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Category — Pink Peace scarf

Faith is knowing….

Every moment of every day there are choices to be made. And thank goodness for my poor overloaded brain, that I make these choices quickly, instinctually and without too much rumination. I was always a bit freaked out by the film Sliding Doors, where there is one tiny moment – she misses a train – that changes the whole course of her life. If I choose a peppermint tea and the triple naughty chocolate brownie in my favourite cafe Black Books, am I doomed? Well, my thighs may be, but what about the rest of my life?

Holding on tight to these thoughts, I travelled to my ocean of the west before I made any more irreversible changes to my shifting sands in Stroud. There is nothing like a quiet shoreline and a new day rising golden, to help you feel better and make your 65 year old self say to your 45 year old self “listen honey, you’re gonna make it through. Relax, it all works out”.

So I may well be feeling like a bit of old frayed rope washed up on the beach, but the earth still smells good, reminding me that different things are always quietly being composted and remade. The world keeps turning. And, as my soon to be 16 year old said, in a sudden moment of wisdom “to make an omelette mum, you have to break the eggs. By the way, whats for tea, I’m starving?”

I’m feeling so crowded and over exposed, which makes me snort and laugh at myself as I share yet more personal thoughts on the book of Face and a blog that can be read by absolutely anyone. But I always love reading about the ins and outs of other people’s truthful stories, it helps me remember that we all pretty much work through the same issues, feel the same anxieties and fragility; we hurt each other in similar ways, love and hold each other and mend in the same ways too. It is just life, it is what happens.

Pathways can be fraught with things you didn’t expect though, coming out of a bag at ya….one minute the way is solid, next thing you know someone’s carelessness, or their own pain, can have you right down there, wondering who turned the lights off. Turn towards the sunshine, feel your way right outta there sister. All things pass.

I’m not really sure where I am going with any of this, its just one more pathway in my head, one more meandering thought to carry me through March, towards spring and warmth, blossoms, more travelling, more pink scarf.

If I am very lucky my oceans of the West and East will be blue and sparkling when I reach them, my hometown midpoint in Stroud will remain lovely and friend-filled, and my wayward hormones will be kind to me.

“When you come to the edge of all of the light you’ve known, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown; faith is knowing one of two things will happen. You’ll have something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught how to fly.” Patrick Overter

March 16, 2014   5 Comments

Time, loss and change

Oh hello! Did you think I had been eaten by gnomes? or my pets? or that Scotty had finally beamed me up and beyond to the blue yonder? Disturbing thought.

No, here I am, all is well, sort of. But this New Year time through January and February has been more intense than I ever remember it being. I’ve had to resort to tidying the odd cuboard to calm my nerves on occasion. This is what I found in the latest poke around a dark drawer – last year’s intention list – ha, ha, let’s see how I did….

Hmmmmm, not bad on balance, but slightly disconcerting that I marked myself on my own list…at least it wasn’t in red pen.

The hardest part about January was losing someone I loved.

I have always considered myself to have come from a world of women, to have been surrounded by women – mothers, godmothers, girlfriends and daughters. They nurture me, hold me, inspire me, they are my life.

And yet I have been blessed to have had the most wonderful men in my life too – father, uncle, godfather, partners and sons, who, now I look closely, have been interesting, thoughtful, and funny and who have also gently shaped who I have become.

To have lost one of these men suddenly seven years ago was heartbreaking. To be losing another, in slow motion, even more so. But to have been given this time with them, in the first place is surely the best treasure that I have been gifted.

Saying goodbye to someone has made me take a long, hard look at this thing we call time. It is so hard to measure, and yet that is what I am trying to do. Suddenly, it is more precious almost than the breath in my body, and I really don’t know how much of it I have, for my own life, or for any of the other precious people in my world, and there are many. How can it be that life is so very long, and hard sometimes, and then it is over, in the smallest moment, with that final breath?

In the middle of the saddest time of this last 6 weeks, I was able to get away for a few days. I sat in a roundhouse with my sisters, and passed on my blessing for strong endings and brave new beginnings. It went into a cauldron tended by a beautiful woman land guardian, along with the spells, prayers and wishes of nineteen other women. It was stirred in, mixed together with ocean totems and we have each taken a jar of it home. Mine is sitting here expectantly, waiting. In a way, I guess that is what I am doing. Sitting, waiting, for what, I do not know. But there is a space growing, so we will see.

