A Jedi Jacket, an Atlas Apron and a Dream Coming True.

The land the sun forgot. That’s where I live these days.

Thankfully, it hasn’t been getting me down. The form has been steadily upbeat of late which I am attributing to my recent discovery of Evening Primrose Oil. That, and a long list of enjoyable indoor projects to keep my gaze averted from the sodden garden.

My only gripe is that it’s almost impossible to photograph, and therefore to show you, my projects.

I have a new niece or nephew (don’t know which yet) on the way so I indulged myself in the very best kind of knitting: garter stitch in newborn size. The pattern calls this a baby kimono but my kids have christened it the Baby Jedi jacket.

Baby Jedi Jacket.

This is a free pattern which you can find here. I’ve been researching complementary Baby Jedi hats. This Princess Leia Beanie is superb.

My favourite apron is in tatters. I’ve been loathe to part with it but the button of my jeans has worn a whole in the middle which makes it look as though I’m about to burst, incredible hulk style, out of my clothes.

I took a trip to town with the intention of buying some hard-wearing, practical, striped cotton.Alas, my inner map-junkie prevailed.

Atlas Apron.

So, now I look like a walking globe armed with spoons.

I’m not the greatest seamstress so I am quite proud of this creation, in particular my pattern-matched, equatorial pocket. Naturally, this is an Ireland-centric atlas-apron.

We demolished and rebuilt this house in 2011 but it is far from finished. Husband has a to-be-completed list which seems to grow annually. I am beside myself with excitement at the moment because we are tackling one of the biggest tasks on his list which also happens to be my heart’s greatest desire.

We drew a space on our house plans and labelled it ‘pantry’ but we never had the funds to furnish it. We bought a couple of second-hand shelf units on Donedeal.ie and stacked the weetabix willy-nilly.

Here are some unedited, untidied, not-even-wiped-clean, before photos.

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Sigh. I’m a hopeless housewife.

Anyway, moving swiftly along, here are some equally unedited work-in-progress photos:

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Husband is project manager/carpenter while I am chief painter/measuring-tape-locater. It’s working out grand. Tune in next week to discover whether the pantry is completed or the marriage wrecked. It could go either way.

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It’s a bit early to be thinking about Valentines but…

‘I loves him ‘cos he brings me chips.’

That was my line, borrowed from some forgotten joke, when he used to turn up on my doorstep on Thursday evenings after rugby training, hot and hungry, with a steaming parcel of chips in curry sauce.

Quarter of a century later, I love him because he builds me shelves.
And, because he knows exactly the spot to rub on the Voltarol.
Because he brings me coffee every morning without turning on the light.
Because he doesn’t mind digging in the rain so long as we do it together.
Because he knows my tell
and hasn’t told.
Because he believes that I am good.
and tells me that I can.
Because his hands…

I’m saying this now because, if I wait for an occasion, my hormones will have fluctuated and my mood will have nose-dived and I will have forgotten why, WHY?, I love him, though never that I do.

This grey and windy Wednesday morning, when for one precious, terrifying, moment, everyone is OK, we are all happy and healthy and muddling along just grand, planning, plotting and looking forward, I am over-whelmed with reasons why.img_3666

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Tried and Tested: Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story.

Nadiya's Bake Me a Story. Nadiya Hussein. Review

It was nearly elevenses time, and a little old lady was at home with nothing to dunk in her cup of tea. She rooted through her cupboards. There were no chocolate cookies, no figgie rolls- not even any plain old crackers. But she could see lots of flour, brown sugar, honey and jars upon jars of spices.

Nadiya Hussein was the baker who made Mary Berry cry for all the right reasons. Probably the most popular ever winner of The Great British Bake-Off, Nadiya’s daring use of spices won over the judges, while her self-effacing humour and charming smile melted viewers’ hearts.

