Thursday, 23 July 2015

Not Another One...

Yesterday evening, on my way out to collect a friend, I threw my hand-bag onto the floor in the back of the car and then noticed that someone had put a letter through the guest room window. Since investigating couldn't possibly wait until later I went back into the house to see what it was about. After satisfying my curiosity I returned to the car, climbed into the open door and absently reached with the key for the ignition.

No ignition.




If one gets into the back seat instead of the driver's seat one is unlikely to find the ignition.

Climbed out, got into the front of the car and guess what?


Ignition just where it was last time I drove!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

How Many Stupids?

Wouldn't you have thought that two stupids was enough for a day?

Firstly there was the cappuccino incident, then there was the chicken stock odd-hap as technically it didn't matter but in practice, well, eeeugh and bother. And then, when I really thought I'd done enough for one day there was the dill pickle oops.

So, the cappuccino: (this may not surprise the more regular readers among you, as there have been cappuccino incidents in the past). I keep sugar in a gold tin marked Christmas Spice which used to hold a very nice candle. It is necessary to have foodstuffs sealed in this house as it can be a bit damp (no foundations or central heating, common to most old houses here in the west!). Under the sugar tin resides the curry tin, also gold but clearly marked 'Simba Mbili Curry Powder'. You can see where this is going right? Youngest and I made curry dip to go with the carrot sticks at lunch and I had moved the sugar to get to the curry, so when I went to get sugar for the cappuccino I picked up the top gold tin...and it wasn't sugar!

I pride myself on being thrifty and frugal, but even I could not drink curry flavoured instant cappuccino. Stupid No. 1.

This evening I was filling up my hot water bottle (yup, our summer is so delightfully hot we are still using hot water bottles at night and keeping the fire in day and night), picked up the water jug and as there was steam coming out poured the contents into the hot water bottle. It wasn't until I was stoppering it that I smelled chicken stock and remembered that I had earlier decanted the newly boiled stock into the water jug to cool...what a waste of good stock! I suppose I could have still used it but it smelled kinda rubbery and cleaning out the hot water bottle was no joke either. Stupid No. 2...sigh.

You see why I might be excused thinking that two stupids was enough?

The pickle jar is unimportant too, but annoying. I bottled up some home-made dill pickles to give to people tomorrow and refrigerated the jars. Then this evening I suddenly realised I had forgotten to label them. Forgetting condensation I stuck labels on, which promptly slid off, the ink ran, and I have had to wind sellotape around the jars to try keep the practically illegible labels attached. Very efficient and decorative looking. Stupid No. 3...grrrr.

So Murphy's Law is alive and well and having a great time in my house.

Anyone who wants him can have him.

Soon, please!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The Sandwich Generation

When I first heard the term 'The Sandwich Generation' I thought yummy! coleslaw and bacon? or cheese and ham? But after another moments' thought I decided it was a really condescending term to use to describe a stressful way of living for many, many families. The situation may be more prevalent with our increasing longevity, but people, often women, have been working to keep children and parents, and very often nieces, nephews, uncles and aunts adequately cared for for generations.

What is difficult to understand is the sheer volume of busyness involved in keeping up with all the demands and duties. As a mother I thought my girls were high maintenance as toddlers! Then they got to be teenagers and I thought, well this is fun, but I was permanently wrecked with all their school and activities and friends' socialising. They are in their 20s now and although they are away it shows no sign of slowing down...and they are independent, resourceful young women.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the parents have aged, slowed down and need increasing attention and assistance. There are days I have to decide whose need is greater and let one family member down in preference to another.

And besides all that there is the small matter of part-time work and self-employment to try and keep a roof over my head and stay out of debt.

On any given day I can be listening to one daughter on the phone, having another rock up unexpectedly and wonder why there's no bread in the freezer (another sister finished it at the weekend), help folks with the garden heavy work, assist another daughter with getting the washing machine in her new flat working and then on the end of the phone via multimedia messages (excellent invention) help her find the whereabouts of the water valve when the kitchen subsequently floods, bump into someone else in town and take their shopping home for them so they can have a decent walk (dry days are increasingly rare!), and eventually return home having forgotten to do all my own errands.

I'm lucky as I've only had part-time occupation for years so I have the time for other people, and still time to be ill myself. What about others? Those with bedridden parents or disabled family members? What about those who are financing family members' care and are so tightly strung financially they can't see the wood for the trees? What about those who become so isolated in their busyness of minding others that they become depressed and too worn out to function efficiently. I know several families where the wife works full-time, with children still in high-dependency mode, and parents and parents-in-law who need constant care. What about them?

This may be the reality for many people but it is not easy, usually thankless (who thanks anyone for 'doing their duty'?) and as the only realistic end can be the death of someone, how can they look forward to that without all sorts of guilt and grief?

Like I say, I have it easy compared to many and still my resources are not such that I can offer too much help to others without making myself more ill. Eldest's partner copes admirably with her illness and disabilities, the other girls come and go with just the usual hiccups, my parents are still pretty independent and I have siblings among which to divide the responsibility.

It's a tough situation.

And then some idiot says 'you only work part time? and your children all grown? sure what do you do with yourself?'


Give me a moment to myself and I'll figure an answer to that...

