Tuesday, December 23, 2008


In a moment of sisterly insanity last week, the bould Molly and myself agreed to post on the 23rd of December.

It is now, officially, the 24th and I am the victim of my own conscience.
Better late than never, I tell myself.

Christmas has always been, for me, a time of mixed emotions.

Manic exhilaration, as a child, when the postman stopped at our door carrying several brown paper parcels. Delight at the golden-haired doll at the end of the bed on Christmas morning. Unspeakable pleasure on donning the softest white, woollen scarf and hat.

Misery and resentment waking up, alone, having been forced to sign my mother into a drying out facility on Christmas Eve.

Love and happiness for my baby's first encounter with the magic of Santa.

Loneliness and sadness for love unspoken.

And now its 2008.

Happiness and delight at No. 1 daughter's engagement.

Apprehension and pride at No. 1 son's plans to get off the merry-go-round and walk the world.

Gratitude and love for the lives of the ancient ones.

Optimism and hope.

Tis the season to be human. Indeed.

May all your Christmases be bright.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Portrait of a Procrastinator

Its taking longer than I expected to get my act together.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

September Hankerings

I'm a great one for hankering.

Any spare few minutes and away I go.


For places, feelings, people and emotions that grip the reins to my sanity.

A rather bad habit, I suspect.


It does provide an escape route from the mania and mayhem that passes for "normal everyday life", around here, anyway.

Right now, I'd like to be back in the mountains, with all my worldly goods on my back, and nothing to contemplate except the wonders of creation.

With blue skies and crisp, pure air.

And no work. Or queens. Or incontinence pads. Or wheelchairs.

We all have bad habits.

Don't we?


A miracle has happened.

The dinosaur has been resurrected.

Long live the dinosaur.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Help! .......please?

After months of phone calls and nasty letters and nose-biting to spite my face, I am now giving up the good fight.

The stinking, rotten multi-national has won. I concede defeat.

Most ungraciously.

I am now in the market for a new laptop.

And as I haven't the foggiest as to which ones are good, bad or indifferent or wonderful machines, I need help. Desperately.

I am a COMPLETE technophobe, so any suggestions from all of you seasoned bloggers will be greatly appreciated.

My needs are simple. Easy to use, enough storage for photos.

Thats about it.

Daughter No. 2 is back to college this week and, as a result, I am computerless for most of the time. I feel like an addict going through cold turkey.

Help, please.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Time Flies ...

Its been a long 3 weeks.

My mother-in-law, the Queen, often cites the old saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". This little nugget accompanied by a knowing look and some serious nodding of the head.

I must be well on my way then.

When I returned from my rambles, which were absolutely wonderful, I did have plans and schemes to do this and that and catch up on all the projects that lie semi-dormant from September until June each year.

I made endless lists.

All to no avail.

July and August flew by .... the days filled with offspring, laughter, tears and black dogs lurking.

And now its September again.

Time to get my act together.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Life Goes On .....

Things are returning to normal here. The emotional intensity of the last week is starting to ease a little.

Life, indeed, goes on, with or without us.

Life in blogland will have to continue without me for the next 3 weeks because I am off to walk around the mountains for a bit.

France, Italy and Switzerland.

Smallish bag (have to carry everything we bring - 2 pairs of knickers - 1 to wear, 1 to wash - 2 pairs of socks ... )packed, famille organised to survive very well without us, checked in, waiting for boarding call. Hope the weather is a little better than it is here right now.

There will be limited internet access I'm sure in some of the villages we pass through. I shall try and keep up. I can hear Molly snorting derisively, I can't keep up at the best of times!

Stay safe everyone.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Unbearable Pain that I cannot Fix ..

Beloved No. 1 son rang me this morning at 10.30. He was crying. He was incoherent. He kept saying "Oh Mum, oh Mum, oh Mum ....."

And then he hung up.

This frightened me more than anything has ever frightened me before in my whole life.

I frantically dialled his number. No reply. I kept dialling until he answered.

He was still crying.

He told me one of his close friends had committed suicide last night.

There were no warning signs. His friend wasn't depressed. He had a close, loving relationship with his family. He had spent the last year studying for his Masters in Engineering. He played a soccer game with No. 1 son on Tuesday night. They won.

