Friday, October 26, 2012

The weather and other news...

One thing that is obvious in this part of the world is the presence of micro-climates. We can drive 10 miles in any direction and find weather that is as opposite to what we just left as you can imagine. This week has been fairly mild and yesterday we had the windows open and Chris spent some time in the garden. When he went down to the little store in the village, he was remarking on how lovely and mild it was and another shopper, from just down the road, commented that it was nearly freezing where he lived (or, as they say in the Highlands, where he stayed). Amazing. We can go through all four seasons in a day. Today, we had a flurry of snow, and the snow is still lying on the higher hills. Now the sun is shining, but the temperatures are still low. But through it all, it is always, always beautiful.

Snow on Beinn Airigh Charr

Chris and I remarked the other day that of all the places we've lived, both apart and together, we are happier and more relaxed here than we have ever been. Our bodies seem to be relaxing - muscle by muscle - and we find ourselves sleeping so well and feeling just so at home. We want to be here forever and will do what we need to do to make that dream come true. We've had only good luck with our other dreams - why not this one?

Even the chronic pain I suffer with my arthritis seems more bearable here. I will not give this place the magical property of healing - the arthritis continues to worsen and I am just learning to put up with it. But, all I need to do is count my many blessings and the pain seems a reasonable price to pay for the happiness we are feeling in both our situation and our lives in general.

Chris is doing more and more abstract digital photo art these days. We are hopeful that we can get him into Exclusively Highlands with this fairly new art form. His imagination is amazing and what he can do with the images is magical. This past Monday, he sold two matted prints - one a digitally manipulated image of a boat and the other a haunting black and white of an abandoned old building. We are getting ready to print up cards that can be used for Christmas cards. I am sure those will sell well.

In addition to doing our regular "thing" at the market, I have volunteered to run a workshop showing people how to make beautiful little Christmas topiaries. It's been years since I made one, but I remember well how lovely they looked and how much they were loved by those folks who were at the receiving end of that little gift. I am looking forward to all the fun planned for Christmas up here. Chris and I are going to have a tree in the GALE Centre, one we decorate ourselves with bits and pieces that reflect our businesses, and then it will remain in the centre during the Christmas season. Gairloch will have its annual Fayre in the Square and Chris and I are both taking part in that as well. What better way to feel the Christmas spirit than to be surrounded by wonderful friends in a beautiful setting. And, the best news is that my precious Catherine and her mum and dad may be coming for Christmas (Caroline's schedule and the weather allowing). I can't imagine anything better.

I am spending more and more of my time on my business now. Ailleas Designs is doing well and I am looking forward to the events in which I am participating throughout November and early December. I am awaiting a card reader so that folks can make their purchases without having to worry about having available cash, and I am working very hard at making the business not only viable, but very successful. There will be a great deal of work done on sourcing new stockists throughout Scotland, possibly even looking to the other parts of the UK. In addition to Ailleas Designs, I will be launching a new business, along with a relaunch of Ailleas Designs, mid-January. I am so lucky to have some talented artists helping me with the logos and look forward to redoing the AD site and designing the new site once I have the finals of the new designs. I am busy in my studio creating new pieces and getting ready for a marathon photo shoot after Christmas. 

(Having a 25% off sale of The Sea Collection at if you would like to have a look in.) 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wise words and a happy life...

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." Henry David Thoreau

Of all the philosophers I know of, perhaps Thoreau is my favourite. His quest for a simple life, for living out his dream, his wish to find a world that we humans are worthy all makes such perfect sense. How sad it is that, at least for me, it appears we must be older to wish it or accomplish it.

Yesterday we had to go to Easter Ross. The lovely little shop in which my jewellery was for sale has closed - the cruel reality of the economy the world is currently withstanding. I found it curious that as we left the west coast and went farther inland, the weather turned from blue skies and stunning autumnal light to grey skies and rain. We went to the shop to pick up my jewellery and then we headed to Dingwall to do a big shop at the supermarket there.

