Dundee Spring

2014-04-18 14.41.01

2014-04-18 14.41.44

2014-04-18 14.52.50

2014-04-18 14.53.09

2014-04-18 14.53.27

2014-04-18 14.53.41

Hanging out in the Howff on a sunny day 🙂 Always a delight.

TOA/V: Photography in Dundee

2014-01-08 16.07.09 2014-01-08 14.49.06

There are a couple of good photographic exhibits on right now in Dundee. At the Central Library there’s a great display of photographs of archival material from the building of the original Tay Bridge and then the terrible disaster that occured in 1879 (as immortalised by the bard McGonagall, AKA the worst poet in the world). It’s so sad to read the long lists of those lost, but there’s something especially poignant about the list of lost items retrieved on the shores.

2014-01-08 14.53.37 2014-01-08 14.56.46

At the McManus Galleries they’ve got “A Silvered Light”: curated by Susan Keratcher, the photos have been selected from the Dundee City permanent collection and offer a pictorial history of the city and much more, as native photographers wandered around the world and brought back their treasures captured by the lens. The juxtaposition of time periods, styles and artists’ visions brings out unexpected vision. See the feature on Art in Scotland TV. Also worth a visit is the companion display, “Re:New” which highlights some of the treasures from the permanent collection of modern art. A few were familiar but there was a lot I’d not seen before.

2014-01-08 15.04.13 2014-01-08 15.04.25

There’s always so much to see in Dundee, from the Howff to the memorials for Grissel Jaffray, the last woman executed as a witch in the town (and the subject of the very enjoyable Claire-Marie Watson novel The Curewife). I had been meaning for the longest time to snap a picture of the memorial and the mosaic that leads down the passage off the Murraygate.

PCB The Boys

Of course my favourite photographs have very little to do with art, but the subjects are always a delight even if we’re just hanging around the bus stop on the way to granddad’s on a Sunday.

See the Tuesday round up of overlooked audio and visual gems at Todd’s blog.

Slang Bling at the McManus


My crazy Dundee adventures continue: yesterday I was down at the McManus Galleries getting a prize thanks to Bonnie Bling! I had entered their Slang Bling contest with the word “Oary” which I of course learned from Gary Robertson and The Cundeez long ago on Twitter.

There were other folks there, too! But somehow I ended up getting my picture in the paper because of my story: this word of course led to my being in Dundee — Gary being my punk rock Cupid is how I met my sweetie, Mark.

Bling in the Courier

So despite all the photos they took of everyone there including fellow contest winner Kevin McGinley and the retail co-ordinator for the McManus, Daniel Grey, they used this goofy one of me in the Courier story.


Thanks to photographer Alan Richardson for coaxing me into such a silly pose. Thanks to Hazel Saunderson for coordinating things. They misspelled my name, alas, but the slang words were the important thing (though I’m sure my publishers would have been happy if I’d managed to get a mention of one of my books in the story…)

Test your Dundonian! Do you know what they mean?






Slang Bling

Dundee Lights 2013

There’s an undeniable spirit of hope in the city these days; the final presentation for the City of Culture bid has been made and we have just a few days to wait for the results. In the meantime, magic. 🙂

2013-11-15 17.23.12


2013-11-15 17.23.03

Lightsabre Lantern!

2013-11-15 17.23.53

Marchers assemble.

2013-11-15 17.25.05

This is serious business!

2013-11-15 17.25.53

And a little overwhelming at times…

2013-11-15 17.51.17

Torches like lilies.

2013-11-15 17.51.55

And real torches with fire! Lots of people wrangling them safely.

2013-11-15 17.52.08

Moon over the McManus.

2013-11-15 17.52.51

Champing at the bit.

2013-11-15 18.14.43

Caird Hall by torchlight.

2013-11-15 18.16.06

Mysterious revels.

2013-11-15 18.29.57

And the lights go on!

2013-11-15 18.33.32

The season officially begins.

2013-11-15 18.35.58

The market is open until Xmas.

2013-11-15 16.47.53

Another lovely day in Dundee.

Dundee Spring

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Asking the Right Questions

A torchlight procession during a previous year’s Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations. Photograph: Peter Sandground via The Guardian

I’ll be spending a very windy Hogamany here in Scotland; the gales have been howling the last few nights. It’s been bitingly cold, too, and damp — but at least it’s not been raining as much in the rest of Britain (eep! a lot of flooding).

