Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow inspired

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

And it has!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Her father's daughter

Well, the snow arrived this weekend. Fortunately for me, not so early that I couldn't make it through to my mum and dad's for the weekend. And not enough to cause me to get stuck there. But enough to make the drive home ... interesting!
So having made it back to Stirling what's the first thing I did after sweeping the steps and unloading the car? Warm cup of tea? Light a fire? Make some soup?

No, none of those. I built a snowman of course! I truly am my father's daughter. And proud of it.

So, duty done now it's time to settle down with tea, fire, dvd and not venture out again until work forces me tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Chilly here but no real snow yet. Just an icing sugar dusting on the hills this morning, and some half hearted flurries first thing.

More cold weather forecast so perhaps some proper winter wonderland before too long.

Call me a big kid but I've always loved winter best. And snow most of all!

Monday, 22 November 2010

What If

If you can keep your money when governments about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust your neighbour when they trust not you
And they be very nosy too;
If you can await the warm delights of summer
Then summer comes and goes with sun not seen,
And pay so much for drinking water
Knowing that the water is unclean.

If you seek peace in times of war creation,
And you can see that oil merchants are to blame,
If you can meet a pimp or politician,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you cannot bear dis-united nations
And you think this new world order is a trick,
If you've ever tried to build good race relations,
And watch bad policing mess your work up quick.

If you can make one heap of all your savings
And risk buying a small house and plot,
Then sit back and watch the economy inflating
Then have to deal with the negative equity you've got;
If you can force your mind and body to continue
When all the social services have gone,
If you struggle on when there is nothing in you,
Except the knowledge that justice can be wrong.

If you can speak the truth to common people
Or walk with Kings and Queens and live no lie,
If you can see how power can be evil
And know that every censor is a spy;
If you can fill an unforgiving lifetime
With years of working hard to make ends meet,
You may not be wealthy but I am sure you will find
That you can hold your head high as you walk the streets.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

34 days and counting - apparently

Well, the festive season is well and truly on us I guess. Stirling switched on its Christmas lights this evening so it must be true.

And I'm valiantly trying to get organised! Amazingly I have actually bought a couple of presents but for the vast majority the furtherest I've got so far is to start a list!

Oh well, 33 days to get organised I suppose!

PS a big shout out today for Kerr and Laura who definitely went above and beyond the call of duty to prance around Stirling City centre today dressed very fetchingly as elves to publicise the lights switch on!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Cooking up a storm

As regular readers of my blog will now, I really enjoy cooking. It's one of my relaxations. Amazingly, after a tough day or week at work, I really do find comfort and calm from messing about in my kitchen and rustling up something to eat from whatever I can lay my hands on.

I must confess, however, I had got myself into a bit of a rut. Same old favourite recipes time after time. Last year, partly in celebration at being able to cook pretty much whatever I liked now that I was only catering for one and partly to get myself out of my rut, I started trying out new recipes again. I joined the local library with the express purpose of getting out cookery books and my Mum bought me a subscription to the fabulous Delicious magazine. And since then, I've been cooking up a storm.

There is something wonderful about creating your own food. One of my favourite things (yes, I'm that sad) is to do a whole batch of cooking, eat what I can manage that night and then divide the rest up into portions for the freezer. Sadly, what I'm not so good at doing is labelling what I've made so defrosted meals can sometimes be a bit of a voyage of discovery!

Probably another reason I do so much of my own cooking is that I have a food allergy - I can't tolerate much wheat. And I've found that the safest way to know that your food is allergen free is to choose and combine the ingredients yourself. It's amazing how much stuff wheat gets hidden in and unless you can be bothered to spend time reading ALL the labels, it really is quicker - and more fun - to make it from scratch yourself.

(Incidentally, if you love cooking too and haven't yet watched the film Julie and Julia, it's a must. Even if you don't love cooking, you'll probably love the film. Highly recommended.)

But there is one thing about cooking that I just can't stand - and that's the washing up! Sadly it's always there, waiting, lurking, doing it's best to spoil an otherwise joyful experience. In a kitchen as small as mine, there's no room for a mechanical dishwasher, and try as I might I just haven't managed to secure a replacement human one yet either!!

But still, it's not enough to spoil the Joy of Cooking altogether, and for the timebeing I'm quite happy to take the rough with the smooth and soldier on.

And if you're wondering, the dishes above are (respectively) Tray Baked Asian Crusted Salmon - with fillets bought from our local Farmers Market, yum; Asparagus and Spinach Quiche; and Gourmet Mushroom Pies, complete with homemade Rough Puff (gluten free) pastry.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Being a Quaker, I'm no big fan of military events, churches or pomp and ceremony, but I must admit today I was honoured to be part of our local Remembrance ceremony and lay a wreath on behalf of my work.

"When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today." 

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Being big

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
Nelson Mandela, 1994
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

No, it's not a blog post about weight or diet, or even about height. Other than perhaps in a metaphorical sense. This is a follow up to a couple of conversations I've had this week that have really got me thinking. 

The first was a discussion about power and abuse of power at a leadership development session I attended earlier in the week. Mostly when we talk about abuse of power, we tend to think about how people exercise a power to the detriment of those around them - but it's equally an abuse if the exercise of power (or perhaps talent?) is witheld. When inaction leads to less than satisfactory outcomes, the sins of omission and not just commision. 

The second was a very deep and philosophical discussion last night after half a bottle of bubbly with a good friend, about the moral imperative to 'be big', to stand up and be counted, to use and share your talents for the greater good, as well as for your own sanity and self worth.

