Wednesday, 14 November 2012

What Happens When You Forget To Breathe.

You know sometimes how magic happens right there where you are? When the world takes you gently by the chin and tilts your head at just the right moment, and you find yourself suspended in something of such heart-stopping beauty that you are transported somewhere else, for just those few seconds.
And always just when you need it.

There we were, on our daily commute through this most beautiful valley, that has held on to autumn for weeks now, the colours singing from the trees, 'the rainbow trees' as The Smallest calls them. The morning had been a bit fraught already, with just too many things to fit in, and tempers frayed from early on, and the sense of rushing just permeating everything. This part of our journey always provides a little bit of solace in our daily run anyway, but this time there was something else.

Inexplicably, at this point on the road, for two minutes, the traffic all but stopped, slowed to a crawl, and out of nowhere suddenly the air was filled with golden leaves that danced over the cars, that stayed in the air, dancing like snowflakes as the sun hit the mountain, and we stared in awe, our hearts filled, overflowing.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Wildness of Things.

I began this post a week or so back, a post about the arrival of autumn, of the sudden profusion of posts online about leaves and rain and weather of all sorts, of lighting fires and digging out ones winter woolies, and the pleasure of it all. But now, in the midst of Sandy, that part of what I wanted to say all seems so irrelevant. Of course we have not been affected by it here, but I am put in mind of the times we do experience the Wildness of Things, and how it shakes us to our bones, reduces us to the tiny things we are in the grander scale of bigger things, and just how vulnerable we truly are when nature rages and heaves itself up out of its bed, and towers over us so terrifyingly.
Here in this little temperate island of ours, storms on the scale of what the US is experiencing right now are extremely rare, but living practically on the beach, and with our house at sea level, it is something I think about on a regular basis during winter months, when we lie awake in bed, our little house rocked by howling winds as the sea booms and thunders outside the windows.

As I sat up stitching, into the small hours last night, I was thinking about my sister in Virginia, and all those people out there who are being affected by the storm.
Times like this, things have a way of slipping neatly into perspective, don't they?
At the moment Jay is away again, this time he is down under in Sydney, and as per usual there has been the usual litany of minor 'disasters'.
Car trouble, check, internet gone, check, people sick, check, cold snap and no fuel brought in, check.
But as I said, everything is in perspective, and my inner Pollyanna is well and healthy.
And so, in the midst of all this stress and mayhem I sit and stitch, and count my blessings as I do, forever grateful for this moderate, nonextreme country I have found myself in.

And here is what I have been working on while Holding The Fort (I do like that expression!)
Inspired by the looming winter months filled with nights I have just described, this little piece has, as usual, taken forever to finish.
I have this notion that if I ever actually take to making things on my machine then I'll get loads done, but that is not likely to happen any time soon, and anyway, is likely to be a complete fallacy. I hand make my small things because usually, my studio is my car, or my kitchen table, in between a myriad of other appointments and tasks throughout my day. They are made, literally a stitch at a time, and at times it feels like a meditation, at others like a muse, with ideas flowing through my head as I work, stories unfolding in a dreamlike manner, hints and voices and realisations, all tumble together into a tangled weave of something with potential.

So I stitch and sew in the dark hours, and I send heartfelt thoughts and wishes to all and any of you who have been affected by the weather these last few days.
May whatever help you need come your way on swiftly wings, and with it the return of things to As They Should Be.

Friday, 26 October 2012

This Moment.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soulemama. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Of Snow And Ice And The Frozen Lands.

I love when something drifts into your ether, and for some reason, on this particular occasion, buries itself deep inside you, and takes hold of your Interest with tenacious hands, and soon you begin to notice all kinds of Things of Interest relating to it positively popping up in front of you.
For months now I have been filling my head and heart with all things of the far, distant North, and farthest South too. Increasingly, as the weeks go by, I have been dwelling, in my mind, in places of ice and water, reading of explorers of a frozen world few of us have seen, watching this drama about Ernest Shackleton, trying unsuccessfully, to see this exhibition about his journey, (although it will be on for two years, so I'm not worried about missing it!), being unexpectedly inspired by a talk I attended by a wonderful geologist-turned-textile-artist called Ann Fleeton, at this months Irish Guild of Embroiderers meeting, gathering books and images and inspiration.