 

Nadiya's Bake Me a Story. Nadiya Hussein. Review

A role as judge on the BBC’s Junior Bake-Off followed, where Nadiya conquered a younger audience with similar ease. Next, came a documentary about her family’s roots in Bangladesh, magazine columns, and regular TV slots. Nadiya has proven herself a natural TV personality. She is pretty and likeable, she is funny, she can tell a good story, and she comes across as just a nice, average mum.

There is nothing average, however, about Nadiya Hussein. Debrett’s listed this…(read on here).

East of Eden Project, Part 2.

John Steinbeck Quotation. And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.'

This is Part 2 of a long post. Read Parts 1 and 2 together here.

John Steinbeck admitted in his letters to Pat Covici that there are two books within the covers of East of Eden and that they might even have been better published separately. The core of the book is a re-telling of the story of Cain and Abel. Cain ‘dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden’, was the eldest son of Adam and Eve, was the first person born and the first to kill. His younger brother Abel was the first to die. Theirs is the story of the fight between good and evil in the human soul.

Steinbeck sets the story in the Salinas Valley, California, bridging the 19th and 20th centuries and across two generations of the Trask family. We first read the story of Charles Trask and his brother Adam and then follow Adam’s sons Aron and Cal.

Parallel with this, Steinbeck tells the tale of Samuel Hamilton, a well-read and artistically inclined Irish immigrant who claims a dusty parcel of Californian land and settles down to raise a large family of Americans. Samuel’s daughter Olive marries a German called Ernest Steinbeck and they raise a son called John who is the narrator, and the author, of East of Eden. I know, it is all a bit mind-bending and I can’t remember any other author using a similar device but it works. It absolutely works.

The flesh-and-blood Hamiltons and the fictional Trasks are neighbours. Their stories lean against each other, stand apart and mingle a little. Steinbeck assures Pat Covici that ‘all the Hamilton stories are true.’ He wants to tell the story of America by creating a true picture of the Salinas Valley which he is, ‘using as a microcosm of the whole nation’ and for that reason he says, ‘I must put in all the lore and anecdote I can. And many of my family stories amount to folklore and should be used …’

So, East of Eden is a like a mixed-media image with old and very personal photographs overlaid on a painting.

The best, the most good, character in the novel is a real person. Samuel Hamilton makes people feel good, makes them feel like better people and makes them believe that the world is a better place. It was Steinbeck’s intention that Samuel be a guiding light, ‘by whom little and frightened men are guided through the darkness.’

Cathy Ames, the villain of the piece, the monster and devil incarnate, is only make-believe.

Cathy and Samuel are fire and water. They recognise each other and can’t bear to be close.

Cast and torn between these two extremes are the ordinary people. Some of them are dreamers, others are schemers. Some are blind to evil, others are drawn to badness. Some of them are Hamiltons and some of them are Trasks but they all feel like real people.

Yes, it’s all very symbolic but the weight of symbolism is balanced with good story-telling. Steinbeck knew what he was about, ‘I want to clothe my symbol people in the trappings of experience so that the symbol is discernible but not overwhelming.’

Does good triumph over evil? What do you think? Has it, in the real world? The point is not whether it did, in this story or any other. The point is not whether it will in the future. The point is that good could triumph over evil, if men so choose, it could.

‘It’s too easy to excuse yourself because of your ancestry,’ says the wisest man in the book.

‘There’s a responsibility to being a person. It’s more than just taking up space where air might be.’

This is from Steinbeck’s Nobel prize acceptance speech in 1962:

 ‘Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life of the whole world – of all living things. The danger and the glory and the choice rest finally in man. The test of his perfectibility is at hand. Having taken Godlike power, we must seek in ourselves for the responsibility we once prayed some deity might have.’

In chapter two, writing about the first pioneers to colonise America, Steinbeck writes:

‘They trusted themselves as individuals because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units – because of this they could give God their own courage and receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.’

There it is. There is Donald Trump, sure and strong. Did you draw breath? That’s art.

