Saturday, 31 October 2009

October 2009...

... is ending so much more pleasantly than September 2009 and Multitude Monday this week will not be hard to compile. So for now, the winner of tonight's Fancy Dress had to be...

...Saint K! Seen here celebrating her success with Husband of Saint K:

Unfortunately someone splashed her with water; sorry, K!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Bean Craftin'? No, Bean Half-term...

Dressing-up is not just for childen! May I present the four Beans, from left: Jelly Bean, Baked Bean, Green Bean and (behind camera) French Bean! Cunningly disguised as Goth, Cat, Casper and Professor McGonagle! We even have our own group on Ravelry! Happy Hallowe'en to us all!

Thursday, 29 October 2009


This was my weekend read in the stormy mountains and oh my goodness a more harrowing read you could not have this week. No scary monsters, ghosts or giant flying bats needed here. This is the grisly tale of "what man can do to man", or rather what woman can do to woman, or what power can do to the individual.

Fabulous. Thanks to Crafting Catherine for lending it to me- it's coming back soon!

Pure, clean lines of language; landscapes horrific in their descriptions and imagery- the heron haunted me from that opening paragraph; and a harrowing, harrowing narrative. It reminded me of nothing more than the original Wicker Man movie. That light-handed, wistful humour nonetheless survives in a very succinct story leaves me most impressed.

And for those of you who would still require a ghoul this season there is the irrepressible "rapper" of a poltergeist...

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Danse macabre

It's a shame that the title of this so so so wonderful music should be quite so dark! We listened to it all weekend (and Prince Charming lamented Jonathan Creek for pretty much the same period of time), and no better sound-track for a weekend in the stormy, stormy mountains.

Still haven't sorted out a Flickr account for my Bench Monday efforts!

Suns with sound priorities found a nice, flat, table stone for snack- have a break, have a ...

This is the point in Tollymore where the Spinkwee and the Shimna rivers meet. Another two great forces of nature came together there as well!

But we're back home now, and..

it's time for the real business of the week...

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The soup kitchen

Home from the mountains, and time to cook! Mushroom soup, pumpkin soup, and three big portions of stew.

Only one real possibility for a bedtime story...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

38 Sleeps

What I want to be posting are pictures of my Crochet Beanie for Mattman that is coming on beautifully now that I've had my expert tuition from my Friends Who Really Do Craft. Or even photos from Crafting Lorna's birthday tea party in the Bean yesterday morning where said tutorial took place. A great moment!

What I want to be posting are descriptions of how precious it is to have Crafting Lorna, Crafting Niqi and Crafting Catherine who are always there in the Bean at some overlapping point in the morning, with whom to drink green tea, or gingerbread steamers, to solve the problems of the Land of the Tearful Strawberries and beyond, to crochet, knit and sew. Or even the excitement of finally finding a name that fits, thanks only to Crafting Lorna who had the scintillating wit to propose "Bean Craftin'". Great moments.

What I will, however, post is the panic of this moment! Having got down the dusty and neglected calendar I discover not how many shopping days are left, or how many weeks are left in which to order a turkey, because my butcher has already scared me with that. Worse still.

There are only 38 sleeps until the day of Preparing for Advent. A wonderful idea hatched by Cooking Catherine last week. We will double-handedly hold a day of cooking, craft, quiet and Christ- I can't wait. It will be beautiful, not least because she's hosting it in her beautiful house! But still, ten places, one cookery slot (Ckng Catherine), one craft slot (Crftng Catherine and Niqi!), two meditations (Mags).

38 sleeps!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Joy- or Mattman works magic

Today was the first day in a very long time that I could passionately, honestly, proudly declare to have been joyous! The main catalyst- Mattman had a great day at school. And the angels sang... Positive comments in his reading diary, 63/65 on a word recognition test, not one but two anecdotes from class where he was the hero, and the broadest, most beautiful smile on his face when he came straight to me from the school door. All good!

Swiftly followed by a good swimming lesson, brilliant homework and impressively grown-up choices and conversations right up until bedtime. Joy! We sat for a while before getting into the Mental Maths, playing with his Cuisenaire rods. And he was full of theory, accuracy, pattern. It has been fabulous after these last two months to enjoy him unreservedly. The road ahead may still be long, as my spring-born boy glides blissfully unaware through the set targets and tick boxes of school, but days like today help. Enormously!