Dark Ice by Camille Seaman.

But it all started with the happy coincidence of two things coming my way within days of each other, which settled onto the already lingering taste of two books I had read in the last year. The first book was The Stillpoint, by Amy Sackville, which I have to say is one of the finest written books I have read in many a year. It contains one of the most heartbreakingly romantic love stories, as well as descriptive writing that will make you swoon, and read and reread countless paragraphs again and again.
The other book is less to do with snow and ice, and more to do with the kind of desolate places that some of the characters of The Stillpoint find themselves. The book is by Judith Schalansky, and is called 'Atlas of Remote Islands, Fifty Islands I have not visited and never will.' Incredibly beautiful and thought-provoking, and in fact, winner of the German Arts Foundation prize for The Most Beautiful Book of the Year. It is a book I keep by my bedside and dip into continuously.

The Last Iceberg Series by Camille Seaman.

So, the two things. First, these incredible photographs by Camille Seaman, which are just majestic and beautiful and completely enthralling to me. (She also photographs clouds like no one I have seen before.)
And then this most wondrous thing that I found via the lovely Nancy, of The b In Subtle, which I now have my heart set on and will go on some day! A ship, The Noorderlicht, a century-old Dutch schooner, which carries a boatload of artists and scientists into waters around Norway's archipelago, who's mission is 'to seek out and foster areas of collaboration to engage in the central issues of our time'. In other words, to 'discuss' global warming and related issues, and to make art about it. The project is called The Arctic Circle , and well worth checking out. As I write this, Irish artist Ruth Le Gear  is there now, collecting arctic water in tiny bottles.
I am...jealous.
I have not stopped thinking about it since first coming across it.
I would give anything to be there right now,  in this magical place who's time is limited, and who's face is changing by the year. To record something of it in my own small way.

The Last Iceberg Series by Camille Seaman.

In all of this, my light relief has been rereading Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. So today, when I saw it, I could not help but purchase, and immediately immerse myself in, a very beautiful, small book by him called Once Upon Time In The North, a sort of precursor to Northern Lights. It was the small size of it, and the cover, that did it, a cloth-bound thing of beauty that had on it an engraving by John Lawrence. Indeed it is filled with such engravings, beautifully rendered, on almost every page.

So I sat in the hairdressers for a little over an hour, while the best kind of misty, autumnal rain quietly closed in around this seaside town of ours, a haze of silver and grey outside the window, and lost myself in a grim, desolate icebound island, where sour, suspicious people live alongside panserborne, or polar bears, a once proud, great culture, and now seen as nothing but drunkards, vagrants, who skulk the bleak streets of the dismal town.
When my time was up, I put away my book, and took a winding road up into the rain clouds, between two mountains, surprised at the lack of icebergs in the grey sea below, through the silent silver haze, listening, as I do most days, to music from the north lands, this time Sigur Rós, (Iceland is about as far north as my music taste goes, for I am well and truly stuck there, without hope, or desire, to be unstuck!), my head filled with snow and ice and frozen lands.
When I arrived at school, it was too wet to stand around chatting, so as I waited in my car I opened facebook on my phone, and the first thing I saw was a post from Charlie and Caroline Gladstone, a video called A Homeless Polar Bear in London. I had to take a look.

As I said, I love how these things all just come together like a beautiful dance that is perfectly choreographed, and suddenly your day just seems like a story, or a dream, with all things dovetailing beautifully.
This time a dream of expansive snowy landscapes, vast tundras of ice, blue icebergs and polar bears, and crowds of white sea birds relentlessly thronging the bitter air.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Vittles And Sustenance.

or How Pinterest Saved The Day.

