Friday, 29 October 2010

Chip MacGregor

I wanted to tell you about my literary agent.

The first thing I should tell you is I have never met him, because he lives in America, and I have never been there. There aren’t any literary agents for Christian writers in England. Well – I did have one but he went bankrupt; UK Christians aren’t that great at buying books it seems.

My agent is called Chip. Nobody in England is called Chip. It has that exotic American snap to it. Chip. That’s his name. And MacGregor - which I had associated only with Peter Rabbit before.

My agent – Chip – seems sharp and pointy in his mind to me. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He works very hard. He is a very self disciplined man. His agency is flourishing and doing really well (I think – it has increased its staff anyway and that’s surely a good sign). He has a list of authors who seem mostly highly successful and talented people. Chip sends us emails making sure we know about the Google register and being Brutally Honest with us about Marketing – which is to say he tells us that’s our responsibility and if we don’t do it nobody will. He goes into patient detail about what we have to do for Targets and Platforms and Goals and Priorities and things. I read all his emails.

I have this bad feeling about my agent. Well, no – not about Chip, because he's a sweetie; about me actually. The thing is, I don’t market anything, because I couldn’t sell a bottle of water to a man dying of thirst; obviously – you’d just give him it, wouldn’t you?

When I write a book, publishers ask me to send a list of famous people (speakers, preachers, writers – you know, people with a Ministry) so they can be approached for commendations and endorsements for the book cover. And they send me a pile of books to give to famous people to help with the marketing. I don’t know any famous people. I either give the books to the church for raising money to fix the roof, or to people coming by to pick up things I advertised on Freecycle.

My books do OK. My Hawk & Dove trilogy has been jogging along for 20 years now, quietly selling. My Spiritual Care book found its way into most hospices. But marketing is not my forte. I can only write.

And the reason I have this bad feeling about my agent is I think I let him down. I am not a success, not really, or savvy. I don’t have targets – at least, only three: to make Jesus known and loved everywhere and to help build the Peaceable Kingdom and to make sure that anything that passes through my hands is blessed before it goes on its way. I do no marketing. I can’t get my head round target audiences or techniques. I’m just not made that way.

I don’t give my agent enough work either. I just take a book along to a publisher and say ‘Will you publish that?’ and they say ‘OK then is this enough money?’ and I say ‘Sure’. Chip places some things for me, and I’m grateful for that, and grateful to know that I have a literary agent. It’s not the thing that makes me feel like a proper writer – only writing does that; but it kind of feels like someone’s on my side. But I feel bad that I don’t do my side of the business all that well.

But there is one thing especially I wanted to tell you that I really really love about my literary agent. There are subsidiary things – I love that he prays for me; I love that he is faithful and patient, and that in a quiet way his faith in God is as humble as it is tough. Chip hasn’t had life easy. But the thing I really really love is this photo I have of him with his granddaughter Maelie just after she was born.

Any man who has the soul within him to allow such tenderness to shine from his face also has my friendship, and my trust. When I look at this picture, I believe in Chip. Nothing to do with his sophistication or his sharp mind and the way he knows the market. I just know that such vulnerable tenderness as that takes you all the way home.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

A paean of praise to Thee

I praise Thee because my heart lifts up in gratitude for so many and so great blessings

I praise Thee because the nicest man ever is curled up all snuggly and peaceful and comfortable here in the bed beside me as the sun slowly rises in the chill of the morning this October day

I praise Thee because the house is so quiet you can hear the clock ticking

I praise Thee because it is the Lords Day and I am looking forward to the singing as our worship arises in joy before Thy throne

I praise Thee because just now we have some money in the bank and food in the cupboard and there is nothing to worry over

I praise Thee because though the roof still leaks the fireplaces are in and everything else broken is fixed Almost

I praise Thee because Thou art fair and mighty and surpassing glorious but Thy sense of humour is apparent in every creature Thou hast created especially ducks

I praise Thee because my book is two-thirds written and coming along well and Thou hast had Thy hand upon it for it is the story of how Thou workest with us with such extraordinary kindness

