After the Rain

Sorry it’s not a better image of the raindrops on the bus top deck front window and the sun shimmering on the wet road at the bus stop outside Inverness Airport the other day – I only had my phone with me, an it’s really not a great camera in dodgy light, but I kind of like the moody, broody atmosphere created in this shot 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Better

Body Parts

OK, so Linda wants us to blog about body parts for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday… But which body parts should I write about?

What about my monkey-mind tangental brain, thinking myriad random ramblings 24hrs a day?

Or my vulnerable heart, sensitive and scarred, permanently open to both hurt and hope? And love, of course, don’t forget to include the love… ❤

Maybe I could focus on my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin – the physical touchy-feely sensational parts of me?

But I have to say the body parts foremost in my consciousness right now are the bits that are failing and slowing and seizing up – so in particular my right hip that is currently paining me night and day, internally screaming like a silent rusty hinge as I wait patiently for an appointment for an X-Ray to see what the joint damage might be… And ooh look, that means I can use this post for Fandango’s One Word Challenge too – result! 🙂

The Attention-Seeking Invisible Woman

Clothes and me have bit of a weird, love/hate relationship.

What I wear each day matters a lot to me, but not at all in a dedicated-follower-of-fashion sense. I’m not now, and never have been, fashionable in my style of dress. But for some deep-seated psychological reason I always need my daily choice of clothes to suit my specific mood at that time or I find I just feel uncomfortably ‘wrong’ and out-of-sorts all day, even if I’m wearing an outfit that worked perfectly well the week before and will no doubt work perfectly well next week, too. When it comes to choosing clothes, I really do wear my heart on my sleeve every day.

Some days I’m in a no-nonsense Plain-Jane jeans-and-hoodie mood, but on other days I maybe want to wear a feminine floaty dress, or feel drawn to wearing cropped stretch leggings with an eye-catching tunic top or… well, whatever other creative style my mood dictates on the day. And I find it’s not just the style of clothes that matters, it’s the combination of colours, too. Some days I feel bright and beautiful and reasonably flamboyant with an artistic flair for adding multiple splashes of colour yet on other days I deliberately hide in comfort-blanket layers of dull, dowdy, unnoticeable obscurity. Most days, though, I probably balance tentatively on the brink of both, inhabiting fully neither one look nor the other, blending the two together in a unique way that’s just ‘me’.

I suppose subconsciously I’m dressing externally for how I want the world to react to me (and interact with me) internally on any given day – do I feel like appearing visible or invisible to others as I walk along the street, from seen to unseen on a continuum of clothing choice, and to what extent do I take that choice and run with it? Because sometimes on my most ‘invisible’ days when I’m being full-on Mrs A. N. Other frumpy middle-aged nobody I feel like screaming inside because no-one even notices me pass on by, not even giving a cursory glance in my direction. It’s as if I’ve taken the wallflower look one step too far and my blending into the background has rendered me completely invisible even to myself?

It feels quite a contradiction to be such an apparent attention-seeking invisible woman. I imagine on most days my sense of dress must give off quite confusing ‘look at me/ don’t look at me’ messages to passers by. Does anyone else have a similar relationship to ongoing clothes-wearing or is this just me flying my freak flag high?

Come on, do tell… I can’t be the only clothes weirdo out there, surely? 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Combination

Nope, Not Going There…!

Scrolling through my WordPress Reader this morning I noticed that Fandango’s One Word Challenge word prompt for today is ‘screw’… Nope, I told myself, you’re a grown-up, just don’t go there. Then I noticed that Bushboy’s Ragtag Daily Prompt word for today is ‘shag’…

Seriously guys, even at my age how can I possibly prevent myself from snickering like a teenager at the merest suggestion of writing a blog post about such silly sexual innuendo? Except of course like I said, I’m a grown-up now and so I’m just not going there… 🙂

Winging It

Over this last year or so my blog seems to have more posts about my garden than anything else, but then I suppose my blog tends to follow my life and over this last year or so my life has been necessarily home-oriented (due to lengthy, ongoing Covid restrictions), and so by extension garden-oriented. My garden has given me a sense of purpose.

The thing is, I’ve lived in this house and with this garden for less than two years and my previous personal gardening knowledge is by no means extensive – the basics are not beyond me, I know to cut the grass and pull the weeds and dead-head the roses – but other than that I’m finding myself winging it a lot of the time.

Some plants in the garden I recognised easily, so I could look up online how best to look after them. Others I’ve only learned the names of through word of mouth, often having posted images here on my blog. And a few unidentified specimens still remain a mystery to this day, so sometimes I’m left with no option but to act on instinct.