Friday, 3 July 2015

A Summer Problem

The last week or so I keep noticing that my pyjamas are muddy.
Odd, thought I.
How'd my pyjamas get muddy?

Finally I figured why...(intelligence en't my strong suit!)

With the arrival of the lovely warm weather we have been enjoying the last few weeks, I have been getting up very early to make tea then walking straight outside whilst the kettle boils. I pick beans, do a bit of weeding, water the windowsill pots, inspect what new has come up or flowered overnight, and just generally potter in the yard.

Hence, muddy pyjamas!

I know most people would get dressed before heading outside, but even when we were children we used to be outside in our pyjamas, both really early and really late if it was hot and we couldn't sleep. Not an everyday occurrence here in the windy north west of Ireland, but an enduring summer habit nonetheless.

So I guess that muddy pyjamas are just another sign that summer is finally here.

And its beautiful up here under the mountain.
Bag End, home to Mr Underhill?

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Of Things Ancient

On the one evening this week that we had a temporary burst of sunshine I took myself a-walking along a less frequented road below where I live. It was a lovely evening but cold and as usual, I stopped to talk to anyone who crossed my path, a rural Irish habit I have never managed to break no matter where in the world I am. One meets the most interesting people this way.

One person I met was a local farmer, born and raised and lived all his life in the house by the yard where we were standing. Yes, there are still people like that. Was I local? From across the bay, sez I, and pointed, because as you can see from the photo, up here on the mountain one can easily see across the bay. Takes less than half an hour to drive there. Ah, sez he, I was never across that way more than maybe three times in my life, no need to, you know? And town? Well now isn't there everything I need Grange-way? And the hay? Well now its a fierce wet time of it we're having. Interesting and interested.

I know the locals put on the bumpkin Irish for the tourists; I've been guilty of it myself, and, what's more, got a reprehensible amount of enjoyment from winding people up. But when you're local talking to locals you do receive all sorts of information and local folk knowledge just by chatting. A sense of place? Connection? Like minds? Whatever it is it gives me thinks to think.

On the way back I looked for and found the ancient enclosure I had noticed on the map. On the photo above, in between the two parallel field walls there is a transverse wall, like the cross bar on a rugby post. It is the back wall of an ancient enclosure which loops around in a semi-circle, but the rest is too fallen down to be seen clearly. (sorry, phone camera). An ancient enclosure, built more than a thousand years ago, still used as part of the field system. And outsiders wonder why our sense of history is warped, how yesterday can be five or ten generations ago and why we still tell the stories and muddle the 'when's'.

In East Africa I visited Olorgesailie a few times and there I found the same time warp that is all around us here. There were many ancient places like that in East Africa where the past and the present merge, which is partly why the Leakeys found so much in the way of artefacts, and why the Rift Valley is so well documented.

Interesting, huh?

Monday, 1 June 2015

Of Triffids, Sand and Rhododendrons

It is an indication of the long, light evenings that I never noticed this triffid growing since it has obviously been growing for some time! Actually it is jasmine and has been flowering since late November on the inside window ledge. Considering it sulked for about two years I do think I am getting the value from it now!
Triffid- aargh!
On Streedagh during the week the wind was so strong that the sand was in constant motion. It is difficult to see but all those white streaks are lines of moving sand. It doesn't always happen in the wind but when it does it feels like walking in a snowstorm, or how I imagine shifting snow might look, bit warmer though! We are still getting ground frosts at night here, and that is very rare.

Travelling Sand
The rhododendrons are coming into flower, along with the May and the end of the bluebells. Everything is so out of sync as the May and bluebells ought have been over weeks ago. Today we are enjoying gale force winds and pouring rain so no flowers would stay still for photo ops! The cuckoo has been here for the last fortnight, to me the sound is so old world rural, seasons have always turned at the sound of the cuckoo. It is quite rare to hear the cuckoo now, I believe, but perhaps people do not always have the time to listen.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I am so lucky to live where I do. It is a privilege to have the opportunity and the time to watch the seasons and scenery. Of course there are down sides, rural living is not all dreams and daisies, and some of the frustrations are more 1890s than 2015 but for me it is worth it...preferable to living over a pub in the centre of town, although at the time that too was ok in its way.

P.S. Have you ever realised how loud a snail's chewing sounds in the middle of the night? I'm telling you I thought I had a cow in the room and it was only a snail which had managed to find its way on to the spathyphillum on the bookcase.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Darn Cold May

I may have previously mentioned that I don't mind darning or mending clothes. If it fits me and I like it I wear it until it has more patches than my car... except that welding bits on to jeans can become uncomfortable...I won't say I am particularly good at mending, but I wield the ould needle with enthusiasm, in aid of my own apparel and that of friends who ask.

I have to admit though that I consider darning, in particular, a winter sport. (If they had a darning competition in the Winter Olympics I would enter for sure!) So therefore, on May 19th when it should be nearly summer, I am strongly objecting to having had to darn my driving gloves.

The fact that I tore them and they began to unravel is simply one of life's little trials.
The fact that on May 19th the weather remains so cold as to make driving gloves necessary is another matter entirely.

If anyone has a direct line to the Great Weather Co-Ordinator please would they send me the email, Skype or mobile number in the reply box. I would be infernally grapeful as I have a strong complaint to be making.

Thank you.


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