Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Essence of Fairy Lights

It is that time of year again: the advent countdown (meltdown) season.

Last weekend I sat down with The Modern Cook's Year and planned meals for the seven days when The Girl will be here with me.
We are aiming for a vegan Christmas and I was very excited to discover not one but TWO veggie restaurants in the city, one of which had a pre-ordering offer of a take-away vegan nut roast which The Girl agrees "sounds bangin'" and vegan carrot Christmas cake, with a cashew cream "cheese" topping - nomnomnom, indeed!
Photo by A Food Story Cafe, Aberdeen
The holiday period will be a chance to settle in properly, establish new routines, press my reset button.
I did so much decluttering in the approach to my move, both mental and physical, that now there is a feeling of emptiness.
I need to take the time to enjoy that, to listen to the echo.
It is so tempting to fill the void with meaningless activity and possessions, instead of letting the place tell me what it wants to be, and finding out who I am in that space.

I have been purchasing a few "beautiful things" for my home.
The Reinvention of Roo permits a certain careful curation of objects, that for the first time in my life do not need to be entirely functional.
Pictures will follow - with or without Christmas lights!
(Did I tell you I opened a box marked "kitchen essentials" and found the fairy lights were right at the top?!)

I have always feared the accumulation of stuff, shedding possessions at every opportunity like so much dead skin.
Always ready to pick up my bag and move on.
To be free, weightless.
Maybe now I can settle down.

I also have great knitting plans for the holiday and those deserve a post of their own.

I am allowing myself to knit absolutely anything I fancy and last night I was instantly smitten by the Chasing Unicorns Shawl.
It is my favourite shape - a great big asymmetric triangle - perfect!

I am looking forward to using some of my Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles stash for this one.

And of course there is the Christmas Eve cast on  - I plan on knitting the Twas the Night Before Christmas Socks and / or Vintage Fairy Lights.

Because I can!

Whatever you are doing this holiday season - enjoy it!
And be kind to yourself as well as others.
That's my plan!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

In My Own Private Swoon

The momentum of moving has left so much unsaid.

The knitting, the reading, the writing, the circus, the living...?
Yes, it is has all been going on around here, but in a complete Oz-storm.

In the two weeks since I moved (two whole weeks already!) I have accidentally lost a kilo in weight.

This is not a brag, it is an alarm bell.
I am not allowed to lose any more weight.  I am supposed to be trying to put it on.
When I weighed myself at the gym this morning I hit myself on the head with my water bottle, because I was so frustrated.

I am writing it here to make myself accountable.  To make sure I turn this thing around.  This cannot go on!
My instagram pals will have seen me in two new pairs of trousers recently.  I splashed out and went for quality and style and fit.  Especially fit.
Accountability?  Zara's "Extra Small" is now too big FFS.

So here I am:  Me and Em Size 6.
Just shoot me now.

The handles have now been screwed onto my new pots and pans.  There is a supermarket at the end of the street.  Eating is definitely an option!

But so is the gym.  I can walk there in ten minutes.
And it is an addiction. 
I am up at 5 am so that I can get a good hour of exercise in before work.
So that I can be at work by 8 instead of 9...?
Then there are the aerial classes, the yoga, the sh'bam.

And the more I do, the more I want to do.
It makes me feel alive.
A sort of moving meditation, a seeking and a finding.

So in mitigation, I make myself sit down to knit.
I am knitting two pairs of mittens, a shawl and two pairs of socks (or is it three?)
I settle myself in my knitting chair and put on a podcast or my latest audiobook and try to slow my heartbeat, to be calm and quiet.
And the next thing I know, I am asleep.
Which is not helpful either!

Moderation in all things:  that would be a good idea, Roo.

The title of today's post comes from a review of my latest audio book choice "New People" by Danzy Senna.
Maria, the main character, "exists in her own private swoon", writes Doreen St. Félix in The New Yorker.
Oh dear, I do, I really do!
I am loving this book so far.  Danzy Senna's first book, "From Caucasia With Love" struck a chord in this crazy mixed up family. 
"New People" might be another to pass around, but for now it is just for me.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Owls and Cathedral Bells

Greetings from my new nest!

I can hardly believe it, but my move is complete.

My knitting chair overlooks the wild end of a Big House's garden.

I have owls, my friends!
When I heard them last night, it brought tears to my eyes.

On Sunday morning, it was the cathedral bells.
Every hour, a clock tower chimes for me.
These are the sounds of the Old Town.
My home.

And already, it definitely feels like Home.
I have found my home at last!

On the day of my move, I woke early to a strange white light.
I assumed it was the moon.

