Tuesday, 9 December 2014

December Wish List

I'm a 'list' person.
Not the sort of 'list' that tilts me sideways like a ship (well maybe sometimes) but 'lists' as in rows of notes to myself of things to do.
I'm guessing even non-list persons have lists in December though so I'll share mine, as it presently stands:

Organs without wind problems (we're talking musical instruments here people...)
School songs with words that learn themselves.
Carol Services that are annually self-organising, complete with Bible readings which assign themselves to readers and then inform readers of their participation.
People who don't grouse when asked to help out.
Angels who stay where they are put.
Ditto Shepherds, sheep, camels, donkeys and sundry associated Nativity personnel.
Wise Men who are 'wise' rather than 'wild'.
Christmas once every two years.

As you can see that's just the music aspect...I haven't even begun on presents or food...actually I am considering ignoring all that part of it this year and waiting to see what happens.

Friday, 21 November 2014


Sometimes I babysit friends' children for company.

The other evening I noticed Littlest (2 years old) had knocked the leg off a Barbie doll. I waited for distress to ensue but far from it...next thing there's a triumphant shout from the kitchen, 'H. look! I'm playing the bodhrán!' (Irish hide drum)

She'd taken off the second Barbie leg, discarded the doll and was using the legs to beat rhythms on the kitchen table!

It took me ages to get the doll back together as I couldn't see for laughing...and anyhow I think it was a pretty good use of a Barbie really!!

Gives a whole new meaning to 'drumsticks' though, doesn't it?!!

P.S. I'm still laughing!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Problem?

It would appear that the Infant classes in my school have a gambling problem...

They told their teacher that they would be doing 'Bet the Hen' for the Carol Service.

Although I can't say for sure how God feels about that, I know for certain sure that the Music teacher is in serious bother for corrupting the morals of the Little People.

Welcome to the Christmas: Season of Goodwill, Charity, and Serious Addictions!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Questions Anyone?

When we get to the end of our time in this life, do you think we get an opportunity to ask all the questions which have puzzled us?

And if we get to ask them, would we also get to have them answered?

Everyone asks the huge imponderable questions- why does God allow suffering if he is so loving, or religious wars if He is so forgiving? How do we know for sure there is a God? Why do bad things happen to good people? Define 'good'. How is it there are so many bad rich people stomping all over poor suffering people?

And so on.

But then there are all the smaller questions relevant only to one's own life- why me? I do my best and still x y z happens. Why is this friend so ill with cancer when he has so much to give still, so much life to live? Why did this friend die so suddenly when he was so beloved and worked so hard for his family and the community? Why does God take the people we want to keep and leave us with the difficult, unpleasant, unhelpful ones? Why does this one live a long life doing damage to many and yet this one who was so lovely was taken in her prime?

Why why why?

I don't think the desire for answers is just a religious consideration. It seems to me that plenty of people who either are not religious or who actively dis-believe in religion are also looking for answers. Sometimes it is the lack of answers which drives people from the religion of their birth, and the apparent finding of answers which leads them to a different religion. I guess some people question more than others, but most folk would have some questions.

There's the old 'chestnut' that a Christian heaven would be an atheist's hell, but if there is an Eternity then I hope mine involves a very long question and answer session with Someone who truly Knows.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Overheard This Week


Girl: D'you know what my little sister did this morning, H.? She splouted the toothpaste straight into her mouth without even using her toothbrush! And then she drank the soap!

Well now we know who the cleanest child in Ireland is...on the inside at any rate!!


Teacher: You've Music after Break so leave your Song copy books ready please...(notices one boy frantically emptying bag and rummaging through pencil case)...what's the matter P.?

P.: I forgot to stick my song in!

Teacher: From last week? H. won't mind.

Whole Class: Yes she will, its from three weeks ago!

Aye me! My reputation!!


Rather Damp Boy: Dad had to wash my hair before school today.

H.: Why?

R.D.B.: Because at breakfast my sister put her toast on my head butter side down.

And you let her??

Friday, 17 October 2014

The 11.59 Rule

Waiting is a bummer.

Waiting to grow up when you're little, waiting for the kettle to boil, waiting for the postman when a magazine subscription is due, waiting for Christmas, waiting for something good to happen when life seems bleak, waiting for people to figure that change is needed, waiting for the vegetables to grow...

Many years ago friends and I had a conversation about this and one of them explained it thus:

Everything happens in God's Perfect Time, not my good time or your intended time but God's.Perfect.Time. For God, what may seem to us the last minute for an answer is still His Perfect Time. 11.59 may be panic stations for us, but that too is His Time.

Over the years this has been proved true over and over again, and even when no amazingly obvious miracle or answer has whooshed in at the metaphorical midnight, still things have kind of worked out in the long view. I suppose impatience is a human characteristic- how many squirrels do you see hovering around oak trees in Spring waiting for the acorns to fall?!

Waiting can be productive if I keep a positive attitude, 'the journey, not the destination,' and especially if I manage to keep the long view that 'all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.' Its difficult, its really, really difficult a lot of the time but since we all have to endure I guess it helps to do it with a good grace and hopefulness?

So I am applying the 11.59 Rule: I will live in the 'now' and believe that 'it' will happen in God's Perfect Time; and if it doesn't happen despite all my efforts then either it wasn't meant to or we haven't reached God's Perfect Time...yet...

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Reaping The Whirlwind

'They that sow the wind shall reap the Whirlwind.'

A quote from the book of Hosea in the Bible, although until I looked it up the other day I thought it was from Shakespeare, which is frequently the case with me!

Apparently the most well-known use of this line was during the Second World War when someone used it in regard to violent military retaliation. Reading the news from the Middle East, among other places, it struck me that there are a lot of unfortunate people at the moment reaping a Whirlwind of other peoples' making. It is a beautifully poetic description of potential havoc, destruction and devastation in the harshest sense and although it may be spoken in terms of the 'reaper' receiving just desserts, the more I consider it the more it seems to me that in life people so often reap other people's payment.

In Hosea, it is used as a bleak prophecy to a nation but always there are those caught up in devastation who were just trying to carry on with a productive and purposeful life on the side-lines. I don't need to give examples- look at the war zones, the typhoon and storm damage, more warzones, refugees, displaced persons...

I have to admit that I am also looking closer to home, as in all things one tends to put the huge events in perspective with the small personal ones. My children are still reaping the whirlwind of my sowing with the breakup of the family, much though I try to protect them. I never meant to sow a wind, I did not even realise I was. All the many years I did my best for them and for very many others too and living is reduced to the day to day coping with a Whirlwind of my unintentional making.

I suppose this applies to many, many of us: cause and effect, action and reaction. And it is the people who think who realise this while others don't seem to notice because they are not given to introspection. Which does not make the 'thinkers' more responsible, but does make them more aware.

