Monday, 31 December 2012

Greenpatch New Year Tealights

As ever, I'm indebted to  Archdruid Eileen, both for the inspiration for this post and  for relieving me of the onerous task of digging around in the bowels of my blog in order to dredge up my "Highlights of 2012." Where the Beaker Folk go, I will follow - preferably at least ten miles behind ensconced in a cosy cafe with copious supplies of tea, cakes and back copies of the Church Times.

1. I too will not obsess over my blog stats this year. I've enough problems with my RL vital statistics. 2012 was the year when post-menopausal symptoms kicked in big time.

2. Tweeting is for the birds, whatever St Francis may have had to say on the matter. However, I shall continue to promote  shamelessly nick   wisdom where I find it; the pearls of a certain Archdruid deserve far greater exposure than they're currently receiving, I'm sure you'll agree.

3.  I'm a Franciscan.  I wouldn't dream of upsetting other people in order to up my blog stats; far better to stick to safe, uncontroversial topics like kittens, embroidery and bird baths. Though funnily enough, St Francis would not have agreed with me on this one. I suspect he upset rather a lot of folk in his time. As I've written elsewhere part of the Franciscan ethos is to be the awkward squad, the irritant in the oyster, the questioner of the status quo. I may need some practice on this one then...

4. Feedjit? Get thee behind me... Though I'll admit to missing the frisson of excitement and panic as you try to work out whether the reader from one's home town is a) My husband, b) the vicar c) a stalker or d) the lady in charge of the after church coffee rota.

5. Klout?  At risk of sounding like that judge in the 60's who didn't know who the Beatles were, what's that? Our son will relate proudly to anybody willing to listen that I still don't know who Cheryl Cole is. I'll just have to resign myself to the fact that I'll never blog with The Big Boys.

6. E-Buzzing?  It's for the bees. I shall nobly resist all temptation to join in the blogosphere's obsession with labelling and  ranking  everything that moves. I shall forgive their predecessor, Wikio (to whose database one of my old blogs was submitted without my knowledge or permission) for placing my most   valuable pieces of  spiritual and theological reflection in the "Entertainment" category. (I think it must have been the Dr Who references that confused them.) For some reason the current setup only ranks Growing Greenpatches on the French version of the site. There  must be some very puzzled French blog readers out there, methinks.  Especially as the "Religion and Belief" category doesn't appear to exist across The Channel.

7. We've kept quiet about the wax splashes on side chapel carpet at church after my last, unfortunate foray into the world of tealights. I like them; they don't like me.

8. ?

9. Re-tweeting? See 2 above. Nothing wrong with it IMHO. It's much the same as recycling my old Greenpatches, surely?

10. Same Sex Marriage? See 3 above.  Could Do Better.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Best laid plans - A Christmas of Surprises

Well, that was "different." Christmas hasn't turned out quite as we'd intended, though  if you've read  A Letter From Home, you'll know that we're not the only people whose carefully orchestrated plans went slightly askew. Mr GP,  chef supremo, was stuck down by a winter bug on Christmas eve and was banned from going anywhere near anything edible. Pictured above are his deputies - Ms GP  working on graphic designs  with a carrot, and her brother (MA Modern Lit) dismembering and stuffing a turkey.

A new skill for my CV!

Ms GP and I continued our time-honoured tradition of prepping the spouts and spuds the night before whilst listening to Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge, courtesy of i-player. Actually I caught it first time round whilst wrestling with last minute present wrapping, but you can never have too much of Carols from Kings IMO. Just as well, as poor poorly Mr GP was in no fit state to go anywhere - hence for the first time for nearly 20 years, no Christmas services and definitely no 'Midnight.' He crawled off to bed early, the children hopped off to the pub leaving this  elf wrestling with yet more reams of paper and rolls of sellotape (I have a serrated thumb to prove it) in front of Midnight Mass on TV. I can tell you that it goes on for hours, with processions and clouds of incense that leave "Newchurch" in the shade. I'd plenty time to get Santa's tasks done and dusted well before the Eucharistic prayer. 

Strangely enough, I'd just been thinking  that this year was probably one of the latest we've ever been in terms of practical preparations; (we  only properly began a week before Christmas and rarely put up the tree before the 23rd anyway) and yet it was one of the least fraught we've had. Mr GP has discovered that he can relax and let others take the strain. Myself - yes, of course  I felt disappointed at not being with 'my' church at such a special time, but only a few days previously was lucky enough to share with an elderly member of "Oldchurch" and her son when she had home communion brought over to her. A wonderful and totally unexpected Christmas  surprise.

And whilst on the subject of Christmas surprises, one of GP daughter's friends gave birth to a little girl  - their first child, on Christmas eve, nearly a week early* but what wonderful timing! Ms GP hasn't visited yet, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we were able to see pics of baby only an hour or so after the birth. 

Happy Christmas everybody!

*GP daughter has been frantically sewing together blanket squares ever since. She'd been relying on the time-honoured tradition of a first baby arriving late. Best laid plans...

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Santons de Provence

 Here they are! Our Santons de Provence nativity figures plus assorted hangers on, namely: a three-legged camel and donkey, pig, duck, a pottery hippo from Disneyland, one super-duper raindeer pooper, scarey sheep, Vietnamese and Nigerian elephant, flowery camel, assorted angels and flower fairies. Oh, and our new friend, Zebedee the bouncy sheep.

