Tuesday, August 23, 2011

laughing out loud

I'm listening to Rainbow Valley and this made me laugh out loud:

"As for Norman Douglas, he is a perfect heathen. When the last minister asked him why he never went to church he said, 'Too many ugly women there parson, too many ugly women.' I should like to go to such a man, Mrs. Doctor dear, and say to him solemnly, 'There is a hell.'" - Susan Baker.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

knit and natter returns

Well, it has been a month of silence here on the blog... 50-60 hour work weeks and trips to Paris just aren't that conducive to writing, at least for me! I hope to do a few catching up posts, but for now this is what I am knitting and reading this week. Or, more correctly, what I finished knitting and reading!

Over the weekend I finished a hat for my sister's birthday on Saturday. It's the Purl Beret and I knit it up in a pink/purple alpaca. She moved to PA about a year ago and as far as I know has yet to purchase a winter hat. (This knowledge is based solely on the fact that in the pictures of her outside in the snow this past winter she is wearing a scarf like a babushka...)
I'm hoping that the colour of the hat matches the colours in a woven scarf I brought back from Ireland for her about five years ago.

This week I finished reading Anne of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I've been listening my way through the Anne books via librivox this year, but Anne of Ingleside is not in the public domain so I was happy to find it in a wee shop across the street from me that gives cash for old clothes and sells second hand books for 50p. I have been "reading" The Woman in White for the better part of this year with Heather on the CraftLit Podcast. We finally reached the end this weekend and it was SO good! Highly recommend both the podcast and this not-so-well-known-in-America British classic. (Rosie, if you're reading this I think you would really enjoy this book and hearing it read by some great voices...)

I feel like I should have lots to natter about today having been gone for so long, but all I can think about is that the sun is shining and I want to get outside and enjoy it! (We have had precious little warm, sunny days this summer here in Belfast.)

You can see the other yarn along posts this week here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

knit and natter

Better late than never with this week's yarn along post!

I had a crazy week last week. I went from maybe getting about eight hours at McDonald's to starting two new jobs and getting 45 hours. Quite a change! On top of that I was manning the prayer room at Summer Madness, a Christian youth festival, over night on Monday and had my first night out with Street Pastors on Friday. I think I'm still catching up on sleep!

So, all that to say I'm still working on the bunny. She is almost finished. Since this photo was taken I finished off the second leg so I just have ears and assembling to go. Baby Elloise's due date is getting closer so I'm hoping to get bunny in the mail this weekend.

I'm reading Developing Learning in Early Childhood by Tina Bruce which is obviously for school. The coming year of our course is apparently very demanding and we were advised to do research work over the summer to help lighten the load a bit. Advice taken!

I had a funny moment while eating Mexican with some friends on Tuesday where I was pulling out things about egocentrism and other technical jargon from what I've been reading... I guess it's really getting in there!

That's all, not much nattering this week. I will have a post in the next few days about the 12th of July celebrations here in Belfast. This was my first year here for them and my observations were very educational.

You can link up with the other yarn along posts here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

paris apartments

I'm heading to Paris for the first time in a couple weeks and this is (as near as I could get to) where we're staying!!! SO excited! 5 minutes walk from the Louvre and 15 from Notre Dame!

View Larger Map

Sunday, July 10, 2011

a little ivy

I just finished watching the BBC drama/documentary Vincent van Gogh: Painted in Words. It's really very good. Such a sad story and the combination of it and the nostalgia it awoke in me left me in tears. I used to paint and draw. Years and year ago. I had an amazing teacher who inspired and provided freedom and space. When we asked her opinion about a work or what we should do to improve it she always said, "You are the artist, what do you think?" I learned later that such a teacher is a rare and precious gift.

But we moved away and besides leaving this amazing teacher behind my time was also taken with school and work and a long commute to both. And we lived in such a little house that we were all on top of each other and there was no space for creativity. So all my art supplies stayed in boxes. Every once in a while I'd pull out a sketch book and some pencils, when the urge grew too loud to ignore. But after time it became easier and easier to ignore, until it was hardly ever there. And now I go years at a time without even sketching.

It's been nearly 13 years since that move and in all other respects it has been one of the best things that ever happened to me individually and to my family as a whole. But there still is, locked away inside of me, an artist. An artist who longs to feel the swirl of oil paint on my brush and smell linseed oil and follow the curves and lines of my subject and blend just the right shades of colour. An artist's whose eyes still know how to see.

