Monday, October 30, 2006

No butts it has to be butter

Happy Halloween. Banana will like this.

Stern warning

I know I said I wasn't worried about global warming, but I was joking, it does really bother me. It's been obvious for some time that global warming will be catastrophic for many countries and many truly wonderful habitats around the world, English bluebell woods, the sheet ice that polar bears depend on, the Maldives, etc, etc.

Here's a tiny example in my neck of the woods. This is a beautiful loch surrounded by decididous woodland. These trees should be a riot of coppers by now, but this was taken yesterday and there's really only a hint of the usual colour and we're almost into November.

Read the Stern report here He makes a very good economic case for change. I saw some eejit woman on the TV chuntering on about how she needs a 4x4 as she has 3 kids, what bollocks I can carry three kids in my Renault Clio, or two hulking teenagers and their golf bags.

Also see this about celebs who claim to be doing their bit. Air travel is so hugely carbon greedy. I must admit I do feel guilty flying now, although I hardly rack up many air miles. I wonder if this works? I think if I fly again I might look into it.

Yesterday I also saw the weirdest rabbit, a wild one sitting on the verge as I puttered by. It was fully grown, but it had no ears, just wee stumps. It must have lost them to some predator or some savage parent. It looked really odd, and very, very butch, sort of the Grant Mitchell of the rabbit kingdom. Or maybe it's evolving and long ears don't suit mild damp winters :)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Postcard from the edge

Originally uploaded by gapyearwoman.

Old postcard bought at a jumble sale. I just love the written part, it is dated June 1939, and the writer says she has really enjoyed visting the UK and is leaving "for the Continent ". She seems completely oblivious to what lies in store, there's no hint of where she comes from or where she is returning to. It would make a great start to a novel. I love this these little snippets of time.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Well autumn's certainly here!

Gales are blowing around this old house and it feels distinctly cooler. Garden is strewn with windfalls from neighbour's cooking apple tree. I usually end up putting barrowloads of bruised fruit onto the compost heap.

And just when it gets cooler the joiner arrives to say he can now set about replacing four windows at the back of the house. They're old sash and casement windows and I don't want plastic replacement ones as I think they are practical, but horrible. So he's making new wooden ones, and I'm getting a new velux in the kitchen roof, the old one is the original Edwardian fitting and it no longer works, it has the huge old crank to wind it open, and that's seized up. I've also just phoned a guy to get an estimate to sand the diningroom floor. I've got seagrass down in there, but years of dogs and kids has left it looking pretty sad so I thought I'd get the floorboards done and buy a rug.

This probably seems small beer to you, but it's a major step forward for me as I've not really seen the point of doing anything to the house for quite a while now.
Anyway these things will all help to sell it when we decide to move. I really want to be nearer the sea, and maybe back in West. My husband has 5 more years before he can escape the NHS, and we'd both like something smaller on the coast, with maybe a slush fund to go and live abroad for part of the Scottish winter, say January to March. I'd really like to do some road trips, especially across the States. I've this notion of hiring an old Winnebago and just taking off along the backroads of America. I've been to New Orleans and would love to see more of the South, maybe start from South Carolina and head West.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by gapyearwoman.

One of my pictures of N&B. I like how B is wriggling so her top is blurred a little, shows the impatience of a four year old. N looks well after her holiday. She doesn't mind me posting this as her son's an artist and he uses family images all the time in his work.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Phew glad that's over

Worst bit was sitting in the waiting room over an hour past my alloted appointment time. I hate that room as it's where my husband and i sat when they processed the core biopsy that diagnosed my cancer. Now I always sit at the opposite end of the room. But my "feel up" went well, nothing nasty was felt around the scar line, neck area or boob. Mammo result will take longer, and the radiologist are always very nice and inscrutable so I've given up trying to read their faces.
My consultant talked aboit my drug options further down the line, but I'm not going there as anything can happen between then and now so there's no point fussing about an abstract. I gave him a copy of the book, I wonder what he'll make of it.

So back to nicer things. Today I'm taking a CD of the triptych leeks to a large format printer to get a big print done for this commission I have. Tomorrow I'm sorting out my horticultural shots. I had about 60% of what I submitted accepted by garden world images, see sidebar, here's one example, the first shot on the top row is mine.
So I need to record what's been taken and what I can maybe pitch elsewhere. I really want to make enough to buy a lensbaby, it's a low tech wonky sort of lens, which has one sweet spot that gives you very unique pictures. I may have to ask Santa, lol :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hospital tomorrow

I'm very pleased at myself for managing to block it out until today. Hopefully it will be a breeze, but my superstitions run so, so deep that I can't bring myself to actually say that.

