Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter's last fling

Another few days of heavy snowfall here, as we head into March.  The Winter fun has not yet diminshed for my two boys.  Yesterday, they both rushed outside for what could be the last fling of this season.
James has been getting much more confident in the snow, and it is he who throws the first snowball.
 Kenneth , being older by around 15 years, always has the advantage right now.  James is scooped up and carried, upside down, helpless with laughter to the coal bunker, where he almost has a snow shampoo. He is safe in his big brother's strong arms,though and the games continues.
It does get cold, so they come in to the warm.  Kenneth resumes his studying, and James helps to clean the dining table and chairs.  Lots of soapy bubbles and his own sponge - great fun for a boy.
Later, he had a long involved game, where he and his teddies sail off to the seaside at Stornoway (I think I might have chosen somewhere warmer, but it wasn't my game!)  There was a harbour, a harbour toyshop, golden sand, warm water, cold water, teddies in a boat (his old baby bath), and rocks.  The teddies often got into trouble on the high seas, and had to be rescued by the lifeboat.  Here he is splashing in the cold water. Dad was on hand as the go-fer, carrying out James' instructions (and you have to get them right!)

And here is James, 'dancing on the rocks with flags' 
It was a real privelege to watch such flourishing of this new, innocent imagination.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A week of mixed blessings

The week began with a springlike feel to it.  Pottering around the garden a bit, beginning to clear up the greenhouse after the hens' winter occupation.  As I emerged with a box of plant pots to be cleaned, my eye caught this wonderful juicy bud on the hydrangea bush.  My favourite flower - last year's dried blooms are still gracing my kitchen, and this year's are now on the way. Perfect nature.
The postman brought this package from a wonderful Mama. Thank you for sharing spring with us Denise, and for your beautiful blog - A Smile a Day.  We love to visit you for a daily smile. James loves the postman too - he brings lots of nice things to the house.

 A tasty Sunday breakfast of warm granola muffins got us off to a good start.

James agreed.

Then - in the middle of the week, it snowed!  Well, you'd never guess, but our snowman this time was an Ancient Roman senator!  It always surprises and delights me when the form of our snow figure reveals itself.  There was no mistaking it - he could even have been an emperor - possibly Nero, going by the shape.
Well, Nero isn't really the kind of chap you want hanging around your garden, so I was glad he had declined and fallen the next day.  Too much rain, you see.

So, the rest of the week has been pretty wet and we have been indoors a lot.  Much crafting has gone on - knitting of donkeys and hens, and a very blue eyed daffodil child appeared, ready for spring.
Tissue paper stars have begin to appear on conservatory windows.  We are hoping they will  keep the birds from hitting the glass windows once the babies start to fledge.  More colourful  than the sinister hawk shadow stickers we used last year., and hopefully they will be effective.

And, sadness at the end of the week, when my mother was admitted to hospital.  The cruel disease of dementia has been stealing her away from us bit by bit for several  years, but now she needs a lot more care and support. She wll stay in the assessment unit for possibly 6 - 8 weeks, and hopefully will be discharged into a local nursing home. We visited today and although  confused, she seemed fine, and enjoyed her time with James.  So, now we have to find a new rhythm which incorporates visiting with Gran - I'm sure we will pick it up if we listen hard enough. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In the night garden.

Looking for the moon.
There she is!
Dancing in the moonlight.
The Moon is over there now!
Do you think it's following us?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Something has survived....

Amazingly, some crops did manage to survive the harderst winter for how ever many years it was.  Pentland Brig Kale - no surprises there really - the hardiest one of all.  I like this one - a bit coarse, and needs a bit of chewing, but still there.  We should start getting some brocolli type spears on it soon, so it has earned its place for a month or two yet, and I think this will be the only kale I will plant this year.  I did grow more of the trendy cavolo nero, beloved of the Jamies and Nigellas of this world,  but they just weren't there when it mattered.
Just one small chard made it through.  Usually I can rely on this to give me some fresh greens well into the new year.  It does die back a bit, but normally revives ok - not this year though. I notice that this is a white one - the bright coloured ones all succumbed.
Spindly little garlic shoots poking up through the mulch there.  I am pleased with this showing, as they are quite a bit further on than this time last year.  I had a great crop last summer, but they are finished now, so i have planted twice as many this time.
And, of course, where would I be without leeks right now.  They feature on the house menu at least once a day at the moment - a truly splendid vegetable.  I grew them from seed too!  A mixture of Musselburgh and St Victor.  The Musselburgh are almost finished now, and the St Victor should be good until April - May.  they are my favourite, with their blue tinged leaves.  I notice in the foreground of this picture, you can see the sorry state of the cavolo nero - maybe I should move my garden to Tuscany.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Big Garden Birdwatch results

On 31st January we took part in a back garden birdwatch for the RSPB.  We had to watch the birds for 1 hour and then record the highest number of each species we saw at any one time.  We decided to watch for the hour after lunchtime - around 1.30 pm - 2.30 pm.  It was a bitterly cold day, but we had made sure all the bird feeders were well stocked up and the water dishes filled earlier that morning.  Business was slow, to say the least.  It was well into the first 15 minutes before we even saw a single bird, and you might have thought the little feathered ones knew what I was up to - sitting there, in the conservatory,  with my notepad, camera, and cup of tea - and stayed away on purpose.  Still, there were one or two flurries, so here are the results of our birdwatch.
Sparrows  - 7
Starlings  -   2
Blue Tits  -  1
Great Tits -   2
Blackbirds  - 3
Robin      -    1
 Dunnock   -   1 

