Friday, 30 January 2009

First Flight... Safe Landings

This morning I finally took my first flight into hysteria. I knew it had to happen sooner or later. I've been charged with adrenalin ever since I started on this project; I was bound to overload sooner or later!

The cause of the sudden flight of fear was the fact that, last week, people finally began reading my book. Reading my words. It suddenly made it all very real and very alarming. What would they say? :-\ Well... yesterday three friends finished reading my book and came back with comments. They all said the same thing, more or less - they loved the story, in spite of the errors.


That was a shock; I thought I'd cleaned up and edited out most errors. I actually went through the book five times before sending it - twice for word changes (a name and a phrase had to be removed and changed), once with spell check, once more correcting formatting of punctuation (when I upgraded the book to a more modern Word it turned punctuation marks backwards or removed them completely) and then finally once more again, because the publishers wanted a specific format for paragraph indents etc.

So, last night I took out the document and started reading again... Within the first two chapters I found missing punctuation marks, missing words, and two sentences that seemed to have been turned inside out. 

I fled in complete panic and darkest despair. I went to bed and cried buckets, woke up this morning and cried more, then I sent an email to all the friends and relatives I knew had gone off to buy my book. I apologised deeply for the fact they were buying a book riddled with errors.

All of today email replies have been filtering back, all of them consoling and several of them from friends who have also bought and read my book and loved it, warts and all. The compliments have helped, the hugs and sympathy too, but the reply that helped bring me back down to solid ground the best was one from a friend who is also a published author himself.

He said:
Don't beat yourself up about it! I've had to issue an errata sheet for all my books. There are probably several contributory factors:

* I and almost everyone I know, finds it well-nigh impossible to copy-edit properly on a computer screen. It takes a printed copy to have a chance of finding most of the errors.

* Spell-checkers are useful but not infallible; grammar checkers can be worse than useless.
Watt wood eye dew whiff art mice pill Czech air?

* Seamless software upgrades from Microsoft are about as common as hen's teeth.

* Global formatting changes always change more than you tell them to.

And lastly:
* It is a human trait to see/read what we expect to see/read. If we have written something, we tend to see what we intended to write. It helps slightly if things are formatted differently by a typesetter, but the same trait applies to page-proofs.

To quote Alfonso the Wise (1221 - 84):
"Unto those Three Things which the Ancients held to be impossible, there should be added this Fourth: to find a Book printed without Errors."
I laughed a lot at the "Watt wood" sentence and somewhere between laughing at that and the Alfonso quote I started to regain my ability to laugh at myself - at my perfectionistic panic melt-down! Others had said similar things, but having friends say that the errors didn't matter, didn't carry as much weight as having a published author of sensible books, come in with such sane, comforting (and witty) observations.

I did something today that, like the song below, made me feel proud. I remembered how to laugh at myself. I'm sure there's a link there... between enlightenment and lightening up! ;-)

So I'm sending a big hug and thank you to all the wonderful kind friends who reached out to grab me today, when I flew off in a panic, but I owe an especially big THANK YOU to Stephen, who helped me land safely.

Song for the Weekend - Proud

Proud - Heather Small

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Capercaillie - Fear A' Bhata

There's a highland coo calf near the end of this that looks like a fuzzy toy. :-) Some lovely photos of the mountains too.

Monday, 26 January 2009

How now, Brown Cow!

Yesterday was the first day of the new Chinese year. We've finally left the frantic finance-obsessed Rat year and have entered the year of the Earth Ox, or Brown Cow, to be more traditionally correct .

To celebrate I'm posting pictures of my favourite bovines - Highland cattle... called Hielan' Coos in Scotland. I suppose that makes this a broon Coo year? ;-)

These are photos of mama and baby coo and baby coo's nose. He looked like a teddy bear, but petting him he felt like straw.


Saturday, 24 January 2009

My Sacred Clown

An interesting new Blog called Cloister Voices issued a rather unique challenge. You can read the long version on their blog. Here's the short version:
"Meme Challenge: Describe your first encounter with a hermit, mystic, or an unusually eccentric person."

My very first encounter with an eccentric has to be my dad’s father. He was someone I only knew literally between the ages of birth and four, but who came to me a thousand times through my life in the hearts and words of the people whose lives he had changed. He was there, one way or another, my entire childhood. He influenced everything from my sense of humour to my opinions on religion, but how do you describe a man who was so charismatic and yet so elusive?

