Image

Sunday Stills: Power Lines

The subject for this week’s Sunday Stills Challenge is power lines. In the scottish mountains, many tourists find the power lines to be a blight on the landscape, but for those who live there they are simply an essential part of life in the Highlands. I find these pylons to be quite majestic in their own way, standing tall and proud, towering above the trees like giant sentries guarding civilisation from the desolation and hardships of nature’s inherent beauty…scotland-power-lines scotland-power-lines-hills scotland-power-lines-landscape

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrast – family generations

My final entry for this week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrast.

For me this family portrait, of my grandmother proudly holding my first grandchild, beautifully captures the contrast between the oldest and youngest family members across five generations. generations

My grandmother was born in the summer of 1914, just a month or so before the outbreak of World War One. Eighty-seven years, two children, six grandchildren and many more great-grandchildren later her first great-great-grandchild – my first grandchild – came into the world, giving us at that time five living generations of direct line descendants.

We took several family photographs on that particular day – different combinations of my grandmother, my mum, me, my eldest daughter, and her baby boy – but out of all of those images we took, this picture has always stayed my favourite. Sadly my grandmother died in early 2006, in her 92nd year, and with this year marking the 100th anniversary of her birth, she is perhaps more on my mind than usual.

She was much loved, my grandmother, and is still very much missed by all her surviving family. But she had lived a long and fruitful life, and her time had simply come. Nevertheless we as her descendants all remain her enduring legacy, and through each of us her memory lives on, held safe and warm in our hearts and minds forever…

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrast

For this week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrast I’ve chosen two images that break the rule on always having the light source behind you. Sometimes intentionally creating shadows and sillhouettes by taking a shot into the light, highlighting and exaggerating the contrast between light and dark, can often bring a different perspective to what may otherwise turn out to be a rather boring image.

The first was taken here in London, and is a backlit shot of three elliptical pods on the London Eye sillhoutted against a dramatic-looking sky. I love the way the people inside are so completely anonymised, yet I feel their presence brings a real sense of scale to the image.

The second was taken in Louisiana, at Vermilionville Cajun Heritage Centre, where I felt inexplicably drawn to the odd collection of bits and pieces congregated together on the back porch – taking the shot with the shadows reaching towards me, rather than away, somehow feels more intimate, I think… backlit-porch-bits-and-pieces

 

On being spontaneous…

I know it sounds like a bit of a contradiction in terms, but I’ve always had to work really hard at being spontaneous. I don’t remember being particularly spontaneous as a child – but then I suppose whatever you do or don’t do at any given time isn’t really up to you when you’re young, is it? And any nascent spark of spontaneity that may have existed beforehand definitely fizzled out like a damp squib after having my first baby a scant month before my 19th birthday. Following hot on his heels was my second baby a year later, and then my third and final little one arrived a couple of months after my twenty-first birthday.

Babies need routines and familiarity, require regular feeding and changing and patterns of sleep to the extent that pre-planning to the nth degree even the ‘simplest’ of excursions to fit in around those routines became second nature, as automatic as breathing. At this early stage, such belt-and-braces planning brought me precious windows of relative freedom to enjoy the fruits of my labours, stopping me feeling too overwhelmed by it all. Then one by one the babies became toddlers, and then they started school, and that required yet another whole different level of regimented logistics to accommodate.

And when I became a single mum at 24 after a very acrimonious and stressful breakup, out of sheer necessity my planning skills cranked up yet another gear as I juggled earning a living to support my family with keeping up with the housework, DIY, gardening, and all the while still being mum. I have to say I’d have been stuck without my parents’ invaluable practical help at this point, but it was still hard work, and legally the children always remained my responsibility. And perhaps not surprisingly, responsibility and spontaneity made decidedly poor bedfellows… the weight of the former seemed to crush the sheer light-heartedness out of the latter, leaving it all shrivelled and deflated like a punctured balloon.

So nothing was ever truly done on the spur of the moment for me – my moments didn’t have spurs, instead they kept me on a tight rein, always holding me in check, always keeping me alert to having to stay one step ahead of the pack. Only by planning well in advance, keeping track of work shifts and school times and appointments and what felt like a million other timeslots in an ongoing rolling plan in my head could I occasionally create a prospective gap in advance where, all other circumstances permitting, the possibility of making a ‘spontaneous’ decision might potentially be accommodated somewhere along the line.

