Monday 19 January 2009


I've been musing on the subject of change this morning, since reading Deborah Oak's post.

There is change in the air, I can feel it. Of course, one doesn't have to be particularly tuned in to recognise that big change is afoot, what with the world's economic upheaveals and tomorrow's inauguration of the next President of the USA. And in my own little microcosm change is obvious too: divorce, new car, new kitchen, new life...

But this morning as I went out to feed the animals the air was positively sparkling with anticipation. Perhaps it is just spring around the corner, but I don't think so. The air felt charged with a positive expectancy. And it struck me as odd. So often change is something we have to be dragged into, kicking and screaming (usually metaphorically, but not always!). Change - the unknown - is often far scarier than staying put, no matter how uncomfortable 'put' may be. Yet I feel an eagerness for change, in myself, in the people around me, in the air.

Years ago, during a trance journey to 'examine and overcome our fears' I had the startling revelation that actually, I wasn't sure I wanted to overcome my fears. After all, my fears gave me an excuse to maintain the status quo, an excuse not to act and therefore not have to take responsibilty for myself, my actions and my circumstances. Fear is not a pleasant emotion to experience, yet I realised I was more comfortable with my known fears than with the unknown.

On the other hand there have been times I have felt an impatience, a keenness to just jump into the unknown; to embrace change just for its own sake. Looking back I have to be honest and say the results were mixed: some of what transpired from those blind leaps of faith was wonderful, some was unbelievably painful, in ways I couldn't have imagined. Yet I also have to be honest and say that those were the times when I learned the most, both about myself and about the world. Those changes in my life changed me, deeply, irrevocably.

The weather is mirroring my train of thought: Blue skies and sunshine with puffy white clouds suddenly give way to vicious squally showers that lash rain against the windows. Then just as suddenly the leaden grey clears from the sky and the sun shines tranquilly again. Change is constant, whether we want it or not. Whether we even notice it or not.

I am eager for a new start - in my personal life, in the world. Yet I know that change will not necessarily be positive, things will not always turn out as I imagine, plans will have to be adapted as the journey unfolds. But it is time. Like the Fool in the Tarot, I am jumping, and hoping for the best - as we all must.

Invitation to The Fourth Annual Brigid in the Blogosphere Poetry Slam

Feel free to copy the following to your blog and spread the word. Let poetry bless the blogosphere once again!

WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2009

WHERE: Your blog

WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day

HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.

RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post, where the Slam originated. Or link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun.

Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers. Thanks to Reya, who began what is now an annual event, and Deborah Oak for continuing it.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

January Morning

The blurry sun tries weakly to break through grey skies.

Yet in the chill air, there is the sound of running water, and birds sing songs that sound like spring.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Black Ice, Hot Mash

My decision to brave the elements in search of groceries on Sunday proved to be the right one. The rain that was beginning to fall as I returned continued overnight, and by Monday morning the rain falling onto hard-frozen ground had created treacherous black ice everywhere. The state of the drive looked like I'd have a hard job getting the car out, and when I walked up to check out the road it was clearly too dangerous to even attempt (it's a steep hill currently resembling nothing so much as an ice-chute!). I was supposed to be doing local voluntary work, but had to ring in and explain I was stranded for the time being.

A couple of hours later, I heard a straining car engine and voices. Looking out I could see a car slowly trying to climb the hill, but slewing all over the place. The two passengers had got out and were shouting advice to the driver - who I imagine was swearing colourfully as the wheels spun and the car slid unpredictably on the thick ice. The car pretty much came to a halt at the top of our drive and the occupants got out to survey the scene gloomily. They clearly weren't going anywhere - and having got this far it was going to be virtually impossible to turn around and descend again safely.

I went out and invited them in for a cup of tea, which they accepted gratefully. They turned out to be a family from Devon who had come to Wales to pick up a German Shepherd puppy from a breeder who lives further up the road from Halfway Up A Hill. Unfortunately their timing couldn't have been worse as far as the weather was concerned. And now they were stranded.

They stayed for about an hour, warming themselves and drinking tea. Eventually they phoned the breeder who said she would drive as far down the hill as she safely could, and they began walking up to meet her.

They were gone for a good couple of hours, and I began to worry, but at last they returned from their mission (I was quite disappointed not to see the pup, but it transpired the trip was just to choose it - they will pick it up in a few weeks when it is old enough to leave its mother). Luckily by then the sun had melted enough ice that they were able to turn the car around and gingerly descend the hill.

As for me, I'm going to stay put for now. Although the black ice has melted where the sun's rays reached, the hill is still pretty treacherous. And it was down to -8ºC last night!

So the chickens are more grateful than ever for their hot mash in the morning. Cynthia left a comment on my last post asking for the 'recipe'. This is what I give them, as recommended by my neighbour Olwen. I take a large, shallow bowl and cover the bottom with layer's pellets (the girls have access to a hopper filled with layer's pellets all day). Then I pour on boiling water and mix it until it is the consistency of sloppy mashed potatoes. Finally I stir in a couple of handfuls of mixed grain (currently wheat and oats, sometimes I have some maize in there too), which I know they love. The dish keeps my hands warm on the way down to the chicken run and the chooks absolutely love it. This morning all of them completely ignored the hopper of dry pellets and went straight for their hot breakfast instead (this delighted the four robins and couple of dunnocks who also await the morning food eagerly, as they had unfettered access to the layers pellets).
Some people also give their chickens porridge (oatmeal and hot water), although I have never tried mine on it, or another hot food chickens like is boiled up potato peelings. My understanding is that if you are in the UK the law dictates that none of this is supposed to be prepared in the kitchen, nor should your animals be fed 'kitchen waste'. So I guess you're supposed to peel the potatoes in the garden and then throw the spuds away! Hmmm...

