gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

You are radiant with charm

Were you ever aware of the Victorian language of flowers? Lilies symbolised beauty. Roses represented love. If your suitor gave you red roses you knew he was mad about you, if they were pink you could be assured of his affection, if yellow roses arrived he was only interested in friendship. And black or dark roses – well, make sure you put your affairs in order as someone wanted you dead. Flowers were used to say what could not be said in those more formal times. A bouquet given to you upright sent a positive message, and beware if you were given flowers facing the opposite direction. Mind you nowadays if you get a bunch of Bonnie Jeans from the garage from your gentleman caller I would maybe encourage him to try a little harder!

Anyway, while on a recent holiday in France I was entranced by these beautiful flowers in a restaurant.

  

These are ranculus asiaticus, a cousin of our buttercup. A Victorian maiden would blush with pleasure at being told, without words, that she was “radiant with charm” should she have been presented with these. Whereas Mrs G headed straight for Amazon.co.uk and ordered a delivery of ranunculus asiaticus bulbs in an attempt to cultivate these very special pretty paper-like blooms in time for the summer.

When the bulbs arrived they looked anything but charming 

Actually they reminded me of the hens favourite snack of meal worms. They had to be planted with these little “fingers” pointing down. I worked very hard, filling pots with soil,  planting bulbs and watering.  Only to discover that Naughty Lucas had jumped into a big pot and dug out and scattered its entire contents when I was tidying up the tools.  The Victorians would suggest he should give me a purple hyacinth to ask for forgiveness.

For now, here’s hoping by the summer I will be posting pictures like this 

there are no words for such beauty 

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Lost and Found – Writing 101- Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), published in 1779. With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. It is probably sung at least 10 million times annually.

Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction. Aged just 11 he joined his father in the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. However, he continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology. Around the same time Newton joined forces with the abolitionist William Wilberforce and worked tirelessly for the abolition of slavery. Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773.

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Yesterday I attended the Thanksgiving Service for the life of a very young man and the many mourners joined in singing this hymn.
The words “I once was lost but now I’m found” from this hymn rang in my ears, as I thought about today’s Writing Challenge. Of all the life experiences that you might think this lovely boy had lost out on. But of all the joy those who knew and loved him had found by spending time with him.
A young man, born very prematurely 24 years ago, who climbed high ropes, canoed and rode horses despite being limited to a wheel chair.
Who had many friends who filled the small country church to bursting, though he spoke very few words.
Whose days revolved around therapies and medication, yet had the biggest brightest smile and sparkling eyes to win over everyone who met him.
Who was deeply loved, cherished, protected, adored by his mum, dad, sister, grandparents, church family and carers.
Always missed, never forgotten.

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See for Yourself

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

man’s thoughts
woman’s thoughts
older woman’s thoughts

It’s good to come here to have space to think. To talk things over. Peaceful. Those trees are really turning now. Such beautiful colours, reds, yellows, deep orange….I wonder if…..She’s very quiet. Should I just tell her what I think?

I’m glad we were able to escape that over heated hospital room…that September breeze feels so cool on my face, and the crisp, dry leaves under my feet….I’m so confused. Talk about information overload! So much to think about. What am I going to do? We both need to make this decision. It’s not just about me anymore. I want to know what he’s thinking…

I thought with only three months to Christmas I’d better start knitting for Tom. He’ll be six now. So far away. It will be spring time there. Hard to believe when the nights are getting so short now and those leaves are falling making such a mess everywhere. I know it’s ridiculous knitting a Christmas jumper when the family celebrate Christmas on the beach, but I always made one for his dad, and while there is strength in my hands I will do the same for him, the wee love. I wonder how big he’s grown?Imagine having a grandson you’ve never seen. All these years. Not a day passes when I don’t think of him. I want to know does he ever think of me.

The doctor is offering the opportunity of a lifetime. I know it’s experimental but if it were me I would jump at the chance! I know we haven’t been together very long but I want to tell her how I feel. But I’m afraid my honesty would spoil what we’ve shared these last few months. Good times! Look at her….Such a beautiful face. And those eyes. Those beautiful eyes…Hasn’t she suffered enough?

I’m afraid. Afraid what surgery would mean. Afraid and yet astounded at the thought that life could change so dramatically . I’ve often lain in the darkness wondering just what it would be like. How will I adapt? And if the surgery is a failure, how will I get over that too? How will he cope? Is it too much too soon?I wish I could read his face

I hope Tom likes this red yarn. It was a favourite colour of his dad’s – like his favourite football team. Perhaps I should write, or phone, make the first move. But I’m afraid to fly. At my age! On my own. Afraid of the journey. Afraid of a closed door. Afraid of being rejected. By my own son! Again. But to see the look on wee Tom’s face if he opened the door and I handed him the jumper in person!

I just want her to see me

I just want to see him

I just want to see

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Today’s blog posting is a short piece of fictional writing based on the theme suggested in the Daily Post Writing 101 course.

