It Took a While, but ...

... we finally have some decor on our stair wall.

We've only been in our home for eight years. 

That's waaaay longer, of course, than I've actually had these pictures. But still ... these photos have sat in a cupboard, and then on a stool in the Family Room, awaiting their final resting place - the stair wall - for quite some time.

This week, though, Catherine decided the hall walls were going to be decorated. She pushed us to get the photos sorted, to decide where they were going to go, and then, tonight, to Just Do It.

All the photos are black and white, and they're all family snaps. They may get some tweaking over the next few weeks, but for now, I'm happy not to have an empty wall here.

And this finally found a home too. The wall where the door from the hall into the kitchen used to be doesn't look so bare now.

Family. Where life begins and love never ends.

I reckon I agree with that sentiment.

Oh, and I've decided our girls are never gonna leave home. We'd simply never get anything done if they did ...


Sheep Shearing on the Croft

It's the time of year again for the sheep to be getting their short-back-and-sides, and so Big Brother called on my help once again.

Okay, so he didn't actually call for my help, but having my offspring there as his assistants is kind of the same thing.

And talking of offspring, for this post, I'm going to let DR do most of the talking ...

Take it away, DR.

Okay, here's where the process starts:

The smallest amongst us dives in and grabs an unshorn sheep, holding it for long enough for....

me to take over the head.

I haul it over to the shearing platforms and.....

flip it over on its back.  

Uncle Calum, aka Big Brother,  then takes over for the expert part - the shearing.

When BB is almost finished with the sheep, I prepare to take its head. As a side note, the best way to hold or control a sheep is to hold its head - control the head, control the body. (I'm sure there is a sermon in there somewhere ... )

At this point I take the head again,

Calum clears the wool and I hold the sheep in preparation for...

a dose from CF and a mark from my cousin, Mairi.

This is what I do while CF is shearing - I lay out the wool, inside up, clean any lumps off it, and fold the sides into the middle

I roll it up,

and use the tail at the end tucked into the middle of the ball to hold it in place.

And, voilà!  Half a dozen balls of wool ready to be packaged.

Now for some trivia:

Sheep are sheared section by section - front, tail, neck, and sides.

Mairi is holding the power cord to the shears - here it's because Big Brother is almost finished, but if it's a restless sheep she'll be there just in case it goes postal on BB.

(note from Mother: I have no idea what 'postal' means in this context. Any help from readers on this score would be appreciated.)

Here, she's just pulled the cord. 'Good action shot, Mum!' 

I've taken the head and.....

I have it.

"Huh? A camera? And Anne? What is she doing here, so far from her natural environment?!"

(By 'her natural environment', I do believe Big Brother means the kitchen... )

Home free..

These two are really 'home free' - two runners who jumped the fence. We got them back eventually - two rugby tackles later!

Calum takes a go with the spray.

This sheep is wondering where her buddies have gone - they've made sure they're as far from us as they can get!


This Past Week

Those of you who follow Homeschool on the Croft on Facebook will know why I didn't post earlier this week. For the past week, our district of Ness has been shrouded in foggy, cloudy weather - weather which was a reflection on how its people were feeling. Today saw the funeral of a young man who was tragically killed in a road accident some days ago. When you live in a community like ours, you really do know what it is to 'mourn with those who mourn'. Everywhere we went over the past week, we greeted our fellow Nisich with quietness and sorrow. On Wednesday night, in the minutes before our Prayer Meeting began, there was loud silence instead of the usual quiet chatter. People we met on our trips to the local shops were subdued.

Everyone was sad.

But I know that we don't grieve like the family of the boy who was killed. We may not forget for some time, but our lives will move on. We will not lie awake at night thinking of him. He will not be in our thoughts when we waken in the morning. We will not remember him as we sit at our evening meal, and although we will continue to remember his loved ones in our prayers for quite some time, our prayers, too, will become dominated by our own family concerns and burdens. Such is life.

But for now, our hearts ache for the parents, the siblings, and the loved ones of the young man whose life came to such a sudden and tragic end.

And, as if to prove my own point, I was able to spend the past couple of days with one of my favourite people on the face of the earth.

This is my cousin, with whom I spent many happy days in my childhood, and with whom I love to spend any time I'm able to to this day. 

She was born just a few months before me and is also named Anne, after our grandmother.

Anne and I took a walk down to our local graveyard yesterday. Here is the gravestone marking the spot where our grandmother is buried. We love talking about relatives who are now no longer with us but who are part of our wonderful heritage.

We were also able to take a run down to Port Beach, where the sun obliged and made an appearance while we were there.

