SmartWool PhD Socks!!


In April, San Francisco temperatures will average 10°C to 17°C approximating a cold winter’s day here. Scotland will average 0°C to 10°C, possibly like the cold winter’s days at W’s old family farm at Barryrenie near Cowra.

I have a great drawer full of SmartWool socks, which socks I discovered about 6 years ago. They are toasty warm and squeezy comfortable in all the right places due to the PhD elastane., and have a fantastic range of colours and designs. Great for the cold, or painful or puffy feet! I wear them most of of the year, except the hottest weather, with my sensible shoes.

New Zealand grows the wonderful merino wool, and California manufactures them. I have chosen six, now packed into the suitcase, and will wear the black PhD knee-highs on the plane……..


Currently reading “The Flight of the Heron” which is going slowly, mainly as it is my “bath” read. It was written by D.K. Broster, a woman who had worked as a nurse in WW1, and later worked as secretary to the Professor of History as Oxford writing this book in 1925. My copy dates to the compulsory read from my Grade10. Thus, it is (softcover), yellowed, very soft and pliable as a whole (will roll easily into a small tube), with a gentle smell of book. Back in the day, I never did really understand it or its historical background, but was very taken with the romance between Ewen Cameron and Alison, and would skip large tracts to where their names stood out together.

My copy's cover
My copy’s cover

Now, I am loving the historical context which Broster drew beautifully. I now understand that the English held Edinburgh castle, while The Pretender (to the British Crown)’s son, Bonnie Prince Charlie, passed through Holyrood House, (where W and I will see Queen Mary’s bedroom soon), separated by The Royal Mile.

Loving subtlties like Gaelic place names, as well as terms of endearment, e.g mo cridhe, meaning ‘my heart’. And also Scottish fey, or superstition……..the Flight of the Heron and its portents were predicted by the ‘taibhsear’.

66 years later, Diana Gabaldon published Outlander. This, too is strewn with gaelic terms, especially of endearment. Here is a great list of some.


More of Outlander, Claire and Jamie later, to be sure.

Granma told me on several occasions she was sure she had Scottish fey…………



For Nick, Jen and Boyd….

  Rudyard Kipling
“The Power of the Dog”

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;

And when we are certain of sorrow in store,

Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware

Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie —

Perfect passion and worship fed

By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair

To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits

Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs

To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find — it’s your own affair —

But . . . you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,

With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone — wherever it goes — for good,

You will discover how much you care,

And will give your heart to a dog to tear.
We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,

When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,

At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,

That the longer we’ve kept’em, the more do we grieve;
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,

A short-time loan is as bad as a long —

So why in — Heaven (before we are there)

Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

New Year

It is 10 weeks till The Man and I set off around the world. I have been preparing for over a year making bookings, researching things to do, organizing cold clothes, brushing up on French, starting Flickr and WordPress accounts, booking Holly into The Pet Motel…..etc. There is only one more booking to do as soon as it is available….the train from Edinburgh to Paris. It is time for me to start packing!……early organized packing, unlike The Man who has previously arrived Stateside in only the pants he stands up in due to packing at five to midnight. The Man has managed to have his suitcase burst apart twice as it was being lifted into the car boot – could it really be bad luck twice?