student days… (a quick memoir)

Dear friends

30 years ago I was towards the end of my first year studying architecture. I may have mentioned before, I studied at University of Edinburgh – it had been my long time desire to study there and I was blessed to make it. I absolutely love my Edinburgh days; I made great friends and had great experiences. I loved studying architecture, that had been my long time desire since the age of about 14 years. However it was not a pleasant experience as generally I recall struggling with the large egos of tutors and fellow students, not all, but enough!

30 years later and I am traveling to a local university where I have been tutoring first year architecture students these past six months. How enlightening it has been for me to discuss architecture with these young people. And how difficult!!! And how sad as I see them not working and continually falling short of what I see so clearly in them. We recently did a hand drawing quiz, prepared by one of the full time lecturers, i.e. 1 minute to draw an internal wall with a door at scale 1 to 50. (This may sound technical but remember these students have been drawing and studying the topic since last September so it should not have been a difficult task). Only a few managed to correctly draw this in the minute given to them 😦

I’m now on my way to see the annual school exhibition. In my first year, my hand drawn sketch of a half onion was exhibited 🙂 I’m interested to see what the third years produce at the end of their degree since some of my first years will be there in two years. Hopefully this will also help me to understand the ethos of this school of architecture and current architectural education.

Much can happen in two years… not to mention thirty years…

I’ve been much more reflective about time in recent months as I approach the age of Kylie Minogue! I recently heard a radio journalist who invited two friends to live by a motto for a month, such as, live every day as if it’s your last. I was impressed by the attitude of the individual as they made the effort to contact extended relatives and even organise a simple family gathering.

The recent words of living prophets and apostles – #LDSconf – have also touched my heart. I keenly feel that we are living in the time of the parables specifically concerning the last days, like the parable of the ten virgins. These are wonderful but perilous times – we must prepare and that doesn’t happen overnight… two years?… thirty years?… a lifetime?…

You can judge for yourself 🙂

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summer

Dear friends

I started to write about a week ago, from my phone, then my phone broke.. well not exactly,  I can’t get it to charge! To be honest it’s sort of a relief, no children asking to use it to watch something online, no pressure to remember it in case someone calls (which only my husband or mother ever do so this has been a little frustrating for them, but nothing tragic has happened to the family so it proves my point that we can survive), and no way for work colleagues to contact me when I’m on leave  (which I’m sure certain ones would try).  So….

So the last couple weeks have been full of those activities that remind you it’s the end of school term.  We’ve had :

Long summer days: grass all around is looking like hay, unless it’s manually watered; yellow rather than green; the yellow and black caterpillars have appeared in the garden again and neighbourhood cats are found lounging everywhere!

School reports: “very honest boy” “distraction” “needs to focus more” “pleasure to teach”

School productions: does anyone else find Tallulah in Bugsy Malone a little disturbing, particularly for pre-pubescent children – “lonely,  you don’t have to be lonely” is what Tallulah sings!

School call backs: Sound of Music – “I only auditioned with a friend for a joke and got 4 call backs!” Maybe they want a black Maria?

Summer graduation: marquees, signs in town, lots of cars, lots of families in best clothes, generally lots of busy-ness

School prom: why do the girls dress so OTT!? Girls, you do realise that there are more exciting things ahead in life – this is not your wedding day!!

Sports Days: (I couldn’t make it this year) but two firsts for the family; and an upset head teacher over the inappropriate language of some parents as they ‘supported’ their off spring…

Work: none,  2 weeks! yeah! 🙂 so happy to put on that out of office message. And the euro tunnel awaits, a long drive 🙂 it’s the summer holidays!!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

food talk

Dear friends

I confess food and cooking is my biggest weakness.   I’ve tried to work on them,  and I have improved – though this evening my husband and children may feel differently.

A couple of things I learnt this week: 1. baking powder is not a substitute for flour in bechemel sauce if you’re avoiding wheat and 2. sugar, oil and syrup heated too long becomes toffee when cooled (that was Daur1 but I didn’t know the consequences when she asked,  do you think the sugar has melted now?  So we had rather dark fish tonight – Son1 confirmed there must have been a chemical reaction with the fish! – and yesterday, very crunchy flapjacks in the packed lunches!! 😉 Daur2 lost a bit of tooth was the claim!

