Friday 29 May 2009

Bloggers Building Bridges

Twilight has awarded me the International Reach Out Award (Bloggers Building Bridges)

This award was created by Tessa of An Aerial Armadillo. She writes:

The International Reach Out Award is for these special people who have all, in their own unique way, done exactly that – they’ve built bridges:

It is to acknowledge the depth and breadth of the warm open-heartedness from bloggers all over the world who reach out and touch their readers with their words.

“It has been my experience that whenever one human being reaches out to another in compassion, a bridge is built. A bridge which leads out of despair, into the light of hope and the possibility that tomorrow will hold a few less tears than yesterday”

Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke - the Good Shepherd Hospital and Baylor Clinic in Swaziland.
I feel twice honoured, to receive an award like this from Twilight, an intelligent perceptive bridge-building blogger herself, and to receive an award that links me back to Africa.On the funny-quirky side I've been dealing with the topic of touching people with words recently and, to add to the irony (which Twilight, as an astrologer will enjoy), my Mayan birth day name is... White World Bridger!

Thank you Twilight, for a lovely award. It has always been my wish to be a world-bridger, long before I knew it was my Mayan destiny. *grin* I even wrote about bridging world's in my introduction post when I first started blogging.

Now to decide who to pass this award on to. Bloggers who build bridges, who reach out and touch others. My choices are:

  1. Tint of Tint's Meanderings, for building a friendship bridge between Brazil and the world.
  2. Andy of The Black Bus Company, for bridging the worlds of those who settle and those who wander.
  3. Kerry of Jade Gryphon's Tavern, whose photos bridge continents and remind me what a marvel this planet is.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Blog Changes

This is to let everyone know I'm closing down my (First Light) book blog. I've saved all the lovely replies I had from there, but the rest will come down at the end of the week. Most of the posts there were duplicated here anyway. From now on any book news will be posted here.

I'm needing to streamline things as my health is playing up. I have been feeling really weird since last week and the doctor found my blood pressure was up too high. He's given me tablets for the moment, I'll be going back for a check up in a week's time. He thinks it's stress/anxiety so I'm trying to simplify and "downsize" my internet stuff.

Noblesse Oblige Award

Bogey has made my week brighter by choosing me for the...

Noblesse Oblige Award

The write up for this award is as follows...
The recipient of this award is recognized for the following:
  1. The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervade amongst different cultures and beliefs.
  2. Their Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage, and offers solutions.
  3. There is a clear purpose at the Blog; one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Cultures, Sciences and Beliefs.
  4. The Blog is refreshing and creative.
  5. The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.
The Blogger who receives this award will need to perform the following:
  1. Create a post with a mention and link to the person who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award.
  2. The Award conditions must be displayed at the Post.
  3. Write a short article about what the Blog has thus far achieved - preferably citing one or more older posts as support.
  4. The Blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award in concurrence with the Award conditions.
  5. The Blogger must display the Award at any location at their Blog.

That list of criteria is impressive and rather intimidating. I have always strived to be 2, 4 and 5 and if I pull off those three I am happy enough. Bogey's blog, View from the Fairway, definitely ticks the boxes listed for this award and I'm not at all surprised to see his name on the award list ahead of my own.

It's an honour to share this one with you, Bogey. Thank you for passing it on to me. :-)

Now the task of picking my own choice for this award. I know so many fantastic bloggers and blogs, but only two names came to mind instantly as managing to pull off the entire list of five:

Cliff of Wixy's Gone Bananas
Amel of Amel's Realm

Sunday 24 May 2009

To all my Girl-Friends

With thanks to a friend for introducing me to Indie.Arie's lovely talent.


This is a song for
Every girl who's
Ever been through something
She thought she couldn't make it through, yeah
I sing these words because
I was that girl, too
Wanting something better than this
But who do I turn to?