Since the cat has discovered the window alcove, we've moved the waiting Magi to the mantlepiece, ready to begin their long journey across the room, ready for the house blessing on 6th January.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Avent Calendar - Christmas Fairies

I pulled up the kitchen blinds this morning to a wonderful surprise!  Thank you, Mr GP, my very own Christmas elf.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Advent Calendar - 'Venn That (Christmas) Tune'

I suspect I'm stretching  the definition of Advent here. No matter, here's a link for the mathematicians - to Andrew Viner's great Venn That Tune! Forget my CSE maths grade unmentionable;  I just love puzzling out his song titles drawn as venn diagrams or graphs. It must be my inner geek coming out!

He's even got a selection of Christmas carols and hits. More here on Facebook. Sheer genius.

All together now..."Dings....Dongs....Things That Occur Merrily...Things That Are On Low"...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Winter Flowers, Bruges

Winter Flower Festival, Bruges

An unexpected delight - a couple of arrangements snapped at Winter Flower Festival during our visit to Bruges last month. Church Flower Rota ladies, take note!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Pothole Gardening

 Here's Pothole gardener Steve Wheen's latest miniature creation  in London Fields. I love his  idea of "... bringing happiness in unexpected places."

Monday, 17 December 2012

Advent Calendar - O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Advent Calendar - This Little Babe

This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak, unarmed wise,
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows made of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior's steed.

His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, hay stalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus as sure his foe to wound,
The Angels' trumps alarum sound.

My soul with Christ join thou in fight,
Stick to the tents that he hath dight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little Babe will be thy guard;
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from the heavenly boy.
            - From Robert Southwell's New Heaven, New War 

Here's another  favourite, one which has  spelt Advent to me ever since I first sung in Ceremony of Carols nearly 40 years ago. Listen here to Benjamin Britten's magical setting of This Little Babe.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Samaritan Trust Nativity

I couldn't resist this one -  the Samaritan Trust's Nativity!  The Samaritan Trust works with street children in Malawi. 

"Let's go!"

Ready to Wrap

A selection of Greenpatch homemade Christmas  paper for your delectation. I have been a busy little elf today!* Now all I need to do is find some presents to wrap. Oh, and there's that that last pile of cards waiting to be written. When's the last posting date, anybody?

* Or according to the Fairy Name Generator, (thanks Antonia), Bindweed Goblinwand, who brings riches and wealth, lives at the bottom of tangled gardens (who's been sneaking a peek at our compost heap?) and in hedgerows. She can only be seen when the seer holds a four-leafed clover. She wears tangled multicoloured skirts made of petals, (never forget your slip, ladies!) and has gentle green wings like a butterfly.

Friday, 14 December 2012

All I Want for Christmas my two front teeth. I spent a pleasant half hour at the dentist this afternoon having a crown fitted. The objets d'art pictured above are the impressions that were taken of my jaw, which I'll be keeping for future use. (A long way in the future, I hope!). No, the Christmas decorations weren't part of the package; that's just my creativity gone wild.   After all, this is probably the only time I'll  (well - part of me anyway) be immortalized in plaster. Michelangelo, eat your heart out.

Any further suggestions for Christmas themed dentistry ditties welcomed.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Advent - While Shepherds Watched

Another B-ewetiful treasure spotted in Bruges

This little chap is waiting to take his rightful place in the Greenpatch nativity scene. We simply couldn't resist him. As reader who've been following this blog and its predecessor know, the cast of our Christmas creche tend towards the 'eclectic' and he's no exception. Why, with that bouncy spring holding him up, he could even understudy for the Archangel Gabriel.

Whilst we're talking sheep, do have a listen to this jolly 'alternative' version of While Shepherds Watched. Our community choir  (not the choir in this recording) will be singing this at their Christmas concert. Wonderful- -  though such an 'earworm.' I've not been able to stop humming it for weeks!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

How Many Weeks 'Til Christmas?

It can't be only two, surely?  According to the corner shop it is, so it must be true. I'll certainly not be winning prizes for  practical Christmas preparations; I'm nowhere near finished. To be honest I'm barely started -  yet for once I'm feeling pretty unfazed about it all. We don't 'do,' a huge Christmas nowadays anyway. Apart from MIL and SIL's pressies which we delivered last weekend, I've not even begun shopping yet; I've just emerged from a mammoth card-writing session with at least a couple more bouts  to go. With the exception of overseas letters, I tend to do these in bursts  with little regard to priority. Hence all  the cards for my Franciscan small group are duly written, stamped and laid out neatly in the hallway ready for posting, those for supervision group I'll hand over tomorrow, whilst siblings, wider family and  friends far and near, church and neighbours will just have to wait. It will all get done eventually, it always does. As long as the offspring get home safely - Ms GP back from  NY( yes she's there  again!) and Mstr GP MA (you must indulge a proud mother here) from the frozen wastes of Norfolk.

And if, as last year there are 'blips,' i.e. Grown up son still can't find the stocking Grannie gave him as a toddler, we'll just make do with one of Mr GP's old socks. Santa tends not to call round until after Midnight Mass in any case. Both 'children' are remarkably laid back about the odd 'his' that finds its way into the 'hers' stocking by accident; likely because Mrs Santa is by then  rather too hyped up on carols, incense, candlewax and general good cheer for her own good.  Or as sometimes happens,  it's Mr Santa who fails to appreciate the intricacies of the  labelling system that seemed such a good idea when the elves made their first delivery* to Maison Greenpatch. We'll manage. All Will Be Well.