In the meantime, there is plenty of work and organising to be done with Wool Against Weapons – 25 weeks left! And I am counting all the small blessings that are keeping me going in this winter time of change……

the best rice pudding in the world – you clever girl, for nailing the ultimate recipe and sharing it with me –

……a funny beast to share it with, he makes me smile (when I am not wanting to kill him for his bad deeds)

….sharing the best and maddest time with gorgeous women, preparing food together and laughing A LOT…

….the gentle smell of Suzi’s beeswax melting slowly in my kitchen, to make balm and honey…

…..finally seeing two years worth of ocean treasure collected up and ready to make into totems by my ocean sister…

….and because Imbolc’s light has quietly crept in to this winter grey, the making of Brigids crosses and the wonderfulness and pale green of spring bulbs – the sweetest blessing. May we all slowly unfurl ourselves, mend and stretch in to this new time….

February 10, 2014   5 Comments

The Twinkling Time

Ah ha! You thought I really had been sitting on my bad ass on the sofa after last months wee confessional, didn’t you? Oh you faithless friends. No, I have been uncharacteristically focused and disciplined, after the idea sprang into my head to make all my christmas presents (foolish girl). So I wondered if you fancied a little wander around my stitchy offerings – goodness knows you will appreciate them more than my children will……so walk this way…..

Right, so the staple of the presents are….drum roll….lavender bags!! Yay, no surprises there. But despite the quantities I’ve made, they have actually been quite fun and easy, and my Husquavarna machine and I have only fallen out a couple of times in the making. I call that a result…

Next up, cushions for the boys…when it came down to it, common sense and compassion prevailed, I just couldn’t give my 15 year old and 20 year old a lavender bag each. I have shown no such mercy to my mother and certain friends however. Too bad amigos.

My goddaughter has a little hand painted sketchbook in a bag for all her best 7 year old thoughts (and they be many and wondrous); and here is the long awaited University blanket for our 19 year old daughter – which had been wildly behind schedule – so thanks to my sweet friend Dareth for all her help in getting it finished!

There are other presents, but they must remain secret (as their recipients read my bloggy offerings) and I’d hate to upset the Solstice elfves. I was lucky enough to have my own hand made present too, from the legendary Bad Jo, who made me a bag filled with everything I need to make a gluten free Sour Dough loaf of bread – oh marmite toast, you shall be mine once more…..happiness

So with presents done, there was just enough time for a little bit of a frisky adventure to London with my favourite bad girl and other equally deviant compadres (I clearly mean well behaved and nicely mannered friends) – and all was sparkly, fun and a million miles from that slave driving sewing machine….marvellous

Now I am back home again, in the Solstice time, breathing a little slower now that I know the light is returning. All is quiet and gentle and good.

The stockings are filled, tangerines assembled (love a good tangerine, or mandarin, I’m not fussy) and the tree decorated. It is time to sit back and be cosy, watch the light wherever it may fall in the house.

Let the twinkling time begin…Solstice blessings to you all…thank you for journeying with me down these B roads I seem to be taking, it is such a pleasure to share them with you. It has been a year of oceans, pink wool, awesome friends and the ubiquitous cake of all naughtiness. Love, love.

December 22, 2013   1 Comment

NFS….Normal for Stroud

I’m home, I’m teenaged out…and I am due some normal time (please? someone point me in the right direction?). It feels good to be back in Stroud, and immersed in our green valleys again. It feels good to be doing what I usually do at home – knitting, working in the garden on my laptop, herding cats… you know, the sort of thing that I’ve come to expect in this circus we call everyday.

Over in these parts we even have our own facebook page called ‘Normal for Stroud’ and the disturbing thing is, it looks completely reasonable to my eyes. Sigh. It was no surprise to see that a photo of our pink scarf pitched up on it this week, randomly. O.K, in this last week of August, here is a little roundup of goings-on in my ‘Normal for Stroud’ life…..