I’ve now experienced two autumns, two winters, two springs, and this is currently my second summer here. For my first full year I took a wait-and-see approach to whatever appeared from the soil, to have a kind of base-line picture of the garden as was. And over this second year I’ve started to make changes – some big, some small.

As well as gardening by Google I’ve also taken to watching regular gardening programmes on TV to help with information and inspiration in equal measure, both of which together have given me the confidence not just to stick cautiously with what’s already there but to have a real go at creating the garden I want out of the garden I have.

I’m learning the difference between evergreen, deciduous and herbaceous plants. Between annuals, biennials, and perennials. Between sun-loving, shade-loving, or bit-of-both-in-between plants. Between spring-flowering, summer-flowering and autumn-flowering plants and how to balance them all out cumulatively within the same flower beds.

There’s a lot to it, creating a balanced structure in a garden all year round, and I’ve made a good start to finding my feet with it all. I’m trying to keep as much as I can of what’s already there, re-jigging and re-siting plants to suit my own taste, reducing those aggressive bullies who have tried to take over their patch and clearing the way for others with more delicate sensibilities to have their moment of glory.

I’m still winging it a bit, but as I gain more knowledge through experience there’s a little less flying by the seat of my pants these days. I’m trusting my instinct a lot more, and trusting in the garden to tell me what it needs, as long as I follow the signs. One way or another it seems that as we get to know each other better my garden and I are settling down together just fine 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Wing

Camera Art, Software Edited

I love messing about with photographic images to create something different.

This rather anonymous explosion of purple on white started life as a mainly green and dark zoom burst image taken on a shadowy pathway covered by a dappled tree canopy, which (using my standard laptop image editing software) I then turned into a negative, added a horizontal flip, then cropped to the particular compositional design I liked best.

Digital art, created via my camera and laptop, just for fun! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Anonymous

Tomnahurich Swing Bridge in Action

There are three very similar swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal here in Inverness – two road bridges and one railway bridge, all working on the same principle and constructed around the same time. Yesterday I was passing by just as the bridge at Tomnahurich opened, so stopped to capture the scene on camera .

The road crosses over from left to right of the picture (or right to left, depending on the direction of travel) and the bridge sits really low on the water so boats travelling the canal cannot pass underneath without the bridge moving out of the way. The traffic is temporarily stopped on either side and the entire bridge swings open sideways on a pivot and wheel (very much like a giant heavy door opening) until it sits at right angles to the road. The boat sails on through, the bridge closes again immediately, and the waiting traffic is free to pass over once more.

During the summer months this process takes place multiple times a day, and it never ceases to fascinate me – I really love the clever engineering involved! There is a warning siren that sounds continuously to let people know the bridge is opening and closing, but amazingly the mechanical operation of the bridge itself is silent and smooth and surprisingly speedy – it only takes a few minutes. This particular metal bridge has been in situ since 1938, a replacement for a previous wooden bridge that apparently worked on an entirely different principle.

I know this is a long and boring gallery if you’re not interested in seeing a series of static images of a bridge opening and closing again, but the fault is mine for not thinking to video it in action instead – duh! Anyway, I’m hoping my swing bridge opening and closing can count as an honorary canal door for today’s Thursday Doors – I know Dan loves bridges as well as doors, so fingers crossed I might just get away with it! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Fault

Buried Treasure

We’ve recently been working in our garden, and have been tidying up the rather ramshackle unloved space right at the back corner around the old compost heap we inherited from the previous owner.

When we first moved in the compost heap was not just full but absolutely overflowing with a precarious mound of garden debris – it was clearly no longer a properly cared-for usable compost heap but the whole area had become little more than an ever-growing garden waste dumping ground, with bits of bark, weeds, piles of rotten fruit from the plum tree, an over-abundance of grass cuttings, and with random weeds and discarded raspberry plants growing out of the top of it!

We’d already removed the worst if the surface debris from the space last year, and underneath it all had found a manky old rotting carpet that had been used back in the day to cover the working compost heap proper. We disposed of that, too, and tidied up a bit around it but left our internal exploration of the full contents of the heap for later on as we weren’t at all sure what we would find or what we would be doing with it all in the future.

But the time has come to address that back corner so this week we’ve dug over and cleaned out the old flower bed beside the compost heap, and yesterday we removed and potted up the raspberry plants growing on top of the compost heap to see if they’ll maybe grow enough to produce fruit. We wanted to try to use some of the compost to pot the plants up in, so decided that probably required using a garden sieve to remove any suspicious material before use, just to be sure. We could already see there were loads of roots and weeds we didn’t want in the mix.

