Saturday 13 February 2016

Letting go

It's been about 6 weeks since I last posted. In truth, I don't quite know how to start, or what to say. I've been writing every day, in my journal, trying to navigate my way through this maze of grief. Sometimes the way is clear, but then I hit a wall, and have to stay still for a while. I haven't felt that I wanted to share this - it's very personal and too deep to explain, and not at all photogenic. 
What I will say is that I am ok. I am getting out and about, seeing friends and family, moving gently back into the community. I am looking after myself: living slowly, keeping fit, eating well, getting out in the fresh air, simple stuff, really.
Letting go - yes there has been a bit of that - limiting the "shoulds" and "have tos" as much as I can. I'm grateful that I have been able to take the time to be - and to become a widow. Oh, it's taken a while to use that word. It comes from a Sanskrit word, vidh, which means void, and I feel that void very deeply. I need to learn how to live with it.
James is well. Many of you have been wondering - thank you. I am so glad of him - pragmatic and clever, already with his father's dry sense of humour. He is indeed a blessing.
And that letting go? I'm afraid The Barefoot Crofter blog is one of the things I am surrendering. I've thought a lot about it, and I believe it has run its course. I began with such hopes and dreams, and many of them came true. I wouldn't have changed anything, except the last two years. 
But I am where I am now, and I need to find my new path, wherever it leads. I want to thank everyone who has taken time out of their lives to read my words, to comment and to send love and prayers. I have made many good friends, in this space - real life and online. My heart has been filled up with the love and blessings sent by you all. I am truly grateful for everything. 
I will be around on Instagram, and if you want to contact me by email, do drop me a line (although I may be quite slow to respond) - the links are on the sidebar. 
So - I wish you all every blessing and much love. And thank you xxx

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Daft Days

It's the end of the holidays. The decorations are put away, the greenery has been burned before it turns into goblins, and there is a just perceptible lengthening of the daylight.
Wehad a quiet New Year. It was harder than I thought. I remembered that this time last year, we thought John's cancer was stable, and we might even have another Christmas together. Sadly not to be...

But still, we had a cosy time, not moving far from the fireside. The Northern Lights put on a spectacular display for Hogmanay - better than any fireworks, and Kristine and Breagha came to visit for a couple of days. 
I've not made any specific resolutions - just a vague plan of things I might want to do - decorating, garden, that sort of thing. We have our big Canadian trip coming up in the summer, and the usual visits to family. James would like a puppy, and I'm a bit tempted, but I'm holding out for now. 

I'm really not up for planning too much. I still feel like I need to stay in my cave for a while. Sometimes I think that my body hasn't caught up with my head yet. I still rush around on automatic pilot, and I've had a couple of falls which were nearly serious. Luckily I escaped with only minor injuries, but I've got the message. I'm taking time this year to nurture myself - to feel grounded. 

I've been thinking too, that I'm running out of steam on the blog front. I don't want to stop blogging, but I'm finding it harder to keep going. I might take a wee step back - post a bit less - maybe just share some of my self nurturing ideas? Yes, I reckon that could work - at least it means that I will slow down and pay some attention to myself. 

Thank you all again for your loving support, and for staying with me as I try to work out this rhythm. James and I would like to wish you and your families every blessing for the New Year xxx

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Christmas postcards

Hope you are all appreciating these days of Christmas. We had a lovely time visiting a certain beautiful granddaughter.
A tiny fall of snow made for a magical Christmas Eve, and we enjoyed a quiet and relaxed few days. Stormy weather meant that the return ferry was cancelled, but that was fine - we didn't feel quite ready to go home at that point. 
Back on our own island now, my thoughts are turning slowly towards the new year, and all that means for me now.
Wishing you all the best for 2016. xxx

Sunday 20 December 2015

Doing Christmas

Another Christmas is here already. The halls are decked, cards sent, presents wrapped. The food preparations are beginning in earnest, and the fire is lit. Everything seems pretty normal. And there is no reason why it wouldn't be - It was always me who made Christmas happen in this home. John - while he wasn't exactly The Grinch - was always relieved when the fuss was over. To be honest, he wore his "bah humbug" badge well - all good natured stuff, of course. I was remembering earlier that when he retired, several summers ago, his staff decorated his office with a massive full on Christmas tree - it was so funny. 

I miss him.

So, despite appearances, Christmas is not the same. It never could be, really. Still, it's nice to have a celebration to look forward to in these dark days. For the first time in over 30 years, I won't be home for Christmas, and that simple, (yet huge) change is making the prospect  of this "first" one just a bit more bearable. I'm also quite looking forward to being a guest. 

I'm taking a break from the blog over the holidays, although I might pop in with the odd postcard. I'll probably be more active on Instagram, so if you are there, please drop by. 

Meanwhile I'd like to thank you all for your unwavering love and support over this last year. I have never failed to be uplifted and held by your words. Wishing you every blessing for Christmas and the New Year. Lots of love xxx

Friday 18 December 2015

December skies

It's a wet blustery day today - quite miserable actually - so I'm glad to look back on some of the beautiful skies we have had over the last week. Low sun, stunning cloudscapes, brilliant blues and a wonderful star filled aurora. Completely perfect xxx

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Knitting and reading

Knitting a hat for James, to match a lovely jacket his Aunt sent for his birthday.   He's not very keen on wearing hats, as they are too itchy, but this one is made from Yak yarn, which is very soft. The pattern is Fisher and incorporates a simple cable, which I can just about manage.
On kindle, I'm reading The Crone, by Barbara G Walker - well known for her knitting books as well as her work on feminist mythology and spirituality. What a fine combination indeed.
I'm also dipping into The Waste Land and other poems by T.S. Eliot.  

