Saturday, 31 October 2009

All Hallow's Eve

Barm Breac- distinctive and delicious!
Soda Bread with the traditional cross on top.
Since it is Hallowe'en today I thought I would entertain you with the way we do things here in the rural West of Ireland.

Oiche Samhain (pronounced 'Eehuh Sowen')was traditionally, ie. from Celtic pre-history until the coming of Christianity, the night when people celebrated their ancestors. This was done as a community through lighting lamps around their burial places and probably pouring libations thereon. Today you won't find many people pouring libations at the old burial sites but lamps and food are still important.
The old traditions continued unchanged until the early 1900's probably, mitigated by attendance in Church for All Saints' Day on November 1st. The Irish have always done precisely as they choose, and then gone to Church after- that hasn't changed a bit!

In the countryside Hallowe'en dinner was traditionally Colcannon and soda bread followed by Barm Breac. Colcannon is a dish of mashed potato and chopped cabbage, and Barm Breac is a sort of raisin cake. There is always a ring in the Breac and whoever gets it will have good luck and a husband before the year is out! There can also be other tokens as another Celtic tradition was to foresee the immediate future or a calendar year, so this morning I included a few other items: a button (bachelor), a cent (poverty), a two euro piece (wealth), and if I could have found my thimble I was going to include that (spinster!). It seems that in Celtic times there were certain points in the year during which it was believed that the warp and weft of time wavered, St. John's Eve on 21st June, Oiche Samhain 31st October, and Winter Solstice, or Yule which I think is 21st December. At these times the past, present and future could sometimes be see or known simultaneously. I don't think this is a belief in magic or anything sinister, as it seems that they weren't given to any of the divination or occult rites which may be found in other pre-Christian cultures. There is still something of it left in the present, a tingle in the air after dark.
Earlier this evening we were outside setting out lanterns and candles in jars and B asked if I could feel the history under my feet? I knew what she meant.
Well there wasn't a chance of B and Co. eating anything with cabbage in, but I made Breac and soda bread for them, as well as all the usual party food- marshmallows, chocolate digestive biscuits, crisps, carrot sticks, and blackberry and apple muffins. They began with the Breac as they wanted the tokens, and when I was last in the kitchen were eating everything in sight! The girls have the house lit with lanterns and candles and it looks great.
If you are interested here is a traditional recipe for Barm Breac:
3 cups sultanas, 3 cups raisins, 2+1/3cups brown sugar all soaked overnight in 3 cups of black tea. Next day stir in 4 cups flour, 3 beaten eggs, 3tsp. baking powder and 3 tsp. mixed spice.
Turn into three greased loaf tins and bake for 1+1/2 hours in a moderate oven, 300 F.
You could do worse than celebrate Hallowe'en the old way, saying a prayer for the souls of the dear departed, lighting a few lanterns and inviting some friends around for a feast! There's a bunch of teenagers in my kitchen who would agree with that!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Thankful Thursday...oops! it's Friday!

Thou hast given so much to me,

Give one thing more- a grateful heart;

Not thankful when it pleaseth me,

As if thy blessings had spare days,

But such a heart whose pulse may be

Thy praise. (George Herbert.)

Yesterday I went to Dublin for the day with Mum, to visit the Knitting and Stitching Show at the RDS, which is why Thankful Thursday is late! So, first my 'Thankfuls' and then my 'Yesterday'!

1. Thankful that last week with the Ma-in -law went so well and I think she had just as good a time as us.

2. Thankful I have managed to catch up on the weariness as well as the chores this week, and am feeling more able for the next half of term and the School and Church music run-up to Christmas.

3. Thankful that the Hub's workplace has lifted the ban on overtime so that he can catch up on all the engineering maintenance as well as accumulated bills, and order oil for us this winter. God's perfect timing AGAIN people!!!

4.Thankful that on Wednesday two lovely things happened:- a friend arrived with a load of eggs (, and then Mom brought her God-daughter to visit my quilt frame so she could figure how to do a similar home-made article. Both those visitors are great people and it was up-lifting to catch up with them and their family newses!

5.Thankful that I got the gumption to start selling my sewings on It took me three 'go's' of at least two hours each to upload the first item, but finally I got it sorted, and I am hoping to upload some more bags as well as three lap quilts when I've finished writing to y'all! Some extra dosh would be nice, but also I think I need to achieve this for my own self-esteem, if that doesn't sound too corny? Anyhow, first bag here:! (As you can see,links are my strong point!)