No one lives a blameless life, no one's actions can ever be taken in isolation, most people do the best with the lemons they are given and their lemonade of life turns out reasonably sweet at least some of the time! But others, intentionally or unintentionally, sometimes through just doing what they thought was the right thing, sow havoc and leave the vulnerable to pick up the pieces. One can not help everyone, or solve all injustice, and that too is a burden, whether we are looking at the world picture or the personal, but somehow we have to still do our best where we are at and trust that in the grand scheme things will work out for the greater good.



Thursday, 2 October 2014


Private Letter to the Human Using Our House:

Dear Human,

The snails in the kitchen bees tellin' us that you had been publicatin' epistolaries to us-es, but since they is bein' without opposable thumbses they bees unable to recriprocation.

Thus we bugses is replyin' to yous recently letter.

We bugses be appreciate your acknowlegeishness that we is being here before yous. We bees also appreciatin' yous anxiousness not to troddon us-es.

In the spirit of co-operativeness we bugses will be attemptin' to modification us socialise at the specificationly hours yous mentions, but bees askin' yous understandingness if we overstrays at times. You didna bees mentionin' the music but we will bees endeavourin' to keep it within the bounds of respectability voluminous, and not bees havin' 'The Ugly Bug Ball' on repeat moren one night outta six. Anyhow the moths do bees prefer the sountrack to 'Antz'. Wez wonna be involvin' yous in our inter-bugsesatory disputations.

With thankins for yous continues sufferancingness for us first-people-bugses,



P.S. The Snails would be signin' too if they were havin' opposable thumbses.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Seen In The Kitchen

Ok, so this is so ridiculous that you will either howl laughing or delete me:

The other night in the pitch black I got up to the loo, and because it was pitch black I didn't put on my glasses. At the bathroom door a strange glow emanating from the kitchen caught my bleary eyes and after sniffing to check for fire, (no smell) I decided that to investigate without glasses would be pure stupid.

So back to get (and put on) my glasses.

Return to the kitchen. There's a weird glow around the fridge....oh my goodness, the weird glow is around the door of the fridge!

At this point I am aware that most normal people would think, 'Oh I must have left the fridge door slightly open, darn!'

But NO! What did Heckety think? 'Heck, there's Aliens in my fridge!'

And whereas most normal people, especially in the middle of the night, would turn on the light, go over, and push the door closed....what did I do?

I crept over, in the dark, and quietly opened the door to see what the Aliens were doing...??

Of course the punch line would be that they were stealing the cheese to create a new moon for their planet...but actually even I had to admit that there was nothing in my fridge except a problem with the rubber door seal.

Oh dear.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Impasse...or...A Pointless Post

What does one do when one reaches an impasse with the quilt in progress?
Hmmm, does the Seminole work really go or
 do I need something different in that panel? Hmmmmmmm...
One goes out to hoke at the window boxes...
Is that really the kale seeds germinating or is it just weeds I wonder?
...do a spot of much needed weeding, a SPOT, I said...
Golly to goodness, better mind out for lions and tigers and bears ha ha!
...dead- head the rambling rose and discuss with the lovely climber what exactly it is...
Are you a Virginia Creeper because I've
always wanted one of those on my house, I think they're lovely:
 please be a ginny creeper?
...admire the fuchsia which is still going strong and quite a blaze of colour...
...and finally plant out the winter pansies which I bought this week in a fit of extravagance (they were on special offer so I saved €2.50 by buying three, but I could have saved €11 if I'd left them in the shop!)
Yup, those are the old grape punnets re-used! Who's a pretty pansy then?!

I know the middle one is a sunflower! I just put the pansies in next to it for when the sunflower karks it, its called multi-purposing, or maybe thinking ahead...or maybe just stingy!
And finally, several hours later when one has done all that and the solution to the quilt impasse has become clear, one realises that one has been out wearing one's clean sewing jumper and indoor shoes and is now quite filthy.


Solve one problem, create another.

Screw it! and one brushes off the worst of the dirt, scrubs the mud out of the fingernails and returns to the quilt, much dirtier but really no wiser.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Open Letter to the Bugs in MY Bathroom:

Dear Bugs In MY Bathroom,

This is a request for your cooperation in the matter of privacy, mine.

I am aware that this house has been here for a very long time, and so it follows that you were in residence long before I ever arrived. In fact I think it is probably safe to say that you have been in residence for many hundred generations of your kind. Now I know that it is indeed an evil thing to evict residents just because the new administration wants the facilities, but I am not requesting you to leave at all, In fact I do quite enjoy your company.

I would just ask that you restrict your wild public socialising in MY bathroom to between say 11pm till 7am, and whenever I am off the premises, of course.

I am sure there are many people, extroverts and such, who truly would not mind an audience when they are on the loo or in the shower but unfortunately I am not one of them. I also worry about the number of you with an obvious death-wish; any slater, centipede, inchworm, beetle and spider who insists on sharing the shower does after all run the risk of being washed back to their Great Maker. An ignominious end for any self-respecting bug I would think. Ditto the ones who like to run around my feet when I am cleaning my teeth, because as you will have discovered by now, I do not always wear my glasses so therefore cannot see where I am stepping.

But heck, its your choice.

Of course the spiders, flies, bluebottles, butterfly, wasps and daddy-long-legs are in a much safer position up the wall but they are still included in this address.

Please consider my request for privacy in MY bathroom?

Expecting to hear from you soonest.


PS Would the very large brown spider who has taken up residence in the hand-towel please find another place to live as the hand-towel is definitely off limits and I will certainly evict you.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Another Glorious Day

The weather here has been just gorgeous for the last three weeks, to the extent that I think we have forgotten what rain looks like. Its turning colder at nights now and the wind is rising evenings too, so I'd say we're not long for a real autumn, but still, a glorious September does shorten the winter. This morning the air was so clear I could see Nephin Beg, clear down through Mayo!

I love that golden light that bathes the landscape coming up to sunset. I went out and stood on the wall to take the photos but albeit from a lower elevation it is exactly the view from all three rooms on the front of the cottage...am I lucky or what???!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Ya Couldn't Make It Up!

Earlier this week I was early for an appointment in town so I looked about for somewhere to sit. The early morning sunshine had that lovely autumn tinge and a freshness to the air so I sat me down on the Courthouse steps. I was sitting there singing through a piece of music I'm working on and people walking past on their business when one of the town drunks ambled to a stop in front of me.

(Yes I know some of them, living in the centre of town a while I got to know and enjoy all sorts of  irregular people.)

Anyhow he stops and weaves about trying to focus on me and after a minute asks anxiously, 'Are you alright there?'

'Arrah yes, I'm fine thanks. I'm not waiting to go inside if you're concerned.'

'Well that's grand.' And off he ambles...

Dacency en't entirely lost so it isn't.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Overheard in Conversation

Last Friday a friend and I decided to have a night on the town. Her husband was heading out to a Session with friends and we had worked hard enough for one week. She had decided  we would try out the new(ish) cocktail bar, Lillies, and catch a late night film, the new Helen Mirren one 'The Hundred Foot Journey'...in that order so I would be sober to drive home...that was the theory!

