Gardening days

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We are still enjoying our spell of lovely weather here, sunshine and no rain! But there has been a drop in temperature, it’s no longer scorching, we even had to give the heating a blast last night- the first time in weeks. But we’re making the most of it here on the hill, in the garden mostly. Ruairidh has been turning and planting in our little vegetable plot. The potatoes are now in the ground! My battle in the garden just now is with that sly villain crocosmia, not weeds as you might expect! Our garden (really quite a bit area, ranging from wilderness to cultivated beds) is overrun by crocosmia. I think it is a lovely plant, very lush looking, sturdy, and the orange flowers in the autumn are just stunning, especially when colours are fading from the garden. But for some reason, ours is spreading EVERYWHERE! It grows from a bulb, and of course, the bulbs multiply underground. But our kind also seem to have seeds that scatter EVERYWHERE as well. We are being overrun! My first focus was on a bed beside the house, that used to be in front of the old shed which was knocked down at the end of last year. I thought it was a promising place to begin, especially with the hydrangea bush in the centre (albeit a tired, scrawny bush!). Buuuuuut, the rest of the bed was chock-a-block full of crocosmia! It took ages to get all that crocosmia, and all the bulbs, out of the bed. They are now mournfully waiting being turned into a bonfire! “Get rid of the beastly things!!”

After adding some extra soil, I added some plants donated by my dad from his recent garden maintenance spree, and planted some seeds, also donated by seeds. The plants (primrose & big daisies- my name for them!) seem to be happy enough, but the sunflowers are the only little babies that have appeared so far. Sad! It might have something to do with the fact that they were ancient! Stored over decades (well, one at least!) in a dusty corner in Dad’s garage, they may be a bit past it. I will wait in hope a weee bit longer yet!I thought I’d share some pics to show the progress, more to come soon. I guess they’ll in understanding what it is I’m on about!

 

In the corner beside the steps, the mound of bulb was as high as the top step! There were bulbs on top of bulbs, on top of bulbs, all pinky-brown and fresh looking because they had never actually been in any soil! Ugh, they look creepy!

{More photos in the next blog post}

My indoor-sowed seeds are coming along much better. The Morning Glory is out of the nursery, little seedlings getting taller! I have to think about where they’re all going to go outside now! (See flickr for a snapshot of them.)

 

Return to the Tropical Island

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I was away in Glasgow from Wednesday to Saturday. We (sister and sister-in-law-to-be) had arranged wedding beautify-ing trials for Friday as Mairianne was going to be passing through Glasgow that week anyway. And, we got to try on our dresses for the first time! Needless to say, mine is too long for my shorter legs, so there will have to be some tweaking. We had the wonderful privilege of getting to know the lovely lady who will be doing our hair and make-up. It’s getting more and more exciting! We had a lovely trip, very sibling-centred, with a movie night with Seoras and Stephanie, and we all went to Inverkip for a BBQ on the beach on Thursday. It was very yummy, and lovely with such beautiful sunshine. And of course, we kept each other amused! We are so rare! There’s nothing like a sibling (and sibling attachments 😉 although Ruairidh was missing, it was great to have Nma and Stephanie) gathering to cheer you up. And I never turn down an opportunity to annoy Seoras! Ruairidh will be glad I have a bit of annoying-ness out of my system, so thanks Seoras! Mairianne and I stayed over in Inverkip, not on Colin’s sofas, but in beds in their new house! Pleasure to get the tour of their new pad and keep Nma company for a night. Although m legs were tired after going up and down their three levels!

Scotland seems to be having all it’s yearly sunshine quota in one week just now! It has been scorching! And unexpected. I had packed on Monday as I went up to my parents before leaving the bonny Isle, and I had no inkling that the weather was going to be so amazing- I even packed my boots! It warmed up on Wednesday morning and I unpacked them before leaving, but my sandals etc were 1hr15min away at home! I’ll managed I thought. I landed in Glasgow airport, and I was in a puddle on the ground! Toasty warm, (more like oven hot!) and worse, city stuffy! Thank goodness for shops with sandals & t-shirts! I was SO glad to get home on Saturday night after a day of bus and ferry travelling. To get home to my own stash of summery clothes! And hang up that jacket I took with me, and had to carry back home, after never wearing it! This has been such a sudden change really. Usually, you have a more gradual introduction to warmth, i.e. you go from having jacket and scarf, to just jacket; to taking your jacket just in case; to leaving the jacket and taking a cardigan or little jacket. I felt quite vulnerable leaving behind my jacket and vest! No rain clouds on the horizon this week. And I’m told it looks good for the week ahead, yipppee! Lots of weeding and planting in the garden, not so yippee, but enjoyable all the same!

