Three things: Garden, berries, and birthday (and break)



This is my favourite view of my garden at the moment. I only see it if I am hanging out laundry (and, being in Scotland, this is not often), or when I intentionally go and stand in this spot specifically for the view. You can see it is not a big garden–I am in one corner, and the opposite corner is very close to the metal grid in the background–but man, I am so grateful for this piece of earth. I cannot believe that only 18 months ago it was entirely covered in gravel and plastic. Now birds come and steal my herbs to make nests with, worms hide in the soil, and we stuff our faces with slightly-under-ripe berries. There’s still so much work to be done… but there always will be. That’s why we garden, right?

Berries! I may have eaten my weight in berries this week. We have a not-so-secret spot to forage raspberries , and each time we visit we each eat so many that we swear we will not return… but we do a couple of days later when the next layer of berries have ripened and we’ve forgotten about our sore tummies. Raspberries are my favourite fruit of all time, but blaeberries (wild blueberries) are getting up there too. We did our first blaeberry hunt of the year this week and were rewarded with more than enough for a big batch of pancakes. We also go for the view. The heather is blooming and the rowans look so magical. On the downside, the low bushes are very easy for a 1.5 year old blueberry picking child to get lost in.

I’m one of those rare people who likes to inform people of it being my birthday. Not in advance, but on the day it actually is. That said, my birthday is tomorrow. Which still gives you time to post a card into my letter box. But I don’t expect you to, and that is why I usually don’t say anything until the day itself. This year is a special one, as I was born in the Year of the Rooster. The personality stuff attributed to these signs makes absolutely no sense to me, but I do like the fact I am in a gang with people who are separated by 12 (and multiples of) years from me. I am celebrating by heading to beautiful Edinburgh for a few days with my family and there we will eat a lot of Malaysian food, hike up Arthur’s Seat, visit the zoo, drink coffee, and wander the streets looking for mischief. Hope you enjoy my birthday too!

I should also mention, I’m going to be taking another blogging break. I’ll be away from my computer a lot in the next couple of weeks. So see you in a while!

Pairing up the scattered shoes

My second Louise Erdrich book of the year–LaRose. The story is gripping, and a part of the gripping-ness is wondering how the characters will shape up too.

Landreaux opened the door and LaRose ran straight past him, clutching his stuffed creature, shouting for his mom. Landreaux turned back to wave good-bye but Peter had quickly swung back out onto the road. Landreaux closed the aluminum storm door and then pushed the wooden door shut behind it. To see LaRose and Emmaline fly together would hurt so he bent over by the mud rug and took a long time pairing up the scattered shoes and setting them in lines. When he finally came to them, his long arms dangling, they were talking about how to use a potato peeler. 

LaRose sat down at the table by the window, in feeble winter sunlight. The edges of the storm window were thick with frost. Steam had frozen in gray fuzz upon the sides and sills. He peeled the potato skin awy from himself, bit by skimpy bit, onto a plastic plate. Emmaline shook chunks of meat in a bag with flour, then pinched up each chunk and dropped it carefully into hot grease. The cast-iron skillet was smooth and light from fifty years of hard use. Her mother had left it. 

Landreaux sat across the table and opened out the  rest of the newspaper. The rustling it made caused him to notice his hands were lightly trembling. (pp. 88-9)

Three things: Holidays, flower film, and a sense of humour


Summer holidays started this week and we’ve been having a nice time going about at our own pace. Only one day so far has seemed like hard work–the one that started with an entire bucket of water spilt in the hallway (‘I just was taking it through for my Lego submarine…’). So, not bad stats, so far. Today we met up with friends at the nearby woods and stuffed our faces with wild raspberries, whacked nettles with sticks, and made this wee mandala. A perfect morning concluded with a joyful walk home in the rain.

Have you seen this beautiful short animation, The Secret Life of Flowers?

This lovely poem.

Swan song

En pointe a feather spins.

Past gossamer treetops it flickers, through

a web of powerlines, down–straight down–a few feet

in front of our car. It teeters a moment and,

its point slipping out from under itself,

sways to the ground between our car and the one in front,

like it is now actually dead, and not simply birdless.


We’ve been stuck at these lights now for five minutes,

and the block ahead is jammed. The baby

is cranky. I’m impatient. Then there’s this feather,

this determined, delicate feather

dancing with enough weight as it takes to stop time.

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things

I came across this hopeful poem again today…

God’s Grandeur, by Gerard Manly Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Three things: Summer, student loan debt, and a short story


Summer holidays are here! We are going away for a couple of days in the middle, but for the most part we are sticking around Aberdeen. Every Friday we plan to meet up with friends for a play and a walk in a different beautiful and local spot (including the Cruickshank Gardens, where we found this wee “campfire” recently). This is pretty much my entire plan for getting through the (seven week long!) holidays, and I am starting to wonder if I might need a few more tricks up my sleeve…

Do you have student loan debt? I do, and I know a lot of people who do–here in the UK, in the USA, and in New Zealand. I really appreciated this two-part series from the podcast Death, Sex, Money. It definitely made me feel less alone with it all.

I wrote a short story for the Scottish Book Trust’s community writing project on the theme of Nourish. You can read it over here, if you like.