Friday 26 February 2010

The Christmas Girls - photo meme

This photo meme is from Daisy, of Dancing with Daisy.
The rules are:

1. Open your first photo folder and
scroll down to your 10th photo.
2. Post the photo and the story behind it.
3. Tag 5 people to play along.

I was thrilled to find my 10th photo is one I love...
the "Christmas Girls." :-)

Meet Patches, "Piglet" (Whisky) and Black Dog.

This photo was taken on a hot December day in Africa in the 1990s. The three dogs aren't mine. They belonged to neighbours who never knew their three little "angels" (hah!) used to jump the wall and spend their days lying on my parents' front lawn. We finally managed to figure out which house they were escaping from and let their owners know.

All three girls were rescue dogs. The ever-greedy incredibly cheeky Piglet was actually the oldest. Piglet gained her second name by leaping onto a table before a party and guzzling three trays of party snacks within seconds. Black Dog was given a real name, but refused to answer to anything but "black dog" for some unknown reason. She looks like a lab in this photo, but upright she was lean and long, more like a setter. Black dog was still a puppy/teen. in this photo. She had this daft habit of standing on your feet and then leaning against you until you unbalanced and fell over. Patches was the lady of the bunch. Always cheerful, never a problem and a great lover of a saucer of warm milky tea.

I took this photo for their owners, as a Christmas card joke. It took me about three hours of sweaty hot doggy madness to create this moment of angelic festive peace. Piglet was incredibly jealous of the hats and bows and ripped them off the other dogs each time I put them on. Black Dog wanted
to chew EVERYTHING, including me. Only darling Patches was a true model, willing to pose and look perfect. :-)

* * * * *

Like Daisy I'm not tagging anyone specifically. If you would like to take up this challenge and post this meme on your blog, you are now officially tagged ...but do please let me know so I can come over to look at your photos. :-)

Thursday 25 February 2010

Happy 101 :-)

Lu of Bloggelu has given me the Happy 101 award. Thank you, lu. :-)

The rules for this award are:

1. Copy the award to your blog with the name/link of who gave you the award.

2. List 10 things that make you happy and then pass the award on to others.

10 Things that make me happy...

Being out in Nature
Friends :-)
Shared laughter
Writing... when it flows well
Warm mugs of coffee on cold mornings
Home made soup :-D
Hubby listening to me talk... on anything and everything
Making someone else happy

I'm passing this one on to...
... and anyone else who wants to participate. It is about what makes YOU happy, after all! ;-)

Non-Human Persons

The BBC news ran a story this week about how scientists are now trying to get dolphins reclassified as "non-human persons." They said that studies show dolphins have language/communication, complex family/society structures and the ability to see themselves as separate individual selves. They are hoping that if they get the world to realise dolphins are much more like us than we've realised before some nations, like Japan, will stop killing dolphins.

I don't want to sound cynical, but humans understand that they are human and it hasn't stopped us killing, torturing and abusing our own fellow humans. We go to war, we commit murder... a lot of the time we treat our own kind as bad, or worse, than we treat many animals. I truly hope dolphin hunting stops, but I'm not sure if declaring these amazing animals as being like us is a compliment.


Friday 19 February 2010

Some Photos from last Saturday

We drove across Scotland on Saturday, from Morayshire, along Loch Ness and the other lochs to Fort William. Our first photo stop was in Fort Augustus, where we stopped on the Western end of Loch Ness for a picnic lunch. It's such a beautiful spot and it's also one of the first place I visited on my holidays, which seemed apt. ;-)
Then it was all back in the car and onwards towards Ben Nevis. We stopped here on the road side to photograph the mountains...
There were loads of stunning views all along the way, but nowhere to stop the car to take photos. :-( Is the dept of roads deliberately spiteful to photographers or are they merely unmoved by beautiful, scenery? It gets so frustrating when you have to zoom by waterfalls and other wonderful sights with nowhere to stop.

One place there was ample parking was at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge. I took a photo of hubby standing behind the memorial. :-)
Here's a close-up of the memorial from the front.
We got to Fort William far too early and decided to do a bit of sight-seeing. This is the view of Loch Shiel where Bonny Prince Charlie rowed to shore in 1745. The memorial statue is to the left of my photo. The view was far prettier, to be honest.
We stopped at the very pretty Catholic church of St Mary and St Finnan. You can just see Mary in her little grotto to the right of the church. (between the red bushes)
The view of Loch Shiel in front of the church was so lovely I've used it as my new blog banner.
St Michael stands guard... my favourite archangel.
Then it was back To Fort William for the prize giving.