Now we're moving from the darkness into the light
This is the defining moment of our lives

Cause you're beautiful
Like a flower
More valuable
Than a diamond
You are powerful
Like a fire
You can heal the world
With your mind and
There is nothing in the world that you cannot do
When you believe in you
Who are beautiful (yeah you)
Who are brilliant (yeah you)
Who are powerful (yeah you)
Who are resilient

This is a song for
Every girl who
Feels that she is not special
Cause she don't look like a supermodel Coke bottle
The next time the radio tells you
To shake your money-maker
Shake your head and tell them
Tell them you're a leader

Now we're moving from the darkness into the light
This is the defining moment of our lives

Cause you're beautiful
Like a flower
More valuable
Than a diamond
You are powerful
Like a fire
You can heal the world
With your mind and
There is nothing in the world that you cannot do
When you believe in you
Who are beautiful (yeah you)
Who are brilliant (yeah you)
Who are powerful (yeah you)
Who are resilient (yeah you)
Who are beautiful (yeah you)
Who are brilliant (yeah you)
Who are powerful (yeah you)
Who are resilient (yeah you)

This song is for you
Yeah you

Saturday 23 May 2009

Going back to my Childhood...

...sitting out in the garden and hearing music on radios of people walking by...

Thaba Bosiu played by Johannes "Spokes" Mashiyane, one of the greatest pennywhistle artists of South African kwela music (1950s to 1970s)

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Gorse... of course

Daisy asked about the yellow flowers and I realised I've become so used to gorse I'm not thinking back to when I was a visitor here in the UK and was going, "WOW, What is that yellow plant?"

Actually... spring/summer here is yellow time. Not only is the gorse yellow, but also daffodils, broom and rapeseed. Even if the summer days here are cloudy, the ground is always sunny. :-)

Gorse bushes grow everywhere up here in Scotland. They are incredibly thorny, have very dull dark leaves, but look gorgeous when in flower (which is anywhere from early spring to summer)
The flower heads are sweetpea-shaped and smell... unique. I've tried to decide what gorse smells like and the closest I can get is vanilla and new plastic. (you know how some plastic products have that slightly perfumey smell?) It's an odd scent that can be a bit much on a hot day. I can't ever decide if I like it or not, but the colour I just love. That yellow glows. :-)

The first photo here was taken on the day we photographed the planes at Findhorn bay.
These second two photos were taken a few weekends back. It's an area near the Inverness airport. I wish I could capture the way the yellow GLOWS, but no photo really captures that.


Tuesday 19 May 2009

Scary Movie

Yesterday hubby went out and tried to get some better photos of the planes flying out of RAF Lossiemouth. He also managed to get some rather scary film footage of a Tornado landing. The thing you need to understand about Lossie air base is that on one side the planes land/take off over the golf course and on the other over a farm, so it's fairly easy to get really REALLY close to planes.

Hubby says, although he knew logically that it was flying over him... he still ducked. (not that it would have done much good, he added. LOL )

Monday 18 May 2009

The Boys are Back in Town!

The "boys" are 85 aircraft, 22 ships, 3 submarines and assorted land units of the UK military and 12 invited NATO and Allied Nations taking part in the exercise Joint Warrior.

Since we live between two air bases the past week has been... NOISY, but exciting. They even managed to set off our one car alarm at about 2:00 am on Saturday, probably by scaring some poor cat or bunny into bumping into the car on his escape from the BIG NOISE.

Last week we took a drive down to Findorn Bay and tried to get a few photos. I discovered that trying to photograph fast moving planes is not easy, but we had great fun anyway. :-)

Here's my first attempt, from the parking area...
Then we walked down onto the grassland around the bay and I took this French aircraft coming in to land across the bay. Sorry guys, I'm not sure of the name. It was a very chic Navy colour, if that helps.
Two French aircraft in formation...
Close up...
Taking photo a bit too soon...
Taking photo a bit too late...
Really nice long shot of a small plane coming in to land...
A lovely picture of the bay taken almost from directly below the flight path in to Kinloss. That canal marks the way. If you click on this one for the enlarged shot as then you'll see the vapour trail of another plane to the left of this one...