* To be fair - Mrs Santa is usually the one responsible for the forgotten  bags of mouldering chocolate coins/Santas/Snowmen discovered in the depths of the wardrobe the following summer.

Advent Calendar - a Touch of Eternity

“I do hope your Christmas has had a little touch of Eternity in among the rush and pitter patter and all. It always seems such a mixing of this world and the next — but that after all IS the idea.”
             (Evelyn Underhill )

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Nativity Factor: The Little Baby Jesus

Today's gem has a local flavour; local to where I'm located that is. The Little Baby Jesus is one of the many great entries to this year's Nativity Factor short film competition. Enjoy.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Advent Calendar - World Vision

Have a peep at World Vision's Advent Calendar and read today about how they're helping people in Boliva, where nutritional deficiencies  account for 11,500 child deaths every year.

We've sponsored three children with World Vision over the years, one from Vietnam and two from Cambodia. 'Our' latest little girl is just coming up to her eighth birthday. It's easy to become cynical about the seemingly endless fight to relieve poverty and to forget that it can cost so little (from our affluent Western viewpoint) to do so much good.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Balulalow

O my dear heart, young Jesus sweet,
Prepare thy cradle in my spreit
And I sall rock thee in my heart
And never mair from thee depart.

But I sall praise thee evermore
With sangis sweet unto thy gloir
The knees of my heart sall I bow
And sing that richt Balulalow.

 Another  of my Christmas favourites - Balulalow, the version from Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, performed here by the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Shepherds

Welcome to our wond'ring sight
                Eternity shut in a span!
Summer in Winter! Day in Night!
Heaven in Earth! and God in Man!
Great little one, whose glorious Birth,
Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops heaven to earth. 
                     (From: A Hymn of the Nativity, sung by the Shepherds, Richard Crashaw)


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday dear Greenpatch dog,
Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuuu!!!!

 We marked the Fete de St Nicolas  today by celebrating the 10th birthday of   our resident Gallic hairy horror. He even had his own  homemade cake with ten candles! 

Advent Calendar - A Franciscan Advent and Christmas

For today - "Christ Child's Lullaby," recycled from my old Greenpatches blog.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Cloth for The Cradle


An old favourite which I've used before: "Cloth for The Cradle," a prayer by the Iona Community. The beautiful animation here comes  courtesy of dogcow99.   I discovered this first many years ago when we used it in a Christmas Day broadcast from "Oldchurch." They're going through a tough and  immensely sad time just now, so this is really a prayer for everyone there and for anybody is struggling to find light in the darkness this Advent.      

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Advent Calendar - Just Take Two Minutes reflect on the differences between Advent and Christmas, courtesy of Busted Halo.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Advent Calendar

"Expectant - Verses for Advent" by Jim Cotter

From Jim Cotter's beautiful reflections based on the Advent Antiphons, Expectant: Verses for Advent, Cairns Publications.

          "O come, O come, thou wisdom strange
            from deep within God's womb to range
            the earth at midnight's hour of fears
            to make us wise beyond our years.
                   Rejoice! Rejoice! Our God shall leap
                   with light that rouses us from sleep."  

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Light Of The World

'"...on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.""
                                                                                              - Ezekiel 47: 12 (NRSV)

" It is this light [Christ] that is our goal; it is this direction that our gaze must be fixed, despite the dark patches that are cast along the way." (From my current Bible reading notes)

 Here we are at the end of my first week back since my time on retreat and holiday. It's been a bumpy week, with, as you can see from the picture -  dark patches in amongst the blue: a glorious blue that so much speaks of the strength and peace that I found from the time away. The greyish patches? Well, there've been several tragic incidents in the wider community here this last week, incidents which have shaken everybody to the core and will continue to have reverberations whether or not we're close to the people concerned.  There is no sense in words....

Yet, it was a couple of on the surface of it innocuous  - even -  positive encounters the other day that, like, Avila, hit me like a bolt out of the blue,  pressed all my buttons and insecurities: the "You're no good," the "Just who do you think you are to even think you could...?" and worst of all, "You'll never do it..." (ok, I dredged up enough strength to squish this last one very firmly ), and sent me spinning and spiralling downwards into a mushy pile of tears, snot and self-pity. Threatening to sabotage all the wonderful self-confidence and change of focus gained from retreat and  a recent chat with my spiritual director. 

I'm coming out of it now; due in no small way to the patience of poor Mr GP, Avila, from A Weeble's Wonderings, whose bravery in sharing her very similar struggles was so uncannily well-timed, honest prayer ('Quiet Time' is not the best way to describe what the Almighty was offered!), and the passage from Ezekiel and its commentary, which taps back into the energy and sense of a far wider, grounded, more spacious self and place. That's where I know I belong, even if I  still feel slightly Beakerish! Hence the tree I added to the picture, rooted and fed by the water flowing from the sanctuary. "Their leaves will not wither nor their fruits fail..." 


Friday, 30 November 2012

Gifts and Traditions - An Offline Recycled Greenpatch

OK, let's get the "Bah - humbugging" over before Advent begins shall we?  I've updated Offline Greenpatches with a piece I wrote shortly after we moved back to the UK, Gifts and Traditions. Do please bear in mind that a) I was probably still suffering a touch of  reverse culture-shock at the time and b) This was written 14 years ago. I hope I've loosened up a bit since then. Though not quite in the way that Mr GP seems to be implying; gleefully drawing my attention to an item on R5 Live re the Patron Saint  of the High Street's latest addition to their 'Secret Support' undies range. No, dearest, I do not have "Bingo Wings" thank you very much!

