Three things: Writing, Scolty Hill, and dog sheep

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Scotland likes to teach kids to read and write very early (too early!) in their schooling, and although I am rather ambivalent about this fact, I do quite like finding mysterious notes like this on L.’s pillow as I check on him before I go to bed.  It’s like a scary visual short story as I read THE TIGERS WERE HUNGRY and search under his covers to make sure his entire body is under there.

Last weekend we hiked up Scolty Hill, just out of Banchory on Deeside. It was a miserable day and all of the photos I took of the view from the top were merky. Many were blurred with the hail that we walked in for the last stretch. Poor L., who was the most excited about going, was uncharacteristically complain-y about walking, lying on the woods floor and saying he was tired every fiveminutes. After we got home and were half way through a hearty supper of fish+chips, he threw up. And continued to do so the next day. Oops. It was not a disastrous hike even though it sounds like it could have been, but we’ll return in the summer and try another route up the hill and I will post then the pictures of the Dee shimmering in the sun and all of us prancing up the hill with boundless energy.

Have you seen this 35 second video?  ‘Me, Parenting’… exactly!

(Apologies for these rather short posts recently. One of the kids–which? I don’t know!–broke the mouse pad on my new computer about a week after I got it, and the shop is taking a long time to repair it for some reason. Apparently I could just get a new one, given how long it has taken them to order/receive the part, but that would open a can of ethical worms for me–we all know those are the worst–so I continue to wait, and hope that anyone who emails me will be patient, or write me a letter instead). 

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Three things: A hat, a poem, and refugee stories in Scotland (and NZ)

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I made a hat for L. this month, but it was much too small for him so S. now has it. For such a small item as a hat I never want to purchase wool or needles specifically for the project but rather use what ever I have around… and thus the hat never turns out to be useful for the original intended recipient. Does anyone else find making pompoms very addictive? I could make them forever. I used the pattern from this blogger’s book from which I made this christening gown for S. last year.

Really, really appreciated this interview with Prof. Alison Phipps about refugees and their reception in Europe and New Zealand. What encouragement to practice hospitality at all times!

Finally, a perfect poem my partner sent me this week that has been rolling around my head since:

These Poems, She Said

By Robert Bringhurst
These poems, these poems, 
these poems, she said, are poems 
with no love in them. These are the poems of a man   
who would leave his wife and child because   
they made noise in his study. These are the poems   
of a man who would murder his mother to claim   
the inheritance. These are the poems of a man   
like Plato, she said, meaning something I did not   
comprehend but which nevertheless 
offended me. These are the poems of a man 
who would rather sleep with himself than with women,   
she said. These are the poems of a man 
with eyes like a drawknife, with hands like a pickpocket’s   
hands, woven of water and logic 
and hunger, with no strand of love in them. These   
poems are as heartless as birdsong, as unmeant   
as elm leaves, which if they love love only   
the wide blue sky and the air and the idea 
of elm leaves. Self-love is an ending, she said,   
and not a beginning. Love means love 
of the thing sung, not of the song or the singing.   
These poems, she said…. 
                                       You are, he said, 
beautiful. 
                That is not love, she said rightly.

Three things: Walk, baby, and cardi

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For Christmas, I asked for a day to spend to myself to hike along the river from Persley to Donmouth (top picture) through Seaton Park (second picture–see the gulls sliding on ice!), along the Esplanade, on into the city centre (for a hot bowl of steaming beef noodles at Madame Mews—yum!) and then on home again through parks and residential areas. By the time I got back my head was clear from not having to process all the things I usually have to (important stuff like questions from 5-year-olds about why can one not have another slice of cake, or why we die… my head seems to process all these things with equal weighting). It was a chilly walk along the river as the sun doesn’t make it down there at this time of year. In places it was very icy (picture three shows leaves laminated to the pavement by ice) and I actually slipped and landed–narrowly missing a big pile of poo–in such a way that now I am offering myself as a case study to a friend who is training to be a massage therapist. The things I will do for my friends ;^)  I had already this week walked along the esplanade with L. on New Year’s Day—day of the super moon. Our church has a contemplative New Year’s Day service at the fishing village’s hall, followed by a walk, and then a meal back at the village. It is a nice way to mark the beginning of the year.

Introducing the new baby in the house (as yet to be named)! When we were last in New Zealand, my sister-in-law taught me how to make a Waldorf doll for L.–I believe some of you have met Coban… he is doing well–and I finally managed to make one for S. As my partner has noted, the new baby looks like it is either going in for a cuddle or is preparing to gauge out some eyes. Well, S. can handle him either way. I have seen him both passionately kiss the baby and throw it on the ground to stomp on its head. I hope the intense relationship will calm down soon. It is a very interesting process making this kind of doll; you start with wool roving that you wind into a tight ball to form the head. Even at this early stage, before there are the beginnings of features, children can perceive the doll-ness, and S. spent days carrying around and kissing a wool ball with pins in it.

Look at this lovely homemade woolen raglan cardi that I found in a charity shop! I am going to replace the buttons but otherwise it fits me and my wardrobe very well. Although, I must admit, that it has been a long time since I have dared to wear cream/white… even before kids I was spilling all sorts of unforgiving things on myself. I may decide to dye it if avocado-y hands make a claim on it!

Three things: Christmas, resolutions, and musicals

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I hope you had a very merry Christmas! We did… although it was looking a bit touch and go the week before when a tummy bug did the rounds in our home–twice!–and, in the midst of that, a last minute sermon request made it onto my ‘to do’ list. In the end, we had a marvellous celebration with a friend of ours, a Kiwi living in Holland who has now become a part of our Christmas tradition. He bought all sorts of Dutch treats–gouda! mustard! licorice! ginger cake! gin! dry sausage!–for us to enjoy alongside our traditional Christmas fare. It’s funny the things that have made it into the yearly must-have list: Advent calendar, nativity scene (with the Baby Jesus making his entrance on the 25th), tree complete with a popcorn chain (where did L. get this idea from?), Lego, pigs-in-a-blanket, and Brussels Sprouts. Our kids are small enough that it is not too hard to keep Christmas simple and a part of me wants it to stay like this forever.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? I know most people (with thoughts of self-denial and unreachable goals) roll their eyes when I ask, but I mean ‘resolution’ in the most expansive and enjoyable sense of the word. Usually I have a list of thirty or so things I want to get up to in the year. But this year, I have one tangible goal–sort out my photo system… groan. I have one thing to improve at–picking up rubbish as I walk. And I have a number of little projects that I would like to finish off or pick up again during 2018–I won’t bore you with them. There are no new things on my list to learn… although I am sure that I will learn new things until I die! There is nothing on my list to quit… although I am sure I could do with quitting at least one thing this year! One more thing: recently I learned that they (who exactly? Neurologists… I don’t know which ones) have proved how the brain can latch onto negative things/comments/events/interactions immediately, but it takes, on average, 15 minutes exposure to a positive thing for it to stick in the brain. Negativity sticks like velcro and positivity slides off like teflon. I am going to try my best to notice the positive things and sit as long as possible with them. So that’s it for my resolutions. Now yours?

Somehow we are in a musical phase in our viewing habits. I’m not sure this is a good thing. Les Mis. Fine. La La Land. Not sure yet… is 20 minutes in too early to pull out? However, have you seen Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? This was the beginning (and perhaps should have been the end) of our habit. Here are links to some of my favourite numbers: Remember That We’ve Suffered, Let’s Generalise About Men, and A Diagnosis.