First up, no sooner had I landed home, we were carted off to Treefest, sweet little local festival, with a healthy dose of axe and chainsaw tomfoolery for obsessive woody people. And why not. Whatever floats your boat. What was floating mine, big time, were the churros with cinnamon sugar and hot chocolate sauce. Here is concrete evidence that you can distract these woody people in a nano second with the right sort of carrot….ha ha ha…..

…not so focused on your woodturning now, are you, my little sawdusty friends…..

Back at the ranch there was plenty of time to dust down the old jazz classic ’78’s (and torment the dog with the promise of a biscuit on a turntable); mix up a jug of ‘Mushion Moules’ (a ridiculous and less sober interpretation of the better known Moscow Mule), and to round off the evening’s entertainment (after the fun of teasing the dog had waned) a little game of “tie a doughnut on a string and torment our blindfolded guests” – my how we laughed…..

Other noteworthy distractions have been: meeting a wizard with some rather interesting potions and resins; getting a little ‘makey’ with some blackberry and currant liqueur, stitching a couple of hops and lavender sleeping pillows; and rolling out an 80 meter piece of peace scarf down our road as you do, for a little pinky try out.

Is this normal for Stroud? I don’t know, all I am beginning to realise is that it is normal for me. As regular as these green wooded hills that we walk, and as fab as the people that pitch up at a moment’s notice – whether it is to hold up meters of knitting or to protest another awful war in our struggling world. Happy normal weekends to y’all…

August 29, 2013   No Comments

Reasons

I have been thinking about Peace. With a capital P. I have been trying not to be worthy, or self righteous, or so very dull. But the truth is, it’s been 68 years since human beings dropped atomic bombs on other human beings, causing devastation in the most brutal way imaginable. It changed our world forever. We are still making these bombs. What more is there to say? 

I want to acknowledge this pain of what we did, what we still do. I also want to hear peace in my own words, peace in my thoughts, peace in my body, peace with my pathway, peace with my pace. I really do. 

So, where to begin. Ah ha, at a Peace Camp. And why ever not. Okey dokey, sixteen reasons then, to upsticks from my lovely Stroudie life, and hoof over to an Atomic Weapons Factory, like you do, with little more than a few balls of wool and some sticky backed plastic. (we all know this to be a very big lie)….

Reason One: Because ModPlods are so very clever at hanging up colourful peace banners. Left a bit, right a bit….ah, that’s perfect!

 

Reason Two: Because its very lovely sitting on green grass knitting pink pieces of scarf with people you like alot

Reason Three: To learn new skills like making Japanese Peace Cranes out of coloured paper and then stringing them together on the fence – colour is where it’s at when it comes to the Ministry of Defence

Reason Four: Trident – can’t think of a whole lot it’s got going on that is positive. But a Peace Camp? What can give you more pleasure than subversive stitching…



Reason Five: You get to chalk around your dear friend making Hiroshima and Nagasaki shadow pictures onto military owned tarmac with kids chunky crayons, – now if that doesn’t feel naughty, then what does?

Reason Six: You get your own little ‘Get Out of Jail nearly Free’ card – should you be abducted by aliens or even more exciting, arrested

Reason Seven: Because (still wowed by the chunky chalks) graffiti is sooooooo much fun

Reason Eight: Because you get to hang out with mad French activists disguised as Breton pixies, and they will most certainly teach you jokes in their own language, protest songs, and if you are really lucky, lewd French drinking songs. Yay to that then.

Reaason Nine: Because you can decide on the spur of the moment to see what would happen if you block the main gate with several meters of pink scarf that brilliant people have knitted you.

Reason Ten: Because you get to conspire with super-smart people about how on earth you are going to pull off the mother of all insane 7 mile plans

Reason Eleven: Because you get to remember how precious and small and soft your new born baby was in your arms all those years ago, and wonder how frightened and desperate you would feel in those first moments if your world was devastated by a nuclear bomb

Reason Twelve: Because you will stand in the middle of Greenham Common and marvel at the power of nature to reclaim what was once an American base for Cruise Missiles. You will feel the presence of thousands of women around you, feel their courage in the face of so much conflict. It always seems impossible until it is done…..