And now he is gone. Leaving behind such grief. For his parents. His family. His friends.

I wish I had answers. For my heartbroken boy.

But I don't.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Little Slice of Heaven

Words cannot describe how wonderful it was to watch this man perform on Sunday night.

He's now 74 years old.

He's frail and tired looking.

But he hasn't lost it.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Windows, Workmen and WTF do I know?

They arrived last Tuesday.

The workmen.

Contracted to replace the manky, rotten, peeling, warped brown things that encase the escapes to the blue. Not before time, this renewal.

I made tea, lots of tea, 90,000 million cups of tea. In real man mugs. I even produced some passable repasts for their delectation. I deferred to their obvious superior knowledge, reluctantly, on numerous occasions. I was careful not to let them see me cringeing inwardly, as they, unceremoniously, tore out the old windows, ripped acres of plaster off the walls in the process, effed and blinded hilariously with each other, snorted and spat, smoked and coughed, cursed and swore. They were REAL men, after all. Honest to god, hardworking, salt of the earth, labouring craftsmen.


One of these treasures of God's gift to women managed to secure himself an express seat to the Hot Place. If I have any say in the matter. In the process of removing the existing front door (with all the finesse of a dinosaur), this treasure of manhood managed to cut through the telephone wire. Completely. No phone. No Internet.

Not the end of the world, you might think. Accidents happen, you say.

I know all of this.

And, normally, I am quite stoical.


Daughter No.2 went on holidays to France last Wednesday, for 6 days. She had, kind soul that she is, given me computer privileges for the duration. Oh, the plans I had! To catch up, to read and comment, to laugh and enjoy, and perhaps, even, blog myself! The exhilaration of it all!

And then, this cerebrally challenged gob-shite went and scuppered them all.

"Theres nothing we can do until next Monday, Missus".... yet another genius, of the male variety, from the phone company, assured me.

By Friday, I was quite calm and friendly again.

Today is Monday. They were due to finish today. I hovered, made tea, ooohed and aaahed appropriately, made more tea. But eventually had to leave at 10.45 for a dental appointment. "We'll be here til 2.30 Missus .... can't see us finishing before that". I arrived back at 1.30. House deserted, doors locked, windows shut. Keys to front and back door sitting, INSIDE the house, on the kitchen counter. I could see them. And me bursting for a small small. Not a hairy-assed, fag-smoking specimen of working manhood to be seen. One small window upstairs, slightly ajar, one manic phone call to GB.... "No, I don't have any of the new keys" .... one very severe warning to NOT EVEN ATTEMPT IT. Meanwhile, I am in dire straits. A kindly neighbour offered tea, sympathy and facilities. A short while later, GB arrives, toting ladder and macho attitude. Nearly made a eunuch of himself scrambling through the tiny window, real man that he is. And then couldn't figure out how to unlock new fangled locks on new doors. Stone Age Heros, so endearing.

More macho men arrived and fixed the phone line. We are reconnected. The reconnection fee will be included in our next bill.


"Thems the rules, Missus"

I love when Life runs smoothly along.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Please wait, while we try to connect you .."

For the last 2 weeks I have been out of sorts. Not seriously. Generally, I have just felt like an alien residing in a less than familiar body. Normally, I am a disgustingly, healthy, energetic, enthusiastic, positive individual. But just over 2 weeks ago I sallied forth for my usual afternoon trot and tottered back feeling like I had just done 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. Crawling, miserably to the scratcher I muttered to anyone who cared to listen, "It'll be gone in the morning, its just a 24 hour thingy". Next day saw me a blithering mass of jelly, shivering and full of aches and pains, unable to summon up the enthusiasm to do anything other than moan piteously. "Its probably a virus" the vet cooed knowingly down the phone to me ... "Just treat the symptoms and get back to me if it persists for longer than 10 days". "10 days!!!!" my brain shrieked .... "doesn't he know I don't do SICK????". But bang on the button, the vet was right, on the 10th day it started to ease off. I felt human again. "Hmmm ... a walk by the river would be nice .... or perhaps I'll do a bit in the garden ... maybe, after I've washed the kitchen floor". I'm just kidding about the kitchen floor. I don't do kitchen floors.