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Standing Stones

Sunday, 10th May, was the day Standing Women had their annual stand for a better world scheduled. Each year they ask that everyone participating stands:
"for five minutes of silence at 1 p.m. your local time on May 10, 2009, in your local park, school yard, gathering place, or any place you deem appropriate, to signify your agreement with the statement below. Please stand at a different hour with a different time zone if 1 p.m. is not your preferred time.We ask you to invite the men who you care about to join you."
Well, this year I had completely forgotten the date, but remembered just in time to make my stand... in a cemetery!

Here is where I stood on Sunday, at Tomnahurich cemetery in Inverness.
Tomnahurich is much more than just a cemetery and on Sunday the experience of being there turned out to be much more than I expected as well. Tomnahurich means "Hill of the Yews", but once, long long before there was a graveyard there, it was known as the "Hill of the Fae", a magical gateway between the worlds of mortals and magic.

The first time I ever set foot on Tomnahurich was when I came out on holiday to meet my future husband. That time I felt something really strange and amazing... and I've always wanted to go back. I've never had the chance, but this past Sunday hubby had to run an errand in Inverness and since it was a beautiful sunny day I suggested we go for a walk afterwards. I asked to go to the hill, since it's almost exactly seven years since I was last there. I like cemeteries. They're always peaceful, usually have lovely trees...

...and in this case also stunning views of Inverness and the surrounding area from the top.

You see, Tomnahurich is shaped, as hubby puts it, a bit like an ocean liner. It's a long hill with a flat top. Here's the view from the top, first from one end and then the other...

When I was here the first time, walking along that middle path, I stepped into the centre and felt as if I stepped through something I can only describe as "electric jelly." :-o The air wobbled and tingled. I tried stepping back through it again... but it was gone. Nothing.

So, this year on Standing Women's day I finally went back and stood with some very special "standing stones" on a double anniversary. You see, not only was I last there roughly seven years before, but my husband's father was buried there roughly thirty years ago in early May. Hubby went looking for the grave, while I stood, but couldn't find it. He remembered the area, but had a feeling the stone had been renewed by another family member and couldn't remember what the new stone looked like.

He was busy going up and down the rows and rows of graves when I saw something - a man in a white shirt standing by a grave in the distance. Long seeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows, grey trousers... It was only a picture in my mind and I dismissed it as just that - my imagination, but the feeling of being pulled to that grave was so intense I gave up trying to stand and went across to where I'd "seen" the man. It was way over in another area of the graveyard, far away from where my husband was looking for his dad, but it was a nice day and I enjoyed the walk.

I came down the path... looked down at the grave where the man had been standing... and there was the name of my husband's father.

Two anniversaries, two people standing - one passed standing to be remembered and one present standing for the future. All in all I'd call that a pretty amazing day.


Saturday 9 May 2009


Last week a friend of mine phoned to talk about a situation that had her really upset. She made a joking comment to someone (one of her ex-husband's family) in an email. This person took the teasing comment seriously and was so offended she actually sent back an email titled, Goodbye. In it she said she was insulted, offended... going, gone, outta here!

My friend was shocked. The comment really was a joke and the two of them have been lobbing jokes back and forth in lots of emails before this ones. Why did this joke offend? We talked about it and figure the joke must have hit a nerve, but since my friend never knew this "touchy nerve" existed how can she be responsible for the insult and anger it caused?

I went through something similar about three years ago. I lost a friend because I refused to apologise for my words. Were they good words, were they tactful or insenstitive? It depends on who you ask. I thought they were tactful enough, this friend disagreed. She ended our friendship. It stands out in my memory because it was the first time in my life I didn't apologise. I refused to say sorry for my words, because to have done that would have been a lie and made everything I said a lie. I did apologise for hurting her feelings, because I never intended that, but I simply couldn't bring myself to apologise for being myself. She had demanded I give her an honest opinion on something... I did as asked. How she took that was her responsibility, not mine.

