show" her my friends, I invited Peter and Glynis to meet us for lunch at our favourite local haunt, and lunch extended to a 3 hour delight. The conversation did not falter. Bloggers never run out of words, do they. There was a lot of laughter as well.

 One of the stops along the way was to explore the ancient church tower, and climbing a few steps up the tower ladder was mandatory.

 When I visit friends or family, one of the things I love to do is to see where they go - the shops, the places they stop for coffee. So we wandered around the village square which is not a square at all - more of a triangle - and they even got to visit the allotment. A must for any international visitor. Of course.
 I did offer to take them slightly further afield after lunch, but we decided to come home, and relax in the garden and continue the talking. I do believe we could chat for weeks without the vague chance of running out of things to discuss.

It was a lovely easy day, and everyone had a great time. This is one of the very best parts of blogging, as I said at the start of this post. It really is. I am still grinning. I just wish they could have stayed here longer. Next time.
 Missy and her Mum and Dad went home yesterday, after the Easter Egg Hunt and church and the Easter lunch. The Egg Hunt - well, it didn't take long for her to realise she was looking for chocolate, and she thoroughly enjoyed eating it too! The house was very quiet after they left..... I kind of got used to "HI" and little hands slapping down on the counter when I was preparing vegetables. Being tugged by the hand to go and watch her do things. She is constantly on the move, and is fascinated by the smallest of things. Like ants in the garden. Eating chives from the plant. Climbing stairs. Dancing round in circles. Wearing all my necklaces. Wanting make-up on in the mornings when she watched me do mine....... anti aging moisturiser looks wonderful on a 2 year old. She was thrilled. And her Moregranny rather wishes she had skin as soft as her granddaughter's.
Please note Dolly in her pushchair. I can't tell you how many times Dolly was wheeled around the place. In this photo, the garden was being watered. Dolly got to watch.

And now the countdown to Friday is on, and another long weekend. It will be slightly cooler this week, so I sincerely hope any rain is gone by the time of the wedding. The weather here has been just glorious, and it is such a delight to be outside as much as possible. Easter has been lovely. Busy. Noisy. Happy. Fun. A wonderful weekend.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Little girls.....

Today, Missy and I went for a walk. She was pushing her Dolly in a pushchair, and Dolly had to wave at every house, every cat, every butterfly, car, bus and everything else you can possibly imagine along the way. So did Missy. Dolly also had to have frequent sips from her magic bottle of juice - you know the ones - they refill themselves. This meant frequent pauses. Dolly also had to have frequent sleeps, which meant the pushchair had to be tilted, so her eyes could close. And Missy's little legs just kept plodding on, and her chatter never stopped, and neither did the smile falter.


This Moregranny smiled too.

So what if my oven (which does not work) no longer has any buttons. Or that juice gets spilt. Or that a watering can was beheaded. So what if things happen. They are just things, and when a little girl comes to me with big eyes and a big grin and says sorry, it is very hard to keep a straight face. I want to laugh and sweep her up in my arms, but when her Mummy is telling her sternly that she needs to say sorry and that Moregranny is very sad, I deliver an Oscar merited performance. And one minute later, I am paddling my feet in the paddling pool with a little one who has a plastic chair positioned IN the pool, so she can sit and splash.

Sigh. My house is full at the moment. There are toys all over the place. My garden has been covered with play mats, little houses, tunnels and a huge paddling pool. A bargain last year at a sale. 47pence. AND it has a repair patch too. It is not the smallest paddling pool I have ever seen. One's tightrope walking skills (hitherto undiscovered) are required to get past it without falling in.  My flowers have been watered by someone who is a lot smaller than anyone else in this house, and she has also learned exactly how the tap on the water butt works. That took her 2 seconds. Shoes have been wet as a result.

And now, everyone else is asleep in this house - apart from me, and I am sitting here just marvelling at the power of love. And the complete insignificance of anything else. My heart is full too.

And tomorrow will come with more adventures. Heaven knows what Dolly may want to do.......

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I have no idea where the week went.....

April in the UK is a strange month this year. School holidays end on Tuesday, when the children go back to school after Easter, and then they are just there for 3 days and Friday is a public holiday for the Royal Wedding, and the following Monday is a Bank Holiday as well. So technically, children will have been at school for I think 7 days in April. Many people are taking their holidays now too, as for just 3 days requested holiday time, you get 11 days with all the Bank Holidays.