It was a great evening and a very late one, ending up at her place with her husband entertaining us with his version of Comedy Hour. As he is ill and his good days can be counted on one hand it was an absolute gift of an evening.

Anyhow yesterday after Church I was telling an elderly lady the story and recommending the film and generally having a chit chat. After turning away I overheard her telling another friend in penetrating tones: 'Oh H. is fine, she had a great time at the Bordello on Friday night.'

Sheesh! That's my reputation scuppered!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


A spot of foraging doesn't half lift the spirits!

Last evening I decided that the brambles along the roadway really needed their loads lightening, so after paying the rent I picked and grazed my way back home. (The rent book was put to excellent use fending off nettles which got in the way).

Then, leaving berries and rent book on the wall I climbed over the gate to see what my cottage looked like from the back, don't you find things are often quite alien if you look at them from a different angle?

Unfortunately (for you) I didn't have my camera with me, fortunately for me as I fell into a bit of a quagmire! I waded and slithered around the back yard and found an old boreen, a lot of fallen sticks and branches and a good bit of mud, also some midges. So this is what I returned with:

 A potential water butt, two (not very old) useful bottles for putting flowers in, a couple of fires' worth of sticks and:
Specially valuable loot
...an old tin pan suitable for use as an ash bucket, as well as the blackberries, of course.

Not bad huh? Saved me the price of an ash bucket, two bags of kindling and fruit for dessert and breakfast...I'll have to see how to rig up the water butt. And what did it cost me? A few hours of enjoyment clambering up and down the ditches, through a bit of a marshy patch in the peace and quiet of a windless evening discovering the lay and remains of the old homestead I'm living on. And some midge bites I suppose.

It can be a good life sometimes.

I must remember that.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Good Day/ Bad Day

Do you ever find that if something really good happens, particularly unexpectedly, then something bad often happens just afterwards, usually the next day?

Sometimes I wonder if its God making sure I don't get cocky, or, when I was younger I used to think I was being punished for having too much fun.... Now I wonder whether it is just about balance or what-goes-up must-come-down-ish-ness.

I'm not talking small good, or a touch of luck, or even small inconveniences, but the bigger ones you are grateful/ungrateful for.

Yesterday I got a bus south and had a really nice day out with an acquaintance, lunch, walk, talk, listening, a laugh, interesting...one of those days you fix in your memory as a bright marker. The sort of day which comes round once every few months if I'm lucky, though now I think about it I had a similar lovely afternoon with another friend in August so maybe I really was pushing my luck. And then today started middling and disintegrated badly, with 'words'. You know, those kind of 'words'?

A pattern I can identify over and over in my life, so much so that its rarely I look forward to anything or let myself really enjoy myself for fear of the re-payment. Tell me that's daft, I know it.

So now I'm looking at the map of Ireland trying to triangulate the farthest distance between here and Dublin on one line and somewhere I could move to on the far apex...I'm wondering about Dingle or Valentia Island? If one was allowed to reside on the Blasket Islands I would certainly consider them. Somewhere really difficult to get to which preferably has no mobile phone coverage and too stormy to permit telegraph lines...I'll keep looking...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


The Noddy car has finally driven me to the point of complete exasperation.

Sunday evening on the way home there was a grungy rattley dragging sound from under the car so I pulled onto the side of the road (yes, very lucky it happened where the road was wide enough to do that) and behold! quel horreur! the exhaust was disengaged (two months of regular welding repairs  dust-bitten).


I crawled home (wasn't wearing shoes with laces), got up the laneway (snail's pace, ha ha) and after wrestling with string and the under-junk, have tied the exhaust pipe so it won't drag (think its tied to a bracket holding the fuel line, or something...)

So I'm having to drive slowly (for me) and avoid bumps (really?) in the hopes of keeping the string intact. Easier said than done. It sounds like an outboard motor but without the water-skiers trailing behind, and gobbling fuel, of course. Very environmentally unsound.

Last night I started phoning around the car ads on DoneDeal to everything in this county within my (puny) price range and guess what? The best ones were snapped up the day after they appeared. Has no one any consideration?

So now I'm scavenging around friends and relatives to see whether anyone knows anyone with a grotty car to sell...and wonder of wonders I think I might have actually found one.

So, not all bad, more of a steep learning curve as I haven't dealt with all the car buying paperwork and money and tax and change of insurance since the early days in East Africa, and its possible they  do things differently here in Ireland.


We'll see.

Alas poor Noddy I knew him well, but yes, he was a numbskull like a certain Danish friend we know.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Discouraging Snails or...

How To Discourage Snails From Hanging Out In One's Kitchen:

Turn the music up loud and play rock- they don't much like rock, too difficult to climb.

Tell them they are not welcome.

Ask them to leave- doesn't generally work, unless your Snailese is better than mine, in which case could you give me a few useful phrases? (Coming soon 'The Berlitz Guide to Snailese'.)

Play Café music, they don't like that either as the coffee grounds scramble their slime paths.

Bring in a rabbit from the field and ask them to race the snails...actually that didn't work so well with the hare and the tortoise, did it?

Tell them to hurry up and get on with whatever they're doing and hope you annoy 'em enough to make 'em leave.

Kidnap them and sell them into slavery to the French Restaurant...guess who's been listening to Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat?

Invite some ducks to tea.

And if all the above fail, evict 'em by throwing them over the wall into the orchard- it discombobulates them, you know?

They even ate the cover of a good novel.

 Any better ideas?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

If Wishes Were Horses...

Last night after the Concert I was attending, I gave a small friend a lift home. After putting stuff into his Mom's car we walked across the park to my car with him all full of chat and bounce.

We arrived at my small, rusty, post-vandalised Noddy car (which he knows, not like it was a surprise!) and he stood for a moment under the street lamp contemplating it before turning to me and in a very long-suffering tone (as only small boys can do..) remarked:

'Oh H. I do wish you drove a Maserati.'

HAH! You 'n' me both, babe!!!!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

All That Jazz

Many, many lives ago I played jazz. Live jazz. As in performing with bands with an audience listening and assessing every note.

Great fun. Stressful. Crazy mad. Scary. Lots of alcohol involved too!

The thing about the way we worked the genre was that it was all by ear, no written music. Often we improvised upon known melodies, sometimes it was all made up as we went along, someone would call a melody and a key and we'd all tip ourselves head-first into the piece. Timing, pace, improvisation, repeats, segues etc. depend almost as much upon knowing and trusting your band members as upon being a talented musician.

I learned pretty fast that the band never ever stuck to a plan, playlist: order, solos, everything was open to change at any moment, even the trumpeter calling for a refill to his beer was enough to jig the order within a piece in the middle of playing.

Jazz musicians are fantastic; quick witted, laid back, creative as they come, fabulously talented, able to adapt and improve in a split second, and more. But heck, I just could not hack it.

