Tuesday, 25 September 2007

A Long and Winding Road?

“Feeling validated. Feeling...visible.” Just the words of one blogger explaining what makes her write.

Is this a modern phenomenon, this lack of visibility? Does an invisible woman exist in that void when home, children, community, career or indeed any factor that defines us is removed or changed? Perhaps, back when the family was a more cohesive unit and the Global village didn’t exist, a woman had a more defined (limited) role. Whatever the cause, it’s not a comfortable place; this invisibility and like many, I started blogging hoping to find some missing dimension through writing. I put my loss of self down to the major moves of the last five years, new country, new hemisphere, new career, a whole new life. The challenges; homesickness, missing family, working in a highly competitive environment, struggling in a new society left me with a “me” I couldn’t recognize. So, in a fit of intense “navel gazing” I have started my own form of invisibility therapy, beginning with blogging, recording family history, and creating - whenever and whatever I can!

It all started the dreadful day I realised I wasn't twenty-seven anymore and no, it’s no joke…
I literally woke one morning and looked in the mirror and didn't recognise the face looking back at me! I, who had never ever thought about aging, shrugged off birthdays, laughed when I turned forty and ignored any outward signs of impending middle age. That sudden realisation that I was actually getting older was a huge and scary shock, the impact of which still amazes me! The real me was gone and who was this imposter? And over the following weeks and months it dawned on me that all I needed to do was find the missing me...who was I? Who had I become...while my life rushed by?

While all this selfish introspection was going on, I started having these nagging doubts about the fate of our family history, its origins and traditions? With the family home gone and everyone dispersed to different countries, would these just be lost; in this struggle to make a way through to our old age, who would be the keepers of the family history? With no oral tradition preserving the story of our ancestors how would our grandchildren ever know? Would they care?

M’s family, having lived in one country for three hundred years and in the same home for nearly a hundred years, had a relatively large bank of family history on which to draw. Now the family home is gone and the remaining members scattered far and wide. My family, by comparison had a fairly nomadic existence and any history lived only in the memories of the older members; now there is only one cousin left and he is in his nineties. So I’m going along this road picking up the threads and as I go, I’ll try to weave together all the bits I can. Because the more scattered and dispersed we are, the more I crave the history of my origins… by digging around the past will I find some clues to what or who I have become? Perhaps, like me, one of my descendents will look for their past in a effort to understand their present and find as much of the story that I can piece together, recorded here. Is this just me? Do others feel the same way about their “roots”?

Monday, 17 September 2007

Time, time, time, to see what’s become of me…

The nights are drawing in, darkness just after nine and first light just before six. As summer bows out, the winds are a bit sharper, the loch more choppy. We’ve had the usual ups and downs weather wise and are eagerly waiting to start up our lovely old stove! Because the stove runs our hot water supply and heats the upstairs radiators, we will start it up only when we want to keep it going permanently (all winter). I’m looking forward to home-baked bread and winter casseroles again. I never like to do much cooking on the electric stove; it lacks the charm that appeals to my vintage brain and nothing tastes quite as good as the long slow process of cooking the old fashioned way. Yum, "slow food" at it's best!

Saturday the mist hung low, hiding the opposite shore, lifting now and then to expose tantalising glimpses of the altered landscape as wispy drizzle fell. By Sunday rain was falling in earnest, a steady, sullen, curtain but by late afternoon flashes of sunshine promised a clear night. Today the wind was up, blowing briskly, bringing clear skies and plenty of sunshine and tonight it’s very, very cold.

Lavender heart made with pillow ticking, vintage fabric and handmade lace.

With the changing seasons, there’s more time inside and I’ve been longing to get stuck into my steadily growing stash of vintage fabrics. M has set my sewing machine up on our landing, under a window where I only have to glance up to see the loch laid out below me. With such a beautiful view, it’s hard not to be inspired but with my ability to procrastinate, I knew if I didn’t get started it might never happen. So I stopped dithering and just began…and as I worked, I found another little piece of the missing me…

After a summer spent painting, gardening, being builders assistant and chef all with varying degrees of sucess, the opportunity to 'mess around' with fabric proved irresistble...

