Oh my goodness look at this - intriguing and delightful!

So interesting.  I’d like to try keeping fruit and vegetables as she suggests.
(I get buffering problems if I link from here but if I go straight to YouTube it's OK)

Also, friends, I though this and this well worth reading – and the whole site is really helpful and interesting.

*        *        *

Hahaha!!  I have done it I have done it!!!!  Er . . . not "got rid of the fridge", nervous Badger up in Oxford - just made a sand thingy for the carrots and a combining box for apples and potatoes (we have only one apple at the mo).

And the things on the windowsill are things that don't like fridges.  I read that the enzyme that makes tomatoes tasty is killed off in a fridge.  

Sometimes, with a little shudder of compassion, my heart whispers, "You know, your children didn't ask to be born to someone as mad as you."

"THEY DID!" I reply stoutly.


365 366 Day 122 – Tuesday May 1st  
 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here) 

 Oh dear.  How embarrassing.  I never even opened it.

Polly Flinders

Sweeping the grate clear of ashes this morning brought back to mind a nursery rhyme:

Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders,
Warming her pretty little toes.
Her mother came and caught her,
And whipped her little daughter,
For spoiling her nice new clothes.


How depressing.

When my children were little, like most children they were given books of nursery rhymes by me and by other relatives.  I think I was drawn to them because I had them as a child myself, and without any significant reflection reached out for them for my own children. 

If the time came round again, I think I would not choose them as reading material for a child now.  Nursery rhymes exhibit a kind of pathological callousness and liking for the macabre that makes my flesh crawl a little:

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down
And broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.


Three blind mice, see how they run; (x 2)
They all run after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did ever you see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?

And so on – no doubt you know them.

The Polly Flinders one was particularly baffling to my children.  Convinced that, to flourish, children needed interaction with the elements – fire, air, earth and water – I set about ensuring this would be a possibility.  They were encouraged to play in mud, with garden herbs, in rock pools by the sea, in the tall summer grass, in the fallen leaves of woodland.  We spent hours on the beach, and from their earliest days they were taken outside to be among the leaves and flowers and birds.  And, we always had an open fire.  Rather than separate or protect them from it, I taught them how to respect and interact with it – the dragon in the house, the living being that breathes and eats and flickers and dances.  They traced their fingers through the soft fallen ashes, we cooked sweet chestnuts on the bars of the grate, and winter days and evenings were always warmed by fires of scavenged and donated wood.

So it came about that the first half of the nursery rhyme made perfect sense: my little girls also liked to sit right up close to the fire, enjoying its warmth and the fascination of its beauty, poking it and feeding it and generally enjoying its company.  What they couldn’t understand was the nursery rhymes calm acceptance that this pastime should provoke maternal violence.  It caused a certain hiatus every time.  A pause of uncertainty.  Poor Polly Flinders.


365 366 Day 120 – Sunday April 29th  

A zandana.  I accumulated a considerable number of headcoverings. I kept 3 scarves that I can wind in a kind of turban style (I think it’s called a “crown” style) and a three plain dark hats in soft materials that don’t hurt for being stuffed in a bag/drawer.

365 366 Day 121 – Monday April 30th  

This book is not just itself but represents a category: “Things I must give back.”  I don’t see many people, and don’t keep many things.  This being the case I am constantly amazed by how many items manage to find their way into our home.  One on its way, then!  :0)

DIY: Rosette Wreath

A few weeks ago, I was inspired to create something from Pinterest. It is all too easy for me to pin all these wonderful creations, but never attempt to make one! Of course, the first one that caught my eye was probably the most time-consuming project of them all. Oh well, it was a lesson in perseverance...something I lack! 

First, I bought a small foam wreath at Michael's and covered it in some burlap that I had on hand.

The next step is making the rosettes - something I am mildly obsessed with - out of old sheet music. I didn't take pictures of the process since you can find a tutorial here. I got pretty creative with finding time to make these, since they aren't difficult but do take two hands! Sometimes it was while relaxing on the sofa with my husband in the evenings, or my favorite: during Hadassah's bathtime. [In case you're wondering - I sat beside the tub while I made them. Don't call social services!] 
Then the fun really begins, you can start to cover your wreath in these beauties!