The closing shot of the film is of van Gogh's grave in France which is covered in ivy. At my last lesson my art teacher gave me a clipping of ivy. She had a large, lovely plant of it grown from a clipping she had taken from his grave and smuggled through customs in her bra. I don't have much of a green thumb and my little clipping thrived for a while but died about four years ago. But I still have a little sketch I did of it when it was young and green and I will never forget what it represents.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

veg box

It's so much fun to receive my fruit and veg box that I thought I'd make a little feature of it here on the blog. What I got and what I made with it. This is my box from two weeks ago as it's been rather busy around here. I had cabbage and cauliflower and grapes and all kinds of goodness.
A conversation with someone at my new job at Debenhams inspired the idea of stuffing my beautiful red pepper. I haven't done a proper grocery shop for a while so didn't have rice or ground beef or the typical ingredients for stuffing. No worries! I cooked up a bunch of veg; carrots, cauliflower, onion, garlic, cabbage, mixed it all together and stuffed it with that.
Pretty tasty!
There was plenty of extra "stuffing."
Which I had for lunch one day with oatcakes and for dinner another with sausages and the last of the sparkling pink lemonade which I bought as a 4th of July treat.
Nothing too exciting or fancy. Just simple, hearty, healthy meals. That's good stuff!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

knit and natter

There won't be much nattering today... I'm in the middle of a half hour break between one job and the next. My life has changed this week, and I'm not used to such busyness!

I'm knitting up a bunny for my sister's sister-in-law's baby girl at the moment. It's the biggest toy I've made so far and it's fun to see it coming together. There isn't a picture of what I'm "reading" at the moment because I'm listening to it on audio book. It's At Home by Bill Bryson and it's very random and interesting "reading."

That's all I really have time for... you can see what everyone else is knitting and reading here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

like a popsicle on the 4th of July

Just thinking about fireworks, and fireflies, and freedom...

Friday, July 1, 2011

front garden: before and after

Our front garden was quite a site. The whole house is rather neglected by our landlady which is a shame because it could be wonderful if properly looked after. When I came back in August and directed the taxi driver to the house he said, "Are you sure?" The hedge was overgrown and the garden full of rubbish! The boys trimmed the hedge back to a more respectable length during the winter and I do my best to keep the rubbish picked up (the wind seems to blow it all right in our gate). But with the warmer weather things had gotten somewhat out of hand. So first, a trip to the £ Shop where I spent £3 on supplies:This is the garden beforehand:

And this is it after:
We don't have any sort of a rake to get up the dead leaves and I've put about as much work into it as I really want to already. But still, I think it's a vast improvement!
I cleared one big bin bag of rubbish and two of weeds. I aerated the soil by hand and planted flower seeds along the path and under the windows. It was the very end of the planting season and we're moving out at the end of August so we'll see if anything comes up/if we get to see them bloom. But it is a very satisfying thing to have accomplished anyway. And I have a very satisfied feeling going in and out now!

I think the garden would be so lovely if the rocks were taken out and grass planted, the hedge tended to, lavender and other lovely plants grown in the borders and a lovely bench away in the back added in. If all the improvements I've imagined for this house were carried out it would be such a lovely, cozy home...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

knit and natter

This past week and a half feels more like a month! It's so strange, when I look ahead the time seems to be flying by, but when I look back everything seems to have gone by so slowly. Not sure why that is...

Anyway, this week I am reading Chronicles of Avonlea on my iPod. I loved these stories when I was little and thought they would be fun to read again. Not quite as impressed with them as I was then, but still enjoying the nostalgia! And it's nice to have books on my iPod to read on the bus or at work or when out and about and waiting for whatever.

I'm knitting a market bag for a friends whose birthday is this weekend. She didn't tell me it was her birthday but I just had this sneaky feeling and checked on facebook... sure enough! So I'm using up some cotton that I had in my stash. The natural is Lily Sugar'n Cream and the blue which will make the top half is Debbie Bliss. I found some pretty wooden buttons at the local craft shop and I'm hoping this will make a nice, rather impromptu, birthday present.

While at the craft shop I just happened to notice they were having a yarn sale... I snagged these beauties, Creative Poems by Rico Designs. They're so pretty and I've already assigned projects for them. Birthdays and Christmas are sneaking up quickly!

So, I don't have much more to natter about today. I've been working in the garden all morning (pictures to come!) and need to go and have a shower and get a few more things done before heading out for my Wednesday knitting group. You can see the rest of the yarn along projects for this week here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

teacher gifts

It's been a long time since I've given teacher gifts... that's not exactly what these are, but it's a close enough description. I made them for the ladies who work at the nursery where I've been on placement this year. They are tulips and citrus leaves from 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet and I made them into brooches. I wasn't 100% happy with how they turned out, but I'm pretty fussy and I rarely am with projects like these. Time, thought, and effort went into them so hopefully the ladies will enjoy them.

