Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Burns Suppers.


I live in Scotland, top of that strange shaped island in the north eastern Atlantic. 
We have a National Bard, national poet, and a day to celebrate the lecherous old drunkard, that day is today.
We have a National Dish which you would have thought could have been our famous wild salmon or hill caught venison but no! It is Haggis made from all the bits nobody will buy mixed with onions, bait of spice, and oatmeal which should then be stuffed into a sheep’s stomach, we are nothing if not gourmets…
It would be a crime to eat such a delicacy alone though we did on Saturday, it is more traditional to get a roomful together and have a party of sorts. In the best gatherings the “great pudding” will be led to the table by someone in full Highland regalia playing the bagpipes, once the European Union gets word of this and measures the sound intensity of bagpipes in a domestic setting I am sure they will instigate legislation to ban it! There is a poem which is delivered to the haggis before the declaimer eviscerates it with his dirk, a dagger he keeps down his sock… People say poems in praise of lassies, I said he was a lecherous womaniser didn’t I? Traditionally a lassie gives a speech in reply before outers join in with their poems or songs. It can all be a bit much especially when they get to dancing highland reels after having drunk some of our National Drink.
Sunday we were invited out to lunch by friends who have some money so I was somewhat disappointed when an email arrived some days later to say that some contribution by Burns would be required. Darn, I really like Haggis but here was a premature Burns Supper where I had hoped for a real treat and a chance to chat with a few university professors to add to my font of useless knowledge. I googled “Burns and Haiku”, sadly he was such a traditionalist and fond of his own voice that he never used the form, all I got was a recommendation to burn my Haikus to CD! Next I Googled “Burns shortest poem”. He wrote countless hundreds but Google had no idea which was the shortest, so much for the internet!! We did eventually find a couple of epigrams which would not have us in the limelight for too long and neither were about sex or drinking.
Epigram Addressed To An Artist

Dear Sir, I'll gie ye some advice,  
You'll tak it no uncivil:  
You shouldna paint at angels mair ,  
But try and paint the devil.  

To paint an Angel's kittle wark ,  
Wi' Nick , there's little danger:  
You'll easy draw a lang-kent face,  
But no sae weel a stranger.
Mine was to show that even though Scots were famous inovators in road building, they are still a mess!

Epigram On Rough Roads

I'm now arrived - thanks to the gods!
Thro' pathways rough and muddy, 
A certain sign that makin roads 
Is no this people's study: 
Altho' I'm not wi' Scripture cram'd, 
I'm sure the Bible says
That heedless sinners shall be damn'd, 
Unless they mend their ways.

I did learn that our mild winter is due to a 25% rise in the suns UV output even though the light output change due to sunspot activity was only 1 to 2 %, this change affects the north Atlantic weather systems especially it seems and few had bothered to measure the UV changes before assuming that they were just related to the light output, Duh. Record sunspot activity has been related to our recent bad winters…
That concludes today’s useless information .

After all that anticipation we did not get our Pudding but an excellent Beef Wellington. Tonight we will get a Haggis from one of the prize winning makers, you smirk!? Thankfully there will be no bagpipes or too much poetry though I think I shall take mine along to raise a smile ot two.
It has been my aim to do something to break the long gloom of winter by spending a while out in France helping with renovation projects but they have stopped for a while, last year we had a spa break when a friend celebrated her landmark birthday with a large group of friends. This year Julie is going to spend some time staying with her cousin an a big city for some culture and I am going to visit one of my online friends, a week to decide what to wear.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

January, staying cheery.


January! Month of cold and colds… I feel fragile and that is the last thing I need right now. So many of our friends have reported failing health recently, some think that is what christmas cards are for! 

The joy of reading books rather than computer screen has been rediscovered.
I feel a little low because I have gained a small amount of weight and lost fitness with spending the last two months dealing with toenails and the restricted walking with the raw toes. I am fine now and ready to get out, I can even get my feet comfortably into each of my two pairs of shoes, more comfortably than I have ever been able to do. My greatest hope is that the treatment to kill the nails works this time and the twisted horny nails never bother me again. 
Until I abandoned shoes for sandals forty years ago it was costing a fortune in shredded socks… With the muscle changes to the feet and the improved toes It might now be easier to find shoes for those occasions when they are needed, they are well over a size down from what they were before! If only it was not frosted on the ground everywhere now I could be out rebuilding some strength and stamina. I am wanting to get out and enjoy my new life…
So many of us spend years, decades, staring into the mirror telling ourselves that change could not possibly work on the raw material we see reflected in the glass. I am still pleasantly surprised when I catch a glance of myself happily going about everyday tasks. There is a sadness associated with transition. You get to know many while they are in this transit camp and get to watch them bloom. Just as they start to become beautiful their need to be here fades and they are gone leaving the memory of yet another miracle. One journey which I have followed posted a video today. For those who think that this can’t possibly work and you will be alone forever have a watch…


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Time flies.

