Patrice's Porch - the Sun Causing the Delay

Now, Patrice, everyone who knows me knows it's not like me to be late.

(The sound you folks across the Atlantic just heard was the sound of my sister choking on her coffee. Serves her right for scoffing.)

Okay, so I'm sometimes not quite on time, but I have good reason for being late on your porch this week.

The reason is ...

We have had sunshine. Two evenings ago, I took this as I washed the dinner dishes.

Lots and lots of sunshine. This was yesterday...

and this was today. We abandoned all thoughts of school, and instead of learning the theory of how sunshine causes the pigment melanin to multiply when our skin is exposed to sunshine, we simply let the sun do its work! 

By the way, this 'plane is heading to Chicago.

And so to your questions, Patrice. Oh, and once again, thank you for them, and for allowing me to spend some time this week again on your lovely porch.

1. When you were a child, what age did you think was "OLD"?

Whatever age my parents were at - that was old. My grandparents were the next level of old: they were ancient!

And now, of course, I realize that I am the age my mum was when I was Catherine's age. I want to argue vociferously with this fact, but of course ... facts are facts and one cannot argue with them, no matter how unpalatable they are ;)

2. How often do you have dessert?

Actually, we have dessert only seldom.

Seldom? Seldomly?

Let me re-phrase. We seldom have dessert. Phew! That sounds better. 

3. What's your favourite kind of exercise?

Favourite? Are you for real?

4. Do you watch movies on TV, movies from a rental or the library, or movies online?

If we watch movies, they are almost always from DVDs we've bought. We have a store of them in the house, and we tend to watch some of them over and over again! Over the winter is our time for a weekend evening of watching a DVD and stuffing lots of chocolate into our mouths.

5. Tell me something you remember about your grandmother's/grandfather's house? I'm thinking of something you saw all of the time, like a picture, clock, statue, teapot ... or something that was always there.

Well, one of my grandfathers lived with us, so his house was my house. I've spoken of my Grandpa before, and even though I was only nine when he passed away, he still fills such a place in my heart. I loved him so, so much.

My paternal grandparents lived twenty-five miles away in Stornoway. They lived in the cutest little cottage, which was painted white. It really was lovely, and my 'picture' memories of their house would consist of three things:

1. the actual house. So cute.
2. a tree in the garden. A rope swing hung from one of its branches. We had no trees in Ness, so climbing the tree and swinging from it was a huge novelty.
3. the orange drink Granny made us: she used diluting juice but added lemonade (fizzy lemonade), and it was delicious!

Oh, my other strong memory of their home is my Grandpa's shed. He loved to tinker with engines and was always in his shed. Yes, I like that you brought that memory back to me, Patrice.

Now, I'm sorry to leave in somewhat of a hurry, but I have rays to catch. Remember, we may not see too much of this weather any more this summer, so one has to take one's opportunities ....

Oh, I'll leave you with last night's sunset. I took this at around 10.20pm, and although the photo looks dark, it was still bright outside. 


On Patrice's Porch, with Oklahoma on our Minds

Today, I can barely think of anything but Oklahoma and the dreadful scenes we've seen on our screens over the past day. I feel sad for all those who have lost their homes and all their possessions, but my heart is sore for those who have lost loved ones.

How little possessions matter in comparison with people.

I'm glad to spend a wee while on your porch, Patrice, but my mind is really south-west of you. Were we actually on your porch, I have no doubt but that our talk would be all about Okie and the tragedy there.

1. Are you a heavy sleeper, light sleeper, or somewhere in between?

I'm a fairly heavy sleeper. I also love my sleep, and woe betide anyone who disturbs it. Thankfully, I was blessed with four babies who loved their sleep as much as I love it myself.

2. Are you currently reading anything interesting?

I normally go off into a quiet room at our lunch break, and during this hour, I read the Bible and some other book. I've had different ones on the go over the past while, and I'd thought today of blogging about some of them. Great minds, Patrice ;)

At the moment, I am reading one chapter of The Attributes of God every lunch time. I have to say that some of the chapters (actually, all of them) have been so wonderful that I have tended to re-read many of them.

On the go at other times of the day is a selection of books, including The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament, which the girls and I are studying together, and any number of cookery books.

3. Do you like to enter contests?

I have barely never entered contests. I do make myself laugh at times, maybe when I hear of someone I know winning something. I may say to one of the kids, 'I never win anything', to which they'll reply, 'Do you every try?'.

'Ahhh,' I admit.... 'that'll explain it'!

4. Are you good about taking time to do things you enjoy?

Well, I'm not sure how to answer this. I do know what the question means but there is little I enjoy more than simply being at home with the Builder and the kids.

Having said that, I have realized this past year that I probably ought to make more effort to look after myself. I did realize how important the lunch-hour-quiet-time I spoke of in Question #1 is for me. For a few months last year, I had to change my routine, and I missed out on this me time, and I did not fare well. 