If you did not grow up in Dublin in the 70's and 80's, then it is impossible really to explain just what it meant to have a mother who knew how to cook, and cook beyond what she had been taught by her own mother, or in school! We were encouraged to cook too, all five of us, and all things were endured, no matter how unusual or challenging, through our various fads and fancies, including my announcement at 11 that I had decided to become a vegetarian.
To this day, my absolute, hands down, favourite thing in the world is our family gatherings, when we all converge in the kitchen of my parents house, and proceed to put together a Meal of Excellence, overseen, of course, by our own Maitre d', our Mum. Like any good meal, there are many layers to it, and that goes for the preparation too. One person is an excellent saucier, another likes to be given the role of tournant, filling in wherever needed, another is definitely the patissier, and there will always be a number of sous-chefs, happy to interchange with one another, depending on how busy, or enthusiastic they are on the day. And of course, there is the one or two who are happy to act as stewards, a fine Meal of Excellence in return for clean up duties, a fair exchange, in their book. All of these roles happily transposing between us all.

Goat's cheese stuffed butternut squash.

Over the years, my own interest in food and nutrition has been a constant, initially, as a young teenager, due to my choice to not eat meat in a country that thrived on the meat-and-two-veg variety of meals, but there was also the influence by my inheritance of books from a great aunt that really helped to set me off on a path of bettering things. I didn't really pay much heed to books like 'How to Levitate', but it was the old home remedies ones that really got me. Two in particular, Folk Medicine, A Vermont Doctor's Guide To Good Health by D. C. Jarvis, and Folk Remedies by Lelord Kordel. I'd like to say thank you to my Mum for her patience with me in my explorations in this as a young teenager!
I'm not sure if I somehow knew I would need this knowledge and dedication in later life, but it turns out I did. As I have mentioned occasionally here, for years now I haven't eaten gluten or sugar, and at this point in my life I find, while I am not a vegan, per se, I do eat a largely plant based diet, with little or no dairy, or animal protein.

Rice noodles with crispy tofu.

This has been a long and gradual journey, with many bumps and rocky bits, and I can tell you it is by no means over. It is not easy. I have gone through so many different phases, diets, versions of diets, it'd make your head spin. However, it is quite amazing to look around now and see just how common it is, this whole food exclusion thing.
I am aware that there are lots of people out there who 'don't believe' it all, that think it's a fad or fashion, but I don't believe it is, not given the very real symptoms I, and many others I know, are living with daily. I also have my own theory about why we find ourselves increasingly unable to digest, or process, a growing list of very ordinary, and common, foods.

Lentil cakes with homemade pesto, wilted greens, and lemon thyme courgette fries.

So here it is.
In the last twenty years, for the first time in the history of the world, humans in the western world can eat whatever they want, whenever they want.
All year round.
And that is the problem. We eat what we like.
All year round.
Our bodies have reached saturation point.
If we were eating locally and seasonally, as our not so distant ancestors did, then we would be rotating food, and our bodies would get a break from things throughout the year. Let's take wheat, for example, probably the most common food intolerance going. Think about it, your average person eats wheat literally for every meal. Every day.
All year round.
It's no wonder our bodies reach a point of 'WAIT! I've had enough, I don't NEED any more right now!' But we continue to eat it, because, sure what else would we eat? And we like it. The same could be said of dairy, another extremely common intolerance.
We simply eat too much, too often, of too many things.

Butternut squash gnocchi with sage butter.

Now this, of course is my inexpert, and non professional, tuppence worth about the whole thing, but it makes sense to me.
But it is so hard to eat any other way, isn't it? Eating habits are extremely hard to break, or change. I know, I've been doing it for many years now. And it's been an incredible journey, and I've learned a few things about myself along the way which have surprised me. The main one being that I have willpower and can actually do something difficult that I really don't want to do! I always thought I couldn't.
So, in the process of all this discovery, food has become quite a focus for me. From the time I finally gave up all the things I couldn't eat, I spent about four years in a bit of a downer when it came to food. Eating held no pleasure for me any more, everything was such an effort and with such little reward, because it rarely tasted anyway remotely delicious, and always like a sad excuse for food. It was dreadful.

Red lentil and hazelnut patties.

