Place, Space & Identity

I hope my blog has given you a sense of the different places I’ve lived and worked. This forms the basis for my writing  just now for the second Meditation through Writing e-course by Fiona Doubleday.

Scottish Island Mumcropped-picmonkey-collage3


I will follow this up by taking part in the “Place, Space & Identity” course which could have been written for me and points the way to a memoir based on my childhood in Scotland, my teenage years in California, my formative years in Chicago and Sweden and finally the past 38 years on Arran, raising children, building a weaving studio and setting up international programmes focusing on island living.

You can find more information on Fiona’s e-courses on


I am still celebrating Handweaving: The Basics. The closer we get to publication date the more exciting it is and quite unbelievable that my part in it is complete. If you still haven’t a peek at the preview pages, your can find them by going on to Amazon and typing in Handweaving:the Basics.

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LIFE ON AN ISLAND – EPISODE 9,500, Woes of Cal-Mac Ferry Travel.

Thursday was perfect, the weather was calm the staff were their usual helpful selves and I came away with half the HUGE order of fish and chips in a Happy Meal Bag, Printed in Gaelic. Everything ran on time and I was back from the clinic in Edinburgh by tea time (no cooking required, just heat up the happy meal.) Then disaster struck. The service status on-line said that the ferry had made contact with the pier in Ardrossan and they would have to bring the ferry down from Islay to make the run. In other words no ferry until the afternoon meaning that a planned weekend visit from my cousins had to be postponed till Saturday. Said visit was short and sweet and I managed to have a double order of mussels at the Brodick Bar – my definition of “enough”.

I so appreciate my cousins. We can share memories and stories from our Granny, laugh at how alike and how different we are and treasure the fact that we have each other. Our cousin Ann died of breast cancer 10 years ago and in many ways she left us the legacy of realising how precious the relationships are. It would have been her birthday on Friday and I always mark that day by remembering that we had both turned 40, I had just found out I was pregnant and it was a boy. She thought I was bonkers for going through it all again, but when she met my son for the first time, the look on her face said “he’s one of us.”

So we take Cal Mac as it comes, moan about them regularly, but I don’t know anyone who would leave the island just to have the ferry out of their life.

Joan & Tom March 20141

Mug Shot of Cuzzies for the Family Album


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I’ve often read or listened to authors describing the first time they held their completed book and what a feeling of satisfaction that gave.

I was privileged to have that feeling the other day when I received the first finished copy of my book Handweaving: The Basics published by Bloomsbury.

To see it out in the world, one step removed from me was just amazing. Especially when I thought about all the times in hospital when I felt it would never get finished, because I couldn’t physically work on it and no one else could do it.

I hope you will find it inspiring if you are thinking about learning to weave, but equally I hope you find the background story of interest as it unfolded over 40 years. As for me, I intend to bask for the time being in the completing of it, knowing that whatever happens to me, the book is a stand-alone and the knowledge is available.

The other highlight of my week was a visit from my friend Carolyn who I met in Chicago when I was expecting my first baby. She had three children by then and was a great comfort and resource to a floundering new mother.

One of the gifts she gave me back then was a cookbook called “The Grub Bag”, a product of the New York “revolutionary” scene and a guide to eating economically and organising your shopping as thriftily as possible. My copy had literally fallen apart and been rebound to last another 10 or 15 years and I hadn’t used it for quite a few years. Imagine Carolyn’s surprise when I brought out my tattered copy and discovered that hers had been lost. I was able to give this one back to her, so the revolution continues in the kitchen and I continue with my “downsizing”!



It’s a funny thing,  friendship.  It has nothing to do with time or place. I’ve recently reconnected with someone I knew 50 years ago in high school, who lives approx. 4000 miles from here. This random reunion has brought someone back into my life who I can write to, knowing that what I say will be understood and that I will understand.

Next week I’m expecting a visit from a friend I’ve kept in touch with intermittently over 45 years and we have the laughs to prove it. Then yesterday I heard that another friend was moving back to her home country and clearing out a household full of things accumulated, including photographs of visits we’ve made to each other.

We experience different levels of friendship throughout our lives. Some friends are closer than others and as the saying goes they are in our lives for a reason or a season or a lifetime. Sometimes our relatives are our friends as in the case of me and my cousins with our common history and DNA.