Sunday 4 January 2009


The ground is frozen solid. The temperature here hasn't been above freezing for about a week; overnight it has regularly been down to -6ºC. Frost is caked onto most surfaces, and the garden birds search singlemindedly for food. The days have mostly been sunny, which has thawed things a little where the sun's rays reach. But in shaded or north-facing areas, the frost and ice is a permanent fixture. Overnight, the cats take it in turns to crawl under the covers with me and warm their paws. Each morning I have been feeding the chickens with a hot mash to warm them up, which they clearly love. The geese, hardy birds, are unphased, even seem to enjoy crashing through the ice on the pond each morning.

Today it is overcast and nothing looks like thawing. It is even snowing a little, tiny specks of snow whirling down out of the silvery sky to powder the grass.

I have a dilemma. I really need to go food shopping. The problem is, I now have my new car (as of yesterday), and I'm feeling anxious about driving an unfamiliar car in such nasty, icy conditions.

This irritates me, because I know I used to be braver. I am realising that one of the side-effects of a long-term relationship is the way you become reliant on a second opinion. If T was here, I'd say, 'I need to go shopping but I'm a bit nervous about driving the new car on icy roads', and he'd either say, 'Oh it'll be fine, it's not that bad and they'll have gritted the main roads', or, 'No, I'd leave it another day or so, we can make do with things from the freezer until the weather improves'. And then my decision would be made for me, one way or the other. I would either feel brave enough to go, because really, it's not that bad, or I'd feel justified in chickening out because it's not very nice out there and there is stuff in the freezer.

Being part of a couple is a hard habit to break. When something happens - good, bad or funny - my first instinct is still to ring T and tell him. He helped me find and choose the new car, and just last night I emailed to get his opinion on buying a new digital camera (the old one has broken
:( ). He is a useful person to consult about such things, being technically minded where I am most certainly not. But I'm becoming aware that I need to stop relying on him in that way. I need to find my own way. As a single person I not only have to make up my own mind (horrors!!), but also take responsibility for my own decisions.

One of the positives of the last couple of months is that I have begun to rediscover myself. T never stopped me from being myself, but part of the dance of a relationship is in the compromises, negotiations and adjustments we make for each other. It's nothing huge or sinister, just a little accumulation of things that happen so gradually that we are not even aware of how we have changed - until, perhaps we find ourselves alone again. Like remembering that actually, I do like bread - just not the unsliced malted stuff we used to buy because that was what T liked and he ate more bread than me. Or realising that I can eat breakfast in bed if I feel like it, because balancing a tray on my lap doesn't bug me like it did him. Or deciding with a jolt of pleasure that I can - if I choose - now spend hours wandering around an art gallery without feeling guilty because I have a bored partner in tow.

I have been remembering things I like to do - and gradually stopping doing things I don't! - and it is a good feeling, like finding a long-forgotten favourite book.

The flipside is this lack of confidence in myself and my decisions, which sometimes leaves me frozen with uncertainty. But I remember a stronger, braver me and I know she's in there somewhere. Each challenge faced will remind me that I am capable, I am brave, I am confident, and I will grow back into the self-assurance of JUST ME.

And now I think I will go and do that shopping!

Thursday 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Last night, while the majority of people would have been partying away the last of the old year, I was sweeping the kitchen.

Remembering all the lore about sweeping away the old and making space for the new, I was suddenly seized with the desire to clean, clean, clean away the dregs of 2008 ready for a bright new start in 2009. So I swept and cleaned the kitchen and living areas, emptied all the rubbish, polished everything until it gleamed and paid special attention to cleaning the hearth (heart of the home).

I've never been a great one for New Year's Eve partying anyway. My Mum's family always celebrated it, probably because of their Scottish ancestry. New Year was a big deal, where the whole family had to stay up and welcome in the New Year or risk bad luck for the next twelve months. Just before midnight my Dad would be pushed out into the cold night, from where, as the tallest dark haired man in the party and armed with a lump of coal and a glass of whisky he would perform the duty of 'first footing'.

Since I left home I haven't really made a conscious effort to celebrate New Year, yet looking back, I don't think there have been many years that I haven't been awake to see it in, even if it has often been just T and I at home raising a glass to each other. Last night I had intended to go to bed early, but somehow it was 11.30pm before I knew it and it seemed daft to go to bed so close to midnight. So the cats and I welcomed in 2009 in company with Jools Holland.

This New Year morning it is cold and frosty again, white as a clean page. To keep up the sympathetic magic initiated with my cleaning session last night, I have decided to try to have a day in which I only put energy into the things I want to cultivate this year. I had a good start when some neighbourhood children came round to sing a New Year song (making community connections), later I will have a nice long soak in a Lush-scented bath (time for myself, pleasure) and then speak to my family on the phone and see my good friends Pinky & Harry (family & friendships). I will cook a spicy veggie chili for dinner (taking care of my body). And I suppose I ought to also find time to spend on making some more items for the Etsy shop (creativity, making money)!

I hope you all celebrated an enjoyable New Year, and I wish everyone a very Happy, Harmonious, Healthy and Prosperous 2009!

Blessed Be.