Monday, 30 August 2010

Just Diggin'

So there I was this afternoon, digging away quite happily in the hole which will hopefully become a pond (a very small pond!), and I pull out a rather large bone.

Huh? sez I to myself.

Dig some more and behold! another bone!

So I shout to the Hub asking if he put them here as a joke? Nope!

So I carry on digging some more and unearth a few more, by which time I'm wondering what they are from...animal or human.....

The Hub came over and said they are from a cow. Whew!!

So that was my interesting afternoon- how was yours??!!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Still here....

Bet you're wondering if I'm still here!


The computer has been playing silly b-....misbehaving, and raised my blood-pressure to stratospheric levels, so I stayed away from it for a while. Its still being annoyingly slow and un-cooperative...

Eldest returned to Dublin on Tuesday and is working hard, lots of light designs and playing with Theater spaces. As the Dublin Fringe Festival starts soon, so she won't have time to get into any mischief for the moment!

Unfortunately, before she left she helped to tidy the kitchen and we are missing a few things, namely the pepper pot and the Medicine box. You might think that's funny, but youngest and I are a bit put out!

Middl'st has spent the week in Donegal working with her new job, and is exhausted apparently. She's back tonight late, so we'll see her tomorrow. She's due to have her tonsils out soon, just to add to the fun and games.

Youngest returns to School on Tuesday for Transition Year. This happens in fourth year of Secondary School in many schools in Ireland where the students do a lot of extra-curricular activities and life skills, as well as four weeks of work-experience. Some students do as little as possible during the year, others embrace all the unusual activities and go at it 'hammer and tongs'! Youngest is really looking forward to it, and has her name down for a bizarre array of subject areas!!

The Hub had the second part of his annual leave cancelled this week so MUCH bad temper from yours' truly; I'm back at school next week too, Harvest and Christmas Music to get on with and of course I think I should be free when he has leave...ah well, bummers galore!

Youngest is cleaning the upstairs ready for a Slumber Party tomorrow night- whoop-di-doo! a clean upstairs!! And I've been weeding the veg beds ready for the winter crops to go in- all 'go' in this place, I tell ya!!

Monday, 16 August 2010


Weather: Wet, chilly, misty, grey, dark, dull.

Laundry: Damp, Widow Twankey-ish...leading to....

Kitchen: festooned in wet laundry.

Dogs: Bored...leading to...

Floor Rugs: all MIA, presumably hidden by the dogs to entertain themselves?

Children: One in Galway, one location unknown, one working at local Bible Camp.

Husband: Soggy (too much cycling to and from work in the rain).

Garden: Ditto (minus the cycling).

Books: Library raid tomorrow morning!

Projects finished: NONE!

Summer: Last seen June 26th; would whoever borrowed the Summer and forgot to return it please do so IMMEDIATELY!

...or we will NOT be responsible for the CONSEQUENCES....

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Good or Evil: Which?

Here's a Question:

If someone walked into your town, say the main Shopping Center, tomorrow, and claimed to be the returned Messiah, what would you do?
Would you believe?
Be cynical?
Believe because you want to believe?
Look for signs?
Would you actually do anything?

Now, imagine that same someone is Satan himself and although claiming to be God and doing tricks and 'miracles' is as evil as Hell, would you recognise the difference?
Would you keep your distance?
Would you follow because the veneer is pretty authentic?
Would you know that there was something wrong?
Would you try and test him?
Would you go with the crowd?
Would you do nothing?

Anyone who has looked into the Bible's New Testament must have wondered the same things at some time because it is exactly what the Hebrews had to consider when Jesus began His Ministry, except He was their first experience of God walking around as a human, and we would be looking at His second arrival.

But if there is one thing I know without a shadow of a doubt it is that I cannot predict what I would do in such a situation. I have been in enough peculiar situations to know that, although I hope I would do the right thing, I can not be certain I would, and neither can you.

