So, this is what has served as my creative outlet of late, and what has kept me busy, both in preparation and arrival, and away from this little space. We have a little baby boy. He is nearly two weeks old here in this photo. Born on the 9th April 2013, weighing a pan drop under 7lbs, he has now doubled in size! It has been so lovely seeing his development, both physically and character-wise, over the past 3 months and we can’t wait for what lies ahead. Seòras is a Gàidhlig name, equivalent to George in English. You may know that I have a brother named Seoras, who was named in memory of our maternal grandmother, Georgina. But baby Seòras (or wee Seòras as he is becoming known as!) is not named after uncle Seoras. Both Ruairidh and I both had special Grandpas called Seòras, who hold a special corner of our heart, and it is after these men that baby Seòras is named. I have to admit taking a while getting used to calling someone other than my brother, Seoras! Especially my son! Seoras is normally preceded by a shout of “MUM!…” and followed by “…is annoying me!” I have to admit, in the early days, I frequently called him Ruairidh accidentally! His middle names are also memorably significant: Murdaidh after my late father by blood and my maternal Grandfather John Murdo; and Fionnlagh was Ruairidh’s other Grandpa. So that’s all the Grandpas covered!
Seòras loves to laugh and smile, showing off his dimples. I think he’s going to be a singer and musical like his father, he loves songs and music, and joins in with his own noises. He is very much a movement loving boy, happy to be on the go and swung or carried about. We are thankful for this for the 1hr 15-30 min car journey north to the main island town of Stornoway and to family. He doesn’t mind the car at all. But on the other hand, he doesn’t mind sitting, settled and happy, in his bouncy chair or on your lap as long as he can see what is going on around him, has action or new surroundings to contemplate, knows you are near and pay him special attention once in a whiley. Not too much to ask?! We are so chuffed that he is a cuddle-loving baby, because I don’t think we could not cuddle and kiss and squish and squeeze, low raspberries and tickle those toes! He delights in life, we delight in him, and are delighted with such a blessing in our lives.
It’s strange how it seems that life could never have been without him. Even though there are so many new things, challenges, difficulties, joys and wonders we never knew before, it is as though he has always been. He has always been a part of our lives, just waiting to enter the act at the appropriate scene. What wonder to think that he, he is the little one over whom we held such great anticipation throughout those long months; who was tucked safely away until the appointed time, when he turned our world upside down and our hearts inside out with joy…and sleepless nights! To think that that wonder will continue throughout life – this boy, this teenager, this man, was that tiny baby?! What a journey! Deep down, we were always waiting for him, and now we get to enjoy him, knowing that our time is full, blessed, and challenging, but short.
We, as an extended family, have no problem with getting of the camera lens. Photo-taking has been very much a part of our lives since we were little. And since my eldest brother took an interest in photography that lead to his pursuing it to a professional level, photos and cameras are an even greater part of our lives! All of ‘the siblings’ take photos almost every day, even more so with the wonderful tool that is the iPhone! Embracing the camera isn’t something we have difficulty with! But I do think we need to be more deliberate in sharing these photos, and in recording the memories and context that go along with them. What an even better insight and memories to cherish for future generations seeking a glimpse into the lives of their forefathers.
This has been a lovely week, despite the rain and clouds covering us for days! Surprisingly though, the coming of the rain has been like the welcome return of a dear friend, our gardens, and lochs, and everywhere really, have been getting pretty dry over the past month. Some older folk in Leverburgh here have actually said that they have never seen the loch beside our house as low for.as.long.as.they.remember! There has also been the welcome return of my brother Colin and his fiancé Nma. They came on Monday for a little holiday break, and they’ll be leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Not really the crack of dawn. That would be at 4.30 am here right now, and then it isn’t even dark here, especially when there is little to no cloud cover. A night of twilight! They’re catching the early ferry, so an early start whatever the light! Not as horrible as in the dark of mid-winter though.
They have had a quiet week, set against my busyness of organising various events such as a youth club BBQ on Friday night (I hope it’s dry by then!) and youth camp which is coming up in the next couple of weeks. We went out to the Anchorage for a lovely dinner tonight (the only restaurant in Leverburgh, but so nice you don’t need anywhere else!) and decided to get a photo of us all to remember our week. After many attempts with the timer, we managed to get an acceptable one! Even if not such amazing quality, it’s the photo moment that counts! How do you Embrace the Camera?