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Loved Long Ago

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Sorting through the shelf of tatty old romantic paperbacks so favoured by the old lady a faded envelope fluttered to the dusty floor.
Taking a mug of tea and sneaking a fag to the back door, she sat in the sunshine, absentmindedly scratching the cat’s ear.
Delicately removing the paper worn thin with age, it had clearly been read many times. It spoke of love and longing. Of a decision to part company. That the world was not ready for their love.
It was signed Joan.
She wondered if she had really known her grandmother at all.

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This blog post is fiction written as part of the Writing 101 course.

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Kissing You, a song that makes me cry

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I don’t consider myself to be an easy person to cry. But certain situations can render me an emotional wreck in a matter of seconds.

At airports when families, lovers, friends are reunited. That intensity of joy. I may not know these people, or their stories, but my eyes fill in response to their meeting.
Watching One Born Every Minute on TV. Every birth. Every single baby born. I’m crying like the proverbial baby.
An early scene in the “a time Traveller’s Wife”- a favourite novel by Audrey Niffeneger when Claire meets Henry for the first time. The poignancy of their encounter touched me deeply.
What is it at these times that causes a lachrymal response? Why do I have to reach for the tissues as a wave of something very intense hits me where it really hurts?
Do I cry at airports because I remember all the sad partings and happy reunions in my own life?
Do I wail when babies are born recalling the births of my own children?
Does the first meeting of Claire and Henry remind me of seeing my husband for the very first time, looking at him and thinking what a very special person he was, only a few seconds into our meeting?
Who knows.

What I do know is that there are many pieces of music that move my soul, a real favourite is “Kissing You” by Des’ree. This slow ballad was written for Baz Luhrmann’s movie of the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, starring a very young Leo Di Caprio and Claire Danes.
The song lilts through the ballroom scene where they first meet. You can actually see Des’ree herself singing the song in this scene at the home of the Capulets.
Des’ree has a very beautiful voice, her emotions seem very genuine. There is something very intimate and intense in her tone, in the way the music is scored with just piano and strings in a minor key.
Yet a quick perusal of the lyrics, written by the artist herself and Timothy Atack, are no Shakespeare!

Pride can stand
A thousand Trials
The strong will never fall
But watching stars without You
My soul cried
Heaving heart is full of pain
Oh, oh, the aching

‘Cos I’m kissing you, oh
I’m kissing you

Touch me deep
Pure and true
Gift to me forever

‘Cos I’m kissing you, oh
I’m kissing you

Yeah hey
Yeah

Where are you now?
Where are you now?

‘Cos I’m kissing you
I’m kissing you, ohh

And yet, it gets me every time.
What wonderful power music has over us, to cause a physical and emotional reaction to a collection of sounds and silences!

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Today’s post is prompted by The a Daily Post “Moved to Tears”

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Cocktail Hour

If I told you the hens have been drinking pink cocktails you would probably imagine something like this

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Whereas in reality it is more like this

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Not a high heel or false eyelash in sight.
And they aren’t necking it straight from the bottle, it is diluted in their water! The Gillybirds are classy girls.
Egg production is very low. For now the coop move is being blamed, but every morning there are quite a few feathers floating free, so moulting is happening too, which would also lead to poor laying.
So, as Grandma Gillybirds would say, the girls are getting a good tonic drink to perk them up.
The Poultry Drink contains “a selection of 5 minerals in a high energy sugar syrup base to support all round condition and health in Poultry”
The minerals are “iron, phosphorus,potassium, manganese and copper -this product is particularly of benefit to recovering birds” it turns the water a very pretty pink colour, with no need for a cherry or a paper umbrella. And they seem to like it.
They are also still enjoying the giant cabbage. I feel it may well put them off cabbage for life. I’m not sure I would like to eat cabbage every day for 5 days either.
The weather is fabulous. A real Indian Summer. The trees are turning. There is a nip in the air in the mornings. The Gillybirds are tucked up in bed by 8.30pm.
On Monday Mr G and I will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary.
An excuse for a few cocktails!

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Mr and Mrs Gillybirds- the Love Birds

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The adorable Henry

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We visited with our farming friends at the weekend and they have a new dog- a jack Russell/miniature daschund cross called Henry.
Henry is the cutest dog EVER. He has big soulful eyes, long elegant paws and a very waggy tail. Add to this an ebullient personality and tonnes of character. It is impossible to capture all this in a photograph.
They had to check my pockets to make sure I hadn’t smuggled him home.
A lasting memory will be walking across fields of high grass as Henry bounded in great leaps in front of us, all we could see were two black ears flapping with every leap.
Such a cutie.
I think I have a serious case of puppy love.

