Making the best of things

 Here is the promised photo of the elderly-puppy-at-heart Misty. Actually, I shouldn’t confuse her with having to stay young, she is as she is, and so it should be for humans. For instance, I used to think of anyone as 75 and qualifying for a free TV licence as definitely in the old category. However, now that I am nearer 75 than 70 I am no longer sure what counts as old. Health warning to my readers . . . . . . . . this blogger is definitely feeling less sprightly than she was. And that despite the exercising extras that some readers have guessed at. I blame politics and the inequalities inherent in our society. So, do I have a good old rant and expose my lack of knowledge or do I try to be more like Polyanna and concentrate on the good in each day?

I know it should be the latter, after all counting one’s blessings puts the right kind of positive vibes into the ether.

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    Update: Monday 21 August 2017

    The above was written in the middle of May and Misty’s hair has grown to the stage where she is needing her autumn trim.  As I explained to someone who commented and jogged my conscience, this has been a difficult summer, with circumstances that mean I am unable to share things fully. I have recently looked at some blogs and been sad to find that someone has died and a couple of faithful and creative bloggers have suffered bereavement. My own difficulties are of a different order and though complex, the main problem is that I find myself swamped with anxieties about an ongoing situation that I seem unable to shrink down to size, so much so that I am in danger of swamping close friends and loved ones by trying to offload too freely.  I find myself wondering if I could use this blog as a kind of therapy. But then I realise that the need for discretion is more important. And anyway, who wants to read about misery?

    On a lighter note I have enjoyed visits from friends and family and am trying to come to grips with a new phone which incorporates the ability to take Selfies . . . . ..  What a lot there is to learn about this new way of viewing one’s self. By the way I have checked the grammar of one’s self and have discovered I am archaic. So be it. As one of my blogging friends would say, Get over it. Except that said blogger would have said it in bold.

    Just look at these bright young things – not Me, I’m easy to spot and am obviously concentrating hard on how to do something that most people do almost as second nature. Still, I know that learning new things is good therapy. Hence this summer’s mooc on Compassion and Care in Health and Social Care.

    Well – I have tried to make some small attrition for ignoring this space over the summer.  In the grand scheme of things my life is so small compared to all the tragedies that have happened and are unfolding. I am grateful for these golden years – truly and with surprise at where life finds me. No promises, then, either about trying to write more or looking for a theme or whatever. Dalamory’s story is part mine and part of the big wide world. Where it goes?   We shall see.

    Blessings to you and your special people.

 

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Out of the devastation . . . .

Out of the devastation comes the wonderful view . . . .   All around us the trees are being felled and lorried out. Enormous specially adapted logging machines make quick work of the process of stripping, cutting and loading the precision-cut lengths of trunk onto lorries and trailers for transportation to who knows where. That’s not quite true in fact, if you google timber and where it goes there is a whole mass of information. It quite bewilders the head, so we will leave it for another day.

My main reason for writing today is that practically the whole of March has gone by with nary a peep from Yours Truly. And, it is the Birthday Month. To be honest, this year, March has flown past and I can’t make up my mind whether this is because I have been having such a wonderful time that I haven’t noticed, or I have been forgetting to make the most of it. Mind you, the credit card has taken a hit with broken down domestic appliances needing replaced and several other purchases which has meant a month of waiting for deliveries. Always fun in the wilds of Argyll as suppliers seem to think we are hundreds of miles away from the central belt instead of a mere 70 miles or so. You live where? – said with an escalating tonal twang on the end of the address.

It has hit me with some force of late, that apart from my upbringing in the hinterland of SE9 (ie Outer London) this is the place where I have lived the longest. My life has been a long series of removals, following parents, husband’s job, my job and finally settling with a sigh into a rural and relatively tranquil idyll that just seems about right. I suppose such reflections come out of the process of the Writing of the Memoirs, which is coming along at a predictable snail’s pace, but a satisfying one nonethless. I throw that in to titillate the cockles of anyone who happens to enjoy autobiographical ramblings, though one thing I have discovered during the whole writing and editing process is that it is as important what one leaves out as what one includes. And if that doesn’t sound interesting then I don’t know what does.