My grandfather was born as the middle child of a large family in the British African colony of Southern Rhodesia. When he died, at a far too early age, so many people came to his funeral that they had to put chairs outside the windows and doors.

Named Gabriel after an angel, yet never angelic, he was a walking oxymoron – an extrovert who loved being alone. He was a born performer, the charmer and the clown who stood out at every gathering and yet he almost never spoke about himself. He loved to be with people and yet he would sometimes just pick up his gun and gear and vanish into the bush for a week or a day. He knew the land intimately, as only a lover can, and the people of the land loved him in return. He knew every edible and poisonous plant and he knew every stone… quite literally. Geology was one of his passions and he had barrels of agates, amethyst, malachite and tigers eye that he’d collected on his wanderings. He worked as a dowser finding not only water, but minerals and even gold. After he died the barrels came to us and as a child I’d sit in the sand and play with chunks of malachite and agate, pyrites and mica.

If I had to sum him up in one word I’d have to steal it from another culture and another continent. My grandfather was a Heyoka, the Lakota word for a Sacred Clown. I first came upon that idea several years back and the moment I read about it I knew I’d found my grandfather’s true spiritual calling...

Heyoka are thought of as being backwards-forwards, upside-down, or contrary in nature. This spirit is often manifest by doing things backwards or unconventionally.

Their satire presents important questions by fooling around. They ask difficult questions, and say things others are too afraid to say. By reading between the lines, the audience is able to think about things not usually thought about, or to look at things in a different way.

Principally, the Heyoka functions both as a mirror and a teacher, using extreme behaviors to mirror others, thereby forcing them to examine their own doubts, fears, hatreds, and weaknesses.

In addition, sacred clowns serve an important role in shaping tribal codes. Heyokas don’t seem to care about taboos, rules, regulations, social norms, or boundaries. Paradoxically, however, it is by violating these norms and taboos that they help to define the accepted boundaries, rules, and societal guidelines for ethical and moral behavior. This is because they are the only ones who can ask "Why?" about sensitive topics... Their role is to penetrate deception, turn over rocks, and create a deeper awareness.

(Quoted from HERE)

Just like the Heyoka, my grandfather poked silly sticks at every “sacred cow” and did everything backwards-forwards. As the entertainer he did vaudeville type shows for the miners and nearly got lynched one time when the miners realised that the “girl” doing a striptease behind a curtain was actually my grandfather wearing false wooden breasts he’d made himself for his act. He played over a dozen different musical instruments, sometimes creating his own “orchestra” recordings by using two reel-to-reel tape recorders to tape himself playing over himself playing. Perfectly able to create beautiful music from a whole range of perfectly normal musical instruments the one he is most remembered for is playing the saw as beautifully as a violin.

How he dressed with complete disregard to fashion in whatever he liked, which included going to town in his favourite pith helmet on Saturday mornings. He never went to any church, yet helped out at all of them.. he also laughed at all of them. He laughed at everything he thought ridiculous or pretentious, nothing was too sacred to be found silly, and yet he rarely angered or hurt anyone’s feelings with his laughter. His comic version of the Catholic Latin Mass has been known to leave good Catholics giggling hysterically. I think it’s because he laughed from love and a pure joy in the silliness of humankind. He was a terrible mangler of song lyrics, making up his own wickedly funny or just plane giggle-silly versions of everything from everyday tunes and classical works to opera and hymns. I grew up singing his versions, always naughty, sometimes rude, but never to the point of offensive or insulting.

I have no conscious memories of him, but he’s there in the sparkle in people’s eyes when they speak of him. Through him, and through his son, I grew up with an abiding sense of silliness and a complete disrespect for anything/anyone pompous. To this day, over forty years after his death, I still sing his song lyrics (as well as make up my own for new songs), I tend to dress with an equal disregard for fashion, and I have an obsession with stones that I think he would have approved of…

and he managed to have the last laugh on us all.

Six years ago my husband came out to Africa to marry me. One morning, a few weeks before we left Africa to return to Scotland, he came through singing. This might not seem very remarkable, except hubby isn’t a sing-out-loud type. He prefers an audience of one, not a kitchen full of people making breakfast. My dad turned to him in absolute amazement and asked, “Why are you singing that song?” Hubby shrugged and admitted he had no idea. He didn’t even know the name of the song he’d been singing, but my dad did. It was one of my grandfather’s favourites - an old song called “Home on the Range.” My dad shook his head in wonder, “Do you know what today is?” he asked us. I didn’t know, only my mom remembered. It was the date of my grandfather’s death.