Personally, I think this would look fabulous with just a few rosettes tucked in the corner, but I wanted to cover the surface.  You can also make a much fuller wreath and cover the sides as well. I'm just not that patient. 


I hung this on the mantle for a bit of contrast with some colorful art and a family photo at the beach. What do you think? Would you make it with just a few rosettes, like I did, or cover the thing whole, baby?? I like how it turned out!

Now I need to finish my next project, which I hope to reveal in about two weeks!!! Wish me patience :)

The tiniest house of them all

We have a lot of tiny houses in England that are just normal dwelling places, but I thought you might like to see the picture of the tiniest regular brick-built house I have ever seen. 

Smuggler’s Cottage is a real house that someone once lived in, not a playhouse for a child.  It was built in the 18th century and was someone’s home during the 19thcentury.  In fact it is said that a family of five lived there (!) and it was one of the hiding places for smugglers connected by a web of secret passages.

It’s a few miles along the road from us just near Great Dixter, in the village of Northiam, in England’s East Sussex.  


 365 366 Day 118 – Friday April 27th 
 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here) 

In Palmers Lane in Bishops Stortford (just round the corner from here), the town on the border of Hertfordshire where I grew up and went to school, is a wonderful shop called Bears.  It opened when I was about 16, and I used to go there to buy joss sticks.  I think it was in that shop that I first came across Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.  As the years went by Bears grew gradually more sophisticated and now sells Lagenlook clothes by Flax and other wonderful makers of flowing garments in natural fibres.

Back in the mid-70s, I went there with the lad who became my first husband when we had come down from York to spend the summer in Hertfordshire with my family, working on the farm (him) and in the home for people with epilepsy (me) in the university vacation.  He bought a ring at Bears – a silver ring from Tibet at the time when their beautiful artefacts had come into the market as the Chinese took them over. 

Later on in the 90s, still loving to call in at Bears on the occasions I went to visit with my family, I bought this bag – beautiful, sturdy, well-made. 

Another example of how, if you don’t want to disappear under the Avalanche of Stuff, there are choices to be made and priorities to be set – and sometimes that involves saying goodbye even to treasured and beautiful possessions that have a history to them.

365 366 Day 119 – Saturday April 28th   

 I crocheted this blanket from a mixture of odds and ends – some of my own homespun (the fudge-coloured squares, spun from the fleece of one of my cousin Kathryn's alpacas) and all sorts of other bits I had lying around.  I gave it to a craftsman who lives out at Crowhurst in a caravan – he has a woodstove but his walls are thin and poorly insulated; it was very cold this winter, and he needed an extra blanket for his bed.  He was really pleased with it :0)

It's driving me CRAZY!

