Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I went to A's Thanksgiving service this am. It was a very beautiful. Her two sons played pieces, one on the violin and one on the piano. But the best thing was that they played A. herself, singing a requiem she recorded some years ago. Her pure, amazing soprano voice just soared up into the sunshine that was streaming into the church. It was a wonderful moment. I'm so glad R has that recording. So few of us have any trace of a loved one's voice after they've gone. Although I can remember playing my brother's answer machine message over and over for a while after his death. He used to sing very cheeky versions of big gay idols songs. And my grandad left tapes from interviews he did with the Imperial War Museum about his war years, he fought in WWI and WW I and I like to play one of them from time to time - partly because his type of Scottish accent is fast disappearing and partly because it's him, and I can see him helping me use his tools to make wooden driftwood boats that always sank like a stone because I wouldn't listen to his advice.

Seeing those big lanky lads without their Mum really tore me up, but A achieved so much in her life that it was hard to be sad for long. She's really inspired me to go on getting on with my life.

Tomorrow is the writers' group concert/reading. We did a run through last night with the musicians. It's going to be wild to say the least. I don't think I'll be repeating the exercise, public performance is just not my thing. Then Friday I may go to a big garden festival in Edinburgh and on Saturday I'm photographing a running race.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I've got a broken window in the potting shed in the garden and we've noticed a pair of blackbirds flying in and out of it. Today the wind's dropped and it's stopped raining, so I went into the shed to get the lawn mower out and found the most beautiful nest built on top of my FIL's old oak lectern - he was a church Minister. It some how seems appropriate that the bird with the most beautiful voice in the dawn chorus should nest on top of a lectern! I'd take a picture, but I don't want to frighten them away. The nest is lovely, they've woven in pieces of green arabis foliage into the sticks, and there's lots of moss in there too. It contains three sky blue eggs about the size of sugared almonds.

I'm sorting out some pix to submit to a guy. A friend from my old place of work is running in a marathon team to raise money for a cancer charity, and she asked me to donate a photographic package, a portrait/baby shots type of thing for a pre-race auction she was organising. I was nervous about doing it, but I put together a grid showing examples of things I've done and she put it into the auction brochure. Well my package turned out to be one of the most hotly contested things of the night, and the guy who won it thinks I'll be taking pix of his FIL's 70th bithday. But he also asked me to send him some urban shots, as he manages a town centre events programme and may be able to put some work my way. So I'm looking at shots to make up a slideshow to e-mail to him.

I need to be careful as sometimes my enthusiasm runs at a higher level than my energy, but I like trying new things and having new goals to aim for.

I took this wave picture last weekend, the village harbour is right out on the North Sea and this was a breaker at the harbour entrance. Imagine trying to get a small wooden fishing boat round this??!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Soggy day

Ach it's raining here. I was planning to cut the grass, not that that would have taken long as only a hankerchief area survives - the rest having already made way for plants. I have a real notion to dig up the remaining bit and create a formal pond - but I doubt budgetary control/my husband would approve such a development. I'd use old railway sleepers, and dig down and then have it two sleepers high, with bracket seats at the corners. And I'd have fish and water lilies, and crinkly reeds and duck weed, cos I love the way it carpets the surface of the water.

I got a photographic gig booking today, to cover a local 5k race. I like doing these as it's such a contrast to garden photography, it's all instant action and results.
Trick is catching the start and then getting round the route to do candid shots of the runners out in the sticks. Last year the ladies' winner was so thin she had to have an eating disorder. I have to shoot things that show up the race sponsors logos, but it's fun trying to get a new take on that brief.

I really like this portrait, it comes from a low key photograph, which I've then used a painting technique on, so the brush strokes are very individual, it not just a matter of applyng a Photoshop filter. It's of a relative and she won't mind me posting it here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Word Cloud

I got this from blkbutterfly's site. This wee gismo searches your blog and pulls out random words that you've used. I like how love and friend features in mine. It's how I'm trying to live my life these days.

Got a call from a colleague who is working with me on the garden regeneration project here in my home town. His wife has been living with breast cancer for 18 years, since her boys were four and seven. Anyway she died peacefully in a hospice on Sunday afternoon. I'm so glad she got to see her boys grow into young men. Let's hope the next wave of women will live to see their grandchildren grow up. I truly hate this disease, it stalks and blights the lives of too many mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.

I'm off to tend my greenhouse. As the Indigo girls say, "Got to tend the earth if you want a rose!" (First draft said "end the earth " Freudian slip there lol! The greenhouse is crammed with stuff waiting for the risk of night frost to pass. Can't wait to put all my pots out, got geraniums, fuschias, and French lavender. Plus beans and squash plants to go in the veg plot, where they'll feed the snails, who parachute on to them from taller plants! )

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I had a great weekend. The weather in the north was the best in the UK. Not scorching, but dry at least. I helped at the festival, setting a woodland trail for the kids. And I watched a bodger make amazing chairs from pieces of green newly cut wood.

My friend B and I cleared some big vegetable beds, which are framed by willow hurdles with a willow arbour in the middle. Then I planted thrift, the pink seaside plant, in the paving round about and lavender and sweet peas at the foot of the arbour. By July it should smell beautiful.