Only a Sacred Clown could have pulled off a joke like that from the other side. ;-)

Seeing Sunshine


This is for Daisy of Dancing with Daisy. She's a blogger guaranteed to leave you feeling smiley.
Which is kind of appropriate for a "daisy", since the name means "day's eye" - a little scrap of sun surrounded by petals. That's exactly how I see you, as a blogger who always manages to make her readers' day brighter.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Things that Go Bump...


Shastri sent me a very interesting link to a video of a ghostly siting. Go have a watch of the guys in the lift. VERY creepy! Having seen so many excellent fakes on YouTube I'm undecided whether this video is the real thing or not, but it did jog my memory about our strange experience earlier this week when my parents and I went shopping.

My mom wanted to buy a new bath mat, so we stopped in at a big DIY/furniture store that sells everything imaginable. While my mom and dad debated the various styles of bath mat I wandered off to look around. I found this photo online of the bath section, I was actually around the corner, but it gives you an idea of the shop. :-)
I stopped first to look at their shower curtains, because the colours were so pretty. They had the plastic bags holding them hanging up on a wall in a wave of colours from pastels through bright to patterned. I glanced behind me, to admire some very fancy bathroom mirrors on the other wall, when a noise and movement made me turn back.

As I watched one of the hanging packets opened by itself and the shower curtain inside slowly slid out. It's hard to explain why that was odd. You could easily argue that the packet was loose and gravity makes things fall, but the way the plastic flap opened out and the curtain came out was too slow. Almost as if an invisible person had opened it and pulled the curtain out. I thought, "Weird!" I walked off and quickly forgot about it - there were too many interesting things to look at.

Later, back at the car, my dad said, "Do you know that place is haunted? We saw it."
I said, "Wow, you saw the curtain too?"
They both looked puzzled and replied, "No, we saw the box... what did you see?"

It turned out that while I was lost between rows of lamps on sale and kitchen goodies my mom and dad had their own weird experience. They were being served when a man who worked in the shop came past. He put a box down on a shelf, then came over to them for a chat (people are very friendly here, everyone stops for a chat). While they were talking the big box he'd put on the shelf suddenly started to move. As all four of them (woman behind the counter) watched the box slowly slid off the shelf and fell BANG on the floor.

The man and woman both laughed. They said it happened a lot as the place was haunted. Things fall off perfectly shelves, things drop, etc. The shop is about forty years old, but before then it was a Mill/factory where lots of people worked. I have no idea how old, I tried looking on Google, but couldn't find anything, but in the shop there are old black and white photos from the days when the place was still a Woollen Mill.

What's really funny is how we both saw something odd, but completely independant of each other. I know next time I'm shopping there I'm definitely going to watch more closely! ;-)

Saturday, 17 January 2009

photo tag

Daisy had an interesting tag on her blog. The rules are: open a document or file folder, click on the fifth folder and then the fifth photo. Post the photo and describe it. Then tag 5 other bloggers.

I don't tag, it's up to you to join in or not, but
if you do take on this meme for your blog, please let me know so that I can come see your photo too.

My photo #5 in folder 5 was...

This was taken last spring. It's of bluebells and I took it at Clava Cairns outside of Inverness. Bluebells are so tiny and hard to photograph, but this photo came out pretty good. :-)

Friday, 16 January 2009

Strong Waters


This week we went through to Inverness to do a bit of shopping. The River Ness was running very high so we stopped and I took a few photos. The first two are looking down river towards Inverness city centre. The last one is looking up river, towards Loch Ness.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

My Book Info and a request for help

Hi Everyone

Okay, I have finally got my book info up online HERE in a new seperate blog. This way I can update on the book without mangling this blog. I promise that I will copy and paste important news to both blogs so the curious-but-lazy don't have to wander far. ;-)

I am going to copy and paste my back cover/synopsis here and with that a request of sorts.

