Another Sunset

I can't resist posting these photos taken a minute ago out our window. Oh, I know I did the same a couple of weeks ago, but it's so beautiful and peaceful sitting here looking out the window. 

Neither the beauty nor the peace really come through in the photos, but, as I say, I can't resist posting them.

Have a peaceful and blessed weekend.

USA out of the World Cup

So that's it. The USA are out of the World Cup.

I'm sad, but it has to be said that Ghana were the better team for most of the match. 

One thing I have to say about the US team: of all the players we've seen playing throughout the whole tournament, the American players are the fairest and cleanest of all. We saw less play-acting (cheating) from them than by any team I saw. And that's something for the Americans to be proud of at least.

Oh, by the way, eight years ago, I said that by the year 2020 the USA would win the World Cup. 

What d'ya reckon? Will they?

Love Affair is Back On

Well, the love affair with our beloved plot is back on. And this is what clinched it:

I was thinning the radishes today, and this is what I took out of the ground and then transplanted in another place. Aren't they so cute. 

Here's one - just in case you weren't able to appreciate the humble radish from the first photo.

C'mon - you must admit it - they are gorgeous. 
They're cute. Adorable. Lovely. So red. 
Did I mention that they're lovely?

Then I transplanted the thinned ones. The row isn't very straight. The Builder wont be pleased, but I was too excited to care! 

Just in case you didn't get it.... The love affair is back on. Me and the plot? We're on again! And just in case you didn't get the reason..

Yep - it's the radishes. I shall never look at a radish in the same way again!


Falling Out

Today, I was in grave danger of having a major falling out with one of my dearest friends.

Yep - we went very close. 

Me and the plot very, very nearly fell out big time.

You see, this was the plot yesterday:

It's not the best photo, but trust me - all the plants were growing well (apparently).

Tonight, this is what the whole 'cauliflower' section looks like:

By the time we'd finished this evening, all seventy cauliflower 
plants have been pulled up and had been binned.
I am heartbroken. 

This is the reason.
(if you are squeamish, please look away now)

If you look closely, you will see a maggot (you have NO idea how difficult it is for me to even write that word without feeling squeamish. Yuck.)

It's the cabbage root fly's fault. Although they are called cabbage root flies, they actually prefer cauliflower to cabbage. Only two or three of our cabbages were affected. 

We've never been bothered by them before, but they lay their eggs near the base of the plant, the eggs hatch and the maggots eat at the root until there is nothing left of it. 

Oh boy, it's been heartbreaking pulling all these plants out of the ground....plants that looked the picture of health just a couple of days ago.

How clear it is that the ground has been cursed, and that, 'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread' (Gen 3v19)


World Cup

Congratulations, USA!

So, England AND the USA go through from their group in the World Cup. The USA top the group. And most Americans don't even know what football is!   

(Whisper: to you Americans out there - the World Cup is a football....f-o-o-t-b-a-l-l ... competition (yeah, you guys call it soccer. But it's football. Got it?!). It is THE most important sporting event in the world. Well, okay, that might be pushing it a wee bit - after all, we have Wimbledon right now too.)  

Being Scottish, I am surrounded by people who are desperate for England to be knocked out. However, I'm in the Unionist camp. So, I support England .... most of the time. I don't support them if they're playing:   

1. Scotland (obviously!)
2. The Netherlands (partly because I remember their football in the 1970s, and partly....well, just think 'orange' and 'William'!)
3. The USA  

Go figure!  


Reading material in the Homeschool Household

Here are some of the books that are 'on the go' in our house right now:

This is our current daily Read-aloud.  

We finished the first in the series - Love Comes Softly - a couple of weeks ago, and now we're onto this one. The two girls have read the whole series already (a number of times!), but we all enjoy reading it again. The wee guy loves it too. The 'being out West' does it for him!   

Catherine is reading this book:

She's read the three books in this series. Worth reading. ... nothing quite like historical novels ...
Who agrees?

Katie has just begun this book:

I hope that some of what she reads will sow deep seeds that will be of benefit to her for the rest of her life.

The Builder is reading David Brainerd's diary. 

This book was blessed to me a number of years ago when I read it for the first time. I would soooo recommend it.

What a man. What sacrifices he made. And only eternity will reveal their benefits.

These are just some of the books lying around right now. I say 'lying around' because that's what they are! Sometimes the books are on the arms of the sofas, on the floor, on the chairs, on the cushions, .... everywhere. Everywhere!! 