6. (Afraid I just gotta keep going here...) Thankful Sos and Dilly had a good time together in Dublin this week and they were kept safe from harm- God minds 'airheads' too!

7. Thankful that, although B wants a Hallowe'en Party, she wants a traditional one with a 'Torch Walk' down the lane through the mud and flooded Trickle, a campfire with melted marshmallows, a Barm Breac with tokens and story-telling. Dirty, wet and great fun, no 'nasties'. I dislike the ghosties and ghouls aspect and I am thankful she chose this alternative herself.

8. And the last one; thankful that Mum and I had a lovely day yesterday in Dublin!

We went up on the first train which left at 8.30am, but was really as bus as far as Dromod as they are replacing the bridge across the Shannon. After Mullingar the train was packed as I guess lots of folks fancied a day out! We got the Dart across to Ballsbridge and walked to the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) where we met friends of Mum and had lunch in the Club Members Lounge. It is the most glorious old building and besides that, holds memories for me of being taken there as a child by my Grandmother.

At about 2.30 we finally hit the Show (I thought the grown-ups would never stop talking and get on!), so here are a few photos for your interest:

I was very restrained in my purchases!

Some of the Irish Patchwork Society's exhibits, the theme was 'Journeys'.

This one was stunning, and my photo doesn't do it justice: An overview from the upper gallery, its a pretty old hall, Victorian perhaps? Big enough but not huge like a modern Convention Center, so the aisles are a bit narrow and a lot is crammed in.

After a cuppa tea we got the bus into town for some Department Store browsing and price checks (as in 'Who'd pay that?', 'Ye Gods!'-one of Mum's favourites, '239 euro for THAT?', 'Not bad for a 37 piece Dinner Service, but what are the extra seven pieces?', 'Aren't they cute but I wouldn't want it in my house!'...get the drift?), snacks for the train and a newspaper. Then the Luas back to Connolly Station in the lamp-lit city where we had another cup of tea/coffee and I chatted to a guy carrying a double bass as I remember the days well when I carted my 'bass around and received all the stick- 'big violin, does it fit under your chin?' and 'did your guitar grow?' being the two main ones. I heard someone saying the identical things to this guy which is why I stopped to chat.

Then the last train (and bus) back to Sligo where we were met by the relevant husbands and home just before 11pm.

It was a nice day out, a pleasant break in routine. Sos returned from Dublin on an earlier bus, gathered two friends and headed out on the raz. There appear to be three cocoons on the sitting room floor this morning so I guess its them? And B had a quiet day at home until the Hub returned from his shift and dragged her out to shop for supper...pizzas, despite there being plenty to eat in the fridge and cupboards! Typical Dad! Mine would do the same!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

To sleep or not to sleep - that is the question...

As I woke about 2am and was fed up lying in the dark making mental 'To Do' lists, I got up this morning at 4.15! After a leisurely HOT cup of tea I set to on the kitchen and got lots of chores done before the Hub's alarm went off at 5.15am. It was so peaceful and productive, and I enjoyed ploughing through the 'Jobs Waiting' list.

Afterwards I drove the Hub to work in the pitch dark, and was home again by 6am and in the shower. I love towns and cities at night, or in the early morning before the beast wakes and starts to roar. Years ago the Coast bus used to arrive in Nairobi about 4am and the last hour of driving round the city delivering people was interesting. The street lights made the place exciting and hid the grime, I know it hid all sorts of other things too, but on the surface it was beautiful. And this morning driving through Finisklin Industrial area had a similar feeling for me.

Anyhow: I made muesli (lots of chopping and mixing), the Hub's packed breakfast and lunch, folded and delivered dry laundry and hung two loads of wet washing, put away yesterday's groceries (yeh, yeh, should have been done yesterday I know), figured out a quilt pattern I want to make (after the one I'm about to begin today), put beans on to soak for later cooking as there may be company to lunch, watered the plants (I've a LOT!) (and myself, accidentally), and am now drinking my second cup of HOT tea and writing to you!

Its going to be a long day, I think...

Last night I decided to try and upload some of my hand-made bags to ebay to sell. 'Try' being the operative word! Two hours' work and then I did something silly and lost it all. Clever huh? Well I thought I'd try again later, and if I succeed I'll have a celebratory cup of tea!!!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

I'm Back!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Umbrellas and walking sticks...I'd like to inform you that its back to business as usual!
The past week went grand, and I think that one's Ma-in-law had a good time. After her and the Hub's safari round all the relations in UK it was a fairly quiet week. They had one long day out to the Ceide Fields in Mayo, but mostly just went for scenic drives and long walks locally.