Most of the time, we humans as a whole are not very aware of our...well, eccentricities.  Peculiarities.  Quirks.  The things we do that other people see/hear all the time of which we ourselves are blissfully unaware.  Sometimes, though, I catch myself saying something that I realize I say over and over and over and it must be driving everyone around me crazy.  The phrase is - yep - “driving me crazy.”  I say it all the time.
Everything is driving me crazy, it seems.  People at work, a computer problem, handling my elderly disabled mother, fitting a dress I’m sewing, the mushmouth dictator, the light coming in the window when I’m trying to sleep at 7 p.m. (gee, thanks, Daylight Saving Time).  Oh, and I cover past, present and future equally in my frustration.  “That used to drive me crazy!”  “This is driving me crazy!” “This is going to drive me crazy!”  
Occasionally I’ll substitute another word:  “This is driving me insane!”  Either way, it’s the same phrase and perfectly reflects the frustration I feel at whatever the problem seems to be.  It was just today that realized the true victim-hood of that particular choice of words.
It intrigued me that I was always using the word “driving.”  Something or someone is driving me to someplace I don’t want to go.  Driving me at full speed towards the brink.  Driving me against my will to a point of mental instability.  
When I really thought about it, I had to laugh at the silliness of it all.  If something/someone is driving, then I’ve given up control of my own life, my own reactions, my own plans.   The ironic part is that the driver hasn’t taken control to steer me in wild abandon on the Highway to Insanity - I have willingly given over the keys.
One of the most important things I’ve learned in life is that we can’t control the actions of other people, can’t control the weather or unavoidable schedule changes, can’t control how our co-workers do their jobs, can’t control our kids, can't control our relatives...in short, we just can’t control life in general.  That’s a given.  What we can control, however, is our reaction to all these things.  And what is a common reaction to things?  At the very moment we can truly assume our rightful control, we hand over the keys to the problem and brace ourselves for the hellish trip and almost certain wreck at the end.
As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite life instruction is the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”  After I have heard myself complain over and over that someone/something/some situation is driving me crazy, I now realize an important point:  Once we identify the things we cannot change versus the things we can, and if then we take the things we can always change (attitude/reaction) and still give over the keys to insanity...well, that’s...just....crazy.
So move over, you out-of-control driver.  I'm taking the wheel now.  I have some pretty good directions and know where I want to go.  And it's not to Crazyland.

Love - U R doin it wrong

I have been thinking about a song.

This came about because our Fi was belting it out at full volume in her bedroom (singing it I mean, not playing an electronic recording) at the time I wandered upstairs to retire for the night.

I am very nervous of quoting songs on the internet, because poets and singers, musicians and even some novelists, once they reach celebrity status, enter some kind of samsara state of mind where it seems reasonable to them to employ legal firms to comb the internet for copyright infringements for which they can sue people to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

This sufficiently alarms and horrifies me that I have no plans to trip all unawares into that bear-pit.

A few years ago one could expect to quote two lines of a song or poem without seeking permission.  Now the rule of thumb is, “Don’t bother.”

Even so I did want to say something about the song Fi was singing.   It is called River Deep, Mountain High, and was performed by Tina Turner.   I remember listening to it on the school bus, because we always begged the driver to let us listen to Radio One (the pop station) on the journey home, and it was in the charts when I was a teenager.

At that time, the lyrics seemed reasonable – and plausible – to me.  Yes, I could remember what it felt like to have a favourite doll (or perhaps my stuffed plush fox would fit the bill) to whom I had given my heart and in whom I saw great charm and worthiness.  At that age, making the transition from childhood to adulthood, I could both remember the emotional attachment I felt to my toys and feel vividly the power and intensity of falling in love with boys, and the similarity to which the song drew attention had my ready acquiescence – yes; I love you just the way I loved that stuffed fox but with extra ampage.

Listening to Fi singing this evening, forty years down the road, I found myself wondering, what was Phil Spector (who wrote the lyrics) thinking of?  I mean, could you imagine the response of the beloved mentioned in the song?

Conceive if you can, of a young man in the 16-22 age group being informed by some dewy-eyed bird that she had a rag doll she really really really (to the power of 40 and climbing) loved – and she now is ready to reveal that she loved him just like she loved her Raggedy Ann, only more so. 

“Er . . . gee . . . thanks . . .”

I mean the relationship is doomed, innit?    


 365 366 Day 117 – Thursday April 26th 
 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)  

 Ah – happy memory!  The first year I went to the Big Green Gathering, a huge and glorious Permaculture event in England’s west country (a Google image search on "Big Green Gathering" will give you an idea, though I never did see those ladies clad only in mud), I bought this bag for 50p.  It served me well for more than a decade, and was getting a bit decrepit – but came in handy for bagging up items of clothing for the charity shop.

World-View Wednesday: Chicks for Children

by duaxmachine

Sometimes, its the story of a missionary who depends on God completely that rocks my world.
Other times, its the faith of a child.
Like Xiaoyun.

This sweet girl was born in China with a severe case of scoliosis, but her prospect of receiving surgery was slim, as a child in the foster care system. She was miraculously adopted days before her 14th birthday, when she would have been considered ineligible to become part of a forever family!