I praise Thee because my beloved had the sense to wheedle me into one last push yesterday so the fridge is well-stocked with enough food for lunch and supper today, we shall not be hungry nor need to break the Sabbath with shopping for more

I praise Thee for the soup Hebe made yesterday, sitting on the stove waiting to be heated up for lunch

I praise Thee for the rosemary bush with her spikes of fragrant green, two of which are going to metamorphose into a hot cup of tea any moment now

I praise Thee for Thy unsurpassable kindness which has blessed my life from the moment I was born

I praise Thee for the wildness of the storms and the sharpness of the frost and the clean air of the morning and the beauty and wonder beyond describing of the rising day

I praise Thee because I have no aches and pains and I feel completely well and I am happy and at peace

I praise Thee that I have Plain dresses to wear and aprons and nightgowns and petticoats and caps of my own sewing and the industry of sisters who love Thee and serve Thee – for Thou knowest right well that these things matter to a woman, for it is Thou that hast made her so to be

I praise Thee because the breath of Thy Spirit is in every living thing, and therefore as I watch the flight of starlings in flock around the pier, as I hear the cry of geese overhead, as I look into the golden green eyes of our black cat and hear the rattle of her purr, as I hear the heave and crash and thunder of the surf on the shingle, I see Thee and know Thee and that Thou art with me, most dear and glorious, beloved in all the earth

I praise Thee for that I had the chance to look with human eyes on this wondrous earth and gaze with astonishment on vermilion clouds against clear turquoise sky at sundown and infant frogs the size of my fingernail clinging to blades of grass in the garden in the spring

I praise Thee for firelight and starlight, for sunlight and candlelight and moonlight and I suppose I praise Thee for electric light in spite of itself because it is almighty useful that’s for sure

I praise Thee for barettes and Kirby grips and hot water bottles and can openers and penknives and every other astonishing contraption that ingenuity has fashioned from the idle wondering of men who were free to lie on the downland and chew a stalk of grass and gaze absently at the sky thinking wouldn’t it be good if

I praise Thee for muesli and apple juice topped with a chopped banana which is delicious whatever anyone thinks and for spirulina that fills me with zing – how didst Thou know to make spirulina

I praise Thee and I bless Thee, I glorify Thee and I adore Thee, and I exalt Thy holy Name in all the world

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

"The children are coming!".... Hallowe'en.

During the years my children were growing up, I objected strenuously to Hallowe’en festivities of any kind. My children did not dress up as ghosts and vampires, we did not festoon the house with fake cobwebs and death’s heads, or carve ghoulish faces into pumpkins for lanterns.

We did make pumpkin lanterns – a bit, not much, because I found it not very easy to do and nobody liked pumpkin very much – carving patterns into the sides, or just a cheerful smiley face.

On Hallowe’en itself we used to spend the evening in the back of the house, so there were no lights shining at the front. That way, we didn’t have to turn anyone away when they came for trick or treat: we were simply ‘out’.

We continued with the same approach once they reached adulthood. Just as I never preached on Remembrance Sunday with its glorification of war, so I was never ‘at home’ on Hallowe’en.

Then something happened that made me see things differently. Somewhere in America there is an autistic lady whose case study has been published by Oliver Sacks, and who has become something of a celebrity because of the work she has done to make cattle slaughter more gentle and merciful for the animals. A few years ago, UK television showed a documentary about her.

The television people arrived to film her and interview her just before Hallowe’en, and so she happened to mention, with excitement and delight, that she had a drawerful of goodies ready for the children who she knew would be coming to her home for ‘trick or treat’.

This severely autistic lady, known for her compassion and kindness, was focusing not at all on the ghoulies and ghosties, nor yet on the dubious practice of children threatening to do something bad to you if you didn’t come through with the candy. She had one thought in her mind: ‘The children will be coming!’ It filled her with anticipation and delight. All she was thinking about was that they would come to her house in hopes of some treats and candy, and she had lots prepared, because she delighted in them, she welcomed them.

And she put me to shame. She made me see things differently.

