Monday, November 11, 2013

Critters and Procrastination

I haven't been sewing or quilting much since England and summer. In fact, I've been so bad I'd need a map at this stage to find my way to my sewing room. Which is not good. There's a lot I should be doing in there. I should be working on little grand daughter's quilt, if nothing else. Last thing I sewed was a doll's dress. Here's the doll wearing it....

Her other grandparents live on a farm with chickens and pigs, guinea fowl and sheep, geese and goslings, so it seemed logical that her quilt should tie in with that since she and her big brother are there a lot and love all the critters..

 And so The Little Red Hen quilt was born. Or maybe I should say conceived. Since the actual birth is turning into quite a long labor. One of love, it goes without saying, but protracted nonetheless. The contractions seem to have stopped. Pass the ptocin. Move that part of my anatomy upon which I sit.

So, you may ask, what is the problem? The problem, though I don't think of it as a problem really because I love it, is the writing. The scribbling, the editing, the follow up to Julia Cameron's first book which our library group has now embarked on, as well as the smaller group meetings, all these things can be grouped under The Writing. And as far as sewing is concerned The Writing seems to be the villain.

A start had been made, pre-England. Hope ran high that I would take it along, but alas! The part upon which I sit does not move with that kind of speed. In case you suspect me of prevarication, observe...

These here critters will scratch and dig, snort and quack their way around the outer edges of the quilt while the inner part will (eventually) fill up with pinwheels.

At least that's the plan. Anybody got a stick of dynamite?

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Miss Muffet Falls in Love

Bygone days by Nick.Coombs
Bygone days, a photo by Nick.Coombs on Flickr.

Looks like my cheering section's down to a few die hards, those who can deal with the randomness, and the frequent total absence of a blogger on these pages! One of these stalwarts is Isabelle. I was catching up on her blog last night....(I've been very baaad....had to go back quite a ways)...and came upon a post about the Yorkshire Tea Song, complete with video. It was brilliant! I became a Yorkshire tea addict this past August when I visited the OC in England, toppling my former favorite, Barry's, right off its pedestal. I even cautioned the OC when he made reservations to come home in October, that if he didn't bring a very large box of Yorkshire tea with him, he might want to make other plans. It's important to get the priorities straight.

"Hovis - for Grandma too!" - advert issued 1923, illustrated by Rowles by mikeyashworth

The Yorkshire Tea Song reminded me of the Hovis bread advert from back in the last century (I love saying that! It makes the Bean roll his eyes. Silly old lady, thinks she's funny!) Anyone else that ancient remember it?

"Little Miss Muffett sat on her tuffett as busy as busy could be,
When along came a seaman, a stout hearted seaman, who asked her to join him for tea.
But Miss Muffet said "No!" to this bold mattillot, until he produced some Hovis.
So naturally nice, such a wonderful slice! At last she's found out what true love is.
Now Little Miss Muffett's no longer Miss Muffett as she's driven away in a carrriage,
As wedding bells sound, in Hovis they found the perfect beginning to marriage!"

 "Hovis - for Grandma too!" - advert issued 1923, illustrated by Rowles, a photo by mikeyashworth on Flickr.

It must have been a radio commercial back in my teens. It just came flowing out of me like a river, no google , no pen chewing, no wrinkled brow or straining brain. It came like a torrent. Now, why can't I store important things in the part of my brain that so lucidly and cleverly stores rubbish --- with apologies to the brilliant Hovis advert creators.

The memory is an amazing organ, even mine, which those who know me acknowledge is tottering towards oblivion. When the OC calls each evening and asks what I did today the memory routinely fails.

"What did I do today?" I cast about for morsels of memory....

Surely I did something, other than drink tea and pull wool out of my navel? Meanwhile, he's waiting, and breathing. He's not a patient man so I've told him it helps to b_r_e_a_t_h_e  while he's waiting for my memory to kick in. Often, after an especially lame attempt, I'll hang up the phone and then, too late, as Christy Brown said, the full list of my day's accomplishments comes into focus. International calls to cell phones are too expensive so I don't call him back but make a mental note to wow him belatedly with my industry, on the morrow. Unfortunately, on the morrow it'll all have gone south --- again! And so, round and round the rugged rock the ragged rascal runs.