What all that means is that the UK is sleepy, on holiday and the sun has been shining every day and the skies have been blue, and everyone is outside as much as they can be, because this could be summer. Talk is of potential water restrictions, because I can't remember when last we had rain. Gardens are growing by the hour, and I have rosebuds on some bushes already.

I have been asked if the nation is excited about the wedding. Well, I think most people will watch it, and some will have street parties, but I wouldn't say we were at fever pitch. Who knows - that may change by next week! William is a popular prince. So is Harry. They appear to be normal people, doing their jobs and going about their lives in a normal way, and this is great. Right now, I don't think the nation could cope with any airs of entitlement. It is too busy trying to survive. But I will be watching on Friday.

Holy Week is flying by. Jean and I spent 2 hours at our church's 24/7 vigil for the week. It was amazing. The chancel was turned into a prayer room, with areas for painting, writing, reading, drawing, music, clay, seed planting - so many things to do prayerfully, with lists of facts and suggested readings. Time just flew by. I am so glad I went. It was a wonderful experience in that lovely peaceful place. 

And today I have been trying to organise the house. Missy and her parents arrive in the morning, and furniture needed moving, toys needed to be found, paddling pools needed to be blown up..... and the house needed to be cleaned. I won't mention the gardening things which needed to be done too. Well, apart from saying that I bought another water butt for the garden, and it came as a complete kit. Hah. Without the tap. Totally useless when there was no way to stop any water pouring out of it. So back I went to the shop and they eventually found one for me. So that is now in place. I am trying to use grey water, so bath water etc is being emptied into the water butts. Recycling.

It won't be long before David is back at uni for the last time - his exams are in a few weeks. he is working hard, but appears when I need help with things, and when he needs food! It will be good to have both my boys here for a few days. I just wish Diana could be here too. There will be a big gap in the family this Easter.

So days have been very busy, and I am prpeared to confess that I have totally overdone things, so I fall asleep in the early evening, and then am awake from midnight till dawn. Or doze now and then. Not ideal. But the shopping for the weekend is done (I think) and I can relax and enjoy everyone being around.

After I have vacuumed the house and checked everything at dawn tomorrow. Sme things just don't change!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pottering about........

All it takes is a couple of days away from the computer and I have a borderline panic attack when I see all the unread posts lined up. I will get round to visiting, I promise, but for now, the list stays there. I am  pretending it does not exist in an effort to stave off any pending panic whatsit. The Good Lord knows I can do without that.

What a beautiful weekend it has been here. Have you all had great weather? We have. Warm, sunny, blue skies and plants that are multiplying and growing before my eyes. Time to sit out in the gardens and chat to neighbours, and watch dogs play. Time to marvel at the wonders of Spring. Time to take the coffee and find the garden chair and sit under my apple tree - the blossoms have now opened completely. I need to go and check the lilac too. Maybe I can pick a couple of branches, and bring that glorious scent inside.

Time to re-pot tiny seedlings and plant some summer bulbs given to me by the lovely neighbour I was chatting to in the paragraph above. You will be delighted to hear that I have 49 EXTRA lettuce plants. That is after the 10 I am keeping for myself. FORTY NINE. This is the "cut and come again" variety, which lasts for ages, and you just pick the leaves you need and it keeps growing. I may have been a little heavy handed when scattering the seeds. The lobelia will be worse. Did I mention that, after planting half a packet, I read the info at the back of the packet (yes, I am intelligent, and yes, I KNOW I should have read it first) telling me that there were 2500 seeds in each packet? And I planted half? My potential lettuce glut pales into insignificance. If you live locally, let me know if you have yet to plant lettuce. Or lobelia, come to that. You will not need to do so.

Ah, Spring....... I do love Spring.

What I absolutely do NOT like is the reappearance of a MOUSE in my garden this afternoon. A rodent. It looked larger than tiny. I will not have rodents on the premises. There will be some industrial action taken in the morning, which will involve the equivalent of at*mic b*mb strength rodent dispatcher. Or twenty. Whatever it takes. Let the battle commence. This time, I intend winning.