So, about six months ago I decided I'd had enough, and I set about finding food that I could not only eat, but that I could relish, and also confidently serve to 'normal' dinner guests. All I can say is, thanks be for the internet! Thanks to Pinterest, and through it the discovery of incredible food blogs out there, I now have a growing menu of delicious recipes and food ideas that are beyond anything I've eaten before, and over the next while, mixed in just the right proportion, I hope, I'd like to share some of these recipes with you. I promise you don't need to be intolerant to anything, in fact, you don't need to be anything other than interested in Good Clean Food. I promise you won't be disappointed!
These photos are to whet your appetite, so to speak, and I hope they do!

But I am curious, do any of you find you can't, or choose not to, eat certain things? Or if not, do you have someone in your life who does? I'd love to know what your experience has been, and I welcome all questions and comments!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The New Improved Milkmoon Manifesto (of sorts).

My dearest friends, readers, and fellow bloggers,

I wear many hats, and even though some days I even wear two or more at the same time, I like to try and make them compliment each other. There are some days I feel overwhelmed by having so many, but loving each of them equally, I cannot give any up.
Now, I am not, of course, talking about real hats, though this household has an impressive collection, rather, I am referring to metaphorical hats.
I blame my mother.
I have written before about growing up in the home I did, and how music was a huge factor for us, the effects of which are, to this day, a major influence.
I could write five different posts on the vast variety of other influences provided without effort by my parents. Honestly, I do not exaggerate when I say my mother is a SuperWoman: Seamstress, potter, wood turner, furniture maker, painter, glass artist, gardener, cook. A walk around my parents home and I would say my mother has made more than half of it! The quilt you tuck round your sleeping child, the lamp you switch on, the dress you wear, the table you sit at, the bread, the salad you eat, the bowl you eat out of, the cup you drink out of, the painting you gaze at, all made by my mother.
I like to say she is a hard act to follow, but also an amazing role model and inspiration.

And did I mention that my Dad writes? And aside from being the best practical joker in Dun laoghaire, he is a splendid cartoonist, as my children will shout to the rooftops about.
And so between them both, they have made me (and my four siblings) a very busy bee indeed.

So I like to write, and take photos, and draw pictures, and stitch little things, and cook, and listen to and share music, and I've also added my own things to this list, such as my yoga practice, and my interest in diet and nutrition as a result of my own inability to eat quite a list of things.
While everything on the first part of this list is generally what makes up Milkmoon, it's the latter things that are somewhat missing. Now don't worry, I won't be posting pictures of yoga poses, more, it's the influence that practicing yoga has on my life, that I want to share. A mindfulness, (not a word I like, but  I'm sure you understand what I mean by it), a compassion that influences everything from how I strive to  parent my children, to how I endeavour to conduct myself day to day, and it's influence on how I 'tread on this earth'. And I would also like to share this journey I am on with regards to cooking and eating, something that has a profound effect on my day to day living.

Some of these things might seem like strange bedfellows on one blog, but all I can say is, they are all my hats, and together they make up something quite well rounded and, well, me! They work for me, and so I hope that translates into a blog of diverse and interesting topics, but ones that sit comfortably together, and I hope that those of you who come to see photos, or read my flights of fancy on the weather, or the seasons, or whatnot, will also pop by to maybe find a recipe, or muse over something I've discovered, or shared.

This blog of mine will be five years old next week! And so, over the next week or two I'll be launching a new-look Milkmoon, posting a number of wordy posts like this explaining just what is coming on the new and improved Milkmoon, and hosting a Giveaway of Splendidness!

So, for any of you that read this with dismay, please don't. I think apart from the new look, the other changes will be subtle. I am feeling newfound enthusiasm for blogging again, and my previous doubts about continuing to blog are nowhere to be found. For the first time in years, I have several draft posts lined up, awaiting rewriting, editing etc.

Over the last couple of years so many of my favourite blogs of old have sadly fallen by the wayside. I know it is very difficult to keep up enthusiasm for it, and I was on the point of giving up myself, so many times. But the reality of it is, now I have a growing number of new pots on the boil, so to speak, and I want to share it with all of you.
I hope you'll stay, and please do bring a friend!

Love Ciara xxx

Monday, 24 September 2012

One Of Those Days.