The central  principle still  applies, nonetheless. (The Almighty's, not St Michael's, in case you were wondering...)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Where is Henry West?

Horrors! Albeit I've spent  half my life this month on the train, I've only just noticed that the memorial plaque to poor Henry West, has become  a casualty of the Reading Station redevelopment project. It's vanished from its usual place on Platform Seven. I checked behind the trolley park, even wondered if he might be hiding behind two newly installed vending machines, but, sadly, the nail holes in the wall beside them gave the game away. Young Henry, him of the fulsome and flowery epitaph, has vanished as completely as the 1840 whirlwind which claimed his life. Funnily enough I'd been reading about the building of the first rail stations earlier in the day at an exhibition in Woking, another town that came about directly as a result of the setting up of the new rail network and which provided one of the early routes into London.  Ah well, there's always his memorial at St Lawrence's Church, but I do hope they replace the notice somewhere on the station once the work is completed. It seems fitting, somehow, that as our transport services move further into the 21st century, we should still remember those who helped set them up in the very beginning.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Blue skies at Beunos, Bruges, Beguinages, Benedictines, Bikes and Beer

Just a few glimpses from my wanderings over the last couple of weeks.  Normal service to be resumed as soon as I've come back down to earth.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Back on Dry Land

In other words - every man for himself

On topic sermon

 A couple of pictures from GP daughter, now safely  back on UK soil after her watery adventure.

Friday, 2 November 2012

God's Work of Art

Statue - May 2009

We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.

(Ephesians 2:10 New Jerusalem Bible)

God’s work of art.
That’s me?
Then beauty must lie
In the eye of the

I feel more like
One of those statues
Michelangelo left
Half emerging
From the marble block;
Full of potential,
On the verge of life,
But prisoned still
By circumstance and

Yet part of me is free -
And you are still creating,
Bringing to life
The promise that is there….
            - From Revelation by Ann Lewin 

Prompted by Antonia's comment on Going Round in Circles 2.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Going Round in Circles 2

'Godseed,' from M Silf's Landmarks - An Ignatian Journey (DLT, 1998)

"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself."

Shades of my earlier musings on Going Round in Circles. I've been pondering these  words  above for the last couple of days, ever since I spotted them  outside our local Wellbeing Centre.  Surely what I'm about as I journey through life is to uncover the true self that is already and has always been there. And is that not "finding myself?

And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 
     T.S. Eliot -- "Little Gidding" ( Four Quartets)

What think you, fellow  bloggers?

For All the Saints

Sung here by the choir of King's College, Cambridge.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Minimalist Halloween

Compton Durville 2009

Some pumpkins lanterns   somebody else made much earlier; put my minimalist Halloween  offerings to shame.

No callers this year. I guess the rain put them off.  It Was Not To Be. Never mind - Mr GP and I are enjoying our Haribos. And we and friends did do  our bit last weekend in the pub Halloween quiz,  some of us revealing gifts the others never realised that   we possessed. Like my knack for dredging all manner of pop and rock trivia from the recesses of my mind that even I didn't know were lurking there.  And should Mr GP be reading this, no, we're not talking Abba - Greatest Hits here!

Have a peaceful All Hallows, everybody.

Here's One I Made Earlier: Halloween

Minimalist Halloween

 Don't ask! I don't plan these things you know. No pumpkin in our veg box this morning and Mr GP had nicked the squash to go with last weekend's chicken.  Sometimes One just has to improvise: ecologically, (the mini wind-up torch inside the orange), theologically, (the Samaritan woman's bucket) and totally illogically, (the handful of frost-nipped nasturtium blooms skulking in the background). Look -  there's even a cat getting in on the act!

As for the mysterious light near the top of the picture, I've no idea where that one came from: I'd like to think it's to do with this:

Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Epiphany House Blessing 2012

For other All Hallows musings, who better to sum  up the season  than that poor, beleagured Archdruid Eileen and Antonia. Enjoy.

Dear me,   my 'Christian' stance on Halloween really  has mellowed over the years.   On glimpsing  a Harry Potter  stand in the local shopping centre this morning, my first reaction wasn't : "Oh no, not  Halloween again," rather "Crikey! I know that 'Holy Hogwarts,' like all of the Anglican Church,  is trying to nurture younger calls to the ordained ministry, but this is ridiculous!"

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Calm before The Storm

Received a welcome e-mail this morning from GP daughter, currently in NYC, who's realised by the number of messages she's received from worried friends back home that we might just be concerned for  her safety . She is, apparently,  in a low-risk district,  and does feel the UK media are ever so slightly exaggerating the situation. She and friends are how  settling in for a day spent eating pizza and watching movies.

Right then...This anxious Mum with Enneagram Sixish tendencies had best push all memories of a certain British forecaster's slip- ups 25 years ago to the back of her mind and get on with the week.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sunday Afternoon Blogcrastination, Tea-Making Tips and Invisible Threads

It could have been made for me.  Thanks to my latest "follower," Dormouse for inadvertently pointing me towards this vintage 1940's film , "Tea-Making Tips." I'm inspired;  there'll be no more stale, or (horrors!)  "flet," tea dished up  in the Greenpatch household!