So, tomorrow, the painting resumes, I think, and the quest to eradicate rodents begins. Saturday was beautiful too, and Jean, David and I were down at the allotment early and the potatoes, carrots, celeriac and turnips are planted. The seedlings I have growing on my window sill will go in later. Having a large extremely strong son around made the planting go in a flash. I tell you, an hour in the sun and we were wilting, even with many stops for lemonade and Jean's cheese scones. I must remember to take a large sun umbrella down next time.

I love weekends like this. No great news, just pottering about, but loving having my hands in the potting soil, and growing things. Simple things. They make me smile.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What to do with the piles......

Right then. It is Friday and here I am, using the new write a post thingy which I didn't even realise was there as an option in the first place. What the heck is a jumpbreak?? No doubt I will discover that in the near future. I am talking to myself. Ignore me, please.
The painting is over for the week, you will be relieved to hear. I have been out to get some acceptable paint brushes, as my cheapy ones were met with scorn and derision, and much muttering. The new ones clearly say "no bristle loss" and I will be holding them to that claim, believe me. And peace and calm will descend on the house once again, when the painting resumes next week. B & B, you may well be seeing a chaotic house. Be warned.

The trouble with reorganising a house is that everything gets piled into the rest of the house while one room is done, and then I absolutely do NOT want to put any of the stuff back in the decorated room. So the dilemma is what to do with it all. I need another house. A storage unit. A shed. A useable attic. A skip. Something. Sigh.

It will be getting warmer over the weekend, which will be great, so I can get out into the garden without looking like an eskimo. I suspect there will be some allotment work too, as David is around to be the muscleman. One must utilise all available help, of course! And things need to be planted. And I can pretend that the house does not have unattractive leaning towers of stuff everywhere, waiting to be sorted.

So tell me, people, where do you store your vases? Candles? Or am I the only person with plenty of both? Vases take up so much space, but I love them.

This morning, I was thinking about how nice it would be to start everything over again. Toss out the old and get new things which actually fit in the space available.  And then I started adding back in the things I couldn't bear to part with. Mainly because of the memories attached, not so much the actual things, and before I knew it, I was back where I started. I am not 20 any longer. I come with a history and a great deal of baggage of the literal sort. We will not venture into the other kind of baggage at this point. I have boxes of things my children made for me. They are the first to say get rid of them, but I can't. They don't remember what I remember. Just because they were there does not mean their memories mirror mine - mine are of the adult variety, and I remember not only my children as babies, toddlers and little ones, but also how I felt about them, and life too, and who I was back then.

Sometimes, it is just those little things which trigger the memories which are back in a dusty corner of my mind. As you get older, the triggers are very useful indeed, seeing that I can't remember where I put my glasses at least 4 times a day, or what I am doing from one minute to the next.

So I can't get rid of them. Not yet. And then, there are things I may let go with no qualms at all, but they mean a great deal to my children who have yet to establish their own homes, and who would love to take some of them with them when they do. One day.

So the piles stay for now. My efforts to minimalise my life are failing dismally.Ostrich mode. That is what I need. Or blinkers.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And more painting.....

So the painting continues and the rest of the house looks worse by the day. Isn't that always the way? The woodwork has had its first coat and the transformation is amazing. So amazing that I am tempted to keep a completely empty white room with a chair in it and just revel in the whiteness and brightness.......
I may be losing the plot here. Possibly the paint fumes. (There are none.)

Jean, bless her, rocked up this morning, clutching fresh scones for tea, so she too could marvel at the machine, the whiteness and the total mess in the rest of the house, and tell me whether I should start potting on my seedlings. As one does. Just before she arrived, I made the mistake of noticing more cobwebs in the lounge. The painter friend then just happened to look behind a painting on the wall - I ask you, people, do you EVER go and look behind a painting on the wall??????? This meant that there was much hilarity around here, and comments like "Shall I take down the paintings so the walls can be vacuumed? "


Just a word of advice here - if you darken my doorstep, do not even begin to think of checking the walls behind any paintings. Not until I tell you I have redecorated, and you can be certain all walls will have been cleaned within an inch of their lives prior to meeting up with the paint roller.

Life is too short to vacuum walls behind paintings. You heard it from me.

PS I apologise for the total lack of scintillating news. There is none. I am home. The house is a tip. But my lilac tree is starting to bloom! The end.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I am supervising painting. "Supervising". That means I am leaning on the door frame, watching and giving a running commentary about anything which springs to mind. Oh, and making coffee and providing biscuits. In between retuning the TV sets once again, because the digital switchover is now complete and the analogue transmitters in this part of the world have been switched off forever. In other words, I am being totally unproductive. Loitering.

