Musings of the Walker::Kirsten, Dundee

Introducing Musings of the Walker, a blog by my friend, Kirsten (Walker), of Dundee, Scotland.
I first met Kirsten in YWAM, at the Seamill Centre, where she was a student and I was on staff as the groondskeepahrr. She hearkens from Athelstaneford, a town of too many syllables for me to pronounce with ease. Athel___ford is, I believe, near Edinburgh. Kirsten's one of the few people I know who's house has a name: The Manse (her father is a Church of Scotland minister. -Kirsten, do you mind this much disclosure? Sorry!) I remember in particular a great night of busting out old tunes in the red-tiled kitchen of the Seamill Centre, when we were on dish duty with her. Since she grew up in the (sniff!) Church of Scotland and we were hymn fans, we ended up harmonizing on a robust rendition of 'Praise to the Lord', you know, the one by that superstar of 17th century hymnody, Joachim Neander. And besides having one of my favourite Scottish accents, she has the distinction of being the person who first introduced me to that great Scottish slang word, 'mingin'.
Kirsten is currently living in Dundee, which is sort of in the middle of the country, north a bit from Edinburgh by 45 minutes or so (help me out here, Kirsten, or Jessica). She's been there for a few years now, sharing the love of God in a city that needs it.
I appreciate that about her, that she is trying to be faithful to share the good things in her life. So, check out her blog, and do be sure to ask her about what she got up to at St. Andrew's Uni. I don't think St. Andrew's ever quite recovered from Kirsten's student years there.....


Silly British Town Names

The following town names are all true, and for their veracity, I point to the 1999 Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas of Britain. (Now in tatters, aquired on our honeymoon.) This list was compiled long ago, after several silly late nights with the Elevens. Feel free to add any that we've missed (this list is by no means exhaustive. Those Brits are way too prolific with their silliness.)

Towns named after animals

Catbrain (been there! Above Bristol.)


Dog Village


...and body parts

Upper Sharp Nose

Lower Sharp Nose

Long Nose Spit


Devil's Elbow



Guy's Head



...and a lot about bottoms and stains

Prat's Bottom

5 Mile Bottom

6 Mile Bottom



Toot Hill Butts (actually a road near C.S. Lewis' house in Oxford.)




....strange & unpleasant diseases





and the ones about food:




Bacon End




Cheesefoothead (one of my very favourites)


Chew Magna

...now that's too silly:

















.....I've left the best for last (drumroll...)

Great Heck




BBC's Gardener's World

So this is my secret gardener crush, except that I'm married and er...straight. Maybe I wish she was a friend? Who am I kidding-it's envy. Pure and simple. I want her hair, I want her job, I want her dog. Isn't that just lovely. She is one Alys Fowler, the garden manager at Berryfields, the garden where the BBC's Gardener's World is filmed. Have a peek at her blog, which is interesting and well-written. Watch her video on winter pruning- she knows her stuff. And tell her Rosa sent you. We're old friends.
"One's television is brilliant...."
Everyone always says that British TV is more interesting, and I'd have to agree, but then again, I like TV shows about British garden history and period reality shows like Regency House Party, as well as cute little shorts like 'What The Romans Did For Us' which has that distinctly public television/shapeless-cardigan-with-holey-elbows feel. Yep, I'm getting old.
Hobbits, All
One more reason to love the Brits is for their centuries-old love affair with gardening. Case in point, Gardener's World, which is prime time, (Friday nights, I believe) and watched by everyone. Not just old people and crunchy yuppies, but everyone. The Gardener's World presenters are all good-looking and rugged as they put poly-tunnels over their lettuce beds and create little habitats for hedgehogs at the edges of the garden. They appear so at ease as they pot up cuttings, create wildflower meadows and do a hundred little things that would utterly confound me. While B and I lived in Scotland, the Chelsea Flower Show in London had live coverage, all weekend long. Can you picture that happening in the U.S.? I can't.
And strangely, a lot of these gardening superstars have names that sound like stage names, so well are they suited to their jobs: Bob Flowerdew, Pippa Greenwood, Alan Titmarsh, Bunny Guiness. But then again, the British are known for their propensity for silly-sounding names, as evidenced in my next post.........


Tree and Leaf

Yesterday found me walking down to the little wooden bridge that spans the first murky splashes of Ferndell Springs; which tumbles in fits and spurts until it throws itself over the edge of the canyon into the confluence of Bean and Zayante Creeks below. I held a little hand in mine and we flung leaves into the abyss. Not very abyssmal, at the point of it's inception it is little more than a glass of water spilled over the redwood forest floor. Someone had hung a hammock nearby which G and I decided had been placed there expressly for our comfort. And we swung gently midst the ferns and withered blackberry brambles; with the redwood tree tops above us- all viewed from a deliciously lazy angle. Crows flew overhead, and each tree's pinnacle seemed impossibly far away; we laughed at how spindly they seemed as they swayed in the breeze. I live in verdant splendour and it is good to feel myself a part of it. I also like that G, at 2 1/2, knows the difference between a redwood tree and an oak tree. "That's right, honey, the Sequoia sempervirens is a gymnosperm and the Quercus agricifolia is an angiosperm."

