A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle

To everything there is a season

And how true that is. I am just back home from a wonderful visit with my granddaughter Matilda (and her family!!), and from a week of work at the very nice company Simple Click.

Matilda was her usual lovely self, learning new things every day. I think she might even have remembered me from the last visit, because it seemed to take her less time to feel comfortable with me again. I feel very lucky to be ‘young’ enough to see many years with her ahead of me, getting to know Miss Matilda.¬†Matilda and GL April 2013 1

Back home again, Kenton and I nipped into the village to replenish the cupboards. Sadly, we also received news of a death in the family of a friend. It hit me hard – how can something so terribly sad happen on such a lovely day? How can children be left without a parent? It is beyond understanding.

In our village, if they had been here, the family would be inundated with visitors. It is a time when everyone in the village comes to give you a hug, bring a meal, cry with you. Not for them the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach of elsewhere, where even grieving tears will make people look the other way.

I like the rural way. There is never a way to make the death of a loved one easy, but here, it is somehow easier to see it as a part of life.

You see nature, both good and bad. You see that on the other side we have a young child like Matilda to balance the sadness. She will live, grow and love; that somehow makes life OK for me again.



Childhood memories


Having a new grandchild in the family has made me remember my own childhood. (have I told you yet that I have a new granddaughter? ūüôā )

The oddest memories surface. My mother chasing us into the hallway because the popcorn was burning, and there was smoke everywhere. Moving house to one miles away (only a few blocks, actually, but to a 3 year old pushing her doll buggy, it seemed miles away!) My little sister being born, after I’d been the baby of the family for 6 years. (I didn’t take her arrival very well)

I’ve been looking through old photos today, which prompts even more memories. Take the photo shown here, of my sister and me. On the back, my mother has written our ages (me, 4¬Ĺ¬†and my sister, 6). She has also written the words “Strut Miss Lizzie” on the back. I have vague memories of what this means – going to some friends of theirs, whose wife taught us to sing and dance to the song. The exact details of why we did this escape me, but I’m sure my older siblings remember, so maybe one day they can enlighten me!

You’ll ¬†note from the photo that my sister and I are wearing Christmas outfits. I remember those well, little pinafores made from felt, with felt Christmas trees on them. My mother made them for us, can you believe that? (the same year she made red felt decorations for the tree skirt and the mantlepiece – do you sense a felt theme here?) ¬†I loved those pinafores.

My sister and I

How did my mother do it? She had 5 children, and she still found the time to make clothes for us, to make bread and to make cookies twice a week.

Some of it was down to simple economics, of course, but the extra work for her must have been almost too much at times. Add to her cleaning and sewing the mound of ironing (no ‘easy iron’ in those days), shopping, washing and cooking for a family of 7, and some days that smart, university-educated woman must have thought she’d taken a wrong turn in life.

Yet you’d rarely hear her complain. As we grew older, she developed her own interests, which included running for the school board and volunteer work. I’ve always admired her (well, since I was grown up myself, anyway), and if I can be in any way like her, that would make me proud.



Grandma Larson’s in love…


Most of my friends already know that for the past week, I was in the UK visiting my daughter and her family. There is a new baby in the family, Matilda, and I just had to go see her!

Even my cynical old bones were totally won over by this little mite. It goes (almost) without saying that she is the most beautiful and intelligent grandchild ever, of course! But more than that, she is almost always even-tempered and good-natured. She has a temper, though Рjust delay her feeding by a few minutes, and you are treated to a temper tantrum of fierce proportions! (I like that, actually Рmy pediatrician of years ago said that strong-tempered babies make the most interesting adults!)

Ann and Matilda meet for the first time (photo by Maggs)

I seemed to spend most of the week cuddling wee Matilda. Either that, or I was coddling my own daughter, to try to ease her burden for a short while. Ask her about the cinnamon rolls, and she may even agree with me!

One short week later, and I was on my way home. There were tears, you can believe that. It brought home to me how my own mother must have felt, as she lived in the US, and her granddaughter lived in England. I never really appreciated how hard that must have been for her, until now. I’m sorry I didn’t realise it before, Mom.

Living apart is made easier these days with Skype calls, Facebook updates, mobile photos, and so on – but there is nothing so precious as holding that warm bundle, or as beautiful as seeing my daughter nurse her baby daughter. You can’t get that feeling from a tweet.



Thoughts on Mother’s Day

It’s American Mother’s Day today. It follows UK Mother’s Day (March) and Spanish Mother’s day (last Sunday), so in theory I could celebrate 3 times! It gets confusing sometimes.

Mother's Day card

Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is a day that always brings back memories of my mother. She is no longer here to receive a Mother’s Day card (which I always had to purchase in March, when the English cards were available to be purchased!!), but I miss her still, every day.

I also paused to think about my daughter, who will become a mother herself quite soon.

Daughters are very hard on their mothers – I should know, because I was hard on my own mother. In thinking about it, I believe girls go through a stage in their very young years, where they adore their mother unconditionally. Then come the teenage years, where you constantly argue with her, and you think she knows nothing. She always did everything wrong as a mother, as far as you were concerned.

Then, hopefully anyway, you reach your adult years, where you again adore your mother. But this is a more mature love, where you see her flaws, you know she has made mistakes, and you love her all the same. That’s a real love.

I thought girls reached this final stage in their 20’s, but I think it has more to do with becoming a mother yourself. When you have your own child, you realize that the choices you make for them aren’t always easy or clear cut. You make mistakes, despite your best intentions. And so you eventually come to know that your own mother didn’t actually do such a bad job herself.

I’ve talked a lot about motherhood with my daughter since she found out she was pregnant. As my own mother told me so many years ago, I told that the instant maternal love the books all tell you about doesn’t always happen – it often takes weeks or months to love your child. But that’s ok, because mothers are in it for the long haul.

I also said that she is due for a big dose of guilt once she has that baby Рno matter what, you always feel you could (or should) be doing something better. But like me, and  my mother before me, she will do the best she can, and more than likely, that baby will turn out just fine.

And maybe one day, my daughter herself will realize that her own mother didn’t do such a bad job after all. I look forward to that day!



I am back in Spain from a one-week family reunion in Minnesota. I’m: tired, groggy, lethargic. The typical results from a long-haul flight, in fact!

The family reunion was, as usual, lovely. I know, I know. “Lovely” seems a rather insipid word to use when speaking of emotional matters, but it is fitting nonetheless.

My family is, I think, a fairly typical second generation American family. Transplanted from Scandinavia, my ancestors moved to the midwest to form new lives, taking with them many of the personality traits that served them well in the “old country”, as my grandmother called it. We were raised to not “flap about” over the little ups and downs of life. Not for us were the tempestuous emotions of other immigrants! We were not encouraged to show much in the way of anger or passion. Calm, polite natures were encouraged. (My husband always says that you can tell when a Larson is angry by the slight raise of a disapproving eyebrow)

It’s not quite that way now, of course. As we have grown older, we have changed and grown. I have quite enjoyed my own changes, and am not afraid now to show anger and other emotions (still in a polite Larson way, of course!!)

Anyway, I digress. The reunion was “lovely”, I had a chance to talk to everyone in the family, including my wonderful nieces and nephews. Although happy to be back, I miss them already.

Guys, thanks for making my week great!

My "baby sister's" kids - what a gorgeous niece and nephew!