Consider these, and you can laugh, but they are all things which have really happened to me (in East Africa) and my reactions were not wise:

1) On Safari in Meru one day I was in the kitchen of the hut setting out the lunch on plates- lettuce, avocados, hard boiled eggs and potato salad or something like that. Next thing a huge baboon lands in the doorway and makes a grab for the food-

What would you do? Let him have it and get out of the way would have been a wise move...

I lunged, shrieking at him with the knife in my hand...utterly, utterly stupid and dangerous, a baboon can rip a person to pieces in minutes. Luckily someone else was behind me, caught my arm, and let the baboon help himself to the buffet.

2) Another time I was caught in a riot, in the car, with Youngest as a baby strapped in her seat beside me. Someone noticed this cute baby and tried to open the door, then banged on the windows with a rungu yelling 'give me baby!'.

The car doors were already locked so what would you do? There were people everywhere, stationary cars in front and behind so no escape...

I went ballistic- I never realised how many swear words I knew in how many languages and I think I frightened the life out of the rioters too- this white woman going ape in the middle of an African Political riot...really, really stupid.

3) One last story: One night when the Hub was working late there was a knock at the kitchen door and when I opened it there stood one very drunk askari (night guard) pointing a strung arrow about 18" from my face, yelling and screaming that he was going to kill all the wazungu (white people) starting with me.
The gardener had run away in fright, the ayah was hiding behind the dog kennel screaming her head off, and the people from the labour lines were all lined up in the vegetable patch watching to see what would happen, and, just in case you don't know, the askaris tip their arrows with home-made poison which paralyses a person in minutes.
Death by arrow shooting is still prevalent and common in East Africa.

What would you do? Shut the door and run?
Play the Schoolmarm and tell him to go home and sleep off the changa'a (liquor)?

Any of those would have been wise...I laughed at him. Really sensible.

OK, so none of those were Right or Wrong situations: but such times have proved to me that if I can't know how I will act, then neither can you, no insult intended, its just a fact. And something else, that our God sure is mighty!!

The point of this?

'Showdown' by Ted Dekker, a Christian author who writes about Good and Evil: my original questions are the premise for this book.
Of course he is more subtle, but the menace, the indecision, the people's confusion between right and wrong and how to act is all there.

Scary stuff, I'm telling you...

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Can a Dog Talk?

You know they say that dogs can't talk?

Well I've said it before, and I'll say it again, 'they' are wrong.

Yesterday I was weeding at the south side of the house and suddenly Hearth-Rug Dog comes lolloping up all waggy and wriggly, head-butting me and doing his Chewbacca talk.

I call it his 'telling tales' mode, but the Hub says it is the opposite: that it is his 'look I'm being good' mode. Either way it means that his brother has done something even bolder than usual so the wisest thing is to drop what you are doing and!

Hoover-dog was in the bin; I guess the sausage wrapper was calling to him because the card recycling is his preferred place of anyhow, Hearth-Rug Dog was playing the goody-goody and Hoover-Dog was in dire trouble!

Despite having to clean up the spilled bin, I'm afraid I found the whole incident awfully funny! My folks say I have a reprehensible sense of humour...Moi??

Monday, 9 August 2010

Success! At Last!!

A new week!

It was a truly successful weekend though!

First; I successfully dyed every one's whites (undies and tee shirts) pink...not a nice uniform pink, but the blotchy I-guess-your-Mom-did-this kind of pink. So, no hope at all of anyone passing the garments off as being funky tie-dye or even pretending it was always this colour...

Second; I successfully put together a small bookcase which the Hub bought flat-packed...he had to tighten the screws but I am quite chuffed with myself because, so far, it hasn't collapsed! Which also means that I could tidy my desk!!

Third; I successfully managed to really annoy Youngest by telling her to wear a coat out on Saturday, and she'd dressed 'cool' (Rock-Chick mode is her present style!) and thought a coat would spoil the effect!
I told her it'd be another kind of cool entirely if she got soaked to the skin and spent hours in sodden clothes...she went off in the usual 'mothers-who-needs-'em' grump.