( I hope the kids won't make fun at her at preschool, maybe we should have waited until kindergarten to do botany flashcards with her.......)

So, last night I borrowed a book of C.S. Lewis' poetry from the Elevens and came upon this gem.

The Future of Forestry

'How will the legend of the age of trees
Feel, when the last tree falls in England?
When the concrete spreads and the town conquers
The country's heart; when the contraceptive
Tarmac's laid where farm has faded,
Tramline flows where slept a hamlet,
And shop-fronts, blazing without a stop from
Dover to Wrath, have glazed us over?
Simplest tales will then bewilder
The questioning children, 'What is a chestnut?
Say what it means to climb a Beanstalk.
Tell me, grandfather, what an elm is.
What was Autumn? They never taught us.'
Then, told by teachers how once from mould
Came growing creatures of lower nature
Able to live and die, though neither
Beast nor man, and around them wreathing
Excellent clothing, breathing sunlight-
Half understanding, their ill-acquainted
Fancy will tint their wonder-paintings
-Trees as men walking, wood-romances
of goblins stalking in silky green,
Of milk-sheen froth upon the lace of hawthorn's
Collar, pallor on the face of a birchgirl.
So shall a homeless time, though dimly
Catch from afar (for the soul is watchful)
A sight of tree-delighted Eden.'

(Taken from 'The Backward Glance'.)

And a last note: searching through Flickr found me this photo and proof that the internet is actually a tiny place, for I stumbled across the photostream of a flesh and blood friend of mine, Peter Thomsen; who really does take exceptional photos and drives a very nice 60-something VW Bug, (white, rag-top) which Brad & I try hard not to covet. And then there's the vintage Vespa. It's really not fair, actually, but we've forgiven him for having such cool stuff, and like him all the same. Thanks for the photo, and hello to the missus!



It's so depressing to write for a whole half hour and then to delete it just as you are changing the font size, selecting all the text and then scrolling down just a mite too far. It's hard to believe that it's all gone. And believe me, it was good. I'm fed up. Where's my pen and paper? Forget this!


Plays, Poems and Blogs, a Typical Sunday

So many things happening: the VFC Christmas non-play script is nearly all finished, we have been working our little fingers to the bone, all typety-typety after G is asleep. It's been so great to work with a team of such creative and inspired people. I've loved the collaboration we have going. Today we had the first meeting after church for anyone interested in helping out. It was a little unnerving-setting our little script out like a toy boat on the water. So far so good!

My favourite part of the whole non-play is that we will be inviting poets in our community to write original pieces about the coming of the Messiah, specifically about the longing and expectation. ( I keep thinking about the hymn title,"Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.) A few of these poems will be read during the play, sort of modern day versions of the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus. So, if you are a Vintage poet-please write!

Adventblog 2007

And we're attempting to pull off an advent blog-really it's blatant plagiarism, sorry, Neal-but hey, feel flattered, because it's a great idea. Basically, we're inviting people to sign up to post a blog entry on a day during the season of Advent (first Sunday in December through Christmas Day). Most likely through the Vintage Faith blog address. The idea is that on your day you can post prose or poetry (original or not), a devotion, picture or whatever you like........ I participated in Neal's lentblog and it ended up being quite meaningful to me. For the first time I took part in Lent, a season with which I'd had little to do. We should start announcing it within the next month at church.......


tired but coming back to life

This week has just felt monumentally long. I am tired and just grumpy all day. I stayed home from work on Wednesday after a weepy breakdown on Tuesday night, blubbering into the marinara sauce on the stove. (A new all-time low!) I think I need to change my schedule around, because I really want this going back to work thing to work! I'm trying to jam too many things into one day, and it shows. I am at one job in the AM with G, and then we rush home for lunch and a quick house-cleaning before our little baby friend comes over at 1:30, she stays until 5:30. In theory all of this should work, but there I am, blubbing in the spaghetti. I think I can shift things around so that I don't do both of these jobs on the same day, which is, I think, the only answer to the blubbing problem besides just giving up one of them all together.
But on a happier note, B is singing to G one of my favourite Sesame Street songs, "Breakfast Time", a duet between Ernie and Cookie Monster. Good old Jeff Moss, who also wrote 'People in Your Neighborhood'. B's sweet and noble tenor is one of the things that first endeared him to me, along with his goofy repetiore. And G sits beside him, busily rubbing a handful of scarlet runner beans, harvested from our garden. She is officially sweet and clean, being lately come from a bath, nice and damp, clothed in slippery red pajamas. I am glad for my life, and I remember all the good things God has given me, even as I record them. I'm off to read doggie books. Arooff! Aroof!


