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).
Our boiler is on the blink again. well, it hasn’t really been fixed properly since the last time it wouldn’t switch on. I don’t like red glowing ‘lock-out’ lights! And Ruairidh is away for a couple of days, so there is just me trying to warm up the house! And I don’t even have the option of a fire to warm my toes as the fireplace still isn’t in full working order. The rim has yet to be put in place, a messy, dusty job, as Ruairidh will have to cut out a slight groove for it to rest in because, unfortunately, it’s a bit deeper than the previous one. And I think a little bit has to be sanded off the back of the wooden mantel to get it flush with the wall, and then it will be finished! Maybe next week. Ruairidh is away at translation meetings until Wednesday, so nothing will happen this week anyway.
The past three weeks have been so busy, I feel like I’m emerging from a cloud that has enveloped us entirely, cutting us off from the realities of the lives of friends and family living in the free air of another world. More time seems to have passed than the date on the calender reveals. Intense times. Wonderful time with our friends in church and visitors over the weekend of communion and fellowship. A hectic day of a visiting committees and meetings with the congregation. Sad days with the death of an elderly lady, she was the oldest member in the congregation. And still more death touching the local community at the end of last week. This particular cloud continues into this week as they investigate and seek closure. Death, the intruder. And yet it is reality, it is the most certain thing about life. How it shocks us. We get so comfortable, so preoccupied with things that don’t matter. Are we living a life that is worth living? Do we make the most of our days? Do we allow the risk of being honest, of opening our heart in truth, in the knowledge that there is no time to be afraid, to hide behind our walls? I don’t like living on my own. Whats more, I’ve learned I’m rubbish at being on my own. I don’t look after myself, I have no discipline without the accountability of other people, the needs of other people, the motivation and comfort that comes from the companionship of other people. That is, people in the same building or close daily interaction. So, I need to challenge myself over the next couple of days, not to waste them, or to waste myself, or the time that has been given to me. What a gift we have been given! Even with cold toes.
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 had my first bus-no-show this morning, I know I’m back in Glasgow. I was attacked by Seoras today, more than once. I know I’m back. I had bacon and scrambled egg brunch, I know I’m back. I had a wonderful, relaxed, chatty evening with Fiona, its so good to be back! I can hear planes, and buses, and buzzers, and Glaswegians, and SPANIARDS on the bus, and CATALANS in the library; I must not be in Lewis! I have an essay deadline, come on, I’m only just back! I need a hug, I don’t want to be back 😦 I’m getting into routine, makes it easier to be back. There’s no Alison in Uni, or even in Glasgow these past 2 weeks- something is not quite right about being back! But back I am, for the final year, hurrah! But I might not be smiling in 2 months, or 6! Busy times ahead, but a good busy.
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!
Here on the wet island, Autumn is pushing away the summer, what we had of a summer. It seems that the weather in June was really nice here on Lewis, and then I came home at the end of the month and chased it away! There has been so much rain we still have peats out on the moor to be taken home, and the midges haven’t helped either. But I’ve been busy enough despite the weather over the past two months. I cannot believe we are in September already, time has flown past me this year. A lot of time has just been spent getting used to being back in Scotland and at home, and of course lots of catch up time with family and friends.
Our week at church camp at the end of July went really well, despite having so many boys. Two boys went home homesick though, so in the end we had 19 boys and 2 girls from Primary 5-7. We were staying in a centre in Netherurd in the Scottish borders. We stayed there two years ago so were familiar with the place which helped a lot. We did some onsite activities such as mountain biking, climbing and a ropes-course. We also managed to fit in some shopping (yay!) and a visit to Laser Quest– a fun activity centre where you are kitted out with laser guns and a censored waistcoat and you run around a maze trying to shoot the others! Sounds crazy, but it’s good fun. We also went trout fishing, a camp first for me even after 11 years of camps. We went to a stocked pond where we knew we would have to pay for each fish we caught. We didn’t expect to catch as many as we did- 16! Nearly everybody caught one, and they all loved it, even the girls. We had some nice trout for supper, a first for some of them. I think we would all recommend fishing as a future camp activity.
We had a family wedding at the end of July which was a great occasion. My cousin Charissa married David on the 31st July. It was a full day of celebration, of family, friends, good food and laughs ending with a lovely Ceilidh. You can browse photos on flickr- http://www.flickr.com/photos/peigi_pest/ Colin also has quite a few- http://www.flickr.com/photos/cjc/
I was working until the end of August but managed to get a couple of long weekends away. I went with two friends, Flora and Alison, to visit another friend in Portree, Isle of Skye. Alison was very brave and took her car on the ferry for the first time. The ferries have been so busy this summer we weren’t sure if we would get a booking, but we managed to get off the waiting list the day before we left. We had a wonderfully relaxing weekend with Fiona and her family who are always so hospitable. Lots of talking and laughing of course as well! Then I went down to Leverburgh the following weekend. It was my boyfriend Ruairidh’s church’s Communion service weekend, so I went down and stayed with him and his folks, sister Diana and her husband Norman. There were a few other friends visiting for the weekend and we all had a blessed and lovely weekend.
I’ve been finished work since the schools went back about two weeks ago, and even with more time on my hands, I don’t know where it goes! I’ve been spending a lot of time with friends and family, I appreciate them a lot more after being away on my own for such a long time during last year. I’ve also been making some more cards to sell to various places, just something to help pass the time and earn a little more money. I’m traveling back down to Glasgow at the end of next week, so little time! I’m looking forward to getting some kind of routine and a purpose to my days. I’d definitely rather be really busy than quiet! I just hope I haven’t lost my studying skills after being away from study for a year, and that I still have some Spanish in my head, and Gaelic too for that matter! But being home over the summer has helped brush up my Gaelic after only being able to speak to myself in Gaelic in Spain! I wish I’d done some more studying over the summer, but its gone now. Will just have to work hard from now on. Any prayers and help in this area would be appreciated, i.e. Seoras-remind me I need to study rather than be doing whatever I’ll find to procrastinate!
So, I’d better say goodbye and get started on my to-do list for my last week at home. I really hope that the summer went well for you all, and that you’ve been cheered in preparation for the winter months ahead. Keep in touch, I know I am often slow in this on my part, but hopefully I will have more routine back at University. Cheerio for now