I cannot remember what I did a few hours ago.

But inconsequential ditties from long ago?

No problem! I'll even sing them for you!

One of my recent reads was The Humans by Matt Haig. I loved it! He has so many hilarious observations about humans, English humans in particular.

And yes, I wrote them down. It would be folly to depend on my memory. Here's one:

"I was drinking a cup of tea. The tea seemed to be making things better. It was a hot drink made of leaves, used in times of crisis as a means of restoring normality." (This from an alien who's been sent to earth to inhabit the body of a professor at Cambridge University. Read it yourself. You'll love it!)

 Everyone knows that about tea, right? A nice cup of tea has restorative powers pharmaceutical companies can only dream of. But I hadn't heard it articulated quite like this before and it made me laugh.  I would have posted this several hours ago but I ran into a snag.

I  remembered I'd written the quote down, in one of my notebooks.

 What I couldn't remember was which notebook? They are legion. I can rarely go to Target or Staples without buying another one 'cause you never know when you're going to run out of notebooks. And what, in that unlikely event, would I do then? Thwarted, I went to the library. The Humans was on the shelf and I found my quote.

When the OC called tonight and asked the predictable question, I debated. Should I tell him I spent a large part of the day hunting for something I wrote somewhere then lost? And then more time searching for it at the library? Yeah. You're right. Better to tell him about the bills I paid, the laundry I washed, the vacuuming I did, the weeds I pulled, the grocery shopping. And leave
 him in the dark about the writing, the reading, the blogging, the left-over snickers bars, the nattering and the tea drinking. (Yes, he did bring a big box.).

 I was in luck. He was too excited about Glasgow (though he doesn't understand the language, which is certainly not English, he claims) and the Hebrides and Whiskey distilleries, to have more than a cursory interest in "what I did today."

Next time I go to England I'll be on a mission to rediscover Hovis, that "wonderful slice!" I might even "find out what true love is, and be driven away in a carriage" to a sweet little cottage where I'll live 'til I die, eating Hovis every day, washing  it down with Yorkshire tea and finishing all my quilts. But, based on weather reports from Isabelle, I'd more likely freeze to death in the first few hours.

One sugar or two? 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Fairies Didn't Steal Me, Isabelle

Wheeling the bin out to the curb one recent dark night I gazed up at the peaceful, almost full, moon and thought about how small and insignificant our little lives and occupations must seem to the wise old man up there. And the very next thought was ---

 "I wonder if the Blister looked up at this very same moon earlier tonight?"

The Little Blister and I, in August, by the Thames

She might well have tried, but the chances are good to excellent that the weather meter in Ireland was stuck on "piddling rain," as usual, which would mean clouds, which would mean no moon, and since it's getting into Autumn over there, there could, along with piddling rain, be chill-inducing temperatures, unlikely to encourage mooning about in the driveway, gazing up at the sky.

 So, I wondered.

Did she stay inside today, wrapped in blankets against the Celtic chill? Did she beat the Retired One to the cozy chair? And sip hot tea while knocking off a scintillating post about the state of the world, on her laptop? Am I in for a treat when I nip over there later to check?

We had a long natter on the phone last weekend and made a pact to each write something on our blogs by Sunday. We didn't, however, sign it in blood. If she's feeling as distracted and discombobulated as I am, I'll forgive her if she's late. Big of me, I know.

I want to write, I have the time, but nothing comes that doesn't sound like drivel. What gives? Travelling, they say, broadens the mind;  "fills up the well." Can you hear the sloshing? All those new sights and sounds. Maybe they just went very deep and will take a while to swim up to the surface? Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, since I have nothing inspirational to say, I'll try for some inspirational pictures.

So much for Trixie, of the six inch stilettos, in history, telling us about the evil Sassenachs. Cromwell and his ilk may have been evil, but the English I met were normal and charming. I may be just a teeny bit biased. You'll see why.....Here's exhibit A...What's not to love?

Little grand daughter

And exhibit B ......likewise.

Her big brother --- not-so-little-anymore grandson

The OC was besotted...

Oh Grandpa, what comfy shoulders you've got!