Still - given the choice, I'd rather have kids who read, read, read than kids who would never think of picking up books, curling up in a corner, and 'losing' themselves for...for...well, forever, if they weren't brought back to reality to get some chores or schoolwork done.

I think they have it too good. I don't get half their time reading. I think I'll change the rules in this house!


American Flag Pavlova

This morning, we made this for our Scottish-American friends who are calling today.

Here are the stars going on. Please don't count them. We weren't being historically accurate here! 

And here are the kids with spoons at the ready!

It was a 'practice' really. We're planning a get-together here for the home-schooling families on the island. We'll have the day sometime in early July, so we'll make it an American Independence Fun Day. 

At the moment, we're working on some red, white and blue bunting. It's as well we don't really have neighbours. They'd think we'd lost the plot!

Any ideas for games etc welcome.


My Latest Recommendation

This is my sermon recommendation for this week.

I am recommending it because it really is worth hearing, but the subject of 'accents' has come up a number of times over the past few weeks. The preacher here is from Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and is separate from the Republic of Ireland. You may often hear it being referred to as Ulster. This accent and the 'Southern drawl', are my two favourite accents in the world!

Anyway, accent aside, this sermon, which was preached at an all-age conference in the USA, is worth a listen.

God bless you all.......or should that be, "y'all"....as you listen.

Thoughts from Isaiah 2

Some of the thoughts I had whilst reading Isaiah 2 earlier today, along with Matthew Henry's commentary:

When the Jews of the Old Testament went up to their special feast days in Jerusalem three times a year, they would, whilst walking on the way, call to their friends and neighbours to come with them.

And don't we? Don't we long for the salvation of our loved ones so much that we call to them, 'Come thou with us'. I hope we do - in our actions if not with constant words.

After all, there is no joy like our joy; there is no peace like our peace; and no God like unto our God. And don't we want others to share in our joy, in our peace, and in this wonderful salvation?

'Lord, help me to call out to others along the way. Make my walk in this life and my talk be so that those not yet on the way may envy what I have and desire it. And may none of my words or actions ever discourage anyone. May none ever be 'put off' the way of the Gospel because of anything I do or say.'

We go 'up to the mount of the Lord to be taught', so that we will walk in His paths' (v2)

'Lord, please give me a teachable spirit, and a longing to learn more of Thee, more of Thy dealings with me, and more of what Thy Word tells me about Thyself. And through that, may I walk ever closer to Thee, and with more graciousness towards my fellow man.'

What treasures we have in the Word. May the Spirit give us more and more of a desire to read it and to learn from it.

Hope you all (y'all?!) have a blessed day.


The Best Medicine

I've been pretty much on the sofa all day today. Got a horrible virus, so lots of TLC needed!

A few minutes ago, Catherine came to me with a cup of tea and .......

Yum, yum, yum.

Banana muffins with cream cheese and cinnamon icing.

I feel better already. These muffins clearly cure all illnesses. Try it.


Gaelic Psalm Singing

Psalm 89: 15-18

O greatly bless'd the people are
the joyful sound that know;
In brightness of Thy face, O Lord,
they ever on shall go.

They in Thy name shall all the day
rejoice exceedingly;
And in Thy righteousness shall they
exalted be on high.

Because the glory of their strength
doth only stand in Thee;
And in Thy favour shall our horn
and pow'r exalted be.

For God is our defence; and He
to us doth safety bring:
The Holy One of Israel
is our Almighty King.

At our wedding, we sang these verses from Psalm 89 in Gaelic. Never heard Gaelic Psalm singing?? Never lived then!

(As an aside, I'd love to know what you sang at your wedding, or what you'd love to have sung at your wedding, if that wedding has not taken place yet!)

Well, Gaelic psalm singing is probably like nothing you've ever heard before. When the Gospel came to Gaelic speaking parts of Scotland first, many of the people were illiterate. There were also very, very few Bibles in their language. The psalms were sung with a Precentor - a man who 'puts out the line' of the psalm - and then the congregation sings that line. This way, a person didn't need a psalm book in front of them: they listened to the precentor and followed the words he'd sung.

It's always sung with no musical accompaniment. It is so moving, but maybe like the bagpipes, you need to be a Highlander to 'feel' it. I don't know if that's the case.

I've posted a Youtube video at the end of this post which will give you a flavour of the singing.