Other things of note in this Birthday Month are as follows:

  • Misty has had her springtime cuteness haircut. Photos may follow, if and when she deigns to allow herself to be captured on camera. I should perhaps mention that throughout her eleven years and four months she has been notoriously difficult to either video or photograph.
  • Reading has been mainly non-fiction: autobiographies, letters, journals, travel and a long and fascinating biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
  • I did a mooc on how to understand one’s liver. From a medical slant, not culinary.
  • We cleared out the garage and have made a good start on the workshop. Yes – there is a good reason and I may reveal it in due course. Let us just say I am a little reticent in case it all ends up being a damp squib.
  • I met up with my best friend from Primary School Days and her husband. Together with HBTW we went out for a meal. We talked ourselves hoarse and managed to eat as well as laughing a lot. Amazing how you automatically slip into the mode of being open and honest with someone who has known you since your first day at school.
  • Our local church was nearly filled to capacity as members did a self-led and innovative take on Mothers’ Day. Not an easy thing to do and all the better with having nothing to do with me or any other clergy. I mean that in a good way!

I am sure there were many more highlights. Who knows, perhaps I will manage to share these with you sooner rather than letting another month slip by. One thing is much in mind at the moment. I am thinking of having a Post-Birthday-Month for extra treats and outings, simply because I can. What do you think?

Blessings from Dalamory.

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The month before . . . . .

This is the end of the month before March and you Dear Reader may well remember that March is of great significance because it is my Birthday Month. That means permission to organise treats and ponder retail therapy. I suppose that more importantly it is the month when we can genuinely say that spring is coming, in the northern hemisphere at least.

February has been a bit dark and forlorn, or should that be rephrased – I’ve felt a bit dark and forlorn at times. I have kept waiting to write a blog post until the light penetrated my psyche, but have to admit that it has been a long time coming. It used to be that March heralded the start of some trips away in the campervan, anywhere as long as there was an electric hook-up so that warmth was assured, and near enough not to be a major expedition. But of course it was last year that the trusty motorhome went to pastures new.  Treats, then, will have to be of a different kind. I am determined not to start a dreary diary into old age, so I should make a confession. The treats have started early this year. In defence I would point out that our elders and betters often say that though the years pass more quickly, the better weather is a long time coming. Oh no – am I becoming an Elder and a better?

Finishing reading one of my Christmas gifts has been an absolute pleasure and delight. It took me a while to get used to Miranda’s style of writing, which is actually very like her speech patterns – ie scattered, random and at the same time annoying and endearing. But the book is sheer laugh-out-loud especially for dog-lovers/owners/watchers.  Picture a wet and grey and darkening winter afternoon with HMTW and myself sitting opposite one another in the porch. Misty is snoring contentedly on my knee and suddenly I am struck with the need to giggle which turns into the inevitable chuckle swiftly followed by large guffaws, difficulty taking a breath and a cross-patch dog and a long-suffering husband saying – OK what is it this time? This results in me reading out the particular passage and the laughter coming all over again.

Reading the book put me in the mood for evening entertainment and thoughts turned to sifting through the dvd collection searching for loved films and boxed sets. This led to a new look at Northern Exposure, a slightly whacky Arthouse kind of series set in Alaska in the early 1990’s. I was going to say made in Alaska but most of it was filmed elsewhere. However, that didn’t put me off so we are now making our way through the whole series which is even stranger than I remember, but again, it is laugh-out-loud therapy for dark days and difficult times.

This was made all the more enjoyable by renewing an acquaintance with John Corbett, an actor who also appeared in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and MBFGW2. He plays the part of the local radio philosopher-type-DJ in Northern Exposure and a male romantic lead in the Greek saga. Incidentally #2 was equally as good as the original, a feel-good movie that helps with brightening life. You may have noticed I skidded over the dark times reference. More or less intentionally because I suspect many people in different parts of the world would say that these are darkening times. As well as all those people struggling to cope with personal tragedy, the general populace in the western world faces a total change in world values epitomised by fake news, violence, terrorism etc ad infinitum.

For me that means recognising that it is important to concentrate on the good things around us. The spring bulbs, the song of the chaffinch, the snow on the mountains. We find our faith through one another and the many kindnesses that ordinary people of all faiths, show to others. I’m trying to resist the temptation to hop into end-of-sermon-mode, but it is hard. . . . . . . .  you’ll have to forgive me.  It is a special time of year coming up next week, a time for looking forward to new beginnings. I’m going to try to follow my own advice. Advice I used to give to all manner and ages of people. Count your blessings at the end of the day, or rather, think of three happy or beautiful or special things or people.