I'm putting the above, which has been languishing in draft form for weeks, out here so you'll know I tried. But it fizzled. My heart wasn't in blogging it seemed for now. All my writing energy, such as it is, is being absorbed by writing and editing for the writing group. And continues to be. Whether anything will come of it is anybody's guess, but I'm getting a lot of editing practice.

Meanwhile, the OC came home for an unprecedented two weeks! It was a shock to the system. I'm not used to company 24/7!  It was all "go" around here for the duration. The TV didn't know what happened to it. It actually got turned on at least once a day! The OC was in high velocity, organizational mode. Lots of hopping to it, clicking of heels and manning the shredder. Yard equipment humming and buzzing. And then, in a blink, he was gone. Tonight he's in Dublin. Verily I say unto you, there is no justice in the world. The man doesn't even like Guinness.

Another reason for quiet on the Mollybawn front is that I've been reading voraciously. The Blister kick-started me when she came to visit us in England and brought me Olive Kitteridge, and I found myself making notes of whole passages. Back home I devoured Light Between Oceans, Sweeping Up Glass, The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats and The Sense of an Ending. This list is for Birdy's benefit! They were all excellent but that last one was riveting. (Thank you Blister---It took me long enough to get around to it sez you!) I usually take more than a week to read a book. Now I'm scarfing them down like a starving woman. I've just started on Alice Munro. If you want to see me you'll have to make an appointment. My secretary is usually chasing lizards around the pool, so be patient. He'll fit you in between his kibble and his catnaps, while the house slowly caves in around us.

The clock is ticking and there are still an awful lot of books to read.

Tomorrow a quilt show! Stand by for pictures. We can breathe life into this old blog yet

There Isabelle.

 Look what you made me do......

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Fairies Brought Her

Castle Oliver, Co. Limerick

Note: Unrelated photos are a peace offering since I promised long ago to show you pictures of "piles of rocks" from Ireland, 2012. Here they are, at last. More to come.

Apologies to anyone who has stopped here recently in hopes of finding something new. Anything at all, but this dead silence! The Little Blister and I made a pact a few weeks ago. I will if you will, it went, loosely. We aimed for a Sunday, a week away. Anything to jolt her into getting her blog going again. I started something, but it fizzled. I sneaked a peek at hers on the appointed day. Nothing, so I didn't feel quite so bad, but wondered what was the problem with the two of us?

Monastery Ruins, Killmallock, Co. Limerick

I can't speak for The Blister, but for myself I've been overwhelmed with this writing group I've joined. There are regularly four of us, and each one emails their work to the others on a weekly basis to be edited and critiqued. I'm definitely the rookie in the bunch, so always scrambling to keep up. I love it but it leaves very little time for blogging, unless I want the house to fall down, which I don't.

So last week I'm casting about for a piece for the writers' group. I have a few options. This or that, I wonder? Making a random decision I email it off. Arrive at the meeting. Get great feedback, some solid suggestions on how to improve it. Go home happy.

Something impels me towards the computer though it's late enough I should just go to bed. I haven't looked at the Blister's blog in a week. I haven't spoken to her in two weeks.The last time she posted was three months ago. I go for a look, and amazingly, she has posted that very day.

 Eerie enough. But the eerie factor goes through the roof when I read what she's written. A post about The Brother. Would you like to know what the piece I sent to the writing group for that exact same night was about? The Brother! What are the chances?  Big time goosebumps.

The Blister and friend M, acting the maggot. On holy ground too!

They used to say when we were young that the fairies brought her. Others used to shake their heads and say "She was here before!"

 Doesn't she look like the fairies brought her? Me? I just look frozen, though it was the middle of June. That's Ireland for you,.

I think they were right.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

At Large Among The Dreaming Spires

What's this you say? Mollybawn? Who is she, who's been absent so long from these pages? She's having a completely lazy few days and thought she'd drop in here to report that she is alive and very well, and to see what you're all up to.

