Monday, 15 February 2021

Going Green

Namaste,

Many of you who have visited my home in the past, would have noticed how green my kitchen is. I am not talking about plant life although there is a preponderance of herbs on one wall, I am talking appliances! 

Kettle, toaster and even a matching dishwasher! 

 

So what better gift could Andy give me this Valentine's, but a green coffee pot. The handle had broken on our previous one so we had a coffee pot emergency! I am sure you can't imagine what I would be like without my coffee, then again maybe you can!

Do you think my OCD is showing or is it just the fact that I fell in love with a green coffee pot. Well I did say it was a Valentine's gift. No red roses for me thanks, green coffee pot will do it every time. It might be my imagination but I think the coffee tastes even better...

All joking aside, going green is, as you know, not about buying green kitchen appliances or even buying green foodstuffs such as broccoli, courgettes, cabbage and my favourite, asparagus. It takes the whole environment into consideration and all of us working together to go green.

So no matter how grateful I am for my Valentine, it seems the arrival of the vaccine injection programme last week was a timely Valentine's gift to the Largs populace. Andy and I got our jabs in a well organised set-up with some very grateful aging punters like ourselves queueing patiently. A perfect example of us all working together when our health is at risk from a global pandemic.

Socially, I even got to catch-up with a couple of ex-neighbours and chat to quite a few friends, who I hadn't seen over the past year, all while spending time in a queue. So much for the Government guidelines of seeing one member of a household at any given time. The whole set up of mass vaccination was a communication "fest" with my fellow man and woman.

One gift that the past year has given us, which we should cherish as much as any loving Valentine, is our planet earth being given the "green light". We have been compelled to go green globally, whether we liked it or not.

We have been driving less, walking more. We have been needing less and sharing more.  And most importantly we have seen more and more that the inter-relationships across the globe, through travel and politics, have far reaching effects on us all.

Just like the organised vaccine day that I recently "enjoyed" - let's have a communication "GreenFest" and find out just how green we can grow...

Om Shanti...

Friday, 22 January 2021

Passages of Time

Leading the way...

 This week's change in the White House's residency has made me consider who it is we consider to be leading the way forward and how the passage of time, as in 4 year intervals, can have such a profound effect on us all...

Usually I write this blog to relate the activities in our personal family saga however as we don't exist in a bubble... apart from what our governments recommend, of course... it is important to reflect on all the worldwide ramifications of the wind of change! 

So firstly to America, every 4 years there is the Presidential election. A moment, or as seen more recently, many months to choose what the next 4 years will bring. If only it was that simple. None of us, including psychics, could possibly have envisioned what the past 4 years could have held for the US... or the rest of us.

It is 4 years since Andy and I started renovating our new home and it is still a work in progress.

...  and talking about a work in progress, the UK Brexit negotiations seemed to have taken forever. Not just a four year interval. Who knows where the next four years will take us.

4 years as a unit of time seems quite an arbitary amount and yet it features regularly in sport with the Olympics and various sporting World Cups using the same time measurement. Well usually they do, the past year has put paid to this scheduling for some time to come.

How, I ask myself is our grandson, Murphy now 4 years old!  OK, he is 4years and 5 months but his 4+ years have sped by. He is now approaching the watershed of "schooling". Not yet, but soon, as in Canada they register their children for school long before they enter the halls of education. A place where they learn to divide time into classes, weeks and semesters... and learning becomes what you do at school rather than what you do every day.

Rosie will be 2 in April and is learning words and their meanings, having already learned to walk and talk... and importantly how to have fun! This miracle of human progress and endeavour is something we should never take for granted. People of all ages evolve as life's experiences alter their world. No matter what circumstances we find ourslves in, we must teach our children the art of enjoyment.

What fun!

 

 

Fun could be:

  •  taking pleasure in nature
  •  enjoying physical exercise
  •  escaping into a book or an imaginary world
  •  experiencing the exhilarating sound of laughter 
  • and above all  connecting with others in play... 

Which one would be your favourite, I wonder? 

 

... and of course you are never too young to enjoy making and eating pizza!

Last January, before we learned the practical meaning behind social distancing and self isolation, to many of us, the world each of us lived in was a personal expression of our wants and desires. Freedom meant doing anything we wanted and whenever we wanted. Curtailing that kind of freedom has led to the freeing of time to be filled with very different priorities. Many of them relating to family and friends.

Last January, Andy enjoyed his 69th birthday with friends and next week, when he reaches the age of the big 70,  we will be celebrating with family through the regularly used medium of internet connection, albeit with a glass of bubbly in our hands! Each birthday is an important landmark when considering our personal passage through time. We can never take any birthday for granted and like many others wonder what the next year or four... holds in store. 

One thing I do know, is that the lessons being learned today by our children and grand-children hold the key to a brighter tomorrow.

They have a different view of life to us... a better one.

A fun day at the farm


Monday, 14 December 2020

Something just a little different...

up or down?