Anyway, being forced to do as little as possible has its advantages. My brain, in feverish bursts of manic activity, had great fun tricking around with momentous topics that rarely see the light of day in the whole of my health.

No time. You see.

There is a God.

In the midst of the earth shattering ruminations on whether the earth is really round or whether if everybody was deaf, would there be such a thing as noise, came the usual suspects such as happiness, internal tickings, friendship, connecting, love, hate, ageing, children, important things, not-so-important things, time-wasters, imposters, physicality, spirituality, sadness. The devil making work for idle hands. Of all of these the one that kept cropping up was the feeling of connection.

On and off through the years, I have felt varying degrees of connectedness to myself, my family, friends, work colleagues, strangers, animals, plants and even, sometimes, inanimate objects. At times, too, there have been periods when the black dog was in full flight, growling and snarling, hackles raised, disconnecting me, daring me to acknowledge my own existence in the greater scheme of things. Daring me to acknowledge and accept my own responsibilities as a living, breathing organism. Daring me to believe, from the black hole of disconnectedness, that the only way out was through re-establishing the tenuous links. These tenuous links that constantly reflect back our own unique existence. The wave from the postman, the smile from a stranger, the enthusiastic tail-wagging from the neighbour's dog, the comment on a blog post. Little acts that reinforce the sensation of having a right to be here. They, in turn, encourage me to reach out, to smile and laugh, to be aware of others who maying be battling their own sooty canines, to have a lightness of being, to connect to all living creatures in my small corner. Really connect. This is the essence of my existence. Without it, what am I? What are any of us?

Life is short. Life is precious.

Carpe diem.

photo credit: www.mosaicsphere.com

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dinosaurs are Alive and Well ......

Up to the time of the great computer demise, I travelled around to all my favourite blogs via my favourites list at the side of my screen. It came as a slight surprise to me that these favourites won't come up on other computers. Most uncooperative of them. Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, I am at a bit of a loss as to how to find all my favourites again.

Because I have been remiss in updating my lurking locations, I now find that I am fumbling around trying to remember where everyone is, what their blog address is and, not surprisingly, I'm failing miserably. So if I'm not visiting your site its because I cant find you. The frightening thing about all this is that I did a computer course that covered practically everything the normal joe soap needs to know about these dreaded machines. I passed with flying colours ... I even got a Distinction!??!!

All I can hope for is that the resurrector who is treating the dead machine can save my photos and hopefully bring the corpse back to life, if only for a short while, but he has warned that even if he can retrieve the pictures he may have to reformat the hard drive (whatever that means) and that I'll have to start from scratch again. Sigh.

My machine was less than 2 years old and yet everybody I spoke to about it assured me that it was practically obsolete.

What does that make me?


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pretty, Dangerous Stuff ... Dust

Little did I know that my last post was to be so prophetic. Silence, indeed, has reigned supreme.

Did you ever get one of those days, weeks or even months where everything you touch turns to dust? Well, I've just spent the last 3 weeks trundling through what resembles a life, enveloped in a cloud of mishaps, misadventures and mini maelstroms. The halcyon days of early spring, the lightness of being on discovering bunches of bluebells where no bluebells bloomed before, the levity of spirit on seeing a newborn foal tottering shakily on spindly legs ... all disappearing into the vast blue yonder when placed in the reality of the dust bowl of Arizona which is my existence.

Beloved No. 2 son is due to sit his Leaving Cert. exam in June. This is his final exam, the results of which determine his further educational/life choices. His choices of college courses, his decision whether or not to attend college, all depend on this one exam. An unfair system, I know, but the only one we have. We refer to it affectionately as "The Great Big Summer Quiz". Unfortunately No. 2 son seems to be oblivious to the gravity of failing to pass this questionable test of his education and intelligence. His main concerns at the moment are his stomach and the amount and variety of foodstuffs that can be reasonably consumed by a supposedly, civilized member of society, his appearance ... mainly his hair, his mobile phone and sleeping 18 out of 24 hours of every day. He has brains, lots of them, but at the moment they seem to be located in his nether regions. His come-day-go-day, God send Sunday attitude is causing some splenic concern to the Master of the House. Who is going to throttle him in the not too distant future, I fear.