I wanted to put this up at all the Amazon shops selling my book, but I can only manage to get onto the UK one. To register to write at the others I have to first buy stuff from them and that's a bit tricky! So, I need to find people who've used Amazon in the USA, Canada, Japan, China or Germany who could put up my book synopsis for me. If anyone's interested/willing - you can email me, please. It's not a review, just the basics about the story that I'm putting here below in blue.

" Forbidden things." Idrith pointed out grimly, Things that could be your death warrant."

"" All beauty has a price, Castellan, and with all knowledge comes responsibility. The people who deal with my contact know this well, and they know the worse price of ignoring it."

" What would that be?"

" Emptiness."

Idrith dropped his gaze at last. That one word described his whole existence, " Tell me more, please."

On the harsh militant world of Sindorus, where even colours are considered sinful, three people living very separate lives are about to have those lives change forever. As deceptions are torn away, and ancient secrets brought to light, they each must struggle to find the missing pieces to the puzzle... answers that will unlock their true destiny.

Idrith, bitter and trapped in a life he never chose, is the first to discover his own fear-filled mystery. Obsessed with finding the truth behind the lies he turns to the one person he has always tried to avoid - the mysterious pilgrim, Harmion.

Aztar's military promotion comes with an unexpected burden. A serious problem threatens the security of the entire Northerner regime and it seems that their only hope may lie in the hands of someone he was raised to think of as his enemy and inferior. Each day they struggle together to find a solution, but at night Aztar struggles alone as the secret he's kept hidden since childhood returns to torment him.

In a world where most women have no control over their lives Daen was allowed to grow up unrestricted and far better educated than normal. Now her father's health is failing and the running of their family estate lies in her hands… and with it the security of everyone she loves. Knowing that desperate situations call for courageous action, Daen is about to take a step that will change all their lives forever.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

FINALLY - My Book is out!


I received an email this afternoon to say that my book is published, as of today, January 13... lucky 13? ;-) I went and had a look and the book is up on Amazon already. They picked the cover design, but I'm okay with that - I really like their cover.

To recap - I originally found out about the publishing offer from Russell/Bassman , who is also eagerly awaiting news about his own book. The offer was from a publishing place that offers free publication to new unknown authors. It was a "first come, first served" basis. Basically they publish and you get your big chance... to swim or drown. Well here I am paddling like crazy! :-D It still doesn't feel real, but it feels GOOD ... and scary.

I promise to return and tell more about the book, but for the moment I just want to sit here and let it really sink in. :-)

Mediaeval Baebes - Pearl

Recently I was talking to someone about how much English has changed over time, especially our pronounciations. I went looking for spoken Old English and wandered off onto medieval songs. This one really is sung in English!

Here below are the original lyrics:

The dubberment dere of down and dales
Of wode and water and wlonk plaines
Bilde in me bliss, abated my bales
Forbidden my stress, destroyed my paines
Down after a strem that drightly hales
I bowed in bliss, bredful my branes
The firre I folwed those floty vales
The more strength of joye myn herte straines
As fortune fares theras ho fraines
Whether solace ho sende other elles sore
The wye to wham hir wille ho waines
Hittes to have ay more and more
More of wele was in that wise
Than I couth telle thagh I tom hade
For erthly herte might not suffise
To the tenthe dole of tho gladness glade
For thy I thoght that paradise
Was there other gain tho bonkes brade
I hoped the water were a devise
Between mirthes by meres made
Beyonde the brook, by slent other slade
I hoped that mote inerked wore
Bot the water was depe, I dorst not wade
And ever me longed ay more and more
More and more and yet well mare
Me liste to see the brook beyonde
For if hit was fair there I can fare
Well loveloker was the firre londe
Aboute me con I stote and stare
To finde a forth faste con I fonde
Bot wothes mo ywis there ware
The firre I stalled by the stronde
And ever me thoght I shokle not wonde
For wo there weles so winne wore
Thenne newe note me com on honed
That meved my minde more and more

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Fun Questions Tag

... I found a fun tag on Amel's blog. Please feel free to take it yourself, but let me know so I can come read your answers too. :-)

1. Have you ever been on TV?
* Yes, when I was about seven. It was a children's show and they took me out the audience to play a game. I knew they were going to and tried to become very very small and invisible because I didn't want to be called out, but they did anyway. I had to throw a frisbee at a target, but I was so nervous it went everywhere but near the target. I thought it was a horrible experience, but my family watched me on TV and thought I was cute.