After becoming part of a loving home, Xiaoyun underwent several surgeries for her condition. During this time, she got a vision to help other children in need. Her dream was to buy a million chickens for poor Asian children! For $11, a pair of chickens can provide eggs or baby chicks, which becomes not only food and income, but hope for a poverty-stricken family!

Seeing the possibilities, Xiaoyun began a campaign to make a difference. If you want to be a part of making her dream [and so many other childrens' dreams] come true, just go here. I'm excited to see what God will do through her! She's already changed one life; mine.       

Sweat, rain and money

 Yesterday I made a purchase so large it frightened me.

A handy thing about not wearing deodorant is that you can tell when you are anxious because of a sudden adrenaline dumping of smelly sweat, even when you don’t register the anxiety emotionally (Apologies to squeamish readers).  This happened when, having made the decision to buy a newspinning wheel (instead of the second-hand ebay purchse I’d thought of) and checked out with the Badger that this was not an undetected Foolish Whim, I parted with £367.00 (yes!!) in payment for the wheel, a Lazy Kate and three spare bobbins, plus p&p from Wales. 

Even so I am very excited about it!

My life is very spacious and (fairly) solitary now.  While I am hatching book ideas, I need time when I am just thinking, but I like to have something meaningless to keep my hands and chatter-brain occupied while my Real Mind is thinking.  I often wander aimlessly on Facebook at such times, but that is a bit too social and sometimes can be disturbing or upsetting (depending who’s posted what); and it is certainly not very productive.

I used to spin, but haven’t had a wheel for some years now, as we all had enough woolies and there seemed no point.  But Alice is possibly going to include a textile stream into her new life as a fulltime crafter, and I have thought of something I could make to sell in our Hastings crafters’ shop that should be there and isn’t, that I might make myself.

I am so looking forward to spinning again!

The wheel I am having is a traveller, which makes it easy to spin up in the Garret, or downstairs at the fireside with the family, or take it with me when visiting with my dear mama; it’s the Kromski Sonata from this beautiful  site.  The wise and noble sheep who appears on some pages is called Bobby (Bobby-Dazzler - scroll down if you clicked on the link, to see the complete photo rather than the cropped version at the top of the page), and the webmaster and business owner keeps sheep she knows and loves, selling their fleece to spin after the summer shearing.

This feels like such a happiness thing, even though parting with all that money terrified me a bit!!

One thing in, two things out.  I am having a wheel, a set of carders, and a Lazy Kate fitted with bobbins (bottom pic of 4).  Though the carders are two and the Lazy Kate and bobbins a composite item, I reckoned the things (in the two photos below) sent away in exchange would balance things up.

These things are going to help an 18-year-old vulnerable adult set up home in his own apartment for the first time.  At present, he has only a sleeping bag.  We are sending the console table and the bits on it, the chest of drawers - and our Rosie has sorted out some mugs and pillows for him from what she has at home, that hadn't made it round here at the time I took the photos.

I have also ordered two buckets for bokashi composting of waste, and in exchange am parting with these books.

It’s been an expensive week, because I bought another water-butt as well.  I put a hat and some coat-hangers out to go, in exchange.  Our rainwater storage is now up to 700 litres.  I hope to add another butt or two, bringing it up to 900 or 1100 litres when funds permit.  The heavy rain we have had this last couple of weeks has filled the butts we have nicely   :0)

I wash in rainwater, rinse my clothes in rainwater, rinse pots and pans in rainwater and cook in rainwater.  I don’t drink it just as it is – only boiled – because it drains from the roof, a favourite perch for all kinds of birds, some of whom carry a multitude of pathogens.    As the water that comes from the tap has to be industrially processed and paid for, it makes sense to store the rainwater.  It will all go in the twinkling of an eye in the dry days of summer when the vegetables are going full belt, but for now anyway it’s a saving of money and a kindness to Mother Earth.