The friendships we build definitely leave a trace behind. Both people carry a memory bank of shared laughter and tears and other experiences. This really helps identify who we are and gives us a reference point if we need it. There’s nothing quite so startling as discovering an aspect of yourself stored in a friend’s memory and brought out years later as part of the ongoing relationship.

I’ve written before about the Irish poet and priest John O’Donohue and his definition of the soul friend, anam cara. Some people come into our lives unexpectedly, defying convention or expectations. We immediately recognise this person as part of ourselves, whether we’ve known them previously or not.

This is explored with great humour in the film “Serendipity” where two people who met by chance try for years to find each other and it all happens in spite of them.

I’m so grateful for my friends, old and new, and the memory traces they carry of me, just as I carry memory traces of them. It’s an amazing feeling when we meet another human being with that instant recognition of “I know you”. My days are richer for the laughter and tears I can share with friends and those famous last words…”Do you remember the time when……………………?


The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

blogs I love:

One Soul Many Hearts

Miracle Design

Angela Elliott-Walker

Simple Abundance

Illustrated Journaling

Inspiring Websites:


We are Wildness

Check out this website for information about their new Rewilding Challenge which starts April 1st. I wrote about it last Autumn and you’ve seen some of my photos. Now I have a circle of new people in my life who I can share photos with and rewildness experiences. Awesome.

Cherish Stationery and Favours

The Zen of Juicing and Springtime



Daffs 20141

Finally after years of all sorts of other priorities, I treated myself to a juicer and today was the day I came to terms on how to use it and take it apart. All through this time of illness I’ve been thinking that fresh juice would be one of the best things I could do for my body to help with recovery, and today was the day.

Let’s just say I had great pleasure in checking the contents of my fruit stash and came up with an initial recipe of a gorgeous Gala apple, a lemon, half a melon and a “dirty” carrot. This latter term is local and refers to carrots which are straight from the ground and purely organic. I did take time to magic it into a clean carrot. I put everything together, stood back by an arm’s length and pressed the button.  Out came the most delicious juice to which I added ice cubes and then had the pleasure of drinking it, knowing that it was doing good to my overworked system. Roll on pears and blueberries! The world is my juicer…(apart from the odd cappucino or two).

I managed to walk outside today to check out the garden. The sun was so enticing and I sat on one of the chairs soaking up the healing rays and just simply breathing. It was lovely. The hedgerows are full of birds organising  nests and while I was sitting there a heron flew down the glen from the heronry, presumably heading for his favouite feeding grounds down on the shore.

The garden is in fine fettle, with marigolds, lavender, rosemary having survived the winter outside and my cyclamen has also survived the storms. Tulips, rogue hyancinth in bloom and mini-daffodils poking their noses through the shrubs. Even in a small area there was so much to look at. Time to hit the drawing board as plans are drawn up for this year. While I can’t do the physical work, I can plot and dream and think about what I’d like to see growing. “Dirty” carrots maybe.

One lovely source of inspiration is the catalogue from Sarah Raven. The catalogue is so beautiful I still subscribe to it, in spite of doing everything else on line to be as eco-friendly as possible.  The website address is at Sarah

I hope that you are enjoying the new Spring energy as much as I am. March can be an amazing month. I could echo a friend on Facebook today – “Lunch in the garden in March – love it”.  I’ve formed an intention….


The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

blogs I love:

One Soul Many Hearts

Miracle Design

Angela Elliott-Walker

Simple Abundance

Illustrated Journaling

Inspiring Websites:


We are Wildness

Cherish Stationery and Favours


International Women’s Day

SKY 21

“You are the sky.  Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

-Pema Chodron

This blog is for the many amazing women I’ve come across in my life who’ve influenced me and helped me become the person I am. It’s also for the men in my life who support me with respect and love and let me be who I am.

I’m still a bit shell-shocked after a few “procedures” in hospital over the last couple of weeks, but again I have to thank all of the medical staff at Crosshouse and Arran Hospitals for their care and humour in the face of annoying physical weakness (and their appreciation of my Hot Chili nail polish) I’m so grateful for the healing prayers and meditation that came my way and the opportunity again to remember that I’m not in charge, but I am much loved and if I let go and just breathe, I’ll understand more than if I twist and turn and try to find answers.

I’ve taken much comfort from the writings of the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron which were shared by a close friend who knows of my impatience and my searching for answers.

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
It’s important to remember the women in our world who are struggling to be who they are, especially in countries like Syria which are torn apart by war. I’ll end with a prayer that each woman can reach her own idea of fulfillment. The world will be a better place.



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