I was reminded of all this yesterday when I spent a few hours at the Jazz Project. I sat and listened to the music, the craic, the jokes, questions, discussion, phone calls trying to keep the events of the evening on track and it was ace. I love being in the middle of things musical, musicians are a race apart, and it was highly entertaining, to wit:

the RTE were supposed to be filming some of the music and were out at a pub waiting whilst the musicians in question were standing in the school lobby criticising the evening's play list, playing snippets to each other from their iPhones, discussing Eric Clapton, relaxing and insulting each other and the administrator who was trying to shift them out. The organiser was on the phone comforting his daughter because her hen had died and trying to locate the band for the evening's concert who had been delayed for hours at Dublin Airport and were on their way without their luggage or instruments. A piano had been mislaid (yes, apparently it is possible to lose a piano...), three double basses needed to be in three different venues, a box of electric leads was AWOL and to be honest no one was in the slightest bit fussed.

Classical musicians would have been climbing the walls at the unpredictability of it all, pop or rock performers might have been playing the drama queen, but jazz musicians? They were loving every minute!

There should be a mug somewhere which reads: Jazz musicians never die, they just Improvise, adjust and carry on.

So I returned to my Classical roots and the heart palpitations stopped!!!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014


I found the camera cable!!

How many people have a mountain growing out of their chimney?

Wee Hoosie.

View framed through my front door.

Backyard!! The green shadow behind the shed is the mountain slope.

Sea, sky, mountain, so what's not to like?

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Gobbled by Clobber

I told Lady Soggibottom that would be the title of my next post, and so it is!

I also said I would post hints and tips to hassle-free moving, which I'm not because there's no such thing!

I am sitting out in my side yard under a tree listening to bugs and birds and sheep and the breeze in the trees, breathing fresh salty air with a hint of hot grass and leaf mould, just being!

The bliss of it.

And its only mid-morning!

No people or cars or exhaust fumes or being edged out of my seat because I'm taking too long over my coffee and someone else wants to sit in my place...

No photos yet, as you can see...I still have not located the cable. It's possibly in my make-up bag from the wedding, but I haven't seen my make-up bag for over a week and its not exactly a priority. I would, however like to know where I packed the tea spoons, extension cables, clothes pegs and shopping list paper, three cups from my only tea-set and the sugar tin. I found a jar of pens and pencils and remembered to buy light bulbs and torch batteries but a state of 'chassis' still reigns. The fridge appears to be not working but I've let the landlord know and I daresay it'll be repaired at some point, this being the middle of baling and silage though, I'd say it'll be a few days. Oh how lovely to be on country time once more; I realise it is not everyone's cup of tea, but it sure is mine!

This afternoon the piano tuner is coming and the joy of having my bockety ould piano back with me is probably partly responsible for the present state of zen-ishness!

I have to admit that the reason I remain in 'gobbled by clobber' mode is because I keep wandering outside to sit in the sun instead of unpacking. But as they say, 'sure isn't the winter long enough?' Meaning, if the sun shines or the rain stops or the weather looks up, get out of the house!

The fridge will be fixed when it next rains, and the unpacking done, and perhaps even the camera cable found?

Until then I will be collecting freckles...

Oops, the wifi hotspot just fell out of the fuchsia where I had it balanced and into the nettles...

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Moving Again!

So, because I am an eejit, I decided to move.

I miss the country, green fields, wide skies, scenery, stinky slurry, midges, all that kind of stuff. Living in town is interesting too, but there's a limit to how long I could tolerate the pub down stairs and being woken half a dozen times a night by drunken street disturbances...and the limit has just about been reached.

Last night I stayed at the cottage for the first time and it was bliss to lie awake hearing only sheep; my ears were almost ringing with the silence! Of course I had forgotten such minor country issues as having to keep plugs in drains to deter slaters and centipedes from visiting, the fluctuations of electricity (do not plug in too many items at once) (very few is too many, I'll let you know the exact number presently) (especially not if you want a shower), how close distant things can sound in the silence, how the wind sounds in the trees by the house. And then there's the usual idiosyncrasies of an old, old cottage, which Carboy discovered before I had a mishap- don't turn on the shaving light in the bathroom because the mirror falls down...

From the front windows I can see mountains and sea, from the back, the old sheds, trees and Benbulben. I took photos but naturally have managed to mislay the cable to upload them from camera to laptop!!! When I find it you will be inundated with photos...

Tomorrow a couple of guys are coming to help me move the heavy stuff, furniture, and the usual junk- junk? I have junk? Golly but you should see the amount of bin bags I filled today, to say nothing of the recycling Middlest and I did yesterday and bags for Oxfam on Monday. For someone who tries to live lightly--- well ha! to that boyo! I does be failin' mighty spectacular like!

And when I'm sort of sorted I'm going to make like Rip van Winkle and sleep for a hundred years!

Friday, 27 June 2014

They Did It!

Middlest and Carboy.
Middlest and Carboy are married!

As an experience it was somewhat unreal, but the day went well, rain held off, and it sure was a great party!

Bride and 'smaids.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Perfect Peace

Yesterday midday I was sitting in the sunshine on a gravestone (1823) eating chocolate (mint) having just left the hairdresser's (lovely thanks) before going inside to practise the organ and it came to me that right then was complete contentment.

Sunshine, the quiet graveyard, keys to the Church, anticipation of spending a couple of uninterrupted hours working on music and playing our beautifully repaired old organ; all that added up to peace.

Its been a difficult few weeks for various reasons and now is not really a good time or place for me. Gifts come in many shapes and sizes, do they not? And moments of peace are definitely gifts.

How often do I miss those moments of peace or contentment, being too busy perhaps in my head to notice them? When I was a teenager I had the notion that perfect moments had to be savoured, stored and treasured. They came in many shapes and sizes- a day with a friend, Dad visiting me at College, watching hot-air balloons on the Royal Crescent on sunny summer evenings, cherry blossom, snow against lamplight, walking by the sea...just good memories. Its a long time since I added to that collection and longer still since I took them out and examined them, but yesterday's gift is such a one.

Just a moment of peace, a gift beyond price.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Overheard in the Kitchen

'D'you like dates?'

'Man-dates or eating dates?'

'Eating, silly.'

'Love 'em.'

'Have a packet, someone gave them to Wily Coyote and we don't like them.'


Accepts packet, removes clip, reaches in without reading the label and picks out a....

'These aren't dates.'

'Oh? what are they then?'

'Figs.' (and yes, the packet clearly said 'figs'!!)

'Oh...apparently we don't like figs either.'

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Catch Up

I think we will have bullet points for efficacy in transfer of information:

(Youngest is doing a Career Skills course for six weeks and I am being dragged from Neanderthal to 21stC I'm told...the phrase 'nothing new under the sun' springs to mind, but I listen and hope to learn something new which will give me the edge in any interviews I might receive...apparently bullet points are 'in'!)