 365 366 Day 116 – Wednesday April 25th   

Buddha-bags are great!  I have 3.  An old, faded, much-loved brown one beginning to disintegrate: a just-as-old, soft-grey-purple one Hebe gave me because hers hadn’t seen so much action and is more intact; and a black one I keep for funerals.  I got this one for attending a wedding, to be less shabby and not black.  I guess I could have kept it – they do come in handy – but felt it to be not really necessary.

Tiny houses - fab video

 In the world right now, I have three heroes – they are Vandana Shiva, Thich Nhat Hanh and Jay Shafer.   I feel proud and honoured to be breathing the air, walking the earth, in the same generation as these luminous souls.

Jay Shafer began the Tiny House movement (though of course people did live in tiny houses all over the world since forever).  I am so grateful to Kirsten Dirksen for the wonderful videos of Tiny Houses that she has posted on YouTube as she charted her exploration through this inspiring territory.

The video embedded here today is not a short one – it lasts for just over an hour and twenty minutes, so you need a time when you can hole up with a hot drink and a cookie and settle into enjoying this absolute smörgåsbord of gloriful tiny houseness.

365 366 Day 113 – Sunday April 22nd     

This was my diary at the beginning of the year, but it was too big.  The Badger had a much smaller one for Christmas, but as he uses his Filofax (that’s a kind of diary made from pastry), the gift was surplus to his requirements.  So I snaffled it and the one in the picture here became kindling.  I felt on reflection I was not cut out for world domination.

365 366 Day 114 – Monday April 23rd   

This tube contained a cosmetic product for turning my hair into barbed wire, just as it says on the pack.  I purchased it in a moment of blind inexcusable folly.  This year, one of the things I have worked on is simplifying right down the toiletries in my daily routine.  This is the resulting list:

I have 2 shampoo bars on the go from Lush (one in the shower, one in the Garret).  These are veggie, earth-friendly, zero-packaging and smell fab.  They work for soap as well as hair, and I wash my clothes with them too.  I have worked out some new life routines to keep things simple and earth-friendly, and I’ll post about those another day.  Alice and I share a big bottle of Lush Veganese hair conditioner, and I add a little to rinsing water as fabric conditioner too.

I have some essential oils – rosemary, rose maroc, frankincense, lavender and patchouli.  I put on the lavender under my arms as a deodorant.  For moisturiser (face and body) I buy a big pot of aqueous cream for £1.99 from the local chemist, and fragrance it with the essential oils.

I brush my teeth with Lush Toothytabs – saves on packaging, water, dodgy chemicals and money.  Very travel-friendly.

I have no other cosmetic products except a small stash of make-up that I rarely wear (a few lipsticks, 2 blushers).  I do still dry my hair with a (small, travel, folding) hairdryer.  We export to the national Grid way more electricity than we get through ourselves, so it’s a luxury I allow myself, and it means my hair looks the way I like it.  The barbed-wire look did not add much, I felt.

365 366 Day 115 – Tuesday April 24th   

This was a fun mirror I had as a gift – absolutely loved it and enjoyed it so much.  I passed it on as a gift myself, to extend the joy



In response to my post about favourite songs the other day, Julie drew my attention to this beautiful song I’d never heard before, Come thou fount of every blessing.  I love it.

What spoke to me most vividly from the song is this verse:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Indeed and Amen.

I have a tattoo on my arm (I wrote about it here a year ago).  I had it done in the darkest and most difficult time of my life.  It has the opening words from St Patrick’s Breastplate, “I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity,” written around a simple image of a cross within a circle, which represents the cross that stands while the earth revolves and is also the ancient Celtic glyph for the Sacred Earth.

The tattoo – I had it done on St Patrick’s day – was meant to be a luggage label ("Please look after this bear").  If I could have had it tattooed deeper in than my body, going right through to my innermost soul, I would have done.  They always tell you not to have tattoos in case you regret it later, because they are so hard to remove; but the whole point for me was exactly that – that it could not be removed, whatever my regrets and vacillations, whatever my doubts and unfaithfulness – I am the property of Jesus Christ, and I wish to be returned to Him.  I’m His baggage!