I have really enjoyed my year on placement. The children are all wonderful and the ladies have been great to work with. I'm not saying goodbye to them all as I'll be working there over the summer which I'm greatly looking forward to!

Today was the last day for most of the students so they gave us our thank you cards for the year. They know that I like butterflies so the card had a butterfly, they gave me a butterfly magnet (not knowing that I also have a thing for magnets) and one of the classroom assistants I've worked most closely with gave me a lovely glass candleholder with painted flowers and a butterfly. Like I said, these ladies are wonderful.

I mentioned that I had something for them but decided to wait till my last day next week because the teacher in my room has been off sick but should be back next week. I wrote out the card with her in mind and hopefully I'll get to give it to them when we're all together instead of everyone scattered about the building like we were this afternoon.

It was the end of the year prayer service today and it was so lovely. The children brought in their amy files (binders filled with pictures of them and artwork they've done which shows all the progress they've made this year) to be blessed by the priest. It was almost like an offering. I thought it was lovely. It's a Catholic nursery and I did feel a bit of a sore thumb being the only one who doesn't know the Hail Mary. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about all the focus on Mary, but I do love the rituals and rhythms of it all. Anyway...

I'm kind of just rambling on as I'm tired and should really go to bed... just seems a bit sad as it's 9:30 on a Friday night. I was supposed to go out for drinks with some friends to celebrate things like the end of the school year and chapters of dissertations and theses (is that the correct plural of thesis?) completed and my new job, but when it came to it I wasn't feeling well and it was cold and rainy out and I'm whining now but I just didn't feel like getting fancy and going out. It's been a long couple of weeks and I've got a long day ahead tomorrow. I just need to suck it up and go to bed.

All right, going now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

from Brighton Rock

"He said, 'You can't conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone else the ... appalling ... strangeness of the mercy of God.'"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

knit and natter

I finished off the tulips last Thursday (will post a picture soon) but I haven't started a new knitting project yet. I've just been adding a row here and there to my current WIP, a Tea Leaves Cardigan for a November birthday... no rush on this! This is my fourth tea leaves and it's nice to have a mindless project to pick up now and then. I bought the largest skein of yarn ever for this in September in a faint hope that I might've had the time to make it for last November. I definitely bit off more than I could chew when it came to presents last year but have hopefully learned my lesson and have already begun planning and purchasing for the next round of presents. (You see in my family we have six birthdays between August and November. Then Christmas. Then two birthdays in January, a birthday and an anniversary in March and a birthday and two anniversaries in April. That's just family, not friends!) So I've gone ahead and started on this November birthday present in the hopes that it will be finished on time...

I've been reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It's a rather unattractive copy but it was free so I'm not complaining. I do really like Dickens and this is no exception. I'm a little over halfway through, Estella has just come to London. I loved the part *spoiler* when Mr. Jaggers tells Pip that he has come to have great expectations, and that it's not just for the future, but is changing his present as well. I just think it's a great picture of what the Lord does (not to get too cheesy). He comes into our lives and says, "I've got a future filled with hope for you." And that changes not just our future but our present as well, it opens up the opportunity for us to live life well, now.

You can find the rest of this weeks yarn along posts here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

fruit and veg

Recently a friend gave me a lovely present... a gift voucher for a produce delivery service. I've been wanted to get a "veg box" for a long time now but just never managed to get around to it. I really do want to be someone who eats seasonally and locally (within reason, if that's okay to say) and I think a box scheme is a great way to do that.

This particular company supplements the seasonal/local produce with a few not quite so local things and you're always guaranteed to have staples (potatoes, carrots, onions, apples) in your box. All in all I think it's a fabulous scheme. For £12.50 I get enough fruit and vegetables to last me for two weeks delivered to my door.

This was my last delivery. (I think it's pretty safe to say that the bananas and pineapple were not grown in Northern Ireland.) But I'm pretty sure that the carrots, spring/green onions (I can no longer remember which is the American and which the British term) and broad beans were.
Also, hiding way down in the bottom were some absolutely delicious Comber potatoes. They were definitely grown just a few miles down the road and they were lovely!