It amazes me how much of our memories (well, I speak for my sieve-like brain if not for yours too!) vanish into thin air, like a whisp of smoke floating out of reach, unable to be grasped. And yet other memories, both unremarkable and decidedly significant, seem to cling on, unwilling to fade with the passing of time. A picture, sound, sight, smell, person, occurence, or maybe just ‘the way things were’. memories take so many different forms. Sometimes they are sharp and clear, and other times they may be vague in form yet just as comforting. I have a mug. I grew up with that mug in our kitchen, but then it went on holiday somewhere (most likely tha back of the cupboard!) and it was no longer a part of my daily life. After its long absence, I remember the first time I saw it, and touched it. Something came flooding over me. I used to use this mug, a lot. I remember the colours of those pastel flowers. I remember the ridges in the paint. I remember the warm milky hot chocolate I drank from it. Oh, that taste! What comfort there was tied up in that bedtime cup of chocolate, in the comfort of home and routine. My memory connected with that mug is comfort. Not a picture, or a moment, or a funny thing that happened. Just comfort. That is more than enough. Still, when I see and touch that mug, comfort wraps its arms around me. Sadly, it is now badly chipped and worn. But that is one mug I won’t throw away! It’s too special to me, even if insignificant to others.
A song just started playing on an iTunes playlist. Something clutched at my heart. Sure, it’s a beautiful song (Grace like rain, Todd Agnew) but it was more than the song that touched me. I was transported. Driving in the car during the year after passing my test. With this song playing, over and over, as the one CD in the car played over and over. Lovely memories of the thrill of being an independent driver. But more. Bittersweet. Driving to and from visiting my Granny, last living grandparent, closest to my heart. Visiting her in hospital and nursing care home. Bittersweet, time together, the dawning reality and acceptance of our time together ending. The beginnings of acceptance and mourning. The joyous awareness of the blessed time we still had. More than a song. No arms of comfort in this memory, just a clutching at my heart. Equally precious.
Today, memories are increasingly wrapped up in photo images or video footage. What a blessing to be able to revisit, ignite these memories, and store them up safely for the future you and future generations. I was recently watching a documentary on TV about capturing images during the great World Wars. The presenter visited with a Frenchwoman whose parents had served in espionage and undercover work during WWII. They had both been killed when she was just a baby. The documentary had investigated the photos and video footage her father had taken during WWI as he flew over France and neighbouring countries, capturing the landscape. She had done some research on her parents and on what happened to them at the end of their life, and her research was very precious to a daughter who had never known her parents. But, she had no clue about the plane journey her father had made in WWI. As she watched some of the footage, she saw her father, flying the plane, turning his head and talking and interacting with the man behind him holding the camera. She saw her father smile. She broke down. She explained how in the photos she had of her father, he was always so serious. She had always wondering what he would look like smiling. What a precious gift! Memory is such a gift.
I have no memories of my birth father. He died after I turned 1 year old. There are photos. There are stories. They are precious. But in a way, more precious to those who knew him, who miss him. They have the memories woven into the images and stories. They have real emotional ties. I remain, in a way, detached. I remember coming across video footage belonging to a family member, compiled over the years from daily life and holidays. I remember the tension, I might SEE my father. I saw his legs, his back. But not his face. I have never heard his voice. But I have photos of him smiling. Of him with me. I have more than many others. And, I have been blessed with another father in life. From even before my birth father died, I was part of a complete family. I did not miss out. I had and have so much more than many others. I have been ingrafted, this is the reality of who I am. It is difficult for other members of the extended family, because they see how things were, they remember as label me as being someone else. But to me, I am my mothers and father who brought me up, raised me, kissed my bruises and told me off, daughter. I am my brothers’ sister, and my sister’s sister. I am who I have become. Life circumstances so often dictate who we become. Even more, I have a heavenly Father, who understands where I’m at, in life, emotionally, spiritually. A Father who has taken me through every moment, and who cares and provides for me more than any other. I trust Him. I trust Him to know the best. Unless we surrender, life will eat us up. I entrusted to him many years ago my confusion, my hurt, my questions, my life. To whom else can you go? Who else understands? Who else works things? And He drew close and blessed. What a blessed life I have known! I tremble when I think of where the road could have led. But thankfully, man is not ultimately in control. Surely our memories of life bear witness to this? Cherish your good memories. Trust God with the hard and difficult ones. He knows.
I had hope just to share a little of what memories mean to me, but as usual, I seem to have gone on.
Words ramble, as thoughts flow. Thank you for letting me share.
‘Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is… For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 6:10,12 ESV
“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6 ESV
That we would truly say this, no matter the trials that come our way. Because, over and above it all, He has blessed us with every blessing in Christ Jesus (Eph 1).
