I do love the camera on my phone.
I'm taking a little break from the words and will simply post photographs for a bit.
I hope you enjoy them!
For many years I've felt I had a good balanced approach to the news - I listened once a day max and never before bed. I felt informed but I wasn't getting frustrated, depressed or anxious about any of it. I was staying sane. Well, that's the way it seems to me :-)
Today I find I am having to wean myself off it! The crazier it gets (and it seems to get crazier by the hour) the more I want to hear!
So today I distracted myself with other things -
I did some more of the financial paperwork (that emotional baggage bag trick is working for me.)
I sowed more seeds and watered the New Zealand cosmos
I took note of a Mary Berry recipe for rum and raisin ice cream (will let you know....)
I arranged some daffodils and changed the batteries in the tiny lights in the birch branches.
I caught up with the ironing, did some cooking, listened to music instead of the news, phoned a friend, sent some emails, brought in some logs and exercised for a full hour.
And I am trying to ignore my need to hear the result of the 20th vote today in the House of Commons or whether Donald Trump has remembered yet where his father was born!
In the words of the song maybe I should Let the world turn without me tonight.
..for being so generous in sharing your ideas here and making this blog a conversation instead of a monologue!
With your help I have come up with an idea for my tiny book. Several of you mentioned how the photographs from my New Zealand adventure made you feel. (Happy mostly! Me too!).
As I look over and organise and edit my photographs of the trip I will pause and consider what feelings arise from each one and put the word(s) on a page in the tiny book.
A couple of photographs in particular interest me, and puzzle me a bit because I can't quite put my finger on the feeling that arose when I was there and that I remember as I look at the photographs..
On the way back from Abel Tasman we stopped at this vineyard for a drink. Something about this interior attracted me - I could have spent hours there. It was very simply furnished and decorated - nothing showy, but done to a nice standard and with care. I loved how cool it was and the way the sunlight came in. I loved the grand piano and the one large painting. I loved how very clean it was. It looked and felt totally right. I would not have changed a thing. it felt cherished. And I still find it hard to say how that made me feel. Content. Completely at ease, at home. It was as if I too was cherished just being in that space.
Have you ever been in a space that has made you feel like this? Sometimes an old fashioned library gave me this feeling, or the simple country church in Lincolnshire which we chanced upon once. I got it last night in the candlelight (see yesterday's post).
A feeling that all is well with the world.
What if we tuned out the outer (media) world more often and created this feeling for ourselves in our homes?
I'm referring to Amazon pricing.
I thought I'd buy a copy of Altars by Denise Linn (thank you Gail) and found one Used Good for the princely sum of £0.09p plus postage. I could have paid £233.09 for a Used Good copy, or a New copy was available for only £396.19!
No-one has yet been able to explain this to me.....
..as they say. The laptop is going into A&E and as you know that can take some time..
I am posting the most calming photo of the latest batch. I like the stillness, and the way the chalk mark on the wall echoes the bicycle wheel....little things to take my mind off my technology woes (the irony is not lost on me!).
I hope to be back soon - I am missing you. Perhaps you might like to browse the archives which by now are fairly extensive. I would never have imagined I had so much to say (or that so many people would want to read it!) Thank you for being here.
Don't you just hate it when you make a resolution and the very first day something stops you from doing it?
I was too unwell to have breakfast outside today. I was too unwell to have breakfast.
Nothing too serious - but flu-like symptoms and my body just saying Stop. And Sleep.
So I did.
Getting better, but taking a little blog break just the same and leaving you with a question...
Do you find it hard to stop even when you know you should? Even when it is what you'd tell anyone else who was unwell to do?
In A Year To Clear which i am still enjoying Stephanie Bennett Vogt asks the question How do you make things hard for yourself? It was interesting to contemplate that today and even more interesting to ask Why?
There's something about sitting for an hour and a half
on your favourite rock on a warm day
with a picnic and an eight year old
that makes you feel all is well, and life is worth living.