This is one of the meals I made: I boiled the potatoes and then sautéed them a wee bit in butter. I had never had, much less cooked, broad beans before. In the States they're called fava beans. I just shelled them and lightly boiled them. You can take the whitish skins off if you want and then they look just like edamame (and taste pretty similar) but that seemed like too much effort for too little return. I had the salmon in the freezer from a time I found it on clearance. I marinated it in soy sauce and lightly fried it. Yum!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

knit and natter

This is my last week of college for the year. We had end of year interviews yesterday where we looked back over the last term and were offered a place on the second year of the course. Mine went very well. I do so love learning (even when I'm a bit burned out with all the work, thank goodness for summer!). Tomorrow and Friday I will be out on placement for my last official days, although I'm planning to go in next week as I'll just be twiddling my thumbs, and it seems rather silly to miss the last week after being with them all year.

So this is the last week of Wednesday as Saturday and it's a rather busy one. Since this is my last official week on placement I'm scurrying to finish up gifts for the ladies who have been so lovely to me all year. I'm making tulip brooches from 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet. I have finished knitting four red tulips and four purple tulips and (even though the picture only shows seven) all eight leaves. (I used the citrus leaf pattern.) All that's left is to weave in ends, sew them up, and assemble the brooches. Yesterday while I was waiting for my interview I nipped over to the craft shop and bought the pins. I also popped into the bakery I've been passing longingly all year and bought an Iced German Biscuit which I ate at City Hall in the sunshine.

We've been given the advice to keep working over the summer as we have quite a large research paper to write plus portfolios to assemble for each unit we'll be doing next year. So gathering articles, information, and reading will continue (at least for me) throughout the summer. At the moment I'm reading "Just Playing? The role and status of play in early childhood education" by Janet R. Moyles. It's one of the more obviously academic books I've read so far, but I am enjoying it. I keep a little notebook with quotes from the books I read so that later when I'm writing papers I have plenty of references to choose from. Here are a couple of quotes I've liked so far:

"Play develops creativity, intellectual competence, emotional strength and stability and ... feelings of joy and pleasure: the habit of being happy."

"We must value play as a child's culture which, like any culture, has its own language. Like any culture, play can provide its own barriers to 'outsiders,' and communication with adults about play may be difficult not only because of the differences in values but also because adults do not belong to this particular culture." (any longer)

I think it's so funny that it took me so long to realise that working with children is wanted I wanted to do with my life instead of just something I happened to fall into when I was 11. It all seems so obvious now and I think that even if things don't go to plan and I'm not able to stay in Ireland forever I'll go "home" and be a preschool or Montessori teacher instead of the interior designer I've always claimed to really want to be.

You can see all the other lovely yarn along posts for this week here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

it's finished!

I have finished my wispy cardigan! I've already worn it twice, but I haven't blocked it yet. Oh well, priorities! It will eventually need to be washed and it can be blocked then. In the meantime I'm very much enjoying my new summer sweater!It wasn't very easy to get a picture of it. Webcams are tempermental things, as is the light in my room. I wanted to show the back off and that proved especially hard, but nevermind. I just sing the Big Booty song when I look at this picture...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Last Tuesday evening I was rushing out the door for my Irish class just as it was starting to rain with big, heavy drops. I was struggling to get my umbrella up when something in our neighbour's dumpster (or skip as they're called here) caught my eye. They are having their house redone. Based on how long the builders have been there and how many loads of rubbish have been carted away I think they're totally gutting it and redoing everything! Anyway, I noticed that the builders had put a bookcase in the skip. Now, I've been wanting a bookcase for ages but haven't had the do-re-mi to purchase one. So I rushed right back inside and had my housemate help me pull it out.

It really was probably not a bookcase but a set of bathroom shelves... I don't care. I cleaned it up, which took a while it was filthy, and set it up in my room. All of my books just fit and there's even space in the bottom cupboard for my baby sewing machine and a bit of yarn stash that didn't have anywhere else to go.

Here it is. I was going to say my first dumpster rescue, but that's not true I once rescued some fabulous wooden folding chairs from the dumpster in my apartment complex... But this is definitely my first "skip" rescue! And my books are so much happier now that they have a proper place to live instead of in stacks on the floor!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Today I woke up at four o'clock am. I worked from five until eleven, opening for the very first time. (Also, I had pancakes for breakfast.) I accidentally left my wallet at home. I found lots of goodies at the £ Shop, Tesco's, and Boots (after having gone home to retrieve my wallet). Incidentally, one of the hardest parts of living in another country is having to figure out all new brands of toiletries.

