Monday, 31 December 2007

Let it Blow, Let it Blow, Let it Blow!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to announce that we have finally got our wind generator erected! We bought it earlier in the year, but for a number of reasons we have not got around to putting it up. Until now! So we can just say that we erected it in 2007.

Here's a couple of photos of T and Harry with the wind generator, moments after we realised that yes, we had managed it and no, it wasn't in imminent danger of collapse:

The boys did most of the clever stuff, whilst I served as a combination of 'go fer', photographer and cannon fodder ("Just stand there and tell us if it looks like it's going to fall over...")

And just in case that sounds too easy, here is a photo of my feet, to show you what conditions were like (well actually you can't see my feet as they're sunk in the mud - just my legs and the tops of my wellies).

But really, despite the mud and our apprehensions about how difficult it would be, it all went rather smoothly. Hopefully another good omen!

It's only a small wind generator, but as we only have low-energy light bulbs in the house it should be sufficient to supply enough power for our lighting needs and possibly run the computer or another small appliance. Naturally I will keep you up to date with its progress.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 28 December 2007

Adieu, 2007

Let me be clear: I'm usually a happy, positive person. I see the silver lining in the cloud, the glass half-full, and make lemonade out of life's lemons. I don't believe in good or bad luck, I believe it's all in your perspective.

But let me also be clear: 2007 sucked. Big time.

I can't honestly remember another year which has been so determinedly, stubbornly, negative. And I don't mean just for me. Everyone I know has had a lousy year - bereavements, illnesses, financial hardships, job losses, workplace dramas, failed relationships have abounded. All topped off by truly awful weather. As I look back on the year, the overriding sensation is of a constant uphill struggle.

It seems to me there must be some big, cosmic pattern at work. I don't know enough about astrology to make an informed comment, but surely there is some kind of major planetary disharmony going on? And hopefully if that is the case, it can't last forever?

In my search for clues that the tide of fortune may be turning, I remember that Christmas 2006 was a bit of a disaster for my family. We had all planned to have Christmas together at my sister's house. Unfortunately the building work they were having done wasn't finished in time so the venue had to be changed to Mum & Dad's. Then the person who'd promised to house sit and care take the animals for us so we could be away, discovered she couldn't house sit after all - so T & I couldn't go. In the meantime, my parents went down with food poisoning which lasted throughout Christmas, my sister-in-law's car broke down on the journey up from Somerset leaving her stranded at the roadside with my 4 year old nephew, and to cap it all off, while my sister and her husband were spending Christmas at Mum & Dad's, their own home was burgled.

This year, Christmas has been a much more enjoyable experience! After a somewhat manic lead up to the big day, all has gone smoothly and easily. Everyone has been relaxed and happy, the food preparation went smoothly, there was plenty of it and it was delicious: no culinary disasters to report. Excellent gifts have been given and received, the house has been comfortable and cosy, the cats accepted my sister's dog quite happily and even the weather's been quite mild, allowing for pleasant walks interspersed with all the feasting! Quite a contrast to last year. So now I'm feeling quite positive that perhaps the change is coming. 2007 is drawing to a close; 2008 will be better!

Yes, at heart I'm an optimist. And there is plenty to look forward to in the coming year. My Mum & Dad are moving to Wales, Avalon Spring is going to be wonderful, my brother is planning another big party in the spring, and that's just the tip of the iceberg! We have a whole new year to fill up with fun.

Thanks, 2007, for the lessons learned about coping with adversity, the strength of family and community and acting with grace when under pressure. Thank you, and adieu.

And hallo and welcome, 2008! We've been SO looking forward to meeting you!


Full of mince pies. Full of warmth. Full of giving. Full of receiving. Full of mulled wine. Full of fun. Full of laughter. Full of hugs. Full of roast goose. Full of memories. Full of surprises. Full of gratitude. Full of love.

I'm satisfyingly full of family Christmas. Yum.

Monday, 24 December 2007

'Twas The Afternoon Before Christmas...

It's Christmas Eve. The presents are wrapped, the fridge is full of food and drink, my loved ones have arrived safely through fog and ice.

Full and content after a lunch of pumpkin soup we're going to sit snugly by the fire and just enjoy the pleasure of all being together, and watching our cats make friends with my sister's dog! If only my brother and his family were here it would be perfect!

Wishing all my blog friends a Blessed Yule, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - or Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Da, as they say hereabouts.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

By The Way...

... anyone know what has happened to my blog header? The photo seems to have got cropped and I'm not sure why. I don't think it was anything I did, and I can't seem to find out how to change it back. Any advice gratefully received.

Frosty Morning

The ivy on the gatepost wears a halo of frost...

The greenhouse panes are painted with delicate icy trails...

The humble vegetable patch twinkles under Jack Frost's magic touch...

The bare bones of the winter garden arctic-spiked...

The rising sun brings light but precious little warmth.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Morning Routine

The alarm blares at 7.30am (a bit earlier in summer, a bit later in winter). Stumble out of a warm bed, struggling into sheepskin slippers and pulling on skirt and jumper over nightclothes. Wiping sleep from eyes, shaking dreams from head, mumbling about not being a morning person, down the stairs to the kitchen where cats wait expectantly.

Slippers off, wellies on. Out into the shock of cold morning air, carrying chicken food, goose food, guinea pig food. Cats weaving through legs, splash or slide or walk (depending on weather) downhill to the greenhouse. Guinea pig is fed and watered, and the chicken drinker retrieved from its overnight frost free haven. Next, chickens are liberated from the hen house and eagerly cluster round their food. On down into the goose run. The geese run honking up the hill from their shed, gratefully flapping their wings in the freedom of fresh air.

All the while, Bear and Marley chase and tumble, darting up trees and pouncing on each other. Tigger sits in quiet, solitary dignity at the top of the steps, glaring as she concentrates on beaming out the psychic message: 'Cat food now. Cat food now.'.

Then it is back to the house, where Tigger vocally demands Cat Food Now!!!. And is rewarded with a bowlful of her own, as are the other two.

Cereal for me. Shower for me. Clothes for me.

The day has begun.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

December Will Be Magic Again...

It's December - which means Christmas is nearly upon us.

Yes, I'm Pagan, but I do celebrate Christmas. Christmas has always been a time to get together with my family, and I wouldn't miss it.

Yule, the winter solstice (21st December) is when I shall make my Pagan seasonal celebration. Rather like my attitude to Hallowe'en and Samhain, I enjoy both Yule and Christmas, but they mean very different things to me. Yule is a spiritual celebration marking the shortest day (and from then on, the returning sun), and my Christmas is a secular one, a time of family reunions and celebration.

This year I will celebrate Yule with the members of my local Pagan Moot, as well as a small solo ritual. Then a few days later my Mum and Dad and also my sister and brother-in-law (and their dog!) will be joining us here in Wales for Christmas. I'm really looking forward to doing the entertaining. We've ordered a goose from a free-range farm just up the road (don't tell Buffy & Angel) and I'm planning lots of other locally produced Welsh yumminess too. I've been splitting lots of logs so we'll be able to have plenty of fires in the woodburning stove. And I'm already getting excited about putting up the decorations in our lovely new kitchen-diner.

Three cheers for multiculturalism!