It also reminds me of a tale my mother used to tell  from her secondary school teaching in the 1960s. Apparently they were still using wartime public information films in health ed, which led to some puzzlement from the pupils: "Miss, where are all the blokes?"

To return to the creative repurposing, we're experiencing problems with frayed edges and cut thumbs. (Ouch!) I'll need to rethink the glove pattern: tracing the outline of my hands directly onto the wool isn't working and some invisible thread would come in useful for turning up the brim on my hat. Never mind, with this cold snap setting in, I'm determined I'll have both ready for when I next set off on my travels. If you should come across a slightly bewildered looking stick of rock weaving her way purposefully over the Welsh hills, do come and say hello.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Where Did You Get that Hat? Yet more Creative Repurposing

Beaker struts his stuff in a fetching ensemble of green lab coat and  matching tie, topped off with a snazzy lambswool  beret cunningly fashioned  from an old Monsoon cardigan. And there's still enough material left over to make a pair of matching fingerless gloves.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm taking this creativity thing too far...

Beer, Curry and Tractors

Before I pop off for the day, thought you'd enjoy popping over to Dave Walker's blog to find out why he doesn't go to his local church  mens' group.  Can't say I'd want to learn about chopping up logs, either, Dave, but as to handbag essentials, I'll have you know that the interior of your average women's handbag is a dangerous place; who knows what horrors lurk within! In mine, anyway.  Incidentally, our church ladies  went out for a curry recently, and a great evening we had too. I suspect we may have some secret Cartoonblog readers amongst our number...

Pigs, Papers and Penny Whistles

                                                      Threepenny Bit - seen here in Chichester, Winter 2011

I simply had to put in a good word for this brilliant Ceilidh and busking band, Threepenny Bit, who put a spring in our step and brightened up market day for us all, yesterday. Currently busking round the South of England, you can find out more about them here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Colouring your Prayer

Here's another right-brain creative way of praying with colours that I've found both helpful and fun. "What? Prayer? Tsk!" I hear you say. Why not? When fellow fidget Sybil Macbeth was feeling  particularly  overwhelmed by friend and family prayer needs she stumbled across a simple method of drawing and colouring your prayer. No artistic ability needed whatsoever: if you can doodle you can bring your concerns before God this way. Simply draw a shape write the name of the person you're praying for inside this, add whatever embellishments, twiddly bits and colours you fancy, whilst holding the person in prayer. Repeat for the next person. Carry the picture with you in your pocket or just in your head and revisit your prayers during the day.

As the author says, this prayer style combines the  active, visual and meditative, "Active because you draw your prayers, visual because you see your prayers,
and meditative because you revisit your prayers throughout the day." I love it because although I'm fine with silence, and can come to physical stillness no problem, underneath I  struggle with the mental fidgets. I tend to live in my head overmuch,  easily filling  my prayer session with anything from planning my diary, writing the shopping list or worse still, worrying. 

Nor am I in any way  articulate either: what I call the "Dearly Beloved, we are Gathered Here," style of intercession doesn't work for me, and the alternative "Father God we just lift up Mrs Bloggs who is currently in Ward 4b, Bed 3  of St E's district with her, the surgeons, nurses and the ward cat.  Lord, we take dominion over the ingrowing toenail of our beloved sister in Christ...." and so on plain brings me out in a nervous rash!

Check out some inspiring  examples  at the Praying in Color site and blog. Doodling like this can easily be adapted to other aspects of prayer like Lectio Divina, discernment, reflection and simple sitting in God's presence. I've posted one of these last of my own here:

Forever Autumn - Top Ten Favourite Autumn Songs

The Jeff Wayne/Justin Hayward hit  "Forever Autumn" was playing when I switched on the radio this morning. How that takes me back...  How many other autumn themed songs or poems can I remember, I wonder? Here's my list, so far; what would feature on yours?

1. "Forever Autumn," Jeff Wayne
2. "Autumn Leaves," Eva Cassidy version
3. "Still, Facing Autumn," Stewart Henderson
4. "Ode to Autumn," Keats

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Season of mists...

CSF Compton Durville, Autumn 2009

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...
                                           - Keats 


Monday, 22 October 2012

Creative Repurposing- What the Best Dressed Greenpatch is Wearing

More creative repurposing.

Take one new tunic dress in blue cord with purple trim, too short for comfort. Knobbly-knee competitions are so passe, don't you think?

Take best beloved 20 year old vintage Laura Ashley skirt now do we put this delicately  -  Est-ce que mon derriere fait grand dans cela? 

Turn up best beloved 20 year old vintage Laura Ashley skirt up by  several inches then  hem.

Team the ensemble  with last year's blue boots and my old faithful M & S repurposed woolly navy  merino tights et voila! A brand new outfit that covers a multitude of tums and other body parts previously mentioned.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Recycled Greenpatch: The "D" Word

Another vintage (well, maybe vintage isn't the most appropriate word) Greenpatch circa 2008: a reprise of my reflections on "Listening to the Music of the Spirit," with updated clips. And one-two-three, one-two and three...