  • One calendar month left until Middlest's Wedding- (holy smoke-aagh) she finished her College Finals last Friday.
  • Two bridesmaids dresses to alter and one wedding dress.
  • guitar needs three new strings (glad someone else got the organ repaired!)
  • I didn't get a place on the course in Dublin, over the disappointment now though.
  • Haven't even got as far as an interview for any of the teaching jobs I've applied for, actually, not even a request for references, guess its really dung-heap time...
  • Need a new music stand- why can't someone manufacture an unbreakable foldable music stand?
  • Sheet music for seven pieces of music...then learn to play, two guitar, five organ.
  • 130 tea cups and saucers needed, but hey! do I mind hanging out in Charity shops for the next month?
  • Important School service on Friday week, grand opening for the new school, which we moved into Patrick's weekend a year ago! Hairy caniptions? not me, more the rest of the teachers having to deal with me...actually funny story later.
  • general sewing (belated gifts!) to give to family members who will be at wedding, in order to save postage!!
I'm certain the list will lengthen, in the way of lists, but its bearable so far. Middlest is playing flute accompaniment for the School Service by way of a last hurrah, which is fun.

Funny story: in school yesterday after morning break  I took all eight classes up to the Church to work out seating and manoeuvring for Friday week...as anyone working with children knows, the logistics of moving groups of children around in a confined space like a Church takes a bit of thought in order to avoid congestion or mishaps.

I thought I had cleared it with the Principal and everyone but as I took off out of school he called after me: 'I have visitors coming to see around the school and there's not a single child left in the place!'

The hilarity of it struck me later- how many of you when asked what you did today can answer, 'I walked off with two hundred children!'

Lots of love,
Pied Piper.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

An Entertaining Evening of Entertainment

A few months ago some daft person had the grand idea that wouldn't it be a fab thing if the School Choir and Past Pupils did a musical fundraising evening...a.k.a. a Concert.
The School Choir is exceptionally good, has been going strong since 1986 and  performs regularly.
No problem there so.
The Past Pupils?
Are ya mad?

Well, after a couple of months of hard work, it happened, was successful and was actually great fun.

The school Choir master undertook to train up the Past Pupils, and, as I have mentioned previously I fear we had not improved with age . Poor A. suffered for the cause, jollied us along without losing the rag, tried to avoid covering his ears too much of the time, and announced he had a ticket booked for a quick escape before the concert if we didn't get our act together!

When one has such a diversity of people involved in an evening the potential for unstructured disaster is huge. If too much time is wasted the audience become bored and the evening is judged a disaster whatever the quality of individual acts. Well, the school Choir has in the region of sixty teenagers, the Past Pupils about twenty five people, there were at least four solo singer or instrumental acts, the pianist had an exam in Dublin in the morning and couldn't arrive til 6pm, there were several small singing groups, the school Ceili band, a three generation family group, school and adult instrumentals, and others. Despite the adults' best attempt at sabotage by wandering out into the auditorium to see what was going on in between their songs, the stage Manager (one of the teachers)  somehow managed to keep everything moving swiftly.

The atmosphere was more festival than Concert, to the extent that, after the interval the teacher/stage manager had to practically boss the audience back to their seats they were so busy catching up with each other, and at the end no one wanted to leave. Chairs being stacked and the hall cleared was just an invitation to move more freely and chat longer!

For me the experience was an eye-opener on several levels. The fact that every single performer was a pupil of the school- past, present, and one future, with a huge disparity in age all working together without personalities intruding, says a lot for the long-term school ethos: whether or not we knew each other at school we had no problems slotting into a working whole. I counted four participating members of staff who are past pupils and I know there are other past pupils on the staff too- what does it say when a school is prepared to hire its own past pupils? For myself it was a holiday from the demons in my own head because I was just myself. Call it regression, time out, unrealistic, but it was peaceful being with people I knew who just took me as I was in the present moment.

People complain about the lack of continuity these days, but in some ways we are privileged by where we live on the western edge of this western island. The school moved into its present premises mid 1700s but had been going since the mid 1600s elsewhere. Some families have the names of generation after generation carved into the brick wall out the side! Narrow- minded, small town country? Perhaps...but also a knowledge of place, self, and identity in the continuum...my grandfather knew your uncle who knows her aunt and now I teach your children...

...and was that your uncle's cousin's aunt's grandson playing the violin so beautifully?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Identity: Dr. Who?

Here's a question:

What defines you? What makes you exactly who you are and different to everyone else?

How do you think of yourself? How would you introduce yourself to someone new?

What words would another person use to describe you? Someone who knows you well and someone who was a casual friend?

What aspects of your personality shine through for all to see, and are they the aspects for which you would like to be remembered?

When people think of you do they consider your integrity? your kindness? your creativity in whatever medium you like to use? are you the sort of person other people turn to when they want a job done and done well? are you a prop or the propped?

When they leave you do people feel encouraged? uplifted? exhausted with laughing? or worn tho a thread from your neediness? do they enjoy your company and remember you with thanksgiving? do they feel they matter to you- do they want to matter to you?

Are you the sum of your life experiences? Are you marching to an off-beat or going against the flow? Are you a Quilter? an Evangelist? an Accountant? a Teacher? a Musician? Or is what you do for a living not actually who you consider yourself to be?

Do people actually see you when they are with you or do you fade behind titles such as 'wife', 'mother', 'gran' 'secretary', 'teacher', 'so'n'so's friend', or (worst of all) 'well-meaning...but'? Do people look at you and not actually see you at all, or see a reflection of themselves which they think you complement?

And then, if you were stripped of your labels, titles, job, destination, possessions, all the things which, intentionally or otherwise, have come to define you- what would be left? Would you like the naked soul you met in the deep dark night of despair? or would you be horrified to discover you had become something unpleasant whilst you were looking the other way and getting on with your life?

When you stop and look do you see someone you actually like? or do you see someone who has fallen so far short of their own dreams, ideals, hopes, ethics, beliefs, aspirations, that it feels as though you are meeting a stranger, and not one you really wish to spend much time with?

Does it matter that you have arrived somewhere you never intended to go? Does it matter that people look at you and see someone you never intended to be? Does it matter that you have lost who you thought you were and are having to start over again?

Which is more important- that you try to live rightly by the light of your choice? or keep others happy at the loss of yourself? is there a mid-way?

Everyone wrestles with themselves at some time, or at many times, is it a waste of energy or do we learn from such times of self-doubt?

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

So when you look to yourself in a quiet moment do you recognise yourself?

PS. And does it matter?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

CD Splurge- Rackhouse Pilfer

Love and Havoc- Rackhouse Pilfer's new album!

