Friday, June 26, 2009

Surprises in the Garden

A warm day up here brings out everything. I was drawn to the garden. The sun was so warm that my snuggled up in my lap cat sought the shelter of the bushes at the back of one of the unweeded flower beds in the walled garden. I suspect I'll be combing goosegrass seeds out of her fur this evening, but the warm earth and the cool leaves are worth it not doubt to her and certainly to me. I won;t even chide myself (much) for having an entire bed unweeded so that pesky goosegrass can have its way with her.

The long days make for rapid growth in this time of year, so my foxgloves have gone from a single tentative stem to several well developed flower heads.
Posted by Picasa

I spotted this little guy in the flower bed on the other side of the walled garden. I don;t recall making her acquaintance. If anyone can give her a name, I'd be grateful.

This iris started blooming the other day--a nice surprise. I thought the iris were so close together an possibly overcome with iris borer or slugs that they could never bloom, but this is one of the loveliest iris I have ever seen. And, when I went to photograph it, I discover it has an incredibly wonderful fragrance as well. If anyone can give me a name for this, I would appreicate that very much, too.

As we prepare for the "flit", I am taking cuttings or thinning bulbs or genrally trying to tidy up the garden and prepare for re starting from scratch. It makes me sadder to leave the garden than to leave the house.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 22, 2009

Joanna's Cloud

Joanna and I were looking at the beach around Castletown in the long twilight recently. She saw this cloud and asked me to photograph it for her. We laughed because I was filling in for her daughter, Adrienne, who had been photographing very nearly everything. I know the feeling. The broad horizons, the shifting patterns of light on water, the dance of clouds and light are all too delicious and the thought of leaving them behind or not being able to share them prompts one to try to catch at least a hint of them in a photo.

The glowering grey of this cloud suggests that it was overcast or that a storm was imminent, but the rest of the sky was clear and the weather was mild. In fact, the shot to the left of this was a fragment of the lovely full-colour rainbows we got up here--you can see all the way to the V of the ROYGBIV (red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet for those of you who did not learn that particular acronym).

I did not ask Joanna why it was this cloud appealed to her. I don't recall why--perhaps because I, too, liked it; perhaps because I cheerfully did something just because she asked; perhaps, and most likely, because we were talking so fast and on so many levels that the moment passed and we were on to something else. We always talk fast; and we talked even faster knowing that our time together was brief.

When Joanna returned to the States, I got an email saying that they were back safely but that her mother was in hospital. The image of the storm cloud landed on me. Was it some sort of sense of impending doom? Serious illness does silly things to our thinking.

So for a few days now I have been under this cloud, so to speak. Worried about Joanna and Adrienne as they face this worry with thier mother and grandmother, and aching for their mother whom I know in her own right. There is a peculiar ache in worrying about friends at a distance: It is both easier to forget and yet harder to let go of because you can do so little about it from a distance.

As I dozed in bed this morning, BBC Four broadcast their "Thought for the Day". These prayers/thoughts/stories are always interesting, especially in a multiculutral society, so I listen and always take something away from them. This morning's was about the useless agitation we cause ourselves worrying along with a reminder of the toll it can take not only on us but also on our friends and loved ones. Along with the advice to put our own concerns into perspective and to give the big ones up to God, came the simpler easier advice to recognize that there is "much sanity in small tasks."

So I will line up all the nagging tasks that have too long needed doing and get on with them today. It may do nothing for Joanna's cloud, but I will reclaim some peace of mind to free me for whatever else comes my way and I will at least get some small order in my own wee corner of the universe.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 18, 2009

To Inverness Again

Inverness is already such a long way from Edinburgh that most official events for the Highlands and Islands--a region nearly as large as the rest of Scotland combined--take place there. I have gotten accustomed to a 120 mile trip (each way) in a day for hospital visits or collecting friends from the airport, or workshops. Yesterday was easy because my friend did all the driving, the weather was mostly pleasant, and the event was very rewarding.