Dust rising.

Beloved No. 2 daughter - who has so kindly allowed me to use her laptop to pen this screed - is IN LOVE. Oh God Almighty. She is also up to her oxters in end of year projects, socialising events, hair disasters and "does my bum look big in these?" problems. She also tells us, most reassuringly, that "Of course, he's going to fail ... he hasn't opened a book yet!"

More dust rising.

Beloved No.1 son has recently moved back home. I love the bones of this boy but I fully understand why some birds throw the baby birds unceremoniously out of the nest.

Can't see for the dust.

Dust, dust and more dust. GB has recently gone and committed himself and myself to an expedition in July. The expedition I will warm to but the fact that he did this without asking my opinion is tantamount to a declaration of war. Hair and feathers flying.

And yet more dust.

My computer died. Suddenly. Taking ALL of my photos to the great IT vault in the sky. Yes, I know I should have stored them externally. I did intend to. Weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Lots and lots of dust.

And I haven't even mentioned the Palace.

Right now I have a chest infection and a sinus infection. Gross, green, hawking, coughing, headache, faceache, miserable.

Dust does that to you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Silence speaks volumes.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring is in the air .....

For the last number of years, my life has become, increasingly, not my life. Due mainly, to the necessary caring for GB's much-loved, ageing and ailing parents. Too much to do, too little time. Too many fragile egos to be nurtured, too few resources. Eventually, too many demands on me, both physically and emotionally.

Life is short. My life, which was not my life, was fast approaching the self-destruct barrier. There was no time. For me. To be me.

So, a little while back, due to an assortment of pressures, I decided to take a short break from blogging and other, precious, pastimes. To make space. To just be.
When your back is to the wall its easy to make decisions like that.

What I hadn't bargained for was how much I would actually miss visiting other people's blogs, adding my own tuppence halfpenny's worth in their comment boxes and occasionally, formulating my own scattered thoughts into something that vaguely resembled coherent ramblings and, then, being rewarded with comments on my own posts! The simple pleasure of just being me. Connections. No agendas.

This realisation got me thinking. Why was I forever giving up things that I liked to do, just to acommodate other people? Was my life not important enough to me?

I am not going to bore you all with the details of my epiphanic cogitations - suffice to say that the "on demand" button has been exterminated. Permanently.

I hope.

I am, no longer, nursemaid on demand, driver at the ready, gardener in wellies, runner of mindless errands, cleaner of toilets, hooverer of carpets, walker of unruly canines, teamaker extraordinaire, hairdresser, psychiatrist, doormat. The key words here are "on demand". I still do all of these things, just not on demand. Which makes a huge difference in my head.

The Queen is not amused.

In fact, she's a little cross with me. Disappointed and querulous even. And, most of the time, I am strong and do not succumb to the quavering voice. But, sometimes, I do.

Ever since the demise of the button, I am singing. And humming...... and whistling.
And the feet are tapping ... and I feel like acting the eejit, tearing across the fields, kicking my heels up and maybe, even, indulging in a little bit of gadding!

Heady stuff, this Spring air.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Somethings gotta give ....

Life, around here, has taken a turn in the manic direction.

So, in the interest of retaining what semblance of sanity remains, I am taking a short break from blogging.

I hope to still read some, lurk some and even comment some.

The light at the end of the tunnel is just a flicker.

But its there.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happiness is .....

What is it with primates these days??

Everywhere I go, there they are, making me laugh ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Struggling Angel

My mother, a struggling angel, was born on the 12th February 1919.

She was the eldest of 4 children. Living and growing up on a small farm in civil-war torn, rural Ireland in the 1920's was far from idyllic. But she was a fighter, intelligent and ambitious, finished her education, qualified as a nurse and moved to the city. Eventually, marrying a handsome prince and settling down to grow a family.

Girl, boy, girl.