But for now, have a read of this:

Prof Ruff is a professor of music at the University of Yale. He is a noted jazz musician, having played with Dizzy Gillespie and been the first musician to introduce jazz into the USSR and the Peoples Republic of China. An African American of Alabama roots, his story is fascinating. His performance in the Bonar Hall (Dundee, Scotland) was brilliant – none more so than when he showed how African Americans can tap out rhythm on their legs. It was hard to believe that he is 74 years old. However the enjoyment of his lecture gave way to a look of incredulity when Willie (as he wanted us to call him) suggested that there was a link between Black church music and Gaelic psalm singing. The Scottish media of course picked up on this and took great delight in running stories along the lines of Black Gospel music comes from Lewis! These statements were usually accompanied by pictures of exuberant African Americans singing and dancing, alongside pictures of Free Church Gaelic psalm singing which was, shall we say, somewhat less exuberant!

Prof Ruff explained that he was visiting a Black Presbyterian church in Northern Alabama and was surprised to hear them singing in the old Black Baptist way – lining out the hymns. ‘Where did you learn to sing like that?’ he asked. The response surprised him – ‘we’ve always sung that way – its part of our Presbyterian tradition’. So he decided to discover if there were any white Presbyterians who sang accapella. His search was fairly fruitless until someone suggested to him that he visit the Outer Hebrides in a far away land called Scotland. Willie had traveled all over Europe but had never been to Scotland – despite the pleas of his friend Dizzy Gillespie, who had told him that there was something special about Scotland. He even informed Willie that his great grandparents had spoken this strange language called Gaelic.

So off went the good professor – first of all to Benbecula and then to Back on the Island of Lewis. When he heard the Gaelic psalm singing he was blown away. To him it was very similar to the old style of Gospel music in the Black churches back home. He played it to an old Black precentor who wept when he first heard it. It was at this point in his story that the looks of incredulity on some of the faces were evident. But then came one of those special moments. He played a track from the latest CD of Gaelic psalm singing from Back. – (go to gaelicpsalmsinging.com if you want to know more). It was spine chillingly wonderful and you could sense that everyone there was greatly taken with it. In fact the broadcaster Lesley Riddoch declared that it made the hairs stand up on the back of her neck and that she found it very moving. He then played a track of the Alabama African Americans singing. Believe it or not it was not easy to tell the difference!

It was a different language (English v. Gaelic), different words (Hymns v. Psalms), different melodies and yet there was so much that was similar. The emotion, the ethos and the style of lining out, adding lots of grace notes and singing slowly. How did this happen? Was it just coincidence?

The basic thesis is this. Many Gaelic speaking Scots went over to the US – especially the Carolina’s and the South. Some became slave owners and as a result their slaves were taught Gaelic. In those early days there were no Black and no separate White churches - Blacks and Whites worshiped together – although not on a equal basis (the normal custom in the South was for the Blacks to sit upstairs in the Church). As a result the African Americans were, as Prof Ruff put it, introduced to the ‘Jesus Faith’ through the medium of Gaelic preaching and Gaelic psalm singing. The slaves ‘blackened’ the process and eventually were thrown out of the churches (for their exuberance) and started their own. Prof. Ruff told of the section of the mixed church which was known as the ‘Amen Corner’ because of the noise that came from it. He also told us of the Godly Confederate leader Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson, going to church with his slaves and being told that they should sit upstairs. Jackson refused with the words ‘no, my family sits with me’.

There is no doubt that some slaves would have learnt Gaelic. Nor that there was some amount of interbreeding – Prof Ruff suggested that the prevalence of red hair amongst some African Americans today was due to Scottish blood from a couple of centuries ago! He also told us the delightful story of two sisters from Lewis who had just arrived in America after a long and lonely journey. They were surprised to hear Gaelic being spoken and rushed to the side of the boat to meet their countrymen – but were astounded to see that the speakers were Blacks. In panic they wrote home suggesting that they should return as quickly as possible because the sun was too hot and did terrible things to people!

Some are not convinced of Prof Ruff's theory at all. Accurate it may not be - who can tell? Interesting, it most certainly is!


The Sky at Night

I've just taken these photos out our Family Room window.

The photos make it look much darker than it really is.
It's almost 11pm, and still very bright outside.

The heavens God's glory do declare
The skies His handworks preach
Psalm 19v1 (Scottish Metrical)

Shearing Sheep

Last evening, DR and CS took the sheep to the fank, ready for their shearing.

