About Me

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Typical Piscean, dreamer, story teller in the tradition of my country, I love to write. I'm not sure that I'm any good at it, but getting the words down has its reward.

29 June 2016

So I said to him..."Do Not mention Galway to me..."

Last Saturday we had a day of Summer.  In the midst of all this rain, it was balmy, we lunched in the garden and even Mme Pounce was feeling benign towards the baby Blue Tits.  She waved a lazy paw at them as they swooped past her on their way to the new bird feeders.
The good weather was obviously having an effect on Himself and he chose right between the second cup of tea and a dish of home grown strawberries to mention a trip to Galway.  Having had a peek at the week to come weather wise, Atlantic gales followed by rain, rain and more rain on Wednesday and Thursday, I issued an ultimatum.  Don't mention Galway unless you have thoroughly checked the forthcoming weather forecast.  We're off to Navan tomorrow instead.  By car. In comfort. Dry. There is an antique store up there that I have a passion to explore.  I need a new desk.  Investigation day in Auctioneer/Antique store #1234,5678,999 coming up.
I'm not looking for something ridiculously expensive.  If it has a couple of homely dents in it, so much the better.  When Mme Pounce decides to use it as a sharpening post behind my back, I promise her fan club faithfully I shall not assassinate the hussy for the damage.  I might get forgetful about cuddles though.
One of my elderly cousins died last week.  She celebrated 92 years last October, and was hale and hearty living her own independent life until fifteen months ago.  An early breakfast accompanied by cover to cover reading of The Irish Times every morning, followed by daily Mass in the local church, home after a coffee with one or other of the millions of friends she had, and a phone around to all the children [Mondays] grand-children [Tuesdays] and great-grand-children [Wednesdays.  Thursday morning was grocery shopping in the local small supermarket; delivered by "that young lad Seamús" that afternoon.  Seamus was 62 and was in the same swimming club as I was when we were children, but at 92...62 is a baby.
Friday was Day Trip day with the Ladies Club and Saturday was housework day.  Sundays were organised around the two children [57 and 63 respectively] living locally and the second and fourth Sundays were Mass at 10 a.m., lunch with newspapers in a local pub and an examination of each issue in the paper with friends.  Evenings spent playing the piano.  In fact, she often made it clear that family life got in the way of book reading, piano playing and setting the world to rights.

Fifteen months ago she took a bad fall, broke her hip and spent six months in hospital.  This lady who, up to her fall, talked two miles to my home village every afternoon and took the bus back to her own village, hail, rain or snow, was disgusted that following the fall, she had to use a walker and the two mile trip was a thing of the past.  One thing followed another and she began to suffer stomach pains, a thing unheard of in someone with the constitution of an ox.  A tumour developed and was rampant and inoperable before you could say ~Atisshoo~, and on the 19th of this month, she stole away peacefully in the night to join her husband, her closest friend and cousin my Mum, and all the generations of a family of whom she was extremely proud.

I shall miss her dreadfully.  She was my last link to my Mum.  They were almost identical in looks, being cousins and best friends and close as children and adults, listening to her was like hearing Mum's soft gentle voice again.  Edwina [Edie] was wonderful when Mum passed on.  A tower of strength.  Many's the night we talked about their childhood here, where I live. 

Thirty years and some months separated us in age, and, in keeping with family tradition she was the archivist of her branch of the family.  Mum was our archivist.  None of Edie's children ever had the same interest, and I am the last archivist of the family left who actually met a lot of the "older generation".  I have told my girls our history.  YD is the one most likely to continue the tradition, ED will have the written version.

Edie's Grandfather was my Grandfather's favourite brother.  Most alike in looks, mine was the younger, a bachelor until his late 40's, he helped support his brother's ever increasing family financially.  I remember Edie's Grandfather, he used to give me an old 3d on a Sunday "to buy sweeties"; the image of my Grandfather, he is the reason I have a picture in my head of my Grandfather who died in '32 when Mum was three.



Just for to-day Lord
I ask you to stay,
Help me and guide me
on my lifetimes  way,
And when the hour comes Lord
at the end of my day,
I'll go with you Lord
wherever you say.
A prayer Edie taught me as a child.