Sheep have ink marks on their fleece to show which shepherd owns them.  A monk I worked with at one time had his flock all marked with a big red J – no, not for Jesus, for Jonathan, which was his name.   My tattoo is the ink mark on my fleece, to make it clear whose sheep I am.

I have trouble with any idea of salvation resting upon my own fidelity.  That verse in the gospels where Jesus says those who stand firm to the end shall be saved, just makes me think “Drat!  Bummer!” 

I can’t even stand firm to the end of a diet, I think the chances of my 'faith' withstanding threats of torture and burning alive would be very slender.

I know that in the course of life I might lose my mind, lose my uncertain faith, become senile and wandering and vague.  I might forget who I am and where I live and who the Prime Minister is.  I might drift out of touch with the church and forget the words of the Bible.  Without even waiting for that, I let my Lord down – I am inconsistent and unfaithful and a dodgy witness. 

But my tattoo expresses what I am hoping, that even in spite of who I am the Lord Jesus will say “this one is mine” and take me home to his side.  I don’t want to do anything in particular there.   I like a good hymn, but I don’t want a crown or anything like that.  I certainly don’t want to stand in a large crowd stuck in some interminable act of corporate worship.  I just want to be near Him.  Near enough to be able to see His toenails, and the fastening of His sandals, and the stitching in the hem of His robe, and to be able to hold that hem between my fingers to make sure He can’t get away if I fall asleep.  I would like to trust and believe that this will be so, but at the moment I am just hoping.  And that’s why I had the tattoo.


365 366 Day 112 – Saturday April 21st    

“For everyone”; except me.  Jolly good book.  Never used it.   


I am 55 this year.  For most of the last forty years, religion has attracted and fascinated me – the path of faith in all its manifestations. 

I have loved watching Buddhist nuns sitting immobile, utterly still, in their early meditation, as the night gave way to dawn and then the rising sun slowly illuminated the room, morning light fusing with peace inseparably.  Incense smoke.  Inviting the bell to sound.  Chanting quietly beginning.

Participating in the hospitality of the langar at Sikh gurdwaras, leaving my sandals at the door, covering my head, taking my place with the chanting women in the prayer hall, felt like such a wonder and a privilege.

Sitting in the stone chapel of a Catholic monastery, watching the matter-of-fact tread of sandalled feet and hearing the muffled ripple of moving robes as the community made its way in to prayer, fed my soul.

Attending a full immersion baptism in a Baptist chapel, hearing the testimonies; singing, for the first time ever, “To God be the Glory” filled my heart with joy.

Feeling the evening fold around me in the great spaces of York Minster; the candles, the mounting intricacies of carven wood, the water-clear beauty of the choir measuring the even paces of the psalm chant, this spoke peace to me.

Preaching at little Methodist chapels out in the English countryside, kept open in every place by a handful of ancient faithful souls who, while they could, bore witness – this humbled and moved me.

Poring over photographs and tales of the Amish, the Shakers, the early Quakers – how strongly the peculiar people of God stirred my heart and called me; “You too!”

Religion in the many faces of its reverence and numinous awe has been my preoccupation for decades.

And it no longer is.

A while ago the patient Badger asked me tentatively, “What have you done with your Holy Spirit picture?”  For I loved this picture – when I first saw it I fell head over heels in love with it, capturing as it did the rapture and wonder of prayer when the Spirit comes.  The Badger is wisely cautious.  He waited some weeks after its disappearance to ask the question.

“I gave it to Paul,” I said.

He paused.  I can’t remember if he asked the question aloud, because we can hear each other’s thoughts and do not always need to speak; but he wanted to know, “Why did you do that?”

So I explained, “Because I had seen it enough.”

It was a beautiful picture, an astonishing picture:  I had looked at it every day for months, and now I knew it by heart, and it had slipped into the DNA of my soul.  So I didn’t need it any more.

