Tuesday, 31 March 2009

40::35 Colour

Living in the Scotland Highlands, is not the most cosmopolitan experience in the world, but from time to time I meet up with a group of Spanish speaking pals (from Latin America, Spain and Scotland) to stop my Spanish from disappearing entirely. One of friends is from Chile and her home is full of beautiful artwork, but I do love the mosaics made by her mother when she comes to visit. She gets the children involved too and many have made their home in the garden, which seems a great way to brighten things up while you are waiting for winter to pass . Colourful and cheery.

All the boys played outdoors in spring sunshine, but the ladies got down to some serious crafting at the kitchen table (of course). What were we up to? Tune in tomorrow for some 1st of April silliness...

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Monday, 30 March 2009

40::34 Hang Loose

Surely a vital part of growth is time that is unplanned, unscheduled and undemanding. I am SO happy to have my boys home from school/nursery for Easter holidays. It feels like we can break free from our usual routine and just potter. I asked them what things they would like to do, which includes modest requests for train rides and swimming - but also (Oh my heart filled with love!) helping Papa bring in the logs and helping Mummy set the table. So we will do those things, and see friends too, but I picture a lot of time spent with water, sticks and mud.

Watching spring unfurl. Watching birds. Watching a few favourite films.

Nurturing our little seedlings. And breaking the rules a little - who says you can't cook and craft at the same time?

We're taking this gift with both hands!

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Sunday, 29 March 2009

40::33 Violence

During Lent I have been reading a few good things, including the wonderful Plough magazine, which usually has a series of articles, poems, songs, beautiful artwork and book reviews for Plough Publishing. I always find it thought provoking and profound. It has raised the question of the nature of violence and evil, in very different ways, such as a report about Rwanda. Although I often encounter, especially at L'Arche, great beauty and generosity of love, there is in all of us a brokeness which sometimes errupts into a violence of words or actions.
This weekend has left me deeply saddened by a front page article in a regional newspaper. It is about my son's school, or rather, some of the parents of the children at the school. In line with much journalism, it is innacurate and sensational, and yet there are grains of truth. Rumours have circulated, stories passed from one person to another, positions staked out. Trust and relationships break down and the trivial becomes a matter of public arguement and deep hurt.
Violence makes its way into the lives of my children, sometimes through things they are given or exposed to in the playground. Of course, children need to play and be heros, but we also want to teach them a gentle and thoughtful way of living.
From The Plough:
" The question that faces each of us is "Where do I stand when confronted by the power of evil?" We have to confront evil in the small things that happen each day - in the grudges, unforgiveness, self-pity, self-seeking or self gratification that we cling to...We need to take a stand, but ultimately we cannot help ourselves. That is the message of Easter. As J. Heinrich Arnold writes...'Christ died on the cross to break the curse of evil and vanquish it for once and for all. If we do not believe in the power of evil, we cannot comprehend this. Until we realize that the main reason for his coming to earth was to do this on our behalf - to free us from the powers of darkness - we will never fully understand our need for the cross.' "
I hope you'll forgive the sermon - it is Sunday after all! But when horrible stuff comes to the surface, it challenges me, and makes me realise how fragile we are.
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Saturday, 28 March 2009

40::32 Moving in Closer

Taking time to think, to look hard at things, seeing the details, asking the questions.
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Friday, 27 March 2009

40::31 Food for the Journey

Well, I hope I'll be forgiven for showing the reality of our breakfast table - thankfully I'm the one with the camera! But as I sat there in my usual pre-10 a.m. fog, I found myself thinking about what sustains me. And of course, this being Lent and everything, we are looking to be sustained spiritually, hence some decent breakfast reading matter. But it also being a particularly foul March day, and looking forward to welcoming a friend from L'Arche, I also thought about good everyday food, which keeps us going and sticks to our ribs...(not thighs, I hope...ahem). Breakfast was a good starter - as ever, Perfect Bread, toasted. Today's had a few dried cranberries and chopped brazil nuts in. I threw some into the dough of one of our loaves during the last baking. And if I say so myself, it was very nice. Good for when there might not be any jam, or when you're being good and not eating cake - two sad occasions indeed.

There was a bit of reading on the other side of the table too - a shared interest in some beautifully drawn French manga.

And later on, for our guest (and many guests), some very simple flapjacks, enriched with a few healthy goodies. A friend asked me for a simple recipe to make with children. This, I think may be it. It is my tried and tested, throw-in-the-oven-in-5-minutes, drat-I-forgot-I-said-I'd-bring-baking, recipe. Perfect too for lunchboxes, picnics and journeying. And if it all crumbles it makes superior cereal, with yoghurt. Sorry, I'm making myself hungry! Here goes:

250g oats

150g butter, marg or vegan spread, whatever takes your fancy

75g golden syrup

75g sugar

25g each of some of the following: raisins, dried cranberries, ready to eat dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes etc.