22 June 2016

That was the week that was...and we could've done without it!

I knew it, the minute OH arrived with bunch of roses from the garden in hand. Spotted what was coming a mile off.  Move over Agatha Christie, Agatha Raisin, Jane Marple, there's a new detective eye on the block!

What the heck is she on about, says you, dear Reader.  Well, the sight of a mixture of Peace, Gertrude Jekyll, Iceberg, and Queen Elizabeth roses alerted me to the fact that OH was about to suggest a few days in his home townland.  Sister in law being otherwise involved this month, [she owns the family home] and with the wet and humid weather it didn't take Einstein to work out that we were, he hoped, going down there for a few days to cut the grass, reclaim the lane from the encroaching bushes, and I could cook for him, tidy up, and watch him watch endless football matches.  I hold my hand up.  I have total disinterest in football, be it soccer, gaelic, rugby unless Ireland is playing, then national loyalty kicks in.  So, making the supreme sacrifice [says she with huge grin on face and laughing so hard the keyboard is confused] I said yes before he asked me.  Ahhh! watch his face light up.

By nature, I am one of those individuals who is not intimately acquainted with boredom.  Once I have a book close at hand, life is good.  My survival kit for these sort of visits down to this neck of the woods is a canvas bag containing

  • Notebook and four pens [in case the ink runs out] for observation notes
  • mobile phone for picture taking
  • No less than three books for reading [for a four day stay]and this time the choice was a detective novel, a book on the lives of the Commanche Indians bought at the aforementioned May Farmer's market  and Conor Fitzgerald's "The Dogs of Rome"
  • plain paper pad for doodles and other scribbles
  • at least two Mozart discs for player - on this occasion Clarinet and Piano concerto's and a jazz cd
  • Battery charger for phone
  • spare batteries for playing Mozart 
  • spare pair of reading glasses
  • tin of mixed herbs and jar of garlic granules to spice up the food
We left home on Tuesday morning, bright and sunny at ten a.m., birds singing their little heads off since crack of dawn at 3.30.  Ten minutes down the M50 and oh frabjous day! The heavens opened, think downpour, aquaplaning, and in the far off distance sheet lightning just to bring back some electrifying memories.  

By the time we reach Mullingar, Himself is fidgeting uneasily behind the wheel of the car.  "Always the same" he mutters, "when the place gets overgrown the flippin rain comes to make sure I can't cut the stuff back" and other such encomiums on the weather, the county, gardening in general and the fact that he has been garden-grumpy for most of May and the bulk of this month so far.

We arrive, eventually, despite a washed out road which made skating on thin ice look tame, to a damp house and sub zero temperatures which made Iceland look like the Bahamas.  It is June for God's sake!!

Two hours later, Aga burning merrily, electric blankets warming up the bed, car looking miserable outside the kitchen window, next door's cat lounging droopily in the door of the shed - mice being reluctant to run around in such weather and birds considering it an insult to their feathers to get wet, we have our lunch.

Beloved cheers up when he realises Somewhere is playing Someplace at three o'clock and his afternoon is sorted.  He switches on the TV and sits back prepared to shout for Somewhere when it occurs to him that the blue screen is very attractive in colour but there are no little figures running around a pitch.  He splutters, mutters, stutters and emits non printable words at goal speed.  "Perhaps", I said helpfully, "if you switched on the switch upstairs and plugged in the lead, you might get a signal".  With a loving look in his eye at me, he races up the narrow stairs and two minutes later Someplace scores the first goal.  Insult to injury don't you know!

I retire with Mozart and Maigret to the front parlour, put a match to the fire [having first checked that the chimney is not blocked].  There have been instances when sooty deceased members of the blackbird, sparrow and finch families have graced the parlour and welcomed my poor sister in law with sooty wing prints on the pale grey walls.