But wait. Take East of Eden down from your book shelf or go to a book shop and take the book in your hands. Somehow, I feel that a portion of the power of this lies in holding a book. Find Chapter 13, part 1, and read.

These are just excerpts:

‘When our food and clothing and housing are all born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking.’

‘and men are unhappy and confused.’

‘Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man.’

‘And now the forces marshalled around the concept of the group have declared war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.’

‘And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual is the most valuable thing in the world.
And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.
And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual…I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.’

Phew. Art.

Knitting your own dishcloths might just be a tiny step in the right direction. Knitting your own dishcloths and kneading your own bread might give you time to do some hard thinking. You might stretch your mind to considering rebellion. You might be too busy thinking to worry about the great mass of people who might think you are crazy. You might become the person your Husband thinks you are. You? I guess I mean me. But also, you.

Here are more words of wisdom from David Bowie:

‘Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.’

Because, you know, life takes courage. Responsibility takes courage. Creativity takes courage. Individuality takes courage. If you get hung up on being perfect, on playing safe, then you’ll just follow the crowd, the group, the mass. You’ll spot some strong sure man and, even if he’s wrong, you’ll hang on his coattails.

Be brave. Swim deeper. Make a splash.

‘And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.’ John Steinbeck.

John Steinbeck Quotation. And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.'

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Books about books.

hand-knit teddy and books about books.

I met a young woman many years ago, when I also was a young woman, who corrected me when I drew her attention to the geraniums on my balcony. She, quite rightly, informed me that they were actually called pelargoniums. Boy, oh boy, did that ever rankle. I’ve never made the same mistake again. She also told me that fair isle knitting was very easy and I should try it. I didn’t.

Years and years passed while I maintained a mulish resistance to fair isle. Then, last week I went to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and came home with Let’s Knit magazine. This, I swear to you, is the first knitting magazine I have ever bought. I saw a picture of a little fair isle teddy on the cover, full instructions were promised and the yarn was all included, and that thread of stubborn resistance inside me just snapped. It was old, I suppose, and frayed and ready to go. What a relief.

Here he is:hand-knit teddy and books about books.

It’s just a teeny, weeny bit of fair isle work but I am quite proud of it.

Now, you might be wondering why he is standing with a stack of books. I’m amused by how often I find myself piling up stacks of books to be photographed these days. It makes me very happy to, laughingly, call this work.

To find out what those books have in common, you can read my article on Bookwitty.com here. Teddy doesn’t feature in the article, he just stuck his head in for a quick photo.

I rarely read two books at the same time. I like to immerse myself completely in a book, read it in as little time as possible and move on. I’m breaking my habit for a good cause. Husband gave me a present of these two books:

The East of Eden Project.

The first is John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and the second is a collection of letters which Steinbeck wrote, on a daily basis, to his editor while he was writing the novel. In the letters, Steinbeck details his plans for the novel but also chats about his house renovation and carpentry projects. It is absolutely fascinating.

I’m less than halfway through; it’s very slow-going reading both in tandem.

I have no idea how or what I will write when I get to the end but I feel that something is stewing at the back of my head.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted the early Christmas present from Husband. Basically, he couldn’t live with me in my caffeine-deprived state. Regular mugs just don’t cut the mustard. I am, once again, the happy owner of a blue Burleigh mug. If there is a reader in your life, I can imagine no better gift for them (or perhaps for yourself).

The cake, not shown to best advantage is Nigella’s fresh gingerbread. It is one of our winter favourites but we make the icing with lime rather than lemon. It is very good cake.

Have a great weekend, my friends, we are nearly there.

Am I Sultanabun?

Fuchsia. A bundle of shy beauties.

There I was, stood in the middle of the Ballymaloe Shop (which was heaving with shoppers due to the Ballymaloe Craft Fair), amidst the melee of those fools optimistic enough to think they might get a seat in the Café at the End of the Shop (yes, that is what it’s called), with my head stuck in Darina’s Christmas book, when I heard a little voice in my ear (yes, my ear, I tell you, not in my head) asking, ‘Are you Sultanabun?’