"God is the lead dancer and the soul is the partner completely attuned to the rhythm and patterns set by the partner. she does not lead, but neither does she hang limp like a sack of potatoes." (Thomas Merton, quoted in Listening to the Music of the Spirit: The Art of Discernment, by David Lonsdale: Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1992)

"The thorny issue of discerning God's will is mentioned but not examined. The author is forthright in saying we would "be fools to believe we knew God's will for certain." Yet the sense of seeking the will of God hovers around much of the spiritual journey he maps. Do we pray to find definite guidance, even direction, for the decisions we face? Or do we pray for courage and wisdom to make those decisions for ourselves, and so take the responsibility for the consequences instead of blaming them on God?" (Peta Dunstan in  Church Times review of Deep Calls to Deep: Going further in prayer by David Foster, Continuum, 2008)

As my course moves into a new phase, the 'green' tinge remains, but readers might notice  the not so  much dreaded as ever-fascinating 'D' word moving to the forefront. I've never been one of those people who appear to think that God micromanages one's life down to what colour socks to put on in the morning. However, the tricky issue of maintaining the delicate balance between trusting that God's will will be done and individual responsibility is one that's kept the Greenpatch thinking cap in constant use these last few years.
A friend put me on to Listening to the Music of the Spirit last week, and I'm finding the imagery of  God as the lead dancer in co-operation with the soul really speaks to me, resonating as it does with recent experience. Looking back through old photos (our silver wedding comes up in a few months time) at a rather scared looking younger self being steered up the aisle on the arm of my father - reminds me of the co-operation, trust and teamwork  that's needed in any sort of partnership, especially, as I discovered, if one of you is taller than the other. Beneath the yards of tulle a tug of war was taking place, as I made determined attempts to loose myself from his well-intentioned but rather too firm grip, (think old Victorian portraits a la aspidistra and you'll get the picture), turning what should have been a dignified glide into a sort of hop, skip and jump more often seen in a three-legged race!
Or if you've ever performed that perilous square dancing move the basket, when by supporting themselves with arms round the shoulders of the men, the women should be twirled round in the air. In my (admittedly limited experience) the move generally ends up more like this:
Women who do not want to go flying can a) push down with their elbows, b) keep the basket slow by tripping up the men, c) grab the men round the neck to strangle them or `accidently' digging a thumb in under the ear or d) determinedly lean back. Most `respectable' dance clubs prefer to keep the women under control (which leads to a faster basket); the barn dance crowd likes to show off. I leave it to the women to say whether they want to go flying, and don't do it at all in a crowded room since flying feet are quite heavy weapons.
Armed with this wisdom, I'd like to think that my dance   with God will take on all the purpose, skill, certainty  and championship quality of these people . Sadly, knowing myself only too well, I fear the reality will be more like the scenario here!

True Colours

Praying with colours: Week 6-13th October - Where Am I? Where is God?

Back to Sacred Spirals the other day, where, on our journey with the labyrinth and the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, we were looking at the Principle and Foundation, in particular  the examen, or examination of awareness:  pausing to take the time to notice God in all things - as I once wrote -  in the "bad hair" as well as the "red letter" days. It's that question beloved of spiritual directors everywhere, "Where is God in this?" in all its variations: "For what am I most grateful today?" "For what am I least grateful?" "What gives me life/drains me?" "When did I give most love/least love?"... all part and parcel of the process of discernment, "Listening to the music of the spirit," noticing what draws me closer to my centre and to God and what pulls me away. (Definitely a work in progress with me; going on past experience, I could do with the spirit presenting me with a pair of headphones!)

Any oldhow, I was thrilled when we were encouraged to use colour in our prayer *- to explore our own personal "prayer colours" to symbolise our emotions. What a wonderful idea!  As my spiritual director is wont to remind me, when first we started meeting, I described myself as an "butterfly," imaginative, intuitive, forever running after the latest "ooh shiny!" ideas,  thoughts all over the place; getting them gathered into any semblance of coherence is sometimes  even now like wrestling to fold a pop-up tent! My discovery these last few years that I can use paints, colour, art journaling, creativity in all its wonderful variety to move closer to God has been a revelation. It also, I've discovered, a crafty way of bypassing  the old writer's block and that rather mangy, motheaten "Internal Parrot."

  The artwork above though is more of a "here's one I made earlier," (child of the 60s and 70s that I am!); pre-session. I've shared with several folk recently a sense of growing integration or put another way "St Francis meets St Ignatius in the labyrinth." In  one of those funny  "Godincidences" I'd already been trying to pray the examen this way at home. I'll not go into detail about the colours I used, other than to say that I'm now realising that by intentionally praying this way, I'm (well, to be strictly accurate - God and I) are turning round events which going on past experience have all the potential to knock me spinning right off course and away from my centre.   Baby steps they might be  but for me progress along the road that I honestly didn't think possible. 

I might even venture a quiet and discreet "Hurrah!"

*Based on the ideas of Sheila Merryweather's Colourful Prayer.

Veni, Vidi, Vici, II: Cambridge Classics Revisited

I Came, I Saw, I Conkered, again. Simply couldn't resist some more recycling; all in the name of culture, you understand...Likely some dead links in these; do feel free to pop over to the originals: Latin Pro Dr Quisnam Fans and... well, I'm sure your O Level Latin is up to translating. Have fun.