And it’s a habit I have retained to this day, creating little planned pockets of prospective ‘free’ time to be filled by unplanned, supposedly spur of the moment events. But otherwise I pretty much stick to my set routines, day in, day out. It’s a habit that has long outlived the necessity to do so, and what once kept me safely anchored to a full family timetable has now become a bit of a mill-stone around my neck. So I’m trying hard to break the habit of always pre-planning everything while sticking to those tired old habitual routines that no longer serve any purpose other than to keep me tied down with invisible chains.

And here I am at 50 years old, still working hard at being spontaneous – but this time I’m learning to let go when I can and just go with the flow, wherever it takes me on any given day. Deciding how to spend my time at the time, on the wing, and changing my mind on a whim as the mood takes me. Learning to open my world up to new opportunities instead of quietly and cautiously closing it down, keeping a lid on it, effectively squashing the life and soul out of anything and everything I choose to do…

All the fun of the fair, but going nowhere…

Sometimes city life seems to be nothing more than a giant fairground ride… it entices us in with its glitz and glamour, its bright lights and blaring music, its vibrant night life and its promise of perpetual pleasure.

But if you stop for a moment, look behind the fancy façade, you come face to face with the gears, the cogs, the wheels, the dirty, oily, greasy, mechanics of it all, and in the cold, harsh light of day you can see it for what it really is. An illusion, an aberration, a pseudo side-show freak to which we all flock, mesmerised. Whirling around and around on our gaudily painted carousel ponies we watch as the outside world rushes by on the periphery of our vision, all blurred and merged together, whilst we, smug on our own high horse, scornfully mistake our constant motion for action.

Sometimes the city feels little more than a succubus, a consumer of souls, drawing us in, sucking us dry then spitting us out, hollow husks of humanity. And in the meantime we continue to sit tight, holding on to our seductive simulacra steeds for dear life, feeling suddenly sick and empty and wondering why, with all the fun of the fair at our fingertips, we still seem to be going nowhere fast…

My busiest blog day yet…

50 followers
My blog had a really busy day yesterday, relatively speaking – I reached 200 likes, was nominated as a featured blogger on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (woo-hoo!), reached 50 fantastic followers, and (thanks in part to Cee’s unexpected but much treasured nomination) tallied the most overall daily views yet.

I’m just so delighted that my blog is going well – I’m really enjoying the writing and photo challenges, and I really do appreciate all the positive feedback I’m getting for both.

Not being one of life’s natural joiners-in of things, I often find the biggest challenge to be actually taking part in something in the first place, but so far I’m happy to find it’s proving to be a very positive experience…

Thank you all so much for being so welcoming 🙂

Scripture cake…

The members of The Scottish Women’s Rural Institute must really have been good Christian women if the recipe in their Cookery Book (Sixth Edition) reprinted in March 1950 is anything to go by…

scripture-cake

I thought I’d have a go at deciphering it, so being mindful of the times, and as my knowledge of the bible is limited to… well, let’s just leave it at ‘limited’… I’ve used the official King James Bible Online as a reference for the given passages…

The recipe decoded, as far as I can work out, goes as follows:

Four and a half cupfuls of 1st Kings, iv, 22 – ‘And Solomon’s provision for one day was 30 measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal’

One and a half cupfuls of Judges, v, 25 – ‘He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish’

Two cupfuls Jeremiah, vi, 20 – ‘To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me’

Two cupfuls of 1st Samuel, xxx, 12 – ‘And they gave him a piece of cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights’

Two cupfuls of Nahum, iii, 12 – ‘All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater’

One cupful of Numbers, xvii, 8 – ‘And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and behold the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds’

Two tablespoonfuls of 1st Samuel, xiv, 25 – ‘And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground’

Six articles of Jeremiah, xvii, 11 – ‘As the partridge sitteth on eggs; and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool’

A pinch of Leviticus, ii, 13 – ‘And every oblation of they meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering; with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt’

Twp teaspoonfuls of Amos, iv, 5 – ‘And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD’

Season to taste with 2nd Chronicles, ix, 9 – ‘And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon’

Method – Add citron and follow Solomon’s advice for making a good boy – Proverbs xxiii, 14, and you have a good cake – ‘Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell’

So from all of that we have:

Four and a half cups of fine flour
One and a half cups of butter
Two cups of sugar
Two cups of raisins
Two cups of figs (and in Scotland in the 1950s, I imagine they would definitely have been dried figs!)
One cup of almonds
Two tablespoons honey
Six eggs
A pinch of salt
Two teaspoons baking powder
Season with spices to taste (probably ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, i would think)
Add lemon and beat well…

Sounds to me like a pretty rich, dense fruit cake – no baking instructions given but I guess it would bake like a Christmas cake 🙂