Tuesday, 29 January 2013

What Comes After the Dark?

 After all the snow, raging wind, and torrential rain,
 it was no surprise to see the snowdrops peeping above ground,
 stalwart spears of promise that they are.

What did surprise me were the other spring flowers
 equally determined in emerging from the cold and dark
to wave their flags of survival and hope.

 Tiny little tete a tete daffodils 
bought for me by my brother 
as indoor plants,
showed they are made of stern stuff
 and overwintered
 with the best of them.

My biggest surprise was
 to see the wallflower,
as the thaw set in,
standing all sprightly
with it's feet still in the snow 
 but it's head in the air.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  Heb. 10:23
- New American Standard Version (1995)


Monday, 28 January 2013

Staying In

We have had freezing, then thawing,
 freezing then raining,
 so the snow has gone
 but right now there is a rough wind
 and it is pouring down.

Just the weather to savour our home by hunkering down 
and enjoying what indoors has to offer.

Hubby tried his hand at some baking for the first time ever.
(He's seventy six!)
Here is his batch of bread pudding,
which is delicious,
 and therefore no help to my eternal resolve
 to cut down on sweet stuff.
While he's been in the kitchen
I have tried printing from a gelatin plate for the first time.

After dozens of unsatisfactory print pulls
 I've at last decided  I quite like the technique,
 though I made it hard for myself 
by using ordinary acrylic paints and acrylic gel medium
instead of buying the proper printing inks.

I have a studio full of materials waiting to be used 
and felt I couldn't justify buying more.
I might ask for some inks when my birthday comes around though.

If you would like to have a go
 here is the Linda Germaine video on how to make the gelatin plate.
She has lots more info, on how to proceed from there
 on Youtube and her website.

Hubby got his recipe from the net as well,
and there are lots to chose from.

It makes a change from falling asleep
 in front of the television !


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Going Out

Despite the weather forecasters' promise there would be no more snow today,
we awoke to see the mesmerising flakes already weaving their swirling warp and weft
 into a deeper pile for the white carpet underfoot.

We hummed and hawed a bit,
 then headed out to morning communion as we regularly do midweek.

The church's ageing heating system chugged away in the background
 barely denting the cold.

Still it was good to be with the community of believers.

Good to meet around the sacraments,
 the central presence which draws us together.

Good to catch up with each other over coffee,
then help set up for mums and toddlers
before emerging again into
 the cold pale world. 


Monday, 21 January 2013

Breughel in the Park

Snow is a novelty here in the centre of England.

We do our best to cope,
 but after a few days of snow the hill we live on becomes
 a real hazard for drivers.
Consequently we don't see many cars attempting to drive up past the house,
 but the number of walkers increases 
to make our quiet corner a bustling thoroughfare.

The number of sleds being pulled behind the walkers gives the clue
 to the destination for most of them.
The winter playtime season in the park behind us has begun!

I watched a young dad pulling two sleds
complete with a youngster each on board. up past the house.
The further up the hill he went,
 the more frequent became his rest stops.

I wondered what sort of shape he was going to be in
 by the time he'd actually got to the park, 
toted both kiddies up the sleding slope after each of their rides, 
and then made his way home.
Guess he wouldn't need a trip to the gym this week.

While there is a lovely carnival atmosphere among the crowds
 there are inevetably a few spills among the thrills 
and unfortunately sometimes the air ambulance gets in on the action.

All too soon the winter light fades and the littlies have to head home to bed,
 but the slopes stay busy well after dark,
lit only by the light reflected back off the snow.

I only stay as long as my feet and hands stay warm
 so I'm off with the littlies as soon as the pale sun sinks behind the trees.

Many school's are out.
Mums and/or dads either can't get into work
or are forced to stay home from work to look after the children.
Companies report millions of pounds worth of productivity is lost.

This didn't seem to worry one dad on the national news filmed in a snowy playground who said,
"There's more to life than money isn't there?!"

It seems we were feeling much the same when Breughel was painting.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Kitchen Notes

We have got rather hooked on an afternoon programme called
Escape to the Country.

The irony of watching people who have way more money than the average
to spend on a move to their dream house in the country,
 when the cost and availability of housing in the U.K.
is causing a sharp increase in homelessness isn't lost on us.
Still I have to admit for sheer escapism on a dreary winter's day,
 it's hard to beat seeing inside beautiful homes
set in some of the loveliest countryside there is.

 Despite seeming mostly overcome with enthusiasm about each house
of the three houses per show they are shown around,
few of the couples actually find anything they want to follow through on.

The inadequacy of the kitchen seems to loom large as a reason to be disappointed.
It can be as large as a small ballroom,
 as cosy as a mitten,
as well appointed as one could wish,
but if there is going to be a sticking point this is often where it will be.

I have just cleared our own kitchen of all the bits and pieces
accumulated over the holidays, 
so that the working surfaces could be clutter free, 
and the whole place gleaming.

First thing to say is our kitchen being minuscule
clearing the working surfaces gets to be a necessity sooner than in many kitchens
so it's no real Herculean task to have a tidy up;
and secondly, lest you should think me a slut,
 it wasn't far off gleaming, - honest.

You can see how small it is, by these views from the doorway in the hall.


 These are the tiny work surfaces each side of the cooker,

and these are the tiles I painted and fired 
to put above the cooker.


The caption used to say
 "Hospitality consists of a little warmth, a little food,
 and a great silence.
 - well two out of three isn't so bad!"
 (Up to the dash I was probably miss-quoting Emerson),
but hubby doesn't always share my sense of humour 
so I drilled the bottom couple of lines out 
and replaced them with plain tiles
which left an unfortunate comma hanging, as you can see.

