Thursday, January 31, 2019

Brexit Blues

It’s fraying at the edges
And parting at the seams
Our exit from the EU
Our precious Brexit dreams

Boris and his cronies
Spun a web of lies
And promised we’d be better off
By breaking EU ties

Money saved is better spent
On our NHS
And so they boldly led us
Into the current mess

They held negotiations
And gibbered on for years
But nothing’s been decided
No terms to soothe our fears

They printed off proposals
In typescript tight and small
And argued over commas
Apostrophes and all

The factories are closing
The future looking dire
They're heading off to China
With workers cheap to hire

Our government's stopped caring
What happens to the poor
In cities, towns and hamlets
We're feeling insecure

The date is fast approaching
When we must say goodbye
We can’t avoid the cliff edge fall
No matter how we try

We want different deal
A people’s vote some say
We need a new prime minister
Enough of Mrs May

But Europe isn’t talking
They’re sticking to their deal
They will not grant us wriggle room
No matter how we feel

I think that Richard Branson with
His rocket into space
Is by far the best deal for
Our little island race

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

"For You created my inmost being;
    You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    Your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14

How much might my life change if I read, absorbed and lived these words daily! I should not listen to the words of the world. The formula it uses is not God's formula and I always end up short of their requirements and spend too much time and money trying to fit in. Better to listen to what God says about me. 

I was reminded of a poem I wrote a number of years ago.


Beauty has been plucked
from the eye of the beholder
and lies in mathematical formulae
proposed by

The face carefully measured
Length and width
One divided by the other
The Golden ratio

The face in three acts
Hairline to eyes
Eyes to nose
Nose to chin
A trinity of equal numbers

Nature’s symmetry presented
Length of ear and length of nose
The same
Width of eye and distance between
The same

Luck would have it
Most faces
match the measurements
and for those that don’t
the right hairstyle disguises imperfections

Fibonacci has uncovered
the fingerprint of
the Maker
God sings creation into being
ofttimes flaunting the formulae

Beauty is never in
the eye of the beholder
or in the mathematics
of Fibonacci
but in the design of God

He looks
not for a Golden Ratio
but for a tender heart

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Your Five a Day...

Birchwood Highland have just dropped their newsletter into my inbox. It includes an article about wellbeing. I seem to remember being a part of a working group at school looking at the “Health and Wellbeing” aims in school. They were called Es and Os – Expectations and Outcomes. The E could have been about experiences. I never mastered the jargon alphabet.  Everything was rephrased into “I can…” statements. The health side of it concerned sports and home economics. I can definitely say that I can’t hop on one foot any longer.

Birchwood identified five day to day things that were important for wellbeing.  Here’s a few “I can…” statements I have fleshed out for you.


I can connect with the people around me including family, friends, colleagues and neighbours, at home, work, school or in your local community.

I can show support to the people around me.

I can build people up by what I say and do.

I’m not doing too badly with this one. I live too far to see family often. I used to have a letter writing habit that saw me getting through books of stamps weekly. Neighbours? I planned to get to know my neighbours through my kids, but the kid thing didn’t happen. A dog maybe? Next door is dog-sitting a very lively little brown dog with floppy ears and a waggy tail.
Be Active

I can spend some of my time outside walking, running or cycling.

I can do some gardening.

I can benefit from regular exercise.

I can discover a physical activity I enjoy and that suits my level of mobility and fitness.

Winter and cold weather doesn’t make for good reasons to go outside. I am walking more often. I could run…actually, I probably couldn’t. Running has gone the way of hopping on one foot. It’s not gardening weather. The soil is rock hard. I have found my Dobbie’s card which means I can go down to the garden centre and drink free cups of tea. Regular exercise? I suppose I could dig out the swimwear and head off to the leisure centre. My bus pass is also a Highlife card which means I get to do things free of charge.

Take Notice

I can be curious.

I can see and admire beauty.

I can notice the unusual.

I can be aware of the world around me and what I’m feeling.

I can reflect on my experiences to help me appreciate what matters to me.

I have this one covered. I tripped over a paving stone just the other day looking at the tops of trees for birds' nests. I almost got run over too because I was paying too much attention the frosty sparkles on the road in the early morning sun. I love sky. I love clouds now that I think I can paint them. I had a discussion this morning with my financial advisor about some of the organisations I appear to have shares in – I am aware that not everyone out there is ethical. I have taught moral issues for too long not to know who the baddies are.

Keep Learning

I can try something new.

I can rediscover an old interest.

I can sign up a course or an evening class.

I can take on new responsibilities.

I can set myself a challenge I will enjoy achieving.

We have this one covered too. Knitting socks with five needles is proving a challenge. My socks have holes that have nothing to do with wear and tear. I have ear marked funds to sign up to a degree in creative writing, part time, over eight years! I’m learning to paint.


I can do something nice for a friend, or a stranger.

I can say thank you to someone.

I can volunteer my time.

I can join a community group.

I can create connections with the people.