Unlike Edinburgh, there’s not a lot of Hogmanay fireworks in Dundee due to the austerity measures here. Mark tells me there’s a single rocket going up at midnight to mark the occasion. We shall be sure to shout ‘hurrah’ at the appropriate time.

My usual habit of recent years has been to spend New Year’s Eve with the Patsy to my Edina, Miss Wendy. We shall have to Skype this year, as we find ourselves in different countries this year. I remember fondly our wonderful dinner in Galway last year. And I think we ended up watching the Royles afterward with some bubbly. Laughing is always a good way to begin the year.

(h/t David for reminding me; Huh, beat Terry to it!)

I always bridle at the arbitrariness of calendar dates for momentous decision-making. Every day offers a new chance to begin again. And I’m not so much about resolutions as I am about evolving plans. My constantly revised ‘To Do’ list is a good case in point. I’ve always suffered from having more ideas than I can possibly make manifest in ten lifetimes, so it’s a challenge to decide what I should be working on now (particularly given my need to swap what I’m working on several times in a day).

On the plus side, I always finish what I commit to doing. On the negative side, it always takes longer than I hope it will. Life was particularly difficult during the transition from the Fulbright year to ‘real life’ (i.e. teaching) and it left me frustrated, feeling as if everything was taking too long. With luck the new house and the adjustment to my teaching schedule will reduce the frustration, though I will never write as fast as I want to do.

Making plans for the coming months I’ve been struck by the importance of asking the right questions; I’m sure my colleagues in philosophy will shake their heads over that (‘of course that’s the main thing!’), but the speed of modern life seems to deflect more and more people from asking the right questions. We ask ‘will this keep us from rushing off the fiscal cliff?’ instead of ‘who created this concept and why? and how are they profiting from it?’ People ask ‘why did that woman wear that dress/go to that location/have a drink?’ instead of ‘why did that man think he had the right to rape her?’ so that we do not examine problems of our cultural structures.

What questions should you be asking yourself if you want to really change your life? I suppose the first one is ‘do you want to change your life?’ People often say they do, but they never act upon that. It takes a concerted effort. Don’t make resolutions: make plans. Where do you want to be this time next year? I know where I want to be: I plan to make it so.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~Mary Oliver

Changes ahead in the blog: trying to be more thoughtful about how I do what I do and how I can make it of use to people. I’ve got a few new reviews up at A Knife and A Quill this week. Weird Noir is under submission for an award. More news soon, as usual. A few events upcoming including PCA and the Berkshire Women Writers Festival. A busy bee me! Happy new year: may it be wonderful for you.

From Alba to Albany

By the time this posts, I should be on my way via planes, trains and automobiles (not to mention the bus to the airport in Edinburgh). It’s hard to believe my fantastic year has drawn to a close. Needless to say, I have no wish to leave Scotland and already have my ticket back. My sweetie awaits.

The Fulbright has been a great gift. I have written so much and I have so much more to write. I will be burying myself in the work this fall and hope to have some splendid things to show for it.

I have new friends and new ideas and a whole new outlook. So much has changed and so much more will change.

Classes begin on Monday. It will be quite a shift to be back in teacher mode. Somehow it will happen, but I’m not sure how at this point. I’m sure the mere process of traveling will provide transition as it always does. The “no-time” of airports instantly takes you out of normalcy, so it will doubtless have that effect again.

I’m not looking forward to the jangling roar of constant commerce. I’ve been surrounded by small towns and beautiful countryside much of the time and very few harsh American voices. I’m dreading the political season and the seemingly non-stop vitriol from pig-ignorant zealots that has made people here shake their heads with disbelief (even as their politicians begin to take on the same madness).

It will be a test of my abilities that I have cultivated in the last few years to remain resilient and hopeful, to hold onto that indestructible happiness within me. It cannot be reliant on being in a particular place or with particular people: just me, wherever I am. And I think I will be able to do that. I miss my friends after all, even if I do not miss the country of my birth. Many of my friends have had great difficulties and griefs in the last year while I have been crowing in my happiness. I can do my part to help heal their sorrow. My Kipper has had a difficult year, too. I will be glad to see him once again.

All will be well.