I participated in World Wide Knit in Public Day. Which, I have to be honest, didn't seem that much different than a normal Stitch 'n Bitch gathering, just we were in the museum cafe instead of Starbuck's. But we had a lovely time anyway. I came home, put all my shopping away, and made dinner. I had an orange and a grilled peanut butter and nutella sandwich. I ate it in my pyjama bottoms... in my bed... while watching a chick flick on my computer. (Don't hate.) It is now almost eight o'clock pm. I'm going to do my dishes and probably go straight to bed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

knit and natter

This week I'm reading Brighton Rock. It's for my book club and is certainly not something I would've chosen myself. But I think it's always good to read books that I wouldn't have chosen myself. I'm not very far along having only just gotten it at the library Monday afternoon. It's about the mob (which I really think just means gang, not the mafia) in Brighton. We'll see how it goes... They've also chosen to read The Godfather over the summer so there's that to look forward to. (Sarcasm isn't always obvious when typing as it so often depends on the tone of voice... so just to clarify that statement was said sarcastically.)

I'm still working away on my Wispy Cardi and am nearly finished. Just the ribbing at the bottom of the body to go. I'm hopeful I'll be able to wear it this weekend. Also thinking about all the other planned projects that are suddenly growing in numbers and wanting to get on to some of them.

Now, while I say that I'm reading Brighton Rock what I'm "reading" is Anne of the Island. (I still feel the need to put reading in quotation marks when I'm referring to listening to an audio book.) It's been years since I read the Anne books and I am so very much enjoying them! Little bits of plot keep coming back to me just before they happen and I'm remembering things I didn't even know I had forgotten. I know that I'm eight years older than Anne when she went to college, but I can't help noting how our lives are in a similar place. If only my Gilbert would come along. *sigh* If you use librivox, Karen Savage is a fantastic reader. I especially love the way she reads Davy.

I must soon do a post about my Irish classes. I would do it now, but I've been cleaning all morning and am hungry. Remind me later!

You can find all the other yarn along posts for this week here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

exploring north down

Today was a wonderful reminder of how much I love Ireland. I was busy this morning doing laundry and a bit of school work (thought I was finished with work for the year but no...) then, around lunch time my friend Rachel came and picked me up. We drove around for a while, generally heading out to the Ard's peninsula. We had a picnic lunch on the shores of Strangford Lough. Not too far away from the site where this picture was taken.

And our view was very similar. The day had started out sunny and warm, but by the time we stopped for lunch was overcast and cool There were dozens of sailboats and windsurfers out on the Lough and we saw a seal swimming by as well. It was lovely.

From the Lough we headed over to Crawfordsburn Country Park (seriously, visit the link they have virtual tours of the park and it's beautiful) where we went for a lovely walk along the coast, past a wildflower meadow, and through the woods.

We rounded out the afternoon with tea at The Bay Tree in Holywood. For months I've been hearing stories about the cinnamon scones at The Bay Tree, they are legendary. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint! Something of a cross between scones and cinnamon rolls... a-mazing!

It was a wonderful, lovely day full of the beautiful Irish landscape, good chats, and amazing food. Just what my heart needed. I think it would be a good idea to have at least a monthly excursion of some kind and make that a feature of the blog as well... giving that some thought!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

knit and natter

So I've been thinking lately. A lot. About all kinds of things. A couple of which are relevant here. I've been in a bit of a funk for... a while. And I don't like it. So, I'm trying to get out of it. In trying to figure out how to get out of this funk I was thinking about that saying, "If you want something to get done, ask someone who's busy." I want some things done in my life. So I'm gonna try to get busy. One of the ways I'd like to get busy is by being a better blogger. It may be a slow start but I'm gonna work on posting much more regularly and maybe adding some features and there'll probably be a bit of design revamp. (Actually that sounds way more impressive than my skills will allow for... things will get a bit of a visual spruce up, I can probably manage that.)

All of that brings me to today's post. I've participated in Ginny's Yarn Along before, although it has been a while. Not only am I going to try and participate regularly, I want to expand it a bit into my own little feature, Knit and Natter. I'll still post a picture of what I'm knitting and reading, but then I'll ramble a bit to talk more about what I'm reading and what I think about it and how it's challenging/changing/entertaining me. Just whatever comes to mind really as "natter" is a British expression which means to chatter or talk incessantly. (You have been warned!)

Incidentally, while looking up natter on dictionary.com I also decided to look up knit and this is what I found...

verb, knit·ted or knit, knit·ting, noun

–verb (used with object)

1. to make (a garment, fabric, etc.) by interlocking loops of one or more yarns either by hand with knitting needles or by machine.

2. to join closely and firmly, as members or parts (often followed by together )

3. to contract into folds or wrinkles: to knit the brow.