I breakfasted and packed my last bowl, mug, spoon.
I picked up the bin bag and stepped outside...
Oh NO!
Three or four inches of snow, and more falling, thick and fast.
I threw the bin bag into my car boot and set off up the hill.
It will be fine, it's all going to be...

I made it over the hill, but only just.
I disposed of my bin bag and tried to turn the car.
I reversed up the public road and took a slow and steady run at the track.
So I parked by the standing stone and trudged up the hill, heart pounding.
Not today!

My removal men rang - the city was gridlocked, they would be late.
I decided not to mention the state of the road - after all, it might thaw soon..?
They rang again at 10am, seeking directions from the neighbouring farm.
When there was still no sign of them at 10.30, I went out to look for the van.
Halfway up the hill, there they were, shoveling snow, the vehicle stuck fast.
I offered a giant bag of salt, FL's emergency stash.
It helped.
Their determination was astonishing.

The loading took no time at all.
I had honed my possessions to the bare essentials:  books and wool mostly!
The only furniture to go was a solid wood book case, a single bed and one small table, which I had treated with beeswax the week before.

The Steadings' children were playing in the snow.
I said goodbye.

The removal van set off.
I wandered into the house to await the new owner, who was coming to get the keys.
He rang to say the city was still in chaos - he would be late.

I decided to visit the Tree, to bid FL farewell.

And there they all were:  the removal men, my neighbours, a broken tow rope...
The younger one was shoveling furiously.
The older one was revving his engine.
I suggested this was not going to happen without a tractor.

And so, the day after I said "Thanks very much, good luck!" to my Friendly Farmer, I had to make a sheepish phone call.
"P?  Um... it's Ruth here..."
You probably heard him laughing from where you are now.
He was on his way.

I stomped over the fields to the Tree.
I informed FL that enough was enough, and that he had to let me go.
I needed to leave.
"That's it - do you hear me?  It's over!"

The new owner arrived before the tractor.
His dog ran excitedly back and forth between us, as I wiped my tears away.
Poor man - that's twice he has had to witness my emotional mess!

Conversely, his delight in the place was tangible.
"Look at it! It's at it's best now!  Will you look at that view!"
 And I found myself grinning back, because I knew that FL would like this man, who truly appreciates the farm and is going to bring it back to life.
They are going to get on well, I thought.

I took him indoors, passed him the keys and gave him a photograph of the day FL moved in, of cows in the byres, the house as it was back then.

And then I gathered my last few bags and walked over the hill to my car and left the farm.

Time for another new Roo.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Edge of Seventeen

It was a hard weekend.
I am surrounded by boxes.
I had a ritual burning of the unspeakable.
I sobbed.

And then I found some unexpected pictures of my seventeen-year old self, with her wild mop of curls and dazzling smile and I felt a rush of hope.
I am not that girl anymore but I can be someone else now.
No longer in his thrall.

It is all going to be fine.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


I hold my breath, waiting to move.
A box a day, the packing continues.
A little more slowly every day as I grind to halt, waiting for certainty that this is really happening.

A painting taken away by someone who recognises its landscape.

Family photographs retrieved by The Family.

Someone else's love letters gathered together to await a forwarding address.
C'est très douloureux.
I agree.

And breathe...

It is hardest in the middle of the night, with nothing to hear but the scuttling of mice, the rustling of leaves, the wind, an owl.
The waiting.

I do not wait well.
I reach out in the darkness and there is nobody there.
An unwanted email sent into the abyss.
So sorry, I should not have done that.

In my new home there will be music.
Meanwhile, I wait, pianissimo.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Friday, 27 October 2017

Changing my View

I hesitate to write it down, in case I break the spell.

I have accepted an offer on the farm, and in turn I have had my offer accepted on a house in the city, or more accurately the Old Town.

It is a charming little cottage on a cobbled street, which I fell in love with at first sight.  It was the first property I looked at: one of only two, because the moment I saw it, I just knew it had to be mine.

And now, when I really ought to be packing boxes or conducting yet another round of deep cupboard excavation and decluttering, I find myself staring at the old maps, trying to locate myself in time and place.

My house is not nearly as old as its neighbours, but I can see from the map of 1870-71 that it is built on the site of another.  The gardens I can see from its windows are still there, in all their leafy splendour.

I had approached my relocation with a feeling of inevitability, but very little excitement.
I was clear that I was waiting for fate to make all the decisions for me.
Which city?
This year or next?

The answers came all at once.
It will be here.
It will be soon.

And now I can allow myself to believe it, I am thrilled.
A place of my own.
My very own, to live in all by myself, a house of my own choosing.

Or did this place in fact choose me?
I believe it did.

I scoured the old Street Directories, year by year, looking for the nearest address to "mine".
And there she is, calling to me from 1855:  Miss C, Dressmaker.


