Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Holiday at Home

This week, my husband has some annual leave, but due to lack of money, and complications with our house sale, they didn't, so I planned a Staycation. I daresay you've heard of the term, and you may have even rolled your eyes. As one or two people said to me, 'I don't get it - isn't that just not going anywhere?' So I shall explain.
When you have a job outside the home, a week at home sounds quite the thing. You can watch daytime tv, catch up on all those DIY projects, stay in bed as late as you like, switch your brain off from all those customers and deadlines and chores, and maybe spend some quality time with your partner and kids. But what if, like me, your job is in the home? My main job is looking after (ie, running around after) my children, cleaning, cooking, answering the phone, and a depressing amount of life-admin: sitting for hours on the phone arguing with the phone company about the recurring errors on bills, writing letters to the electric company for similar reasons, picking up parcels that arrived while I was at the shop, making sure the bills are paid, etc etc etc. For me, a week at home is a week of the same old stress and hassle. Only, if my husband is also home, I have an extra person to feed and run around after, and even less time to concentrate on frivolities like reading, writing and music.
So my aim, in planning a staycation, was to enable me to get a holiday-mindset. I was to ignore the phone, take a week off all my usual social and volunteering groups, eat out as much as possible, and spend every moment of every day doing things with my family, just for fun.
Well, that hasn't entirely happened. First of all our car stopped working. Combined with the persistent rain, this has kept us far closer to home that I intended, although it's better now and we still have a few days to go. Secondly, my husband was prepared to fight to the death to retain his right to watch football, saying that even if we were on safari in Africa he'd still find a tv showing the match. And finally, Nana and Granddad have claimed the one and only day with no forecast rain to take the children out and away from us. OK, so Mr M and I still get a day alone together, but we've forgotten what adults are meant to do when children aren't with them. Do they stroll? Do they lounge? I don't remember.
Still, all is not doom and gloom. Between the car appointments and the solicitor's phone-calls, we have attended a church fete, watched The Smurfs in 3D at the cinema, taken the scooters to the park, ridden the miniature railway, taken a real train to the next town to spend some pocket money on comics and visit an art gallery, and visited the local soft-play area. I think we're doing ok.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Mighty Oak

OK, first of all, let me say that if I knew how to change the colour of your names in the comments, and the descriptions under each of my links, I would. I can change every other colour - all of my colour scheme is considered and deliberate, apart from that shocking cyan which sends me into a dyslexic fit of flashing unreadability. So sorry about that.

I had half a mind to do a post about oak trees at some point in the future. I was going to wait until I had some relevant things to say about them, but they keep cropping up, so I suppose that'll be now.

I met two beautiful ladies today. I won't say too much here, but one of them, who shares a name with a certain Celtic Goddess I know, is someone I've seen around my local area and thought 'I'd like to know you'. Well, as fate would have it, now I do. The other had a tattoo on her arm of an oak tree. I couldn't take my eyes off it. The main reason I've never considered having a tattoo (despite going through a teenage phase of tattoo-obsession, buying tattoo magazines, learning all the terminology and symbolism etc) was that there was nothing I could be sure of identifying with forever. But, looking at this oak tattoo, it seemed so right. How can one go off oak trees? It doesn't seem possible.

Maybe it's because I was born under the sign of the Oak (Duir), according to the Celtic Tree Calendar, or maybe it's because one of my favourite campsites as a child had a solitary oak right in the middle of the field that we tent-and-van oddballs were assigned to, but the oak, to me, is the perfect tree. I love all trees, particularly native English ones, and the trees I would choose for my home would be rowan and willow or birch, but the oak is king.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking in unknown countryside in Somerset (probably known to someone, but not previously to me). I saw an oak at the edge of the field, and I said, 'I have to go there'. So I did, and as I held my hand to its trunk, and looked up into the canopy, I spoke to the spirit of the tree. And what surprised me was that it wasn't a She or a He or an It who answered. It was a They - I was talking to a city. A huge city. A metropolis of activity and life and character and energy. And when I pulled away, They laughed at this little human who thought she could hold a conversation with an Oak City in just five minutes!

I'm not going to rush out to the nearest tattoo parlour. But I am going to do something about framing a painting that's been sitting in my to-do pile for too long. Shown above, this is a print of a painting by Lucy Tyler who, unfortunately, doesn't have a website, but can occasionally be found in odd corners of Kent!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Moonlight and new blogs

Hello, I am Donna. I am a wife and mother, a musician, and a seeker. This blog is intended as a shared journal of my travels on the path towards a kinder, more natural life, complete with my thoughts and ponderings as they crop up! I have dedicated the blog to Brigid, Celtic Goddess of the hearth and the well, as she represents all the things I strive for in life, and whilst I am not a hard polytheist (the terms confuse me - am I a soft one?), I do have a special place in my heart, and on top of my fridge, for this feminine face of the Holy Spirit.

This evening I spent some time out in my garden, alone in the moonlight. I have a beautiful garden, fairly large considering the 1960s cardboard housing estate I live on, and full of plants and wildlife introduced and encouraged by my parents over the last 30 years. But I don't spend anywhere near enough time in it. I went out after my daughters were tucked up in bed, and strolled around one of the apple trees, then sat in it for a bit, before giving in and finding a patio chair.

The moon is not quite full tonight, but definitely plump, and yellow, with the slightest wisp of cloud in front. I sat and contemplated the darkening sky, imagining what it would be like without the ever-present glow of street-lamps. The evening stars would just about be coming out, making way for the millions and millions that follow. I managed to relax enough to stop worrying about the colony of slugs travelling around my feet. The slugs are like the earth - not good, not bad, but something outside of those concepts. They exist. They do what they are meant to do. So I attempted some sort of meditation, every now again jumping out of my skin when people passed by, or dogs barked.

When I came in, I thought, as I have done so many times before, that my life would be so much better if only I could remember how good that felt - to be outside, breathing the air, feeling the energy, relaxing with the world and with myself. If I could, I might do it more often, instead of sitting around zombie-like in front of repetitive internet games. So, to bridge the gap, and provide some kind of focus and motivation, here it is: the blog of Brigid's Pilgrim.