Reason Thirteen: You will sit and wonder who is more wary and scared of who – us looking in on uniforms, guard dogs, machinery, war. Or them looking out at us with our rainbow colours, banners, chalk, singing, fasting.

Reason 14: Because insane, crazy out there things will just happen – like being chased by herds of wild ponies, galloping and snorting as you run for your life. Or singlehandedly holding a surprise skype conference with 80 French people and singing them the only french song you can remember from Primary school, to fill in the time.

Reason Fifteen: Because you will be in awe of the determination and ability of activists who can fast for 4 days, only drinking water, and still cheerfully go on huge long hikes between the bases.

And finally, Reason Sixteen: Because. Just because. There are some amazing people out there. Believe it. And even though they are a little crazy, and scarily unplanned and spontaneous, they are courageous and clever and we are a safer world because of them.

August 10, 2013   1 Comment

Scarily Fabulous

Oh this life as a hardened activist can be an exhausting one, don’t you know? But I am committed I tell you…..especially committed when there is a promise of cocktails and water splashing in 30 degrees.

But it’s not all Pina Coladas and paddling pools…well, ok, busted. It was this weekend. 

Oh you fantastic bunch of Aldermaston Peace Camp Women – how did I get so lucky and stumble across you? I wasn’t the most likeliest of candidates at the end of last year…but 6 months on, with mad hair and a nose ring I am really quite at home with the new me. And I was really quite at home at your camp, with its women centred, non hierarchical, gentle, fun, anything goes vibe. 

We prepared food together, sang together, talked, danced, slept, and steamed in soaring temperatures, and it was fab. Our camp angel had to be Margaret, with her lovely, calm, smiley energy as she washed dishes, made delicious food and looked after everyone with her gentleness.

Camp superstar had to be Lucy for bringing outrageous dressing up clothes that tipped us over the edge into mad squealing during the impromptu disco from my little iPod – sisters are definitely doing it for themselves.

Camp hero has to be Rebecca doesn’t it? – for leading us to a magical alder grove for an elegant synchronised swim on Saturday afternoon – we were water nymphs at their finest (sadly my camera didn’t get grabbed to record that little treat, maybe just as well, as our muddy bottoms and nettled legs could be slightly distracting in celluloid).  

Other camp wonderfulness was a fantastic watermelon salad, our own camp cinema on Saturday night for a screening of ‘Carry Greenham Home” and Lisa spoiling Ann and I by feeding us spoonfuls of melted chocolate as we lounged in the coolness of the paddling pool – you fabulous girl. Just too many treats to list them all. 

Wool Against Weapons was there of course – our beautiful, growing, pink peace scarf decorating our space, and reminding me all the while of  you generous, amazing knitters and your clicking needles.

I took along a big basket of wool and we all got stuck in – we even had a knitting vigil on the roundabout outside the main gate. Ask me what I am knitting? Well, PC Rob, it looks like you’ve just been hijacked by a bunch of crazy women and are knitting for peace, pet. What do you know? 

But you know what? All things balance in life I find. And just in case this intrepid activist wanna-be got carried away here on the glamour of it all, let me tell you this. This was no girl guide’s jamboree. We were there for some really scary reasons. There’s some pretty heavy stuff going on, on the other side of that fence. They make bombs. Bombs kill. People, animals, environment, our souls.

And in their wisdom (??) the Government is wanting to spend another £120 billion on keeping this weapon of mass destruction going. Hey ho, hospital beds, education and our safety are probably hugely overrated anyway. Hmmmmm. 

But here’s the thing. We have a choice. Come closer, I want to whisper something desperately secret to you. Are you ready? Once you’ve heard it, it will make you as insanely dangerous as me.

Up for it? O.k, it is this – we are powerful, each and everyone of us. We can think independently, choose to be different, speak out, get together, resist. There it is. The R word. RESIST. Afterall, its sheep we’re up against. 

If each and everyone of us told their M.P, (preferably in a letter), like they did recently in Scotland, “Listen Bud, if you are up for this bomb they call Trident, then we simply won’t vote for you” – then girl, will they start shifting nervously in their pressed suits, and wonder what the hell to do next.