The first evening she arrived B and her friend went to the School Hallowe'en Disco, which is rather a highlight of the term. All the school discos are great fun and all three girls have enjoyed them over the years- they are so strictly 'policed' by the teachers that I've always reckoned it to be a controlled exposure to 'going out'. B and her friend dressed as 'Good Conscience' and 'Bad Influence', and here they are with Ma!
Another morning we took the dogs with us and had a lovely long walk on Streedagh Beach.
On Friday it was School Prize Day, and since Dilly had come down to see Ma, Dilly, Sos and Ma went to Prize Day. B was singing in the Choir. They all enjoyed it, and then Dilly took them all out to lunch in town, and around the French Market, which is here for the October Bank Holiday Weekend each year.
Saturday morning the Hub took Ma to Dublin Airport to return to East Africa, and Dilly to collect the trunks we'd lent to the theater in August. Dilly remained in Dublin as she had work on Sunday.
After that I ground to a complete halt and it has taken me until today to catch up on cleaning, laundry, tidying up and replenishing the pantry! This afternoon Sos got the bus to Dublin to stay with Dilly and see what her work entails, as well as going to two plays. B has just returned from a day in town with a friend wherein they went to the cinema.
And so it goes. This week is half-term for B and Reading Week for the other two so I plan to take it easy and do lots of quilting! Early start tomorrow morning though as my car is finally in the garage and the Hub leaves for work at 5.15am, and guess who is driving???

Monday, 19 October 2009


Since we have guests this week, and the computer is in the guest room, this is just to let you know I will be unavailable! Look forward to catching up with y'all next week when it will be the mid-term break as well as collapse-in-a-heap-time!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Where has all my Friday gone?

Since I have two guests coming this weekend, a friend of B's for two nights tonight, and the Hub's Mother tomorrow afternoon, I think I'd better be getting on with the housekeeping. A mattress shaped space needs clearing upstairs for a start, as well as cleaning, laundry, baking, and bathrooms cleaned. Also the dogs have hidden something in the hall I think as there is an odd smell so I need to find out what it is before it becomes a bad smell! (and remove it...)
I had B in school by 8.10 am, I suspect she was early as she had forgotten to do some homework but I'm not sure, and the grocery shopping done by 9.30am which I thought was fairly efficient, and then stopped by the folks to see all was well and, as usual stayed too long. Bro and a sister arrive today for the weekend so we are all at dinner with the folks tonight, even more reason for me to get my skates on here.
Anyhow, here are two photos I took yesterday evening on the bridge in town- just as a moment of serenity! Oh and I had a lovely time with my friend yesterday evening, we talked so much we got locked into the coffee shop without noticing- the staff just left us yakking and got on with doing all their clearing!!! When we found out we laughed so much- actually we didn't discover until B arrived down from school and thought I was joking when I said I was still in Pepper Alley! 'But Mom, its all locked up!'
Have a good day and I hope to catch up with yous all tomorrow!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Thankful Thursday!

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more- a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

George Herbert.
Herewith this week's 'Thankfuls'!
1. The ubiquitous 'they' resurfaced our lane yesterday- hurrah! hurrah! No more rappelling down gorges, leaping crevasses, tumbling into pits, paragliding across trackless wastes, swimming through rushing torrents, or stalling in mudslides just to get the half-mile to the main road! 2. Today at 3.oo I am going into town to a coffee shop to meet a friend for tea, and if you think that's mundane you don't read my posts very often! Its REALLY exciting! Both of us have organised to be childless and we are so looking forward to a conversation in which we can each FINISH our SENTENCES! We chose a coffee shop with good cakes and fruit eats too so I'm telling you that this is one MEGA-event!

3.Look what I found along the lane this morning:

I thought the diggers and machines laying the water pipes over the last six months had destroyed all the blackberry bushes as they've bashed the hedges round pretty badly, but I'm delighted to report that there's enough blackberries for at least one crumble and possibly a pan of blackberry sauce to go with Sunday lunch's ice-cream!