What a beautiful day we had today, for a change it seems! We have had so much rain and wind these past months, its so refreshing to have some blue skies and sunshine! It was if a curtain had lifted between the seasons of winter and spring. A fresh breeze, birds chirping, new shoots emerging from ground and twig. Sunshine is good for the heart, and motivation! I had a curtain motivated day today, to suit the weather changes! It was a perfect drying day for the washing, and I had been waiting for a day that wasn’t too windy, or windy at all (even plain windy here can be too windy!), so that I could wash our new curtains and get them out without causing any damage or having to fish them out of the loch if they blew away. Ruairidh has had a few packs of Ikea’s hem yourself curtains around for a long while, and I had hemmed a pair a few months ago for the guest rooms. Yup, you read correctly, I hemmed one pair, for two bedrooms! They are quite generous curtains, so one per window was fine as a make-do for a while until I managed to get around to doing any more. They took me a wee while to do. I didn’t want to use the iron-on stuff they come with, because, frankly, I think they’re rubbish! What’s the point in going to all the effort of putting them on, when they just fall off, or come off in the wash? I’d much rather just sew them, even if I’m no expert seamstress. I took a while with that first pair, figuring out lengths and how to go about it with my measuring tape, scissors, pins and magic removable pen. It didn’t help that the pair of curtains (note, from the same pack) were both different lengths !?? Ikea! Anyway, I got there in the end, even remembering to add an extra 8cm for shrinkage as per instructions. I think this was before our last communion weekend, and I knew I wouldn’t get to maching sew them in time before guest arrived to stay with us, so I decided to just run a tack, neatly and with plenty of stitches to make sure they stayed-put! I still haven’t got the sewing machine out. But today, I measured and cut and tacked another pair, in a fraction of the time it took previously- I knew the formula. So, one pair up and waiting a wash and shrink;, one pair washed, ready for a quick iron and hanging (unless I risk the machine, but our next communion weekend is coming up next weekend, so I doubt that!). Who will notice the white, clumsy thread on the hem anyway?!
Ruairidh had a busy day today too. Paperwork in the morning, followed up the the continuation of Operation Fireplace for the rest of the day! Operation Fireplace is an epic. Last year (or was it last year and a few months ago?) Ruairidh began the re-vamp of the fireplace in the manse living room. The old one had been cracked and, lets face it ancient, ugly, decrepit, and so on. Instead of getting somebody else do to the work and with the goal of saving some money from the manse funds, Ruairidh decided he could, and would, handle it. It still hasn’t been finished. Some of you may be noticing a pattern here! Not just with Ruairidh and I, but the manse too! Unfinished fireplace, undecorated kitchen, unvarnished doors, unfinished…. On Tuesday I tackled the hand-rail on the wall going up the stairs. Made of standard pine, unvarnished, and… dirty, manky. Unnoticeable in the passing, but when I went to give it a wee clean a while back, ugh I realised that those dark bits were stains, not just the wood! They came off! With lots of Cif cream and elbow grease. Whoop! I love clean things. WHY it hadn’t been varnished in the first place, I don’t know. Anyway, Peigi has now moved in, watch out house. I was having a sanding-and-varnishing couple of days, between finishing the last coat on the living room door and a couple of coats on the wooden surround and mantel for the fireplace, and the handrail was going to get some too! I arms are a bit sore after scrubbing with Cif, sanding and varnishing, but I smile every time I’m on those stairs, and lovingly caress what I know is clean, will be easy to clean, and is so soft and shiny. (Yup, welcome to my world. I have to substitute the studying with something these days!) Remember to appreciate the hand rail the next time you visit, it needs a little love after its previously neglected life.
Yes, this may all seem mundane to some, but all these bits and bobs are keeping me pretty occupied these days. But obviously, I’m not doing enough because there are still things to complete! The fireplace is getting there though! Until last week, it had been in the exact same state, half-way to completion (presentable but unusable), since last February. Yup, one whole year. Anyway, its good that I can give Ruairidh a hand now. Its looking lovelier each day, and I can’t wait to warm my toes by a real fire again. I’ve been getting my fire-fix when I pop *home* to Newmarket- *I suppose I should technically change to ‘my parent’s house’ now, but that sounds so COLD! It is home, its just that I have another home now too!* We are aiming ot have it in finished by the communions next weekend, it will have to be presentable then anyway! There may be a slight hiccoup if Ruairidh needs to find a specifi tool to do something, but we hope not. It will be such a pleasure to tick this one off the list! Guess what though?! The curtain came back down. The rain curtain that is. The clouds came, the rain splattered, and the wind rose. Just as well I’d taken the curatins off the line! Oh well, the sunshine was nice while it lasted!
+Photo notes:Some shots from outside in the garden today, and Epic Operation Fireplace.
Yes, one of our washing line posts is that squint! It started keeling over (very quickly- I had to run out to grab hold of the sheets to keep them out of the muddy lawn!) when I had some linen on the line mid-winter. Too much rain in the ground and gales!