Happy new beginnings and happy birthday month to all the March babies.

 

 

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January Day Out

When having a Day Out in January the most important thing is to be flexible. Of course I could have said the most important thing is hot coffee, knowing where the loos are or a decent picnic.  We set off recently for a trip to see one of the oldest Yew trees in the UK, or so we thought. However, despite bright sunshine at home there was a dark bank of mist to the east.  Thus, a quick detour south-west was needed and we were back beside Loch Lomond and thankfully, in the sunshine again.

Having overdosed on news recently about uncomfortable truths or perhaps they were alternative facts, media was restricted to Elvis and the Philharmonic Orchestra – a clever digital re-mix with the real Elvis of long ago and the real Philharmonic of last year. The result . . . .  a happy mixture of vintage Elvis and full-throated sound. Imagine if you will, two golden oldies, no make that three, (Misty counts as an oldie herself now) driving round the January countryside with the sun slanting low over the car, and plenty of stops for sustenance en-route. It did us all good to be away from comment, conjecture and the near hysteria that has made up the news over the last few weeks.

It also made me remember my long-term project of the Memoirs. This has been sadly neglected over the last few weeks. Time to get back in the groove. Segway coming up here – what is it about vinyl, specifically what we used to call LPs or Long Players?  It is supposed to be something to do with the so-called authentic experience of sitting down and listening to a record. Slotting in a CD or clicking on a Playlist is reckoned to be somehow inferior. Well, I have to confess to being a Philistine. I just don’t get it. I can see the point of hoarding old LPs as collectables or even investments, but I am only too pleased to have lost the crackles and squeaks of the record player itself.

Stick to the point, Freda, I keep going down byways in my mind. Come to think of it the first draft of my Memoirs is like that. I suppose it is inevitable that one thing sparks off a memory of another and then off I go into a totally unrelated story.  Too many of the stories around the whole experience of leaving “home”  were dark and frankly depressing. Perhaps I need to consider adding in some mini-biographies to explain. But, darkness was the way things played out. I am forgiving myself coming to a stop over these last few weeks. I really did need to recover. As for how to proceed, well the secret is to picture a memory – one associated with a photograph is helpful and bring to mind the good. Like the photo of Loch Lomond above. Hopefully, with the mind in a happy place, there will be less whining and more cheer to pass on to my grandchildren and descendants down the years.

The rest of the January day out was filled with the memory of driving round the countryside in my father-in-law’s car and parking up overlooking a viewpoint listening to Top of the Pops. Elvis then and Elvis now. By the time we had our last coffee the evening was drawing in, well worth parking up and watching the sun set over Faslane. And there was not a submarine in sight. One thing worth mentioning is that it is nearly February, which is the month before my Birthday Month. And that means time for treats.

Blessings from Dalamory.

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Looking Forward

Sometimes I look at this face looking back at me in the bathroom mirror and think, You poor little old woman. Other days I think, Good grief it’s my mother, and more often than not I shrug and carry on with the ablutions regardless.

This is the time of year for looking forward rather than back. I need to think about the future rather than the difficult year that has just gone. Why, I ask myself, have I bothered so much about the state of the nation, and the world, and the universe? Friends have been visiting recently and their attitude is to ignore the bad news, preferring to have hope and beauty in the living room alongside them, rather than violence, war and sorrow. That is a valid way of coping, but it requires a discipline of will that I find very hard to follow. Perhaps it is because of the years of checking the news before stepping out of the house to go and lead worship, or more likely, it is an ingrained habit from my earliest years.

The first time I remember reading a newspaper – I fail to recall which one, though it was a tabloid-style – was on the 10th Anniversary of the relief of one of the concentration camps of the Second World War. I read the text, looked at the photographs and found myself in tears, unable to fully take in what I was seeing. Then I accused my parents saying, How could you let this happen? Of course they were flummoxed. But more so me, especially now as I look back rather than forward, there have been so many times when I have felt helpless and wretched at being unable to change the world and make it better for the sorrowful and hurting.