I realized that I need times of silence. Of knowing I won't be disturbed (barring a major emergency). Of simply not having to talk. Or to listen.

I do feel wonderful if, after our evening meal, the kids sort the kitchen out and the Builder and I sit in the Lounge with a cuppa and have some time simply to chill and chat. That half-hour or so is a real treat to me.

5. What's your favourite food to cook on the grill, or enjoy at a BBQ?

I have to admit to not being overly keen on BBQ food. I'm not a fan of charcoal, so when we're having BBQs here, I tend to have most of our foods pre-cooked, and then just chuck 'em on the grill for a short time just to heat them up, and to give enough of a BBQ flavour to fool everyone else.

Yep, I'm a cheat.


Dosing and Marking Sheep

This is a post about sheep.

The Wee Guy, Big Brother and his younger sister were moving sheep this evening. It was such a beautiful evening, it even took me out of the house. 

They took the sheep to the bottom of the croft into a pen for some dosing and marking.

Did I mention it was a beautiful evening. The temperature is still in single figures (Celsius), but with a very light breeze, and sunshine, it felt wonderful.

I can't say they were too happy at being locked into the pen, but sometimes, needs must.

When I turned the other way, this was what I saw. The machair and the calm Atlantic.

Now, which one first?

The Wee Guy sorted out the doses: 5ml of something and something ml of something else.

I really know my stuff, don't I?

After a while, he decided Auntie Catherine could get the filling-the-doses job and he'd do the lamb-catching for Big Brother.

His technique needs honing, but with a teacher like BB, who could go wrong?

After all, he's taught me all I know.

The lambs get sprayed with a blue dot and an additional dot of either orange or red.

The red dot tells that this lamb's dad is John Wayne.

An orange dot tells us that Bruce is the daddy.

"Am I doing it right, Anne?"

(I do my best to reassure him every so often that he's doing great.)

But then I had to leave them to it. It was after 7pm and the guys at home hadn't been fed.

The Builder doesn't complain about much (anything, in fact), but I did reckon I ought to go and get dinner served. It can be quite a novelty having him home at a reasonable time in the evening, after all.

On my way home, I passed John Wayne and Bruce. 

Their babies were being dosed, and marked specifically to show whose they were. 

Do they look bothered?


Chatting: Me and my Fashion and the Builder and His Age

Hi Patrice! Well done for getting another chat sorted for your porch. I know this is such a busy time of year for you, so all us bletherers appreciate your efforts. Here we go with this week's questions ...

1. Do you have any fun plans for the summer?

Well, we are expecting some visitors, Patrice. Not sure if you heard .... ;)

Our summers tend to be fairly busy, and we are hoping to go to the mainland for a wedding during the Builder's summer holiday. It's also the Builder's 50th birthday during the summer and I think I'll treat him to a couple of days away with me.

After all, what more could he want that to have me all to himself for two whole days?

Oh, are y'all shocked he's fifty? Y'all reckon he looks fighting fit and in his prime?? Yep, me too.

Any excuse to get a photo of both the Builder and Jackson into a post, eh?

Here are the three men in my life.

Fighting fit? Yep, I reckon so.

2. Are you currently dieting or following a specific eating plan?

Oh yes, I follow daily eating plan here. It goes something like this:

Plan what to eat. Cook it. Eat it.

Preferably lots of it.

As for diets .... Nope. Maybe one day, that will begin. I have promised myself every Monday for the past year or so that I will begin a diet of sorts. But it never happens.

3. How often do you wear blue jeans (or any other colour of denim)?

Well, I haven't worn my favourite item of clothing for some time.

For the purposes of this question, it's the trousers I'm talking about. They are, what I call (Miranda moment - apologies to all who know nothing of Miranda. And even greater apologies to those of you who do know Miranda and think she's awful. I'm with you on the thinking-she's-awful bit. However, I digress ...) cut-offs. My kids call them too-long-to-be-shorts-and-too-short-to-be-longs.

I suppose on other (normal) people, they'd be half-way up their shins. On me? Well, you can see where they are on me.

Anyway, after all that, Patrice, I haven't even answered your question ... Not like me to blether on. My normal daily attire is denims jeans of a similar length to the trousers seen in the photo. Hang on - they're actually shorter, and they used to belong to my sister. I wear a lot of her cast-offs. My daughters tell me that if my fashionable sister doesn't wish to wear certain items of clothing any more, that this is a good indication of the fact that they ought not to be worn by anyone

They are, of course, talking nonsense. These denim cut-offs are fabulous, and no one can convince me otherwise.

4. Who is your favourite singer?

I love Andrea Boccelli's voice. And this short video will endear you to him even more. I love Josh Groban's voice too - oh, there is something mellow and strong, deep and warm about his voice. He really does have the most wonderful gift.