I would like to share my cousin Cindy’s blog with you. She wrote it during her adventure to Scotland in the summer, when she came over with my Auntie Donna (also her cousin) to join us for our wedding in July. I know some of you may have already visited and enjoyed her tales of epic adventure, from the crowded cities to the empty moors in Lewis, but you might like to return for more reading if you didn’t make it through to the end (which I reccommend) and I thought others might appreciate it too. I love Cindy’s writing (yes, if you’re reading this, I do, truly!) and its lovely to see our world from a different perspective every once in a while. So, hope the link works!
It has been a while since my last blog, which says more of how life has been than any words I may have written! BUSY!!! But now, I have no such excuse, and can once again enjoy spending some time in sharing with you. Just now (Thursday) I’m sitting on the ferry, conveniently beside a power socket, typing away as we leave Ullapool. I’m on my way home for the summer! This Junior Honors year has fairly flown by, but I am definitely in need of home and a break from studying. After exams over the past month, I find I can no longer even write properly (just as well this is typed, otherwise you would definitely struggle to make sense of my writing!). The sky has cleared and the sun come out to welcome me home. The weather and scenery, with low, misty clouds; sudden heavy showers and snow still lying on the higher hills shows how winter is unwilling to leave us this year. Even south in Glasgow it has turned cold again this week after a wonderful, summer-like weather last week. Despite the length and stiffness of the journey up the road on the bus and then the ferry, I do enjoy it. It helps to ease the transition back into island life. When I fly home, I need a few hours after landing just to get used to the idea of being back home. I love watching the change from lowland to Highland, Highland to sea, sea to home. Where else would you want to be?!! I get more excited with each stage, and I miss that with the plane. So, I‘m enjoying my journey today, apart from being a bit sgìth/tired. I think its going to be a lovely crossing as well, we’ll see what if I change my mind in a bit when we’re in the open Minch!
The Easter holidays flew by. My classes finished before the holidays, so I ‘only’ had exams to go back to. Despite good intentions, there’s always good intentions, I didn’t get much revision done during the holidays. A week was spent at a Free Church Youth Camp as a leader, this one a Gaelic camp for P5-S2 children. It was a short 5 day camp, but we squeezed a lot in, including a visit to the Highland Wildlife Park, now home to Mercedes the polar bear. We saw her a few years ago in Edinburgh with another camp group, and the difference in her enclosure is amazing, seems almost ten times the size! There was an added adventure on the way home from camp. Something on the ferry broke down, so myself and Ruairidh and one camper who was going back to Lewis with us stayed over the Sunday until Monday to get back. We also had some more snow at the beginning of the holidays. It wasn’t heavy this time, in Lewis anyway, and only lasted about a day, so all the new flowers were allowed to grow some more and brighten our days. After such a long, cold winter ( I know some of you will be scoffing at that statement in comparison to your own climates, but it really was more extreme than we have recently been used to) spring and summer, with warmth and sunshine have come very suddenly for me. But I’m putting away the woollies and getting used to the idea!
The past month has been centred around studying and exams really, with plenty of study breaks of course! Cups of tea, either on your own in the small hours, in the library, or out with friends, are so helpful when you’re faced with books and note-taking. I’ve been taking some snaps with my mobile phone camera of random bits of ‘study-time’.
Some of the other photos you see here show a wee bit more of the past month(s): enjoying the Castle Grounds in Stornoway in the Spring; experimenting with wedding invitations (we’re making our own); spring cleaning therapy, including sorting out our linen closet in the flat, is my relaxation of choice after exams (I know…weird!). There’s also a few (quite a few!) snaps of my engagement ring, but I can’t help it! Even though Colin took some proper ones with his fancy-dan camera, I can’t help it when it looks so pretty in certain lights etc. All I can say is that its a beautiful ring (moran taing Ruairidh :)) so I’m going to enjoy it! I made it home for a couple of days in the middle of April for my cousin Stuart and Diana’s wedding. It was a lovely day, you can see some more on Colin’s flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cjc/) and mine (http://www.flickr.com/photos/peigi_pest/). Most of us ended up taking photos with one of Colin’s cameras at some point during the day, so its an interesting mix! It also means I’m short of a lot of the ones I took-I forgot to take them of the camera before I gave it back to him! Anyway, you can view the collection on his page.
During my last week in Glasgow, I went with some girls from church to a Spanish tapas restaurant in the West End, just off Byres road. I had noticed it the week before and was eager to try it out, see how it compared to the real deal! And I was so chuffed when the girls suggested going there. It was really nice, close enough to what I was used to in Spain to keep me happy! I miss the people and the food from last year in Spain the most, so it was nice to get the taste buds going again. I’m tempted to go visit for a long weekend soon, we’ll see. This summer will be a busy one, between earning some pennies, relaxing, studying, camp, wedding organisation, and my friends Fiona and Roddy are getting married in August. I’m sure it will fly by!