4. You can laugh at this 'thankful' if you want, but this morning I thought I'd go to the Farmers' depot and get bedding plants for the window boxes to beautify the outside window sills before my mother-in-law arrives on Saturday. I LOVE the Farmers' depot/warehouse place down on the Quays! Its got hardware, paints, fencing, pet food, plants, hedging, farm implements, gardening tools, thick socks and gloves, turf bales, gumboots, buckets, horse food, fertilizer, coal scuttles, compost, bins, lambing supplements, fence wire, oh you name it all mixed up in the most unruly manner. The girls love it too as you just never know what you'll find next. Two months ago they moved into a huge new purpose-built warehouse and extended their yard, but all they've done really is to give themselves more space and appear to be more organised! It smells of earth and plants and hardware, there's generally dirt on the floor and the farmers all go in in their wellies and dirt and you can wait ages to be served if the guy in front is taking forever to explain just what he needs. The people who work there are all country folks and there's never a hurry nor a bother on them, and there's generally one or two tractors and trailers in the carpark. It drives some people mad I know but I really love it; for all its new appearance it is still stuck in the 19C and with the values to boot!
Anyhow, apart from the treat of spending a while there this morning I got several plants- 6 pansies, 6 cyclamen (Mum calls them 'sickly men'!),4 cultivated primroses, 6 button daisies, and a lovely pyracantha. The man in the nursery section picked out a pyracantha with lots of berries ready to ripen. I've got several little plants of variegated ivy so I think they'll make a nice group of window boxes. Well, not the pyracantha, I'll put that in a big pot by the door for now, and then see if it would prefer the ground next summer perhaps.

5. When I was coming out of the Bookshop this morning (and f.y.i. -Diana Gabaldon's new book 'An Echo in the Bone' hasn't yet been released here) the river was looking lovely and there was a beautiful rowan near the bridge. Luckily I had my camera so here you are:

...looking upstream...

...looking downstream... ...and the rowan.
The Garavogue River goes right through the middle of town, and the estuary and quays begin the other side of this bridge. There is one more bridge, beyond which the ocean going yachts and ships moor, but basically Sligo squeezes itself into a space between the sea and Lough Gill, which is why hockey-, tennis-,rugby and foot-balls, can sometimes be seen floating through town along with ducks and swans, the school Canoe Club and fishermen on every bridge. Just your average Irish town really but I love living back here. The Autumn colours are becoming more pronounced now but as I'm always driving its difficult to catch them on camera for you. Still, they are lovely and I'm thankful for the beauty of it all!

And there they are, this week's 'thankfuls'!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Things Maritime

School went fine this morning, nothing wonderful or strange. After I'd finished all my classes I decided to go out to Rosses Point for a walk along the Promenade. It is a rather grey but the breeze off the channel was fresh and it was a very peaceful hour, most refreshing to the soul!

I took a few photos for yez!
Rosses Point Church, part of our parish and where the Hub often takes Services.
The lighthouse on Oyster Island with Coney Island in the background, Coney is inhabited year round, Oyster is just used for grazing.
Peculiar place for a cat to sit, I thought, but I guess the rocks are warm!
The wreck of an old fishing trawler beside the road, its been there for years, breaking up gradually with each storm.
If you fancy some ready-salted blackberries here they are, but I didn't have the courage to lean out over the water to pick them!
And one last item for your amusement which I discovered on the kitchen notice board this afternoon, its been there a while but I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it:

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark
1. Don't miss the boat.
2. Remember that we are all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
4. Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
5. Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
8. Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
9. When you're stressed, float a while.
10. Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
11. No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting...

Happy paddling folks!

P.S. Since I wrote the above I discovered our water has been turned off, so perhaps the title should read 'Things Maritime and Drought'? Bet Noah didn't have this problem- but no doubt it will be resolved by the end of the working day!

P.S. 2. When I tried to leave the house to collect B from late hockey practice I found workmen had parked a steam-roller across my gate: Steam-roller v Fiat contest! What a day! But the water is back at least...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

An Outing

Today the folks went to Enniskillen (Northern Ireland) for the day so I hitched a ride too. We did various bits of shopping and I got a pair of summer trousers in M&S, not much use at present, but you never know what the weather will be like next summer!

Tell you a funny story about Enniskillen: Back in 2002 (I think) when B was eight (I think) my older sister went to work for the summer at Glacier Bay in Alaska. There was a lot of chat about it,postcards, looking at photos, and some of the family went out to visit her, more photos etc. At the end of the summer, about the time she was due home I took the girls to Enniskillen for the day. B was good as gold for hours of shops and errands and then suddenly mid-afternoon she burst into tears in the middle of the grocery store! I was horrified and we all crowded round asking what was the matter? She finally wailed: 'If this is Alaska I want to see W (my older sister)!'
Talk about crossed wires! Just shows you how small people can misunderstand things too. It took some explaining, but ever since then, Enniskillen has been referred to as Alaska!