She has been wandering in the UK, sleeping in a variety of beds, enjoying the company of a vast variety of hospitable people more or less related to her, or to those she loves.  She's woken many mornings to the sound of the rooster calling lie-a-beds, such as herself, to order, and  kept up with the high jinks of a four year old steam engine enthusiast, who could run rings around her with the detailed knowledge he has of said engines. She has shared with his baby sister a fascination with the guinea fowl who roam around his (other) grandparents' farm, and eaten vegetables and eggs grown there that couldn't be fresher if she got down on hands and knees and ate them off the vines, or staked out the broody hens in the chicken coop. Once in a while she's even caught a fleeting glimpse of the OC and Britboy. But best of all, she's had lots of cuddle time with that beautiful baby girl.

There's also an unconfirmed report circulating that she huffed and puffed her way to the top of a mountain in Wales. It may just be a wild rumor, but you know what they say ---"No smoke without a fire." And she is, after all, the acknowledged conqueror of Croagh Patrick.

The same Mollybawn has been spotted roaming around downtown Oxford; gasping in awe at the beautiful architecture and the plantings and flowers in the various college gardens; marveling at the multitude of spires soaring up around her; nipping in occasionally to the quiet oasis of a chapel to silently give thanks for her many blessings; soaking up the history and stories of the place like one who's been lost in the desert; she's been seen strolling in the town's beautiful Botanic Gardens and been swallowed up in marvelous bookstores where she's had to remind herself that the very same books causing temptation are also available at home, without the weight and bother of carrying them there.

She has taken hundreds, nay, thousands, of photos which she promises to organize as soon as she gets home, even though she has yet to organize the collection from last summer, but optimism is key. It will get done.

As for "morning pages," mention them and her brow knits in puzzlement. Her memory is extremely short, like the tail of a Manx cat, and just as there is no hope that such a cat will ever grow a longer tail, there is little or no hope of her memory improving. But perhaps, when she returns to her natural habitat, the familiarity of the surroundings might jog her memory and she'll start up with Julia once again.

What England is this she wonders? Where the skies are blue and the sun shines all day? Her mind is awash with roosters and chickens, guinea fowl with their beautiful feathers and hare-brained ways, groaning baskets of home grown vegetables, Pippa the pig, all grown up from babyhood last summer, a quartet of black pigs obligingly lined up for a photo shoot; a small herd of woolly sheep, led by Riley the ram of impressive hornage, and two very territorial geese.....

Like those geese, she needs someone to gabble with.....And, as luck would have it, the Little Blister will be showing up in a couple of days. Ah Bliss! That Mollybawn, whoever she is, is one lucky lady.

Friday, June 28, 2013

More Moustaches, Among Other Things

WBK dali by WBK-WorkByKnight

WBK dali, a photo by WBK-WorkByKnight on Flickr.
***This has been languishing in my drafts for the last week. Here it is, as is, before it is completely irrelevant and ancient. Boo at will. It's the best I have to offer right now!

You see one of something and suddenly you're surrounded....... After my last post it seemed everywhere I turned there were moustaches! All better looking, you'll be happy to hear, than the last one.

I had an appointment last week in St.Petersburg, home to a museum of a very famous moustache. I gave myself two hours to get there, just to be on the safe side. Several distractions conspired to make me miss my exit: enjoying the sun glinting on the expanses of glassy water on either side as I crossed a long bridge;  dreamily noticing how blue the sky was with its scattering of white, fluffy clouds; admiring the noticeably more tropical vegetation,(than further north where we live) and doing a double take at a billboard of his tell-tale mustache, advertising the Salvador Dali museum. Graphic designers are so clever.... I would have loved to stop for a photo but that might not have been a good idea in the middle of a multiple lane highway! I couldn't even find a good photo of it on Flickr... I'm not much of a Dali fan myself. I'd have to be on some pretty potent drugs for his art to appeal to me --- but, obviously, I am in the minority. Fan or no, the new Dali museum is itself a work of architectural art. Alas, no photos. I was not going to the museum. After driving in panic-stricken circles for ten minutes, with the clock ticking, I finally got back on the right road and skated in to my appointment with seconds to spare.

The first person I saw had no beer belly; no shoulder droop either. He was slim and fit, with brown hair slicked back from a high, tanned forehead. His long sideburns and mustache-goatee combination looked like it must take at least an hour of man-scaping every morning. Judging by the photos on the wall, this was something he did to finance his real love, fishing. He was a neural diagnostic technician, which, after a few beers, he said, becomes a "nerve dude!"  He and I were in the same room because he was going to administer some tests, and I was the testee.  He taped wires to various places on my hands and arms and gave each place a series of shocks, starting with barely perceptible ones and gradually increasing in intensity to "ouch" level. It was uncomfortable, but not unbearable.
I asked if he had always wanted to be a nerve dude, or if he'd started out wanting to be a fireman.