Two hours later, several oceans of grey rain falling out of the gutter like a sheet of grey water, and the grey walls, green carpet, and green suite of furniture have displaced the ability of Mozart and Maigret to comfort me, I saunter into the kitchen where Beloved is sulking.  No, not skulking, or maybe a tiny bit, because Someplace has wiped the pitch with Somewhere and of course it was an unfair match, the referee was blind, the players away with the fairies and the ball didn't magnetically race into the proper goal.  By this stage we decide that if the rain continues, sister in law will not need to have a swimming pool put in the front garden...the rain will do it for her.

We dine at eight, open a bottle of vino and sit back and watch a DVD of a well known spy film.  I'm happy as Pierce sorts out the baddies and Himself drifts off to a dream where Somewhere won by 497 goals to 0.  

Wednesday dawns, and more rain.  The bottom of the garden is flooded and Mr Grumpy is threatening, with a shaken fist, the clouds which float past [menacingly] in return.  

By early afternoon, the thunder and lightning has arrived, The Other Place is playing Where d'ja Call It and as the lightning is close at hand he won't risk putting on the TV.  I have, cunningly, brought a LUDO board with me, and have not forgotten the dice this time, and we pass the afternoon outplaying each other.  The humour he is in, well lets just say he tries to wipe me off the board.  Final score Me 3 games, Him 0.  

I'm a LUDO expert in my own mind, my Mum first introduced me to the game as a child.  I was in bed with one of the many ailments that found their way to me, it and books were the foundation of a sane mind. Well, I like to think so anyway.  Things are not improved by Where d'ja call it beating The Other Place.

By seven the rain has stopped and an orchestra of birds begin to sing at the top of their voices, to the accompaniment of the sound of dripping leaves. The waters are slowly seeping away and we meander around the garden.

Thursday brings a whole new world.  We tidy the rain sodden debris as best as we can.  Sister in law rings to see has the lawn been cut yet, OH tightly replies "no, how the ..ll could I and it raining for two solid days and nights?" and she breaks his heart by telling him it has been lovely "up here".

I suggest we head to Longford Town and picnic on the way.  A friend and former neighbour from the Wicklow days has set up a cake shop in the town and I am keen to see her new premises.  We picnic near the river shown above.  It's the Inny River and anyone familiar with the Percy French song "Ballyjamesduff" will be familiar with the line

Just turn to the left at the bridge of Finea

except, that if you turn to the left you wind up in the hedge or down watching the swans if coming from the other side of the bridge!

My friend is delighted to see us, and we catch up over tea and a bun in her shop in between darts behind the counter to serve the customers.  Her wedding cakes and special occasion cakes are mouthwatering looking, long may she prosper.

In the evening the grass is cut, and the worst of the encroaching hedges trimmed and disciplined.  We decide that if it is raining or looks like it, we will return home the next morning.  Under a lowering sky on Friday we arrive home to sunshine, birdsong and lunch in the garden before, singing contentedly, OH heads off to address a branch on the apple tree which has collapsed and to inspect the tadpole situation in the rockpools.  

12 June 2016

May's Farmer's Market and the rabbits are back!

I was just sitting enjoying a cup of tea early this morning, when it suddenly hit me that it is the 12th of June.  Where on earth have the last few weeks disappeared to?

The start of May found me hobbling around with a badly swollen right knee, compliments of rheumatism.  However, nothing loathe, as the saying goes, Himself and I started the month by driving out to the Farmer’s Market at Kilruddery House in Bray, Co. Wicklow.  It’s a popular destination for all dedicated foodies and many of my friends congregate there on Saturday mornings, sipping Tai Chi latte and herbal teas. 

Me?  Well, apart from the odd jar of chutney, I make a beeline for the book stall and the lovely gentleman who runs it.  Many are the conversations we have had about books; a bookworm himself, he starts gathering what he knows I will like the minute he sees me on the horizon. He never lets me down.  For sheer solid good value this stall is a personal heaven.  For the princely sum of €18 I came away with a Maigret novel, a book on the Comanche Indians, Art in the great houses of Ireland, a cookery book for a friend and a history of Ireland.  All the books are in excellent condition and cost roughly €3 to €4 each.