Sure, you can tell me it’s complex and multi-layered, but REALLY is it? We do not want this nasty, nasty WMD in the world. Not in this land, not anywhere. Let’s begin somewhere. 

And what better place to begin than with a small bunch of thoughtful, committed women, intent on changing the world*. Indeed its the only thing that ever could – along with some cocktails, some songs and a whole heap of belief and a gutsy attitude. Bring it on.

* Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

 

July 19, 2013   No Comments

In the Peak of Now

I have been waiting for summer to come for a whole long while. All winter and all springtime in fact. And I have been grumpy that I still seem to be waiting.

This morning I decided to ditch my iPod on my morning dog walk and listen to the birds instead. Walking through our local nature reserve cemetery I saw that the lime flowers are nearly ready for harvesting, that the white campion is fat and lovely, that sweet woodruffe is covered in little star shaped flowers already. This is it, this is summer. Elderflower cordial is waiting to be made.

In a week that I have been swimming in the atlantic and thinking about thresholds, I have also realised that sometimes I miss that moment, that absolute moment that is the peak, the highest point. The peak of now. I only realise I have had it, as it is slipping away.

My midsummer came with a wild and windy beacon lighting in a pagan land; with cocktails and a swing bench party with special friends. I have watched and loved gannets plummeting into the ocean, and stepped into a faery land with pirates and elfin boots hidden in treasure chests. All this was real. And now it has slipped back in magical mists, and I am home, with emails, washing, work schedules, and pink peace scarf to organise. It went as quickly as it came.

So how is it that we stay with our peaks, trying not to hold on tightly, but just being in them? By loving them for what they are in any moment I guess. Without trying to move them on, rush them, or make them last forever. For a few moments there was summer, a coastal path, a girl walking along it. So fleeting, but so deeply rooted in me also.

I have blown a kiss to the summer, she is here, with or without sunshine and warmth, and I love her. My garden is wild and overgrown, my heart is happy, my body tired, and my head trying to deal with change. This is my peak of now, and as much as I can, I will sit with it, without trying to change it or move it on. This it will do all by itself, quietly, when I least expect it. Midsummer love to you all.

June 27, 2013   1 Comment

More Mad Crazy

Oooh hello, it’s been a while. You know what it is like around these Stroudie parts – a week can be a long time, with lots of different, unplanned things popping up all over the place.

This week has been about the magic that happens when women get together.

We gathered for our annual opening of our Red Hearth House by the light of the new moon, and danced, drummed, sang and howled with the most witchy of whiskers. 

This is such a special place that we have created, in Kesty and Martin’s beautiful woodland, and it fed my soul once more to be there, with many different wonderful women and all the stories that they bring to weave in with my own.

Oh you mad, crazy week…I didn’t see you coming. But in I leapt, as I knew I would, with my fast beating heart yearning for adventure and change. There have been camp outs, dawn choruses, badgers, burial chambers, axes, art, get togethers, cake, bitey things, and lots and lots of laughing and chit chatting.

It is also the month that Fiona and John Owen throw open their chapel studio doors to let us all have a peek inside at their wonderful, most magical of creations.

If you live anywhere near Gloucestershire, their exhibition is on until 30th June and is breathtaking. You will love it.

And so my week has rolled on, with a daughter learning to skateboard, puzzling over strange pub quiz questions, rainstorms to be caught in, and art students arriving at our house in a lovely impromptu gathering.

And today, Sunday, it ends as it so often begins, with wool, cake and friends – with Prema’s PicKnit in the Park – and as much as I need to collapse on my sofa and rest, I skip along with my pink peace scarf, dodging raindrops, and slide into yet more mad crazy…..

June 16, 2013   No Comments

Simple…..

Martha Tilston – Simple

I remember how simple simplicity used to be, before I tried too hard and chased it away,

It would float in, flow through and out of me, complication – well I rue the day.

I’m gonna get right, right to the heart of it, I was bigger when I was nothing at all,

Just another pilgrim marching to the sunset, and it didn’t matter if I got there, it’s the journey of it all.

It didn’t matter if I got there, it didn’t matter if I got there, it never matters if you get there, it’s the journey of it all.