I think the deep distrust goes back to being on chemo and on one occasion they called me and said my bloods needed repeating before chemo, only when I got there did they tell my liver function was poor, and that could mean two things, the disease had spread or I was experiencing side effects from the drugs I was getting to combat the chemo side effects. I had a truly terrifying instant ultrasound of my liver, which I had to do alone as I'd come alone thinking it was routine. It turned out the drug I was getting to combat oral thrush, your mouth makes new cells very quickly, so chemo targets them the same as cancer cells and therefore you get lots of mouth problems, was affecting my liver. They give you the cheapest oral thrush meds and then if they have side effects bump you up to a more expensive drug. So in short I've not trusted the hospital since, I'm always anxious that they're going to spring some God awful surprise on me.

So excuse me for a few days as I'll be neurotic until tomorrow afternoon, then I'll go back into denial mode while I wait for my mammo result on my good side - and that could take two to three weeks to come through. Illness is measured by waiting. That's what I grieve the most, the loss of control, it offends me on some very deep level, and it hurts my pride - which shouldn't be an issue, but it is.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Vegging out

My men have gone off to a far flung lower league match in support of my husband's team, Ayr United. They are traveling with my son's friend and his Dad who support the other team. They've planned it like a military operation, and my son even got up at 8 o'clock which is 4 hours earlier than he usually does on a Saturday.

So it's me and the dog, which will be nice as the family have been at home all week on holiday and I've quite missed having the house to myself for long spells. Some people hate being alone, but at times I actually crave it. Anyway better make the most of it, including flying round Tescos to get something for dinner.

Last night we went to see The Departed with Jack Nicholson. He was the best thing in it. Storyline was OK, a bit like Bergerac with gratuitous violence, and the lead female role seemed like an after thought. But you can't beat Jack being a bad ass.
I would have liked to have seen Meryl in the Prada thing, but that was a bridge too far for my husband.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tiny treat

Just watched the loveliest thing I've seen in ages. It was a wren taking a bath in one on my horse troughs. I have a pot of marsh marigolds in there, and it was beside them, where the water was shallow. It was having a ball, wriggling, writhing and wallowing in pure delight.

I have some thick ivy on one of the walls and I think it hides out in there most of the time. They are one of my favourite garden birds, and global warming is suiting them, as they used to die in huge numbers in hard winters.

More about them here

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

autumn beech in mist

autumn beech in mist
Originally uploaded by gapyearwoman.

Really pleased with this shot, take in failing light and heavy mist

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


N had an MRI on her spine two weeks ago. She got the result yesterday. The one thing with cancer or indeed any progressive illness is that the waiting never gets any easier. N's way is not to talk about it, but I can still always sense that beneath everything she is preoccupied with anticipating the results. Like me she won't commit to doing anything more than a few days ahead. It's as if we're holding our breath until we know whether or not it's safe to breath again.

Anyway the MRI result was good, the tumour hasn't grown, it hasn't shrunk either, but no growth is good as it would creep into the cavity between her pelvic bones and that would start to affect all manner of things. So she's celebrating by going off to London for a couple of days to meet two Spanish friends who are over for a short break.

I watched the second showing of the Trinny and Susannah programme on the woman who had had a mastectomy. I missed it last week as I was doing the show. I must admit I never suffered from the hiding myself away thing, certainly not in front of my family. I decided very early on to look at my wound/scar and to let my husband see it. I think I felt like I didn't want to have yet another thing to deal with, my plate already felt pretty full! But I don't like communal changing rooms, but then I didn't like them pre-cancer. I'd also really like a massage, but I'd have to get someone I could trust, and someone who doesn't freak at the thought of treating me, I've asked a few and they're always very wary, frightened that they might trigger something off again, not that I want the scarred area massaged, but my neck and back would be lovely.

Not sure about the T&S show, by all means make people look good, but stop playing at being shrinks while you're at it. That whole behind the screen thing is too voyeuristic, but then so is the whole of reality TV.

I think being "incomplete" has really made me so much more empathetic towards disfigurement. I can chuck a bra on and dress and to all intents and purpose still look normal. I can't imagine what it must take to live with a facial disfigurement, or some other physical disability. I think that's why I hated baldness so much, it marked me out from the tribe. I'm really quite shy, so blending is important to me. People like punks can choose not to blend, but I'm very much a camouflage girl. Being stared at is my idea of hell.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ha Ha I love it

Don't know if you've been keeping up with the news on the new right of centre Government in IKEAland? It's a disaster as the new Cabinet members have all be telling porkies. Today's great resignation story is that the newly appointed Minister for Culture has had to fall on her aerial after it was discovered she hadn't paid her TV license for 16 years!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Beautiful Day

I got back to my garden today. It is the perfect weather for working outside, sunny, fresh, and no beasties to bite me.