I did manage to cut some shelves for the little nook behind the new study door, though. The wall is not straight, so they look ridiculous on the table, but fit perfectly into the gap. Well, they will do when I have managed to find the wood to use as battens, and the "no more nails", and see where the spirit level is and a multitude of other little things which will necessitate a visit to the local DIY superstore, of course.

Firing up the scroll saw was wonderful, and having a kitchen covered with dust is good. All fingers are still attached, and I even remembered how to change the saw as well when I broke it. A miracle.

I must say, going back to the painting lark - I am very impressed with the Dulux Paintpod system. My friend is whizzing around the room at speed, and there is no splatter, no mess, and the paint is going a heck of a lot further than it would be if I had decided to slap it on myself using a roller and making a mess. And I can't wait to see the bit where you press the "drain" button and it sucks it all back into the pot. Such a good idea. And no waste.

And my accomplishment for the day, you will be pleased to hear, has been to masking tape a washing sponge to the corner of the wall shelves in the new study. My painter friend has already been wounded, even though I issued dire warnings about the corner. Some people Never Listen. Jean and I are off to our favourite garden centre this evening for their 2nd birthday celebration. There is free cake involved, so that will be fun. And tomorrow, the painting resumes. I wonder how many more rooms I can add to the list without it being noticed. The white looks so fresh and clean and bright........

Monday, April 11, 2011

Apple blossom time....

My apple tree, which was pruned for the first time in its life, is blossoming. There is also a wild wind blowing, so I was out there taking photos of the blossom. Just in case. And as my house is upside down right now and offending me greatly, the apple blossom distracts me. This is good. A friend is painting my old kitchen which has been a "nothing" room, and which will be a study in the near future. Well, I say painting. Perfectionist is an understatement, and I gather today was the "preparation" day. Tomorrow will be the "filling in holes and generally sanding and other fancy stuff" day, and then the next day could well be painting. Me??? I would have slapped a coat or 2 of white paint on and called it good. When it comes to painting, I am clearly not a perfectionist.

You see, I know what is going to happen. The new study will look sparkly and beautiful, and the entire house will look like a dump in comparison. The last time I decided to paint a wall upstairs, it became the entire house before I knew what was happening and I was wielding the rollers and paintbrushes myself. I was on a mission and it took forever. That was a while ago. All I will add at this point is that Geoff was alive. And it is nearly 5 years since he died, and I know people who have redecorated 3 times since then.

This time, there is only one colour I am prepared to consider. In fact, I will not even look at paint charts or go near the shop. White. This house will be white. Then it will be bright and clean and sparkly, and it will be cheap to touch up. Not that I am given to touching up stuff. No. I go for the full paint job when it becomes a necessity. And seeing that I am going to be visiting Ikea for some new bookcases in the near future, they will need a clean wall to lean on, won't they.

I need to get out more. I have just given bookcases personalities. Sigh. So that is the story round here. You can use your imagination re where all the stuff from the room-to-be-painted is now. And coming neatly round in a full circle, isn't my apple blossom pretty??

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A beautiful weekend......

Thank you all for your comments - it was not one of the best experiences in my life, I can tell you with absolute certainty. However, the weekend has been glorious. Beautiful sunny hot weather, blue skies, and bbqs as well. Anyone would think it was mid summer. The temptation to plant all my baskets and vegetables is almost overwhelming, but I am only too aware of the vagaries of Spring weather, so I am being restrained. Mind you, everything has been growing like weeds. (And so are the weeds, of course!) David is home for a break before his final exams in a few weeks time, so this weekend was spent collecting him from Andrew and Ann's home, so that meant time with Missy too. Now that is always going to be a highlight! She gets cuter by the day, and insisted that I get up from the couch at all available moments, and go and slide her dolly down the slide, watch her ride in her little car, jump off a step (she is a very good jumper), fill the watering can repeatedly, and do all those things Grannies are supposed to do.
Including, of course, reading stories. She has a really good book of 100 first words. The illustrations as great. EXCEPT for the family page, which would always be a problem as the "mummy" is clearly not HER Mummy etc etc. And then we got to THIS photo.........Grandma. I THINK NOT!!!!!!!!!!! I do not even vaguely look like this. Do I?? I even took a photo to prove that this is a VERY CONFUSING BOOK for a little 2 year old. See? So we skipped that dreadful page and moved on to toys and food and animals and bath time instead. That I could cope with.