My brother's birth was difficult. "Oxygen-deprivation", they said. A "home" would be the best option for him, they said. She didn't agree. Thereby, sealing her own fate and releasing his spirit. Years of self-sacrifice, soul-scorching rituals, frustration and tiredness followed, taking their life-strangling toll. By the time I was 11 she had lost the battle. Given up the fight.

For 12 long years, she drank herself into oblivion. Trying to escape the mind-numbing pain and loneliness that seemed to engulf her. She hit rock bottom many times only to discover yet another greater, deeper abyss of despair.

Alone. Always. In her head. Without loving support.

My father, himself the product of an alcohol-soaked background, was little more than a shadow. The ostrich-syndrome reigned supreme. If he didn't talk about it, it didn't exist. He was a past master at sweeping unsavoury topics right under the carpet. I don't blame him, now, for his inaction. He did the best that he could. Big sister was grown and away at college, big brother was battling his way through adolescence, and I was 11 years old. Ill-equipped for anything other than rebellion.

My heart aches when I think of angel Annie. Aches for her pain, her struggling, her loneliness, her hopelessness. Aches for my own inability to understand for so many years.

Then, in 1977 she stopped drinking alcohol, forever.

This lovely, fine, sensitive, intelligent angel re-emerged. Changed, inevitably. A bit battered around the edges, but still recognisable. A delicate, refined articulate, unfathomable lady. An expert at playing Bridge. Surrounded by a small network of supportive, recovering friends. She became a leading light in the AA movement, a beacon for the lost and struggling, available anytime, day or night. A light in the darkness. She had regained her sense of self, she had chosen to fight her demons. She had chosen to live.

Unfortunately, even though our relationship was reborn, she was never willing or able to speak of the 12 lost years. The self-protecting barriers were still in place. Never to come down. I didn't dare to venture into that territory, uninvited. I wish, now, that I had been braver.

I think she was happy in the last 7 years of her life. I sat with her when she died in 1984. An angel going home.

Occasionally, I sense her presence around me. It makes me smile inside.

Happy Birthday Angel Annie.

photo credit: www.northstargallery.com

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Where I am From ..... The Prologue

This post has been lurking in my brain and on the tips of my fingers for quite a little while now.

It has puzzled me.

I suppose, if I'm honest about it, the main difficulty for me, is the comparisons I am making between Molly's version of "Where I am From" and my own version. The light and the dark.

I don't have very many memories of my childhood. Probably, because I don't look back very often. But sometimes, when I do wander back, it makes me curious as to WHY some part of my brain has chosen to secrete the bulk of my childhood memories and why I am, still, allowing this to happen. Why am I choosing not to remember? Is it because I have the attention span of a goldfish and have actually retained very little from my younger years? Or do I actually have a choice in the matter? If it is the latter then, why am I choosing the easy option? Or is it the easy option?

Of course, if I am realistic and sensible about it all, I realise that, inevitably, our two lives and the memories that accompany those different paths, are inextricably bound up in our own, very individual, personalities and experiences and therefore, bound to be quite different.

That said, I do sometimes wish that one of my children would choose to further their education and mine by taking a course in Psychology.

What follows are the rather dark pickings from the recent archaeological dig.

Where I am From ......

I am from the white, iron bed with the horsehair mattress, the sucked woollen blanket and the interminable rocking of the unfathomable, tortured spirit in the small, front bedroom.

I am from ice on the insides of windows in winter, deep-red, summer roses and strawberries in the long, green garden. From cold, marble halls and mesmerising fires. From transient, pencilled masterpieces on 1950's fireplaces and fervent intonations of the Rosary on bended knees. From porridge-making rituals and greed-inducing butterfly buns. From fine bone china, good rooms and curious, black-clad creatures of God, who demanded kisses.

I am from the rhythmic sound of a push-mower, cats yowling, and self-imposed silence.

I am from creeper-clad walls, eternally occupied trees, tearaway horses masquerading as concrete dividers. From Goody's Lane, swampy fields, forbidden orchards and a broken-arm trophy. From envious gazing, over garden walls, through shining windows at newly acquired black and white televisions. From apprehension as a constant, daily companion.

I am from the salt of the earth and the animal healers, the strong women and the silent men. The duty-bound. The drinkers. The disappointed.
From Annie and Aidan, O'Rourkes and Walshes, Drakes and Shepherds.