Without missing a beat he deadpanned that he'd always enjoyed torturing things when he was growing up! That left me speechless, a rare occurrence. I think he was joking.I hope he was joking. I can just imagine the career counselling brochures: If you like to torture small animals (or big ones) you might enjoy a career as a neural diagnostic technician.   Hmmm.

I felt like a puppet. Zap! and my finger would jump; zap! again and my arm would twitch. But, he informed me, the tests he was doing on me were tame compared to other tests, that (he said) were really fun. I was glad I wasn't providing him with that much fun!

The next Mustache was the doctor who came in to read the results of Nerve Dude's tests, and then administer some of his own. No beer belly, no shoulder droop. He was nattily dressed in khakis and a dazzlingly white shirt with a beautiful blue tie......No, I didn't rip the tie from his neck to make a little silk bag. I'm quite good at behaving myself when I'm out. His beard and mustache were neatly trimmed, though it didn't look as though he spent quite as much time pruning as Nerve Dude!

For someone who hates needles, with the exception of sewing and knitting needles, this was getting down to some real torture. I tried not to be a sissy as the doctor poked needles into various muscles in my hands and arms. He didn't just poke them in, he probed around with them while they were deep in the muscle, all the while encouraging me to relax! Right! But I breathed deep (thank you yoga!) gritted my teeth---and still my face was wet when he finally finished with the last needle.

The good news is--- no slicing or dicing in the immediate future. I admit that I was apprehensive. The trick to keeping carpal tunnel from getting worse is, apparently, to hang your arms limply by your sides as much as possible; bend your fingers, whenever you can, in the direction opposite that needed to perform most daily tasks/movements, and most importantly, not to sleep with your elbows bent and your hands near your face. Ideally, you should give up writing, sewing, personal hygiene, computers, telephones, lifting things, opening things, cutting things, chopping things etc. But, if I did that I'd have to cut my wrists anyway! So, moderation in all of the above and I might last for another few rounds!

Note: Interestingly enough, none of these incidental mustaches were wearing shorts..... Not, that is, until later in the day, when I was home from my travels, and The Bean breezed in, complete with goatee, mustache....and shorts!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Of Shoes--" and Shorts --"and Sealing Wax"

Walrus by kattenspul

Walrus, a photo by kattenspul on Flickr

I stopped at a local charity shop yesterday to check out their selection of men's ties, preferably silk. Not because I'm going to start wearing them but because they have amazing possibilities.....

I was standing at the tie rack, looking through the offerings, none of which were appealing enough to make me part with $3.50, twice the price as other charity shops. Though there was one very cute navy one with colourful fishes, 100% silk....but no, not what I was looking for. You can tell by the feel, if it's silk or not. Just to be sure, I check the label .... Not interested in polyester!

So there I was, wrapped up in tie inspection, when a voice pierced my consciousness. It was asking a question. I looked up, and sure enough, the voice was directed at me. I glanced around. Yup. He was talking to me. Or else looking straight at me while talking to himself. I decided to assume, for the time being, that he wasn't a crazy loon.

"Do these shorts look good on me?" He asked, giving me a hangdog look from his watery, colourless eyes.

He was standing just outside the changing rooms, sideways to me, so I could have a good look. The curve of his drooping shoulders was compensated for by the opposite curve of his overhanging belly, both of them echoed by the downward droop of his mustache. If I'm going to be accosted by strange men, could they at least be good-looking?

Is he serious, I thought? This man, whom I'd never seen before, wants me to look at his nether regions and tell him if he looks good in these shorts! I was getting definitely creepy vibes here, but I'm not an unfriendly person. I try to be helpful where I can, so, stifling a shudder....

"Yes," I answered." They look fine."

He seemed to need more.

"They're in very good shape," I offered lamely, adding silently....'Unlike yourself...They'd look a lot better if you lost the gut and stood up straight!'

Done with the conversation, I busied myself once again with the ties.