Verbena bonariensis in the spotlight.

My poor brain, slow to reach top speed at the best of times, was divided in equal parts between ‘Oh my God, that’s the lovely woman from…splutter, splutter, stall’ and ‘Oh my God, I’m very shy and I never say the right things unless I have several hours to contemplate a response and, even then, it’s hit and miss so…splutter, splutter stall.’

I can only hope to God that I managed to say something intelligible and, you know, maybe even in English.

‘I’m we-love-little-things!’ she said, which made me laugh because these peculiar (in my case, at least) call signs that we have given ourselves have so much become our identity that we need no other name. My head was immediately filled with images of adorable crocheted creatures and sea-side walks and laughing children. The woman, in the flesh, is the perfect personification of her pretty and happy instagram feed.

What’s more, she greeted me with the news that I was one of the lucky winners on her Giveaway ! Can you believe it? I don’t win things. When I was in fourth class Sr. Frances had 30 pictures of Pope John Paul to raffle between 38 of us. They weren’t fancy or anything. They were likely snipped off the top of the previous year’s calendars. Anyway, I did win one of those which was very exciting as I was quite the ardent fan of Il Papa (I was ten), but I’ve not won so much as a lollipop since then!

Not only did I win a pattern for this handsome fella, I now have the ideal excuse for a trip to town on a yarn-finding expedition and a joyful project to bridge the gap to Christmas. Wahey!

It was odd to be recognised out-of-doors as my alter-ego. Odd in a good way. I started this blog as a sanity-saving device, a release valve for the swirling maelstrom of thoughts in my head. It has been an enormous comfort to discover that there were like-minded souls out there who take comfort in books and yarn and the occasional biscuit.

But there lingers the small doubt whether the Lilliputian people who populate my phone exist at all in the real world. There remains the possibility that it’s all an elaborate scam or simply a figment of my imagination.

My teenagers laugh at me and reassure me that the intersection between internet scammers and the online crochet community is minute but of course that’s not my real concern. My real doubt is whether the Lilliputians really like me at all. They might just be nice people being nice, clicking that ‘like’ button because it costs nothing and makes us both feel good.

Fuchsia. A bundle of shy beauties.

That this woman gathered her nerve and tapped on my real, live shoulder means the world to me. We are real people. If we can keep each other company, or maybe inspire someone to knit a mitten (or even two), if we can just put a smile on someone’s face, that is an achievement. A real achievement.

My family, gleefully, slagged me all the way home for my pretensions to celebrity but, do you know what, we-love-little-things made my day. Thank you.

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Curtains. 

What a week.

 Last Saturday Ireland played New Zealand in a rugby match in, of all places, Chicago. For the first time ever and breaking New Zealand’s 18 match winning streak, we won. The Irish squad faced down the indomitable Haka by forming a figure of eight in honour of Anthony Foley, legendary Irish player and coach, who passed away unexpectedly and tragically a few weeks ago. It was one of the most emotional moments in the history of Irish sport. The match was incredible. No Hollywood screenwriter could have made up a more thrilling ninety minutes of television. Husband damn near wet himself. He had to phone his brother to make certain he hadn’t dreamed the whole thing. 

On Sunday we watched a freshly hatched iguana stand still and unblinking to escape detection by a nest of hungry snakes. David Attenborough, we felt, could not be relied upon to supply a happy ending so we perched at the edge of our seats and yelled for that baby iguana with as much enthusiasm and uncertainty in our hearts as when we cheered for the Irish team. Against the odds, little Iggie made it to safe ground and we jubilantly applauded another happy ending. 

You see where this is going now, don’t you?

On Tuesday we went to bed secure in the certainty that America, having put on a spectacular show for the last few months, would deliver another happy ending. The polls, the pundits and common sense assured us that all would be well. Obviously they, and we, were wrong. 

