Three things: Picnics, kimchi, and One Art



We have been enjoying a few picnic teas recently and the top photo is from a pre-dinner walk along the river this week. The smallest one of us always falls (or jumps? It always happens in that moment I look away…) into water bodies and this time was no exception. The other picture is of our much-loved beach that you might recognise from previous posts.

My project this weekend is to transform some otherwise undesired vegetables (daikon radishes in particular) into kimchi. A few months ago, the only Korean red pepper flakes for kimchi I could buy were in a 1 kilogram bag and were significantly reduced in price due to their imminent expiry date… which is now long past. But I am sure most of my spices in the cupboard are out of date and I am still alive, so I am determined to use this bag! Perhaps if you would like some yourself and live nearby, let me know and I will drop some around. Like 750 grams or so. ❤

We’re in the process of making decisions that feel big and like all decisions there is the consideration of what we will inevitably lose. So this poem is coming to mind a lot. Although, perhaps not one to give to the recently bereaved, I do find that it is an encouraging one to read before loss and way after the fact.

One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


Three things: Springtime, enneagram, and The Times


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Springtime has bought with it warmer days, beautiful sunsets, tender-leaved trees, and the possibility of bare feet every day. I received an order of plants this week, some of which you can see in the second picture. I have planted as many trees and shrubs as I can squeeze into my garden, and now I am concentrating on filling gaps with perennials. I am especially excited about the Azure Walking Onion and hoping that the sweet woodruff finds its dry and shady spot to be comfortable but not too comfortable so as to become thuggish. Do you remember the coriander we grew last year? At the beginning of winter I cut the dried plants down and left them in a corner of the flat to stay dry. This week the kids and I have been picking the seeds off. I should have done it earlier so that they tasted good enough to use in cooking, but they are a bit faded and stale now. However, they are still fine for growing. They self-seeded well through my garden, so I have seed to share if you live near!

I try not to go on about it, but I really am a fan of the Enneagram. I have just started listening to ‘Typology‘ which is a podcast that dovetails onto the end of another that I have mentioned before, called ‘The Road Back To You’. The thing that distinguishes the Enneagram from other personality tests is that there is a breadth and a movement to it, so even though you type as one number, it doesn’t restrict you to that ‘box’. I am a Four–sometimes called the Individualist or the Romantic–which means all sorts of things… including things I do not want to read about myself (ugh) let alone tell you about! Fours can be ruled by their emotions, and it is their life-long struggle to find equanimity or a kind of detachment from their emotions. I really liked this Buddhist conceptualization reminding me that ‘I am not my emotions’:

you are not the waves, you are the ocean

you are not the clouds, you are the sky

you are not the weather, you are the mountain 

Today I listened to this episode of the aforementioned podcast.  It finished with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’… which bought the count of how many times I heard this song randomly today up to three! One in a shop, the second from a busker. Conincidence? I think not! (but that is probably because I am a 4-on-the-Enneagram and manage to find meaning in everything, including coincidences ;^p ) Here’s another good version to bring the song count up to four…

Three things: Poem, poem, and another poem


OK, so the picture is not at all related to the poems below, but check out my sprouting broccoli! I have been roasting it to have on toast with mayonaise for lunch. I am as proud of coming up with that combination as I am of the broccoli I have grown!

These are three poems that have been sitting in my head for months now. I know that I have posted links to at least two of them, but I wanted to share them. They all take my breath away for one reason or another, and they all remind me of the importance of poetry.

As an aside, you remember I was without a computer for a while there? All my podcast subscriptions stopped, including the one Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac–a 5 minute podcast with an ‘on this day in history’ segment and a poem. When I recently went to resubscribe, I learned that in December last year his radio network had terminated his contract due to allegations of sexual assault. Via the radio, Keillor bought poetry into public spaces and into homes of those who might not have otherwise broadened their horizons in this way. This is not at all a defense of the man who is accused of assault, but rather it is an expression of sadness that all the archives of The Writer’s Almanac are now no longer online. That is a tragedy for poets, poetry-lovers, and for poetry itself.

Please tell me what poems are in your head these days.  I would love to add more to my collection.

A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.


Reading To My Kids by Kevin Carey

When they were little I read
to them at night until my tongue
got tired. They would poke me
when I started to nod off after twenty pages
of Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket.
I read (to them) to get them to love reading
but I was never sure if it was working
or if it was just what I was supposed to do.
But one day, my daughter (fifteen then)
was finishing Of Mice and Men in the car
on our way to basketball.
She was at the end when I heard her say,
No, in a familiar frightened voice
and I knew right away where she was.
“Let’s do it now,” Lennie begged,
“Let’s get that place now.”
“Sure, right now. I gotta. We gotta,”
and she started crying, then I started crying,
and I think I saw Steinbeck
in the back seat nodding his head,
and it felt right to me,
like I’d done something right,
and I thought to myself, Keep going,
read it to me, please, please, I can take it.


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,
                That is not love, she said rightly.

Three things: Holidays, haikus, and a nettles tip








It was school holidays recently and although we didn’t have anything much planned, we had such easy and fun days. The top photo is from a little trip we did to Formartine’s for a walk in the woods, a play in the playground, and a coffee and cake from the cafe. Fairy doors are hidden in the woods, and I love this photo which serendipitously caught a magical being in the background. Perhaps the holidays didn’t seem to drag because I had the last weekend to look forward to–my third weekend of Ignatian Spirituality course. I hiked from the station to the retreat centre (yes, in those weird shoes)and it was a journey which was perfect for making the transition out of normal life and into a thoughtful space. My favourite part of the walk was under spruce trees for about a kilometre. Years of needles upon moss upon heather made it like walking on a springy mattress–my feet rested while other muscles in my legs worked to move me along.

These haiku were also a discovery for us these holidays. We visited Duthie Park which has a winter garden/glass house. It was the first time I had ever ventured into the courtyards of the winter gardens and I was stoked to find these gems there. Some of them were easy to find, and some were more hidden in the Japanese gardens–an opportunity for a little treasure hunt.

And nettles–harbinger of warmer weather! Last night we took our supper down to the botanic gardens and the kids ran around topless managing to avoid the nettles. I picked a bag full of nettles and tender ground elder and we’ve just had them gently sautéed with broccoli and garlic in pasta. Yum! Did you know it is possible to pick nettles without gloves? My cousin-in-law (OK, so this does not exactly describe our relationship, but it is accurate enough–hi Jen!) once explained that she’d been taught by an elderly Italian permaculture gardener that if you picked the leaves with intention (not good or bad intentions, but just with the intent to pick, you understand), then you will not be stung. It is true! The worse stings are actually if you brush past the nettles. By ‘picking with intention’ you crush the needles before they have a chance to sting. Are you brave enough?