Rackhouse Pilfer's new album is ace!
Yes I was very bold and bought it for myself...
Yes, I still need shoes but until someone wants to interview me for a job what do shoes matter?
Yes, I've been playing it so loudly that the people in the office across the landing haven't needed to buy their own copy because they can listen to mine 24/7...or even 27/4...
WHAT?! You haven't heard of Rackhouse Pilfer? VERY famous bluegrass country band who hang out in a pub two streets across?
Well, the only thing better than being a fan already is having that treat in store for you!!
Hey! Did ya get the message that I like Rackhouse Pilfer's music- A LOT?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Escape v. Perspective

Life never runs either smoothly or according to plan, does it? Neither physical life nor inward life. Often the two do not even run in tandem, and when outsiders think one is sailing through a calm, organised, 'together' patch, one's mind can be an utter battlefield of indecision, insecurity, demons, problem wrestling and the like, or vice versa. I suppose that is just as well as a calm outer shell gives one time to think, but would it not be just wonderful if outer calm matched inner certainty of purpose a bit more often?

And then there are the times when outer and inner lives are equally chaotic and it is difficult to keep hold of reality at all. Such has been my last few months, so naturally I ground to a halting heap of bleating ineptitude. Now I am wrestling a new bull having decided to apply to do a year's course in Dublin, applied, mark you, nothing definite...also no funding and nowhere to live- minor inconveniences, hmm?

One friend has several times pointed out that going to Dublin will not solve any problems, leaving all the mess of the marriage in one town whilst moving to another will not make it go away, or fix it, or end it: running does not help.

Another friend showed me an article by Oliver Burkeman which advocates distance and perspective as a means of getting to grips with problems. Well that's the gist of it. Her theory is the use of mental holiday mode in that getting away can make you see more clearly changes which need making, or worries which are unimportant, or even that maybe things are just fine as they are.

Which returns me to taking a year out to do a course in Dublin. I know that I need to sort things legally but I have to wait for other events to pass; I know that one piddly little course won't change my life; I know that finding somewhere I can afford to live in Dublin (rents are rocketing) is going to be a bother; funding for the course will also be a bother as will living expenses; and that solutions are worked at rather than arriving in blinding flashes.

But the alternative?

I have no job and no likelihood of a job as I have nothing to offer that a hundred young folk can't offer better and more cheaply (recessions voiding the attribute of experience over cheapness), I am well used to living on the smell of an oil rag, to say nothing of the wing and prayer method, and is it so bad to want to escape the judgement and censure of people here for leaving my marriage? I would like to be able to walk down a street unafraid to lift my eyes for fear of meeting someone who is not speaking to me and not afraid to cut me dead or make nasty comments to me. You think separation and divorce are acceptable in 21C modern world? Think again, my friends, they are not, well they are for men, but not for women it would seem...figure that at your leisure...

So is distancing oneself to gain perspective a different concept to running away? I suppose it depends upon whether one returns to act on any insight one may have gained and for that only time may tell. Is running away from unpleasantness any way to solve a problem? They who judge have made their attitudes my problem, I never asked them to take sides and indeed they know nothing of my situation since I am not prepared to demean myself by broadcasting details. Being a 'nobody' in a large city for a while would surely be a mental holiday from being a 'wicked female' in a small town and give me headspace to decide what is important and what is not.

Although Ireland being what it is, no one is ever a 'nobody' for more than five minutes! Island life, I ask ya!

So, sorry about the bitchfest, I do generally attempt to keep posts bitch-free but I get so tired of being the wicked one and trying to hold my head up. I think I need a break from living, pity one can't do that...

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Just An Observation

How many of us get up in the night and use the bathroom without switching on the light?

I do.

How many of us are silly enough to do the same in a friend's place?

I am...

Not only is it quite disorienting to shut the door and find oneself in pitch blackness with no notion of the location of the loo, but it is even more unsettling when one thinks one knows where to rest one's naked backside only to either fall off the edge of the seat due to miscalculation, or to miss it entirely and hit cold tiles...

Yes well.

I'm staying at a friend's place just now as you can probably tell...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Gortnarowey Walk

Benbulben approach, should be before previous photo.

Along the northerly side of Benbulben.

Further north.

Looking out across the Bay to Streedagh Beach,
Cassiebawn Castle (blip on the headland) and towards Donegal coast.

South westerly aspect of the Bay and one of those streaks of surf is Innismurray Island,
about seven miles off shore, but looks to be hardly an island from this distance.
On Tuesday afternoon, in need of some cobweb blowing and demon vanquishing, a friend took me up Gortnarowey, one of the local Coillte walks. The photos are rather muzzy as it was quite overcast but the views and scenery are just fabulous. I had been up the back of the mountain in the past but one tends to be wary of going too far off track onto private land, partly for fear of disturbing livestock, and partly from fear of trespassing. Land-owners around here are very territorial. Coillte walks are great as they are well signposted and public so no fear of wandering where one is not welcome.

I will have to go back again on a clear day to take better photos, but also to take the girls. As my friend pointed out, between scenery, mountain and deep forest it is real 'Lord of the Rings' territory and I know Middlest and Youngest would get a huge kick out of walking the route!

It is so pristine up there that there were whole swathes of frogspawn in the ditches- I haven't seen that amount of frogspawn in years. Its protected now, of course, but when we were children one of the highlights of springtime was friends bringing jars of frogspawn into school. We got to watch it grow from tadpoles to frogs in washing up bowls, accidentally letting the frogs loose in the classroom whenever we needed a diversion, until the teacher had had enough and carted the whole lot away to dump in a stream. Now the children bring in bunches of daffodils, which are certainly pretty, but not nearly as breath-taking as frogspawn!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Janus in March

The month of January was named after Janus, I forget what he was the god of, Roman I think, but he was noted for having two faces, one looking back and one forward- back to the old year, and forward to the new. I've always liked the notion that in January I can pause and that it is alright to look back and think before facing into the new.

But this is March, sez you!

For one reason and another my girls are doing quite a bit of looking back and thinking at the moment, perhaps its a part of coming to terms with change- a combination of their parent's separation and Middlest getting married this summer with a lousy example of marriage to build on.
Whatever the reason, the girls have been looking back at the way they grew up, in East Africa and Ireland, two vastly different places with disparate mores and conventions, to say nothing of moral codes. I always tried to keep communications open and as a result have heard many admissions of hijinks, some of which I knew at the time but pretended ignorance as I felt lessons had been learned, and others I did not know! In East Africa we were lucky to live alongside several African families. I know that sometimes other adults kept my girls in check and also that they had far more freedom because they were with African children who were wise to local ways. We lived in some odd places, the Aberdare forest for a while, and on two coffee farms, one small and fairly urban and another a huge coffee farm surrounded by bush and Kikuyu cultivation. Eldest and Middlest had the sort of childhood freedom that children in western countries have lacked since maybe 1950s or before. They realise their good fortune and I believe it has made them stronger characters. (Youngest was six when we moved here so was still tied to my apron-strings.)
Their dangers were monkeys larger than themselves, hippos in the dam at the end of the garden, cuts that would go septic within hours, snakes, misusing machetes and losing a foot or finger, forgetting to bring a dog along (which was their early warning system for trouble), being within the compound by sunset no matter what fun they were having, getting off the grass airstrip when they heard Oscar Golf (the farm owner's plane!) coming in, finding their way home...a far cry from small West of Ireland when they were teenagers!
And that was with a careful mother!
My problem was always to figure what dangerous thing they would dream up next and forbid it without giving them ideas! Tough path to tread. But at the same time to give them freedom to explore their place and learn to be strong, independent and able to extract themselves from whatever trouble they get into- which was a lot! Among our friends were Settlers and ex-Pats and I know for a fact that some of the latter were horrified by the freedom and mischief the girls got into. The African mothers too believed that white girls should be brought up far more restricted. How can a person 'own' their time and place, as well as knowing their own strengths and weakness, if they have not been allowed the freedom to discover for themselves?
In Ireland they had other dangers to contend with, people rather than hippos, responsibility for others as opposed to independence, urban problems instead of bush survival. It came hardest to Eldest but they have adapted and despite the fact they would count themselves Irish I hope that the inner strength they developed in childhood stands them in good stead as they go on.