I am finding this with my books.  Old books, loved books, firm favourites – I feel as though I have read them now, and am ready to let them go.   Even, dare I say it, with dear friends.  I love them as much as I ever have, but I no longer need to see them; they are already in my heart.  I enjoy their company when we meet, but I no longer feel the need I once did to set up times to get together.  Our friendship is understood; it is a given.

And this last year I am finding it is the same with religion.  We talk about faith – that a person “has a faith”.  I don’t know if I “have a faith”.  I think I might not.  If I had a faith I would be a better person, I would be driven by conviction.

I know that I have met the risen Jesus, and that He is beside me in every hour of every day.   I know that God is the context in which all life rests and moves, arises and dies.  I know that the Holy Spirit breathes through me and the whole of creation – every rock, every flower, every shining drop of water.  I don’t need any faith at all for this.  I know it.

Of those three knowings, the most vividly and tangibly real to me is the presence of Jesus.  I could not deny that I have met Him, that He is alive, that He is real.  I know this.

In pursuing their religions, people sometimes ask me what happens when we die and what the future will hold.  I don’t know and I am not curious about it.  I am sure that whatever tomorrow holds will have roots growing from the seed we sowed today.  All that is necessary is to live with love and humility, with simplicity and kindness today, and the future will take care of itself.

I still go to church, because I want the track my feet make to say “Jesus matters,” but what we do there no longer finds a foothold in my soul.

We have the eucharist in bread and wine – but I think the eucharist is also there in someone tenderly and patiently helping a frail, blind old woman drink her cup of tea.  I think communion happens in the hand-holding-hand I observe when I watch a beloved grandad walk slowly down the road with a child who trusts him.

At the funeral I attended this afternoon, I sat with my father-in-law from my first marriage, in the front pew of the side block, just a yard away from where my first husband was playing the electric piano for the service.

And I explained to my father-in-law how, when my first husband (his son) had left me, I had decided to waste no time – I resolved straight away that if he could no longer be my husband, he could at any rate be my brother, and so it has been.  The love has continued, like convolvulus roots underground; we belong to one another, we are one family in Christ – and this is indestructible, it cannot be taken from us.  “Yes,” he said: “I know.”

I don’t mean that I wish I had my first husband back; I do not, I am most happy in my marriage to the Badger, and my first husband is content in his marriage to the Fairy Princess.  I just mean that Christ is in God reconciling all things to Himself, and because of this we (all of us) belong to each other forever, and this is a blessing.

The outer forms of religion – the beautiful temples, the old stone churches, the chanting and incense smoke and prayers and rosaries and robes – I love them, and they are in my heart, but they feel like a beautiful picture I have seen enough and would like to pass on now.

“He has shewed thee, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?”

I would like to learn to do that now.  I have lost interest in the other things – the things they have the wars about.


365 366 Day 111 – Friday April 20th   

This is the one-hundred-and-eleventh day this year.  Do you know when to hyphenate?  I ask because many people do not.  But the principle is simple. “This is the one hundred,” is a stand-alone sentence.  “ ‘This is the one hundred,' is a stand,” is also a stand-alone sentence; though obviously they would both be very puzzling.

“This is the eleventh day this year” is also a stand-alone sentence. 

If I write “This is the one hundred and eleventh day this year, technically nothing but your common sense (which I cannot necessarily rely upon) and intuition leads you to realise that I mean “This is the one-hundred-and-eleventh day this year.”  Linking them into a train like that helps you see it’s meant as a one-thing package.

Maybe the necessity is not obvious from this example.

But what if I said: “She was a maiden and a half sister to the viceroy” (Lord only knows where that sentence came from!)

Is the meaning obvious?  Maybe.

“She was a maiden-and-a-half, sister to the viceroy.”

“She was a maiden and a half-sister to the viceroy.”

See?  The hyphenation makes clarifying links assisting access to the intended meaning.

“John kept up his see Venice and die running commentary going all afternoon.”

“John kept up his see-Venice-and-die running commentary going all afternoon.”

Don’t worry about this if it bores you.