And beautiful days mean beautiful scenery, and beautiful sunsets, and beautiful gloaming. I was so distracted driving down from Stornoway on Saturday night. I left just after 10pm, loving the fact that there was still plenty of light, unlike the darkness of a couple of months ago. The sun took its time going down, and the light took even longer to head on over to the other side of the globe. The sky was stunning it is shades of purple, red. deep blue, set off by the sparkle and contrast of the sea. I stopped quite a lot for photos, but all I had was my phone. Such peaceful, awesome surroundings. We are so privileged to live here, even with the wind and the rain!

May, 11pm in Harris

Memory clutches

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Memory clutches

     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

Pslam 27

“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).

Granny, nearing the end of life

Recipe Day

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I’ve been fine-tuning a gluten free sponge recipe this week to share with my brother’s wedding cake maker. I adapted a recipe one of my aunts in Canada shared with me, a Deluxe Pound Cake, as an option for our wedding cake. Yup, I made our wedding cakes. As most will already know, Ruairidh has a list of dietary no-nos, and he wanted to be able to eat some of his wedding cake too! I found a tasty, Ruairidh friendly Nigella fruit cake, made some alterations myself and, after a couple of trials, I knew it would be perfect and manageable. But I wanted to have a sponge option as well, and as Ruairidh could have the fruit cake, a ‘normal’ sponge would be fine. But what recipe would stand up to the size, waiting time, and icing involved? My aunt’s recipe was perfect! We had cake success, with the icing help of a friend. So this week, I decided to adapt the recipe to see if it would work as a gluten-free wedding cake. We just finished eating it today! It was great, actually even better than my initial wheat-full cake trials. And I honestly think you wouldn’t have noticed a difference. I’m not so keen on the strong rice taste and texture you get in a lot of GF cakes. But I’ve discovered that ground almonds make all the difference. If you eat gluten-free, I hope you can make use of this. If not, I’ve written up the wheat-full ingredients as well! Oh, and it’s optionally cow’s milk free too.       To make this a real recipe day, I’ll throw in a Banana Loaf recipe . I think this may have come from Canada as well. I typed it up for one of my brothers recently so it’s handy to share. I miss not having bananas in to get over-ripe for banana loaf! I don’t actually eat raw banana, there’s just something about them I struggle to swallow. My mum says I used to eat loads and loads when I was wee, maybe I sickened myself with them! And Ruairidh never thinks of buying them, so our fruit bowl remains banana free. Until I remember, and then our fruit bowl has spotted and black bananas waiting to be magically transformed into scrumptious loaf! The best way to use up old bananas I say, and old bananas are best. Enjoy!

GF/DF Fruit Cake PDF

Banana Loaf PDF

 

Basil Green and Sky Blue

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I love days in which the weather completely turns, from horrible to lovely that is. I don’t appreciate it turning the other way around as much! Yesterday began a lot like today, wet and drich and grey and cloudy. But then the wind blew, the clouds parted and the sun shone through. For the afternoon at least. It cheers you up to see the sun here in the islands, especially when we so want to shake winter away. Come on summer, you can make it through! I was just starting to put together dinner when I was distracted by the lovliness of the basil in the kitchen window, I just had to go for the camera. Dinner would wait! The light was glowing through the veins on the leaves, leaves so green and fragrant. I kept snapping trying various angles and settings. I’m trying to get better with Ruairidh’s camera (a big fancy one with knobs and settings to keep me happy with developing photo-taking!), and as I’m still pretty awful most of the time, I take lots to practice and to get a nice photo. But then all of a sudden, it wouldn’t take a photo. It wouldn’t click. I looked at the screen, to see ‘No more memory’. Eeek, I had filled up the memory card. Not just with the basil! I hadn’t uploaded photos since February. Last week I realised I had to set some time aside to take photos of my laptop because I was running out of space on there too. There were photos from nearly two years still there. Most had been put onto flickr, up to this summer. But I hadn’t been able to put them onto disk, and delete them from the laptop, what with senior honours, a wedding, moving, and all that jazz! But I can now stoke it off my list. I love being able to do that. And now I have a whole new lot of photos to edit and put onto flickr. Yippee! Yes, I am looking forward to it, strangley enough. I have a new toy to play with you see. I got Photoshop Elements for my Birthday, and I’m just starting to get the hang of it. And I want to see if I managed to get any decent photos of the horses we met on the beach a couple of weeks ago. So, keep an eye out to see some of our recent adventures. And our not so recent- I have only processed the first half of our honeymoon holiday so far.

So, I was forced to get back to making the dinner. Just as well it was yummy! We had a pizza night. We get ‘Glutamel’ gluten free ready-made pizza bases from the Co-op for Ruairidh. And when, like yesterday, we don’t have any wheat-full bases for myself, I have to say I am happy to eat them too. They are really yummy actually, and they don’t break like some others. I haven’t got around to trying some home-made bases yet, maybe sometime.

I had thought when I started to write this, that today was going to continue its misery of drizzle and cloud. But *hoooray!* the cloud is lifting with the wind. I might get that load of washing outside after all. Oh, how housewifey that sounds! It’s not the highlight of my day, honest. It juts makes laundry a lot easier!  Have you had any highlights so far this weekend?

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