So today I went shopping in Alaska!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Harvest Service

Here's something to amuse you: I went out to empty the ash bucket into the compost bin this morning and, as usual, knocked on the bin to evacuate the mice before lifting the lid. You can often hear them skittering away but this morning the skittering was somewhat stampede-ish and I could feel it reverberating up through my feet! 'Janey!' I thought, 'some mouse!' Then I realised there was a cow behind the tree behind the compost....its OK Heckety, the mice haven't grown overnight!!!

Yesterday Morning the Children's Harvest Service went pretty well I think. My singers sang fine, and although they didn't all turn up, and there were several minor hiccups, I think they enjoyed themselves. I didn't manage to get a photo in between all the hopping on and off the organ stool and sorting out of queries, but I did get a few photos (when they were rehearsing) of a modern parable which Sos and B presented:
The Parable of the Gardeners.
Once there were two Gardeners who went out and got fine seed and good tools and came home and planted everything.
After planting, the first Gardener sat down for a cuppa tea, watched gardening programs on TV, and read gardening magazines to find out all about gardening. The second Gardener watered the plants, built shelter for them, and weeded around the seedlings.
At the end of the summer the first Gardener came out to inspect the plants and was dismayed to discover his were dead, but the second Gardener had a fine harvest from his patch of earth.
'What happened to mine?' asked the first Gardener.
'Its all about nurturing,' explained the second Gardener, 'you have to nurture your plants if you want a harvest.'
I think the Youth Worker wrote the script, and it was most effective as well as entertaining the children, as, needless to say, Sos and B played to the gallery somewhat!
The Youth Worker then gave an Address which was her 'Top Ten Things to be Thankful for'. She involved the children and they appeared to be paying attention throughout. She comes to teach in the school and the Secondary school, so they all know her and respect her which helps I think.

I hoped to get some more photos of the Church which was beautifully decorated, but there were people to speak to at the end and things to sort.

Today is a lovely bright, cold morning. I've just been outside and soaked my good shoes due to the heavy dew on the grass, gumboots would have been a good notion!

P.S. Lastnight when I got into bed I found two odd socks (not mine) and a stapled together Spanish vocabulary list. Since the Hub is away I did a Papa Bear impersonation, and the items were claimed in short order- but why my bed?

Saturday, 10 October 2009


I had a grand chat with the neighbours earlier, they are ever so friendly, as you can see!
Here's the progress on the quilt; I made the first roll-up yesterday. I also decided against doing a separate design on the green border, but am not convinced it was the right thing to do.
These two photos are in reverse order. The lower one I took when I was making up the goodie bags, and this one is the basket with 40 little goodie bags for my singers. I reckon a reward for the effort and the idea that Church can be fun are each good reasons for the treat. Some of them never attend Church except when the School is singing, others attend somewhere most Sundays.
Dilly arrived safely last night so we were cooking burgers for supper at nearly eleven pm! We are all glad to see her and the talk has been mighty! B said she had a cold burger and a bowl of ice-cream at 2am this morning! She was rather upset at supper as she'd had a rough day in school and was still processing it, so ate very little.
Today all three have gone to spend the day in town together and intend going to the cinema later. Its good to have sister time, anything which strengthens their relationship is useful. Dilly and B each need winter shoes which is a chore best left to them- I put a severe limit on the expenditure!
By the way does anyone out there have a good way of preventing one's dogs from re-arranging or running off with the floor rugs? They've only begun doing it the last two months or so but now they've started they find it a great game: I find the passage rug in the hall, the kitchen rug moves all over the place, the living room rug is sometimes in the kitchen and sometimes behind the sofa...if anyone is going to re-arrange items of furnishing I think it ought to be ME! I did tell them that but they just gave me 'The Stare'!
I've done the goodie bags, practised all the hymns for tomorrow, lit the fire, done the laundry...d'you know I think I can, with a CLEAR conscience QUILT! Yahay! See yez!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Busy Friday

I tell you- yesterday was double the blessing when we got up to today's dark greyness and drizzling rain! Yesterday afternoon, after a last practice with the 'singing children' Mum met me at school and we took ourselves out to Cliffoney as I needed batting, and yellow thread, and it was the most glorious day for a drive up the coast to the quilt shop! I took those photos from the car park of the shop, you can see how close the sea is.