Monday, 23 October 2017

Thinking Outside the Box

Hello - it's been a while.

I went to Hull again.
And came back.

I went to three theatre productions, three museums, The Deep and a private trapeze and aerial hoop lesson!

I also wandered the streets with a map deciding where I would live if the opportunity came up.
It hasn't yet.

Meantime, I have had a lot of interest in the farm.

A move may be happening sooner rather than later.

Where to?

Well actually... I have seen the perfect little house... in Aberdeen.

Interesting times.
I am going with the flow.

I was supposed to go on another Fitness holiday this past weekend, but my trip to Hull knocked my workload management sideways and I had to change my plans.

I spent the weekend at home with my knitting, a roll of bin bags and some boxes.

There was a trip to the charity shop.

And several Small Ads listings to clear the most esoteric of the clutter.

Best of all, I went to an aerial hoop class.
I am beginning to think hoop is my favourite circus medium:  trapeze without the rope burns!

How am I doing?
Mostly well, very well.

And then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the tears.
Triggers this weekend:

  • a photograph found while clearing out the cupboard.
  • a song on the radio  

The song crisis was interesting.
The moment I started to sing along, I lost it.

Great heaving sobs from nowhere.

Something about the "performance", the forming of those words with sincerity and expression, catapulted me backwards in time.

It is now, not then!
He would have loathed that song!
(We come from different generations... lol)

It touched a very vulnerable spot.

"Ask me what I did with my life?  I spent it with you."

But actually not the whole of my life.
There is more ahead.
Empty, or full of possibilities?

I have to believe in the latter.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Yoga Treat

It would appear that this blog and indeed my life has changed direction.

This past weekend I was immersed in the physical and to some extent the spiritual on a Cowdance Yoga Retreat "Into The Woods".

I am not entirely sure how this happened.  I must have signed up for a newsletter and when a last minute vacancy popped up in my inbox, catching me at a vulnerable moment, I did not hesitate to sign up.  Half an hour later, my train to Ulverston was booked, not entirely sure what I had agreed to do the following weekend, but without much time to worry about it.

It was quite a small group, sharing two mixed sex "dorms".
Three women camped outside in tents / a camper van, which I could understand.
But there was a slight sense they were not part of "the tribe" that first night.
There was a time not that long ago when I would not even have considered going if I had thought I would have to share a room, never mind with strange men.
Fortunately, everyone was lovely.
Perhaps the nature of the activity is self-selecting. 
We were a diverse group:  international, of all ages, single, married, alone, with friends or partners. 
There were so many surprising connections to be made and conversations to be had.
Community I sorely miss in my current life.

I was up before daylight, as is my habit, and spent some time knitting my latest sock and writing my journal before the others got up.
Yoga began with a two-hour class before breakfast.
It was intense.
I have probably only been to five yoga classes in my life, so it was a real challenge to take part in such long classes, twice a day.
There were guided meditations round a campfire in the woods.
I realise this is sounding dangerously hippy-ish.

All the food was seriously delicious vegan home-cooking with dairy add-ons for those who felt the need.
I came home and was inspired to get back to cooking properly.
Nurturing myself after three days of being looked after by others, if only by their very presence.

Back home:  Green pea, broccoli, mint and coconut soup 

Our final gathering round the campfire included a time of introspection.
Asking questions of our various energy centres and writing down the answers.
At the end we could choose to treasure our words or throw them to the flames.
I chose the way of fire.
It was profoundly moving.

Would I go again?
In a heartbeat.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Circus Every Day

This past weekend, I went to  the Edinburgh Aerial Acro Convention 2017.
Yes, really.

I stayed in a lovely flat at the top of a 17th century tenement on the Royal Mile.

Luckily I am not scared of heights (anymore) - but the spiral staircase did terrible things to my balance after a day hanging upside down... !

I am very much a beginner in all aerial disciplines.

So even the "beginner" classes were a challenge, because most of the other participants were skilled in at least one area of circus fitness.

I went into each of my chosen classes with energy and enthusiasm, but there came a point where I had to take an observational role, to know when to stop!

That's OK - I was useful to others, because I could often see what they needed to do next, even if I was not capable of doing it myself.

I took two Aerial Silks classes.

My first turned into a private lesson because nobody else had signed up for it - woo hoo!

This was great, because I was able to take my time to break down the mechanics of the most basic "climbs" and "wraps".

I also tried Static Cloud (the loop in the foreground of the above picture).

This required basic trapeze skills (to get up there) but quickly progressed into something springier and swingier.

Really clever people can loop-the-loop, using their own momentum to keep going.

I managed it once and decided that was quite enough for now, thank you :)

A highlight for me was Aerial Cube.