Stones to slide down the rock face. Listen to the sound as they hit the water - plop boom vloop schlop plip high pitched low pitched, big splash tiny splash heavy light hard soft sticks long thin wide narrow float sink tide in tide out which is it skimming building balancing wet dry creatures ducks arrowheads cavemen ammonites fossils food drink smell wind sun seeing the world in a grain of sand I've drunk all my water I'm thirsty can we go home now
The rain was gentle, it wasn't really cold, and I was getting almost too comfy indoors!
I had a short and rather one-sided conversation with this sheep
and sympathised with these ones which only seem to have reeds to eat. Everyones' lawns (already full of moss) are coming up with reeds because it's been such a wet year here.
I enjoyed the misty view
and the sound of the waves.
Storms are forecast.
Connecting with nature refreshes and restores me.
..bigger donations. This has been the trend in our family in recent years.
I like it.
Arianna Huffington talks here about taking some time to disconnect from the world in order to connect with yourself, so that you can explore your values and know what you want to do.
I think that can apply to Christmas. Who needs the frantic stressful excess and commerce-driven experience that the media would have us believe is what Christmas is about? We do have a choice and we can choose to switch off both literally and metaphorically to all of that, and create our own meaningful and spiritual experiences, around this wonderful midwinter festival
Connecting with distant friends as I start to write the cards this evening.
NB I apologise if my replies to your comments are sometimes out of sync with the comment. I blame the system (but it might be me)!
In the town of Port Glasgow is a piece of public sculpture I particularly like and which I have been meaning to photograph for years, so when my bus broke down there the other day I took the opportunity...
The striking scarlet at the base does not show in my photographs, and the waves at the bottom are lit at night. I think the modern extension to this civic building rather elegant.
More images here.
And I took the train to the city.
Thank you Julia for this link!
My first reaction was Oh it's so beautiful!
If you are interested in juicing a must-see is the documentary Super Juice Me. You have to subscribe to watch it but (so far) they don't then bombard you with emails!
My simple for today..
Aaaargh! No wonder people are stressed.
(Marie Kondo the world needs you.)
Supposing is my word for this year and is proving to be a most helpful one.
I use it if I find myself saying things like I will never manage this task/house/garden/journey/event on my own. I stop and say Supposing I could? Supposing I just took the first small step? Supposing I am actually just like the people I know who manage wonderfully well on their own.
When I lost Barry I also lost this establishment's joint decision maker, patient and hard working gardener, good cook, willing chauffeur, (I have an eye condition which means I can no longer drive) repairman and DIY man. We used to joke we didn't do DIY we did DEY (do-everything-yourself!).
Clearly things have to change.
Here are three things I have to change-
I have to ask for help (Why is this so hard?)
I have to pay for help (Juggle and prioritise! Get realistic about what DIY I can do.)
I have to keep simplifying and reducing stuff to the point where I can manage it myself.
Would you add anything to this list? Ah, I notice I am asking for help here :-)
Is your chosen word working for you?
OK I know it's a bit early in the year to get serious, after all it's not even the Twelfth Day of Christmas yet. (It's a bit early for Easter too but there were Hot Cross Buns on sale in the supermarket today! Truly!)
Seth Godin's recent post chimes so well with my reading lately that I just have to share it with you. I have been re-reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death (1986) and watching a YouTube video of the same man at the beginning of the internet age in Six Questions On Technology. It is 45 minutes long and I found it worth listening to, but if you want the short version (haha Seth) go to 42 minutes
I realise that one of his questions - and you know I like a good question - has stayed with me and influenced me quite a bit in my search for a simpler life. It is:
What is the problem to which this technolgy is the solution?
Poppy, are you listening to me?
It is hard to be simple in a complex world.
I try to live simply and simply live, and I also try not to be simplistic, so the title I Think You'll Find It's A Bit More Complicated Than That made me smile and pick up Ben Goldacre's book...so far so very interesting.
Meanwhile the garden is at it's most abundant and the chair needs rescuing from the alchemilla mollis....
I have just given up, in a bad temper, half way through an online shopping transaction!
I would like to pay my money and have the product.
NO! I have to register, create a password, enter a code, join a club to 'feel rewarded and feel involved' (?) sign up for emails, and points on future purchases which I have no intention of making, accept a free gift I don't particularly want and give my grandmother's uncle's middle name....
Forget it Body Shop.