So, looking back in times of change in order to face the future with integrity, I think they are wise to take the time for this. Besides which, it is such fun listening to their stories of mischief and mayhem. Last week Middlest and I  spent a hilarious tea-time telling Car-Boy some of the awful things she had done as a child. Car-Boy's face was a picture and eventually he thumped his fist on his knee exclaiming: 'Our children will be very well-behaved!'

In one voice, Middlest and I shrieked; 'Good luck with that!'

I really don't think he grasps just how wild Middlest can be...

PS The post I began to write was nothing like this but I guess the old grey matter is entitled to occasionally dictate direction!

Sunday, 23 March 2014


The sun was shining today so we went for a bit of a walk down the Point. The sun was actually so bright that I could not see the image on my camera properly to adjust it, which is why the photos look dark instead of bright- what a complaint to have!!
So, not great photos but such a lovely afternoon.

Looking toward Coney Island.

Rosses Point beach with Benbulben.

Oyster Island and across the estuary to Strandhill.

Lighthouse on Oyster Island with Knocknarea to left.

Benbulben across part of the golf course.

'Waiting on the Shore' in memory of those lost at sea.
Rosses Point used to be a fishing village, then a holiday spot for those from the town. But now it is a ten minute drive and most of us locals have grown up spending summers swimming off the beach and winters walking on the beach. During the long grey winters we forget how lucky we are having such beauty on our doorstep, and then the sun shines and we wonder how we overlooked it.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Of Butt Cheeks and Razzle Dazzle

If you are
polite or
have delicate sensibilities or
have a particularly lurid imagination

This should be an embarrassing story but, due to my regrettably reprehensible sense of humour, I giggled when I realised what I'd done...which is not a personal recommendation.

This morning I had quite a few errands to do around town including a visit to the Welfare Office, the Post Office and the Bank, so not a shy retiring sort of outing as it meant zigzagging around town for about an hour and a half of busy-ness.

I got everything done no problem.

When I got home I noticed a hole in my jeans had 'grown' so used the mirror to investigate
...when what to my wondering eye did appear...
TWO large holes in the seat of my jeans, you know, at butt cheek level?

Oh bummer! (literally not figuratively)

AND THEN I saw that not only was my bum hanging out (not a good look for fat'n'fifty)
but my white cotton granny knickers were also hanging out...
and...in the last wash I had bleached all my grungy grey knickers back into their original dazzling whiteness.
So the knicks weren't just hanging out, they were making a howling statement.

So much for a boring Tuesday: I wonder how long it will be before this story comes back to bite me...???

Monday, 10 March 2014

Accents...of the Vernacular Variety

I've often thought, and may have already said, that the written form of Internet interaction is very useful...

Consider Blogging: I write a post taking as long as I like to make it clear, grammatically correct and spell-checked, you comment, and with many of you, I answer and we have a written conversation via emails. Some of you have become very good and important friends to me using this method of communication.

Consider reading other people's Blogs: You write a post, I comment, you reply and ditto the written conversations!

Consider Facebook (which some may not wish to do!!): People post, friends comment and in abbreviated form interactions and communications ensue.

(Blogging and Facebook are my own two regular platforms for Internet interactions, that is why I am using them as examples)

So far so obvious- you write, I write and we all generally understand each other even if we don't agree with each other.

Now take the spoken word: Many of my Internet friends live across the water, very few here on the oul' sod. Each and every one of you will have some sort of accent, regional, country, international, for some English is a second language, and for some their spoken English may be peppered with local idiom and words in different languages.

For instance in East Africa very few people use only one language when they speak. I had not realised how much Kiswahili I was in the habit of using in everyday speech until I returned to live in Ireland and had to refrain from using all the local African linguistic short-cuts to which I had become accustomed. I still forget sometimes and have to correct myself when I receive blank stares. But in Ireland we use many Irish words and peculiar idioms in our general speech, which have to be edited when speaking to a non-Irish person. I daresay there are really very few of us who speak unadulterated, perfect English...and whilst we are on the subject, how exactly should we define perfect English?

Now, to one's imperfect use of the spoken English word add in the issue of accent: English, American, Scots, Finnish, French, Welsh, Russian, Canadian, and many more judging by my blog stats. In England there are many regional accents- I have lived in Watford, Hereford and Avon and noticed the differences each time. I know from the Church visitors we have had over the years that Americans have vastly differing regional accents and the same probably goes for most peoples.

I have tried to imagine how it might be if I picked up the phone to any one of you, especially those I know quite well, and I think that it is almost certain that although we might each speak English, we would also each have a desperate time actually understanding what the other was saying!

Have you ever heard a real West of Ireland country accent? With its use of idiom translated from the Irish? I know for absolute certain that I do not speak as I write. In writing I make my voice accessible and clear, grammatically correct (forget the spelling, that's always going to be atrocious, but sure it doesn't matter how badly you spell when you are speaking) and as lacking in idiom and Irish slang as I can make it. In speaking I can alter my use of language to a certain extent but its still going to sound local Irish.

Consider your own speaking- how accented or idiomatic would your natural spoken words be? Would I understand you? Maybe, but the communication would be stilted and full of possible misunderstandings, and a real ear-opener to boot!

One day I will get to meet some of you perhaps, I certainly would love to do so, but beware that although we may speak the same language, we may still fail to communicate!!

Viva L'Internet!!!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Grey Hair and Squeaky Voice

Its like this:
day to day one scurries along not really considering age or one's place in time, and then suddenly one gets a belly-whopper of a reality face-slap.

Inside didn't we all stop at between 18 and 25 years...ish?

Yesterday I was at a School Past-Pupils Choir practice for a fund-raising Concert in May. I was seriously worried about being the oldest there (by about a dozen decades) but it was ok as there were both older and younger people. I was sitting there surreptitiously studying and identifying the others, some of whom I knew as either friends and acquaintances from my school days, or as parents of children I have taught, and it came to me in a punch: not only am I and my siblings past pupils of the school, but so are my three girls!