I moved some things, one a big mallow type plant whose name currently escapes me, but it has a white flower with a green calyx. It grows very tall, so I've moved viable bits to the centre of the big island bed. I also discovered a large yellow flowered corn flower had seedlings germinated and growing within in its seedheads, so I removed them and potted them up in the greenhouse.

Still picking apples and pears. And I saw lots of ladybirds, pretty much the first I've seen all year, they were seven spot ones, looking to hibernate in the peony leaves. I don't cut much back in the autumn, preferring to leave the seedheads etc over the winter for birds and insects.

Got a nice card today from one of the women, Pat, who helped me with the event saying how much she'd enjoyed it and what good feedback she'd been getting round the town. Also David at the bogstandardblog,has kindly put my book on his sidebar refs. Thank you David, you're a star.

Looking forward to November, I'm doing another volunteer gardening trip, this time to Craigievar Castle.
And then we're going to the Borders to stay in this apartment The photographs on the website are all mine. I shot them back in the Spring, I like the way the designer has used the daffs on the mantle shot for the main heading.

I really love this time of year. I pity my friends in NE of America, they already have snow flurries. Thank God we have the Gulf Stream, well at least for now ......

Friday, October 13, 2006

Buying the book

I've put a link to our writers' group publications page. At the moment purchase is by snail mail I'm afraid. If you're interested in a copy you can reach me on the e-mail addy there. Postage is actually included, so ingnore that bit, I'll get it fixed in due course. If that e-mail is a problem, due to my spam blocker's nightmare of a surname, try getting me on:


(take out the brackets, which are there to stop spammers)

Anyway thanks for all the support so far.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

First Aid Kit for the Soul show

It went really, really well. Every loved it and said it had just the right mix of laughs and tears, and that our production was really slick. I arranged it so that ensemble pieces were mixed with solo ones, and light and shade pieces went back to back.

And I sold lots of copies of the book and got an invite to go along to a poetry pamphlet sale.

I've posted the bit out of the local paper here. On the strength of it a freelance journalist called me this morning and interviewed me down the line. She going to pitch a story to the nationals and womens' magazines. It may all come to nothing, so I'm not building any hopes up there. But I emailed her the text of the full book.

I'm just glad the show is over, I've been eating and sleeping it for three months now. Cancer Research sent a rep along, she said, "you'll need to do another, bigger one next year," No way! It's just too draining. But I'm pleased I pulled it off cos I think a lot of people thought I must be mad to try.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jacques Chirac

Jacques Chirac, Edith Piaf, Jacques Cousteau, Marcel Marceau, L'Escargot, Le Mans,
Monsieur Eiffel your garcons took a hell of a beating!!!!

And I would walk 500 miles......

National Poetry Day

I missed posting anything for it, but this is my favourite poem at present

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithaca means.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)


This is a picture of the book. I think it has worked out pretty well. I wanted it small, sort of pocket sized and really simple. I'll post details soon of how to buy it etc, I think we're trying to get a Pay Pal link worked out.

I'm still a little deaf in one ear from yesterday's debacle with the air-bag in the car. The driver's seat is right mess, like it tried to be an ejector seat and failed, the seams burst open to allow the airbag to inflate. Off to sort dinner out before Scotland plays France in the footie. My son is off to the match in Glasgow with friends of friends who had a spare ticket.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Picking up the book today

I feel physically sick with nerves. If I've missed something it's too late now!
Got to let our Writers' Group publication people know, I think we hope to sell our latest crop of pamphlets through Scottish Poetry Pamphlets organisation. Not sure mine is all that mainstream or conventional so it probably won't sell much via that route, anyway by the time friends and family get a copy their won't be many left. I'm giving copies to my breast surgeon and oncologist.

I'll post a picture here later.

The event has sold out, I'm even squeezing a few extra chairs in. We have a rehearsal at the venue on Monday evening and we do it for real on Wednesday night.
Shelley, whose taking part, has friends over from her home town in California and they're coming to the rehearsal as they leave on Tuesday. I just hope people like the things I've chosen, and more importantly the bit from the book. We're going to read the part about me losing my hair, starting chemo and getting a prosthesis. We're doing it as an ensemble piece. It's amazing hearing my words said by other people.

I feel like I'm doing a cut down version of BBC Radio's 4 "With Great Pleasure". If you get the chance listen to the one Henry Normal did , it's here

I love the John Hegerty poem about the dog. I bought a book of his poems second hand off Amazon after hearing this. He's a funny man.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Evaporated Milk

My friend Debs gave me this link in exchange for mine on the bath ducks that a circumnavigating the globe.