2. Have you ever sung in public?
* Yes, but not intentionally. A friend invited me to his church Christmas carol singing gathering. He and I were talking about an old carol you never hear sung that we'd both sung at School. He started singing (he was a professional singer) and I can in on the harmonies (I'm good as back up). We were so enjoying it that I didn't realise the room had filled with people listening. When we stopped they clapped, which felt really good! I can understand why pop stars like an audience. It's a real "high" having people clap for you.

3. Have you ever dyed your hair blond?
* Mmm..... not intentionally, but a hairdresser once gave me too many blonde highlights and my hair was more blonde than brown.

4. Have you ever eaten frogs' legs?
* Nope and not likely to. They're on my "not keen to eat" list along with oysters, snails, blood pudding and rabbit.

5. Have you ever received a present that you really hated?
* Yes. A school friend gave me these slippers that were bear feet with claws. They were meant as a joke, but really REALLY ugly and not even comfy to wear. I thought it was a stupid waste of money.

6. Have you ever walked into a lamp post?
* No, but I've walked into other kinds of posts, fences, chairs, doors...

7. Have you ever cooked a meal by yourself for more than 15 people?
* Nope and hopefully never will. Being a hostess makes me nervous and I make mistakes when I'm nervous. I fed one person a raw chicken and gave two others overcooked rice (a big white BLOB). If I'm that bad with one or two imagine what I'd be like with 15... :-O

8. Have you ever fallen or stumbled in front of others?
* Yes, regularly. I have tripped down stairs at a disco and landed in the lap of a guy seated by the stairs. I have fallen out of a canoe in front of seven close friends and a pier full of strangers, I have fallen running at school on a sport's field... in mud. There are many more, but you get the idea!

9. Have you ever done volunteer work?
* Yes and it was great fun. My sister-in-law works for two charities and I've helped her at several shops and also helped gather in donation bags of clothes, etc. I've also done volunteer work in Africa helping once with an election - checking voter's role names. That was boring.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Last NEWSFLASH for 2008

Time to do the news update thing once again, the last one for 2008.

N - nature
E - entertainment
W - wise words
S - spirit
F - family
L - love
A - anxiety
S - smiles
H - home

The biggest event Nature staged in December was the amazing frost and ice that the below freezing temperatures brought us through Christmas to the new year. This photo below was the view from our house, across the frozen icy fields, on New year's Eve.

We never went anywhere in December, it was too cold and since some of my in-laws were ill there wasn't any incentive to visit anyone and pass along germs! So we stayed home relaxing was exactly what we all needed. We watched TV and DVDs, ate snacks and now and then made short trips up to the shops to buy the last Christmas bits or basic groceries. The closest we came to entertainment was New year's eve when the towns around us lit fireworks at midnight and we all sat in the house watching them through the windows.

My favourite quote for the month, with one important twist - they have to be words from a fellow blogger! My Wise Words choice for December come from a friend and fellow blogger, Jean-Jacques of Gypsy Cafe:
"To travel is to evolve when travelling is consciously used as the vehicle to go beyond personal borders.

To evolve is to always attempt to shift the borders of our own limitations beyond their current borders.

To evolve is to expand our life experiences in order to learn more from life beyond the borders of the conventional.

To evolve is to continue facing our fears and to overcome them beyond the borders of the limitations they have imposed on us.

To evolve is to become autonomous in our thoughts beyond the borders of collective thinking and conditioning."
To me the greatest wonder of this time of year is the ever-repeated mystery of life-death birth-rebirth. In every religion, and in nature itself in the Northern hemisphere, there is the theme of endings and beginnings: the longest night in winter heralding the death of the natural year that reminds us of the coming rebirth of spring, several different versions of new year (depending on your religion or culture), and interwoven in all that the story of a child being born to die physically so no-one should ever die spiritually.

Not much to report. It was a quiet Christmas. A cousin in England sent me a Christmas card saying he'd been on holiday and found the grave of my great great great grandmother in Istanbul, but he never said if he took photos! :-( I keep meaning to write to him and ask, but I know he never reads his email, so it'll probably be better if I write an actual letter... yuck! I'm so out of writing, having had email for nine years.

Hubby bought me a wonderful surprise for Christmas - a new monitor. It's one of those flat screen things and almost as big as our original TV! It's wonderful. :-)

The biggest December anxiety was in early December when both mom and I realised we'd bought clothing gifts in the wrong sizes. There was a mad dash back to the shops the next day. Thankfully we were able to sort them all out and everyone got gifts they could wear.

