Saturday, 28 February 2015

Late again

 I did take views from my window on Thursday, Jane! I did, honest. It's just that, as usual, good ideas don't immediately materialise into anything in my land! I got home from school on Thursday in thrall with the blue skies and light afternoon and also absolutely shattered. I curled up under Ripple and let the suns shine wheresoe'er they pleased, as long as it wasn't too close to the green sofa... Half of the house has been sick this week, and a quarter of it is off on his first school trip next week, so it's been a tad fraught!

Days in the Frozen North are starting to whisper Spring in their lengthening, despite the fact that on Thursday the warm sun was punctuated by two very heavy snow storms that swept over the Lough. The wind that blew them in was so strong that the snow snowed upwards. And then suddenly it was all gone. Spring will come!
 Here's a view from just inside the window; friends have just delivered it. They made us a family coat of arms for the Meadowplace! It is very humbling to see yourself reflected in others' opinion of you, especially if you fare quite well therein! I don't see the huffing and puffing and thumping and bumping in this (not so) little work of art, but then I suppose neither do they! I'd like to think that Jesus was at the centre of who we are, and that hospitality is a sign of the Kingdom here, but maybe this will hold us that bit more accountable to the ideal.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Pause in Lent

I love Lent. I love it more and more with every year that goes by in its whirl. Suddenly the boys are one year bigger, I am one year older, and we have survived another chunk of chaotic family life. Suddenly, just as Winter threatens never to release the hard earth from its cold grip, there remains light in the sky at dinner time, I'm not pulling on a hat as soon as soon I have to go outside, and I don't phone my parents to make sure they're not venturing outside on slippy pavements.

Then suddenly too I can open my Feast for Lent and come home. That's the overwhelming sense I have this Lent. A great joy at the prospect of being back in the desert for forty days and forty nights with Jesus, just Jesus. I don't have to put up a tree for this festival, evergreen or with egg-decked branches. I don't have to write shopping lists for presents and food. I don't have to roast a beast or present a gasp inducing dessert. My children are not saying with their mouths that it's all about Jesus while salivating in their minds over presents and chocolate eggs.

Lent is still in its right place! I know that it's obviously very common for all and sundry to give up smoking, wine, chocolate digestives and facebook, but there's no materialism involved in that decision. It springs from some understanding that these weeks before Easter are about overcoming temptation and being better people. I do annoyingly persist in asking such friends if they are using the time they save, or the urges they experience, to think more about God.

Delia says, "Let us approach our Lenten acts of self-denial with the right sort of attitude, an attitude which will allow the Lord into some of our problem areas, to rescue us and save us. As we prepare to celebrate the Lord's triumph over sin and death in the Resurrection, let us understand that this can happen in each and every one of our lives, whoever we are, whatever kinds of problems we have."

Lest this reads as sanctimonious sermonising I will say that I have deactivated my own facebook account and can now get real things done! I will state that I am determined to get through all the readings this year- and that will be a first in the many, many years since I bought Feast! I will confess that part of the comfort in being back in the desert is to look at the Lent notebook that I keep with the book and see that many of the same worries that I have are addressed year after year and graciously and generously and with the great compassionate love of our God that Delia dwells on so beautifully throughout.

Happy Lent x

Monday, 16 February 2015

Not very Valentine views

 I think I get worse and worse at getting things done, but here are some views from last week! This tree does display signs of Spring with lots of buds. I have lots of time to observe its progress as it lives outside our piano teacher's front door and I spend enough time every week waiting for two of her pupils! This was Wednesday.
 This was Thursday and is a view from my school. Our Prince's Trust group was planting hanging baskets, and it was actually a really good activity for kids of their attention/ability. I thought I'd get a picture before they are taken outside to do battle with the weather and the footballs.
And this was Thursday back at the Meadowplace. We are starting to see some hope of Spring finally. Not least in the sheer fact that this photo was taken not long before five o'clock in the evening and look at how dark it isn't yet. Prince Charming has spent much of the weekend out there digging through the weeds. Sandra, our snow was completely gone in a day.

Badger must be feeling some stirrings of new energy too, because he decided to leave the Burrow and find out what the noise was all about. Some new friends he approved of...
And others he did not.
Not sure what he made of his climbing session, but I am sure that he is not finding this a very hygge home. His arrival has really made me think about this new place of ours. It just doesn't have quite the cosy feel that you would want over these winter months and that is something I need to address for our second winter here!
The one room I find myself nestling into is the Book Room. We can use it now because Prince Charming has moved all the unopened-because-unopenable boxes to the spare room. It is quite hygge, I think, especially when the fire, right of picture is lit. (Just don't anyone else come to stay for a while!)
So Badger has been reading. I'm not sure what he made of Valentine's but I did notice that shortly afterwards he moved himself across to the books on DIY and gardening. It's good to see someone using them.

He will be journeying onwards to Betty's Wild Wood soon. We're going to take him on one last Irish adventure tomorrow as its our half-term, and then off to England for him. Do let Pom Pom or me know if you'd still like to host him- his world tour is filling up nicely.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Views on hygge and craic

 My goodness, we are all just out of school to discover a world of colour all around us! It is still freezing, baltic, cold, but the blazes of green grass and blue sky and Lough have been enough to make us smile and run out to the garden with a football. Well, two of us ran out to the garden with a football...

My tree is still bare.
Badger de Mourne has warmed up nicely but needed some burrow time to escape the general noise that is our world. We thought that a warm corner of the living room would be best.
 We cleared out the bottom shelf of Aunt Margaret's old dresser.

I have been thinking about this concept of hygge. MK discovered a variety of Scandinavian words that were not just words but expressions but a whole way of life. Hygge seems to belong to a cannon of words that express a way of embracing the cold dark of Winter by snuggling down into cosy comfort with friends, hot drinks and lots of good talk. I don't think we have a specific word for this in Ireland, and I'm going to venture to suggest that this is because we don't counter cold dark Winter in that way. We moan on through and live for opportunities for a bit of "craic". English English speakers will now need to remember that this is not a derivation of drug terminology!

What's the craic? It was great craic. Sure the craic was mighty.  You can Google it and find a wealth of cultural explanation! To me it means fun, a laugh, something happening out of the humdrum. It puts a smile on your face and quite possibly a Guinness in your hand. So Badger will probably not be experiencing the best hygge of his world tour here in Ireland. However, we will try make sure he has a bit of craic! I introduced him to his burrow the other night, and left him there with cosy blankets, a fairy door and some warming beverage. He hasn't wanted to come out yet...

Time stands still

 Hello! Sending you all lots of love from Northern Ireland, where nothing much changes just as everything changes, as usual. Time has stood ...