My husband dug it all over, and I sieved only what we needed for now. We successfully create enough good, clean compost to pot up four tubs of raspberry plants, which we’ve now caned up, so we’ll see what happens. But while digging we also found several bits and pieces that really didn’t belong in a compost heap at all. There were a few broken roof slates, several discarded broken plastic plant pots, a couple of broken terracotta pots (the sherds of which we can re-use as pot drainage) and a couple of plastic fertiliser bags opened up and laid out flat like sheets of lasagne or layers of wafer in a biscuit.

We also found even more rotting carpet layered deep in to the mix, and a whole colony of dead tea-bag skins peppered throughout – instead of opening them out to use only the leaves in the compost heap it looks like the whole used tea-bag has been thrown in, bag and all, time after time, and although the tea leaves themselves have composted down nicely over the years, the bags definitely haven’t. Hence the collection of gossamer-thin tea-bag skins, soiled and stained and ripped and now thankfully picked out of the mix by hand.

Further down in the heap we hit something hard and metallic, and out came an aluminium roasting tin, buried upside down but still in one piece. And also an egg… Whole… Well, with a wee crack in it. It literally just popped up in a shovel-full of compost, white on brown, and it bounced along the surface before coming to rest. We thought initially it may be one of those old-fashioned darning eggs for using inside a sock or something, or maybe a decoy egg, but on closer inspection it still seems to have something inside it, and it smells a bit.

So the egg is a bit of a mystery. It’s far too big to be a hen’s egg, is about the right size but the wrong colour for either a duck’s egg or a gull’s egg. I’ve got absolutely no idea what else it might be around here, or how long it’s been sitting in the depths of our compost heap doing… well, whatever it was doing. And how amazing the digging spade didn’t go right through it, or smash it bringing it up. Anyway here it is, our buried treasure – the aluminium tray with the egg in it, alongside a dice and a marble dug up from the neighbouring flower bed for scale.

The last picture is the egg in my hand – it has a bit of weight to it, and when you shake it you can feel a bit of movement of whatever is inside… I’m intrigued, but not intrigued enough to break it open to find out – the unpleasant smell coming from the small crack is quite off-putting, as if whatever is in it has been dead for some time. My suggestions were it may be either an alligator or a dragon or a dinosaur egg, although admittedly none of these creatures tend to roam around freely here in Inverness, so it’s probably not any of those. But other than reptiles I’ve no idea what else buries its eggs until they hatch…

Has anyone else ever dug up a buried egg from their compost heap? 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Ramshackle

Conspicuous By Its Absence…

I had Covid in January, thankfully just a mild infection (as in not hospitalised) but I certainly felt pretty crappy for a good couple of weeks – and OMG for months afterwards the ongoing tiredness and breathlessness and residual cough just would not go away.

I kept waiting in vain for everything to get back to normal but sadly for me the stubborn straggler symptoms of Long Covid seemed to be here to stay. Although my absent sense of smell returned relatively quickly, disappointingly my sense of taste didn’t improve much beyond the basic blunt-instrument differentiation between salty/ sweet/ spicy/ sour – sigh!

I’d read somewhere that for some people, having the Covid jab kick-started their system into a return to normal, so I had my first vaccine dose with high hopes of a similar response but although the grotty side effects certainly passed within a day or two, my Long Covid symptoms did not improve much. So I settled down to accepting (grudgingly) that health-wise I was likely to be in it for the long haul, and began to adjust my long-term thinking accordingly.

Last week I had my second vaccine dose, and this time around didn’t expect so much from it. However I was very pleased to find I had far fewer side effects this time – just a couple of days of extra tiredness, aching limbs and a thumping headache, but lots of rest and a few rounds of painkillers did the job. And to my surprise and delight now those minor irritations have passed I find I can actually breathe properly again, and day by day my sense of taste is subtly improving.

It may of course be total coincidence that things have started to return to normal for me at exactly the same time as I had my second vaccine shot – I mean it’s been five months since I first caught Covid, and ordinarily I would expect any post-viral fatigue to be naturally on the wane by this point.

All I know is that after five months of ridiculously laboured breathing after the least amount of exertion, my previous level of breathlessness is now thoroughly conspicuous by its absence and I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest. For the first time this year I feel like life might actually get back to normal after all, and oh, it feels so good! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Conspicuous