Are you like me?
If so, then you know how it is.
You wake up in fine form, but by the time you have nagged, cajoled and hustled everyone to where they need to be you are in decidedly bad form.
What you ate for breakfast you know you shouldn't have, but you were too disorganised, or too busy, over the weekend, to plan better, and you drank too much coffee.
And on top of that it is raining, and the washing that was dry but you never brought in, is now soaked through and lying on the soggy grass.
And the traffic was hell, so you were late for school.

It happens more often than I care to admit.
Usually I do have a tendency to be a bit of a Pollyanna, but this is something I have consciously become, and at one point in one of my rants this morning I found myself telling my children that school, the rain, life, is so much easier if viewed from the perspective of such sages as Billy Connolly, or Reinhold Niebhur that there are some things we cannot change, so we might as well accept them, and just get on with it. It makes for a far happier and easier life. Yes, it's raining, so we better bring a raincoat!
Believe me, the irony of my own grumpiness in the midst of this was not lost on me.

But none of this is nothing that a good shoulder stand, followed by a cup of Lady Grey tea cannot sort out, so I take myself off to an hour and a half of yoga, and now I am back to 'normal', enjoying my tea as I look out the window at the rain that blows across the marsh, listening to something soothing. And I know this is just one of those days when the daily grind takes a sneaky little dig at me when I am unprepared. There will be more, some other time, and yes, they tend to follow a period of blissful contentment and happiness, but they truly are just one of the knottier threads in my weave.
They are there and I'll just have to admire the texture they give my days.

Friday, 21 September 2012

This Moment....

Inspired by SouleMama.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Let Us Talk About The Sea.

What is it that happens to you, when the cold saltwater hits your skin?
When your breath catches high up, and every nerve ending tells you to stop! 
What is it that happens when you literally take the plunge, and envelope yourself in the briny, endless silence of water, suspended, nothing below your feet to hold you up, and there you float.

No matter how far you stray from the edge of the land, from the places where the sea begins, no matter how many years without it, or how many babies keep your feet on dry land,
you cannot ever take the salt out of your skin.
You will dream about it, run there in your sleep, 
until it finds you again. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Moth Season.

There is a small window in my kitchen that stays open all summer long, unless the wind is chilly and from the wrong direction. It opens, just where I stand to make my morning tea, onto a wild and barely contained rugosa rose bush, that conceals all of the garden view, except a patch of sky. On rainy days the dripping green outside this window is like a doorway to an emerald kingdom where tiny creatures scurry and creep and scuttle. The scent of roses is subtle, but so intoxicating it transports me without effort, holds me in a green dream, even fleetingly, as I make tea, or prepare meals, like a small anchor in this sea of moments.

This morning is the first morning in a while that I am up significantly early to noticed the touch of autumn in the air that drifts in as the sun rises, and I am reminded of the swift approach of the end of the holidays, of school, ahead. Once again, each morning the walls of the house are lined with dustly moths, and in the evenings, the spiders line up along the windows like sentries. We are entering the cooling season, my favourite time of year, and the reeds in the marsh are almost at their fullest, the sound of now a late summer hush, as opposed to their winter rattle.

We have had a particularly wonderful summer. There has been lots of camping, lots of gatherings of friends, where we cram as many of us as possible into houses and tents, around kitchen tables, under gazebos, and make it last as long as we can, squeezing as much fun and games and food and laughter into our time together as we can. There has been a lot of rain, but lots of sunny days too, and we are excellent at seizing those and running out the door, so there have been lots of impromptu beach days too, the kind where we go up a hill and end up down on a beach, and then we cannot leave. The beach bag has a permanent spot in my car, just in case. And we are not done yet.
The result is a dusty house with the words Bare Minimum stamped in all the corners, on every pile of laundry and papers, a neglected blog, a car full of sand, but sun kissed, happy faces round the dinner table in the evenings.

We have also had a family wedding. A heartwarming, momentous wedding that was most definitely the highlight for us all.