Illic eram ultum sniggering yesterday ut Mr ASTUS quod EGO persevero ut reprehendo sursum in vetus Medicus Cuius. ( Pro vetus , lego David Tennant ). Permaneo night’s visum eram Incendia of Pompeii episode. Curiosus research laxus ok – Google – ostendo sum ut we âre non solus ones ut macula offensio similis inter Romanorum prosapia featured inibi quod unus ut inspired ( puteus , nonnullus of vicis ) innumerus Latin O Campester discipulus tergum in dies of yore. Etiam it’s bonus vetus Cambridge Schola Ordo Exertus totus ob : Caecilius , uxor Metella , bonus – for- nusquam filius Quintus , quod a novus addition pro Dr Quisnam, Evelina a would – exsisto sortilegus. Misericordaliter , suum canis Cerberus , eram emineo per suus absentis ; si EGO memor vere , suus jugis papilla of imbellis passersby eram super plurrimi suscito res ut venio in Inflatus. Nisi vos duco Metella’s ordinarius shopping trinus ad forum. Vos nunquam teneo , si tantum Russell Davis quod Co had been in in O Campester syllabus maybe I’d have curo praeter a grade C!
In contendo , nostrum Galifrean vicis lord’s poema poematis had nonnullus intorqueo quod volvit quod EGO certainly can’t memor via tergum in 1975. Tergum tunc , frigus res super tractus eram packaging : neon coloured leaflets in a snazzy parum plastic folder. Per vicis nostrum filia tackled suus GCSE , ( quo vicis Latin eram an ân “extra” quod tutela secundum ), is had reverto ut a boring vetus textbook at in vultus , utique , magis per versus of formido ˜Kennedy’s Eating Primer” quod EGO tolero procul a praevius schola typical text “ The nauta es sailing ut Insula prosecutus agricolum per telum quod “Medicus quod suus socius es volatilis per tractus quod vicis ut muto tractus of history per a sonic screwdriver.” Quam does ut sanus?

 There was much sniggering yesterday as Mr M and I continued to catch up on old Doctor Whos. ( For old, read David Tennant). Last night’s viewing was the ‘Fires of Pompeii’episode. Careful research later – ok, Google – revealed that we’re not the only ones to spot the striking similarity between the Roman family featured therein and the one that inspired (well, some of the time) countless Latin O Level students back in days of yore. Yes, it’s the good old Cambridge School Classics Project all over again: Caecilius, wife Metella, good- for- nothing son Quintus, and, a new addition for Dr Who, Evelina, a would-be soothsayer. Mercifully, their dog, Cerberus, was conspicuous by his absence; if I remember rightly, his constant nipping of unwary passers -by was about the most exciting thing that happened in Pompeii. Unless you count Metella’s regular shopping trips to the marketplace. You never know, if only Russell Davis and Co had been in on the O Level syllabus, maybe I’d have managed more than a grade C!
In contrast, our Galifrean time lord’s version had some twists and turns which I certainly can’t remember way back in 1975. Back then, the coolest thing about the course was the packaging: neon coloured leaflets in a snazzy little plastic folder. By the time our daughter tackled her GCSE, (by which time Latin was an ‘extra’ and charged accordingly), this had reverted to a boring old textbook – in appearance, at least, more along the lines of the dreaded ‘Kennedy’s Eating Primer’ which I endured at a previous school, typical text – “The sailors are sailing to the island to attack the farmers with spears and arrows.” “ The Doctor and his companion are flying through space and time to alter the course of history with a sonic screwdriver.” How does that sound?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Books, Books and yet more Books

One newly-painted bookshelf; great, isn't it! (We'll avert our eyes from the boxes  stage left waiting to be put onto Amazon marketplace.) 

One down, only two more to go...

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Veni, Vidi, Vici

I came, I saw, I conkered!

Sorry folks, I couldn't resist it!

Always in the Kitchen at Parties

That about describes me; I'm a quiet, retiring Greenpatch at the best of times. Be that as it may , I've decided to Be Bold and have just signed up for a Grow Your Blog party, to be hosted by Vicki at 2bagsfull. Just look at that heavenly rainbow mix of yarns. They have me salivating already and I don't even knit!  It'll take place in January 2013; plenty time for me to prepare my coping strategies (maybe I'll even pluck up courage to come out of the virtual "kitchen", who knows?)  To explain, the project is aimed at folk who'd like to grow their number of blog followers. I'm really not that bothered about stats and lists, still, I must admit I've enjoyed the interaction with my small, but loyal band of  ( not sure what to call you - followers sounds a bit creepy IMO) - Greenpatch readers, especially since I moved here from my old typepad blog. Why you continue to read my inane witterings, goodness only knows but never mind, I'm sure you'd be happy to welcome some more bloggers into my virtual abode.

Thanks to Fatdormouse, aka the Wibsite's View From the Teapot for letting me know about this event. Do hop over to Vicki's blog if you fancy signing up yourself; just the thing  to brighten up those grey, cold January days.

[ New to this lark. I've a feeling I should have posted some sort of a logo here, never mind!]

Saturday, 13 October 2012

I had a black dog

...his name was depression... a thought-provoking video produced by the WHO for World Mental Health Day, this week.  Thanks to Opinionated Vicar for flagging this one up for me.   I've a copy of Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone's "Living with a Black Dog - How to take care of someone with depression while looking after yourself," on my shelves; it's been  a real godsend for me .  With happy memories of a friend's lovely  - now late lamented - black lab, I'm not that keen on the use of the doggy imagery myself but can't deny the analogy works so very well at explaining the dark maze of depression and other associated mental health conditions.  The Black Dog has cast his shadow over both sides of our family to varying degrees for many many years; anything that can help keep him in his place is  welcome.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Musical Memories - barba, ba barba, ba barba poux, barbapoux, barbapoux...

Y' avait dans mon village
Un homme qui  appelé Poux
Il avait une barbe
Qui était pleine de poux.
Barbapoux, Barbapoux, Barbapoux, Barbapoux. 

