Sunday, June 28, 2009

changing seasons

The question is, is this a Christmas cactus or an Easter cactus?

I can't remember when I bought it or the "season" when it is "supposed" to flower. A friend told me a few years ago that cactuses flower much more prolifically if they are put outside in the summer, and so I duly put mine - some Christmas, some Easter - outside in the garden. What I neglected to do was to bring them inside again last autumn.

This one survived our unusually cold winter - a little battered and forlorn. But look at it now! It has become a Summer cactus.

Is it flowering from the sheer exuberance of being still alive, despite its winter trauma? is it trying to remind me of its existence to avoid future neglect? Or maybe it was too worn out to flower at Easter and this is a deferred unseasonal glory.

I have also been feeling the sheer exuberance of being alive after prolonged stress of various life-changing kinds. It feels like a change of season which I've felt hints and warm breaths of for some time amidst the storms, but which is finally flowering and settling.

My work trauma seems to be sorted out. I'll not, after all, be leaving the University but I'll be moving into a new area of work supporting students through transition into higher education and helping students with a history of failure. This is an unexpected change in direction and I'm hugely relieved to be leaving my School within the university and taking on something different. I'd never have expected such change at this stage in my life, but I'm really welcoming it - especially at this stage in my life. Change is good.

Its not a guaranteed long-term future, but its promising. And its quite enough for now. I am now looking forward to the start of term in September, rather than dreading it.

M is leaving the University for good and following up a recent new work opportunity and theres some uncertainty and financial anxiety - he'd not ever have chosen such radical change, but he's also welcoming it.


And made4aid is still new and exciting and I have no doubt that a big part of why I acted on my 'good idea' [rather than just mentally shelving it] was because of the antidote it offered to stress at work. Far better to think about made4aid at 4am in the morning than to be worrying at the intractable sticking-in-the-throat mangey old bone of work-misery.

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3

We had an extreme and extremely unseasonal storm yesterday afternoon.

It broke rudely into our blazing June, hurling gobbets of ice which ricocheted around like frozen popcorn.

And afterwards the air smelled and felt clear and wonderful.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I will be seeing my father - and brother and sister and most of their families - later today.

And what a change from Fathers Day 2 years ago - just a few weeks after my mother died.
Then my father was like a lost thing. Broken down by grief and loss and a year's caring, watching and waiting.

Two years on I know he misses her every day, like a lost limb which surely no-one forgets or ceases to regret.
But he lives every day fully and enjoys the living.

He goes to classes - art and history. He visits friends, makes plans, goes dancing. He is involved in his local church. He cooks "proper" meals for himself and sometimes for friends. He has a new friend - widowed a few years before my mother died - and they spend weekends together, go to the theatre, exhibitions, walking - and dancing. I never thought my father would dance again and the thought fills me with joy as well as tears.

Last time I saw him, staying over in his new flat, helping to select and hang some pictures, we went for a wonderful walk through bright sunshine and cool dappley shaded hedgerows in the local sussex countryside.

He was testing and timing the walk as a possible outing for the bereavement support group he has started in his local town.

I love him so much and I am very proud of him.
the best of Fathers Days.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


A roof or two:

in wonderful upstate New York

in the beautiful south of France

And finally, here at home in good old London...

Hoping to visit some of your blogs over the weekend; busy busy at work with exam boards; busy busy at home with made4aid (please please see my previous post if you haven't already - still shamelessly promoting); enjoying lovely sunshine; wishing my holiday was sooner than August!

1. NY roofs - The Red Apple Rest, Tuxedo NY; Abandoned propane plant, Liberty NY
2. Roofs in France: Carennac, and Rocamadour
3. London - roofs in the central West end, as seen from a 25th floor bar just north of Oxford Circus.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

SHAMELESS PROMOTION (but it is for charity....)

is launching now!

made4aid is a new charity project I've been working on with some friends, and we're launching now. Yes, right now!

This is evidence of the power and reality of blogging because the inspiration for this project was a blog-friend (who I hope to meet in person one day), Joyce, who I met on Blunderview, when my mother was dying and her brother was dying, both from cancer.

I think we both found some strength and comfort and solidarity in each other's blogs - certainly I did over at Joyce's, plus wisdom and warmth and lots of humour. Another friend met through blogging has done various web things too complicated for me, and has set up the made4aid blog and will be helping to run it.

The inspiration for made4aid comes from Joyce's project which you will find over here, which raises money for the World Food Programme's work in Darfur by selling Joyce's fabulous hand-made vintage-fabric bags.

made4aid will be starting its own on-line auctions to raise money for charity

- on MONDAY June 15th

via the made4aid blog.

We have some great hand-made art and craft items which were made, found and given or mailed to us by a range of people.

We will be selling via the made4aid blog - please look over there from Monday 15th - I hope you'll see something you might like to bid on. We are planning to post an item every other day. Or thereabouts. We will be selling till we run out of items - but then, we are hoping to receive donations of more items to sell to keep the project going, and hopefully growing.

We will be sending money raised to the World Food programme in Darfur, in the first instance - if the project finds its feet and has legs, as they say, we would support other causes in the future.

There are all sorts of ways you could contribute if you are willing and able to help, whether or not you are arty or crafty yourself - telling other people, giving, buying, giving us a mention and link on your blog ....

Anything hand-made and postable and good quality/condition can be donated, whether or not you made it yourself (a few exceptions... here are more ideas of what could be given and what we would rather not be sent).
Plus we will accept and sell materials for artist and crafters to use. And vintage hand-made items... The website has details of how and where to mail donations - and hopefully any other information which might be needed.

This is an entirely non-profit-making voluntary organisation, all money will go to charity and aid. And yes! we will also accept cash donations. Cash donations would go to charity, but also en route would help us raise the funds we need to open a made4aid Charity Aid Foundation account and then, in the future, hopefully to register as a charity.

if you lovely bloggers are willing to help promote made4aid, we will be very grateful.

Please pass the word along to any one you know, any individuals and groups who might like to donate and/or buy things.

If you are willing to plug us on your blog or website, that would be fab. The made4aid website has a flier which can be downloaded, and the made4aid blog will soon have html for a button which you could cut and paste onto your blog or website.

If you have feedback on the project, on the website or blog - especially anything which is unclear - please email us. There is contact information on the website.

And.... I'd best not go on about this any longer.

Its very exciting!
It seems to us like a good idea but, fingers crossed - we will have to wait and see.

Note on pictures: the photos here illustrate the kinds of things we hope to be selling, not particular items for sale - though we do have some items made by artists whose work is shown here. There are details of the sources of these images on the website.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I've worked in Greenwich for nearly 10 years now and have wandered a fair bit around its back-streets. But I only discovered this park last June. (and I can't for the life of me remember if I've posted about this before.... sorry if I have).

It was once a cemetary - part of it still is - and the ancient gravestones have been "archived" around the edges of the park, making the green space usable for the local community.

Even some of the pavement is lined with headstones.

I found this unexpected juxtaposition of life and death quite startling, particularly in the play park. Strange but rather lovely - the presence of death in the midst of life, in a strikingly matter-of-fact manner.

I took these photos only just about a year after my mother had died, and of course I thought of her.

She was a primary school teacher, and I thought she'd have liked to be buried here, just at the edges of the playground, behind the swings - watching and keeping watch.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Theme Thursday - Clock

Being as this is England, there are plenty of times when this particular timepiece doesn't function.  Its not much good in cloudy or wet weather. 

But at the moment we are enjoying wonderful summer, plenty of sunshine - and the contemporary pavement sundial is working and even seems to tell roughly the right time.

at Blackheath Standard, nr. Greenwich