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

Enclosure
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.

Grrrrr....

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.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Running Out

What would you do if you knew that your time was running out (your own, not a friend's or a family member's, difficult as that is, I know)?

Think about it...

Would you rush to cram in all the things you'd planned for the next thirty years and wouldn't now have the ability for?
Would you take it easier in the anticipation of making your body last a few years longer and hope that at a slower pace you could achieve some quality of living, albeit not precisely what you had planned?
Would you be so swamped with hopeless plans that total inertia would ensue?
Would you give up?
Would you ignore the situation and carry on living as normally as possible until your body put you in a wheelchair?

If there is one thing I have recently learned it is that being brave, positive, supportive of a friend and daughter in their illness is a far, far easier thing (and its still tough as hell) than being brave and positive for oneself.

A friend who has cancer decided that he would climb the four highest peaks in Britain and Ireland. Whether he reaches the top is irrelevant to the project, he will climb as far as he can. He is in Kerry at the moment with a crowd of friends, different friends for each peak! He is having a whale of a time, motivating and inspiring everyone around him which is truly amazing to see.

I know I refer to Eldest and her fibromyalgia from time to time, but she continues to amaze me with her determination that despite being crippled with pain and needing constant support and help with everyday tasks and living, this condition is not going to remove her future. At present she is back at University doing a Masters, hoping to be qualified for a more sedentary career, its not her dream but she adapts.

We all know of other people, young, old, not so old, who have suddenly had their futures diverted through illness and unlooked for disability. Some of them turn into amazing people who inspire others, I guess everyone has their level which they need to find.

Perhaps we can look at it as a shot across the bows, an early warning that one is not immortal (did we think we were?) and had better get on with real living. Maybe we are the lucky ones, others have their lives snuffed out with no warning who were definitely not ready to go.

People say 'where's there's life there's hope', but have they have ever considered how it would be living with chronic, debilitating, incurable, long-term pain knowing exactly the prognosis and the destination, if not the time frame? Can they imagine waking up every single morning (if indeed they have slept) feeling they have simultaneously been beaten up, run a marathon, got early Alzheimer's and maybe a dose of 'flu?

We can be cheerful, optimistic, smile when we can't move, try not to break other people's crockery or fall over in public and embarrass you, we can take well meaning useless advice and platitudes with a gracious smile, and judgemental attitudes with an even wider gracious teeth grit, we don't look ill so we can pretend for your sake that this disease is temporary because we know your mind can not contend with our problems, we can try not to resent your comments that since we are looking good and laughing we must be 'better', but still we know there is no hope for improvement, the pain is turning our brain to mush and our time is running out.

Go with your happy optimism, we will try to buy into it where we can but please do not presume to know what it is to be us.

And yet, underneath the pain, disability, fear, endurance, black humour, we remain the same person we always were.

Welcome to our new world.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Potted Kitchen

The other day I bought me a shelf for the kitchen because there just isn't enough storage...
well, ok, maybe I have too much gardening junk...
and the trouble with gardening junk is that it's so bulky and messy:
So for the moment it is relatively tidy, or at least compact in its untidiness!
 
But hey! Look what I found after I had finished:
 I have a kitchen table! And there was me thinking it was a potting bench under all that 'shtuff'!!
 
Ya sure do live and learn!!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Ramson Pancakes

Do you know ramsons, otherwise known as wild garlic?
Well they are just coming to the end of their season about now, but for the last few weeks I have been picking the leaves for salads. Verra tasty! Then I saw a recipe for adding ramson leaves to pancake batter:
It was delish! And you know that virtuous feeling when you've achieved something really good without paying for it??? Added bonus!
 
It was such a wet, cold day that I ate my lunch by the fire. 


Total decadence so!!

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