I know . . . . . .  Here I am still looking back. If this was a sermon it would be so easy for me to find a passage of scripture, a story from the Bible or a homily about good deeds, turning the bad on its head and spinning the answer into some kind of recipe for individual acts of kindness changing the world. On a good day, I truly believe that, but looking at my grandchildren I wonder how they feel. What will I say should they ask, Grandma why do such atrocities happen? or Why are women subject to such violence? 

Maturity in faith brings more questions rather than answers, and I know more and more that changing the world starts with me. I want to go on and say, and with you . . . .  but that comes from writing sermons, throwing out challenges and seeing the glass half full instead of half empty.  So please do excuse me and indulge me a bit longer.

Perhaps I want to say this for the first post of 2017 – look forward and stand tall. I believe there is more good in the world than evil. That means there are more good people than nutters. If I ever let myself doubt that, then out comes another rant. And I don’t want Son #3 to say yet again – You were having a right old rant to yourself weren’t you?

Blessings from Dalamory

 

 

 

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Another View

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The world is still as difficult and as wonderful a place. 2016 is a difficult and wonderful time to be alive, and I am still struggling to make sense of everything. However, there is also a sense of waiting as you can see from the nativity scene above. Regular Readers will know that this is our collection of figures from the 5-inch Fontanini series of nativity figures and villagers, with of course the addition of the apostle John. Who says that mysticism is no more. . . . . . ?  In actual fact, more people these days are trying to make connections and make sense of their place in the world. Those who have come to the conclusion that there is no God, or maybe that there is no Other, can just take heart from an ancient fable muddled in with the winter solstice.

In other words, enjoy the season.

img_2117Tobias is our new villager this year. He looks as if he has walked a long way through sunsets and giant plants with strange sculptures all around him. He longs to see things change and for people to be happy and fulfilled.

That is no bad thing to aim for at this time of year, especially as we are bombarded with adverts for all sorts of charities needing money to make things better.

Earlier in the week, in real time and in a real place – The Community Garden – we gathered with a whole host of villagers to walk and watch and participate in the real live nativity play. Thankfully there was no rain though there was good food and wine and good cheer.

15492505_1324235637607848_3448255883148315220_nYou can find some more photos here.  An outdoors nativity  certainly gives a perspective of the dark, the cold, the crudeness of the shelter and the importance of fire for warmth and light. I once had to sleep overnight in the car during a storm. We were frightened of the storm blowing our tent away – it was cold, noisy and there wasn’t much opportunity to sleep, and that was in the summer. It always seems apt to me that this Christmas story we celebrate is about a special person being born as someone insignificant, far from home and who ends up with his parents fleeing for their lives to another country. It’s not exactly the cozy narrative we often conjure up in our heads.

All the while we were setting up the crib scene guess who was watching? Misty is already excited about the time of year because she saw some presents being wrapped and there is nothing she loves b2016-mistywatchesbetter than having a juicy-smelling package to tear apart. Don’t worry, we don’t get her an Advent Calendar. She is not exactly counting off the days.

Still . . . . we will have to watch her carefully over this time of visitors and visits, she is eleven now and tending towards the forgetful. On her way down the hall to get to her place for killing and eating her dentastix  earlier today, she shot into the bathroom, looked surprised, shook her head and then turned and trotted into the right door. It could have been a moment of forgetfulness – we all have those – or even excitement, but just maybe she is turning quirky rather quickly as she gets older. I only wish I looked as cute as her when I have a senior moment.

Please excuse me this post of whimsy. I received quite a bit of feedback from family and friends over the serious nature of the last few items. This is my fight back.

Is it too early to say – Have a Happy, Peaceful and Blessed Christmas?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beating Confusion

img_2083Who knows how to beat the confusion that is Brexit?  Perchance the same people who know how to understand that the United States of America now has Donald Trump as President Elect. My reasonable, liberal Sunday newspaper tells me in no uncertain terms that the only way to deal with opposing views is to understand as much as possible about the mess we seem to be in,  to listen to the person who disagrees with you and also to read a newspaper with the contrary view. As I am an Observer reader that means I should have a look at the Telegraph. The same commentator tells me that if excerpts from the Daily Mail drive me spare, then I should read that paper more often instead of running away with my hands in the air. That is the way of understanding, I hope. And trying hard to understand another’s point of view might help resolve the fog in my brain.