It's fun, try it here

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Originally uploaded by gapyearwoman.

took this little section of bracken today. I so want this book thing over so I can get back to taking pictures

Peter Kay type theories

1) Triangular sandwiches taste better than square ones.
2) At the end of every party there is always a girl crying.
3) One of the most awkward things that can happen in a pub is when your pint-to-toilet cycle gets synchronised with a complete stranger.
4) You've never quite sure whether it's ok to eat green crisps.
5) Everyone who grew up in the 80's has entered the digits 55378008 into a calculator.
6) Reading when you're drunk is horrible.
7) Sharpening a pencil with a knife makes you feel really manly.
8) You're never quite sure whether it's against the law or not to have a fire in your back garden.
9) Everyone who has just read no.5 has just typed it into a calculator.
10) Nobody ever dares make cup-a-soup in a bowl.
11) You never know where to look when eating a banana.
12) Its impossible to describe the smell of a wet cat.
13) Prodding a fire with a stick makes you feel manly.
14) Rummaging in an overgrown garden will always turn up a bouncy ball.
15) You always feel a bit scared when stroking horses.
16) Everyone always remembers the day a dog ran into your school.
17) The most embarrassing thing you can do as schoolchild is to call your teacher mum or dad.
18) The smaller the monkey the more it looks like it would kill you at the first given opportunity.
19) Some days you see lots of people on crutches.
20) Every bloke has at some stage while taking a pee flushed half way through and then raced against the flush.
21) Old women with mobile phones look wrong!
22) Its impossible to look cool whilst picking up a Frisbee.
23) Driving through a tunnel makes you feel excited.
24) You never ever run out of salt.
25) Old ladies can eat more than you think.
26) You can't respect a man who carries a dog.
27) There's no panic like the panic you momentarily feel when you've got your hand or head stuck in something.
28) No one knows the origins of their metal coat hangers.
29) Despite constant warning, you have never met anybody who has had their arm broken by a swan.
30) The most painful household incident is wearing socks and stepping on an upturned plug.
31) People who don't drive slam car doors too hard
32) You've turned into your dad the day you put aside a thin piece of wood specifically to stir paint with.
33) Everyone had an uncle who tried to steal their nose.
34) Bricks are horrible to carry.
35) In every plate of chips there is a bad chip.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cheap flights

I doubt anybody will comment on this, but it moves me. I was born in Africa and I admire the courage of people who daily deal with more than we do in a life time. I based it on the this article.

Cheap flight

Here cut-price, last-minute-flight,
self-catering, sun-factored whites

meet salt-caked, sardine-packed,
all-hopes-pinned-on blacks

Here, where Europe stoops to
kiss Africa’s cheek, the right

papers and plastic buy cheap
shots and happy hours, while

no papers find no welcome, just
months behind bars, like dogs in
a pound.

Here on the faultline where the haves,
and some even say chavs, meet

the have-nots, the-not-for-want
-of-trying, the drowned and the dying.

My baby pumpkin

My baby pumpkin
Originally uploaded by gapyearwoman.

I grew this and took its portrait atop my stone pumpkins. I shot in colour and took everything but the pumpkin back to sepia. It's a bitdark so I'm not sure that I've got quite what I wanted

"Pulling wings off butterflies"

My friend Meg lives in PA and has children. When I first heard yesterday's report about a gun incident in a PA school my heart stopped. I was near Dunblane on the day of that awful shooting. The meeting I was at broke up as soon as the news came through. I'll never forget the look on the faces of the terror stricken parents as they ran from the building to drive home.

Meg's family is safe, but she e-mailed me saying "It is so cruel,and so cowardly. the Amish are complete innocents and killing any child is like pulling the wings off butterflies."

Nothing else to be said really.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Eating greens

The USA is experiencing a health scare just now, some people have contracted e-coli from pre-packed spinach. A friend over there sent me this great cartoon. She also said there's now a further health worry concerning carrot juice causing botulism, so maybe the next cartoon will feature Bugs Bunny in an open casket.
I wonder if anyone's told Suicidal Bunny, he'd probably queue to buy a job lot. As would most of the ladies in Manhattan, but only to smear on their faces. 5th Ave is a strange place, you're never quite sure if those old broads are really blanking you, or it's simply that they can no longer move any facial muscles.

N is home. She brought me a lovely designer bag, the label in Spanish means "F*cking cool". It has a pink house design on it. B. was delighted to see her, and to be home. I'm looking forward to having more room in bed, sans three stone of mongrel. N. bought me air dried Spanish ham, but left it in the fridge when she left for the ferry :(

I'm glad she's back I've missed her.

I had my FIL all weekend, he's getting very frail as he's nearly 80, but it was nice to feed him up and give him goodies to take home, includng some of my plum jam, some Chinese lantern flowers from the garden, as he paints, and a couple of photographs of mine that he really liked. I wish he lived closer.