I have to say I was less enamoured of little Sophie, [approximate age six, mass of curly nut brown hair, red ribbon, electric blue socks in white sandals, lime green cardigan and floral pinafore with a cyclamen pink tee-shirt underneath].  Sophie, or Soapy as her brother called her [clearly a discerning ten-year-old] was informing her mother and all and sundry that she would not ****ing well sit down and that she didn’t like her mother one ****ing bit.  I’m sure there are gentlemen who work on the docks whose hair would turn grey to hear Soapy’s language.  In another day and age her mouth would have been washed out with soap. 

Mum [harassed looking thirty something in check shirt, white tee shirt and tatty jeans with brown high heeled shoes] wearily begged darling not to be naughty and to sit down and eat the nice slice of apple strudel; Soapy’s response was to kick her mother with great precision in mid-calf with some force.  Her face in a rictus of agony Mum again begged darling to be a good girl and not to do that again or she would be put on the naughty box when they got home.  Darling kicked Mum twice in quick succession for good measure while sweeping a mug of coffee off the table.
While Soapy was multi-tasking, Edward dear, the discerning ten-year-old, was, while examining the contents of his upper nasal passages, removing a five euro note from Mum’s purse while she was facing towards Darling Sopheeeeeee.  Pocketing the moola, he then sauntered over to eye up the cakes.  What a multi-tasking pair of little darlings they are.  If Mum lives long enough and doesn’t collapse from high blood pressure she will no doubt be enormously proud of his entrepreneurial skills when he is in his twenties, and Soapy’s skills as a prop forward on some unfortunate rugby team.
I’m not entirely convinced that all this no slapping thing is working; a generation of self-centred selfie taking individuals is beginning to show itself up.  Enraptured with themselves and with little or no sense of discipline I sometimes fear for the future.  However, on a brighter note, there are pockets of down to earth endearing children who will make the world a better place, that’s if the selfie groups let them impinge on their universe.

Gradually, over the course of the month the knee got better with the improving weather, and life returned to normal.  YD embarked on a major makeover of her room, and I look forward to the reveal when OH and I return from a short break to the country.  Inspired by her makeover work and the prodigious amount of de-cluttering she was engaged in, I decided to declutter too. 

I am now minus two pairs of trousers that had seen better days, there were three but I think there is a bit of gardening wear still left in them.  I assembled all the ornaments I decided I wanted to declutter the house from and while passing a local auction house I went in to enquire when the next china/porcelain auction would be.  The Ansley vases I bought at auction there look lovely with the other “for decluttering” stuff, well, I’m not hard hearted, who would love and look after them as well as I would hmmmm?

The June bank holiday brought an end to the mini-heatwave we were having.  On Monday morning OH came into the kitchen full of excitement.  “There are rabbits in the garden” he said urging me to come to the dining room window and there, grazing peacefully was Mammy rabbit and her baby.  Now to be known as Mrs Hopsy and Little Speedy respectively.  It has been almost fifteen years since we had rabbits in the garden.  Living cheek by jowl with the fox.  

I have often thought the foxes looked on the rabbits as a sort of winter larder, not to be used while hunting was good elsewhere and in case food was not dispensed from the kitchen window of the house.  Mme. Pounce has discovered Hopsy and I am afraid that she may try to attack Mrs Hopsy. As I said to YD, if it comes to a choice between Mme Pounce and Mrs Hopsy, the rabbit gets my vote.  Mrs Hopsy was with us again today complete with Pounce’s unwanted attention, Little Speedy, I fear, may not have made it past the Bank Holiday.

We had, on Bank Holiday Monday, the worst electrical storm in years.  As YD and I sat enjoying a cup of tea in the kitchen, there was an almighty bang outside and the whole place lit up with an orange glow.  I was sitting near the window and realised that the forked lightning had hit the rocks behind the house.  Suddenly I could feel a tingle all over and my hair stood up like a halo around me.  I'm non the worse for it and indeed haven't felt as good in ages...not that I'd recommend a lightning bolt to anyone as a health treatment.  As OH said, it was lucky I wasn't out in the garden and we can thank the rain for that.