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Shine bright like a diamond

We've been back down to Edinburgh. Very damp and dismal this time, but the Christmas lights sparkled even more through the gloom. Isn't that the point, though? Without the darkness, we could miss that light shining through.

Oh, and what bright lights surrounded me, as we gathered to celebrate this weekend. The glowing faces of my family, lots of food, fun and laughter - the perfect combination to mark the engagement of my elder son, Kenneth, to his high school sweetheart, Louise. We are all so happy to welcome her, although, truth be told, she has always felt like one of the family. I am so excited to have such a lovely daughter-in-love, and now I have a wedding to look forward to. 

And so, as we head into the darkest month, I am so glad I have such a light to focus on.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Fifty five

Hello - it's me. My annual birthday self-portrait. My birthday was yesterday, and it was a much nicer day than I imagined it would be. My daughter and a dear friend secretly collaborated to make sure a wee boy had a present for his mum to open in the morning. And there were cards, messages, phone calls, and the sweetest video of a two year old lisping "Happy Birdy to ooo... "

Later, there was a community event at the hall - a Soup and Pudding lunch, and a car wash. It's alway a bit daunting going on my own to a public event, but, oh, how good it was to be among known faces. The kindness and love of this community has helped me so - so much. And thanks to the wonders of Facebook - several people knew it was my birthday too! Warmed by good wishes and a few hugs, I took a bowl of salt meat broth, and found a seat. (James disappeared almost at once, to play with friends.) The chat was pleasant, the food was good. I really had to try the chicken and rice soup too, and then there was dessert - hot puddings with custard, trifles, cheesecake, lemon meringue pie - the table overflowed with delights, and so did we, after filling our plates - maybe even twice? 

Later there was the fun of the raffle draw, as we laid out our tickets expectantly - groaning that we were 'so close!' and when one table seemed to win all the prizes. Isn't it always the way?

Then, after stocking up at the baking stall, we headed back home to already darkening skies. I lit a fire and we began to settle in for the evening. After a light tea, and another couple of birthday phone calls, I treated myself to a wee dram of malt whisky, with lots of water, and settled down to watch TV.

So - a lovely day, really. I missed John, a lot, though. He loved community events, and indeed, the last time there was a car wash, he was there, wearing his yellow wellies, helping to organise it. And yet, maybe he organised it all.. I like that thought.

On reflection, the main thing about yesterday was that I was not alone - that I was known, and the small fact of my being in this world was acknowledged. I felt loved, and what better birthday present than that?

Sláinte Mhath

Friday 13 November 2015

Shades of Autumn

Autumn is a short season here - it creeps in slowly, and next thing you know Halloween is already over. Maybe its the lack of trees here, and the mild(ish) climate, but all too soon the daylight has shrunk to a few hours and the winter gales begin roaring in from the North Atlantic, blasting away what precious fall leaves we have.

Despite this, I do love the golden season. The busy-ness of the endless long summer days slows down, and I look forward to the turning inwards - that feeling of exhalation and rest is so welcome.

I was asked recently what my favourite things about autumn were. There are the obvious ones - the glorious colours of the Earth; the cosy fires; those huge skies - sometimes brilliant blue, but often daubed with great dramatic clouds; pumpkin spiced lattes and cake - with friends; seeing the sheep gathered in; retreating back to bed on a stormy morning with a cup of tea and a new magazine, or getting out for walks on a crisp morning. 

Autumn is also about getting ready - preparing for winter. Usually I have garden produce to harvest and preserve; in the past we had sheep dipping and tupping to organise, and laying in winter feed for the cattle. Although there is no garden or livestock to worry about, this year, I still have to think about the winter ahead, and that responsibility is now mine alone. It feels heavy.  

We are not isolated - and have good neighbours and friends nearby, but we are on an island, and many supplies are weather dependant. There are frequent gale force winds, (the first major storm of the winter was just last night) along with the inevitable power failures, so making preparations is a very important part of Autumn. Ordering the fuel for heating and cooking, making sure there are lamps and torches, sorting out the larder, fixing loose tiles and guttering, making sure everything is secure and as windproof as possible, and just trying to think ahead as much as I can.

There was a story of a local farmer, who was looking to appoint a foreman. A man applied for the post, and the farmer asked him why he thought he should be given the job. Among other things, he answered that he slept well every night. The farmer was a bit puzzled by this, but liked him and gave him the job. All spring and summer, the foreman worked hard, did all his tasks well, and the farmer was pleased. Then came the first big storm of the winter. The farmer lay listening to the gales whirling around, and the hail lashing the windows, and was frantic with worry. At last he could bear it no longer, and got togged up and went out into the storm to check his barns. He was amazed and angry to see no sign of the foreman out checking the livestock, and went round to his cottage and barged inside. He was furious to discover the foreman sound asleep in his bed and shook him roughly - "Why are you lying in bed when this storm is raging?" he demanded. "Because I had made sure everything was safe and in no danger beforehand" he said. And then the farmer understood...

So, there it is.  Autumn, with all its cosy, spicy, golden delights, is a wonderful season, but - for me - now, it's all about making sure we can sleep safely in a storm.  

Wednesday 11 November 2015


A boy was nine years old yesterday. So hard to believe, but it's true. The first of our big 'first time since...' occasions but we were ok. Lots of cards, a few gifts, FaceTime calls, his favourite meal and a chocolate banana cake helped a bit. So thankful to have him - he's a great boy. xxx


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