mercredi 9 novembre 2022

In painting, 'it's the spaces in between that create the picture.'

 Years ago, our Erieau neighbour, painter Carol Bowman described her process with water colours. She said: 

‘It’s not the objects that are important; it’s the spaces in between that create the picture. You spend your time in the spaces.’

This has always stuck with me. So much of life is the space between.
In literary criticism and intersectionality we are told to, ‘Pay attention to what is not there.’ What has been left out? 
What has been left unsaid?

It is the rich space in between that is the foundation for community, for love, for life.
Attend to the spaces, not the objects.

samedi 9 avril 2022

3 Leadership Lessons from Canal Boating

 Three Leadership Lessons Learned from Boating the Oxford Canal 🛥️

1. The front always leads; but it is the stern, where you originate from, that will secure your ship to shore.

2. Work ahead while waiting. This will ensure a smooth transition through locks and changing waters.

3. Work with the natural rhythms of the weather: Pause when it is stormy; Sail as much as you can when the energy of the sun is shining. 

mardi 29 mars 2022

The March 2022 Lewis Heather Fires


50 Words: Lon Dubh (Scottish Book Trust)


Her mam had been sick with the consumption for weeks, and had taken to her bed, so Mina took the milk up to the castle doors. That morning on her way, Mina saw a black figure flying over her head, and looked back at the house. There, on her mother's window ledge was Lon Dubh, the blackbird. He had come for herself. Mina dropped the pails and ran back to the house, up the steps. Mam was sitting up on the edge of her bed looking bright, healthy. 'Can you fetch me a cuppa a' gràidh?' her mother asked. When Mina returned with the cup of tea, her mother was gone, and the bird no longer there.

[Image: Chatham-Kent artist Tracy Root's painting, 'Solitude of Silence' 2021]

dimanche 30 janvier 2022

50 Words: Quilt of Life (Scottish Book Trust)



I ran my hand over the wee stitches she had sewn. Touched one loop after another: one, two, three in time, space and rhythm onto what Granny had called the Quilt of Life. She was gone, but her fingers, the pieces of fabric of her days, were still here holding me.

samedi 29 janvier 2022

50 Words: The Metagama April 21, 1923 (Scottish Book Trust)



My best friend's tears on my face. A dark sky; and fire after peat fire burning along the coast. Villagers came down to the bottom of their crofts to see the Metagama pass. No one spoke. I clutched the black bhìoball the Minister gave me until the imprint was raw.

samedi 4 avril 2020

The Declaration o Aiberbrothock (Arbroath) April 6, 1320

Declaration o Aiberbrothock (Arbroath)
Tiomnadh Bhruis
April 6, 1320

The closing of schools, businesses, the cancellation of the Olympics, Wimbledon and sport does not sadden me as much as the inability to be in Arbroath this historic weekend. I have waited decades to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration which signalled the rights of people to an independent nation. Scotland, like the original nations of North America, had been an independent nation longer than its colonialist English rulers when the papal petition was signed on April 6, 1320:
That crossing from Greater Scythia, via the Tyrhennian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and living in Spain among the fiercest tribes for many years, it could be conquered by no one anywhere…one hundred and thirteen kings have reigned of their own blood royal, without interruption by foreigners.
We do not fight for honour, riches, or glory, but solely for freedom which no true man gives up but with his life.’
That ‘kings’ should be chosen by the people was a concept born in Arbroath this weekend 700 years ago. Although I remain at home this weekend, my spirit will be in Arbroath, and Alba’s birth of social justice.

mardi 24 mars 2020

Scriptures Reworked: The Lord will perfect me

My gratitude today for the life experiences that taught me:

1. When in a snow storm, an talamh fuar, you hibernate and wait for better weather;
2. Reading and mindfulness is a connected, regular part of one's day📖
3. A woman can thrive alone after heartbreak; and
4. Meals can be made of almost anything, if you are creative and know the basics.🥘
I didn’t realise it while I was in pain, or discomfort, but ‘the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me’ (Psalms 138:8) She prepared me for today.

lundi 23 mars 2020

Discovery of Witches: Oxford Film Settings

Actors Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer filmed Deborah Harkness's (2011) Discovery of Witches in two tiny square blocks in Oxford: 1. The area around Exeter College (character Diana's 'New College' at Oxford uni) and the Bodleian museum next door; and 2. the College's boat houses on the edge of Christ Church meadows.

Those who know Oxford will recognise many of the filming spots. What surprised me as I toured the scenes from the 2018 series was how deceiving the shots were. For example, Diana rides her bicycle left past the entrance to the Bodleian museum, but then chains it up two blocks behind her at Duke Humprey's. She walks across a 'square' to her lecture (but the doorway is right behind her).

It's great fun though to identify the very place where the camera must have been as Matthew Goode was standing, or Teresa Palmer was running.

Scriptures Reworked: By the silent waters I am led

The University of Oxford in the time of Coronavirus is one of silent contemplation, reading and solitary walks along the silent Thames. It is, I imagine, what Oxford may have been like during its formation - filled with religious scholars use to quiet study, rather than tourists teeming the town.

On this trip, the outbreak of Covid-19 closed my workplace, but before I was able to return home, I was able to revisit the still discoveries of my twenties. I strolled the ancient banks of the Thames, disturbing the peace of the mating geese nearby.

Filling my lungs with the Spring rain and magnolia blooms, I marvelled at how calming a field of daffodils or a slow river of life can be. These 'silent waters we are led by' are peaceful. Still. Eternal. While sickness and death fills our streets, life is reborn through the waters, the rain, the amniotic river of life. Here I return. Here I am brought to peace; a reminder that in every ending, there is a new beginning.

A great (x4) grandfather of mine, Rev. John Wesley, walked here too. Once a student of Lincoln College, he gave song waves to scripture, the beginning of the Common Book of Prayer for methodists, all by the silent waters of Oxford.
'She trails a wake of rosy gold,
and doth a lone musician bear
whose melting music leaves a sigh
as tho' the heart of dreams were by' (Oxford Poetry, 1910,p.138)