David and I went to see if we could see the QE2 Bridge. This is the Dartford Crossing of the M25 - I think it is the busiest road in the world - And as it crosses the Thames, coming clockwise you go over the bridge and anti-clockwise, you go under the river through the tunnel. It is a toll crossing. Ann mentioned that the view from the pedestrian bridge nearby was supposed to be good, so off we went. That is David on the bridge and the M25 underneath. That is the bridge in the distance. That small thing. In reality, it is big. I know. I have been over it many many times. And then I zoomed in, and noticed the big freight ferry passing under it. Ann pointed out the green bird which she has seen around too. I have no idea what it is other than the fact that it is indeed green. And a bird. Of course I intended taking the photo of the bird. (I hadn't even noticed it till Ann pointed it out!) The blossom on the trees was beautiful. And every tree seemed to be covered. Sigh. I love Spring. Grandma...... I am sure that poor lady is very sweet and no doubt a Grandma par excellence. But she is NOT TYPICAL. And Missy's grannies look totally different......

Friday, April 08, 2011

Angels were in action today......

Another gloriously sunny Spring day here today. Just beautiful.

And it may well have been my last day. I came SO close to being broadsided by some lunatic who overtook a queue of cars at a roundabout - which I happened to be circling at the time, perfectly legally. All I know is that one minute I was driving round the roundabout and then the next, all I saw was blue. The other car was blue. All all I heard was hooting. Everyone else in the queue thought I was about to be wiped out.

How I managed to take sufficient avoiding action by slamming on the brakes, and veering onto the roundabout, as he wildly tried to swing away from me, I do not know. But the angels were out in force and the cars, even though a millimetre apart, did not collide. Thank God.

I got round the roundabout and stopped and so did all the other people, who came to see if I was all right, so I promptly burst into tears, and just sat there shaking. The man did stop and came running back to see if I was ok, saying - it was all my fault, I am so sorry.

Yes. Well. I was in a state of shock, but drove on a way and then stopped around the corner and just sat there. And eventually got to the garden centre I was heading for, and had coffee. I was a gibbering wreck. I couldn't even work out the money, but the waitress was a star, and sorted it all. And after a rest, I went and spent money on plants. Just because I could. I am still alive. So I bought plants. Perfectly logical to me.

I came home, and repotted all the new plants, and watered the garden, and then just sat outside and enjoyed the moment. This is what I have talked about before, isn't it...... everything can change in the blink of an eye. Today it didn't. I am very very lucky.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

In the garden......

The sun has shone brightly for the past 2 days, and, breaking all records, it was after 6pm when I actually switched on the computer today. I know. Unbelievable. Yesterday, I nearly tripped over my own feet trying to get outside as fast as I could. There was Stuff To Be Done, and plants to check and, oh the excitement of great weather and warmth......

I have been stuck indoors way too long, it seems. I am normal. I really am. Anyway, once outside, my neighbours, who were out in their garden too, decided that it was time to remove the entire fence from between out 2 houses, pending the arrival of their new fence in a couple of weeks. So, while I absolutely was not doing the digging and yanking, I was manning the wire cutters. Chopping through the fence. We all took turns, and everyone ended up with bleeding, blistered and bandaged hands. That old wire is tough stuff.

So we needed many rests. On their patio. Surveying "our" garden(s). It was a wonderful day, you know. Nothing exceptional. Just a lovely lovely day in the sun, in the garden, with great neighbours.

And exactly how great they are is illustrated by today's exploits.

The sun shone again, without the breeze of yesterday, and I was out early. So was my neighbour. It was his birthday, but bless his cotton socks, he power-washed my entire patio, before doing his own. It took all morning. His wife and I advised and assisted from the comfort of their patio chairs, armed with coffee and feet up. Well, I did get up and sweep the water away now and then. He also climbed the tall ladder and power-washed my bathroom windows. The man is a saint. He hates heights.

I am completely dazzled by the colour of the patio. I had forgotten it wasn't actually grungy grey. It is red/pink - the colour of the bricks. It lightens up the whole place. And I am very grateful indeed.