Preheat your oven to 175 C/350 F/Gas 4/165 fan oven.Grease and line an 8"x 8" cake tin. I find it's good to just cut a bit of baking paper to line the base and extend up the sides about halfway to get them out easily.Melt the butter, sugar & golden syrup together. I usually do this in a pyrex jug in the microwave, on full power for 2 minutes, but you can do it on the hob in small saucepan, stirring all the time.Then just mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl and add the butter mix, stirring everything together. Slap into the cake tin and bung it in the oven. That's it. They will be ready when nicely browned on top. About 25-30 minutes (20 for a fan oven). Remove from the oven and cut in squares in the tin. Allow to cool - if at all possible...

I wanted to post another recipe, one of our best ever dinners, which has my youngest consuming loads of vegetables quite happily - truly a miracle, but right now it's obvious he just wants to get on and eat it! I hope you enjoy your dinner too!

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Thursday, 26 March 2009

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

40::29 Frayed

A very full week, and I'm pretty weary...but hanging in there.
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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

40::28 Community

Here are a few of 'my' people: from our L'Arche Community. We gathered tonight to eat, share news, welcome visitors, sing a bit, pray...

Our shared experience is so simple, but so vital. It's a place for me to be truly comfortable, to be myself, share food, laughter and joy. We don't always do much, but we do a lot of being together. I often sense God among us.

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Monday, 23 March 2009

40::27 Internal Fire

Without warning, a sudden temparature drop, and it was snowing again this morning. Bah! Just as I'm relishing the warmth and sun. So if it's foul and freezing outdoors, there's no reason for it to be like that inside. Create warmth, bring in sunshine colours and light the fire...

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Sunday, 22 March 2009

40::26 Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day! I've had a lovely day being treated by my family to a wonderful breakfast in bed (fruit salad and almond croissant - mmm), no cooking or dishwashing (utter bliss) and some sweet handmade cards. Most unexpected present came from my oldest son - "Close your eyes, hold my hand...SURPRISE!!". Surprise indeed, he had tidied his bedroom, a very fine treat indeed. He was pleased with himself and I was almost overcome with love...

I've also been remembering my wonderful Mum. I love this picture of her taken in the 50s when she was pregnant with my big sister. Now I'm a mother, I am so aware of what an amazing person she was, and so thankful for her.

This afternoon we spent an hour or two looking at the boys baby videos, which amused them greatly and made us all clucky and tender. How tired we looked! But what wonderful memories of tiny toes and fingers, first little smiles and baby cooing.
Today reminds me how precious is all of human life. A gift.
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Saturday, 21 March 2009

40::25 Sowing Goodness

In some beautiful spring weather my small helper and I have been busy sowing seeds and building a raised bed for some salad veg. It's an act of faith - the growing season is short, the garden windy and at altitude, slugs abound and deer are waiting in the wood. Will we get so much as a lettuce? I just don't know, but I know it's always worth trying to sow some goodness, and the process is certainly a lot of fun.

I love his instant garden - cress and a crocus, carefully picked and 'planted'...

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Friday, 20 March 2009

40::24 Journey

I spent the whole day travelling to and from Edinburgh on the train - oh glorious weather! The Highland were even more lovely than usual. And this latest angel spent her day in a shoebox (poor soul!) on a journey to a sweet baby girl living on the Isle of Tiree, far out from the west coast of Scotland. What's your journey?
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Thursday, 19 March 2009

40::23 Welcome the Light

For those of us living in the far north, the lengthening of the days comes as a profound relief. The delicate early morning sunshine calls me out of the house. In peaceful solitude I can walk, think, drift and reflect, sometimes aware of God's presence in the quietness. Not that it's silent; woodpeckers tap away furiously, sheep baa, cockerels crow and the spring birds are at their exhuberent best.
All are waking. Welcome Light.
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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

40::22 Pride

I know, pride is not always a good thing, but today I was so proud of my boy and his friends, who came together just a few weeks ago to form a Gaelic youth choir. Many of them are very young and have have had to learn some very complicated songs by ear. And they won their first ever competition in the Inverness Music Festival! And my wee lad is quite shy so it was just wonderful to see him quietly pleased with himself.

And I'm proud too, that all the girls wore one of my flower badges...

Not very Lent-like is it? But it is good to celebrate the gifts we have.
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