When I saw the word “give” I thought about all the different causes that I could donate to. Having retired and having less of an income I really had to sit down with the list from the bank of direct debits and standing orders and do a cull. I have joined a knitting community and a walking community – two different groups – I could just picture you trying to see us all knit while we walk. I haven’t quite got the nattering bit of Knitter-Natters. I talk – I drop stitches – I don’t talk. Sometimes I don’t talk because I have forgotten to put my hearing aids in and can’t hear the conversations to well. Saying thank you – to God – gratitude is an essential – and not just for the good days, but for the resources given to triumph on the not so good ones.

As Horatio Spafford said, in his wonderful hymn, “It is well with my soul.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I Can’t Be Bothered

I can’t be bothered to rise
and cross the open skies
Says the sun this day
It’s Just too much to ask
This day after day task
And she tucks herself away

I can’t be bothered to glow
My silver face to show
Says the moon this night
No sickle in the sky
No silver to catch the eye
As he folds away his light

I can’t be bothered to blow
No clouds across the heavens tow
Says the wind today
I won’t whisper or sigh
The washing I won’t dry!
And he doesn’t come out to play

I can’t be bothered to fall
On grass short and trees tall
Says the rain just now
I won’t pitter or patter
On windows won’t splatter
A raindrop he will not allow

I can’t be bothered to care
To love, to help, to share
Says the man next door
And the world becomes cold
And wickedness bold
As he marches off to war

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Go Explore

The box of cards is labelled “Go Explore”. I picked it up from the Young Enterprise market just before Christmas. Schools throughout the region go head to head attracting customers with the product they have produced, after doing all the research and surveys about what might sell or where there is a hole in the market they can fill.

The box is really designed for younger people – much younger than me. It’s the woods edition designed to pry youngster away from TV or computer screens and get them outside exploring. They did an adult version, a box with candles, herbal tea and how-to leaflets on meditation. I could probably make my own box up if I chose to.

I chose five cards at random and headed off to a nearby wood – taking the scenic route, which involved a wrong turn and heading off into the hills. The cards come with points to add up along the way. I had the potential to collect 40 points. Points don’t turn into prizes – they just kick you outside to enjoy some fresh air.

I’d bought a pair of walking boots in a closing down sale a week ago and was keen to give them a whirl. I know that the proper way of buying walking boots is to have them properly fitted and tested on up-hill and down-hill equipment – but it was a sale and none of the staff suggested anything other than a swipe of the credit card. I saw money saved.

So how did I do?

Two of the cards were “do this” – hop ten steps on the left foot, and hop ten steps on the right foot. I thought ten points were in the bag. Not so! How can I not hop anymore? The right foot fared slightly better than the left foot, but in neither case did the body leave the ground. I bounced up and down rather than hopped. It was bad. Mu sense of balance was shot to pieces. It could all be down to the new walking boots, of course.

I remember my mum confessing to one of the great grandchildren than she couldn’t skip, I’m not even going to try. The great grandchild assured her it was easy and, if she liked, she could teach her how to skip. I don’t think the lesson achieved anything. I had no one to offer to teach me to hop.

One of the cards was “Spot a…blossoming tree”. That was ten points down the drain. It was never going to happen in not in mid-winter.  A forest stretching in all directions and all in winter’s garb. I had to be content with buds on the brink of bursting and trees draped with bright lime coloured lichen.

Another “Spot a….” card, this time looking out for a treehouse. Another ten points not to claim! It’s a forest path not someone’s rather large back yard that has a tree in it. Which woods had the makers of these cards walked through to see a tree house?

“Get creative, Mel” said God. “Think outside the box! What about bird boxes?” That was a possibility. There were a number of bird feeders beside the entrance to the forest path, but I saw no boxes.

“How about a woodpecker hole? That would qualify, at a stretch.” He suggested. I’d been on a walk along the River Ness with the lads and lasses from the Scottish Waterways Trust. One of them pointed out a woodpecker hole in a nearby tree. I knew what it looked like. I scanned the trunks at what might I thought was the right height.  There might have been dozens of them but I saw nothing.

“Fallen logs!” said God, “They house all sorts of life. It was a tree and now it’s home to all kinds of insects. The forest wastes nothing. Even the dead stuff is put to work.”

I didn’t really want to poke around with the bark. I decided to take God’s word for it and claim ten points.

The final card was “Find somethings that meows.”

“Scottish wildcats (Felis silvestris) look similar to a large tabby cat, weighing up to 8kg and measuring as long as 98cm. However, there are some key differences. The most obvious is the thick tail that has a black blunt tip with thick black stripes. They also have a much larger cranial capacity, shorter gut and a more angular jaw, good for crunching live prey with. Genetically, they are distinct from our domestic cats which have evolved from the Near Eastern wildcat rather than the European wildcat. They are one of our last remaining natural predators and play an important role in a healthy ecosystem.”

I didn’t see one. “They are very rare and elusive, it's difficult to spot them in the wild. Many people living in the Scottish Highlands may never see one.”

I didn’t see a tame cat either.

I found something that barks, something that runs, something that gallops = dogs, people and horses,

So, technically I ended the walk without notching up points. That’s OK. Maybe I shall practice hopping for next time..