The prize giving was a great success, thanks to Sarah and all the other JMT folk (didn't get their names). Sarah even arranged a chair for my mom to sit, which was so kind and thoughtful. :-)

I had been a bit mixed feelings about going to the event, given the fact dad was sick and we were all pretty tired after a full two weeks lead up of hubby, mom and myself having to go to doctors and hospitals. By Saturday evening I felt more tired than excited, but the guest speaker, Margaret Bennett, changed that. Margaret was marvelous. :-) She not only was interesting and entertaining, she made every single winner (adult and child) feel special and important.

The quality of the entries was excellent, especially the children. We each were given a bag of goodies by Sarah. I got a wonderful pure wool top, a fantastic JMT photo diary and other assorted bits. Then Margaret rounded off the event perfectly by singing a beautifully haunting Gaelic love song.

We weren't able to stay long, since we had to drive back, but I did stay long enough to congratulate most of the winners and have my photo taken by local journalists. Hubby took some photos too.

Here are all the winners gathered around Margaret (seated). I'm standing next to the poetry section winner, Ian. On the other side is the 1st place writing winner, Melissa.
Ian's poem was my favourite entry. It isn't up on the JMT website yet. I hope they sort that out soon as it really is worth reading... AND looking at. ;-) How often do you find a poem that looks good as well as reads good?

Smug me, in front of the JMT stand. :-)
I'm so glad we went. It was a wonderful day. :-)

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Leap of Fate

I have photos and stories to tell about my weekend trip to Fort William last Saturday. That was for the John Muir Trust Wild Writing prize giving, where I came 2nd in the writing section. I thought I'd post my story here first. It's not fiction and I've posted two photos from my adventures to prove it. ;-)

I wrote the whole thing out in one night between midnight and 4:00 am. That's because I only found out about the competition the day before the closing date! So it truly was a leap in more ways than one.

Leap of Fate by Michelle Frost

Love stories usually end with a marriage proposal, but this story started with one...

I was born in Africa and had lived all my life in Africa. I’d have probably died there too, if it wasn’t for a Highlander I’d met on the internet having other ideas. In 2002 he turned my life around with once sentence on a chat room window.

“Will you marry me?” He asked…

…and I said, “Yes.”

I can’t explain why I was so certain. I’m not the kind for leaps of faith or impulse - I can take thirty minutes to decide between tea and coffee! All I knew was that I had no doubt I loved this man I’d never met and never seen. We did realize that arranging a meeting between a man in the North of Scotland and a woman in the South of Africa was going to take some serious effort. Since he had recently started a new job it made more sense for me to travel to Scotland than him to Africa. So, two months after I first said that fateful “Yes”, I was on a plane and on my way to spend a month in the far North. Little did I know that I’d be falling in love all over again… not once, but twice before my travels were over.

I fell in love with the idea of a man on a computer screen, but I had to travel to the far side of the world to find the real man behind the words. Since he had no chance to take leave from his new job we did the next best thing… I went along with him to work during the week. You can forget your guided tours and bus trips; I can tell you the best way to see Scotland is in a builder’s Transit van. Thanks to a building contract that was mostly rural I got to see more of the countryside in my month’s holiday than any package holiday provides. Admittedly I did have to shovel one ton of sand and scrape thousand year old carpet tiles off a farm floor, but in between was pure magic. What more romantic gift could a man offer than to share the country he loves with the woman of his dreams?

And that was exactly what he did. During workdays he’d take the more scenic routes and he’d stop for lunch in the places he loved the most. There is nothing more romantic than sharing a pork pie in the middle of absolute nowhere with your true love. We shared ours on the way up to Thurso on a spring morning when the air was so sharp and clear it was like breathing diamonds. Every weekend he’d be up at dawn planning where to take me and what to show me. We’d spend the whole weekend driving and walking. I wore the soles off two pairs of African shoes climbing Scottish hillsides.

I think I realized I’d fallen in love with my Highlander the second time when I didn’t kill him for taking me through a bog, a stream, a field and over two gates and a barbed wire fence. How can you not love a man who makes you ruin your last pair of packed shoes, and freezes your thin African skin to the bone marrow, to show you a woodland bursting with bluebells? And how do you describe seeing a bluebell for the very first time - the amazing colour of them and how they smell? Just one would have been incredible and here he had laid out, beneath my muddy feet, an entire woodland of misted blue magic.

How do you explain the wonder of all that mud-making water to African eyes? Rivers, burns, lochs… so much water and all so beautiful, but especially the waterfalls. Rushing down hills and mountains and even tiny ones along the road sides … they’re everywhere! It was all so alien from my childhood of dry riverbeds and violent rain storms, this Northern world of soft seeping waters. I will always remember my first rain, fine as mist on my skin when we walked around Loch Ness and the surprise of richly golden peat tinted water frothing up like creamy ale over rocks and river beds.

I think, if I had to use any word to describe Scottish countryside it would be “rich”. Rich with water and trees and wildlife; rich in history and beauty. We’d drive all weekend and my eyes would be glutted on so much richness... forests of trees I had no names for and wildflowers I’d only ever seen as names in children’s books. I never knew buttercups were so small… or chestnut trees so big! And gorse! Why doesn’t anyone write about gorse? Never mind hosts of daffodils – why hasn’t anyone written odes to the fire of golden gorse flowers blazing on dark hills?