4. to form or create from diverse sources or elements:

–verb (used without object)

5. to become closely and firmly joined together; grow together, as broken bones do.

6. to contract into folds or wrinkles, as the brow.

7. to become closely and intimately united.

I love that! (And by that I mean 2, 4, 5, & 7.) So much that it might reappear in some way, shape, or form... I'll have to give it a think. For now, on to this week's yarn along/knit and natter:

I am currently knitting a Wispy Cardi. The yarn was given to me in a yarn swap and it is so lovely! A picture just couldn't do it justice. It's silk and full of all these beautiful tones. At first glance it seems to be be just blues and greens, but it's much more of a rainbow with soft pinks and yellows as well. This could very well be the perfect summer cardigan and I cannot wait to be finished. I've already planned an outfit to wear it with! It's the first garment I've made for myself and I'm just so excited.

I am not technically reading this week's book as I finished it around 11:00 last night. The Poisonwood Bible was fantastic. I have been both meaning to read it and avoiding reading it for a few years now. I just couldn't decide whether I wanted to or not. I'm so very glad that I did. It's the story of a Baptist preacher who goes to the Belgian Congo in 1959 as a missionary. The story of their life in Africa and how they are changed (and how Africa is changed) is told in the five very different voices of his wife and daughters.

Orleanna is looking back after many, many years and her chapters have an almost dream like quality. By contrast the daughters' narratives are mostly contemporaneous. Rachel is the self-described dumb blonde and often mixes up the big words and common phrases that she uses. My favourite being, "It's a woman's provocative to change her mind." Leah is earnest and honest, seeking for truth and righteousness. She was probably my favourite of the girls. Adah is an observer and sees the dark side of things. She was so creatively expressed. I loved the redemptive turn her life takes. (Hope that isn't too much of a spoiler.) Ruth May is only five and her childish way of seeing everything, misunderstanding things, simplifying things is absolutely endearing.

The book provided plenty of food for thought regarding how the West has viewed and interfered with the "third world" and about "cross cultural mission." It also introduced Africa to me in a new way. I have heard plenty of stories about Africa. I've seen pictures and tv programs and African animals in the zoo. I have a sister who loves Africa. But I have never felt drawn to Africa. I've never had a desire to go there (except, for some reason I do not know, Ethiopia, and that only on vacation). There was a song on Christian radio when I was little, "Lord, please don't send me to Africa. I don't think I've got what it takes..." and that somehow got into my thinking about that big, beautiful continent and stuck there. I'm not saying that all of a sudden I want to rush south. Just that my perspective has been challenged and changed, even if ever so slightly, as a result of this book. And that is always a good thing.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Faith is believing that one of two things will happen. That there will be something solid for you to stand on or that you will be taught to fly."

I've been pretty quiet on here recently. I'm juggling school, work, and some other personal things and it's gotten to be quite a lot the last few weeks. I'll be back soon. Just wanted to share this quote which I read on a friend's facebook page. Seems to be where I'm living these days...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

to be explosively healed

This second week of April has been an absolutely crazy one!

I participated in two different prayer rooms, one of which I coordinated. I had an article posted on the 24-7 Ireland website. I handed in two of my four final assignments, one of which was pretty much entirely written between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

So, I'm a bit behind with my poetry month project. This week's poem is another that I've posted about before:

They say that for years Belfast was backwards
and it's great now to see some progress.
So I guess we can look forward to taking boxes
from the earth. I guess that ambulances
will leave the dying back amidst the rubble
to be explosively healed. Given time,
one hundred thousand particles of glass
will create impossible patterns in the air
before coalescing into the clarity
of a window. Through which, a reassembled head
will look out and admire the shy young man
taking his bomb from the building and driving home.
~ Alan Gillis

This week I've had several conversations about the Troubles with different groups of people. Some who were retelling stories they heard from their parents. Some who grew up in the midst of it all. Some, those who were my age, caught in between the two perspectives.

There was a great program on the BBC this week about the time that Mother Teresa and a few of her Sisters lived in West Belfast. They were there for about 18 months during the height of the troubles, in the early 70s. It's a very different thing to read about horrific things than it is to see them on tv.

Anyway, all of that to say that this poem in some way expresses the kinds of prayers that I've been praying for Belfast. That the Lord would bring healing and set things back to rights again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Come On! // Director's Cut from 24-7 Prayer on Vimeo.

another rant on worship

Eight and half years ago my friend Stephen died in a car crash. At his memorial service my friend John Mark played a song that has, in the years since, become a bit of a phenomenon in the worship scene. It's gone pretty far afield, spread by Jesus Culture and David Crowder.