So . . . . . . dialogue and discourse and a reasonable attitude will help bring understanding and eventually solve all that ails me.

To be honest, I am not so sure. Yesterday’s remedy was to overdose on music videos from youtube. Today’s recipe for lifting the mood has been to browse Christmas cards online and put in an order. Never mind that I am later than usual, let’s just hope that they arrive in time for posting this year rather than next. Of course I am forgetting the panacea of crochet and the way it makes me think of my Granny.

The other thing that has been taxing my brain from the papers, is that google is getting things slightly wrong with more and more people and how they think. In other words, instead of simply guessing that my interests trend towards dogs and sick kids, the search engine now seeks to direct my mouse towards vaguely more sinister topics. Perhaps I am being a bit obtuse. Let’s see if I can make it easier. Google software engineers or programmers write an algorithm or set of instructions that has an inbuilt mechanism whereby it gives you more of what you like or want.  But now, google suggests topics that lead you into other, totally different areas to explore.

Good idea you might think?  But wait – apparently typing in a search for Are Jews . . . . . brings up a set of questions one of which is Are Jews evil . . . ? And of course if one clicks on that then a journey towards darkness is set in motion. Yikes, I have just tested google to see what comes up and the evil question comes top. It is as if someone has been reading this blog. Scary and spooky or what?

Of course the answer is neither. I hope. But just coincidence. Maybe some computer geeks could explain it to me, for now, it will be a case of steering clear of questionable hooks.

By now it should be clear that my brain has been exercised more than usual today. Please don’t think I am going down the route of knocking google, search engines, computers or the internet. The truth is that we live in amazing times. However, the actions and reactions that take place at the speed of one’s internet connection are enough to change the pace of human evolution. One minute we are looking at cute puppies on facebook and the next we are confronted with the horrific images of elephants slaughtered for their ivory. A President Elect on the other side of the world cannot sleep, so dashes off a tweet about Taiwan, say, and the response is an international incident. The prospects for change and growth are enormous; though equally there is much that can go wrong.

It has just occurred to me that I am turning into one of the newspaper contributors that started this blog post in its current direction. And so the whole world of information as a process directs the way that bloggers relate to the world and their readers. I fully expect people from all around the world to understand why I get upset about Brexit, Trump, Benefits Sanctions, Aleppo and Terrorism. We are the results of our interactions and long may I be able to read, understand and interpret what is happening. Of course, what I hope is to be able to become part of what makes things better.

51tbyl3vxpl-_ac_us160_ Years ago I read a book by Lloyd C Douglas, it was called The Green Light. It is still available, secondhand in Amazon – another giant of modern life. I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend it, though for old time’s sake I wouldn’t mind reading it again. As far as I recall, the premiss was that the human race moved forwards across the world, and that sometimes we get a red light and have to wait for poorer nations to catch up with those who have more. It is couched in religious and medical terms, the author was a doctor and Christian. The book was written in the 1930’s, a fact which is not unrelated to a comparison of the lead up to World War II with the right wing trend that appears to be sweeping Europe today.

If you have managed to stay with me this far, I would value your own thoughts on future events, as well as your own continuing methods for dealing with stress. The photo, by the by, is a week or so ago looking towards the Glencoe Range.

Blessings from Dalamory.

 

 

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It is time

b2016-autumnbridgeEverywhere one looks or listens or searches . . . . . . it becomes clear that there are many people who are scared witless about what is going to happen in the future. Of course there are others who party away, perhaps like a Russian, (thanks to Robbie Williams) determined not to worry as long as there is enough food in the fridge. But what about the ones who don’t have a fridge . . . . . families accommodated in a Bed & Breakfast or that difficult young man sleeping on a friend’s sofa? What about those whose benefits have been sanctioned through the vindictiveness of a cash-strapped clerk who is trying to up their own bonus at the end of the month? Even worse, how would you like to be scared that the powers that be will take your house away because you have too many bedrooms and not enough income? And in these cold days, what if the already iniquitously expensive electric or gas pre-paid card swallows up more money that you have to last  till the end of the month?

Do the people with their millions care? Yes, of course some of them do and they are an example to the rest of the wealthy. But how dare a professional political party of millionaires stigmatise a whole class of our fellow human-beings who need looked after? It is all about lies. Lies, lies, lies. We have been fed a tirade of lies for months and the result is that the lies start to grow feet, then they run on and on never challenged or stopped until someone has the courage to say they got it wrong.

