Monday, June 22, 2015


While the papa and the teen were at work, I assembled a Father's Day bouquet...

A card was made...

And we lit a fire, not only to celebrate the sun but also to make a chilly house more comfortable.

Later, after some discussion about what the bakers would concoct for our special dinner dessert, the junior baker and I dashed to the Co-op for provisions while the senior baker (who is recovering from a cold) had a wee nap.  And then I left them to their culinary merriment and had a low-key amble around Norham.

Very pleased to see my first corn poppies (castle ruins in the background)...

And a regular swan convention (here's a glimpse of some of the participants, framed by comfrey).

I concluded my walk at the churchyard, to gather fallen rugosa rose petals and to see if the linden trees were abloom yet (they weren't).

And then I returned home to find this:

A lemon meringue pie for them, and black pepper shortbread for me.  Oh, but they weren't quite finished...

Is that a work of art, or what?

(It's possible that I might have eaten an embarrassing amount of that shortbread and gotten a tummy ache.  But it was phenomenal.  And so simple.  Rice flour, cornflour, sugar, butter and black pepper.  Adorned with a tiny spun sugar star.  Because no master chef worthy of the title would neglect presentation!)

Sunday, June 21, 2015


It's good to remember that all this longest-day sunshine has an upside: powering our solar array, drying out the 10+ inches of rain we got last week, and, maybe best of all, making the flowers grow.  


Happy Solstice from Middle Missouri!

What You See...

...when you finally stop weeding and pruning and just go lie down in the grass.

 Happy solstice, everybody!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Before I Forget

Sometimes "beauty where we are" means lightening up, scrapping the plan and being joyfully surprised by what happens next.  Tonight our ten-year-old begged us to let him skip dinner and keep playing -- on the village green; in the meadow where he invariably gets nettle stings; out on the rocks where he slipped and got a whopping scrape last evening but amazingly didn't seem to mind (yes, we all seem to be accident-prone lately).  My head produced a few arguments about the importance of family rituals and consistent routines (I think it might have even trotted out those statistics about kids getting better grades when they regularly eat at the family table), but in the end the winner was that louder, more compelling argument for fresh air, exercise and wholesome old-fashioned play.

And guess what?  We and the teen had a fantastic meal, talking about politics and culture and his English class's read-through of Death of a Salesman (he was Willy, but wanted to be Linda; and his Canadian teacher teased him about not sounding American enough).  We laughed -- a lot.  And it was lovely.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

And Now for Something Completely Different

In lieu of my usual frogs, turtles, butterflies, and flowers, I thought I would go to the polar opposite end of the spectrum with a glimpse into my other life. In fact, these may be my first-ever indoor photos posted here!

Last week I helped teach bass guitar at our local Girls Rock! camp. During the week of camp, 26 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 learn to play an instrument, work together in a band, and write a song that they then perform at the premier local music venue at the end of the week. This is my second year to teach bass and I'm always amazed at how quickly these kids learn to play their instruments and how inventive their songs are. 

I brought my camera along for the showcase, so thought I'd share a few shots since I haven't photographed much else lately! (Technically, a few were taken by my better half while I was on stage being bass tech…!)

Souncheck (I believe one of the workshops involved making those lovely paper flowers)

Backstage warning

In the green room

Soundcheck from stage

Attendees file in while photos from camp week are displayed on the screen

One of the bands rocking out

Me doing my bass tech thing!

Campers and volunteers singing the camp song at the end

By the way, these camps are all over the US (maybe beyond?) and are not only about music but also about encouraging and empowering young women and offering them a safe, supportive environment to express themselves creatively. Many campers return multiple times and encourage their friends to attend because it's so much fun! If you know of a gal who might benefit from such a camp, be sure to see if one is offered in your area!


It is chilly, grey and damp today here in the southeastern corner of Scotland -- not sodden the way it is at the moment back in Missouri, but moist enough to make it feel like a 55-degree day indoors as well as out.  My remedy?  Leftover apple cake (gluten-free; the resident junior and senior MasterChefs are meeting my needs!) and a cup of cinnamon tea.  With a slice of ginger, and a handful of rose petals that I gathered from rugosa bushes growing around a disused church.

(That's it to the right of the village.)

 Only a few rose petals -- just enough for a bit of delight and upliftment.

Because roses -- whether back in my beloved former garden or here in my temporary one; in hedgerows or supermarket parking lots -- are always my best medicine.

P.S.  Speaking of summer rain, this lovely blog post by (another) Amy at My Path with Stars Bestrewn pushed a lot of my nostalgia buttons this morning.

P.P.S.  Apparently today is International Picnic Day.  Ha!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Freshly dried rugosa roses (and a new watering can!)

Tennies with elderflower decorations

An anti-inflammatory raspberry pineapple ginger smoothie for someone who flung herself headlong off the top of Duns Law today (unintentionally).  Yowch.

(And yes, pink is also the color of the wound on my knee, but I'm not sure that that fits the criteria for inclusion on a blog about beauty...)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cloudy and Calm

It's a perfect spring morning.  A bit overcast, 59 degrees, and -- gasp -- no wind.

I've got the windows open, partly for fragrance and birdsong (the blackbirds and finches are going at it non-stop), and partly (full disclosure here) because I burned a couple of pancakes a while ago.  (Amy, the parcel arrived -- yay! -- and I was almost as excited about the gluten-free baking mix as I was to see my summer clothes.)

(The last of the bluebells, plus columbines)

The birds have a bit of competition from a lady with extravagant vibrato; it was nice to have some background radio music when it was merely orchestral, but I think I will switch it off now and focus on the chirps and tweets.

 (The view from that open window; the birds seem to be hiding now)

Yesterday's walk was a bit different from the previous ones.  After an occasional foot-arch twinge turned into steady pain and made me think plantar fasciitis (!), I opted for a gentle amble on soft sand instead of my usual rapid-clip trail hike.

(Ninety minutes of gentle ambling yields a lot of treasures, although no, not all of these!)

The foot thing is a good wake-up call, and I'm glad to have a set of useful stretches, as well as fresh incentive to return well and truly to my old reliable anti-inflammatory way of eating.  And yes, it's another reminder to make these walks a little less bat-out-of-hell and a bit more stop-and-smell-the-roses.

Speaking of which -- look at what I just found in my garden.  First ones of the season!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Day 5, or I Actually Removed My Coat


Today I had the car for just a two-hour midday stretch between the fella's gigs, so it seemed wise to minimize driving time and head back to nearby Ladykirk.  I figured that this way, I also could show you pictorially what I did yesterday.

Here's the first gate on the path...

And the first fisherman's bothy...

And then we come to a small patch of fragrant pine-y woods, where today I suddenly found myself being followed by two cars (all of the ladies smiled, and the first driver rolled down her window to tell me that they were engaging in a trip down memory lane).

I continued on past many, many sheep, a swan, some startled seagulls, the odd pair of ducks, an occasional blackbird, and several hysterical wood-pigeon couples...oh, and almost as much cow parsley as comfrey...

Until I reached a little rocky nook with a bench.  I put my feet up for a few and watched the river roll by...and then it was time to head back through the meadow of sheep (deftly dodging their droppings, except for that one instance -- sigh)...back through the mini-wood and past the bothy...

(That's the church that gives Ladykirk its name, up on yonder bluff)

And up the hill to the little car park by the bridge.

As you can see, it's a spectacular day.