And fourth; I successfully agitated my dust allergy by tidying up the linen press and stirring up nearly four years of dust and some dead bugs!
You know the way you dump things places when you move house and then certain presses and odd corners take years to get to because other places are 'on view' more?
Well, this was one of those the last two nights...

(Fifth) I've successfully kept everyone awake with snoring and snuffling and sneezing fit to rattle the foundations (I'm told!)!
Heck! Can a girl be more popular!!

I'm a Success!

At long last!!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Haphazard Week

The title says it all, I'm afraid...its just been one of those 'what day is it?' sort of weeks. Cool dark grey, wet weather isn't helping either...
Come back, Summer!
All is forgiven!
We love ya Miss Hannigan!!
(I'm sorry, but the SpellCheck won't work so please excuse the poor spelling? Its not my gift...)

Thank you all for your comments and input on the posts about 'Stuff'; I will reply presently and you have given me some more to think about too.

Just to put a complete spanner in the 'accepted' works: personally I remain sceptical that the present Climate Change has been completely brought about by our mis-use of this Planet's resources.
Historically, and I'm talking centuries and millennia here, our planet has undergone huge shifts in temperature, leading to vast erosion, tectonic plate shift, and the dispersal of ice to water and back again.
Tony Robinson did a really interesting programmen about it awhile back, if I find it online I'll give you the link. But any scientifiacally minded Historian can look at the facts- mind you, its the interpretation which can be dodgy, isn't it?

Something exciting: Hazel says I won her Book Club Giveaway and is sending me the next book to read! I hope I get to the post before my daughters; new books are fought over in this household! So, thank you Hazel!!

Eldest returned late last night from yet another 'work's meetings' trip to Dublin, in quite a lot of pain. She had a great time, met an olf friend unexpectedly, and impressed the various people she is doing jobs for, so is well delighted with herself!
I've cleared the Workroom for her now, and put the bed up as the stairs are giving her a lot of trouble, so that's one thing...but the layer of junk which now coats several other rooms now requires a solution!!

I'm conducting experiments, ok, stinks, on home brewed liquid fertilizers, alternatively called compost teas, or Dynamic Accumulators. (Actually, Dynamic Accumulator sounds more like a rising Crescendo in Music, doesn't it??) Youngest is horrified but its great fun, and the more I read, the more I discover that there is usefulness and nutrition in all plants...well, if you are a plant!...or perhaps a cow?

And now another weekend? Not much to show for this week- better luck next? I doubt, since July and August is drift-and-think time!

Last Sunday I was visiting Organist in another Church, and, I regret to say, the Service was more of a Disaster Zone than a Worship Zone- most of it my fault. Its surprisingly difficult to produce a cohesive, contemplative Service, music-wise, when one doesn't know the Rector very well.
Well, for me.
This Sunday I'm playing at Home, so's to speak, for which relief give thanks!!

Heckety played the Organ...the Organ won!

Well actually, God did, luckily!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

'Stuff'- Part 3 (end!)

Right, now take your head out of the wardrobe and look around your home.

Anything made using wood or metal probably required machinery to manufacture, machinery driven by- electricity? Oil? Sure even the fabric of our houses cost the earth in terms of fossil fuels; do you know how much ‘making’ goes into cement blocks? Plasterboard? Flooring of every sort including lino and carpets? Have you PVC windows, fascia boards, guttering, outside doors? The wiring- plastic coated, the piping-some plastic. Solar panels?

How about the contents of your home? I’m writing with a plastic biro, will type this on a plastic computer keyboard. Does any room NOT contain plastic? And every single bit of plastic is processed oil- EVERY BIT! Now imagine removing every single plastic item, or items with say 50% or more plastic parts from your home: Oh whoops! There goes the laptop, computer, all my CDs, cassettes, DVDs, toiletries, cleaning agents, sandals, trainers, kitchen implements, scissors, the loo seat (aargh!) some cupboards and furniture (coated chipboard), vacuum cleaner, crockery, food containers, bottles, kettle, freezer possibly and fridge…chairs…Gee guys! My house looks awfully empty and inconvenient, not to mention UNCOMFORTABLE!