So now we face The Winding Down, and I am eyeing those other to-do lists that involve the word 'school' in them, knowing I have put everything off until the last minute, knowing that this autumn brings significant changes to our little household, for me in particular, for, among other things, I must get a job. A proper, paid job. Something which every mother who stays home with her babies must do when the day comes, something which I have put off for a year and cannot justify any longer, and the artist in me balks at as I dream about the Making/Writing Hours to myself that I am giving up. But it is also something which I am excited about, albeit completely bemused by.
We shall see how that goes.

I am working on some other significant changes here at Milkmoon, too. Something which just seems like the right thing to do. I have come to realise that my dwindling commitment to this blog is nothing more than the fact that it hasn't evolved to reflect how things are changing for me personally, that I became little stuck, in terms of what I blog.
It's all good, and I do hope you think so too! It's something I am very excited about and look forward to  launching the all-new-and-improved Milkmoon in the next month.

Well, it's turning into a blustery day, but the sun is out, and so we are taking ourselves off out again.
That to-do list, and that pile of laundry, (okay, mountain of laundry), and all those dust bunnies, they'll have to wait another day.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The 31 Day Drawing Challenge.

You know how, at the beginning of something like summer holidays, time seems to stretch out before you, endless hours just waiting to be filled? And then a curious thing happens, doesn't it. Time becomes a slippery ghost that seems to melt away into the day, without you even realising it. And suddenly the weeks are slipping away and you cannot grasp them. 

One of the four seasons.

I do try to spend this time doing things that the normal car-bound, school days don't allow, things like seeing friends who are further afield, or catching up on my personal to-do list that always, inevitably, ends up at the bottom of the pile.

Book cover for a favourite book.
One such thing on my list was, by coincidence, nicely facilitated by something my brother Andrew posted about on Facebook: a 31 Day Drawing Challenge, for the month of July. A list of titles/topics, one for every day of the month. Regular readers here will have noticed that I have recently been drawing, something which I have not done in any serious way for years and years, other than with the children. The reason for my renewed interest in this is something for a whole other post, which will follow in a couple of weeks, but suffice to say, the opportunity to commit myself to doing a drawing a day was nicely timed! I was feeling very rusty! And thanks to Donal Fallon of  Galway Pub Scrawl, I am not only enjoying drawing again, but day by day my appreciation of what it means to draw and illustrate, is changing and growing. 

A favourite fairytale.

I joined quite late into the challenge, and I have not managed to do every day since then, but I am really quite pleased to have managed what I have so far. As you can see, some days I had more time than others!
Do click the link above to see the rest of the work by everyone who is taking part. The variety of styles alone is amazing.

Favourite mythical creature.

So, it's the weekend now, and myself and the children are off for a long weekend, heading south the the tip of this island of ours, south to the lighthouse, the wilder, warmer sea. I may be naive to think that I'll have lots of drawing time (Three or four mothers, and at least twelve children? Hmm) but that is what I am aiming for. Now that my imagined project suddenly seems so much more possible, I am excited to get started!

What I wanted to be when I grew up.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I hope this warm weather continues. I hope whatever you get up to, you too find the time to tick something off your personal to-do list. 

Let's just give that to ourselves this weekend!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

What I Love About The Summer Holidays.

Although the weather has not been good, the days are whizzing by. Days of a little sunshine and a lot of rain, in spite of which we have been making the most of no school and long hours of daylight that stretch away from us towards beaches and woodland and picnics-whatever-the-weather. We are good at that, ignoring the weather. We can't change it so why complain? But I can tell you, it is the unremitting topic of conversation, no matter where you go. In fact, I cannot imagine what this country would come to if we couldn't talk about the weather! A standstill, is what!
Nevertheless, regardless of our unexceptional summer, in terms of sunshine, I do love this time of year in this temperate isle of ours.

I love when the evenings linger, generous with a light that seems reluctant to be gone from the sky, unobtrusively just...not leaving. It is as though the very air we inhabit has swelled, to fill more hours, pushing the limits of what we can call Day, just so we can really make the most of this mildest of seasons. And we have been doing just that.
Whatever the weather, the sea is the place to be this time of year, and even the drizzly days that call for rock pooling with wonderful friends instead of lounging on the sand, they still couldn't resist getting in for a swim, as the first picture above attests.