Tout au fond de la mer les poissons sont assis,
Les poissons sont assis, ah! ah! ah!
Attendant patiemment qu’les pêcheurs soient partis
Qu’les pêcheurs soient partis ah! ah! ah!
Ohé du bateau, du grand mât, de la hune,
Ohé du voilier, du grand mât, des huniers !

Il y a des vétérans tout barbus, tout fripés
Echappés par hasard des ham’çons, des filets
Et les jeunes poissons sont là aussi souvent
Egayant les bas-fonds de leurs cris, de leurs chants.....etc etc etc!
Help!! Took a trip back down memory lane to our our childrens' childhood (son is visiting this weekend), found a bumper version of  Chansons et Comptines -  a staple of many a journey down the autoroute - the track sampler is on a continuous loop in the bowels of my machine, there's no escape. Rescue me, somebody!

It's strange how evocative music can be, isn't it?  Last time daughter was home we unearthed another old favourite from way back: Jil Caplan's La Charmeuse de Serpents and were instantly transported back 15 years or more, to lazy, hazy, hot summers, (those French school holidays were looonng),  the people carrier stuffed to the windows with all the clobber needed to make a tent home from home for a fortnight, three weeks, longer... (who's counting?).

 Back then modern technology consisted of the in -car cassette player, no hand held video games, (the GP offspring were kept busy with their Hoopi Club colouring and quiz books..."Spot a man in a black beret...a field of corn....a registration number beginning with...") We listened to Times Tables tapes, Jeeves and Wooster, CS Lewis' Narnia tales. Lest readers think we were just too Good To Be True, I'm sure less "worthy" stuff eventually appeared on the playlist (Spice Girls, anybody?). I seem to remember making valiant, if half-hearted attempts to infiltrate slightly more "worthy" material into the running order - this was back in my more evangelical days, as a result of which I'm now unable to listen to any Matt Redman (actually there are other more theological reasons for my aversion but we'll not go there), without experiencing waves of carsickness. Oh and not forgetting "Delirious,"same problem there, and the rest of the family always maintained that it wasn't possible to hear these last two over the roar of the car engine on the autoroute.  Poor Matt and Co were generally reserved for the last , hot, grumbly, tense few miles on country roads, as we tried to find the campsite without coming to blows over the mapreading. This was before sat navs, don't forget.  Hence I'll forever associate worship songs  like "Undignified," with cries of "Are we nearly there, yet?" and the sickly taste of Riccola boiled sweets, before that glorious moment before we finally  drew up at our  little orange and blue tent, our home from home.  Happy days...

Funnily enough, on a camping holiday a couple of years ago,  son and his pals ended up at one of the sites that he remembers visiting with us. Funny old world. Though I suspect they didn't drive through the gates to the strains of Barbapoux! 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Monday, 8 October 2012

"Tis the Gift to be Simple" - Daybook

Thanks to LLM Calling for pointing me to a wonderful way of reflecting on your day - The Simple Woman's Daybook.  Great for somebody like myself whose middle name is "worry." Here's mine:"

Outside my window- It's been overcast and dim all day. I can see the garden path glistening with rain.

I am thinking - About my latest DIY project and wondering how I'm going to get all the paint off my fingernails!

I am thankful - For the gift of creativity.

In the kitchen - Melon, oranges, yoghurt, spaghetti bolg and soup. I love my soup!

I am wearing - Paint stained navy  cargoes and old blue T shirt.

I am creating - Just finished day one of painting the study  bookcases. Also in progress - a prayer meditation on the Ignatian movements of consolation and desolation  in my art journal using one of the psalms, the labyrinth and the poetry of TS Eliot.

I am going - Nowhere today. I've been home based apart from walking the dog.

I am wondering - Whether the paint is ever going to dry.

I am reading - The Cat, a Complete Guide, by Claire Bessant, a beautifully illustrated hardback guide and Christmas present from DH to all things feline - 70p at the animal protection shop for a good as new, book which is worth nearly £20 new. The best 70p ever spent!

I am hoping - To turn the study into that quiet, Shaker-like sanctuary I always wanted! Hoping...

I am looking forward to - Going away on retreat in a month's time.

I am learning - To be brave and step out without worrying what other people might think about me.

And the house - I'm getting there - apart from piles of books from bookcase one strewn all over the study.

I am pondering - 'Ponder' the pyjama case, hero of "Ponder and William," a favourite childhood book.

A favourite quote for today - "Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free..."

One of my favourite things - O dear..."Smooth Radio 70s." I've had it on all day as background while I've been painting.

A few plans for the rest of the week - A couple of local spirituality network events, time with Mr GP, painting project, prayer group at church.

A peek into my day - Camera lost under a mountain of books, so here's an old pic of GP cat

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Just Listen

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God, either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God, too.This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there will be nothing left but spiritual chatter...
                                                                                               - Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Long and Winding Road - Greenpatch Pilgrimage

All ready to tackle Hadrian's Wall - GP Ted  on our Durham to Iona Pilgrimage, April 2011

If you've been reading Growing Greenpatches for any length of  time, you'll have  spotted references to pilgrimage scattered here and there, especially to our Durham to Iona trip in 2011.  Now you can learn  a little more about what we got up to  on Offline Greenpatches, (think of it as an old, rather dusty, ramshackle conservatory) - home to some of my more confused meanderings, originally  inflicted on readers of "OldChurch"  parish mag.