Sometimes in the midst of all the doom and gloom, there comes a ray of sunshine. Something that makes you smile. Something just a little different...

When I went to a friend's house this morning to drop off a something on her doorstep, I was treated to the gift of Santa in climbing mode.

He didn't just make me smile... he made me giggle!  It was an instant feeling of goodwill to all men (and women of course). A missing emotion if you watch the news on TV or read the various offerings in the newspapers.

This Christmas we are all needing that "something" just a little different that makes people smile. Let's keep looking for the goodwill and when we find it... and we will... let's share it in the true spirit of Christmas.

Buon Natale a tutti.

Monday, 9 November 2020

November memories

"Remember, remember the 5th of November". This was an oft quoted chant from my childhood.

I learned later, much later... that it was to do with a historic gunpowder plot that went awry. Historic, in that it was a failed assassination attempt in 1605, nearly 400 years ago! And historic, as far as I was concerned, as it seems to have nothing to do with our celebration of an annual fireworks display. 

There can't be many children who know or understand the significance of what they are celebrating on the 5th November. Or many adults either, come to that! 

We also celebrate the coming of November, or rather the end of October, with fancy dress! I have many happy memories of dressing up and parading round to the neighbours, to perform my party piece and get a handful of monkeynuts, some sweets and if very lucky, a "thruppenny bit"!

 I even subjected my own children to the experience...  

 And Gordon is carrying on that tradition...

Rosie as Elmo
Guess who is the skeleton?
 

However this event is even older than the Gunpowder plot. 

It is an ancient Celtic tradition when, on this night, magic was said to be about. Hallowe'en, was a night to stay at home, as it was believed that ghosts and ghouls prowled abroad, due a weakening between this world and that of the "spooky".

Alternatively dressing up in strange clothes, to disguise yourself, meant that you could venture out and not be recognised by the roaming spirits. This is a far cry from the "Trick or Treat" experienced by youngsters nowadays. Although this year their trick and treating was curtailed by the covid restrictions. Covid, an unseen force, reminiscent of what kept our fearful, pagan forefathers at home.

 So many of the festivals we celebrate now have nothing to do with the original event. Easter seems to be about chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies and Christmas is more about presents and turkey stuffing. Not decrying these traditions just flagging up that they are not part of the Christian story, as I remember it from my Sunday School days. 

 Even the turkey is relatively new, traditionally speaking, from when we imported it from across the pond, as we did the tricking and treating! However we haven't imported America's Thanksgiving Day from across the pond. How could we when it is celebrating their freedom from our oppression. 

It is held on the fourth Thursday in November and the traditional meal is... you guessed it... turkey. 

 We do however have a Harvest Thanksgiving tradition when we celebrate the abundance of what our annual crop has brought and share our surplus with the less fortunate. 

I remember this fondly and vividly from attending church as a child when the usual, pristine altar was covered in food, and the aroma of the church was one of fruit and veg. The display is still one I treasure, as was the activity that followed the church service. This was when the Sunday school children were given boxes of groceries to deliver to various, housebound members of the church. It always took all day as everyone we visited, invited us in, wanting us to stay a while...

 I also remember wearing mittens, that were tied together with elastic, threaded through my jacket sleeves so that I wouldn't lose them. Seemingly losing mittens was a habit of mine! 

Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday and this Wednesday, the 11th of November, is Armistice Day. These days are inexticably linked to remembering past times. Not as celebratory occasions that have changed their meaning over the years, but to hold on to the necessary memory of loss and sacrifice. This year, more than any other, we need to be grateful for what we have, for what others have done for us and to never allow that memory to fade or to be altered by the passage of time. 

Teaching our children the real meaning of what we hold dear is perhaps the greatest gift we can give them. Whether it is as America welcomes a new era, with a different President or whether it is as we honour a past time, with different values.  


 November is the month of remembering to be grateful.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Souper October!

Last October I wrote that October was for me the month of making soups! 

Chunky Courgette

Creme Dubarry
 

 And this year is no different on that front ... 

but different in every other way!

 

 

 

With many of our family birthdays being non-events this year, our elder son, Kenneth decided that we would celebrate his birthday, not through a zoom video but through a socially distanced weekend away in Portpatrick. It was a great plan and we had a wonderful time just the four of us, Natalie, Kenneth, Andy and myself sharing fun time, bubbles...

Cheers Nat!
 

 

 

 

 

 


 



Drinks on the terrace.

Seafood Platter
 ... and scrumptious meals!

Andy and Kenneth even managed a round of social distanced golf on the Sunday. 

 Well, we have always found as a family that playing golf ends up socially distanced anyway as none of us ever hit the ball in exactly the same direction as each other! 

While the chaps were enjoying the splendour of the golf course, Natalie and I enjoyed a leisurely coastal walk followed by a well deserved trip to a local tea room.

I am delighted that Andy got to play golf that Sunday as he has not been able to golf since!