I think Hayley Westenra has one of the clearest, loveliest female voices I've ever heard.

What a gift a beautiful voice is!

5. Have you cooked anything interesting lately?

I've cooked plenty, but I don't think I've cooked anything interesting! Daily meal times can become rather 'same-ish', can't they?  

Have a great week, Patrice. I hope the weather is being kind to what you need for this time of year. Our weather is decidedly cool.

Aka Freeeeezing. Not technically, but the windchill over the past few days has been only one degree above freezing. Maybe this means a long hot June and July.

Or maybe it means nothing but a cold May. We dream on...


Our First Day in the Peats this Year

To get this, 

we need these.

And to have these, we need to do this:

Here's the peat bank from last year. 

The Builder uses the spade to begin turfing the peats - that's taking the ceap off.

He makes a line parallel with the edge of the peat bank, 

and then begins cutting across, loosening the thick ceap.

The ceap is then placed here, so that the person throwing the peats has a solid place to stand. It also means that in years to come, the area looks exactly as it looked before peats were ever cut.

Here, you can see the rows of turfs from the previous couple of years.

Once it's turfed, the Builder scrapes the top, just to clean take away the last bits of roots and heather.

I then have to put the camera away and get to work. I'm using the peat iron - a taraisgeir - to cut the peat out of the bank. The Builder throws the cut peat onto the bank, where it'll be left to dry.

I was so glad Big Brother wasn't out. 

The angle of the taraisgeir is wrong,

and each individual peat varies in size and shape: some are bigger than Cornflakes packs, and others were like wedges. 

It's just as well the Builder has patience. And it's as well I can laugh - at myself, mostly!

The Builder is beginning to turf the next length of the bank. You can see where the peat was cut: the top line shows the turfed part, and then you can see where the peats have been cut, and those thrown on the top of the bank, waiting to dry.

That is just the beginning of the peat - cutting-drying-lifting-taking-home saga. No doubt, you will see a fair bit more of the moor in the weeks and months to come.


Joining Patrice Again ...

I missed Patrice's chat last week, but I'm glad to be joining herself and the other ladies on the porch this week.

1. How many loads of laundry do you do each week?

I haven't a clue of the number, Patrice. We have smaller washing machines over here than you have in the USA. Our machine is a 6kg, but I do think yours are considerably larger. Over the past few days, my washing machine hasn't stopped. DR spent the past two weeks in Inverness on a course for the Fire Service, and the washing that came home with him was ... well, you can imagine! Added to the 'normal' stuff, it has meant I've dealt with Mount Everest this week, rather than my normal Ben Nevis.

2. Where do your household pets sleep?

Jackson discovered the shoe cupboard about three weeks ago. We always kept the door of this cupboard well and truly shut when he slept in the Utility Room, thinking he'd chew every shoe there! But, one day, he nosed his way in, lay in the corner, and has never been happier or more settled. This cupboard/room backs onto the wall where we have the stove, so it's very warm and cozy.... That probably explains his delight at the find.

3. What is your favourite thing to listen to whilst driving?

If I'm on my own, I like ... well, hang on... you know, it actually varies. At times, I enjoy silence - after all, that's a gift I don't get too much of. Often, I listen to a sermon, and other times, I listen to music. I never tire of Vivaldi's Seasons, and it brightens my day and gives me the oomph I need at times. 

4. Do you have to do a big clean-up when you have company, or are you always ready for guests?

The last part of that question almost made me choke on my banana muffin!! Always ready?!!! Ummmm, NO, I am not always ready at. all. My best clean-ups happen when my Mum is on her way to visit. (Is anyone else like this? Please say you are.)

We do have a Lounge that's always tidy. Sometimes, the Builder and I go and sit up there for about half an hour in the evenings. We take our cuppa up there, sit in a no-mess room, have some time to talk ...

It makes me ready to face the evening.

5. What's your favourite breakfast food?

Well, I am very boring with breakfast food. I simply have tea and toast. The kids mostly have cereal - Weetabix and Cornflakes or Krispies - always Kellogs: I'm told that is very important.

'Why not the cheaper brands?', I ask. 'They are awful!', I am told. 

The Builder takes porridge most of the time, and when the kids were younger, that's all they ever had. Sadly, they are now onto the flavoured cardboard - aka boxed cereals!

*      *      *

Over the past couple of days, I've made a few batches of these Banana Muffins.

The muffins themselves are so soft, and eaten along with the crunchy topping makes this the yummiest banana muffin I've made until now.

The topping reminded me of Laurie's Coffee Cake.

Do y'all remember the Coffee cake - the cake that's called a Coffee cake but has no coffee? 

Read about how we first discovered Coffee Cake, and find Laurie's recipe here.

Hope y'all have a great week!

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