A Morning Quote

'I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.'

-Thomas Merton


In Which I Am On A Chesterton Kick:
Gold Leaves

Lo! I am come to Autumn,
When all the leaves are gold;
Grey hairs and golden leaves cry out
The year and I are old.

In youth I sought the prince of men,
Captain in cosmic wars,
Our Titan, even the weeds would show
Defiant, to the stars.

But now a great thing in the street
Seems any human nod,
Where shift in strange democracy
The million masks of God.

In youth I sought the golden flower
Hidden in wood or wold,
But I am come to autumn
When all the leaves are gold.

-G.K. Chesterton

I especially love the line 'where shift in strange democracy/The million masks of God. Very Up With People.

Thank you, Andy Goldsworthy for this picture. (And as always thank you for being such a loyal rosa-sinensis reader. Love those rock stacks!)



Jesus welcomed children, even used one as an example before all His friends. "If any of you want to enter the kingdom of heaven," He said sternly, looking each in the eye,"You must become like one of these." I love Jesus' shock and awe teachings. Love your enemy; turn the other cheek; if someone asks for your cloak, give him your tunic as well; along with my personal favourite shocker, 'I and the Father are One.' Not the thing to tell a group of extreme Orthodox Jews if you are trying to garner a following. And then there's this one: instead of jockeying for position, become like this rugrat, and then get back to me. I love it. I was musing upon this idea last night and I was reminded of something GK Chesterton once said.

'The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not abscence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike, it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."
-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

photo credit: rr rocketman (nice one!)


The Unabashed Fecundity of God

I went on a silent prayer walk today, as part of our church's leadership retreat. The leader of this retreat told us to look for God in the ordinary things, and to trust that He would speak to us.
Here is what I discovered:

Purple-throated salvia mexicana 'Limelight' blossoms, surrounded by lime green calyces. Pheasantberry heavy with it's scarlet fruit, reminiscent of the dearly missed Laundry Garden in Seamill, Scotland. A Salvia apiana leaf, glowing pale grey in the noonday sun, mysterious scent of dry California hills & split rail fences, And you, scented pelargonium, with velveted tufts against my cheek, you are just too much. These items held in my hand were a riot of colour, and I was at once struck by the unabashed fecundity of God, the feasting, the revelry, the richness of His creation. His richness versus my meagreness. My own poverty of spirit, the paucity with which I love others, and see the world. I am one who has measured out her life in coffeespoons, like T.S. Elliot wrote in the The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. What a stark contrast: His wild and jovial nature vs. my wooden and staid responses. I sat there in the little mission chapel garden and held a handful of God's garden of earthly delights. Looking around with new eyes, I saw it everywhere. The elegance of water reflected on stone and lily pads floating on green glass.

"In quietness and rest is your salvation"


Juneau, Glaciers, Alaska,

This is the Grand Pacific glacier, seen at the end of the Tar Inslet, in Glacier Bay, Alaska. My camera is pretty ancient, so it's not the best, sorry. But it was hard to capture any image with such a monochromatic landscape. It was as if the sky, land and sea were all mufffled and subdued. When the ship cut it's engine so that we could float gently alongside this glacial beauty, it was absolutely silent. All that I saw, from the ship's railings to the diaphanous blue turrets and minarets of the glacier's seracs were enveloped in a grey mist, like a cloak from Loth-Lorien. (Did I really just use a LOTR elf reference? Oh dear. Hey, at least I didn't start writing in elf runes. Cart me away when that happens, okay?)

Oh-and here we are at the Mendenhall glacier and Mendenhall lake which was strewn with icebergs. Our Juneauian (?) friend, Treavor used to swim in it when he was a kid. I guess there was a hidden sand bar that somehow made it much warmer to swim in, and tourists used to take photos of Treavor and his wild Alaskan clansmen swimming near the icebergs. This glacier is receding, although not all of them are receding, some are growing, but Al Gore keeps that one pretty quiet, dontcha think?

Okay, too tired to type.
Next time at least one from this list:
*My Most Embarassing Moment on the Cruise (In Which I Crash A Life Boat Drill)
*Update on October in the Garden (Key Ingredient: Procrastination)
*Review and recommendation of 'The Tale of Desperaux', by Kate DiCamillo
But later, later.
Good night kittens, Goodnight mittens!

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.