And while both of these have got me thinking, I'm not quite sure where they're taking me. I blogged previously about the importance of being who you are, and allowing, encouraging others to be who they are too. It was also a post about coming to terms with who you are and embracing it. What I'm now starting to think about is whether or not I use the talents that I have to the best of my abilities and to the greater good (oh dear, that sounds really pompous but as someone who strongly believes in public value and the importance of having a moral purpose, that's a real driving force for me). 

No conclusions yet but a different set of thoughts to follow for a while. If I get anywhere I'll share it with you, in the meantime, feel free to ponder on this set of issues and decide for yourself whether it's a challenge you want to take on/are already taking on. 

"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
Matthew 5:15 

Birds of a feather ...

Flock together.

What better way to end the week than 2 rounds of fun times with good friends?

Round 1: coffee and chat with friends at work instead of the 'serious' meeting we were supposed to have.

Round 2: champagne, food and gossip with another friend.

And in between, the opportunity to present awards for achievement to some very special people whose endeavours put me to shame.

What a great start to the weekend!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Euphemistically yours

A euphemism is (according to Wikipedia), a:

"substitution for an expression that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the receiver, using instead an agreeable or less offensive expression"
According to the less reverent (if that's the opposite of irreverent - incidentally, one of my unique qualities according to my boss. Hmm, not sure about that as a good reference comment!) Urban Dictionary, it's also variously defined as:

"the substitution of a milder, vaguer word or expression for one considered to be offensive or unpleasant"
"trying to make the mean things you say sound nicer by using different words"
As in, Let's be friends instead of, You're kidding, not even with a paper bag on your head!

Some of my favourite euphemisms are
  • 'falling pregnant' - which makes it sound like you can just trip in the street and whoops, there you go, pregnant again (or with child if you prefer). You could always be expecting or have a bun in the oven instead.
  • tired and emotional - sounds so much better than p*ssed. Thank you, Private Eye!
  • sleeping with - although it's a bit of a dim memory at the moment, I seem to remember, if it's at all worthwhile, not a lot of sleeping gets done. 
  • calling on Huey, or for my non-Scottish readers, talking to God on the great white telephone, losing your lunch, or (apparently) blowing chunks. 
  • Gardening leave
What about you? Any particular favourites you want to share?

But be warned, if you feel like doing a Google search for some choice examples and are of a delicate disposition, don't! Perhaps not unsurprisingly most of the euphemisms relate to matters of a sexual nature, or indeed intimate bodily functions (she said euphemistically!). On the other hand, if you want to broaden your education, go ahead, have fun with Google!!

Friday, 5 November 2010

They were all yellow

Well, it was another grey, wet and rainy day today. But, do you know what? Not for me it wasn't.

I had the same weather as everyone else of course, but I decided it wasn't going to get to me. And I don't mean, get to me in the same way as it got to me yesterday as I struggled home from Edinburgh up the Royal Mile in the pouring rain and then home from Stirling station in the torrential downpour that graced central Scotland yesterday evening.

No, I mean get to me as in make me grumpy and sad. All I had to do was look out of my window at this ray of light and my heart lifted. That, and the fact that it was Friday and my day started well, I had time for lunch (even if I did have to sit on my own) and I also had time (and company) for coffee.

I may only have got one thing done. It may have rained most of the day. I may not have been invited to a firework party this evening. I may be super exhausted. I may have had some grumpy moments.

But, on the whole, life is good. And that's good enough for me.

After all, look how they shine for you. And all the things that you do.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A poem lovely as a tree

Waiting to go
all the leaves want to go
though they have achieved
their kingly robes.

Weary of colours,
they think of black earth,
they think of
white snow.

Stealthily, delicately
as a safebreaker
they unlock themselves
from branches.

And from their royal towers
they sift silently down
to become part of
the proleteriat of mud.

(Autumn, Norman MacCaig)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Routes to work

Can I just say,  isn't this a great sight to see on my way to work?

Unfortunately the photo doesn't really do the colours justice. But suffice to say, I walked on a golden carpet to work today!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Happy Monday/Blue Monday

Rainbow over the Craigs roundabout

Well, apparently yesterday was the most depressing day of the year here in the UK - the day after the clocks change for the end of British Summer Time, when the evenings start getting really dark, the weather gets cold and wet and even the golden leaves of autumn start disappearing. 

After a gorgeous start to the day, even the weather seemed to have had enough with the early sunshine soon overtaken by wave upon wave of heavy wet rain.

(By the way, for interested readers, while popular fiction is that the Inuit language has several hundred words for snow, I firmly believe that we have far more words for rain here in Scotland - and for the same metereological reason as the Inuit and snow - there's just so damn much of it!!)

My mood decided to try to follow suit. I was heading for a depression of a similar magnitude to the one undoubtedly causing our lovely 1st November weather, when I remembered only the day before I had given in to silliness - and whilst baking a tasty (but not particularly attractive) pear and ginger cake I'd finally got round to listening to my new Monty Python Sings album (thanks Frances for the idea!).

I mean, I ask you - who could ever remain depressed and at the same time listen to such classics as Every Sperm is Sacred, I Like Chinese and Knights of the Round Table? If you're not laughing out loud, you're wondering how on earth they got away with lyrics like those!

PS The photo wasn't taken yesterday - the rain was much heavier than that and there were definitely no rainbows - but I like the pic, and it's especially for my good friend Kitty - the cheeriest person I know - and her rainbow project.