So this afternoon, I took the winter covers off the patio furniture, and it is back in place. And planted another tray or 7 of seeds. Watered. Weeded, and never stopped grinning. Beautiful weather, my garden, seeds, friends, coffee, and dreams of the summer and blossoms to doesn't get much better.

And tomorrow I may well be doing more of the same......I love Spring!!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Beauty in brokenness........

Have you ever thought about stained glass windows? Who made the first one? How? Why? Well, I started pondering them this morning. Prof Google and I did a little investigating and I rather lost the plot when talk began re Pliny and the ancient Egyptians 2700BC.

So we know it is ancient, and beads were made after glazing of earthenware produced hard coloured sodium residues etc etc etc and the windows with pictures and colours were all in churches. How is that? It will do for a potted history. Possibly wildly inaccurate, but that is not the point of this post.

I decided to dream of how they were formed and make up my own story. Much more fun and it doesn't involve Pliny, whose name still makes me shudder - I remember 5 years of Latin well. And anyway, the experts are undecided re Pliny because he does not appear to be a scientist, so that is the last you will hear of him here.

Stained glass. Pictures made up of pieces of glass. Tiny pieces, and bigger pieces. All different colours. End results = beautiful, and our churches have so many of them even today.

So I wonder who made the first picture, and why. Did he or she play with little glass pebbles in the sands, and make a pattern? Maybe a string of beads? Did they find a misshapen flat bead and wonder how to use it? Did they hunt around for more and make a pattern? Or did someone have something made of rough glass, drop it, and instead of tossing it in the bin (or ancient equivalent thereof) hold it up to the light and watch the rainbow prism dance over the world? And dream?

I love the idea of beauty in brokenness. (I had to check if that was actually a real word. It is.) Taking broken pieces and making something beautiful. Mosaics are like that too, for me. Little pieces totally useless or boring or broken, pieced together to make something unique and beautiful.

Back in 2008, Angie wrote her story about her pitcher, and I have never forgotten it. I haven't tried smashing one yet, but I may well do. Just so I can learn for myself the beauty of the broken bits. And the lesson in them.

It is like patchwork too - Geoff used to shake his head and wonder aloud what possessed me to have to cut up all those pieces of perfectly good material and then sew them together in a different way. Pieces. Bits. Rag quilts made of scraps, old seed bags.... Beauty still in the rags.

If you have a perfectly good pottery jug, which doesn't leak, it is functional. You can use it for drinks, for flowers. If it is broken, though, it can't be used for liquids, even once mended. Well, I am assuming it will leak. But it can be used for something else. What if you put a small candle inside the jug? Wouldn't the light peep through the cracks and glow? Wouldn't it have a different, perhaps more beautiful purpose then? Well, interesting, anyway. I mean, I would have to explain why I glued it together after smashing it, and may well be carted off to a padded cell somewhere as a result, or at the very least, have friends wondering about my mental health.

The stained glass reminded me of Angie's jug, and then my reading this morning was all about allowing the light to shine through me, and being more than adequate, and earthenware jugs, and cracks, and I am not putting this as well as I hoped.

Pieces. Me. Broken. Flawed. Not thrown away. Rebuilt in a newer way. Different. Unique. Not Rubbish. Not inadequate. Together. Whole. New. Light. Beauty. Shine. Purpose.

See? So I like to think that once, a long time ago, someone picked up the shards of broken glass, and instead, fashioned a picture of glory. And the light shone through it and danced over the world, and everyone marvelled at how the broken pieces could, when put together differently, become a thing of beauty after all.

A potter will squish a wonky pot flat on the wheel,. add a little more water and start over again, and create something beautiful from the clay. I know. I once did that many times. A stained glass artist will cut intricate pieces of glass from sheets and build their window from the pieces. A quilter will chop up scraps and create a quilt of beauty from them.

We do it all the time in a sense - make beauty from broken pieces. I have my old wheelbarrow in the garden. It is broken and can't be a wheelbarrow any more. It has holes in and no wheel. But I filled it with soil and it is now home to the biggest hosta I have ever grown, and it is beautiful - far more beautiful than it ever was as a wheelbarrow. Little things we reuse, alter, paint, break up and take apart.

Beauty in brokenness.

It makes you think, doesn't it?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Seeds grow......