I love the extra hours that are ours, morning, noon and night, to do as we please. To spend time with friends we don't see enough of during school time, to be spontaneous and drop everything and run out the door when the phone rings to reveal an Idea Of Exceptional Splendidness at the other end of the line. And best of all, BedTime is on holiday too, and so, not always to be found when expected.
The word Relax becomes meaningful.

I love it when the teenagers stay out late into the dark, walking down the beach or to the village shops with their friends, coming home in high spirits to chat loudly in the next room. They have discovered LP's, the sound of vinyl and the riches it holds, discovered our collection of records, and I lie in the dark listening to the murmur of their giddy voices, the thrumming of the bass through the wall, as though splinched somewhere between a time warp. I secretly love that they are, without knowing it, engaging in a Most Important Musical History Lesson. Some day they'll realise it!

I love that we live by the sea, so grateful for moments like this. Is there anything more splendid than this? 'That golden moment' my Dad said, when he saw the above photo. Hours upon hours, just jumping into that cold water. If that doesn't awaken your spirit, I don't know what does. What a way to spend a summers day!

And at night, I love when the bedroom window is open and a cool breeze passes through. For on it comes dustly winged moths and drunken daddy-long-legs, and I lie as though in a summer woodland meadow, wings brushing past, telling tales of the chirruping reeds and marsh and meadow in the dark beyond my windowpane.

I find myself, as I so often do this time of year, travelling through these high speed days in slow motion. Do you remember that feeling as a child when things felt ginormous and teeny tiny at the same time, smooth and prickly, fat and thin, at the exact same moment? (Or was that just me?!) Well, I often find myself in similar intensely felt moments now, where I am in slow motion while all around me is at high speed. It's very beautiful, and allows me fleeting seconds of clarity, to really absorb and feel purest gratitude for where I have found myself on this journey of mine.

I hope you are enjoying your summer, and the weather is to your liking! Do you have any plans? Ideas Of Exceptional Splendidness?
We do. For more days like this.
Most certainly.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Leave-Taking.

There is a little house that sits on a spit of land between a marsh and a sea, a place with jackdaws in the chimney, where lizards hide in the grass with the tiny shrews, where swans glide overhead and murmurations of starlings loop through curlew cries, and at dusk the bats swoop in their beautiful dance as herons skim the tops of the reeds against the sunset. There are countless birds that throng the marsh here, among them terns and mistle thrush and finches, lapwings, even occasional owls, and in the evening pheasant wander in the garden, and sometimes, somewhere beyond the reeds, a peacock calls, his cry across the marsh sending a tingle down your spine.

I have written so many times about the weather here and how it changes the shape of this place, about the seasons and how each one blooms and swells, brings dustly moths on the walls, spiders along the windows, stormy seas, sea mists, dancing sunlit grasses, endless blue skies, and sunsets that take your breath away.
I did mention big changes around here, didn't I? Big changes that we have been studiously ignoring the possibility of for rather a long time, now.

You see, our golden age is over.
For the sixteen years we have been living here, I have been in a little bubble with my babies, cocooned in this most magical of places, like some little creatures from the Wind in the Willows, the seasons rolling around us as we burrowed in, and we grew into this land, the green and the salt seeping into our blood and bones, from the very formation of my babies. Our Eldest was barely four months old when we moved in, and the following three were born right here in the living room with windows to the sea, and windows to the green and the mountains, pulling all combinations of seasons and weather and time of day into their beginnings, all manner of the elements that make this place so miraculously special, into the weave that is our little family.

As the years have passed, they have grown, we too, myself and Jay, have grown, this place like a paintbrush against our skin, each night touching up where it did not find us in our day, a tender reassuring like a fine mist that layers, and over the years has become our skin, as though we are this place and this place is us. But now it is at an end. When the year turns, together we will pack the little pieces of us, the myriad of little things that have been put together to form our home, the collections of Us, and we will move. And though nowhere will ever match this place, with all our hearts we know it will be somewhere beautiful. I do need green outside my window.