I remember so many richly treasured moments during that holiday. One perfect Sunday afternoon we drove to the valley of the eagles and came across a whole herd of red deer standing in the sun-sparkling Findhorn River. The day our van was stalked by a magnificent male grouse, with outraged scarlet eyebrows, who seemed to think the rough sound of an old Transit van engine was the battle cry of some invisible rival. Even more magical was the night we drove to Skye to catch the morning ferry to the islands. That night we saw a fox cub dancing after moths by starlight, his baby fur as woolly as a lamb’s. Later, on the ferry, we watched puffins that flew past like frantic flapping feathered bullets. Twilight was an adventure in itself; the sun does not linger in African skies. The glow of Scottish gloaming over wild empty places has got to be one of the most enchanted things anyone could ever experience.

How do you describe falling in love? Does it lie in an unexpected touch or the moment your eyes meet? Is it an instant knowing or a slowly growing realisation? For me it was all of those things. Near the end of my holiday we were returning from a job on the West Coast. It was early evening twilight when we came around a corner… and there in the road was a red deer stag. He leapt up the bank beside the road and then paused, looking back over his shoulder as we passed. Like a scene in a dream I watched him as he watched me. He was so close… so still and so beautiful. There was an instant of knowing that my heart was as trapped in this beautiful wildness as my eyes were caught in his calm curious gaze. It was a slowly growing realisation that I had fallen in love a third time… with this lovely, cold strange world of water and stone, sharp light and deep shadows.

And I would never be the same again.

~The End~

The deer in the Findhorn river that hot spring day. They were closer than they look.

Me in a boggy wood full of bluebells. :-) Sadly they're too delicate to photograph easily. It was just a haze of blue flowers all around me.


Tuesday 9 February 2010

Quick Update

We still have no Internet. Brief news update.

Internet and telephone are both playing up. Hopefully it will get fixed soon.

Mom went to Aberdeen last Sunday for a specialist check up at the hospital there. The hospital is HUGE. It seems to have gone well and the doctor was hopeful an ongoing complaint is easy to treat. He'll be contacting her regular GP. But her blood pressure is very high and they are monitoring it weekly at the moment.

I'm due more blood tests - the fibromyalgia diagnosis is being re-checked.
Hubby's due minor surgery and blood tests - old complaints getting worse.

My John Muir Trust Wild Writing prize giving is this Friday. Hopefully we will be able to get there.

Life is a bit insane at the moment and no surprise Mom and I both have insomnia. *rolls eyes groggily*

Love and hugs to all. Hope to be back soon!

Friday 5 February 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award


Many thank yous to Ritva for giving me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Not only is it a fun award, but it's also so pretty. (yeah, I'm a girl - I like awards to look nice as well as be nice!)

If you are chosen for this award you have to:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award

Thank you Ritva. :-)

I hope everyone goes to look at your blog, because it's beautiful and you write such thoughtful interesting posts.

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog

Done. :-)

3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award

Ritva of Sagittiferously Yours

4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting...

1.I can hear bats, "silent" dog whistles and other high pitch noises

2. I do chakra readings in my spare time

3. I love cheese - Brie, cheddar, emmental, cream, gouda, gruyere... you get the idea!

4. I can read backward upsidedown writing. Comes from doing art classes on setting things for printing.

5. I find dimples very attractive (yes, hubby has a dimple in his cheek. :-D )

6. My imaginary friend as a child was a flying horse, like Pegasus, and a blue dragon named Thursday.

7. I am trying to write book two - sequel to First Light

5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers


Jeff's Back :-)

I'm thrilled to see a long-lost blogger back online - Jeff of psychosomaticwit

Having been gone for quite a while Jeff has lost contact with several of his old readers, so I thought I'd pop his link up here today in order to let old friends know he's back in blogging business and maybe introduce some new readers to an old friend.

Welcome back, Jeff. :-) You've been missed.

Thursday 4 February 2010

Mad Crazy Weekend

We lost our internet connection last Friday and have been offline from then till now. It has been a long LONG week made all the more frustrating because I was waiting for an important email. I entered a writing competition last month and the results were due... last friday!

To add to the craziness all the family have been sick or needing to go to the doctor. We've had 6 doctor appointments in ten days! Today at 4:00 it's my turn - I hurt my eye last night with hot oil (frying chicken) and now it feels like I spent a month staring at a raw onion. So, I'm typing this with one eye closed, which feels really weird.

I have almost 200 emails in my inbox and one of them was the one I'd been waiting to get. I came SECOND in the writing competition!

Here's the link to the list of winners.

I promise to write all about the story and the prize giving soon. :-)