It was the end of our friendship and that hurt, but it also felt remarkably freeing. For the first time in my life I had taken a stand and said "no, this is not mine to claim." I handed the responsibility of whether she chose to be offended, or not, back to her. How and why we say things may be our responsibility, but how others react to what they hear is not. That is their choice and their reponsibility.
What would happen to our conversations if we constantly censored out anything and everything that might hurt, harm, offend, annoy or influence others? We already know that we shouldn't make insulting racist remarks, sexist remarks, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. You could offend someone on gender, sexual preference, race, culture, Nationality, religion, spirituality, age, intelligence, weight, height, hair colour (blonde jokes), diet (I have a vegan friend offended by everything meat related), mental disability, physical disability, political views...

Anything left you can say at this stage and be certain you won't offend someone?
No, I'm not at all in favour of Political Correctness and yes, I have had others insult me with words and am aware of the damage that can do. Yes, they hurt or angered me, but it was still my choice to be hurt or be angry. MY choice. MY free will. Yes, when you are young and inexperienced jokes and insults can leave scars, but those are life lessons we can take and either grow from or use as an excuse to cripple our lives. We always have that choice. We all have that choice.

I remember, as a child, being taught to laugh off insults or taunts. I remember being taught to forgive the insulter, to "turn the other cheek." Nowadays if someone insults you... you sue them! What are we teaching our future generations? Is this really an improvement? By outlawing insults we don't stop people who hate from hating, we merely drive their throughts within, where no-one knows about them and can deal with them... until perhaps one day they grab a gun and shoot people.
I'd rather see a world where children were taught to cope with insults, to laughed them off as the ignorance they are, than a world where everyone lived in such fear of offending that they no longer knew what to say or how to say it.

Monday 4 May 2009

Crafty Moments

I was looking at Orone's lovely craftwork this morning and it reminded me of something I made before I started blogging. I made this embroidered picture as a Christmas gift for a friend. The sky was a bit more blue, but otherwise the photos are pretty close to the reality.

It's made up of all sorts of bits and pieces. The backing for this is actually a plastic lid! It was suppossed to be an embroidery hoop, but I couldn't find one big enough. So I used the top off an old biscuit tub instead.
The hands are knitted and the rainbow is embroidered. The stars are sequins. :-) The trees and grass are embroidered, but the big vine leaves are made of old lace I dyed green. The long dangly vine bits have bead flowers and little silver bells on them. It was great fun to make.

Sunday 3 May 2009

Over the Sea to Skye

We decided we were way overdue a nice drive in the country. Since my mom's never been to Skye we decided to head out that way. My mom spent Friday evening making her famous picnic meatballs while I buttered bread and sorted out other food and drinks for our trip. On Saturday we were up fairly early and left at 7:30 am. From here we drove to Inverness, then along Loch Ness before branching off towards the West coast and Kyle. I've marked our route (pink) on the map below...
The first place we stopped was at Eilean Donan Castle. The combination of sun and cloud made for some really fantastic photographs.
From there we went on to Kyle of Lochalsh, where I took some more photos. The first one here shows the Skye bridge in the distance.
Here you can see the ferry leaving for one of the smaller islands.
Skye is a strange place. Harsh beautiful, sort of scoured by the wind and weather.
We stopped briefly in Portree, going up the East coast first. This was the view.
In Portree my mom spotted this interesting doorway with a plaster/stone cat. The sign actually reads "BEWARE OF THE CAT."
Up along the East coast we stopped for a picnic and I photographed the mountains in the distance.
There were waterfalls everywhere. Here's one we stopped to take a look at.
Almost at the top of Skye we stopped to look over the cliff edge. The tiny white dots on the green edging the sea are sheep!
Here's the view from the same spot, looking back towards Scotland.
Another waterfall. :-)
From there we stopped briefly at Dunvegan for a cup of coffee and cake before heading down the East coast. Here it started to rain and we took less pictures, but we did get to see a sea eagle! He was BIG, but still too small in the sky to show up in a photo. At one place, when the rain stopped, I took a photo of the view. On the way back across the Skye bridge and I was able to take this photo.
From there we travelled a bit up North to Plockton. A very cute little seaside village. Here's the view from the shore.

From there we turned back towards Inverness, but this time we took the top route, past this small Loch. No idea of names.
Then the mist and rain returned. I took a few pictures, but only this one came out nice.
We had a fantastic day! :-)