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These is My Words

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Now that school is out and life is a little less frantic it is time to flex my holiday reading muscles.
First on the list was ” These is My Words, the diary of Sarah Anne Prine” by Nancy Turner.
I have blogged before about pioneer women – Laura Ingalls, and the sweet hen lady Nancy Luce, and now I have a new pioneer voice Miss Sarah Anne Prine. If you enjoyed the Little House books, and the sharp dry voice of Mattie Ross in True Grit (another great book) you will love following the journey of Sarah with her family by wagon from Arizona to Texas, and their trials and hardships as they settle to life there. Along with tragedy there is romance, courage, faithfulness, a desire for knowledge, a heart that seeks true love and an indomitable spirit. I loved every page. It made me cry several times. There are two great dogs in this story, and also Sarah keeps hens and is very worried about them when the weather causes trouble. (Sorry no spoilers)
I was thrilled to learn there is a sequel! Hoping Mr Postman with deliver it soon.
“My life feels like a book left out on the porch, and the wind blows the pages faster and faster, turning always toward a new chapter faster than I can stop to read it.”
― Nancy E. Turner, These Is My Words

This copy was sent to me as part of the Good Reads First Read programme. I can’t wait to pass it on to the next lucky reader!
Thanks Good Reads 🙂

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Antique Antics

this blog post is written in response to The Daily Post’s blog challenge on writing about the oldest object in your house, from its point of view link to daily prompt on WordPress

Where once I was carried and cuddled, cherished and beloved, I was almost consigned to a bag in the far corner of the attic, banished, cast out, a creature of shame.
Back in 1969 I was stitched with love, red, blue, black, a jaunty bow tie, tail coat and a cheery smile; a gift for a four year old girl, made by her mother, the gentle click of knitting needles soothing the child growing within her, a longed for second child, a brother to the freckled, pig tailed, eager future big sister.
I was to become her companion, firstly as her mother disappeared quickly in the night as the pains of birth grew strong. Proudly brought to hospital to meet the wrinkled brother, I became more of a playmate than this useless squealing boy, my long knitted limbs climbing trees, tied to scooters, always off on adventures and picnics.
I had a second exciting trip to hospital, bringing comfort as the ache of tonsillectomy went undiminished by ice cream and jelly.
As she grew my smiling face and jolly clothes always brought a smile. Stabilisers came off and my soft stuffed limbs shook in the bicycle basket. I was a friend. I was loved. I belonged.
When my seams spilt my creator quickly sewed me up for my absence was noted. I was refilled and once my happy smile underwent a speedy repair.
The brother grew, and another came along. There were other toys, teddies, dolls, space hoppers, etch a sketch, Mastermind, Rubik’s Cubes, but my girl remained faithful to me.
Over time though, something changed. Not her, but those around her. The world turned and suddenly almost overnight I was banished from the street, hidden upstairs, out of sight, no longer welcome. People began to talk. My smiling jolly face was racist, reviled, contentious.
But her love remained. I sat quietly upstairs, where other toys were dispatched, thrown away, replaced by posters of pop idols, make up and white stilettos, I watched and waited as she met a boy, fell in love, got married.
As she packed to leave home she shook the dust from my curly black hair and gently placed me with her most precious things. She remembered my arrival, the curve of her mother’s full belly, my reassuring smile and soft hugs. And all the years in between.
And so I found a new home. And discovered that this new smiling man in her life also had a lifelong special companion who looked just like me. His stuffing may have long since disappeared but we are a match made in heaven it seems.
24 years, four sons, two dogs and three hens later, we are together, still smiling.

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On our Anniversary – Reasons to be glad you are not an angler fish

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In a list of monogamous creatures man (or for that matter, woman ) is not mentioned. Gibbon apes, wolves, termites, coyotes, barn owls, beavers, bald eagles, golden eagles, condors, swans, brolga cranes, French angel fish, sandhill cranes, pigeons, prions (a seabird), red-tailed hawks, anglerfish, ospreys, prairie voles (a rodent), and black vultures — are a few that mate for life.
Of course, it depends on what you mean by “mate for life.” These creatures do mate for life in the social sense of living together in pairs but they rarely stay strictly faithful. About 90 percent of the 9,700 bird species pair, mate, and raise chicks together — some returning together to the same nest site year after year. Males, however, often raise other males’ offspring unknowingly. DNA testing reveals that the social-pair male did not father 10, 20, and sometimes 40 percent of the chicks. Now that would make an interesting episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show.
Some of these species of birds are – macaws, crows, ravens, sea eagles, geese, doves, hummingbirds, eagles, cranes, and owls. Black vultures actually actively discourage infidelity. All nearby vultures attack any vulture caught philandering.
Given the opportunity chickens are polygamous, however the Gillybirds live a happy rooster – free life – enjoying the late summer sun, feasting on windfall apples and overripe tomatoes, although the evenings are getting dark by 8pm. Tonight it the first evening I have closed the coop door shut to give them protection from the cooler autumnal air.
Having celebrated 23 happy years of marriage with Mr Gillybirds at the weekend, I have been dwelling on the joys of sharing your life with that one special person.
One species of fish is absolutely monogamous. In the black darkness of the deep sea, the tiny male anglerfish (perhaps one tenth the female’s size) detects and follows the scent trail of a female of his own species. Once found, he bites his chosen one and hangs on. His skin fuses to hers, their bodies grow together (he gets his food through a common blood supply and becomes essentially a sperm producing organ). They mate for life — a short life for the male.
Happy Anniversary Darling!

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Mr and Mrs Gillybirds- lovebirds for life ❤

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