Here are my boys. My two adorable boys.

We had a lovely evening. Actually, yesterday, our temperatures hit the heady heights of 17 degrees Celsius (that's into the 60s in Fahrenheit). Imagine!

The Big Brother wanted himself and DR to have them all ready for an early
start this morning.

And here are some of them in the waiting room

DR takes a sheep or ram from the pen and turns in on its back, ready for its haircut.

And then the Big Brother does the business.

What d'ya reckon? Looking good??

(Well, actually guys, I'm sorry, but I think you just look ..... weird. Sorry, but you guys just aint the cutest things I've ever seen.)

Don't anyone tell the Big Brother I said that. These are prizewinning sheep.
I just don't appreciate them.

We did the sensible thing and spent the day in the plot.
Here's Hubbie with his Canadian Cowboy Hat.
I love it. I love him. Together, they are adorable.

So another day in the plot.
Again. And yes, I'm shattered. Again.

But the plot is looking good, and that's what counts right now.

An Announcement

If you're still reading (I hope you're not), I have something I have to say. I've tried to avoid it (hence leaving it to the end of this post), but it's gotta be said.

I got the whole male/female thing wrong with the cows/cattle .... again.

Remember this one:

I was told. I was told this was a male. Male. But when I showed my last blog to my dear Husband and the Big Brother, I was told in no uncertain terms that I need to find some city to live it. I am clearly out of my depth. This gorgeous looking beast is clearly - VERY clearly, apparently - NOT male. It is obvious. Okay. So for any of you who read my last post and didn't pick up on my deliberate (cough) mistake.....well, what can I say. Go ask your kids for 'birds and bees' lessons. They'll tell you.

As for me, if I ever show photos of....of....cattle.... again, they will be referred to as CATTLE. No more specifics.

Thank you for listening. And for understanding. I knew you guys would, even if Hubbie and Big Brother didn't. I'm so glad I have friends out there who understand.

End of Announcement!


Early morning ramblings...

This week, I have been up first.

I'll say that again. I've been up, out of bed, first. Before my dear husband.

What d'ya mean, 'So what?'

This is noteworthy, that's what! This is not right, that's what! This.....this....I'm sure this isn't right. Because..... Well, just because. There's something in the marriage vows about it - yeah?uh.... about us supposed to get to lie in longer in the mornings. Isn't there?

Well, nobody ever told me there wasn't.

Anyway, seeing as I've been such an early bird, I've been out and about taking some photos today.

We have a new neighbour. Isn't he gorgeous.
And here's Mamma, not looking too friendly.
It's okay, honey. I'm only admiring. Not a thought of T-bone steaks, or roasts, or....
Who said that? What on earth possessed anyone to think of that just now.
It's not even breakfast time.

C'mon. Let's leave that rambling, dangerous looking woman where she is.

This is a male calf from last year. Isn't he soooo cute. I love him.

I am the only boy in this field. I am here to look after the others.
Noone calls me CUTE. You got it?!
Yep, I get it, big boy......

Some of the leafy plants in the coldframe
They don't answer me back when I talk to them.

I may become vegetarian.

On the other hand...... That just aint gonna happen. Not whilst I'm married to my lovely, handsome, meat-eating, sleeping-in husband.

Calabrese seedlings for later planting.

Actually, this year, everything is a wee bit later, with the weather not having warmed up much.

The plot right now. The cloches are for insulation; under the cloches are carrots, parsnips, beetroot and swedes. You can see the first carrots beginning to come through.

Out and about, I wear my favourite footwear ever. Ever, ever, ever.
My daughters think..... well, it's not advisable to write what they think.
You are free to think what you will. I will love these forever. !!

Of course, if you know anything about my dear girls, you'll know why they're threatening to leave home if I ever go out in these boots again. They hate them. I love them. We go back a long way. A very loooong way!

My boots in all their glory


Highland Cathedral

This makes me tingle. Magical.

If it does nothing to you, let me know. Seriously. I genuinely don't know if you HAVE to be Scottish to love - I mean LOVE - this.

The bagpipes just do it for me.

This rendition of Amazing Grace is definitely a favourite of mine too. Listen especially for the emotion and strength in their voices after the piper has played. Oh boy.


No wonder the Scots used the pipes to spur their 'boys' on into battle. I'd follow the sound too. Anywhere. Well, almost.

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