My daughter tells me she learned at school there hasn’t been a May as dry as this in Scotland since before I was born in 1976.
It seems we picked a lucky time for digging a new border in the garden and moving plants around to fill it up. It’s become habit, to go out between writing and running about and be amongst plants growing right before my eyes, echoing the kids growing and changing too. This time of the teenager seems the busiest of family life yet – and possibly the most rewarding.
Want to know how #52and40 began? Come this way.
A friend died recently. She was my writing teacher first (and my first writing teacher).
I can trace roads from everything I’ve had published in the last two years to Helen, her guidance at every way-marker. Even with this map I’m disorientated; floundering in comprehending such a special woman being gone.
In grief, all roads lead inevitably to my Mum. Every funeral a little her funeral, too. Profound losses only comforted by the extreme gratitude for having shared some of the world with extraordinary people’s smiles and stories.
Joy and sorrow, innit?
Read all about #52and40 here.
Our wee extension’s starting soon and early signs say the plants are keen on change this summer too.
We’ve imposed new garden structure by getting rid of the decrepit shed, clearing the Krugeresque brambles and waving cheerio to 9m of mixed hedge which only ever managed to look tortured, despite optimistic pruning.
A winter project which leaked into spring was a new boundary fence. With this came unexpected clarity about divvying up remaining space. Digging awaits.
Clarity’s good in these mad Brexit times (as are friends with doors which make me smile).
Want more #52and40? Click here, ye of great taste.
I’ve never seen a Scottish Autumn and Winter as beautiful, so far, as what 2016’s given.
The beauty in these seasons is going a long, gentle way to keeping breathing through the humanity shitstorm we’ve seen happen around the world this year. It’s easier to believe we’re not all doomed when nature’s on its best behaviour.
As my own shield and sword, I’ve added focus to health and work ethic. These things help my locus of control stay internal so fear doesn’t breed with downtime to create mischief.
Everything else is weather.
More info on #52and40 here.
Internalised misogyny’s kinda like the rat who lived in our back garden. Every now and then it poked its head out of a small hole in the dry stane dyke and scared the living shit out of me (but thrilled the dog).
For soooooooo long I believed the rat was simply a large mouse. Then, faced with faecal evidence to the contrary, I spent some time simply telling myself the rat was a large mouse and willing away memories of the enormo-shits by the bird feed in the shed. Denial can be a really handy part of adjusting to an unpleasant reality, can’t it?
I did not want the rat to be as big a problem as it was – so I simplified it away and mentally minimised it to make it easier to think about. La la la la la la.
Meantime, the rat had babies and I grew unable to continue deluding myself that the big pink semi-ropes intermittently hanging out the wee wall in the garden were anything other than rat tails. Then, the sight of a rat climbing the 7ft clematis trellis turned out to be a moment even Instagram filters & wine couldn’t soften.
We are now minus a shed and a rat colony. We found out the rats were living under the decrepit, old, rotting shed (very low air miles to the bird food) so it was time for the lot to go.
I’ve talked a lot about the rat now and not so much about internalised misogyny, haven’t I? If you’d like to read me talking about internalised misogyny for reals, I’m chuffed as a rat in a slop bucket to say you can do just that on Bella Caledonia this festive season.
When I’m actively writing I immerse myself in whatever art and humanity I can find. I talk lots. I fill up with music to wallop my right hemisphere. Notably, for mid-project fuel, I rarely read.
I do a thing with accents and writing; I unconsciously temporarily meld with whoever’s engaging me. It’s a chameleon-like habit since childhood – we moved a bit and Scots accents vary a lot. Maybe I’ll develop immunity as my writing voice gets clearer?
For now, I remain, the worst read and most accidentally ambiguously accented writer in Scotland.
This week’s photographs were taken in and around the beautiful garden at Oxgangs Neighbourhood Centre. Curious about #52and40? Read more here.
Autumn’s my favourite. Colours, light and air are incredible and fashion wise I pull on a sweater and exist in a micro-climate within it, basically becoming a talking, typing, ball of wool with heavily mascara’d eyes til May.
This year the garden’s giving the first proper feedback from getting more love. I peer out windows or wander out – just to see if anything’s grown or changed. It’s like meditation or gazing at your sleeping child – everything else fades away and only the tunnel visioned and detailed peaceful engagement is left.
Linking up this week with the stunning How Does Your Garden Grow series at Mammasaurus