The exact same thing happened with Brexit. We woke up to a shocking result. The thing is, the Brits have trained us, through years of plays, books, BBC dramas, and even rugby matches, to be prepared for tragic endings. British soap operas kill off the good guys willy nilly and they NEVER turn up in the shower a year later claiming it was all a bad dream. Admittedly, there was that dodgy thing with Sherlock falling from the roof but we figured they were trying to sell him to America.  

Shakespeare thought nothing of leaving a couple of minor characters on the stage wondering what the heck had gone wrong and what the feck should they do next. 

‘Go hence and have more talk of these sad things: Some shall be pardoned and some punished.’

Curtains. 

America wasn’t kind enough to prepare us the same way. America does happy endings. Had we woken on Wednesday to Hilary’s victory speech we might even have scoffed a little and said that it was all a bit Disney. In America heroes prevail, bad guys go down and Ireland beats New Zealand. 

Donald Trump left the stage after his victory speech to the strains of ‘You don’t always get what you want.’ Now that’s just not Disney at all, at all. 

On Wednesday the Irish media was stuck at ‘what the heck happened?’. Yesterday they stretched to ‘what the feck happens next?’.  I was still nursing a hope that Hollywood would release an alternate ending. 

Today I have a shitload of laundry to catch up on and a poorly five-year-old to nurse. 

‘But Mama,’ she said to me in an accusatory tone, ‘you said you thought the girl was going to win.’

‘I did. I was wrong.’

‘I’m very disappointed.’

‘Me too.’

Curtains. 

Ah listen, I’m grand. Really.

beat depression. 12 steps

Be brave.

I’m not depressed. Definitely not depressed. I think.

I know, deep down in my heart and in my calculating head, that I am fortunate. I am healthy, comfortable, safe and loved. I have everything I need. A healthy proportion of everything I want is mine for the taking.

This here, this writing, has been the most exciting thing to happen to me since motherhood was new. I remember wheeling my blonde, blue-eyed boy around Padova and reveling, for the first time in my life, in the attention. Writing gives me the same fiery mix of pride, joy and satisfaction. I love it.

You could take 95% of the people of the world and put them in my shoes and they would be on their knees thanking their God for such a wonderful life.

depression. A sodden rose symbolising middle age exhaustion.

So; what?

Well. Thoughtful pause.

A shocking wave of sadness has caught me unawares. The calendar, at this time of year, has become a minefield of sad anniversaries and it seems I have tripped a couple.

I haven’t quite tumbled. I’ve been putting up a brave effort to steady myself but I’m off-kilter. A chipped cup the other day was a tragedy. A broken bicycle chain almost buckled me.

Ridiculous.

Depression, I think, is like a bog. A mire. There is some comfort in sitting yourself right down in the muck and weeping. There’s always a chance that the sun will come out and firm up the ground.

Or, you might find it twice as hard to get up again.

I’m opting for the frantic action option. I’m kicking off my muddy wellies, metaphorically speaking, and running for higher ground.

I have a plan of action; my very own 12 step guide.

Step One. Think About Eating A Truck Load Of Chocolate.

Hardly original. I was facilitated by Small Girl’s homework which was to think of words that rhyme with it and at:

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Step Two: Look at the bigger picture.

I don’t mean in the literal sense but, this was on my fridge this morning.

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You know what I mean. Life is good. Get the f-ing bicycle chain fixed and forget about it.

Step Three: Get Fresh Air and Exercise.

I can’t be doing with anything that requires special kit or instruction. I should probably try pilates but, being honest, it’s unlikely I will. I walk the dog so hopefully that, with a bit of digging and weeding, will do.

walk the dog to beat depression.

Step Four: Grow Something.

This one works. Nurturing tiny plants is a tonic but it’s hardly what you could call a quick fix and this isn’t the best time of year to start.