Shortly after that I married Badger and moved to Aylesbury. He hated Hallowe’en and ‘trick or treat’. He had moved to Aylesbury from a neighbourhood where teenagers came round trick-or-treating, and pelted his house with eggs. He felt defensive and anxious about what might happen, and was ready to see off any comers to obvert any possibility of anti-social behavior.

Because I was no Hallowe’en enthusiast and had always withdrawn from it in the past, I had nothing prepared that year, and had given no particular thought to it – except that the lady I’d seen on the TV had shunted my attitude to a different place.

The children came. Badger surged forward to see them off. I felt really sad about it. Another set of children came. This time I nipped in quick. I shot through the door saying, ‘Let me get this,’ and whispered to them: ‘I’m so sorry children. We haven’t any sweeties – we have someone really, really ill indoors. I’m so sorry. Do you think you could just go very, very quietly?’
And they nodded, and tip-toed away. It wasn’t quite a lie. We did have someone really, really ill indoors. Our cat.

But I felt sad about it. What we were doing seemed not very life-affirming. I thought next year we would do things differently.

So, when Hallowe’en came round again, I got ready. I made bags of mixed sweeties, and in each bag I put some stickers saying ‘God loves you’ and badges saying ‘Jesus loves me’. On the computer I designed and printed a small manga cartoon with characters giving a message that though the children were out to have fun, sometimes the dark and the ghosts could be frightening – and whenever were were afraid, we could pray to Jesus, because the Name of Jesus is our shelter from every evil, the most powerful thing in the world, more powerful than any kind of magic; and Jesus always hears us when we call out to Him.

And that’s what I’ve done the last two years. We left on the porch lights and put the bags out in a basket for the children to help themselves when they came round.

This year our family has children again. My daughter Grace has a young son Michael (a toddler), and her friend Donna has two daughters, a four-year-old and a two-year-old. We anticipate that as they grow up Hallowe’en might become an evening when they can call at our home and at the home of their other auntie, and find a welcome. We will float votive lights on the pond in our front garden, and light the candles on the celtic cross that hangs in our porch. We’ll make a smiley-face pumpkin lantern to stand under the Bible quotation from Philippians 4 that is carved in stone and fastened to the front wall of our house by the front door. And when these children who are part of our tribe come round, there will be no ‘trick or treat’, just a developing tradition that this is a night to go visiting in the dark, and be given some candy and a loving welcome, and sing some hymns around the fire.

I guess ‘For all the saints’, and ‘Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return’, and ‘When the saints go marching in’ should be suitable.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Origin of All Hallows in the context of the Christian Year

I know nothing about helicopters, but I once heard, in a lecture by a man who does, that there is a nut on a helicopter, situated I think above the bit you ride in and under the propeller, that holds the whole thing together; it’s called the ‘Jesus nut’.

As Grace said when we were talking about this at housegroup, ‘That’s because it’s the crux of the machine’.

‘Crux’, that we use in common speech as we say ‘the crux of the matter’ – the real heart of a thing – is the latin word for ‘cross’.

I think in that usage in common speech, ‘cross/crux’ is referencing not the cross of Jesus, but a place where things intersect, the place where everything holds together. And that’s what the cross of Jesus is. It is literally ‘the crux of the matter’. God was in Christ reconciling all things to himself (see Colossians 1:15-20). The cross of Jesus sits at the heart of creation, holding everything together, reconciling all things to God and to each other: it is the place of integration/integrity, where all things are made whole/holy.

It is no accident that Jesus died on a cross of wood, and that the cross is therefore often referred to as the ‘tree’, because trees are also crossing-places.

If you imagine in your mind a winter tree – the trunk and branches and twigs standing against the sky – then add to the picture the part you know is there but cannot see, the branching rootball going down into the earth, then you have a picture of something that is in both form and function similar to a pair of lungs. Trees are the lungs of the earth. Our words for breathing are inspiration and expiration – and the ‘spir’ part of the word comes from the latin word ‘spiritus’ (spirit). When we say someone expires, we mean they die. When we say someone is inspired, we mean they are illumined in a visionary way. The Hebrew word ‘ruach’ from the Old Testament means equally spirit,wind/breath, and that comes through to the way we use the latin root counterpart, spirit. We say someone is ‘spirited away’ when it is as though the wind snatched them.