A cold, cold wind is blowing today and I don't like it. Any idea of going outside is out of the question, and I am even tempted to switch the heating on for a while. This is ridiculous. I am sitting here with a fleece around me and a recession heater on my lap. And yet the weather in a day or so will be in the high teens C. Oh well - this is April after all, and I gather it is supposed to be changeable! I have put up my Easter tree. Actually there are two, but the photos of the other one were not stellar, so I will take more later. This is the one at the front door, and it works really well this year. It is not too big. Last year, I kept catching my bag on the one I had, and it ended up on the floor more than once, so this year I wanted something more manageable! And after Easter, I will take off the decorations and leave the birds and bows and flowers for Spring until the end of May. And then it will be time for the Summer decorations! No time to get bored round here.

Sunset last night was a surprise. A lovely one. I had no idea the skies were so beautiful until I looked over the hedge and this is what I saw. So today should have been a sunny bright day. It may have been at 0600hrs. Not right now. The wind is blowing the foul weather in at speed. That does it, I am shivering. The heating goes on.

On the garden front, I am happy to report that the spinach is growing, as are the lettuces and peas too. Potatoes have popped through for the first time, and will be covered again in the next day or so. Gem squash, cucumbers, beans and three kinds of tomatoes are all doing well indoors, and so are all the flower seedlings. I may have enough lobelia for the entire county. I sprinkled seeds and then read the packet. It says approx 2500 seeds. Right. That would be two thirds of the packet in my seed tray then. Potting them on is going to be a challenge, I can see. Broad beans are also in.

I was sitting thinking this morning how tending my garden is such a simple thing, and yet so profound. I am not going to make the connections, join the dots here - you are welcome to do that if you choose - but just think a moment......

I filled clean pots with new soil. Special soil. I planted or scattered small minuscule seeds into that fresh soil, and then I covered them, patted them down. Then I watered them and set them down in their pot to grow. Every day, I go and check on them. I cover them with fleece if the temperature is going to plummet, and I water them, keep them clear of weeds. I pop the pot into the sun so the soil can warm up.

Day after day, I check and water. Day after day, there is nothing, and yet I don't give up. I just keep doing the same thing every single day. I smile, you see, because I know they will grow one of these days. I KNOW those seeds are alive under the dark soil. I know what they will become in the fullness of time.

And then the day comes when there is the slightest stirring of the top soil, and then suddenly, a small green head bursts through, and shakes off the soil. And still I water, and look after it. It grows stronger each day, bigger. And then one day, the tightly closed head unfurls, and the beautiful flower bursts into the sunlight. Or the fruit or vegetable.

The gardener's work - my work - is not done though. Sometimes the plant will need to be moved, or staked. It may need feeding, and it will always need watering. More than ever, as it grows bigger. And oh, the joy it brings. The smiles. It is the knowledge of what that little innocuous seed can become one day which makes the work such a pleasure. The seed doesn't know.

But I do.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Mothers and children.....

Today is Mothering Sunday here in the UK. Our version of Mother's Day, which always falls in the middle of Lent, so we don't have the other one which the rest of the world has. And today is also my youngest son's birthday. My baby is 22. I am still battling to remember how he could possibly have been around for 22 years already.

However, he is at uni, buried under a pile of work due in this week, and not here, so I have spoken to him, and we will have a celebration of sorts when he comes home. You will be pleased to know that my fledgling attempt to shop for groceries on line worked, and bang on 10am this morning, the bags arrived on his doorstep, including the chocolate cake I ordered. That was a mistake. He wanted a caterpillar cake - the chocolate variety which has become synonymous with birthdays in this house. Oops. He has a cake. That will have to do. Bad mother.

He was thrilled with the Kindle the family got for him - now he has to wait to open the parcel until the work is in. And he was very happy with his care package too (the food). He will not starve.

So it is inevitable that today the thought of motherhood and all those years parenting my three should be at the forefront of my mind, isn't it. I have been a Mum for nearly 34 years. Well, 34 years and 8 months if you count pregnancy! It has been the best thing I ever did, and my greatest achievement, but make no mistake - it is hard hard work too.