Smile of the month is this sign I was sent in an email. I'd love to know what animal it was written about. Obviously it's a very sensitive, or irritable, animal! :-D

I'm posting a photo for this portion, one that I think sums up the word home for December - hubby and dad washing and drying the dishes. Nothing more thrilling to a woman's heart than men getting domesticated. ;-) ..

Thursday, 8 January 2009


When we first moved into this house in April last year I wrote briefly about the crows that came to eat any scraps I threw out for them. Today I realised that I've never updated on our charming crow family. Unfortunately I have virtually no photographs. The crows are not happy about cameras and fly off the moment I pick up anything. Since we live in a farming area where crows are shot by farmers it's not surprising that they're so wary. They're perfectly happy to come down in our garden when we're around, but not if we pick up cameras, binoculars... anything the crows don't recognise as food!

Since I moved to Scotland six years ago my life has been full of crows. The first house we lived in we had a single crow that mimicked the seagulls. I have no idea why as both the crows and the gulls hated it and would chase him away when he did so. Was he a bit mad or did he just enjoy the joke? I have no idea! From there we moved twice (renting is a pain) to houses where crows dabbled and dallied, but it's only been since living in this recent house that I've had a chance to watch crow family behaviour up close.

We live bang in the middle of a territory claimed by a pair of crows. They seem to own about two farm fields, our house and a strip of wilderness along the road. Theirs is a "mixed marriage". It's taken me months to figure out who was who. Mr Crow is a gorgeous sleek black Carrion Crow, but his wife is a Hooded Crow. I haven't any close photos, but found wonderful illustrations on the RSPB website.

Mr Carrion Crow

Mrs Hooded Crow
Last Spring/Summer they had one chick, a rather mottled Crow Junior. It is now January and Crow Junior is still living at home with his/her parents. Admittedly the "teen" is a bit rebelious and doesn't always follow orders from his/her parents, but they're still a close-knit family group.

When I put out food the ritual is this - Dad Crow comes in close and sits up high to watch for danger. Mom Crow flies low and fast across the garden to see what's on offer. If she likes what she sees she goes to her partner and calls. He calls in junior who sometimes refuses to come over. Then Mom flies to wherever he is and yells at him. Mostly he comes over if she yells at him!

If it's a little food they each take their share. If it's a lot Mom and Dad Crow take the extra and bury it for later in several stash places - in the corner rockery, in the field and in a small fenced off patch where the seagulls never go (too overgrown). The gulls are BIG here and very agressive so the crows have to act fast as they are no match for the bigger greedier gulls.

The only time they will take on the gulls is if the crow clan gathers. If they can get together twenty or so crows then they will chase the gulls or any other birds, off their land. Interestingly they never chase off their "cousins" - the Jackdaws and Rooks.

I love it when the Crow clans gather to fly. They are a delight to watch. Seagulls soar over us in perfect spirals, geese stream past in tidy skeins and regimented V formation and even the small birds fly in some kind of tidy order, but not the crows. Crows flying in groups mess about too much. They tease, they chase, they veer off to look at something and nearly bump into each other. There's no group mind-set where everyone flies synchrnised, like the gulls and the geese. Each crow is an individual doing his own thing.

They're silly, happy, loud and messy... they're NEVER tidy. I love that and I love the way they make flying look fun. Not beautiful or graceful, but just messy-flappy zip and zoom duck-n- dive FUN. :-) I can't watch crows flying without wanting to laugh. Eagles leave me in awe and swans flying make me want to cry because they are so beautiful, but it's only when I watch crows playing in the sky that I wish I had wings.

Dancing Crows

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Young Love

A news bulletin worth sharing! :-)


Mika and his girlfriend Anna-Bell found on way to airport with lilo, swimming trunks and a witness for the wedding in tow.

Kate Connolly, Berlin -, 5 January 2009.

It is a dream that has been shared by lovers across the centuries – the chance to elope to exotic lands. But few would have been as bold and spontaneous as six-year-old Mika and his five-year-old sweetheart Anna-Bell who, after mulling over their options in secret, packed their suitcases on New Year's Eve and set off from the German city of Hanover to tie the knot under the heat of the African sun.