The usual supsects really. - but nice to see them nonetheless.  Interesting that there were 2 male and 1 female blackbirds around, and I wondered if the males were plying their suit, as it were.  In any case, I noticed a lot of  to-ing and fro-ing  of blackbirds in one of the front hedges this morning!
The numbers were a bit lower than normal.  There is a pair of robins, at least 4 great tits and what seems like a whole flock of starlings usually swinging off those feeders.  I guess they had other commitments, it being Sunday and all.  Another interesting  wee fact - the word for starling in the Scottish Gaelic is druid!
Happy birding.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Morning snack.

A little garden elf found a secret den to have his morning snack.

But he wasn't too pleased with his mummy for sneaking up with her camera - oops!

Lenten thoughts

I like the idea of Lent.  Not in the usual giving up sweets for 6 weeks sort of way, but more as bringing awareness to the spiritual journey - a nourishing of the soul. It is a time of drawing inwards before the grand burst of Spring activity that is just around the corner.
I have been reflecting on how I care for the garden by composting, sowing, feeding, watering, weeding and allow resting by crop rotation, and the way the garden responds by providing fresh delicious food to nourish our bodies, flowers to brighten our days, and herbs to enhance our mealtimes or ease our discomforts, as well as being a pleasant place to sit, play or just be.
Being a mother is a bit like being a garden - it is Mother Earth after all, We feed and care for our children and families, striving to provide homes and lives full of love, peace, fun, laughter and beauty - and a safe space for them just to be.  
It's easy to become depleted and forget to care for ourselves, and I am guilty of doing that.  During this time, therefore, I intend to focus on how I can nurture myself more by getting enough rest,  being mindful of my diet and excercise need and honouring some quite time each day..  Simple things, but easily overlooked in the hurly burly of family life.Hopefully, my family will reap the benefits of this new well rested, nourished mama, and who knows what else may flower? Blessings.

For Meg.

Saw this and thought of you :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

But sometimes -

 - when boys are out walking on the Moss, they get a bit excited chasing their dog and fall in the peat bog.

Then they get soaked to the skin and their dad has to carry them home,

and then they have to take of their dripping wet clothes as soon as they get in the door, and head straight for a nice warm bath.

But it's ok, cos it's Shrove Tuesday, so Mum is making pancakes with eggs so fresh this morning they still had steam coming off them.
Lemon and sugar anyone?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love, hearts and candlelight

We don't normally do much in the way of Valentine decorations and such, but I have been inspired by so many wonderful blogs I've been reading lately to celebrate this time of love.  It's strange too, because my husband and i made our commitment to each other one Valentine's day, and we married in February too, so it is actually a romantic time for us. To make up for my previously puritan position,therefore, we have had an explosion of hearts and crafts in the house.  Food is always a good place to start when thinking about love and romance -so - we made shortbread jam hearts for tea.
James loves to help, but much of this involves him eating most of it "I'll just try a wee bit!" he says.  Oh well, quality control is an important part of the process.

James also got busy helping to make some tissue paper hearts to hang in the window and catch the light..

Who knows?  It may even encourage the garden birds to find romance.

We also made hearts from one of James' watercolours.  I saw a tutorial on Gardenmama's blog where she rubbed oil into one of the childrens' paintings to make it translucent and they made lanterns.  I thought it was a beautiful effect, so we copied it here.  It's hard to see in the photograph, but it does glow in the sunlight.

And all this love activity seemed to be catching.  Before i knew it, my 20 year old daughter was rummaging through the craft drawers looking for glitter, paint and coloured paper, to make her boyfriend a card and help James make cards for everyone.

and even my 18 year old chemistry major son took time out to create a mosaic heart card for his girlfriend!
I am delighted to find that romance is alive and well in this house.

Later on we had a small celebration of the Chines New Year, by lighting our homemade paper laterns on the season table.  We made these from oiled watercolours in the same way as the window hearts. Just to be safe (oil and fire is not really a good combinations) we put the candles into small glass jars inside the lanterns.  
Then we all enjoyed a Chinese meal for dinner, followed by our shortbread jam hearts for desert.
Kung Hoi Fat Choi

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love where you live

Another day, another walk.  Much closer to home this time. Our town is a fairly dingy, post-industrial /mining community, with many pockets of deprivation, but there re also pockets of beauty and stillness. We have a large extent of moss and heath land just a short walk away from the house.  James was keen to go for another walk, so after lunch we got kitted up and headed out. 

It is amazing to see how he is in nature - there is a pure joy about him that even the best playground can't quite bring out.

So, more piles of leaves.  "Mum - is it still autumn here?"

bouncing on the soft and springy heather,

lucky white heather too!
We loved the patterns of this sphagnum moss.

Wondering if there will be tadpoles yet.

And because we love where we live, we help to look after it by picking up any litter we find on the way home. James loves to help with this too.


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