Today’s Lost Object was a fine book of beautiful drawings and very good poetry.  I enjoyed it, but realised that brief admiration felt a better fit than permanent attachment.

The Waiting

Those stubborn teeth!
Yeah, you know...the ones that have turned my sunshine
into a sad little baby.
We've waited for a long time [5 months feels like a long time!!]
and they are still not through.
I can feel the tips so that must mean something is about to happen....

Ahh, the garden.
That dear neglected plot of ground that waits 
so patiently.
They say the cobbler's children go without shoes;
and I think the farmer's wife goes without a plowed garden.
[At least, until all the neighbors' gardens are planted!]

My family.
I miss them so much lately!!
I want to be there
to drop in and chat with my parents
to go shopping with my sister
and not have them miss all the sweet things Hadassah is doing.

But I can worship in the waiting.

'Til the teeth come in,
I will hold my baby and sing to her when she cries.
I will give her many things to chew on,
and pray those pearly-whites pop through very soon!
I will thank God she is healthy.

The garden always gets planted.
Let me never forget that!
Whether in March or May,
I'm glad I have a piece of ground that I can grow vegetables in.

Yes, I'd love to spend time with my family
but I'm blessed that they only live a few hours away.
I will get to see them soon, 
and in the meantime,
I will enjoy all the dear people who are family to me here.

I will worship in the waiting!

Happiness Music

I love this so much. N'Kosi Sikelel' iAfrika is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.

For those wishing to sing along: 
(Xhosa) Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo.
(Zulu) Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo . . .

And this, Stand By Me, is my total favourite of the Song Around the World Playing For Change songs.

In terms of performances, Sung-bong Choi singing on Korea's Got Talent is unforgettable.

There is something about the music of William Byrd that speaks peace to my soul.  I can't find the Agnus Dei from his Mass for three voices (my favourite) online, but here it is from the Mass for four voices - haunting and beautiful.

As to hymns - this never fails to lift my soul - the Gaither Gospel Ensemble singing Revive Us Again

And this!  Christ receiveth sinful men - oh, that is such a fab hymn!  Oh - shame!  They sing only three verses :0(  Well, never mind, here's us singing it at home.

It goes like this if you want to sing along:

1. Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall!

2. Come, and He will give you rest;
Trust Him, for His word is plain;
He will take the sinfulest;
Christ receiveth sinful men.

3. Now my heart condemns me not,
Pure before the law I stand;
He who cleansed me from all spot,
Satisfied its last demand.

4. Christ receiveth sinful men,
Even me with all my sin;
Purged from every spot and stain,
Heaven with Him I enter in.

Sing it o'er and o'er again;
Christ receiveth sinful men;
Make the message clear and plain:
Christ receiveth sinful men.

I love this too - love it love it - our family sang this at the Badger's and my wedding: Lean On Me.

And this, that I linked you to the other day - if it were humanly possible to have a song actually permanently tattooed on my neural pathways, I'd have this one - No Wait from Plum Village Songs for the Practice

I guess my choices are kind of obvious, but I do love this recording of Time To Say Goodbye.

And, just in case these choices are a little exalted for you, one of my favourites of all time has to be The Dubliners singing The Rare Old Mountain Dew, and another is the extraordinary harpist Joanna Newsom singing This Side of the Blue (I have even preached on this!). 

And Bob Marley - how did I live 32 years before I heard of Bob Marley?  What were my parents thinking of when I was growing up??  This song - Don't Worry - was one I used to listen to often in the really traumatic days when our lives were falling apart.  And it always cheered me up.

Ah.  Happy sigh . . . I could go on all day.

So finally - one for the road - Enjoy Yourself!

But - how about you?  What are your favourites?


365 366 Day 110 – Thursday April 19th 
  (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)   

A boring but useful little item, if you like arranging flowers (you may remember I had brief churchy aspirations to this).   It’s a dark green painted wooden small trough, with a rigid waterproof line of the right size to take a brick of floral foam.  And it is no longer mine.  Oh, good!

We no longer have the table it was standing on, either.