Oh my grey hairs to shalom!

But as the Choir Master said, it matters not the age of the participants because put us together in a room and we all regress to our school habits: to wit:
firstly he complained that we were congregated at the back of the class,
secondly that we wouldn't shut up,
and thirdly that the chairs are new non-swing and would we quit trying (to swing).

Hmmm....good luck to him trying to make a Choir out of us...and I'm not talking about the quality of the singing here as there were some amazing voices (not mine)....

PS. Next rehearsal I'm taking Youngest with me.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A Day In Dublin

On Thursday I took my life in my hands and ventured on a trip to the Grand Metropolis of Dublin City!

Haven't been in a while as the last time I went I freaked out the whole way there, all day and the whole way home...you'd have thought I was crossing the Gobi or the Amazon Jungle at the very least the way my heart was pounding.

Anyhow on Thursday I decided to bribe myself with an Exhibition of historical, rarely seen books at the Royal Irish Academy, as a means of overcoming the fear of crossing the Shannon. I told Eldest and she offered to meet me and bribe me further with a double latte soya chai! She and Wily Coyote spent most of the day with me, doing the exhibition and lunch before we went our separate ways.

Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street, Dublin.
The perfect tea shop? Wicklow St., Dublin.

Dublin Castle.
 After lunch I went to the Chester Beatty Library which is in behind Dublin Castle and on the way back down Dame Street got caught in a hail storm. I do love walking around, so much to see, buildings, history, memories...what's not to like? I did a loop through Trinity College on the way back to Busarus but was too late to get into the Library there: three libraries in one day might have been overkill though!

So anyhow, it was an achievement, for me.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Consider Noddy

Regardez vous le petit voiture!
(old photo- camera not co-operating with today's photos)
(looks heluva lot worse these days...)
Isn't it a charming, gallant vehicle (pronounced VEH-ik-el) albeit a tad battered? And taking into account that it has been serving owners since 1999 its doing a reasonable job, especially since it had it under parts welded together a year ago.

If you had this extremely personable car-person under your NCT scrutiny would you not just give it a pat on the bonnet and sign it off with a smile?

Well obviously the inspection guys didn't fall for its character either- NOT, I hasten to add, that they recommended it be dispatched forthwith to the great scrapyard in the sky...BUT they did point out a flaw which they would like seen to before patting it on the bonnet and signing it off with a smile.

Back track briefly to late last week and a friend was helping me clean Noddy ready for the inspection. I was fretting about the state of the tyres, thinking they would fail the NCT whilst scrubbing away at a year's worth of accumulated mould on the sides and roof. Laughingly W. remarked, 'Don't scrub too hard at the rust as its probably all that's holding it together!'


Fast track to the end of the inspection next day and the guy tells me...'Well basically its failed due to the spreading rust which is particularly bad under the central door support...' Basically he implied that if I were to hit a pothole at speed, and we've plenty of those to choose from, Noddy would probably sort of concertina inwards with the bonnet meeting the boot. Now I'd love to see that, like a Muppet's mouth, you know?

So today Noddy is having his bum welded...again...not such a big job as last time though, and really, if Noddy was a dog I'd probably be wondering whether I should put him out of his misery, so between you, me and the dog, to say nothing of the car, I'm not fussed!

And Noddy is sniggering away to himself getting pampered to bits for a day before, hopefully, being patted on the bonnet and signed off with a smile..for another year....

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sharing Intestines

I think sharing is good, especially when it comes to interesting bits of useful information.  I say this  because I have been reading some very interesting local history books lately and being the generous sort, I like to share the especially informative points, which appears to be driving my family insane.Well, useful in my opinion, of course, how am I to know what's going on inside someone else's head?
But before you laugh just remember that you never know when a useful bit of information may save you.

For instance:

Many years ago when Youngest was a baby, we all (us five and the Hub's parents) spent a long weekend with a Wycliffe Missionary training group somewhere back of Narok (East Africa).
We're talking real bush here, many hours worth of dirt tracks in 4WD from the nearest road-head, which wasn't what anyone in the West would have even called a road. The new Missionaries spent a few months living in the bush learning how to get by under tents, with little water, no contact with the outside world and cooking on open fires.
We joined the return of the weekly truck run to Nairobi for essentials and arrived into camp after dark late at night with a crate of ice cream as a treat, I forget whose idea the ice-cream was, but the Hub worked at a CO2 plant so had access to dry ice which made the transporting of a crate of ice-cream through the tropics for eight or so hours' driving a cinch.
In fact he had been a bit over-zealous with the ice and the ice-cream was so hard frozen that everyone had to sit round the fire for more than an hour in order to wait for it to be edible, literally we could not find an instrument strong enough with which to serve it.

Late night in the African bush, miles from anywhere, sitting round the fire drinking chai and telling stories, listening to the sounds in the bush, the Maasai sing and watching them teach the children to dance whilst waiting for ice-cream to thaw...surreal? much?

Anyhow, that's a bye the bye, I was going to tell you about the usefulness of trivia.

After supper and putting the children to bed each evening everyone gathered together to entertain themselves. Singing, story telling, discussion, but also Trivial Pursuit, remember that? So picture perhaps twenty five or so adults divided into two teams (I think it was Africa v. The Rest of The World) huddled together on rickety home made wooden benches, the Trivial Pursuit board balanced on a camp table lit by a tilly lamp with all these extremely intellectual and competitive people, mostly sophisticated Americans, wracking their brains over purely irrelevant questions.
(Aside:These people were in Africa mainly to translate the Bible into hitherto unknown tribal languages and dialects, and many of them would have to invent the first written ciphers for the languages involved. I mean we are talking multi-talented and truly incredible people here.)

So the pie slices were accumulating, the competition and insults were flying, along with a lot of ragging, and after Africa was gleefully inserting a science slice into their pie, one of their men suddenly announced, 'Hey guys, did you know that a koala's intestines are eight feet long?'
Everyone laughed and exclaimed how that couldn't be right and tried to come up with something comparable but of course we had no way to look it up or prove it one way or another, and in any case so what? The very next card was a pie slice science question for The Rest of The World and guess what it was...

'How long are the intestines of a Koala Bear?'

I kid you not.
As I recall the question was greeted by silence and utter disbelief, we thought he was making it up to tease us, so the card had to be passed around for everyone to see! I think you could probably hear us laughing in Tanzania that night.

Unfortunately we never got to finish the game though as on the way back from the longdrop someone saw a leopard and since there were several children asleep in tents the game was promptly abandoned and we all went to bed.

But the story of the koala bear's intestines did the rounds for years afterwards in both Missionary and Settler circles raising disbelief and a laugh every time. Heck! I'm still laughing!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Overheard In The Kitchen

'Where does Mum keep the sugar?'

'See the little gold candle tin marked Christmas Spice on top of the curry powder jar behind the kettle- that's Mum's sugar bowl.'

Of course it is!!


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