The children left their homes at dawn while their unwitting parents were apparently sleeping, and took along Mika's seven-year-old sister, Anna-Lena, as a witness to the wedding.

Donning sunglasses, swimming armbands and dragging a pink blow-up lilo and suitcases on wheels packed with summer clothes, cuddly toys and a few provisions, they walked a kilometre up the road, boarded a tram to Hanover train station and got as far as the express train that would take them to the airport before a suspicious station guard alerted police.

"What struck us was that the little ones were completely on their own and that they had lots of swimming gear with them," said Holger Jureczko, a police spokesman. He described Mika and Anna-Bell as "sweethearts" who had "decided to get married in Africa where it is warm, taking with them as a witness Mika's sister".

Anna-Bell told the German television station RTL: "We wanted to get married and so we just thought: 'Let's go there.' "

Mika said: "We wanted to take the train to the airport, then we wanted to get on a plane and when we arrived we wanted to unpack the summer things and then we wanted to go for a bit of a stroll in the sun."

Mika and Anna-Lena's mother, who was not identified, said she had known nothing of her children's plan. "I'm still in a state of shock. I thought 'I'm playing a part in a bad movie.' When we realised the kids were missing we went looking for them." But only when the police called did they realise what had happened.

Asked why they failed to let their parents know, the children said they thought they would not be gone for long.

Mika told police he instigated the plan having been inspired by a winter holiday with his family in Italy. "Based on this the children began to make plans for the future," Jureczko said.

To allay their disappointment at being caught, Hanover police gave them a tour of the police headquarters. Jureczko said: "They'll have the chance to put their plan into action at a later date".

Original article, and photograph of the children, to be found HERE.


Monday, 5 January 2009

For Liquid


On Christmas day 2008 a blogger took her life.

She wasn't someone I knew, but she was someone whose bright witty comments I'd seen on several blogs I read myself. Her loss has hit all those who loved her deeply and everywhere I go online I find more echoes and ripples of that love and grief. Not knowing her I have no idea why she made the choice she did, but I do know, looking around Blogger at the loving tributes others have written for her, that her being here made a positive difference in many lives and that can never be taken away; will never die.

When things like this happen the biggest question on everyone's minds is, "Why?" I don't think there are any simple answers to that, because I suspect there are a million answers, unique and different for every person who makes such a choice. I think some never intend to die, they just want someone to help them find a way to truly live. I think some people are running away from the unbearable, but others are running to something - running back to where we all came from; back to Home.

Ever since I read this terrible sad news a poem I love has been wandering through my mind. I'm not sure if it will make any sense to anyone, but I can't shut the poem out of my head. Sometimes that's just my brain being annoying, but other times that means it's something important - something I'm getting from somewhere else or for someone else. I am going to put it here for Suzanne, of Liquid Illuzion.

Prayer before Birth ~ by Louis MacNeice

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my
hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
waves call me to folly and the desert calls
me to doom and the beggar refuses
my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
one face, a thing, and against all those
who would dissipate my entirety, would
blow me like thistledown hither and
thither or hither and thither
like water held in the
hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.

Banana Smiles

What a wonderful surprise I had this morning. My blogging friend, Cliff of WIXY's Gone Bananas, has chosen me as for one of his Top Banana Awards. Thank you Cliff!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

COLDER - part 1

Yesterday hubby and I went up to the shops for a few last bits (I forgot to buy tea and toothpaste!). It was even colder and the frost and ice were amazing, so we stopped to take more photos. I'm putting the photos I took with my phone/camera here and the ones hubby took with our camera in "part 2" below this post. :-)

This was taken back in the park again.
Hubby in the distance photographing the trees. :-)

On the way home we stopped on the side of the road and I took these two looking across and up the road.

I took this one in our garden when we got home, looking through the trees at the neighbours.
...and finally - the last sunset on the last day of 2008. It was about 2:45 pm.

COLDER - part 2

These are the photos my husband, Sandy, took in the park.
I think this one of the tree avenue is gorgeous.
St Leonard's Church in Forres.
The Mosset Tavern (left) and the Mosset Burn, iced up. This little park is full of ducks in summer. For those who don't know - a "burn" is a stream in Scotland.
On the way home - Roseisle forest with gorse and broom bushes in front.
Me, plotting my next photo. ;-)
Another walk through the forest.
A really pretty tree.