A tree, however, does not inspire or expire, it transpires. The breathing of a tree creates chemical stability as it shuttles water, oxygen and carbon between the two different worlds in which it lives – the dark world of the earth where its roots are, and the light world of air where its branches are. To us, creatures of light and air, the dark earthy world means death, the light airy world means life.

Trees create stability, slowing down the movement of water through landscape to prevent drought and flood, drawing water from the earth and evaporating it into the sky; and holding the rain, as it falls from the sky, in the earth by its root system.

So a tree both creates stability and security, and also facilitates exchange between the worlds of darkness and light, death and life, earth and air. A tree is a cross, a crossing-place, holding things together as the Jesus nut does. And Jesus died on a tree, won life for us on a tree.

In his dying he entered the dark world and opened a way back to the light. He entered death and opened a way back to life. So in the cross we find a place of exchange or interchange, an alchemical place of transformation, where a way through is made between death and life. The cross, tree of death and tree of life, becomes the instrument of resurrection. It is the place of transpiration of the breathing of Holy Spirit.

When Christianity came to the ancient Celtic world of these isles, the spirituality in place followed the rhythm of the seasons in the agricultural year. Very wisely those early missionaries – Ced, Chad, Columba etc – did not attempt to sweep away the devotional observance of the Celtic people, but instead they enlarged the meaning of holy days already in place to embrace the new understanding that came with the Gospel.

The Christian Celtic year went in a circle that followed the rising and falling of darkness and light.

Imagine a circle (like a clock) subdivided into 4. At 12 o’clock is high summer, the zenith of the year, the summer solstice when day is longest and night is shortest. At six o’clock is the deep dark of the winter solstice. At three and nine o’clock are the spring and autumn equinoxes, when the length of day and night balance equally. Holding that picture in your mind, let’s go round the clock, starting at the bottom at 6 o’clock.

In the depths of the winter, at the time of the longest night of the year, when all is cold and dark and dead, the ancient Celts celebrated Yul, a Nordic word that means ‘the Turn’. They called it that because from that day onward the light would begin to grow as the days lengthened. So they saw it as a time of the coming of the Infant Light – when the light was at its smallest and weakest but would begin now to grow. So it was that the Christian Church settled at Yul the Feast Of The Incarnation, Christmas, when we celebrate the coming of the Infant Light to a dark world as Jesus is born. The year turns, ie begins again, at this point. Everything turns on the coming of Christ.

Halfway between six oclock (the winter solstice) and nine o’clock (the spring equinox) comes Imbolc, at the beginning of February. This was a time for spring-cleaning, getting rid of clutter, sweeping through the house and shaking everything out. Upon this festival the early Christians settled the feast of Candlemas, the time of the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary after childbirth – so focussing on the same theme of ritual purification.

At nine o’clock, the spring equinox is Easter – which actually historically happened around then. The spring equinox used to be the festival of the goddess Oestre (hence the name Easter), where we also get the word ‘oestrogen’. She was the personification of feminine being, and was represented as a pregnant woman giving birth. The ancient Celts saw the earth as like a fertile woman – wells and water sources were seen as the openings of her womb, from which the water of birth heralded the coming of life, so that places that grew up around wells were called names like ‘Marywell’, ‘Osmotherly’, ‘Ladywell’, ‘Motherwell’ etc – expressing both the ancient traditional belief and the Christian Gospel it embraced. Jesus, son of Mary, burst forth from the dark tomb into the light at Easter; he is the risen light bringing the hope of new life, and this observance harmonises with the coming forth of new life from the wombs of the farm animals at this season of the year.

Halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice comes the Celtic festival of Beltaine, the Mayday festival of the return of the sun – the releasing of the spirit of the summer. This was a time for blessing flocks and fields as the days lengthened, the warmth returned, and everything began to grow and strengthen. ‘Beltaine’ meant something like ‘bright fire’, and it was upon this festival that the early Christians settled the festival of Pentecost (it also fitted here historically with Easter), when the Spirit came in tongues of fire to rest on the heads of the faithful and inspire them with new life and energy and hope.
Moving on up to twelve o’clock and the summer solstice, we come to the feast of St John the Baptist. This festival sits at the crown of the year when the days are longest and the sun is at its height and the light is greatest. John the Baptist is the herald. He points down the year to the coming of Christ at Yul, in the darkest deepest time, and thus connects and balances the darkness and the light.

Halfway between the summer solstice at twelve o’clock and the autumn equinox at three o’clock comes the Celtic festival of Lughnasadh, harvest-time, which the early Christians re-designated as Loaf-mass, that came to be called Lammas. This was a time of hand-fasting (betrothal) and all the obvious harvest celebrations.

At three o’clock, the autumn equinox, the Church placed the feast of St Michael and all angels. Michael is a warrior and the protector of the people, and as part of his protection of us he brings a reminder and a warning. He stands at the gateway between summer and winter, reminding the faithful that dark days are coming and that they must make ready. This has a simple agricultural application but also a spiritual application: that for each of us death is coming, and in the summer of life we must make our souls ready, so that when death comes it does not find us unprepared.

Halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice comes the Celtic feast of Samhain, the Celtic Day of the Dead, upon which the Church settled the feast of All Saints (All Hallows), when we remember the whole great cloud of witnesses including those who have passed on to greater life.
The Day of the Dead was the last festival of the dying year, when the Old Year was laid to rest with thanksgiving for all that was past, and it also had a function similar to the Jewish Yom Kippur, of laying to rest any old feuds or grudges, and getting rid of the spiritual baggage that holds us back – relinquishing that which is spiritually dead and no longer serves us. It balances against the spring-cleaning purification of Candlemas, when the house was swept clean. At All Hallows the house of the spirit is swept clean.
The Day of the Dead was also a time of giving thanks for those who have added joy and meaning to our lives, who have now passed on: a time of Remembrance and gratitude. It is interesting that we have (UK) Remembrance Day at this time of year because it ‘coincidentally happens to be’ the time of D-Day, the ending of the War.
Samhain was thought to be a dangerous time spiritually as people’s minds turned to consider the dead and the veil between the worlds of death and life grew thin. All Hallows affirms the strength, unity, security and safety we have in Christ our salvation.
For the early Celts, the day did not start at sunrise as it does for most us, but at sunset – which is also when the Jewish day stars, hence lighting the Sabbath candles on Friday evening. The ancient Celts therefore believed that dreams were not the processing of the old day, but visions for the new day.
Because the day began at sunrise, Halloe’en is the starting of the Feast of All Hallows – it is the beginning of the Day of the Dead.
Samhain, like all these Celtic fire festivals, was not one day only but spread over about three days. Samhain was the last festival of the year, so in most traditions it was considered that the new year began at the close of Samhain.
However, in some traditions, a period called No-Time passed before the new year began. The length of No-Time varied between one tradition and another. For some, No-Time lasted only a few days: but others believed we were in No-Time right the way through until Yul, the turn, when the seed of the light arrived and the year began again.
I believe that the early Church were working with the concept of No-Time in establishing at that point in the year the season of Advent, a time for inward reflection and preparation for judgement.
Advent was not, in the early church, a time to prepare for Christmas; it was a time to think about the second coming of Christ, an austere period of self-examination balancing the Lenten fast of early spring. It was also a time of longing for the return of Christ. This fits well with No-Time, the season of inwardness and reflection at the deepest darkest point of the year, the time of cold waiting before the seeds could germinate, when the next season’s lambs and calves were hidden deep in the bellies of their mothers.

So it is that Hallowe’en is not at all ‘Satan’s Day’ as many Christians say. It is not a time to be wary and suspicious of – it is a Christian feast and is also a part of the Celtic observance of the spiritual heartbeat that underlies the rhythm of life in the agricultural year.