Monday, 10 September 2007

The Case of the Missing Post Office or How We Lost Our Broadband...

If you’re thinking this title sounds like the start of long, long story you’d be right! So many things that happen to us are incredibly involved and sometimes quite convoluted and try as I might, I cannot reduce them to 250 words in short report format! I sometimes wonder if our future family members are going to be interested enough to wade through the mountains of words it takes me to effectively describe some of our more bizarre occurrences. Nothing tidy going on here, no way! We like it complicated?

Back in 2006 when this house was advertised, it came with a tiny post office and village shop attached. Sadly the post office had been closed some months before, the little shop had ceased to trade and all the post office equipment stood mournfully piled up in one corner of the empty room. We stacked these remains neatly and covered them with a dustsheet and went on to use the room as a workshop while we went about dealing with the business of getting the post office re-opened and earning a crust.

I won’t go into the minutiae of this struggle but it occupied both M and myself and our long-suffering landlady for almost a year. And at the end of August, our collective perseverance finally paid off! Senior post office officials, including our area manager, came to inspect the premises and assured us that this post office would be able to open again. After this initial meeting, things began to move quickly; the old equipment was taken away and the old phone line was disconnected so that it could be upgraded and this is when we hit the big glitch!

The old post office line was the only line…and the number that was activated for our service provider! Whoooops! Well, it was a case of now you have it, now you don’t…so no real warning. The phone company, BT, was great; the phones were off on Thursday night and by Monday we had a new line but the service provider needed ten to fourteen days to switch their service so dial up was the only way.

All in all, although I whined and whinged like crazy, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The biggest concern for us was linking up with our houseguests for that weekend, an American family who had travelled halfway across the world from Tanzania and whom we had never met. We couldn't rely on cell phones; out here, cell/mobile phones don’t really work and inside our building the thick, stone walls effectively block any hope of a signal. But the visitors made it all the way to Otter Ferry and the weekend went off without a hitch. Best of all, we finally got to meet (and thank) the missionaries who looked after our son Joshua when he had malaria earlier this year, and share our little patch of paradise with them.

Now, a few weeks later, the whole phone/broadband incident is fading. There are a lot of exciting changes happening around here, the best of which is the anticipated opening of our country shop/gallery/post office, hopefully before the New Year! And overdue updates about my very mixed results with gardening in this unknown (misunderstood) climate – speaking of which, it’s getting cold so I’m off to bring my (very tender) un-named mint inside for the night!

Sunday, 2 September 2007


Several weeks ago, when Internet access was unspeakably slow and I wasn’t keeping up with my favourite blogs, Horizon nominated me for a Reflective Blogger award. Thank you so much Sarah; once again I find myself in some great company.

I’m a little unsure of the terms of this award but would like to “pay it forward”. And, just as with the Thinking Blogger Award, I’m nominating one blog I have been “lurking” around for a while now…hmmm, seems I need these incentives to get brave and introduce myself.

My Messy, Thrilling Life

Brin is the very talented and motivated owner of one of those lovely old Southern (does Texas qualify as ‘Southern’?) houses. She decorates, cooks, sews, gardens and a whole lot more beside but she also inspires and does so with guts and chutzpah.


Suzi has been around since I started blogging. Apart from being a brilliant artist, she brings Africa to life and when homesickness hits, I head over to her for a dose of “the old country” and her wonderful photos.

Just as in the “States”, this weekend represents the imminent end of summer. Most schools that have not already gone back do so this week. Here in these northern latitudes the nights are drawing in and we are in complete dark by about ten every night.
Today started overcast and drizzly but a wind blew up and scattered the clouds and we were out like a shot. The laundry actually made it into the sunshine and wind today. No fabric conditioner around can capture that wonderful smell of fresh, line dried washing! M finally got the chance to trim the front hedge that was growing out in all directions and we took stock of the garden’s progress. The hedge looks great but as for the rest …well, I’m not so sure. Let’s just say it’s been a real learning curve… As I said in spring, I’ll take pictures to illustrate the highs and lows of our gardening season and the “progress” we have made. And as I write, I’m being given a rare treat…the late afternoon sun is streaming in the window and the loch is sparkling. Time to play “hooky” and pop out for a quick walk.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


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