Sitting talking, and sometimes sitting is silence ... with the gently sounds of the sea always with us. It was wonderful.

Best of all, Anne and I are always able to talk. I mean really talk. What a precious gift it is to have someone with whom you can laugh and cry; a person with whom you can share your joys and griefs. We opened our Bibles and we opened our hearts. I know that she will pray for me, and I will pray for her, in more meaningful ways, now that we have had this time together.

Anne and I love the same things. We love fellowship, friendship, and food. We love our families and our shared history. We love to reminisce, and we love to look to the future. We love cups of tea. We love to blether.

And we dress the same way.

Could it get any better?


Happy Father's Day, Dad

I have heard some Christians talk about the difficulty they have had - some for many years - in thinking of God the Father as their loving, Heavenly Father as a result of a difficult father-child relationship in their past. Some have spoken of their feelings of fear when they even hear the name 'father'. Some have great difficulty thinking of a father as one who would care one way or the other about them.

Well, the many years I had when I thought wrong thoughts about God was certainly nothing to do with the earthly father I had. 

Fear? Never.

Lack of love? Ohhhhh no! 

Unkindness? Not ever.

And so, as we approach Father's Day, it's fitting that I post a little about the father God gave me.

There are over fifty years since this day, 

and around forty-seven years since this photo was taken.

Although, when you're young, you tend to assume that everyone is in the same situation as yourself, I do remember being aware that most dads I knew didn't spend as much time having fun with their kids as mine did. I now wonder at Dad's apparent lack of tiredness. He worked so hard, and was away for long hours each day, and yet he seemed to have so much time to play games with his kids.

He cared so much for our spiritual welfare. In 'fun' things, he was so full of fun. In eternal matters, he was serious, though never, ever harsh. We knew our need of a Saviour. We knew the danger we were in while we remained outside of Christ. I am thankful that he never made spiritual things onerous. He used to give us fun quizzes on a Sunday night, and it is due in great part to his time and effort, that I have never thought of the Lord's Day as long and boring. In fact, I feel the opposite: the Lord's Day is, in my mind, a wonderful day.

The attitudes he had has formed my mindset in so many ways. He always taught us to look at what the Bible said, and not to be too concerned with what other people thought. He said time and time again that he was concerned with his family and what God's Word said, not at all with what other people thought of him. We never heard himself and Mum talking about other people, or other families. They weren't his concern, and he hated any gossip. I am so thankful for these attitudes that have shaped me in so many ways.

He despised the spirit of envy that became more and more prevalent in the later decades of the 20th century. His attitude encouraged me to be content, to thank God for the many wonderful blessings I have, but never to envy those who seem to have more in worldly terms than we have. This attitude has led to my own dislike of socialist attitudes of envy towards those who 'do well' in life. When I hear or read of political leaders talking about people of 'privilege', I think their idea of privilege is totally skewed. Those of us with stable, loving childhood are the real people of privilege.

Everything Dad was to me growing up, he now is to our kids.

He absolutely adores them! He would spend his life with them, and is at his happiest when he's with them.

His sense of fun clearly hasn't diminished with age, as can be seen from this photo from around three years ago. Yes, this is my Dad, in his mid-70s, having fun on our frozen machair.

Taken around 18 years ago, this is one of my favourite photos of Dad. Here he is with Catherine, taking a break from reading to her. It sums up what he was to me, and what he now is to our kids.

Here he is with Builder, both of them showing that they have well and truly moved into the 21st century!

Happy Father's Day, Dad! I will always be thankful to my Heavenly Father for the father He gave me.

Love you, Grampa!


Chatting with Patrice again. On a Porch again. In Virginia again ....

It's been quite some time, but I am back with Patrice on her Virginian porch, in beautifully warm sunshine. I felt a bit bad about gatecrashing her weekly get-togethers, but Wendell assured me that if I brought him a steady supply of carrots, I'd be most welcome to join them any time.

Apparently, Patrice agreed.

Here are Patrice's questions for this week's chat:

1. Do you have a vegetable garden this year? Have you in previous years?

We have planted potatoes this year, but no vegetables. Over the previous number of years, we've planted lots and lots of wonderful stuff, and my readers had the pleasure of hearing me wax lyrical (fairly constantly, too) about my amazing vegetables.

My kids were less appreciative of my wonder, though they were happy to wax lyrical when the aforementioned veg sat in front of them on a plate.

My delight would begin with planting seeds and watching them sprout.

Oh the joy!

It would increase when the fruits of our labour came out of the ground,

and could be used to make soup. Scotch Broth is a great favourite in this house.

As you can see, our veg need protection from the wind - the closer rows are carrots, parsnips, and leeks. Inside the higher cage, which is netted on top to keep the butterflies out, are the brassicas.