Oyster catchers have nested in the walled garden, they have with two chicks, so it was far from peaceful as the parents screeched every time we got too close to where the babies were. On one occasion they even tried to dive bomb us.

The Head Gardener also taught us how to make willow wigwams to support climbers, and I managed to get mine in the car to bring it home. We also helped making a big willow screen, which will act as a hide so people can watch the birds and squirrels feeding on the other side, wee windows will be left at different heights in the screen.

I came home really tired, but happy. I also took some great woodland shots of wild garlic flowering in huge drifts under the birch trees.

The bad news is my friend's MRI has shown the tumour is not responding to the chemo, so it's been stopped and they're looking at a clinical trial, or another chemo which will only be for pain management, and which will leave N bald for the duration. She has a lot to think about and my heart aches for her.

So we are into a new phase, I just hope I can be a good support.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


A friend in the States e-mailed me to say that her man had just got, "Ta da an on line a GPS thingy - the true man's toy - he's in heaven. Somehow it managed to get us home from Sam's Club on Sunday. "In .3 mile turn left -" "Turn left!" He'd programmed a woman's voice - and then deliberately took other roads and left the poor bitch saying "Recalculating!"

She was kidding, but only a little. Another friend replied that that would make a great film plot, the GPS taking over the car, or maybe the driver being delutional about the fact that it had - a modern day road movie which ends with them disappearing off the grid.

I wish I had it, I'm going up north at the weekend, and last time I was driven there, so needless to say I didn't pay any attention to our route. I'll just have a scruffy old map book and maybe some RAC instructions off the net. I'm doing two days volunteering at a National Trust castle, helping at a woodland festival, then on Monday I'll shoot some garden pictures.

Yesterday I was at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, it was a birthday present from friend, I got in with the staff at 7.30am and was allocated a minder/sherpa and allowed to photograph all sorts of things, including some great views from the top of the Victorian Palm House.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Public Reading

I'm attending my local writers' group, and last Tuesday we visted a corresponding group in a nearby town. They were having an open mike night, and I actually got up and read one of my poems. It was a very scary thing to do, and it was the first time I've ever done something so public, but I got a good reaction - people came up afterwards and said they thought it was beautiful and asked to read it on the page.
The poem's called "Heart Notes", which is a term in perfume making, and it is about how smell can trigger long forgotten memories.

Now I'm going to take part in our group's contribution to our town's summer festival and I'm going to read this poem, which I'm still tweaking. (I think I want to drop the "of" in the third line as Scots would just say "out the rain".) This is also about memory, and how simply seeing an object can prompt a strong, long forgotten response. Anyway comments welcome.

Hummels at the Antique Fair

It cost a pound to
get inside the hall,
and out of the rain.
Old ladies throng,
enthralled by the
promise of scones
and crystal swans.

Forced by the crush
I stop by a stall.
Three bucolic figures,
set out on green baize,
catch my eye.Two feed
chickens maize, while
the other hugs a fawn.

Mother’s model porcelain kinder
ranged all along the mantlepiece,
from where they lorded over us.
Can see them still, smug,
hard-baked wee faces
that told on us.
We hated them.

Motherless she was
raised in war, by maiden aunts who
rationed praise and hated waste.

We three were never at peace;
so a careless ball or doll
cum guided missile,
would turn them
into skittles.

Why treasure imported clay
over home-thrown pot?
Why the life long love of kitsch?

I should’ve scratched that itch.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I saw this poster in Prague and managed to look up Bischof's website last night. He was taking pictures just after the end of WW11. He died at just 38, so his portfolio is all the more remarkable. I like the shot of a woman emerging from the rubble of Monte Cassino, and a shot of junks off the coast of Hong Kong, and the little Peruvian boy in this poster, something about him makes me think of the Pied Piper of Hamelin story.

I've posted the link to the Bischof's site. You can buy an original print for $1,000 - I wish...............

Friday, May 05, 2006

May and June. Soft syllables, gentle names

I just love this time of year. I had a meeting in Edinburgh yesterday and old Reekie is decked out in the gaudiest of pink. Grey and pink are one my favourite combinations.

I'm editing pictures from a lovely garden, Shepherd House in Inveresk. I spent a whole morning there last week, and the best bit was lying in a wild flower meadow photographing fritillaries.They were backlight and shining like stained glass. It was lovely looking at the pictures again today, the light was so sharp and precise, and in one shot a big bumble bee is cramming itself into a fritillary bell, like a big lady trying to fit into a pair of tight jeans.

This afternoon I walked along Aberlady Bay, the light was amazing, three huge ships were ploughing up the Forth and the seals were lying on a long spit of sand basking in the late evening sunshine. And overhead a skylark was singing for all it was worth. These days feel like an amazing reward for coming through another winter. Winter days are like childbirth, easily forgotten when there are glory days like today to enjoy.

Tomorrow I hope to be up and out by 5.30am to photograph a favourite old apple tree in early morning light. I have no trouble getting up in the summer, in fact a blackbird wakes me every morning around 5/5.30 and I just lie awake listening to him giving it laldie.