There is no need to be afraid of Hallowe’en, or anti-Hallowe’en. We are numbered among the saints: let us not be afraid of our own shadows! Of course as Christians we don’t want to be pursuing silly nonsense of skeletons, or dressing as witches or ghosts. And absolutely we do not want to tangle with Ouija boards or any other foolish dabbling in and among forces we cannot see and do not fully understand. But Hallowe’en itself is a good thing.

It is the time for us to look back over the year that has gone, embrace its lessons and release its dross. It’s an opportunity to hold in remembrance those we have loved and have with us no longer, and a time to review our own practice and habits of life, resolving that the ‘evil be weakened in me and the good raised up’.

Hallowe’en is a quiet time, quite introspective, for considering what we need to let go of, what no longer works for us now. And then we enter No-Time, going down into the still and silent weeks of the year, experiencing a micro-version of the watching and waiting to which Christ called all of us.

'The world turns but the cross stands' is the motto of the Carthusian order. So in this rhythm of darkness and light in the turning of the year, the darkness and light wax and wane, ebb and flow, the seasons change and we reflect those changes in our fasts and feasts by which we enter and explore meaning in the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives. Meanwhile, like the Jesus nut holding everything together, the cross stands at the heart of all creation, drawing all things into one and reconciling all things to God, holding open the way through between death and life, darkness and light, maintaining the spiritual realm of teh Making in a condition of stability, balance and peace.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Taking The Tide Of Love

A couple of years ago, I wrote a story which I posted in episodes on the blog I had at St Pixels online church.

It's a love story of the Plain people, in this case a community of trolls known as the Old Order Forest Kindred Of Believers.

I enjoyed writing it, and thought it was worth posting as an online novella, so I've given it a blog of its own. As most blogs of course you have to read from the end back to the beginning, because the most recent post appears first, I posted it in reverse order so that you can start at the the begining and read it through without having to find your way to an earlier post.
Personally, I like stories with pictures, so I thought I'd have a go at making illustrations, but my drawing is only so-so and not all that great.
What I did was do buy some of those 1970s trolls from eBay - if you aren't fussy about highly collectable ones, you can still get them cheaply. I made Plain dress outfits for them, and then photographed them going about their daily business in illustration of the story.
Later on, when St Pixels church was raising money for a Water Aid project, I auctioned off my Plain community of trolls, so they were dispersed throughout the world in the end!

It was a lot of fun to do, and when I read it through again recently I still loved the characters and liked the story, and I hope you do, too.

You can find it here.

Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Blue sky thinking

Mrs Noah looks cautiously out of her window.

Hallelujah! The rain has stopped and that's blue sky I see up there!

Everyone is safe in the ark, and it has finally (almost) stopped moving.

Out in the garden first thing, getting rosemary for my early morning tea and taking the peelings and teabags and whatnot down to the compost heap, it was beautiful. A sickle moon still shining clear in the yet half-dark sky, and one bright star - Venus? Birds singing their first tweet-a-bit songs, whistling little snatches as clear as water on the air that was cool but not cold. So beautiful.

It's been exciting - the last part of the family upheavals is my mother moving down to live near us. She is in her eighties, very fit and active, but as she grows older it would be so lovely to have her just nearby so we can all of us pop in and out and she can be properly part of the life of the family, instead of a long train journey and a sleep-over distance away, which limits who can go visit with her and how often.

So last week we viewed an apartment for her and took loads of photos for her to see, then Badger collected her and brought her down here, and yesterday in rain that made Noah's flood look like a light shower she saw the apartment then wandered in the little market town where it's located with Hebe and Alice.

The apartment is perfect - a short walk from the centre of this lively small town full of history and medieval building; but the living room has views across a valley of farmland and woodland, with a little white farmhouse across the field. She will be happy there. She put in a conservative offer and the vendors were glad to take it - recession has made homes difficult to sell.