This is what it's like inside the cage. My wee babies are all safe and secure from nasty winds and even nastier caterpillars.

One of my favourite experiences is when we are thinning the carrots, and the baby carrots are big enough to eat. They are the most delicious carrots ever.

Another of my favourites is the Romanesco. Apart from the fact that it tasted wonderful, its design completely blew me away. Spiral upon spiral upon spiral, speaking so clearly of the hand of the great designer, who created all that we see around us.

Beetroot was another of my favourites, 

roasted with thyme, garlic and butter..... *swoon*

Dearie me, Patrice, as you can see, some things have never changed. I reached here and had to go back and check what your original question was ... Yes, it appears I'm still taking a long time to answer your questions!

2. What is your computer sitting on right now? Desk, dining room table, lap....?

On the table in our kitchen. I don't know if you remember, but we knocked the wall between our kitchen and our dining room, so it's all one room now. This is where I practically live now!

Oh, and when I say "we", you do realise that the Builder simply couldn't have done it without me, yeah?

3. Do you go shorter with your hair in the summer?

Nope. I'm afraid our summer weather doesn't reach the heady heights that would make shorter hair more necessary or comfortable. In fact, I always think that summer is the time to have it a bit longer, so that it's easier to stick up in a pony tail. When I'd be working in the plot in previous years, I often wished I could tie it back out of my way.

4. Are you an early to bed person, or a night owl?

Erm ... if you knew the time at which I write this, you'd know for sure that I'm a night owl. I actually went to bed last Monday evening at 11pm, and I couldn't believe how amazing I felt on Tuesday morning! I did decide then that I'd have to try that getting-to-bed-by-eleven malarky more often, but so far, it has not been repeated. 

I absolutely love the time after everyone else has gone to bed, and I have complete and utter silence surrounding me. 

It recharges my batteries.

5. Tell me something funny. 

Well, last week, I saw this on Facebook.

Does this ring true for any of you??

Well, it sure does for me, and of course, I tagged our good friend for whom this meme was made ... It must have been!

This was how the conversation on Facebook went:

DM (He shall remain semi-anonymous): Hilarious! I often wonder why laughter is rarely mentioned in the Bible.

Me: JOY is mentioned *innumerable* times  . We should never fear being joyful rather than being morose and morbid ... Keep laughing!

CM (also remaining semi-anonymous): Hoi! Anne you are that friend to me! 😀

Please take note of *utter disbelief* on my face as I read the previous comment. ME? Moi??

DM: Just never ask Anne Morrison to tell you the joke about the fridge Calum Mitchell. She just about collapses onto the floor telling it.

PC (yes, another semi-anonymous 'friend'):  I just about collapse at the mention of the fridge joke.... Just thinking about Anne and her reaction..... And I've never met her!

CM: YES! I never got that joke! But Anne's laugh! Great! Wasn't there a caterpillar joke too!

(There are clearly some sad people in this world, who don't 'get' the fridge joke.)

DM: I have never heard the caterpillar joke....let's hear it.

CM:  Aw I thought it was fridge and the caterpillar or something! Anywhoo! Aw the laugh

Me: Well, Calum and Don Aldmor, you'd actually be sending for the men in white coats were you in my kitchen right now!! The poor Builder is looking at me while I read these comments ... in hysterics just at the *thought* of the fridge joke .... as though I've completely flipped the lid (and he hasn't a clue what's going on   )

DM:  There's one thing you can't say about the Builder and Anne Morrison ......that they are miserable Christians. Some of the most amazing laughs have been in their company. I have often had sore ribs with them with their infectious laughter. They are the perfect template for a good Christian marriage. God bless them both!

Me: Aww, a Dhomhnaill, your lovely comment sobered me up. Thank you ... and ALL is by God's grace (especially the poor Builder's putting up with me!)

DM: The Builder has done so well but I think he also landed on his feet. That cooking, honesty, barbering skills......and these brown shoes. He got it all from you!

DM:  And I can't believe Anne Morrison that you have friends on FB that haven't met you! What a shock they're going to get......"the half was not told me"

Marina (my sister):  Anne, I knew who you meant even before I read your comment! A lovely thread to read through x

Catherine Petra:  Calum - it's the cabbage and the fridge!

Me:  AND the DENIM JACKET!!!!!!!!!!!!

CM:  ...and a tree?

Hello? Hellooooo, any of you still reading?? Well, I do appreciate that the 'joke' is only funny if you kind of know me, us, him, them ....

I hope this all made your day. I've loved being back with you, Patrice, and look forward to joining all the ladies again next week. :)

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