He took a tumble while walking up and down the hills behind Largs and ended up in Inverclyde's A and E. Result of the fall is a broken right ulna and quite a bit shaken up... and of course no golf for a while.

He took this photo (not a selfie) while in the hospital, so everyone he sent it to, thought that it was his left hand that he broke. No such luck!

 

Plastered!
 

Safely back home
Nothing will stop Andy doing his crossword... even learning to write with his left hand. My hero!
 







Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Heroes and Super Heroes


Two thought provoking questions often asked are:

1. "What would you do if you won the lottery?"

2. "What would you choose to have as your superpower?"

Now before you laugh at the absurdity of the questions, especially in this time of covid, consider how revealing your answers would be. They are important markers regarding our values and our motives. What if we have to share them with others and we realise that we want to hide who we really are ... and what we really want!

For instance if you list all the things you want to do, where to go when given lottery funding, as opposed to making charitable donations or investing to make more money, it says a lot about you. Or maybe it is just what we have been programmed to think of as important. And if you change your list to show others how "enlightened" you are ... well that is certainly a contradiction in terms!

For full disclosure,  I won £30.00 on the lottery last Wed and spent it on a back and neck massage on Thursday. Yep, that says a whole lot about me

As for superpowers. What would you like? Invisibility, ability to fly, time control ...

If the past 6 months have taught us anything, it is to appreciate the ordinary. To value the heroes, not the super heroes. Those include:

    Support workers who work tirelessly for the good of others.  

    Family and friends who are our own personal support workers. 

    Shopkeepers and their staff who keep the wheels of the essential food industry turning. 

    Teachers who want to interact with their pupils, share their knowledge and change lives.

... and so on. Our list gets longer as we realise what our lives would be like if there was no refuse collection, no mail delivery, no farmers, no fishermen, no healthcare, no tradesmen.

Two or my "ordinary" heroes when I was a teenager at school shaped my whole adult life. 

My English teacher taught me to love writing, to read as many genres of books as I could and to open my eyes and ears to the power of debate, not argument. 

A school friend's mother was a physiotherapist, and her example of professional care and expertise inspired me to embrace the same profession. 

Neither of these people had any other motives in their careers than to be able to work at their chosen profession. They weren't striving to reach the top of their professional tree, or to think how their behaviour affected others ... they were happy with their day to day workload and their everyday lives. They had what is now termed as a "work/life balance". 

They were ordinary people leaving an extraordinary legacy and myself and many others have much to thank them for ...

So I am going to ask you a different question:

"What is your ordinary power, one you under-appreciate, one that could change lives?"

Is it the ability to be resolute or alternatively, be flexible? Do you have focused thought or are you a free spirit? Is your nature loving, generous, thoughtful? Are you reliable, trustworthy, honest, kind, brave?

... and would winning the lottery make you any of the above? because any one of them could be the superpower you are looking for!

 

  

 Finishing with a couple of photos of some of my very own super heroes... can you guess who they are?

 


Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Kindness matters

We have moved into the second half of the year and here in the UK almost half of the year has been taken up with the management of the Covid crisis. Management that has been focused on restriction.
Restriction of movement is having an effect on everyone's life. Whether it is being unable to visit loved ones or being unable to escape from someone who is very far from loving. Our society's view of loving kindness is being shown up as flawed.

I recently watched a film entitled The Kindness of Strangers. I can thoroughly recommend it for many reasons. One reason is that it has the excellent Bill Nighy in the cast. Another is because it gives an insightful perspective in relation to our recent circumstances.



 Kindness matters. That statement is true. We all accept that, however what is also true is that cruelty and apathy are still in abundance.

This can be seen in some of our accepted beliefs/confused statements that still get bandied about ...
    "You've got to be cruel to be kind" 
    " It's a sign of the times" 
    "there's nothing anyone can do"
 and my least favourite  "They only hurt the one they love" 

I would argue that all of the above statements are untrue.

Taking them in order, "You've got to be cruel to be kind" in itself is a nonsense but it is also an excuse to be hurtful. In past times, as a physio, it was a phrase that people thought described my profession. I choose to believe, that being a physio is more about encouragement. Getting people to do what they don't want to do, is definitely a skill, as any parent will attest to ...

Then "the sign of the times" excuse is just that ... an excuse! What happens in life is a sign of people's attitude to others and that as we have seen recently can be changed. Because if ever there is a statement that has been shown to be false, it is "there is nothing anyone can do!"

Just watching how vocal, impassioned teenagers have recently altered government decisions, should show that people can alter what is an unacceptable action. And there is hope that change too will happen as we recognise the inherent racism in our societies and see the widespread damage that this inhumane thinking can do.

I thoroughly disagree with "they only hurt the one they love" . I would alter the statement to "they only hurt those they can" ...  and has nothing at all to do with love!

 Gandhi said "Be the change you want to see in the world" a perfect mantra for our times. Part of being that change is to acknowledge and act on the fact that "kindness matters". Start with being kind to yourself today and notice how it naturally wants to flow outwards ... it is a force to be reckoned with.