Lots of patterns in the garden today as well- we did all manage to get there for a kick amongst the leaves in the midst of our engagements! Phone photos do not do colour justice to the autumnal riot taking place outside the dining room window, so you'll just have to come and drink tea there instead...

holy experience

41. The excitement of planning a Preparing for Advent day with Cooking Catherine- book one of ten places now! Cooking, craft, quiet and Christ.
42. Mattman's great enthusiasm, and concentration, in his piano lessons.
43. Jojo's appearing at my side tonight- I'm cross with you, Mummy, because you didn't snuggle me in my bed.
44. The resounding worship in Whiteabbey Presbyterian this morning.
45. Meeting long unseen friends there- and I don't mean you, Crafting Catherine!
46. Can I have the little house in the Mournes again?
46b. Just in case- pumpkin soup with friends.
47. Pumpkins- we only see them once a year, and for such a short time!
48. The discipline of being grateful, and the challenges.
49. This little house in suburbia, still big enough for us.
50. The strange bouleversement of Prince Charming, through the Beattie's loss. There is a pregnant mystery of change in him.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

The beauty of the morning..

..and the afternoon and the evening and the night! Oh but this week has been awesomely, speechlessly, painfully beautiful! The sheer pleasure of driving down the road, up the road, round the roads- or not the roads per se, but the trees alongside, under the sharp blue sky, in the warm scented air. Autumn in the suburbs, not quite New England (or even the blissfully remembered Madison, Indiana) in the Fall, but Eden enough for me!

And I have no photos of the uncapturable, just some shots of preparations for friends coming to dinner. Edwin and Marjorie. Erudite, musical, genteel friends who made the piano sing, the suns laugh and us happy! Thank you!

Pumpkin soup with homemade bread (from Cooking Catherine's on-indefinite-loan bread-maker), lazy Chicken, cheeseboard, rhubarb crumble and custard. Miam miam... Happy Autumn!

ps I realise on reading that the emphasis is on driving through the trees- yes, only Prince Charming did the school walk this week, and me so incensed about the Polar ice-cap...

Monday, 12 October 2009


The title for my blog (itself a product of Crafting Catherine's goading...) came about because Prince Charming had taken fabulous pictures of our strawberry patch just after he'd watered it one day this summer. The tear drops of water clinging precariously to the tips of the fruit made us laugh, and the title was thus instantly there when Catherine demanded one!

I hadn't deliberately wanted to sum up our existence in this house- a little family lurching fron one crisis to another, whether the crisis be mundane or really quite distressing. The allegory of strawberries and suns both came gradually, but made me smile as well.

And that's about as far as my philosophy goes these days, smiling as much as life allows, or maybe smiling in affirmation of the precious, fragile beauty of it all. So here's a fortnight-late thanks offering, covering Mattman's hospital admission and discharge during the last week, as well as the painful loss of Carole Beattie. Whose parents will always make me smile.

holy experience

31. A well-recovered Mattman
32. The smiling bubbling phenomenon that was Carole Beattie
33. The wisdom worship that is Prince Charming
34. The gorgeous feast of Autumn this year
35. A journey home that takes you along the Lough
36. Piano lessons with Rowan!
37. A little house in the Mournes to look forward to at Hallowe'en
38. A car that is nearly ready for its MOT (today..)
39. Mothers' Union tonight
40. The sound of PC coming back in through the front door

Friday, 2 October 2009

Shh! It's all quiet and cosy here! Suns asleep, party debris long cleared away; autumn can creep in through the door now that the birthday has been and gone! No pictures, just words whispered into the ear of a future me who might wonder what was happening around these parts in the dusk of another year! Ergo just to say that I'm off on a volunteers' residential tomorrow- overnight in a hotel perched on the cliffs where Finn McCool first threw rocks at an enemy. Getting in touch with my Northern Irish heritage indeed! I'm taking a good book and some knitting, for brief breaks between sessions or in case carousing gets too much for me tomorrow night! And Prince Charming has given me my pocket money for a little trip to the National Trust shop next door! There will be lots of talking, thinking, weather and mostly eating, I think. Just what a doctor might have ordered...

Thursday, 1 October 2009


Obviously much celebration about the Land of the Strawberries today! Which has been fantastic for many reasons, not least because of the sheer volume of lachrymose activity that has culminated this week.

So, Jojo has accomplished five years of being beautiful and blessed. He has weathered his storms, most of them in that black time that we can now refer to as 2008 because it is receding gradually into time and can be classified away somewhere in kind. More true to his name than we might have imagined five years ago he has indeed been strong and very courageous. (We still mimic Dr Livingstone's heavily English accented, "You're very brave!" But do so less and less!)

And I have accomplished the survival of September 2009! Here were some of the best bits- in a "count your blessings" sacrifice cum faith thing...

Happy St Patrick's Day!

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