1 Clean the grill pan every time I use it.
2 Remember birthdays.
3 Try to make my blogposts more exciting than this one. :-)
If you like classical music you may enjoy this series of interviews on Living The Classical Life. I loved the one with the amazing Stephen Hough who talks so illuminatingly about learning and relaxation and creativity. Wonderful. I do like insights into how other creative people think - poets, dancers, musicians, sculptors, writers....
OK I've just thought of another resolution -
4 Take more time to listen to music.
Thank you Oh Amaryllis for the little burst of joy I get every time I look at you!
Thank you Oh Larch Branches (actually I think they may be alder!) for falling just where I could find you, and bring you home to adnire fully your twiggy lacy cone-scattered decorative loveliness.
I was reminded by my friend Julia of thanking our things (a la Marie Kondo). I had rather got out of the habit, and it is such a fun habit - it makes me smile every single time I do it!
Go thank you favourite things.
Did it make you smile?
..my dear Watson,
I quite often use the word elemental about things that move me deeply, and thought I'd take a look at the four elements of earth, air, fire and water and consider how they play a part in our chosen life here in rural west of Scotland.
There are quizzes you can do to see which element you are....be warned that many of them are actually ads for something else (dating agencies, chat lines with psychics!). I soon gave up, and I had already figured that earth was my favourite element. followed by air, fire and water in that order.
I am not into astrology, but when on our landscape course we discovered that 13 out of 15 of us were earth signs I did wonder if there might be something in it. Momentarily.
Earth then: feet on the ground and down to earth. Walking is my favourite (sometimes only) exercise. I love the wild landscape around us here. I am interested in the geology, and the ecology. I love the variety. We have forest (man-made) behind us and sea-loch shoreline in front. Glens with rough grazing (no arable) mountains and lochs. I feel at home here.
In my element in fact!
As a passionate gardener I love the soil. Half an hour with my hands in the earth and I feel restored somehow. Good soil in good condition delights me, and I get a real satisfaction from composting our household waste into rich crumbly stuff and adding it to the garden.
You can click on the photos to enlarge (though I will understand if you don't want to look at a close up of the contents of our compost bin....)
Which is your preferred element?
I asked in yesterday's post about unfulfilled dreams and got to thinking that it's good to have dreams or ambitions, but also that they needn't be grand like swimming with dolphins or trekking the Himalayas. They can be small and simple but precious to and unique to you, and private to you.
I am fulfilling one as I write.
Sarah from Down By The Sea Dorset has often posted beautiful photographs of the sunrise and I thought how lovely it would be to see that event (I am a night owl and very rarely see dawn!). It is 4 am and I came down for a drink and I am looking at an apricot blending to duck-egg blue sky reflected in the loch, changing every minute. I went through to the studio to fetch the tripod and saw the half moon still shining brightly - in a different, cooler shade of blue - utterly beautiful. I had to open the back door to experience it fully, the sounds and the smells as well as the view.
Alas! The camera needed charged up so I didn't get the photographs but I did get the experience, which is a little dream fulfilled, and I got the pleasure of sharing it with you.
Have you fulfilled any little dreams lately?
21 degrees Celsius. Well by Scottish standards this is a heatwave!
Before it got too hot for me, I had breakfast with a cheeky robin, while the swallows fed their four babies above my head.
Sniffed the first sweet pea to open - Matucana - small flower, big scent.
Bees buzz in the poppy Papaver ruprifragum.
So tempting, but there's work to be done first!
More buzzing in a cloud of catmint: Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'.
And the first whiff of scent from the honeysuckle.
The fuchsia 'Hawkshead' in the background, about 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide..
started out as a small pot plant on the balcony of our previous house.
Simple pleasures to share, to savour and to celebrate.
Have a lovely day.
..that you will see when you open your eyes tomorrow morning?
Make it something beautiful, something that will make you smile. Flowers? A postcard? A photograph? What will it be?
You could go fix it now and start your day on a happy note tomorrow....
Have a basket under the table for the clutter, or find a bedside table with a drawer.
Little things can make a big difference, don't you think?
(Thank you for the great comments on 'filtering' yesterday - it is a subject I will certainly be coming back to.)