Thursday, 3 September 2015

Hole In Wall

Right this minute there is a hole in my sitting room wall. Panic not, people, it goes up, before out. When I left the house early yesterday evening the landlord was perched on top of the chimney mildly cursing...as landlords do?

You want the story?

Installation of a closed stove. Pending installation? Potential installation?

Some of you will know that its a rather old (in places dodgy) cottage I live in, so it will surprise you not at all to learn that the installation was not progressing as hoped.

The plumber, referred to as 'yon fella' by the landlord,R, arrived yesterday about 2 o'clock and within 30 minutes had  the carpet rolled back, furniture moved (myself having emptied the room of sundries last Wednesday when Yon Fella was first expected), ripped out the 1950's? '60's? fireplace surround and were navigating around the piano with barrow loads of shovelled rubble and debris. Next the  back boiler was dismantled and hauled out, soot and substantial trickles of water all across the floor. Luckily there's no foundation so I guess most of it just soaked into the ground between the tiles.

I will post photos when it is done, because the remains of the original fireplace which emerged were quite interesting, typical 18th C rural Irish, which is appropriate to what I know of the house.

Apparently the chimney has to have a 'liner' inserted, so next thing R. is strolling around the roof with the QE2 on his shoulder...actually its more of a long metal bendy tube which had to be slid down the chimney, with a rope attached to the end so that it could be pulled from below in case difficulty arose, which of course it did.

A sample of the conversation being yelled between Yon Fella, crouched in the fireplace with his head up the chimney, and R. sitting atop the chimney:

YF: Let it down easy now, I've the rope, twist it as ye go.

R: Can ya see it? I've a good part down.

YF: (tugs on the rope) Not a bit. Would there be a kink in this chimney?

R: There could be anything in this chimney for all I know. Have ye got it yet?

YF: (tugs again) Nope. Can ye see anything?

R: I'd say it was relined recently, its definitely not the original chimney.

YF: Recently?

R: 20's maybe, good strong brick. (no body asked 'which '20's?' 17s?18s?19s?) Throw me up another bit of the ould tape till I try something.

YF: (goes out to van, rummages, tells me to duck and fires a roll of tape onto the roof which R catches) How can ye not know which way the chimney goes?

R: Was I here when they built the damn thing? Try now...

At which point I unfortunately had to leave, but I expect my absence freed up their language which probably expedited success. By the time I returned last night the lining was through and various  cementings had been done, the water had gone and there were no dead or wedged bodies that I could see.

And that, dear readers is how it stands. No sign of them this morning but sure its early yet for Yon Fella to be about. I swear R will have him murdered before the job is done. Like many plumbers round here he is as unreliable as an Irish Summer but just as pleasant when he finally arrives.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Yet Another Stupid

Yesterday mid to late morning I received a call from a friend: 'We're having an early lunch at the café down the road from you, come join us! Ten minutes!'

Oh how lovely, sez I and rush around collecting keys, phone, money, put the fire-guard in front of the fire (yup, still not warm enough to let the fire die out), lock the back door, jump into the car, look at the clock and think: 'What a cinch, I'll easily make it in ten minutes.'

Something felt funny though and I looked down at myself to find...

...I was still wearing my pyjamas!

Aaagh!

(The weather is so bad and drying clothes so difficult that I've been staying in pjs until all the chores are done, as its easier to launder them than jeans or tracksuit pants, and cleaning out the fire etc gets pretty mucky.)

So I leapt out of the car, rushed into the house to dress and comb hair and then got caught behind a four-miles-a-fortnighter at the end of the lane. I was only five minutes late though, which, considering the circumstances was pretty amazing of me, don't you think?

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Things My Mother Never Told Me...

...but I probably should have realised?

Children only seem to move out. When you least expect it, up they pop.

They may pack their 'stuff', empty their room (and the fridge and the kitchen utensils drawers and the bathroom toiletries), say 'bye' most cheerfully and you think 'ah! the place to myself' till mid-term/ Easter/ Christmas/ or whatever, put up your feet, get out all the books you have hidden to read in peace...and a week or so later they text 'c u @ wknd'.

I have to say that one good thing about my girls is that they seldom bring their laundry since my drying facilities are along the lines of the Widow Twankey's, i.e. draped round the kitchen, but they waltz in with comments like:

Where's the spare towels? why d'you move them?
Can you just run me into town to see...and I'll call you when I want collecting...taxis out to your place are so dear, you know that.
Where's the bread I left in the freezer? She ate it? Huh!
Have you no biscuits?
Where's the second book of that trilogy you were reading? Can you finish it please by tomorrow as I was really hoping to take them with me?
Did you move my shampoo? No I didn't take it (frantic rummage)...oh maybe I did.
I can't find the muffin pan...she took it? Well she shouldn't have as it was yours and anyhow I wanted to take it back with me.
I can't find your black cardigan, I'll take your red one it'll do and your black shoes, you won't be needing them til after Christmas. (which Christmas?)
And I need a spare duvet cover and some pillowcases as I've friends coming to visit...

You get the drift right?
And then I think of all the parents who would love their children to visit.
And then I look at my depleted wardrobe and wonder why I only ever have the really tatty clothes left...

...and the depleted fridge...bathroom...linen press...and I haven't even catalogued the sewing notions which have disappeared...

I am grateful, really, I love 'em...but I'm still waiting for that empty nest syndrome 'they' speak of, its more like overflowing borrow syndrome around here!

Is 'no' a real word?

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.

Huh?

Oh...

Well...

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?

Yup!

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?'

HA!

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?

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