Today after taking B to school and collecting Sos from 'the Brewery' (student union car park) after staying the night with friends (out late then stayed up talking until 4.30am) I returned home to bed. I had a funeral to go to at 2.oo pm but of all days today the battery in the alarm clock went, and when it registered 11.30am and bleeped it was actually 1.o5pm. Too late to start out, and since one eye had gone all swollen I decided to not go. Not a feel-good decision.

So I am now working through today's list, which includes deciding on hymns for Sunday morning's Harvest and checking with the other Organist to ensure she hasn't chosen the same ones for the evening Service! I have the hymn book open beside me: I love the headings for the different parts of the Church year- 'The Life Of Faith', 'God the Father, Creator', 'The Church's Witness and Mission', and my absolute favourite, 'The Christian Hope'! What's that verse 'to everything a time and place, to everything a season', that's not exact but to have the year set out is such a safe frame-work for living. (not sure 'frame-work' is the right term?) To me it is a great comfort.

I also have to bag up two tins of Quality Street sweets into 40 goodie bags for the singers, do some laundry, badger Sos into getting on with her chores, and Dilly has just texted to say she's coming home tonight as Dublin is driving her mad! The girl's early years in remote parts of East Africa seem to have left them all with a need for wide spaces: they enjoy social events and friends and doing things in town, but every so often they have to spend time on the beach, or up the mountain, which for Dilly means coming home. Well I'm glad! I think we haven't seen her since the start of August!

I've lit the fire in the stove to heat up the sitting room and kitchen as its such a cold day; B's hockey practice has been cancelled due to the rain. Sos is Kick-boxing again tonight so everyone will be glad of the fire later, I'm already wearing two wool sweaters.

I forgot to mention that my car's reversing lights seem to be 'on' permanently so I stopped by the garage yesterday evening. The mechanic had a look and said the switch has broken but they didn't have a spare so they'll get one in next week. 'Anyhow', sez yer man, 'its not major; if you're going forwards you can hardly be going backwards, so don't worry about it!' Well now, there's a philosophy!

Then on the way to collect B from school this afternoon I came up behind a car with its sunroof open in the rain! D'you think she has a water problem at home and was harvesting rainwater as she travelled? Or bathing even? In any case, I'd rather banjaxed reversing lights to a banjaxed sunroof!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Thankful Thursday!

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more- a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

George Herbert.
Last Thursday I came across this 'Thankful Thursday' meme (, then LMB wrote about keeping a Gratitude Journal ( and I thought I would do both! I think that being grateful for what one has is very, very important!

So here are my 'Thankfuls' for this week, but since it was a good week it has been difficult to choose- other weeks may be difficult for the opposite reason!

1. This morning we got up to a fabulous sunrise. It had just been raining but the clouds cleared as the sun rose and the day became diamond sparkly and then golden. When I took the dogs out before breakfast the only sounds were hens, birds, snuffling dogs and the cows doing that huffing noise they make on cold mornings. It was a very serene start to the day.

(below) Can you see the sheep coming down off the Commonage? Time to get the unhardy plants in as there must be a frosty snap on the way- I love country signs like this.

I took this almost into the sunrise which is why its a bit overexposed, but also there was a cold mist rolling up the valley from Lough Doon which fuzzed it. Who could be ungrateful on such a morning?

2. The next one sounds really silly...I found a new packet of knickers in the back of my drawer! Oh the bliss of new knickers! When will manufacturers learn that a good pair keeps the elastic attached to the top for the entire lifetime of the knicker- i.e. until the seat wears out? Its awfully disconcerting when the body of the knicker slides slowly down your posterior in the course of the day but the elastic stays put...especially when I'm teaching and can't either take on the spot remedial action or rush out to the loo...

3. Have you heard Rhydian's album; its just called 'Rhydian'. He's a Christian and has chosen to sing not specifically Christian songs but they are all meaningful. The Hub has used some as a starter for the Message when he is taking Services, and we often play the CD at home in the evenings. B had it out last night as she intends singing the track 'What if' in her Music Exam and was working on intonation. I taught the children at school 'I believe' too. Its just uplifting music.

4.I am especially thankful that the Hub arrived safely at his Aunt's house last night. He left here about 4.30am yesterday morning to get the 8.20am ferry from Dublin. He texted a few times during the day when he stopped for coffee, once in Wales and once somewhere near Reading I think when roadworks brought him to a halt. He arrived safely in Surrey about 6.30pm, and I don't know who was more thankful, his Aunt or me! No small feat for a little African boy to drive all the way across Ireland and England in one day! His Mom arrives from East Africa this morning for a two and a half week holiday and is he excited! They are spending ten days in UK travelling to see all the relations, then coming across here for the last week. Granny Africa is the ultimate Mad Hatter and we all can't wait to see her!