Most people have never heard the final verse of the song which goes like this:

"I thought about you the day Stephen died
and you met me between my breaking.
I know that I still love you God
Despite the agony.
People they want to tell me you're cruel
But if Stephen could sing he'd say it's not true
Cause you're good."

I've never thought of this song as a worship song, despite singing it in countless worship services in various places around the world. Until last night.

Last night I was at a 24-7 Ireland gathering here in Belfast and the first song sung was "How He Loves." I was thinking about that final verse as we were singing and suddenly it hit me. What was it the people of Israel sang when they dedicated the Temple and the glory of the Lord filled it so that the priests couldn't even stand to minister?

"He is good and his steadfast love endures forever."

I think there are very few, if any, things which touch the Lord's heart more than holding onto the fact that he is good and that he loves us when all the circumstances around seem to say the opposite. That is real and true worship.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I have mentioned that I have a crush on this guy, right?

Monday, April 4, 2011

whatever a sun will always sing

I love to memorise things, especially poetry. And it's been a long time since I've done so. April is National Poetry Month (in the US anyway) and I usually like to mark it in someway. This year I'm hoping to memorise a new poem, or refresh an old one I've forgotten, each week. The first week is my favourite poem which I've posted here before but for some reason have never memorised. It's by my favourite poet, e.e. cummings. I've had a hard time focusing and concentrating the last few weeks. I'm also hoping that the stillness, repetitiveness, and the focus inherit in memorising will have a positive affect on my brain function in other areas as well. My academic writing and overall sanity could really use the help!

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart

Saturday, March 26, 2011

cherry cola candy sticks

For the last half hour I've been staring at the following sentence:

"The work of Lev Vygotsky has been hugely influential to early years practice, especially in understanding the role of the adult in supporting children's learning."

I am apparently incapable of adding anything to it. I have even put Mozart on in the background in hopes of helping my brain focus...

I feel a bit like Kevin, except instead of "Squirrel!" I'm being distracted by snacks, facebook, my own train of thought, and generally everything. Blaming my inability to focus on my allergies...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

There is a wonderful article on the 24-7 Ireland website today about St. Patrick. You can also link to all the things I've shared in the past about St. Patrick by the label with his name at the bottom of this post.

I'm working this evening which meant that I couldn't join my friends from 24-7 Ireland at the gathering in Dublin this evening. So I've decided to set the day aside for some prayer and reflection. That somehow seemed a better way to mark the day then going in to town to see the environmentally themed St. Patrick's Day carnival in the city centre.

May you always be blessed
With walls for the wind.
A roof for the rain.
A warm cup of tea by the fire.
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all that your heart may desire.

PS (a bit later in the day) I've just watched a lovely little documentary St. Patrick: Apostle of Ireland. The link is for amazon, but I got it from iTunes. Really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

raise a glass to turnings of the season

It's late and I need to go to bed. But first I wanted to share this:

Today I saw the first butterfly of spring! It's not officially spring yet and the weather hasn't made it out of the 40s so I was absolutely shocked to discover this little guy flying around in the tree outside my window. Nevertheless, there he was, happily soaking up the sunshine and some sweet nectar from all the pretty blossoms. He was difficult to photograph as the morning was breezy and the window was dirty, but I was determined.

Happy Spring!

yarn along

This week's yarn along is all business, business, business. I'm finishing off the second sock in the pair I'm making for my Dad's birthday. His birthday is tomorrow. If only we lived in the same country they would be right on time... unfortunately Royal Mail and the USPS will determine how late they actually are... And I'm reading (well, skimming for relevant details is more accurate) Young Children's Personal, Social, and Emotional Development and Observing Children and Young People. Lots of paper writing coming up in the next several weeks...

Monday, March 14, 2011

catch phrases

I was just thinking about catch phrases. Everyday catch phrases not advertising slogans or super hero exclamations or anything potentially copy righted. Just funny or memorable things people I know and/or love say or have said more than once which makes me think of them when I hear it or am reminded of it.

Sometimes it's little things like a lady I worked for always used the phrase, "Like I said." Or the family friend who introduced "horrid" into my vocabulary. Or Rosie's famous "sinner!"

I was randomly thinking of two in the last week or so:

"I have to watch my girlish figure." - my Grandma, used as an explanation for not eating the yummy goodies she had made for us.
"The natives are getting restless." - Another lady I worked for/friend when the kids were cranky/hungry/tired.