These two of my abstract paintings are hanging on the narrow wall by the door
 to give an illusion of more width than the kitchen actually has,
but I may be being optimistic there.

 Looking back towards the hallway there is just our fridge/freezer on the one side,

(The hall isn't really that sickly green, 
and that's hubby's jacket flung over the the banister you can see.
  He leaves it there despite the cloaks cupboard being an arm's breadth away,
 but we won't go there.  Or he won't.
  Am I beginning to sound like a harpy yet?)

On the other side of the kitchen door is the tea and toast corner.
I banished the tea and coffee pots to the cupboard in my clear up 
because they were rarely used in this day of tea bags and freeze dried coffee.

 I can turn around and reach the milk out of the fridge on the other side of the room
without moving my feet.

I  thought you may enjoy my fridge magnets as much as I do.

The "complete idiot" one makes me laugh every time I see it, 
which of course isn't every time I look at it; 
but I mustn't start on what really seeing means or I will be here all day.

That, and this "Special Auntie" one were given to me by the same person;
a niece who knows me only too well!

The cheerful ferry tickets are souvenirs
brought back for us from one of our favourite holiday spots
 by one of our granddaughters.

This is a card and an older ferry ticket, and sent by our other granddaughter.

 You can guess which one of these my daughter bought.

So there you have it.
All in all the kitchen is just about 9' x 6 '/ just under 3 metres x 2 metres.,
and I admit to sighing longingly when I see spacious kitchens on the T.V.

My preference would be a large and comfy farmhouse kitchen .
The sort with wide chairs clustered around a large table.
The hub of the home, where folks could gather with tea cups and cake tin.
A warm comfortable place, giving the chance to be heard, and to listen,
like some of the kitchens of my childhood.

The only space to sit in our kitchen is this stool in front of the fridge/freezer.

My guests have to sit just there if we want to continue to talk while I make tea or cook.
When I need something from the fridge they have to stand up
 and move aside for me to get it.
But as I look at it now, I remember just a few of the confidences
shared back and forth in this little corner.

I think of some of the laughs too.

The poor friend who ended up with potato peelings over her feet
 because I was laughing so much as I prepared our meal.

I remember Christmas cakes my granddaughters used to make,
(one each of course),
that each year had a different agreed theme, but two different interpretations,
then scraping the coloured icing sugar off the working tops afterwards.

I remember the times I regularly cooked Sunday dinner for eight or ten
 gathered at our table,
and never imagined it would ever be different.

At this moment there is a gelatine plate sitting on a working top
 waiting for my first attempt at gelatin printing.
(No, it isn't a new delicacy)

That's our variation on a cuppa for the odd evening you can see sitting behind.
Mine is the Italian red.

I'd still like that dream kitchen,
of course I would,
but next time I'm "Oohing" and "Awing" over those dream kitchens
 in the fabulous homes on the T.V.
I'll be a little more mindful of how much
our own little kitchen has blessed us,
and be thankful instead of envious or dis-satisfied.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


This evening one of the articles
 on the B.B.C.'s magazine programe
 "The One Show" 
included a few clips from the South Wales valleys.

Unexpectedly hearing the accents of my home valleys,
I found myself in unbidden tears 
and wondered why.

 Even after forty years living 
away from my place of birth,
with good friends and sweet kindness
from many parts of the world,
it is these voices that pull at my heart.

  The land itself,
above the terraced towns
 as you can see
 is beautiful;
but it is the people,
ah, the people
 who are my home.

Of course they are not perfect,
How could I have had a place among them if they were?

When all is said and done though,
it is from them I first learned to love.
And to forgive.


P.S.   Hiraeth is the Welsh for homesickness

P.P.S  I do apologise that comments you may be making on Disqus, and my own replies, are not getting published.  I am trying to rectify the problem but so far with no success, but do know I appreciate your kindness and encouragement. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Beginning 2013

We have been labouring under so much dark, sodden weather for so long here in the U.K.
 that it was wonderful to wake
 to the pellucid silver of winter sunshine 
pouring in through the windows on this
New Year's Day.

It was a day to be savoured
 so we and the family set off to one of our nearby country water parks
where the world and his wife had also congregated in holiday mood.

There was a bonus for me because I had a playmate 
who I knew would appreciate the day
 and the surroundings every bit as as much as I would. 

More correctly perhaps my playmate gave me the opportunity
 to be a bit less inhibited then usual in showing my enjoyment.

As anybody who has a five year old in the party knows,
 there is always fun to be had, 
and our great grandson had opted to wear his new Power Ranger outfit
so that was a good start.

He was adamant  no coat would be worn over it but
finding how biting the wind was, as soon as we got out of the car
 he quickly agreed with me that he had better be "in disguise"
 and wear his warm woollen winter coat after all, 
so the theme for our adventures was set.

We tracked footprints imprinted by the "baddies" in the plentiful mud.
I'm afraid we sloshed through quite a bit of mud ourselves, 
(and even some water).

We enjoyed petting other peoples dogs, 
because Power Rangers being "goodies" are always fond of dogs.

My com padre took to the model train with his Grandad 
while I and my granddaughter recorded the event on our cameras. 

Then we fully explored the new adventure playground.
(Truth to tell only one of us really explored it fully).

And all the while the silver light and bright skies
 made it seem that indeed
 things were being kissed into newness.

Whatever 2013 has in store
 it has begun here with a brilliance which 
sparkled, shimmered and bounced off the waters, 
glinting through the trees 
as if to underscore the dazzling offer to
 begin again this New Year.

I know I'm predisposed to say this since it is my word for 2013,
but I'm going to say it anyway.

Today was touched with