5. And the last thankful is very personal: we've finally got the house finished enough (and tidy!) for me to be able to put my quilt frame up and hand quilt a new quilt. I love hand-quilting, I feel as though it connects me with the generations of women who have gone before and done the same thing, who stitched their hopes and dreams and fears and sorrows into their quilts over long days and weeks, who have made do with what they had, who have watched the seasons pass and children grow, and just been thankful for their blessings however small. I love the serenity of the stitching and the fact that it makes me accessible to the family while still keeping my hands busy. And I love the finished product, the look and feel and satisfaction of a hand-quilted quilt!

And there you have it!

And a final 'Thankful'- I'll be heading to school shortly to finalise my Singers for the Harvest Service on Sunday morning and I know they were beginning to get excited yesterday when they heard how much they had improved. I love shiny faces singing their hearts out and being allowed to work with them is a blessing in itself...although it has its moments of anxiety, as with small people things NEVER go quite as planned! Sunday's Service will be 'interesting' for all the wrong reasons!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I blinked!

Its Wednesday, did you notice? Last I knew it was Sunday evening...Some big blink that was, to lose half a week!

Monday morning I was in School to sort out the week's Music teaching...and I quilted all afternoon.

Tuesday I talked to a small spider in the bathroom who wanted to know why people so often shriek when he pops up to say 'hello!' He said he wouldn't mind them shrieking if he was a whopping great hairy gazillion-legged fanged beast daring folks to turn on the tap...but he isn't. I couldn't explain that one to him. The Hub spent the morning finishing the month's Church accounts and packing his case (and wondering whether I'd done his laundry, darned his jersey, ironed his trousers, polished his good shoes, etc...and what did his last servant died of? Insubordination, I fear!)
After lunch I went into school to start Sunday's singers and get them to paste the songs into their copy books. It was a bit of a disaster as they were just away with the fairies. Afterwards at home I started reading a new Brother Cadfael mystery which I liberated from Dad's bookcase! It was so cold in the evening that when I went to collect the girls we stopped in at the store and bought two sacks of firewood so we could light the stove. Early to bed, then woken at midnight when the Hub came home from work because he'd lost his ticket for the boat and the Sat-Nav, silly man. Eventually found. Woken again at 4.30am to make sure he had everything in the car as he left to drive to Dublin Port to get the ferry to Hollyhead, Wales.

Wednesday, got up for the second (or was it third (?) time) at 7.30am to get girls to College, School and myself to School to teach all day. (no voice left now- 'hurray' from my girls!) At breakfast B informed me there was a mouse in the bottom of the store cupboard and showed me a chewed up cereal box...which was thrown in the fire immediately. Mice don't scare me but I object to them making free with our food. Rats terrify me. After school I drove across town to visit the folks and d'you know THREE times people stepped out in front of my car without checking whether the road was clear! Honestly! Collected girls, and am now about to head back in to town to leave Sos to Kick-Boxing and for B and I to do the grocery shopping. I have trouble staying in a shop long enough to do everything, I panic and leave, which means that we are down to flour and yeast and cornflakes for food! Not terribly nutritious...I guess we could make like mice and eat the packets?!

So, yet another a dull, quiet day! The children in school were very entertaining today so it was rather rowdy! But Music generally is!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Wind up the week...

Yesterday's Studio Tour was such fun and I freely admit I received lots of ideas for storage and organisation from visiting other folk's work spaces. It was a great idea and it was lovely having visitors and reading their comments.

On Friday evening we received a call from Dilly (in Dublin) saying she'd arrived home from College to find almost every flat on their floor of the building had been broken into and trashed. A lot of people had valuable items stolen, but Dilly's flat was 'just' destroyed; I guess as students they haven't much worth taking, but their building is mostly young professionals rather than students. As soon as they all notified landlords security guards were sent over and at about 9pm carpenters arrived as there wasn't a whole door left. Dilly and flatmates went out to work for the evening and have been sleeping upstairs in a friend's flat whilst they sort things out. Nasty though.

That evening Dilly was on Fire Warden duty in the Theater (the variety of jobs she does!) and fell asleep in the sand bucket- shock I expect. I had a text from her later saying she felt like a 'psammead'! Any of you remember the children's books by E. Nesbit 'Five Children and It'? Well the 'It' is a psammead, a sand creature, and a very grumpy one at that!

