Haiku-sday: Burn O Vat

Three brown frogs flee as

we leap between stones slippy

with wet leaves and slime.



L.’s Poem: Raspberries in the woods, raspberries in the shop

Raspberries grow in the woods.

I don’t like them at the shop.

The ones in the woods taste like Christmas.

Like a wreath, like a cool sea.

The ones at the shop taste like boredom.

Like having no friends, like granite.

Even though they taste like Christmas,

I go on my bike in the hot sun

down to the woods to eat them

straight from the cane.


L. dictated this and I transcribed. He wanted to write a haiku but was outraged at the 17 syllable limitation.

Three things: Horsemen+ZigZag, playdough, and chocolate pumpkin brownie

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This is the end of the third week of the school holidays. We’re taking the opportunity to do up our flat while we are not actually living in it. Remember how I painted our kitchen while we were living there? It took nearly a hundred years because I had to move the pieces from one corner of the kitchen over two feet in order to prepare the wall, then paint it, and then avoid that corner as I cooked and herded children. Then I had to move everything back, and go on to the next corner. The season of painting our kitchen is done, and now I am on to painting every other room. This time it is different and not totally unpleasant. M. has the kids during the day and I can work in silence or listen to podcasts. Podcasts, as you know, are my favourite way of filling my brain with things that arguably do not need to be there. The makers of my favourite podcast for kids (Sparkle Stories) has just started one for adults and it it really good. I started listening to it with trepidation as all the abandoned novels on my shelf are ones that take a turn for the apocalyptic… and Horsemen is apocalyptic. But it claims to also be a beacon, so I am remaining committed to these trustworthy storytellers and hoping I can eventually meet one of the Carriers of the Pearl… go here to see if you are one yourself. Another new podcast I am listening to right now is Zigzag. Oooh… it’s good! It is about changing the course of capitalism, journalism, and women in the tech world. The tech world doesn’t usually interest me–my mum has a better understanding of how her phone works than I (hope you don’t take offense at me setting you as the benchmark, Mum)–but this podcast from two journalists whose work I have listened to for yonks is an ambitious creation and it is blowing my mind. It’s all about the blockchain… the block what? Just listen to it.

Did I mention it was school holidays? As I write this, they are roaming the home with two chums. L. and his gymnastic friend are diving in formation off the couch and onto a pile of cushions. S. is carrying cans of water from the bathroom through to the garden to wash chalk off the pavers. His friend is colouring in the pavers with said chalk. One is undoing the work of the other, and vice versa. And so it is with my housework and the children’s children-ing. So far, just as things approach the moment where I think someone might die of boredom (them) or frustration (me), something has manifested itself to be the keeper of peace and fulfillment. Today it has been playdough. This is the recipe I use.  Today the kids picked rose petals and mixed those in. Then one of them stole my phone, tricked me into putting in the password, and took some drunken-looking photos of everything that was not interesting. They are, however, the most interesting photos that have been taken on my phone for a fortnight, so I share one of them with you above.

Here’s a very edible recipe I made this week, and will definitely be making again. Chocolate brownie makes painting very easy. And parenting becomes easier too.

Three things: Fowlsheugh, walking with my kids, and nature meet-ups

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A month ago I had never heard of Fowlsheugh. But I am glad that three weeks ago I overheard a conversation about it at a party and followed up with some questions. Like what does Fowlsheugh mean? High birds. Like birds on cliffs. Not intoxicated birds. And can I take my kids? Yes. If you hold onto them. Or don’t mind them climbing down 70 metre cliffs. I don’t know why it has taken 6 years for this information to reach my family, but seriously, this is one of the coolest places I have been to in the shire. You gotta go. You might see puffins. We did! Make sure you go when the ratio of adult to kid is at least 3:2. It is a seasonal thing too, so it is best to visit between April and July. The cliffs are there all year round (in case you were wondering), it’s just the birds that are not. We’ve been admiring these taxidermied ones in the university’s zoology building for ages, but they are not a patch on the real thing.

To kick off the school holidays we returned to the glamping spot we visited last month. This time, though, it was the four of us. One of my favourite things is to go walking with the kids. But I am learning to market walks (to my older one, in particular) as quests, or with an end goal to them, rather than ‘nice walks’. Nobody seems convinced that they will enjoy a nice walk. Not even me, half the time. This time we took a bag we needed to fill with dry wood for a fire. It helped that they knew that the fire was eventually going to be used for toasting marshmallows. I suspect this carved guardian of the woods helped guide us to a bonus patch of ripe raspberries, and then onto a carpet of blaeberries. Just what we needed on the way there… and the way back.

The other things that helps me muster the energy to stay outside with the kids are regular meetups in natural spaces. Last year I sent messages to anyone and everyone (and their friends) inviting them to join us at the beach, at the woods, at the river–wherever I would usually like to go but feel like it requires just a tad more energy than, say, a trip to the playground. (Does anyone else find that the more energy an outing requires the more likely it is to turn sour and the chance of someone ending up at the emergency room increases?) I find it so much easier to hang out with my kids when there are other kids around. Even heading off on a walk together just goes better… except for the one time last summer my friends and I decided to forge ahead even though it was bucketing down and we were all drenched before we walked off the carpark. Fortunately it was the last get-together of the holidays and the last time L. bought it up with me I told he must have been walking with someone else. I don’t remember that day.