A third popped into my head while I've been writing:
"And we have great hair." - a friend I used to work for, used as the end of many conversations.

Any everyday catch phrases you'd care to share?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

wednesday is the new saturday

Now that I've finished the ICT class I was required to do for my course I don't have to be at college until 2:30 in the afternoon. This is bliss! The same is true on Monday but I usually set Monday mornings aside to do any school work due in during the week. And now that I've started working I don't always have Saturday off, so Wednesday has become my new Saturday. Except for the hour and half I'm in class I spend it doing things like taking pictures of the beautiful flowering tree outside my window. (This is surprisingly challenging because the windows are not clean and they do not open.)

I'm so thankful for this tree! Charlotte, my home town, is absolutely covered with flowering trees and bushes and gardens definitely all spring and to a lesser extent all year long. Having a flowering tree right outside my window helps me feel more at home here, and it has beautiful red leaves in the fall.

I also do things like make big lunches, and then document them by taking pictures. I also baked a cake. A strange cake. A rosemary and olive oil cake. My feelings on this cake are undecided... I do not have any pictures of it because it took longer than expected baking and I had to rush out the door as soon as it came out of the oven as waiting for it had made me late for class.
After my class I head over to Starbucks. Wednesday afternoons are when my knitting group meets. This particular Wednesday was the launch of their new branding. Look at the fabulous new cups! It was also momentous because I discovered a new amazing combination; chai tea and caramel waffles. Y-U-M!!!
Once I sat down to knit I realised that my pattern had not made it into my knitting bag... thank goodness for free wi-fi and ravelry. I was able to pull the pattern up on my iPod and I successfully turned the heel on my first sock.
From knitting group I went over to Boojum's on Botanic to meet my lovely friend Laura for dinner. Boojums is a burrito bar. A burrito bar that actually bears no small resemblance to places like Qdoba and Chipotle. A burrito bar in Belfast. This. Is. A. Big. Deal. The whole time I lived in England myself and my American friend Rosie were desperate for Mexican food. It just wasn't available. But here in Belfast, they have burritos! It was a happy evening.
After Burritos I had home group, it was a lovely way to round out a lovely day, with old and new friends and some good, solid Lenten reflections.

Normally my Wednesday's aren't quite so full. And despite the cold and wind and rain, and the fact that my boots seem to no longer be water proof, it was a good day!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

turning heels and the life of pi

This week I'm knitting a pair of socks for my Dad's birthday. (They're gonna be late, bother!) This is my first pair of socks and I'm just getting ready to turn the heel. Fingers crossed!

I'm reading The Life of Pi for my book club this month. The club is meant to be focused on classics and while I love this book I'm not sure it quite qualifies as that, yet. It's been a few years since I read it and I don't want to give any thin away (especially as there's no know how accurate my memory may be.) So I will just say that it is a beautiful and beautifully written story. It is self described as a story that will make you believe in God.

On this reading I'm intrigued by the descriptions of Jesus by Hindu eyes and I love this quote:

"The presence of God is the finest of rewards."

All the other lovely yarn along posts can be read here.

st. patrick and pete greig

I never saw this until now, it's from 24-7's birthday celebrations last year. Hil-arious!

lenten season

This year for Lent I am making a commitment. Instead of my normal daily routine of praying while I shower and reading my Bible while I eat breakfast I am going to increase the intentionality of how I spend time with the Lord and how I start my day. I'm going to begin each day with half an hour of prayer, worship, and reflection. I like this idea a lot. It involves a certain amount of sacrifice; sleep is something I love and crave and loosing even half an hour of it in the morning is a sacrifice for me. It also involves adding something to my life instead of merely taking something away. My hope is that this forms a habit which will continue after Easter. And it is realistic and doable, leaving no excuses.

As a part of this I will be using 24-7 Prayer's Prayer Spaces for Lent video podcast and readings. I find that a bit of structure when beginning something is always a good thing, as I move forward in this (after Easter) I can give myself increased freedom in what this time looks like.

For now I'm off to make an appropriate playlist. I'm excited about the journey!

PS (a couple hours later) making 30 minute playlists with worship songs proved challenging, it only takes a few to fill the time as most are longer than your average song. In the end I have 10 new playlists falling either under Loudly: Behold, Blaze, Caught, and Rend or Quietly: Beautiful, Closer, Holy, Open, Presence, and Surrender. Should have plenty of options to meet a variety of morning moods!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

blue banjo

tomorrow I'm heading down to Dublin to see the Decemberists. I'm so excited!

world book day

Fern, Wilbur, and Charlotte heading out the door for World Book Day!