I say "highlight", in the sense that I was deeply intrigued by the prospect of navigating a three-dimensional trapeze-like structure.

I got up there OK, all by myself, using trapeze skills.

And I got down again OK, using monkey bars skills :).

But somewhere in between, I lost my confidence.
Probably when I realised I was too short to reach the top bar from a seated position...

Other people were doing forward rolls over the top bar and dropping to the lower one in one smooth motion.
Me?  Ha!  No chance!

The teacher had me "drape" myself in a horizontal position, with the aim of rolling across from one side to the other...  but I got stuck face-down, flailing like a... flailing thing.
Not very elegant!

I managed to do this though:

I also took Flexibility and Strength classes - both involving pairs' work.

Circus fitness is not suitable for people who guard their personal space too closely.

Ever done a sit-up while a complete stranger is sitting on top of you, trying to push your elbows down to the floor?!

And I tried Corde Lisse - which is basically rope-climbing with artistic dangling once you get up there.  I managed a couple of tiny climbs and then dangled at just-off-the-floor-level.
Not pretty!

On the Saturday evening, some of our teachers put on a show.
These are professional circus people and they can do all the things.
I was blown away by all of them, but the highlight was definitely the trapeze piece by Chiara.

Here is her YouTube showreel:


Not even in my wildest dreams...!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Neon Subversion in the Workplace

I finished my Mercury Socks at the weekend.
Today they had their first outing in the workplace.
Anything I can do to raise a smile...

The speckled yarn is Baerenwolle BAERfoot sock in the Birthday Cake colourway.
So sugary my teeth hurt!
As is true of most things in life, the solution was to throw neon at the problem.
The heels, cuffs and toes are by Hand Dyed by Kate: the Sunglasses Not Included mini skein set.

I am not a huge fan of lacey socks but there is something reminiscent of Japanese street style when paired with my patent DMs.
They are my FRUITS tribute socks :)

The Great Decluttering continues apace.  I had the Bothy cleared by the professionals.
Now I can see the floor!
I spent Saturday cleaning it just enough to demonstrate its potential and remove the major Health and Safety hazards (a desiccated rabbit anyone?).

Back in the farmhouse, I boxed up what we shall call "The Archive".
Tiny Blue Notebook 2 and his friends have gained a reprieve until I summon the energy to deal with them properly.

Studies One and Two are both now completely clear of stuff.

Some paperwork had to be sifted slowly and carefully.
My teenage self was a troubled creature and she comes alive through her agonizingly neat handwriting.
The photograph of him holding the photograph of me sums up the whole sorry mess.
But no regrets.
None at all.
All boxed up.  Shut in the cupboard for now.

Other rooms were easier to "stage".
An Instagram friend described the vibe of The Boy's old room as "Amish metal fan"  LOL
Yeah - that sounds just like my son (not!)
I particularly like the leather-covered "Works of Robert Burns" and the wooden flute, left casually on his bedside table...!

The Estate Agent is coming to take pictures later this week.
And then the fate of the farm is in their hands.

As for my own future?
I have plans, and they are starting to come together: slowly, slowly.
As I keep saying, it's all going to be fine.

And until then
I have the circus :)

Thursday, 24 August 2017

To Hull and back

So... I went to Hull again and got the best haircut ever!
By Sarah at Solo on Posterngate.
Worth the trip  for this alone!
But of course there was more to it than that...
I arranged this trip to coincide with a fundraising day by Alex Baum at Bishop Tattoo Company.

Her friend Aaron has a rare type of cancer, called alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue and bone cancer.  He has responded well to treatment, but has been told that he has not been "cured", as the cancer is aggressive and has a very high return rate.  All funds raised on 6 August are going towards Aaron's fund for immunotherapy, which is not available on the NHS.

If you look at Alex's facebook page you will recognise her style.

So... yes.  I now have a tattoo.  
I consider it to be beautiful and an expression of my core being.
And if that sounds pretentious... shrugs.

I stayed in an airbnb in the Marina building.
With the sun blasting down from a clear blue sky, I could have been in the Med.

Before haircut!
On the Saturday, it was the Humber Street Sesh, a music festival.
Just what I needed!
I danced.  I danced a lot
A Silent Disco, an open air DJ set and a laidback boogie in a tent at the end of the pier. 
If pictures emerge (as they might) I will consider posting them here.

I felt free.

Home again, and The Girl came to stay for a week.
That was lovely.

And now?

For a time there, I seemed to be at the epicentre of an overwhelming storm.
I was the single point of stillness while everything whirled around me so fast I had to close my eyes to bear it.

And then I took a deep breath and decided it was time to take control.

I am selling the farm.
I don't know what will happen next, but this feels like the right thing to do.

That, and knitting socks of course :)