So - hey-ho - another house move looms on the horizon! Sometimes we wonder if this will ever stop! This is what we did:
1998 moved from our Sussex home of 15 years to take up a pastorate in Kent
1999 moved from there to a different pastorate elsewhere in Kent
2001 moved back to Sussex to live in 3 separate tiny apartments and 2 bedsits during and after failure of 1st marriage.
Between then and 2003, various of us shuttled back and forth and swapped which apartment she lived in, to try and make things work for each other. Beds and furniture and clothes and books up and down staircases and in and out of house like yo-yos!
Sometimes Fi lived with Grace.
Sometimes Fi and Alice and Rosie lived together.
During this time, Hebe was at Emerson College, coming home to live with me in my apartment in the vacations.
When Clay moved to England, he and Grace lived in one of the apartments, then moved into mine when I married Bernard and went to live with him. Hebe who had been living in my apartment went to live with Fi and Alice in the other apartment, and the third apartment had changed hands to belong outright to my ex-husband, who sold it, Rosie being the final occupant there.
Then Rosie and Jon got a rented house. I married Bernard in 2003 and went to live in his cottage and Hebe moved into a caravan there in the autumn when he began to get ill.
Then Jon and Rosie bought a house and moved to that. Then in 2004 Bernard began to be seriously ill, so just after Clay and Grace married in the May, they moved into a rented house so I could have my apartment back to give Bernard a place to rest close at hand during the day when I was working in and around Hastings and he no longer felt safe alone in his cottage out in the woods at Beckley. Bernard died at the end of August 2004, and Hebe and I moved back to my apartment. Fi moved to Dorset, leaving Alice by herself in the other apartment, so Hebe moved in with her.
Then in 2006 I married Badger and we moved to Aylesbury. One of his daughters moved in to live with us. But she didn't like it. So we found her an apartment and moved her out into that. Then Fi moved to Aylesbury to live with us for a few months. Then she moved back to Dorset.
Then in the Fall of 2008 we bought a little house in Sussex so that Hebe and Alice could live there and Fi have a bedroom for when she was in Sussex, and Badger and I could have a room to stay, rather than staying on a sofa-bed taking up Jon and Rosie's living room when we visited. So that meant selling the apartment where Hebe and Alice lived, and on a January day of torrential rain in 2009 they moved into Godsblessing House.
Then in late 2009 Badger and I moved back to Hastings, to this big dilapidated old house, with a view to that becoming the tribe house.
Meanwhile Fi had moved back to Sussex from Dorset and began living half the year in Canada, half in Sussex (in Godsblessing House).
Then in early 2010 Hebe and Alice and Fi moved into the big house to live all together in family community.
We wanted for Grace and Clay to be able to live in Godsblessing House, and planned for that, but we couldn't close the gap financially, so had to abandon that dream. We were very sad because we loved Godsblessing House, and it seemed just right for them. So they renewed their rental lease for a year.
Then we put Godsblessing House up for sale. Then this spring Grandpa died, and inheriting a half-share in his cottage made the finances work for Grace and Clay to buy Godsblessing House at a price that allowed them to borrow against one wage only, so Grace could be a stay-at-home mother. So through all of this summer, while their contracted lease rolled on and the landlord looked around for a new tenant, Grace and Clay and Mikey have been gradually sorting the two-households-worth of possesions they put together in one home when Clay moved from the USA to marry Grace in 2004 (did I include that move? This last move is their fourth - English - home since 2004!) and moving into Godsblessing House which is j-u-s-t big enough for a family who doesn't carry too much ballast.
Meanwhile Grandpa and Grandmary had moved house in 2001, then Grandpa decided he wanted to live by himself, so though he and Grandmary stayed married, he moved out to live in his own cottage around then. So Grandmary looked for something smaller and moved to her present house around 2008.
She should make it into this new apartment by Christmas of this year, and at that point the carousel should stop!!!

Did you follow all that?

In our family we will then have two couples (one with a child) each living in their own little house ten minutes walk from our tribe house, the tribe house with five of us living in it as community, and an apartment for Grandmary just ten minutes drive away in a little rural medieval market town that suits Grandmary better than the less pretty (though plenty characterful!!) environment of Hastings.


Well this morning it's stopped raining, and I'm looking at the blue. Tomorrow is Grandmary's birthday and she is here with us to celebrate.

And (I'm so sorry to have detained you on false pretences) I really wrote this post to move on that pic of me in my nightie!