As we entered the parking area, Chris suddenly turned into the lane that leads to the petrol pumps. "Are we not going shopping then?", I asked, looking at the hordes of people filing in and out of the parking area, shopping carts heaving with deals and bargains. "Not on your life," replied my very smart husband. So, we filled the car with petrol (at a decidedly lower price than we can find here, but driving 50 miles for cheaper fuel seems a fool's economy to me) and headed back home.

The lochs were all still as mill ponds and reflected the hills, some now crowned with a dusting of snow. The light flickered on the water. And as we headed west, once again the rain and grey skies gave way to patches of blue and clouds ringed with light as the sun hid behind them. The closer we got to home, the calmer we felt. No longer amongst the crowds of people, now amongst the glory of the landscape. Sheep grazing peacefully on the hills, streams running toward the sea, some crashing over rocks and stones on their way, waterfalls and the changing colour of the leaves surrounding us. And as day gave way to night, we were treated to a beautiful sunset, with glimmering pinks and sparkling diamonds on the surface of the loch and the sea beyond.

The beauty of my surroundings inspired me to sit and create some stunning jewellery. I assure you, I use the word stunning not in a self-congratulatory way, but as a grateful nod to the muse that visits me so often now that we live here.

Today the sun is shining and the skies are blue, dotted from time to time with little clouds of white and silver. I see our washing out on the line, being dried by the crystal clean air that surrounds us. Chris has been and returned from the little store in the village so that he and I can do a roast dinner tomorrow - one to which we have invited our landlord. Life is good.

This is the life I imagined, this is the dream I dreamed. As Thoreau also said, "...if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endevors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Northern Lights and my first and only mention of the US Election

We have been treated not once but twice by the magic of the Aurora Borealis. I suppose, if I had a bucket list, seeing the Aurora would be on it. And now I have and I am so moved by the beauty that can be found all around me. Our lives here are calm and happy, warm and peaceful. Our moods, like the magical evening sky, are lightened by the very air around us and we are so very, very aware of our great good fortune.
The Aurora Borealis - 13 October 2012 at approximately 10:15 pm

As you can see from the image Chris captured this evening, the stars are amazingly bright here. We can see galaxies and stars for such a long distance, it feels as if I can reach up and touch the heavens. It is, quite literally, awesome.

When I was a child, I remember going outside in the night with a flashlight. We lived at the end of a dead-end road right next to the large pasture that belonged to the dairy farm owned by my father's family. There was no light pollution at all, and I would shine my flashlight up into the sky and try to follow the beam of light as far as I could. In that moment, I would not only feel the wonder of the universe but the insignificance of my own existence. We are nothing more than tiny particles in this vast universe. Even now it makes my head hurt to try to even begin to comprehend what the universe is or where it goes or if it has a beginning or end. But I am, like a child, still filled with such wonder. Rainbows, waterfalls, eagles flying overhead, herons gracefully walking in the tidal pools at low tide, the light of an autumn afternoon illuminating the hills and lochs - these are all such great gifts. To have them now, perhaps at a time in my life when I can most appreciate them, is the greatest blessing of all. 

We have good friends here and our businesses are doing well and we are doing well. Really well - not in terms of what we own or how much is in the bank, but in terms of our quality of life. I'm not sure I can even imagine my life being any more abundant in riches that cannot be counted, but just appreciated. 

Election time is quickly approaching back in the land of my birth. I watch, hoping and praying that we will see the very best in people, rather than the very worst. When I look at the views here, when I see smiling faces and new friends who are becoming as dear as old friends, I realise what is really important. Mitt Romney was filmed saying, "When I was a boy, I used to think that becoming rich and famous would make me happy. Boy, was I right." With all due respect (and I admit there is little), you don't know anything about happy. Happy isn't about money, it isn't about fame. I am neither rich nor famous, but I can promise you I am happier than Mitt Romney. Happy is about so much more than material things - it is about living and breathing who you want to be and where you want to be; it is about a wealth of which Mitt Romney knows nothing. Forward...