So when we consider the consumption of fossil fuels we can NOT simply think in terms of transport, or fuel, or even electricity production; fossil fuels and their spin-off impact upon and permeate our lives. We are not just dependant upon them, we are so dependant that we take them for granted and are blind to them.
Personally I have no desire to live like a Flintstone, or return to the Stone Age, or even Medieval times really, but folks we are wasting resources daily here at a rate of knots- and I haven’t even BEGUN on water! And we are the so-called enlightened ones, the aware, the ground-breakers, the crusaders- what about the folks who are ignorant of their actions, who don’t care, or who are too impoverished to change?

Action is a luxury, morals and ethics and choice even greater luxuries: if a person is barely surviving they don’t have the energy or mental resources to care what effect their deeds have in the broaderpicture, and why should they? What choice have they been left? I’m not just referring to people in the third world either, but the poor within our own countries as well.

I know I am skidding lightly over many, many issues here- I could talk for Ireland! We need to be aware, thoughtful, looking to the future as well as learning from our past and conserving what we have that is good in the present- and there IS good, but we need to shake awake more people too.

Even toothbrushes are made of plastic…and imported…

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

'Stuff'- Part 2

Back to the ‘stuff’: so we have fed our family, what happens after food? Home and clothes would probably be next on our list of essentials. Even cutting back to as minimal as most of us are prepared to do and still be comfortable there are still issues with fossil fuels.

Of what are my clothes made? Anything with nylon or man-made fibres has oil as its base ingredient. Man-made fibres include elastic, buttons, lycra, shell suits, tracksuit fabric, the stretchy stuff in underwear and socks, and my jeans which mean I can actually sit down in them after dinner. Then there is waterproof clothing, fleece fabric, gumboots, slinky evening wear, shiny posh frocks…should I stop now?
Look in your wardrobe- how many items are only wool, cotton, leather, hemp and bamboo… are there any other natural fibres? Quite apart from the price rise in producing all these man-made clothing fabrics, what happens when the oil can not be spared for clothing? Flintstone style here we come!

Recycling fabric is one way of making garments last longer, and buying second-hand or trading is also useful. It is my experience though that a great many people simply lack the skills to sew their own clothing, or to mend, darn, replace buttons, make-do and look smart- a Worzel Gummidge look really isn’t for everyone!

Returning to food- a by-product of sheep farming is wool; we could be needing it soon, and not just for insulating our houses either. There’s a reason the Irish, Scots, Icelanders and Northern folk knitted Aran and Fair Isle jerseys, they didn’t like being cold. News flash- nor do I! And apart from wool production here in Ireland and Britain, post oil and locally, what will we have to wear? Seen any cotton fields in your vicinity lately- uh…no? Bamboo groves- enough for fabric production? Hemp?

Granted, I am looking at extremes but in order to figure where we are going with our lifestyle choices, don’t we need to do so? Sure we can import cotton and other fabrics…by ship? Train? What will fuel the transport- fresh air? Is anyone building cargo sailing ships? Bring back the Cutty Sark- all is forgiven!
Laugh away- the idea of fleets of tall ships delivering imported fashion clothing to Southampton Docks, and being distributed to retail stores via horse and cart is too hilarious to take seriously, but if fossil fuel use is reduced to ESSENTIALS where will it leave us? And will there be enough to go round everyone?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

'Stuff'- Part 1

Much has recently been written about ‘stuff’- the clutter in our homes, excess materialism of a first world life, the acquisitive nature of us humans. This week the Autumn issue of Permaculture Magazine arrived (paper stuff?) and as usual I’ve been stimulated into thought and re-examination of my surroundings by its articles.
In particular, this issue has several articles about food; its production, where it comes from, where it WILL come from, practical and ethical questions of its production and distribution…all of which need to be addressed by ALL of us. This should not be a government or Farming or specialist issue- you’ll be sorry later if you have go hungry through lack of engagement and foresight!