Having discovered that getting published is not an impossible obstacle, but getting paid for it just might be, I have turned to Plan B, which is a sort of amorphous combination of crafting and writing and administration with some teaching thrown into the mix. That's why I was in Inverness at a HI-Arts workshop on crafting. And that is why I'll write a review of the day for them. The administrative part will follow.

I am hoping to take my cubicle-world experience, my fondness for almost anything textile, and my need/talent to write and make some sort of living out of it all. It must be the Highland air has gone to my head.

Craftscotland is an audience development agency. They want to get folks who have not thought about buying crafts--textile, jewelery, furniture, books, to think about buying them. And they want crafters to have some support and recognition. They are willing to wade in with media campaigns--in the jargon of the audience development biz--"forward facing" and then sector-facing. With crafters being the sector. I don't think I'll extend the forward facing metaphor too far. All the HI Arts craftscotland folks seemed both very energetic and willing to take on the job of actually listening to the folks they want to support.

It was a great day. Now I have a stack of handouts, a pocketful of business cards, some CDs and a headful of ideas. Now it's my turn to get down to work.

You can check out some of their ideas/activities here:

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Two Butterflies in Garden

It might actually be the same hardworking Small Tortoiseshell, who, according to my "Butterflies of the Highlands" can "be seen in any month of the year in almost any habitat". Well I thinkshe gives a great deal of class to the phrase, "common ordinary, garden variety."

Perhaps you are old enough to remember the toll that DDT took on butterflies. There was a time in my life when there were butterflies--lots of them--and then there were not. After DDT was banned, they were back again. That small taster of life without butterflies was enough to commit me to doing my little bit to make the world a place where butterflies could survive--if not flourish, so naturally when the countryside rangers up here asked for help to encourage butterflies (and bumblebees), I was tagging along trying to learn.

So for those of you with a fondness for butterflies or a more sophisticated knowledge of the economics of ecology, here's a wee contribution from my corner of the world and an invitation to look after the butterflies and the bumblebees where you are now.

Posted by Picasa

A Tomato Named Molly

My friend Joanna is somewhere over the Atlantic en route with her daughter to visit us here. I have been cleaning and sorting like mad. My friend Heather has worked even harder than usual to make the place tidy, but there are so many things that still need doing.

As I wrestled with nettles and goosegrass in the garden in anticipation of Joanna's arrival, I started thinking about some of our shared experiences. I love gardening; Joanna didn't. She decided, however, one season, to see what I was so excited about. We dug the hard clay soil around the edge of her back yard. I forget what we planted, but I remember it mnade Joanna happy and we had some good laughs over it.

From time to time, she would mention her garden, but I did not get out to her house all that season. Finally, in triumph she announced that she had a tomato--not a tomato plant, mind you, a tomato. In her affection and admiration, she named it. She named her tomato, Molly. I am not sure why, but it seems a good enough name for a tomato.

I think Joanna ate Molly and enjoyed it. I thought that she was now a converted gardener. I mentioned at the end of the season, "We need to look at what you want to do next year and see about ordering seeds." "Next year?" Joanna responded. I nodded, realizing that something was not connecting. "Oh, I thought that was it for gardening."

Well, one tomato does not make a garden for me, but apparently it does for Joanna, and I suppose there is a logic in retiring at the top of your game.

Labels: , ,

From my Garden

It is much easier to remove weeds with my camera than by hand, so after some old fashioned weeding, I took the easy way out.

Posted by Picasa

We are supposed to be monitoring and encouraging moths and butterflies, so I'll get my handout and give this guy a proper name later. For now, a quick cup of tea or juice and then back to work with the real weeding.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Learning about Photos

Posted by Picasa

The easy way is not always the best way. I should know that by now. Not to mention feeling chuffed about technology. That was hubris and I was punished for it. When a friend asked for photos from the walk I sent them off thinking I was clever only to discover that the easy way with photos that I had been using broke them up into so few pixels that it was like getting only half a science officer through the transporter beam--and we all know what that leads to.

So I'll go back to the drawing board with my camera and apply what I learned from him to my next batch of photos. In the meantime, my northern marsh orchid can strut her pixels online.