Motherhood does not end at 18 either. It is something that lasts for your entire life. You will wake each day with thoughts of your children scattered around the globe (in my case) and you will wonder how they really are, if they are well, happy, busy, coping, healthy....... the lot. You wonder about the things they never talk about, and you pray for them all and it is really difficult to realise that you can't play a major role in their lives any more. They are all off doing what you raised them to do, making their own lives, and forging their own paths, and I am truly thankful for all that, and yet........

There are days when I wish they were all small again, and here. Together. Where I can watch over them. When I could kiss them better and it worked. When the tooth mouse came to visit, and letters to Father Christmas were written. When I tripped over lego blocks, and woke with little arms and legs like wound round me like an octopus.

Those days are long gone now, though, and instead, I have the delights of the new generation of little ones to enjoy and learn to know now. I love being a Granny. But oh, I miss being Mum. And being the fount of all knowledge!

David was my surprise baby, and he was a little tornado for the first few years of his life. He knew no fear and got into more mischief than the other 2 combined. I was a relaxed Mum, though, and I just enjoyed him and his antics. All three of my children are full of character and are interesting kids. David fascinates me, though. He has the kind of mind which constantly amazes me. He remembers rare bits of information and can use them in normal conversation, so I often start out chatting about something inconsequential with him, and out will trot some fact which stops me in my tracks, and I look at him and think - where on earth did that come from? He doesn't see facts as things on paper, you see. He sees them in context immediately and can use them. In fact, he is just like his father when it comes to being a mine of information.

He is quiet. Yes, I know I said he was a tornado, but that blew itself out by the time he was about 8. And while he is quiet, he does not miss a single thing. He listens, and learns, and watches and knows. And he is always aware of what is going on around him. Inscrutable. He is the biggest of my children - taller by far than the rest of us, but gentle too. Kids love him. Well, Missy took a while to get used to him, I admit, but generally, kids love David. And he has endless patience with them.

Each of my kids has his or her own special strengths, and weaknesses too. They are human, after all. They are each unique, and each very special to me. I have been honoured to be their Mum, and very blessed too. They have brought a whole lot of grey hairs along the way, but an immeasurable amount of love. They are the best thing in my life, and I am so proud of each of them. All of them.

Being their Mum will always be my greatest joy. I love them. It is as simple as that.

They are my kids.

Friday, April 01, 2011

How can it be April already?

HAH! The weather gurus announced that it would be approaching 20C today. So I barreled out the door to work in the garden, and straight back in again to find a hot drink and a blanket. It might have been 20C in their offices, but not in my garden.

Last night, I managed to knock the little light I work under - one of those ones which has a swivel head which you can use to actually see words on a page or the crochet stitches - and it broke the bulb. So this morning's quest was to undo the contraption, and go forth and find a replacement bulb. And in the process of trying to put it back together, I found out what I should not have done in the first place, and now have a wonky light. Oh well. It shines, so I can see what I am doing. I like to share the inconsequential here, you know.

David has a birthday this Sunday, so another new thing for me today was to attempt a supermarket on-line order for him. He needs a birthday cake, after all. Mothers provide birthday cakes, come what may.


All I can say is that it would have been quicker to get in the car and drive there and do the shopping and drop it off and I would have been halfway home given the time it took for me to work out how to do it, register, sort the order, choose another shop when I saw the delivery charge, register etc etc etc, go back to the first shop when I saw the minimum order at the second shop and start all over again. I nearly had it all delivered here by mistake too.

We will find out if I got it right on Sunday morning. There is a lot to be said for going shopping in person, you know. You go in, get the stuff, pay and depart. Simple.

However, I may well get used to it and become a great fan. You never know. (And pigs may well fly.....)

Can you believe that it is April already? April? How did that happen? Before we know it the year will be half gone. I think I need some hot cross buns. That movie I love? It was called Love Comes Softly and was on 5USA here, for my English friends. It was just a lovely, warm, gentle movie and I loved it. There is apparently a lot more to it than one movie. I hear that there are books, and also a good few TV series, but they are all Region One, according to Amazon, so that is a little irritating. But it was the sort of movie you can wiggle into a chair and sigh over. Just what I needed.

I am obsessing about the hot cross buns now. I may have to go and buy some.

PS I cannot TELL you how annoying I am finding the paragraph issue. If I write the post in the "edit html" tab it keeps paragraphs. If I write it in the "compose" tab it does not. Screech. Does anyone else have the same problem? Am I doing something stupid here? I am off to the shop......