The days are flying by into this New Year. Often quite a sad time as the Yule tree loses its decorations and comes down for yet another year and the house looks quite plain and empty.  Fortunately  the weather this year is being much much kinder to us that last and we are having some bright sunny days like today rather than the deep freeze and thick ice on the roads we have at this time last year.
This truly is the New Year for me, and probably a good moment to mark the change from the old life to the new. After a sociable Christmas and New Year when my change has been totally accepted and hardly noted any more by close friends and hardly noticed when I go out in the wide world. I think I can now claim that my social transformation can be considered complete. It is not to say that I am perfect in every respect and I’m sure many will have second thoughts and suspicions but I no longer sense any negative reaction wherever I go. This is clearly what I had hoped before just to short few years ago while staring into a mirror and seeing a quite masculine face staring back. How could it possibly be that it could be transformed into anything even remotely representing feminine? At this point you might be hoping for a few pictures of the gruesome hairy creature I once was and an up-to-date one of me looking all glamorous but I think it is best that I deny you this pleasure.
Usually at this time of year I will be feeling quite glum, short days and gloomy light make up an often depressing time but this year I feel quite cheerful. I can hardly believe 10 days have passed already. I’m so worried that the spring will be upon us before I know it that I am already scanning the seed catalogue and planning what vegetables should go into the garden in the spring. In recent previous years I have had help in the garden from a young teenage daughter of friends which this year has quickly transformed from a young innocent creature into a real teenager and for the first time in her life has gone off to do some real schooling, she says she’s doing drama but didn’t say whether she was teaching or learning! I suspect she will not be around so much this year and so have mentioned the possibility of sharing a part garden with a direct neighbour, he was somewhat disheartened when he first arrived to learn that my vegetable garden once belonged to his cottage but had been separated from it by a high wall when someone in the past gave away the cottage but decided to keep the garden not thinking that their drunken brother deserved the pleasure it would give! It gives me a lot of pleasure, though sometimes it’s more of a punishment only softened when the crops start to produce the kind of vegetables which money cannot buy.
So far I have not broken my New Year’s resolution. I’m the most sociable people who somehow finds it difficult to be a success on social media! It is an entertaining distraction, pointing the way to many interesting things and each week many hours vanish almost without you knowing. The downside is the volume of angst which pours out onto the screen, I have had a lifetime of depression and angst of my own to deal with and though I have always been happy to be supportive and pass on what little comfort I can I am enjoying my holiday away from it. Perhaps in this day and age it is not surprising that social media sites are popular with their rapid short bursts of communication, I read mutterings online that email is obsolete in the twitbook age, perhaps for those a generation younger but I can’t help longing for a few friends who like me prefer the slower electronic version of an old fashioned letter.. 
Ironic really somebody who has always hated writing a letter then again nobody ever figured out how to do spell check which worked with a fountain pen.
Living in and age where you can buy an avocado any week of the year I miss those things which used to mark off the year in regular seasonal ways, Easter eggs are disastrous now, the first ones were on sale mid December! I have not seen hot cross buns yet, they are late this year the first ones were on special offer on New Year’s Day last year! One thing that does remain seasonal is Seville oranges for making marmalade, the only ones where the white pith cooks away to something transparent and you can never buy shop bought marmalade which taste anything like as good as home-made. Last year’s supply was finished last week so I was pleased to receive an e-mail from one of my girlfriends saying that she had spotted the first oranges in one of the few independent vegetable shops we have now. I was just going to pop in and buy a few kilos and be on my way but found myself in a long conversation with the girl who runs the shop which opened just a year or so ago. Last year was the first year she had ever made marmalade herself and like many things there are 100 ways to do it and some tricks which can make life easier, I left her with a few ideas to try though she can’t try my favourite which is to push all the fruit for a hand turned meat mincer which grinds the Orange skins into something which can be spread evenly onto a slice of hot battered toast. 

My juices are going just writing this. Guess you know what I’ll be up to tomorrow…

Monday, 2 January 2012


New Year is never the best time especially in these northern latitudes with so little sun and subsequent lack of vitamin D. It is best to be aware of any lowering of mood before it overwhelms you. I am so much better about this than I was in former times. 
There are so many things which need to be attended to so that when the seasons change we are ready to be free to take advantage and get out if we wish, another road trip if it can be afforded comes to mind…
Blogs were my chosen social media and continue to draw me back though many which I used to follow have now run dry… For over two years now I have been on fb and have a few there who regularly entertain me but my posts based on my dull life have not triggered much comment or sparked any regular correspondence, well those who replied most died which is not a good sign! I do know because with yet another change there impending with their timeline imposition I have read through my timeline from beginning to end. Editing is only possible post by post which is why I was still up at 4.30 this morning… In hindsight it would have been easier to go with my first thought which was to delete the account and start another, I would not be so tired now. 
New Years Resolutions are made to be broken, everybody knows that, so I have made one with the express intention of eventually breaking it. Whilst sticking with it I will be able to assess just how much that which I am choosing to give up is part of my life, do I get cravings to indulge, does anyone notice I am not engaging and get in contact. Already I feel a sense of freedom and a freeing of more time to post blogs…
Bye-bye timeline, bye-bye...