We are on a rollercoaster of emotions about it all. Some are excited, some wholeheartedly against it, but it is out of our hands, regardless, and because of that I have decided to embrace this change, the timing of which I can't complain about. I no longer spend my days embraced in this magical cocoon with my babies and toddlers, now that our Smallest is in school, instead I am out in the world more, looking at what I want to do with this next phase of my life, and this makes it easier to accept.
So, this summer will be about making the most of this remarkable place, a summer of gatherings of friends and loved ones, of Celebrating, and later in the week I will share with you, one such gathering that we had this weekend.

Photo by Líosa.

And who knows what wonderfulness is just around the corner, for I know there is a place for us.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

In Lieu Of Summer....

Is there anything more difficult, or disheartening, than having to rewrite something you spent a couple of hours writing, and then accidentally deleted? Anything at all less appealing than having to find, again, those just right words that will never flow so perfectly, no matter how you tweak and delete and rewrite yet again?
It's awful. And I'm afraid that's where this post is coming from. So, apologies in advance for the slightly stale crispyness-around-the-edges writing that follows, as I try to recapture just what is was I said yesterday morning, so brimful of inspiration.

I was talking about photographs. And the taking of them. You see my camera is on the blink, nothing too serious, I hope, just something a service will fix. I do hope. But it happened just when I had begun to rekindle my enjoyment for carrying it around, for allowing that to influence my day, to prompt me to pause and stop and look, and to see those little moments that otherwise pass you by in the rush and busyness of the day to day.

Over this last week, I have had cause to go back through our iphoto archives, which are quite substantial as you can probably imagine, and as I have no new photos to share today, I thought I might share a few oldies that I had forgotten about, and found again, on my trawling. And I thought that as I won't be talking about the fact that my previous mention of summer in the last couple of posts was just about right. A mention. Nothing more need be said with the word 'summer' in it. For she is nowhere to be found. Since last week it has rained. And rained and rained and rained. And from what I saw on facebook, it seems it has been literally raining all over the world. So I thought I might share a taste of summers past, instead.

These got me thinking, about what it was like for me when I first got a digital camera and started blogging, something I have written about before and you can read about *here*, and looking back through these photos has made me understand somewhat, my struggle for inspiration here lately. Much as rewriting something steals the magic, the purity and clarity out of it, I feel that my desire to Take A Photo has overridden my ability to Capture A Moment, which is what gave me such inspiration and love for this new media I had discovered, a media that actually fit so tidily into my busy Life With Small Children. I went from being a frustrated creative torn between wanting to make things, and also wanting to be 100% a mother to my young children, to someone who found she could weave them together. It was such a heartening and exciting discovery.

I'll be honest, I don't think of myself as a Photographer. I'm not. I know people who are, and I am not. I love taking pictures, and they serve a purpose in my creative life, and that is what is important to me. But I am now finding the time and headspace to give voice to other mediums of expression, and I am eager to run with that!
This last year has seen our Smallest start 'big school', and we now have two in secondary and two in primary, and my personal life has slowly been shifting out of that previous Mama-mode that had, until now, consumed my life for the last sixteen years. It's a strange feeling! Exciting albeit slightly daunting.
And there are other changes afoot here, which I have mentioned before but cannot go into detail just yet. Suffice to say things are generally unsettled and uncertain here in the Milkmoon household, but you know, sometimes uncertainty and unsettledness are exactly the swift kick in the pants you need to galvanise you into action!

These past few weeks I have been increasingly in the studio and with the summer holidays looming, and therefore less time in my car, I am looking forward to seeing what that produces here. There is still a lot of organisng and sorting going on, and storage is an issue, but I now have my Production Hat firmly in place, with a few murmurings of Collaborations in the air. It's a while since I've done a collaboration, and I feel that is exactly what I need right now to crank things up around here!

Not surprisingly, in the end this post has wandered off and not even tried to really rewrite what was lost yesterday. I suppose that is what happens, isn't it?
But as we are having a brief respite from the monsoon this weekend, apparently, and there is a wonderful festival happening all week in the nearby town that our younger ones go to school in, so we have plenty to occupy us, rain or not.
Ah, if only I had my camera....