What else? I played for Church this morning but have to say that I am still not up to full strength after the 'bug'- I could have keeled over by the sermon, and the Minister is far from well too. The Hub was reading the Lessons and helping serve Communion but in fact the Congregation was small enough today.

The Dean preached on the verse 'It is better to give than to receive'. Consider the joy with which children receive gifts of any sort and then consider the almost embarrassment with which many adults receive things. He pointed out that every single day God has gifts for us if only we will take the time to visit with Him and receive. As the Father of many children (us) He desires to bless us and give things like the Holy Spirit, daily provision, treasures from His Word, answers to prayers...and in turn we should eagerly await His gifts. And not sometimes or on special occasions, but EVERY DAY! I hadn't thought of it like that- it kinda turns every day into a special occasion, doesn't it?!
This afternoon I've been looking in my book of quilting patterns and trying to design for the various sections of my quilt. I think a rope pattern on the green border, a sort of leaf and tulip swag on the blue border, and four tulips and leaves on the big yellow patches- they need something quite elaborate. On the coloured sections I am just going to do a trellis/grid as anything fancy would be wasted.

Sos went to Church Youth Group in Cavan last night with friends and was staying with the Dean's daughter so we haven't actually seen her today. She is really enjoying the freedom of being a student- lucky she hasn't a car yet or there's no knowing where she'd be!
On Friday night B had another attack of the grumbling appendix which was exhausting and painful for her.
My older sister is visiting the folks this weekend so came here yesterday for a visit which was nice. She admired the spare room too- as when she was last here is was still a junk-filled concrete shell!
And yesterday we had an email from one of my sisters to say she'd booked a trip to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and one does...She had just returned from a trek in the mountains somewhere in Columbia and just as a matter of interest the guide had shown them how cocaine is made. Quite apart from the ethics of drugs, she said that the rendering of the drugs is frightening- gasoline and battery acid are certainly used, and that stuff goes into people? Its amazing every single user isn't killed outright, she said it was an eye-opener.

And on that charming note I will leave you!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Open Studios Event

Welcome to my Fabulous Studio...actually, its in my kitchen! We have a lovely big kitchen as I am used to hosting streams of gangly teenagers so, although today my workspace is all open and viewable, on another day it might be all packed away and the space taken up with extended tables, up to twenty chairs, loud music, and youngsters cooking for themselves and having (loud!!) fun.

By the way, if you have the soundtrack to 'Top Gun' please play it whilst you take the tour as at present it is my favourite working music! (Yeah yeah, showing my age, don't tell me!!)

Here is the Dining table (extension closed) with my latest project being put together.
Behind the table I am using the grey trolley table as a cutting space. You can laugh, but the Hub pulled it out of a skip in the Industrial Area a few years back! The height is adjustable, and there is a pull out section (here pulled out) which extends the surface. Sometimes I sit at it but I also transfer the sewing machine onto it at standing height if I want to machine quilt as I find that easier on my back. Very useful!
Storage...sometimes all pushed under the work-table, but I hauled the boxes out looking for yellow fabric. The chair is also out of a skip- at the Recycling Center, this time! I love the big African baskets, of which I have several; I can hide a multitude of sins in there! Many, many years ago I even found one of my children in an empty basket hiding from me because she had been bold!
My lovely old pine cupboard, and plastic drawer trolley.
Terribly tidy and well-organised contents...I DON'T think!
Sewing space right by the cupboard, with extra expandable desk lamp. Those are cookery books, by the way, my sewing books are out in the hall. All the threads and notions are to hand in boxes and cartons on the table.
More storage out in the hall, right by the kitchen, along with a load of houseplants which have to be battled through if I want something out of the end white drawer!
And opposite the above cupboards, the quilt frame with this week's finished quilt top. I love hand quilting but as it is so time consuming I have begin teaching myself to machine quilt. The Hub planed down 2''x2'' lengths of timber to make my frame fifteen or more years ago and it has done good service. Five minutes after I finished putting the quilt up this morning Ben-dog (black Labrador) came galloping in covered in burrs and ran along underneath the quilt. So first I had to catch and de-burr him, and then crawl under the quilt to de-burr the backing! Aargh!
So there you have my workspace. I like being in the kitchen with people around, and also it is warm in the winter with the range which means not having to turn on the heating during the daytime. Perhaps one day I'll have a dedicated Studio, but I'm in no long as the children keep their bread and jam away from my fabric!
Thank you for visiting!


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