And what about me? I have been saying for weeks that I get scared at the thought of being attacked online / trolled. To be honest, the inequalities in life for those who are not those and such as those, makes me thoroughly sick.  I am nearer the end of my life than the beginning. Much of the time I feel fragile and unwell and the sheer nastiness of many politicians puts me into a state of quiet anger. And if there is one thing I remember from Pastoral Care at Uni it is that suppressing anger leads to depression or maybe even a big hole in the road.

b2016-benchautumnOne of my closest allies in the school of life would be telling me right now, to slow down, take stock and work out what can realistically be done and what cannot be done. There are good politicians who are working for their constituents and there are good people who work to ease inequality. Just because I am older doesn’t mean I have to lose hope. I can take the anger, the disappointment, the raging at injustice . . . . . . . bundle them up and send them spinning where they will catch the imaginations of people like myself who are sick and tired of the threats and intimidations, the lies and the half-truths. That bundle can grow bigger and bigger until more people stand up for those who are having a bad time.

Spirit of the Universe
We, who call you Lord, God, Allah, Yahweh,
We who don’t have the comfort of belief
And those of us who do
Look to our comforting places
And feel your cloak of gentleness descend.
As we sit and wait we know
That there is hope – always.

Blessings from Dalamory

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Looking for the good

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Everywhere you turn these days there are more forecasts of gloom, doom, increasing debt figures and signs of confusion over how to deal with the UK leaving the EU. It is as if news columnists and commentators can’t get their heads around what has been happening to us. It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a whole long list of all the bad things happening at home and abroad. The world all of a sudden, doesn’t seem a very stable place. And people are at odds with the views of neighbours, friends and family.

As you can see I am still at odds as to how to cope with the negatives all around. So the last few weeks have involved making a concerted effort to find ways to concentrate on the good things in life. As it is Autumn, the home knitting and crochet of myself and a friend have been passed on for delivery to parts of Africa where they are badly needed.

b2016-charitystuffThis is the summer’s total, assembled for delivery. I can vouch for the soothing influence of wielding the crochet hook and concentrating on the needs of others – particularly small children. Lorries of collected home-mades travel the length of the country and on to their destinations in unstable countries. They help only a little. But it is a start.

Over the weekend HBTW, Misty and myself went to a 50th Birthday Ceilidh. It was unique and very special. Not just because it was in a Cathedral, albeit a small one, but because of the mix of ages and the live band – The Last Tram tae Auchenshuggle. 14680577_10207471626657282_112919644361927541_n

St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral refers to itself as – open, inclusive and welcoming – and that is truly what it felt like. Perhaps I should mention that they achieve the same sense of welcome in their services as well. Such a recommendation from a dyed in the wool Presbyterian is all the more pertinent.

Misty enjoyed wearing a party jacket and making lots of new friends. Apologies for the quality of the photo, it was from Himself’s phone. I was too busy meeting people and catching up with friends to take photos. A friend recently commentated on the tendency of Christians to have miserable-looking faces. I had to agree that by and large older church-goers could look a bit sad and craggy, though I think it is probably more due to age and gravity than disposition. Well, there were no sad faces at this birthday celebration.

The choir chairs and altar were removed from the front of the church to make a large area for the dancing. Light drinks were served from one side at the back and food was available at the other side. There were chairs and tables scattered about and people arranged themselves there or dotted in amongst the pews.  The lighting was dim, with fairy-lights twinkling round the ornate “screen” near the front. (Sorry for not knowing all the technical names of things.)

I find myself reflecting that heaven might be a bit like a ceilidh – boisterous, lots of laughter, food and drink and pleasure in people being together. I used to say to people that heaven was whatever you enjoyed most, or whatever you wanted it to be. My view now tends to be rather more mystical, but a heavenly ceilidh is a good idea. Not too boisterous of course, and come to think of it not too much alcohol. Oh dear, maybe I am turning into one of those miserable faces after all.

OK enough of the mystical or non-mystical musings. Other ways to try and be positive have involved some lovely walks in the beautiful Autumn weather.

b2016-dubhlochWe found some new places to walk the little dog and we have enjoyed several picnics. Picnics by the way always have to include hard-boiled eggs and a twist of salt. They make all the difference and are a kind of tradition. Whenever Misty sees the thermos being taken out of the cupboard she starts getting antsy. She knows a Day Out or even a Half-Day is bound to follow.