Dont misunderstand me, I’m not a terrible cook; I can do jollof rice, rice and peas, chicken & rice – you see the connection?  🙂 And I generally cook from scratch – none of us like the taste of preservatives (does anyone?).  And our children are healthy.  (It’s only recently that Daur1 is trying a wheat free diet).  But it takes effort, and I know my limitations – sweet/ dessert stuff,  I must follow a recipe – I cannot throw things into a bowl and produce a palatable cake!! I have a small repertoire of meals and recipes which has kept our family going for 17 years – it’s when something changes (e.g. wheat free meals) that I have to start again!

The bottom line is that I’m not really into food and never have been – I could probably live off granola, fruit juice and mackerel fillets in sunflower oil!!  I do not have a refined palette.  My dear husband feels I’ve definitely lost touch with my African roots when it comes to food!!

the begging person

Dear friends

Yesterday was parents’ evening at our eldest daughter’s school. During a break between appointments, we walked down to the local shop for a drink – I had come straight from a work meeting and our daughter had stayed on from school. As we approached there was an older man sat on the pavement outside the shop asking for spare change. I literally had none since I was heading for the ATM machine in the wall, where a younger man sat, also asking for change.  I gave nothing to either man and we headed into the shop.

As we went round, selecting cookies and drinks, my daughter began talking of homeless people needing to help themselves and how they’ll probably spend it on cigarettes or alcohol.  I said little in response because in my mind I kept seeing the old man. As we came out the shop, heading back to the school, I gave a coin to the old man.

Typically, I don’t give anything to people begging on the street though I recognise one must have little other options at that point.  I haven’t, consciously, made any judgement on what they may or may not spend the money on. It is simply a case of my own perception of me and my family. I feel we have sufficient for our needs, but not an excess. Apart from a few days at the temple over the last few years, we’ve never been on holiday together.  All the children have had to wait for new school shoes at some time,  including this year and we’ve all worn clothes from the charity shops.  I do pay my tithes, fast offerings and donate to other humanitarian funds which support people all over the world.  I guess I have justified not giving away more because we don’t have a whole lot in the first place.

After parents’ evening, we walked back past the shop, back past the old man, who was now smoking, who did not ask for money.  He recognised us by asking for no more than a brief smile.

As I’ve thought on this brief experience last night, and pondered why I felt impressed to give when so many times I haven’t, I have been taught, and I hope I am humble enough to learn and make a difference to my actions and motivation in the future.

The Saviour’s observation of the widow giving her ‘mite’ came to mind, Mark 12 verse 44:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

So, I may not have abundance, but I do have more than some and when we truly serve others, maybe it should stretch us.

Also, King Benjamin’s beautiful sermon on how we should serve, including towards others, Mosiah 4 verse 19

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have,…

I do rely upon our Father, I do cry for help and forgiveness and I feel he was teaching me that I can do more, I can be a better rescuer 🙂

a thought on ranting

Dear friends
A thought – when I was younger, my big sister used to tell me to stop moaning.  This probably happened frequently because I still remember it now. I always felt justified, of course, but I think my sister learned early on something that it has taken me considerably longer to learn.

Some things we may feel are worthy of a rant or moan…

Like the guy driving in front of you, in a huge range rover with smoked windows who doesn’t know how to use the indicators when turning and appears to be on a mobile phone.  Grrrr…

Like those people who feel it’s OK to squeeze toothpaste from the middle of the tube and leave it that way for the next person… 🙂

Like the wages of professional football (soccer) players, oh, and public servants expenses…

But after my rant, I rarely feel better – I mean feel (really stress that word feel) better. Do you?

So, now I try to not moan or rant about things that I can’t or am not prepared to change.  It doesn’t mean that I passively accept all things, but I try to be like Nephi after his brothers were tied him up to leave him to be eaten by wild beasts in the wilderness, 1 Nephi 7 verse 21 (a fairly just reason, I think, to moan…)

…I did frankly forgive them all that they had done,…

That’s how I deal with matters when other people are involved,  which is most of the time.  At the end of the day other people have a choice,  and although it’s hard when their choice directly impacts our lives – e.g foolish car drivers, I try to forgive them.  My personal measure of if I have forgiven, I try to imagine how I’d feel if I saw that person in real need, and no one else were around (a good Samaritan scenario – Luke 10 verses 30 to 37) would I help?

And when others aren’t involved, then I need to forgive myself, change if necessary, and move on.  Those words of Queen Elsa – I promise not to quote Frozen too often 🙂 – apply to ourselves:

Let it go! Let it go!!

change

Dear friends,

change is necessary for progress

that’s my motto. I tell myself this when things are going well and when things are going not so well.  I also remind our children of this as they face new schools or classes – do you really think you’d want to be thirteen and still in primary?
Not sure why I thought of that this morning but hope it encourages you to face what you have to! 🙂