Well I’m gonna get back there, back to the heart of things, I knew everything when nothing at all,

Just another pilgrim marching to the sunset, and it didn’t matter if I got there, there’s power in being small.

Listen to Simple here

How much do I love this favourite song of mine, sang by the wonderful Martha Tilston. Why do I let simplicity float in and around me and then chase it away again? Here is my week of simple, or my attempt at a week of simple. Loving what is right around me, around my home, directly around my neighbourhood. I haven’t travelled more than a few hundred meters to find it.

The first flowers opening in my back garden.

A birthday present for my favourite wee boy three doors along

Linens drying gently in the breeze in my neighbour’s garden.

Lunch, eaten in the sunshine

Looking at treasure in Jilly’s cabin, and celebrating her latest find for Delight.

Showing Harry how to see if you like butter, just as my grandmother showed me when I was a little girl

A small crocheted distraction from the 7 mile long pink peace scarf

An early morning walk with Herb.

Learning to share, in the park

My daughter’s handwritten letters to each of her special friends, as they celebrated their last day of school

I’m not sure why I find ‘simple’ so very hard to find sometimes. Thank you Martha for the lovely reminder….

June 7, 2013   3 Comments

Quiet Weekend

About a year ago I wrote about the Hurricane that is children passing through our lives. Thundering through, leaving a trail of chaos, madness, glory and life in their wake. And I do vaguely remember lamenting how quickly it all goes, even if it doesn’t appear to at the time. Well this is me. And I am tired. Not with a big capital T, but with a small sighing t that makes me want to lie on the ground and say to the clouds ‘ok, I’m all yours, beam me up Scotty’ (yes, Scotty does live up there in the clouds, I have it on good authority)

We have been parenting now for nearly two decades, and I thank the Universe for sending me this man to share it all with. But I also get it when he sits atop a cliff and silently says ‘wake me up when this teenage thing is all over honey’. Maybe those were my words. No matter.

With one child at Uni, another one going in September, and two following quickly behind, we really are on the homeward run. This is a new terrain that we are finding ourselves in. Everything is shifting, and I like it. Do I? I might do. Or it might scare me. Or both. This is a tangle of feelings and decisions. Time for some time out and a think.

Have you noticed how I always run to the ocean? As landlocked as Stroud can be, we are near enough to zip off and quickly be in Cornwall, or Exmoor, or in the case of last weekend, the Gower, in Wales. And when these feelings come, its only the sea that will soothe me.

Imagine then, quietly opening the door to this gorgeous haven of tranquility. This is Jill and Steve’s Meadow Cottage, and should you need to run to it as we did, you can find it here. Not a farty hound or teenager in sight – look closely, no, I didn’t see moulding clothes or packed lunch boxes on the floor either. Yay. 

So what does a quiet, Beltane weekend need then? Apart from farmers market olives, something cold and preferably sparkly, and a whole heap of crocheting? Well, of course it needs funky cafes with delicious cake (and she’s off…), and gorgeous beaches with the micro-climate of a Sydney summer. Oh yes, the Gower has both.

But it also needs clear vision – a high place from which to stop, breathe, and look back at all that has been. Only then can we begin to wonder at what might be. I so often forget this amidst the madness and small details of everyday. Only then can you see that your babies are infact nearly grown up (and this is a shocker) – not mini versions of you, but their own real-people selves. So who does that make you, you start to question? You have been ‘muuuuuuum’ (yelled in an exasperated voice) for so long, you have quite forgotten.

I might well be knitting a 7 mile long pink peace scarf, but does this mother even have an identity without her babies?

Suddenly, being on this homeward run, children wise (and yes, many many friends have warned me that they don’t always behave obediently and leave at 18 for Uni, never to darken your door or raid your fridge again) – but being in this frame of mind, I am suddenly looking at my opening doors and wanting them now. To hell with three years, I have pink wellies and a nose ring. I’m ready. Even if my mother thinks I’m not quite old enough. Hmmmmm. A rock and a hard place spring to mind.

So while my heart is quietly breaking for all that I may lose, I nevertheless am willing to step on to a different pathway with trust and small steps. Time to throw away the map. And as I wrote on my white hallway recently, ‘getting lost will help you find yourself’

May 10, 2013   1 Comment