No excuses. I have a little cuttings nursery on the go. I swear I don’t make believe that Monty Don pats me on the back and tells me I’m a marvellous gardener. (I know I’m not alone Zeens and Roger!)

play pretend Gardener's World

5. Eat Something Nutritious.

I’ve read that depression and anxiety can be caused, or at least exacerbated, by nutritional deficiencies.  Read this.

My best intentions were thwarted by the lousy weather and thieving birds. I found one raspberry.

eat something nutritious to combat depression

How nutritious do we think a brie and damson jam toastie would be?

6. Cook Something Delicious.

Small Girl and I have been playing Great Cork Bake-Off in the back garden. Does that count?

play pretend bake-off

I made pizza last night. It was good, really good. We ate it while watching the old Gary Cooper/ Ingrid Bergman movie of For Whom The Bell Tolls which reminds me…

7. Avoid Ernest Hemingway At All Costs.

8. Make Something Pretty.

Crochet. Twice as calming as Xanax and it keeps your toes cosy.

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9. Indulge in Escapism.

I took a day-trip to Rutminster.

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10. Indulge yourself.

I picked some flowers for myself.

Hypericum…a mild anti-depressant:

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Poppies…hardcore anti-depressant:

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Sweet geranium, perennial wallflower, fennel, and roses. I wish I could bottle the scent of this…

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I tinkered around on the piano for a bit. It’s not me, but Middle Girl, who is learning the lyrics to ‘I Will Survive‘ (she has learned most of this ; it is unbelievably heart-warming). Still, no harm in belting out a bar or two.

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I lit a candle, put on some appropriate music,

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AND…I ate the fecking Kit-Kat.

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11. Watch Bees.

I’m telling you, this is the best anti-depressant. I’ve taken a gazillion photos. Bees are brilliant.

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12. Tell Someone.

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And off they go, into the ether, the words that kept me awake all night, go on now go, I’m grand.

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Ermmmmm, can’t think of a title.

Hall table, autumn display and nature table.

I walked the dog and beat the rain home. That’s no small victory.

Sometimes, while I’m walking the dog or driving the car, the maelstrom of words in my head coalesce into some sort of communicable formation. I stride to the kettle then, eager to brew a coffee and regale you with my wit and insight. There are days when I almost reach for a second mug, so sure am I that you are there in the corner chair.

I don’t see a screen those days. I see you spreading jam on your scone.

I don’t hear the keys click those days. I hear you say, ‘you know the way…’

Other days, lately, I tap tap tap and see myself reflected back in tiny words.

Hall table, autumn display and nature table.

Teenage Daughter thinks it’s time to take her school art project off the hall table. I am steadfastly refusing.

My blogging achievement this week was taking a new ‘shelfie’ for my blog header. Scroll back up there and revel for a moment in all that Autumnal bounty.

The hedgerows are wonderful at the moment, teeming with chirruping birds and laden with hips, haws and berries. It’s like a mad grand finale to the summer with all the stars taking a final bow. I walk along the path like the Queen meeting the cast, nodding and muttering ‘jolly good show.’

And the words flutter in the wind and fall about me.

I laid out some pickings on the chess board, thinking I might attempt an arty flat-lay photograph.

acorn, hypericum, crab apples, Nigella

I was even contemplating running upstairs for Granny’s vintage (aka useless) scissors. They always have vintage scissors in those pictures, don’t they? And die-cast cars and marbles. Anyway, the dog pointed to the futility of my artistic notions.

Charlie stealing from my nature table

I plonked back into an armchair, flat-lay-less and wordless.

I have been staring at a flashing cursor for five ten fifteen minutes now. Time to stop.

Charlie, the world's cutest Cockapoo.

It lightens up towards the end…

Off the top of my head:

The rain has stopped. That’s something. And the wind; our youngest trees are leaning 45 degrees towards northeast. That’s what the Gulfstream will do for you. I wonder is that why we Irish seem to brace a little, lean forward with a wary smile, as if waiting for the next onslaught.