I am from the disillusioned and the masters of under-carpet sweeping. From the kindly and hard working, from the happy and sad, from the optimists and the pessimists.

From birdies and fondies, doanie and yaya, goodie and bumbows.

I am from crucifixes and sacred hearts, novenas and litanies of the saints. Heaven and Hell. Purgatory and Limbo.

I am from the small, green island. Awash with holy men, scholars and hypocrites.
From rhubarb and custard, brown bread and tea, shepherd's pie and glasses of milk.

I am from the struggling angel who lost the battle to endure her torment.
I am from the handsome, big eared lover, who stole her heart and then was careless.

I am from mismatched, mixed-up mortals who loved to the best of their ability, sometimes overwhelmed by their journey. I am from the grateful place.

I am from a place of sunshine, with unspoken love and loyalty.

I am also from a dark place that caused pain.

From this dark and light place, I am who I am.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Photo credit: www.artistsforhumanrights.org

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Best Laid Plans .....

There I was .. full of the joys of the new year, the start of the rest of my life, the beginning of great hopes and plans. My heart filled with optimism, my head doing flips and somersaults in anticipation of the opportunities that lay ahead, I made a very small list of my aspirations and dreams for 2008. Even putting words to the hopes was exciting! I had another week of indulgent, no-work days.... Bliss.

Then, as usual, life intervened.

I should really start at the beginning. Just before Christmas, 3 days to be exact, there was a major hiccup in the water supply to the Palace. Her Highness was not one bit amused. "No water!!" she shrieked and immediately had a fit of the vapours. We soothed and cajoled, made tea and offered half-lies as a means of preventing a major burnout. All to no avail. She fretted and moaned. She let fly about the council's lack of consideration for retired people until we were all fit to expire gracefully. She refused to understand that it was not the council's responsibility since the guilty pipe was on private property. We did our best to get a plumber - Irish plumbers are like gold dust, not a one to be had for love nor money. So, we hauled water til our bodies screamed in protest, we took the daily laundry loads, we trawled buckets up the stairs to the loo, we traipsed backwards and forwards from the most obliging neighbour's house, struggling under the weight of the overfull buckets - I now sport shoulders that Arnold Schwarzenegger would ogle with a degree of the "little green eye". Eventually, GB, aided and abetted by one of his brothers, dug a 2 foot drain, found the culprit pipe, installed a temporary, overground hose and all was acceptable and semi-civilised in the royal domain once again.

Christmas came and went. The Old Year skulked out the back door and the New Year flew in the front. Hope and optimism was alive and well. The visitors were plentiful and jovial, distractions too numerous to mention and all was right in the Kingdom.

And then she did "something" to her "bad" knee.

She doesn't know how it happened. But January 2 blew all hopes I had, of mending my blogging ways, of grasping back some sanity, of catching up with long neglected friends, right down the toilet.

For the past week, Her Highness, when not reclining in the royal boudoir, has been ensconced on her throne, immobile, with quavery voice to the fore, endless requests for needless tasks to be done, no visible improvement, querulously vocal to the saintly Larry and I am quite close to furthering my education by googling "hara -kiri". Strangely enough, GB sees none of this. When he returns from the nightly visit, he tells tale of how sprightly she was, scampering up the stairs to bed, cheerily bidding him "Goodnight!" No moaning, no quavery voice, no tears brimming - ready to fall - no "poor me" carry on. GB has a very low tolerance level for the "mi-adhs" of the world and I think Her Highness is quite aware of this fact. She knows what side her bread is buttered on.

But what kind of an eejit does that make me?


An 18 carat plumber is due early next week "to have a look" and hopefully come back later to perform miracles. The weather is due to settle over the weekend. Daughter no.2 has her driving test in the morning, the psychotic wonderdog has acquired some less than desirable live in tenants and GB has given up the dreaded weed.

Life is truly wonderful.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Horizons

I like January.

The new slate. The beginning. The anticipation.

The expectations.

The hopes, the dreams, the opportunities.

The looking forward.

May the joy of being alive fill your heart and soothe your spirit.

I wish you all serenity and contentment.