Looking to the Future

Marigolds & Tulips 20141

When we raise our children, our concerns for their welfare are direct one to one. We care and advise as best we can and trust that they will be caring human beings in turn. We try to give them what they need by way of feedback and education and are not above making adjustments in our own goals and ambitions to see that they get what they need to be who they want to be.

Blythe & Fern 2014

The reward for this care comes when our grandchildren come along. We can hand over the day to day care to their parents and become part of the history of their lives, providing them with a touchstone and an understanding of where they came from and who came before.

I just spent a week doing exactly this on a visit with my grandgirls. When they left, I began to think what I would want for them in their lives as they make their choices.

My girls have an appreciation of the struggle that it took to set up a world where you could be what you chose to be as a woman, especially in the example of Malala after she was shot for going to school in Afghanistan.

They have an appreciation of politics in the world and a great affection for their adopted country of Ireland.

They  have their own views on religion which may or may not change, but for the moment they certainly know the difference “between right and wrong” which was articulated for the whole family by their great Grandma Ross in no uncertain terms. She never explained what the difference was, just that we would recognise it when it came along. I didn’t believe her back then, but my confidence has grown in my own abilities to tell “the difference” and it is interesting to see that the girls have inherited this trait in a very practical way.

So – I would want for them a firm conviction of the “difference between right and wrong”. Their participation in “world awareness” projects in school enhances this knowledge for them.

I would also want them to have the belief in themselves that will let them do anything they choose, despite being “girls”, especially when they can tutor me how to message on my mobile phone and explain applications and programmes like Spotify.  At the same time they are developing an awareness of traditional crafts and a special interest in performing music. This is a gap that I can fill for them in turn.

I am proud to be part of this lovely helix which loops round the generations and creates the consciousness  and continuity which we call “family”.



Cherry Trees 20141

This week’s blog is a pictorial record of the cherry trees in bloom at Arran High School which for me brings  back memories of being a “Mum” since all three of my offspring went there for secondary school, which I’m sure gave them their independence of spirit and curiosity for new adventures. Now Jill has two Irish speaking children, Simon is volunteering at a co-operative coffee farm in Peru before he heads out to explore more of northern Peru and Chris is doing his thing in Philadelphia as a football referee and computer designer while Louisa carries on her pediatric research project at the Children’s Hospital there. The poem remembers them well.

Cherry Trees 20142

Cherry Trees 20145

Sam and Lucy’s Memorial Stones

Cherry Trees 20143

Arran High School Flowering Cherry Trees


The school bus stops in the village

Spills out its uniform clad contents

In all shapes and sizes

Exploding with relief, mischief and untapped potential

Oblivious to past or future

Wholly in the present

The only burden an overloaded backpack full 
of books, homework, sweetie wrappers and smelly trainers.

The white Nissan Micra stops outside the door.

Spills out its content of very long legs in uniform black jeans.

Long, lanky bodies in red polo tops
 unfolding into responsible young prefects.

Oblivious to past or future

Wholly in the present.

The only burden a car boot full of backpacks
 full of books, sweetie wrappers and smelly trainers.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Camellias 20141

Camellias Blowin’ in the Wind

It’s been a quiet sort of week, the only appointment to change my toenails from “Hot Chili” to “Desert Poppy” thanks to Lynn at Arran Tip to Toe and a quick  trip to the dentist.

The garden is beautiful but windy; the garden bench ready for new flowers and herbs; today the soil felt warm underneath my hands. I’ve planted, begonias, anemones, sunflowers and sweet peas indoors and the kitchen looks like a greenhouse. Time to trust that there will be no more frost.

Garden Bench 20141

Camellias always make me think of  Sacramento, the Camellia Capitol of the World. Where I worked downtown there were camellias in the park next to my office and they provided daily relief from the drudgery of typing all day about the water projects, conduit pipes and other technical stuff.

A friend of mine is visiting Northern California at the moment and I have written two pieces inspired by his descriptions of the visit and common memories of Fair Oaks where we grew up.

Echoes of Memories

Echoes of memory are all around
as you walk the paths I used to walk
and explore the paths we both have known.

The patterns of footprints that you make now
crisscross the footprints that have been waiting,
which in turn hold the impression of another existence, living on in who
we are now. 

Like a fugitive crossing those tracks you lay another memory to be discovered in the future,
To be discovered by those who follow us and want to know the paths that were ours.

The past is all still there in the footprints we left behind,
Waiting to be understood, offering clues as to what went before.
It’s up to us to pass on the maps.
California Poppy

It doesn’t seem like California with its lush green rolling hills and dairy farms, it definitely isn’t LA. I could be Scotland in places with its high hills and the ocean not faraway.

I could have settled there, found a niche and carried on being the California girl-in- training.
The change to living in the Midwest was excruciatingly painful with layers of homesickness for two places I had learned to love. Scotland was my childhood and California was my teenage years, both contributing to the transplanted person I would become.
California was the road not taken when there was a choice, but the ties were there and still are.







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What you See is What you Get


Margo MacDonald MSP (BBC Homepage)


Throughout the years that I’ve been politically engaged, there is usually someone inspirational like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King influencing the course of events and changing the way we look at things. In Scotland this week we lost such a person, working hard behind the scenes to influence the things she cared about and always telling it like she saw it.

The death of Margo McDonald, the independent Member of the Scottish Parliament leaves a gap that will never be filled. She began to make waves in 1973 when she won the Labour seat in the south of Glasgow shipyard area for the Scottish National Party has championed the cause for Scottish Independence ever since.

Margo died of Parkinson’s disease and campaigned throughout her illness for the right to a dignified death and a change in the law that would all each person the right to choose that option.

I felt really sad when I read about her death and realised that she had been a role model for me and many other Scottish women for her “no-nonsense” approach to life and politics. She would have made my Granny proud.

It’s this characteristic of “what you see is what you get” and “never call a spade an agricultural implement” that I like so much about being Scottish. That along with fighting for what you believe is right and if you see an injustice, fighting it with your heart and soul.

One of the tributes to Margo this week is that she had the ability to argue with you fiercely over an issue and then sit down over a cup of coffee, to continue the discussion on a level that left you feeling that you might not agree with her political views, but you certainly applauded her humanity and respect for other people.

I think this respect can only come when you understand your own point of view and approach others knowing your own mind. Then you are open to debate  and discussion rather than a closed mind.

Margo was such an influence.

This week saw the beginning of the Rewinding Challenge which I did last autumn, encouraging participants to get out in nature and be more aware of our natural surroundings. I took part in the Barefoot Challenge on a rainy day on wet grass. It felt fantastic and gave me a tremendous amount of satisfaction, given my physical limitations. I’ve really enjoyed the photos that people have sent in from all over the world to the website.

To celebrate the ongoing rewilding process, I’m printing my barefoot photo again and urge you to check the website and take part. It’s never too late.


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