Much to my surprise the weather has been mostly pleasant for the last few weeks, so the inside activities have been put on hold. Now that I have put this into the ether, as it were, we will no doubt get some wind and rain. Then it is time for the artwork and writing. How are you, dear Reader, getting on with your Autumn? I would be interested to know. And of course if you feel like sharing your views on heaven, then that would be fascinating too. (I’ll duck in case you feel like shouting – Heaven! Don’t be ridiculous.)

Blessings from Dalamory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An ideal picnic

b2016-09-idealpicnicA neighbour was lamenting how fast the year had gone by. Of course what he meant was that the summer was long gone. We stood round as elder-people do, commenting on the fact that time flies past more quickly with each succeeding year. I came home conscious of the fact that I had not done a blog post for a number of weeks; rectifying this has been one of the main things on my agenda for today. Hence this photograph. For me it represents the ideal picnic. Misty is included, we are warm and dry enough to sit outside and all is right with the world.

The trouble is that so often these days it is hard to concentrate on the good things in life. Newspapers scream of the latest atrocities in Aleppo or in the Scottish Parliament and positive items seem to get forgotten. I have dreams of writing opinion pieces on this blog which will lift spirits or somehow bump political heads together, then I crash down to reality as I come to terms with the horrible truth that as an individual I can make little difference. I think back to illustrations I have used in sermons about tiny drops of water wearing away concrete or stone, or snowflakes landing on the branch of a tree until the branch breaks. And I think of the medics in Syria and other war-torn areas struggling to make a difference, often under bombardment themselves and faced with shortages of even basic medical supplies and equipment. Then I feel ashamed, because it is all very well talking about practical help but quite another to roll up one’s sleeves and get on with it.

I’ve spoken before about my timidity in saying things as they are, because I am anxious about becoming the target of cyber-trolls. Then I get a measure of comfort because after all, people reading What’s the Story. . . . ? are more likely to be seeking a spot of whimsy or pictures of dogs or the beautiful Highland countryside.

My guess is that a lot of people cope by switching off the news or closing the paper. And in all honesty, who can blame them? People still have to earn a living, or find a purpose in each day or simply do the chores and feed themselves or loved ones. It’s difficult to do that whilst wallowing in empathetic  grief or helplessness. So I forgive myself and like a friend said to me today – think positive thoughts – a kind of prayer if ever there was.

Blog Gran3generations

This photo of the three generations of women (my mother, grandmother and self,) illustrates what my inner world has been like these last few weeks. Don’t think for a moment that I have gone quiet or been in sleep mode. I’ve been concentrating on the Dalamory Memoirs, and have reached the time just a few months before getting married. It has involved writing about some very difficult issues. Let’s face it, the relationship between mothers and daughters is often fraught with tantrums, disagreements and misunderstandings. Let me assure you they are not all mine. Anyway, it has also concentrated my mind in particular on the changing role of women in the world over the last fifty years or so.

Women suffer in all sorts of ways, just as women know great joy. But in these times of war crimes, death and destruction it seems to me that women and children bear an unequal burden. As a teenager I failed to understand how my parents’ generation could have allowed the tragedy of concentration camps. As a retired elder-person I know how it happened. It must have been a kind of helplessness coupled with a disbelief that people could be so cruel.  It is like that now. So somehow we have to grasp every day and live it the best way we can. And if we have a bad day, then we pick ourselves up and try to do better the next day.

That brings me back to the seasons slipping past. Autumn is here and inevitably it will be winter sooner that we think. Every September at the start of the new academic year I used to enjoy making pretty diagrams of plans for study and enjoyment and learning new things. Why should it be any different for a retiree?  I’m not so clever with my computer and pie-charts, but I could have a go at learning. As the nights draw in – and they are already – indoor hobbies and occupations become important. Perhaps I need a timetable for all the things I keep promising myself to do. This week’s big achievement is to get back to regular piano playing. There is a story there but it is for another time.

If you have managed to read this far, how about sharing something from your winter to-do list? Or your thoughts on how to cope with world events.

Blessings and positive thoughts from Dalamory to you and yours.

 

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