But also mostly calm. Lots of frost and ice, a little snow now and then (a flurry on Friday but it didn't settle), but otherwise compared to last year and the many storms that came our way, things have been quiet. Given the frost and ice I've not been out around the village as much as I'd like but the kids and I have had a few trips out and about at the weekends at least.
This weekend, however, the kids were at their grandparents so my mother-in-law could take them to a sing-a-long pantomime sort of thing ('tis the season), and so I could get stuck in to redecorating their bedroom as an early Christmas present. My son, now seven, has decided that he's too old for decor like this:
In the end, they were given a choice of two colours, to be agreed on by them both, and I can only describe them as closely akin to "Communist Red" and "Veering Towards Mustard." It's vibrant, you might say:
Although the terrible lighting in this picture doesn't quite do the colours justice (I wanted to take a picture for posterity, before the kids took over; I figured it would never be as clean or tidy once they took up residence once again). Thankfully the yellow has mellowed now it's had a chance to dry.
So as with anything else, I've approached the decorating with a spiritual bent. "Sunwise for everything" goes the saying, so the paint goes on around the room in the appropriate direction, as does the ceremonial hoovering and cleaning of the carpet. Seeing as I had to strip the whole room bare I had to remove their rowan charm temporarily (it goes nicely with the new decor, eh?):
So that went back up with some words, once everything was ready to go back in. I ran out of time at the weekend but at some point I'll probably sain the room with some silvered water too - maybe after Christmas when the kids get a few final bits and pieces to finish the room off and it's all done and final. Aside from muscles that haven't been used in a good long while complaining loudly, my back held up admirably with all of the prepping and sanding, base-coat and then paint that was needed. But just now it would like me to sit down for a bit, thanks. Putting the laundry away's OK, though.
Before the kids went away we made a fat cake for the birds - just suet and bird seed mixed together:
|With added cow bell|
While I was decorating there were lots and lots of birds hanging around noisily outside - they're not shy in letting you know when you're slacking in the bird food department - so it seems doubly apt to put something out for them to finish off my sprucing up. The weather forecast seems to suggest that it's going to be a cold winter so I like to make sure they're fed, and as I see them as messengers it's only appropriate to look after them too. The cow shape (from a silicone jelly/cake mould) was Rosie's choice, and as cows are very Celtic it only seems apt. Rosie's always a good barometer for Appropriate Choices like this.
Decorating and getting the house in order is very traditional at this time of year - sprucing things up for the New Year (start as you mean to go on) - so it's a good opportunity to do a few things around the house to make sure everything is in its place. It always seems to me at this time of year that everyone is busy concentrating on Christmas so normal life goes out of the window; everything else gets put on hold until the Hogmanay hangover has been dealt with, so in this liminal sort of timeframe it feels like it's a good time to think about seeing out the old year and preparing for the new. It's a little earlier than I usually start but seeing as the kids will be finishing school at the end of the week it makes sense to get a head start while they're not around as much.
For many different reasons I'll be glad to see the back of this year so I'm keen to start the new year on the right sort of footing, and a little extra effort in that respect wouldn't go amiss. It's also one of those times where I'm feeling reflective, and while I'm looking forward to the new year, I've been thinking a lot about all of the things I can be thankful for from this year. In spite of all of the not so good things that might happen, I always try to think of all the good things that have happened, too. One of the biggest things I'm thankful for is this family I've found myself a part of - my husband's family, which is one of the main reasons we moved here to this part of Scotland: For the sake of giving the kids the kind of life and support we've wanted to give them. The in-laws have been a huge support throughout all of my back problems and the things that life has thrown at us this year, and though I've married in to the family they've always made me feel like I'm welcome and one of them. My mother-in-law had a minor stroke earlier this year - she's recovered well, thankfully - and it's one of those things that makes you think about what people mean to you, I suppose. With the next generation on the way next year (I'm going to be a great aunt, if all goes well), it will continue to be an important theme, I think - not just the kids, but everyone - especially now that Rosie in particular is becoming increasingly keen to involve herself in my practices.
For now, though, it's time for a good clean and tidy, and fixing up a few things here and there. Once I've had a wee rest...