As a somewhat disorganised, haphazard person with (I think/ hope) deeply rooted morals and ethics, (Mrs Average?) the food question post Peak Oil raises a combination of issues, many of which I wrestle with without conclusion.

A couple of observations: firstly, having lived through drought, flood and famine in East Africa I have experienced a little of the desperation of neither being able to harvest from the land, nor afford the inflated prices of imported food. I’ve pooled hoarded resources and inadequate vegetable crops with surrounding African families and staggered through the bad times.

Secondly, back in Ireland, depending upon the solid fuel stove for our cooking and heating these last few winters (the price of oil being a problem for us) I have also experienced the inconvenience of running out of stored fuel and having to cast about for more. I can see why people used to burn the furniture during long, hard winters! (We didn’t, quite!).

I know I am not alone in these and similar experiences, everyone has stories of shortfall and making-do, but it gives me a perspective from either end of the spectrum.

Even after we have put the most basic necessity, food, on the table, what then?
Fuel to cook with- oil? Electricity? Where did the power come from?
How many packets did you open and use, or discard, in preparing the meal- tin? Plastic? Glass? With the best will to avoid waste packaging there is bound to be some- even the salt and spice jars eventually head off to the Great Package Heaven in the Sky…or a hole in the ground?

Where am I going with this? It comes back to ‘stuff’.

Recycling is all very well, and certainly a step away from Landfill; but ONLY a STEP- where does it all GO? There was a truly appalling article in the National Geographic Magazine last year about where our recycling goes; it made me literally sick with disgust and FURY. And so it ought- our waste is OUR problem: as the Shell (I think) ad says, ‘When you throw it away, there is no AWAY.’

Consider the amount of rubbish you accumulate in a month and imagine there is no bin collection, what would you do? Rats? Stench? Dirt? Disease? Space to store?

Consider the amount of space this month’s recycling is taking up and how much do you/ are you/ can you actually re-use? A fraction, I’ll bet. A few tins as plant pots or to hold pens and loose items, a few glass jars for chutney and jam making, and vases for flowers, some of the card and paper into the compost, some to start the fire, some plastic bottles to carry drinks or to make ‘fertilizer factories’, or mini cloches for the veg bed, and a few containers as seed trays or children’s art projects. That’s it. That’s probably just kitchen recycling too, what about packaging and containers from the rest of the things we use?

Monday, 2 August 2010

Dodgy Letter Post...

Last Friday Soggibottom's comment about posting potatoes reminded me of an old of those times when I thought I was being kind and it back-fired....ever had that?

Many, many years ago, a brother-in-law moved to Ireland, leaving his home in East Africa. He had been born, grown up and lived part of his adult life there, and since he was a Bush Pilot by trade, he missed Africa dreadfully.

Knowing this, one day when I was writing to the sis-in-law I decided to enclose (in the envelope with the letter) a brimming handful of African maize-meal. I'm telling you, there is nothing else as good as freshly ground 'mealie meal'! I thought a dish of ugali would sooth his home-sickness for a little while.

Then I forgot all about it.

About six weeks later there was a letter from sis-in-law: 'Thank you for causing my husband to be arrested for drug-smuggling.'

Holy Smoke!! What??

Apparently the Guards (Irish Police) had been handed the letter by An Post (the Postal Service) because it contained a 'suspicious substance'. Bro-in-law was picked up by the Guards, brought to the Station, requested to watch the controlled opening of the letter in a bomb-proof room, and then asked to identify the powdery white substance it contained!

Of course the minute he touched and saw it he knew exactly what it was and began laughing...then he asked them to open the letter and see was it signed by did he know it was me??? Then he had to spend several hours convincing them that he was NOT a drug smuggler!

Hmmmm...they didn't half take the mick out of me for years afterwards...but honestly! I was only trying to be kind!!!


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