I walked into a butcher’s shop yesterday, hood up and head bowed.

‘Miserable, huh?’was the butchers greeting. I could only agree. If it was bad enough that we couldn’t go out it might be better. I didn’t bother wearing a coat when I walked the dog. It was warm and it seemed easier to not fight and just get wet. I am weathered.

Actually, if you want a true insight into the Irish pysche you should read John Boyne’s A History of Loneliness. I’ve been intending to write about it for weeks but I get a pain in my chest every time I think about it. It is funny, laugh out loud hilarious at times, but don’t read it unless you are prepared to know the worst of us, the evil we accepted in this country and to which we turned a blind eye. The worst was not being shocked by it because this history, to our eternal shame, is embedded in us.

John Boyne's A History Of Loneliness will break your heart.

So badly did I need a lift after John Boyne that I broke out the last Jilly Cooper, Jump! from six years ago.Did you hear? Rupert Campbell Black is BACK! Woohoo! I fell for Rupert in my teens when I moved straight from Judy Blume to Jilly Cooper. That now was a big leap! Jilly holds nothing back. I don’t know how she gets away with such politically incorrect ribaldry. Perhaps it’s because she is so posh. It’s all good fun and Rupert is, well to quote her nibs, ‘still Mecca for most women.’ The new book is darned expensive so I may have to hide my blushes and order it from the library.

Anyone else willing to admit to literary crushes? I’ve had too many to count. There was a Boy called Will in K.M. Peyton’s Flambards. I think he was the first. Mr. Darcy of course. Heathcliff (I am Heathcliff). Jay Gatsby. Rhett Butler (Scarlett, never at any crisis of your life have I known you to have a handkerchief) . Just last year, on re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird, I fell hard for Atticus Finch but that may be real love and not just a crush. Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike has appeal although Tom Burke who has been cast for the upcoming TV series, is not at all how I imagined him. My old book club, now sadly disbanded, read Fifty Shades of Grey by mistake. I swear, it was an accident, we had no idea what filthy hole we were falling, nay leaping, into. What a load of rubbish that was…Christian Grey is only a jumped up eejit. I refuse to even highlight his name in bold type. Honest to God, there are real men to be found in books if only people would look for them.

Until quite recently Rupert Campbell Black was most definitely in the pole position but he has been nudged into second by the literary skill of Winston Graham (let’s face it, he beats Jilly Cooper hands down for plot, pacing and possibly even riding skills). Like a fine jockey on a good horse, Aidan Turner, has sped past the post and the new, official, Sultanabun Stud-in-a-Book award goes to Captain Ross Poldark.

“Since I met you,’ he said, ‘I’ve had no eyes and no thought for any other girl. When I was away nothing mattered about my coming back but this. If there was one thing I was sure of, it wasn’t what I’d been taught by anyone else to believe, not what I learned from other people was the truth, but the truth that I felt in myself- about you.’

I’ll say no more. Read it yourself. And weep.

I read the first three books last summer before watching the show. Funnily enough, they got me through a wet week that time alsoI’ve just bought books 4 and 5 so I’m keeping ahead of the TV show. 

This is the pile that came in yesterday’s post. Bliss.

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You can also see that the granny square blanket has reached the putting-together stage. Vibrant is one word for it  but I’m leaning towards lurid. Oh dear.

The family had a big treat on Sunday when The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain came to Cork. So, so funny and wonderful. My kids have been singing and plucking strings non-stop since they got home. My eleven-year-old sat on the bedroom floor this morning while I was making my bed so that I could hear her rendition of Teenage Dirtbag (Instagram to the left).

Apparently, the kids need me to learn four guitar chords (to add to the 3 I know!) so that I can join them in a medley of Fly Me To The Moon/ I Will Survive/ Killing Me Softly/ Love Story like this one.  There are dozens of great clips on YouTube but, given our conversation today, I had to go for this one… (you will laugh, I promise.)

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