Alive with opportunities

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Too often, we move through the physical world as if it were a stage set, a mute backdrop for our daily activities. Yet in reality it is alive with opportunities for inspiration, wonder, and joy.

Ingrid Fetell Lee
Joyful: The surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness

I’ve been quietly watching clouds set in a blue sky today, and poppies nodding in the breeze, and birds, and bees.

I’ve noticed the scent of the coffee and the granite counter cleaner in my kitchen, and taken time to prepare and trim the beans gifted to me across the garden fence by my neighbour.

I’ve swept the first of fallen autumn leaves, decided I must be patient and allow apples a little longer on the tree, enjoyed a productive hour with Duolingo in the sunshine, read a bit, walked a bit, eaten well, had a nap, and thought a lot about Ingrid Fetell Lee’s proposed opportunities.

I read and watch the News sometimes, of course, but I’m conscious of imbalance in the reporting. Apparently newsrooms, too busy with former presidents and future prime ministers (as though – dubiously – these were the most important ‘news’ in the world), don’t often have time (or perspective) to make decisions about apple trees, or singing, or sweeping up leaves. Never mind. I shall be (and you can be) happily responsible for these.

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Cycling

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Everything on earth is engaged in cycling through purposeful seasons. The biosphere is sometimes beyond our comprehension, and at other times simply unnoticed. We have our favoured seasons. Most like mild conditions, neither too hot nor too cold. Bees at work in summer are readily noticed. The ground-level mulching and the breaking down processes (in earth and in us) not so much. Noticed or unnoticed, the cycle continues. I love many different aspects of each of the four seasons. And I realised, walking through the city streets of Edinburgh in the early hours of the morning, that I love this world more generally, too. It is my home. It is our home. I shall try to participate more fully in the cycling. I shall try to be quietly purposeful – and thankful.

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A quiet contemplation

Photo by Adrien Olichon at Pexels

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Autumn is certainly in the air today – and I’ve been revisiting the rich greenness of a long and lovely summer. A greenness not entirely defeated even in unusual extremes of heat. Lovely in more ways than I can count. I’m thankful and – meditating – look to the days and weeks and months calling us all onwards …

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Pianodrome

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Pianodrome (link) in the Old Royal High School, Edinburgh – abandoned for sixty years – must be numbered among the most imaginative venues of this year’s Festival. An auditorium fabricated with the remains of old pianos was a fabulous work of art even before a note was played within it.

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link to pianodrome

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Comedy Gala @Pleasance

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Pleasance Courtyard was looking fabulous at 10.30am in yesterday’s sunshine. The 40th Anniversary performances of ‘Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards Gala’ (link) were being recorded for BBC Radio 4 and at times I thought I would expire, howling with laughter. Edinburgh has hosted over 2000 separate shows during the course of this month. The very air is ringing. And tonight I’ll be attending the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Flyover. Just the thought of September in Lakeland feels restful from my current (albeit delighted) perspective …

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Nunquam inutilis

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Nunquam inutilis est opera civis boni

Nothing is wasted in service to the common good

Among other joys today (the first day of term for my Edinburgh dance class, for example) I loved a brief visit to the fabulous National Portrait Gallery of Scotland. I came away, of course, with a large number of impressions, but the one that echoes in me this evening is the Latin inscription atop the fine Memorial to Founder John Ritchie Findlay. Seated in this hallowed hall today I was glad to reflect that ‘nothing is wasted in service to the common good.’

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The way to go home

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Another busy, busy Festival day at the end of which plans for a beach fire and picnic were thwarted by rain (and blessed by a beautiful double rainbow!)

One of our group came to the rescue – and a quite lovely Edinburgh basement kitchen supper party, in company with some of my dearest friends, followed.

Reflecting on this, among all the memories of great food and inspiring conversation, I’m awestruck by this old man’s having walked home a couple of miles through still-buzzing city streets at 1.45am … feeling absolutely, smilingly ‘at home’

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Carousel

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I’m looking forward to an evening with the acclaimed composer, harpist and pianist Phamie Gow. We’re to be treated to a harp special tonight, but I’m already a fan of Phamie’s piano gifts and think this ‘Carousel’ quite wonderful!

Post script: Lori, you kindly asked about the concert: Thank you. Yes, it was all that I’d anticipated and more. Phamie Gow has shedloads of what the famed stage teacher Patsy Rodenburg calls ‘Presence’ (in her fascinating book of that name), coupled with a gracious humility; her simultaneous connection with both instrument and audience was phenomenal, and though she sang only one achingly beautiful song it was at the very juxtaposition of the Celtic and the Classical. The little YouTube video ‘Carousel’ has an ethereal-but-connected quality about it. That’s how the concert was. Spellbinding, emotional, and deeply gratitude-inducing 🙏xx

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Great Scott!

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Every single time I walk close to Edinburgh’s intricate and towering memorial to the great writer and poet Sir Walter Scott, I ask myself the same – you may think strange – question: what, if he could possibly be aware of it at all, would a quiet thinker like Scott make of such a (literally enormous) tribute to a writer? I’ve never come close to an answer, but the question remains …

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