But he was on a roll now.

"I appreciate your opinion," he said, "You know, as an older person."

(Wow! He must have read "How to Win Friends and Influence People!")

"Not that you're old," he hastened to add!

"No problem," I said, "I've made peace with it!" (Now go away, please!)

"....But you're older than me. I don't value the opinions of people younger than me...Look what they've done to our gov'ment. We need to get that Obama outta there, get back to real American gov'ment."

Please! Just because I oblige with an opinion on the shorts, and force myself to look where I certainly never wanted to, doesn't imply permission to inflict your dumbass political opinions on me!

What could I do but give a non-committal grunt?

He muttered something unintelligible and I developed a single minded fascination with a floral silk tie, fingers mentally in ears, humming a silent "la-la-la-la-la!"

He shuffled back into the changing room.

And I beat a hasty retreat.

Conclusion: The world is full of an endless assortment of interesting, if sometimes creepy, people!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Running way

I have been uninspired lately --- have you noticed? Nothing new here in over two weeks! A bad case of the blahs.

And then along comes Isabelle, and in an instant, effortlessly lays inspiration at my feet.  In her recent post "Walking Away," she mentioned Anne Tyler's book   "Ladder of Years"  in which Delia, the main character, while on holiday with her family, goes for a walk on the beach---and doesn't come back----simply keeps walking!

Isabelle's remark, at lunch with friends, that any woman who is married and has children has probably had the urge, at one time or another, to simply go for a walk---and never come back met with raised eyebrows and demurring. Really? Unless they have already been canonized and have a firm grip on their halos, I'd dare to say they are lying to themselves. I probably lie to myself as much as anyone but I'd be the first to admit I entertained fantasies of running away when I was in the throes of raising children.

It all came to a head one snowy day in Montana. It was freezing and frosty outside. The children had just spilled in the door from school; the dogs, seeing the door open for a moment, had darted in too. Bedlam ensued, dogs dancing on icy toes, barking and jumping excitedly, kids divesting themselves of snow-encrusted boots, backpacks, and heavy jackets all over the kitchen floor. And the baby howling. Where was the Mommy, delighted to welcome her children home and offer them hot cocoa and freshly baked cookies? Missing in action. And in her place an overwhelmed monster who suddenly roared.....

"Out! All of you! Out of my kitchen!"

I wasn't much of a roarer, so that got their attention and they left quietly, dogs in tow, leaving me alone in the middle of the kitchen, distraught. Writing it down has always been my therapy. I grabbed a notebook and pen and sat down, not on a chair, but in the middle of the floor and scribbled feverishly...

Wanted immediately:

Young, energetic woman to care for five children, their father and their dogs.
 Must be a person of refinement and even temper; kind, understanding and infinitely patient.
 Must be content to work for love, not money. 
Must agree, in writing, never to get the flu, cramps, a headache, an "off" day or anything that might hinder the proper discharge of her duties. Said duties to include cooking, cleaning, dusting, scrubbing, shopping and laundry.
 In addition the applicant will be on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. This cannot be over-emphasized as unforeseen emergencies frequently occur. 
A dim view would be taken of an applicant liable to come unglued at the sight of broken bones, split chins, gaping wounds and gushing blood. An iron constitution is imperative; a working knowledge of  First Aid a definite asset.

The successful applicant should be a person of humble, self-effacing disposition as the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies might lead to discord in the household.
Of course this requirement would be waived in the desirable, but unlikely, event the applicant gets fulfillment and personal satisfaction from polishing silver and removing splinters from childish thumbs.
The person selected will spend her days caring for the children, ensuring they are, at all times, clean, warm, well fed, rested and healthy. The  Baby is non-ambulatory as yet; the next in line has a penchant for running naked in the snow; the boys show little interest in season-appropriate clothing and have a particular aversion to baths and tidy bedrooms. It would be expected of the successful candidate that she could overcome these minor difficulties in a cheerful and positive manner. She should strive to maintain a calm, harmonious atmosphere, and never resort to such extremes as locking the little darlings in their rooms and "losing" the keys, or God forbid, forcing them to go to bed without ice cream. 
Gentle persuasion is preferred at all times to ranting and raving, especially in family room combat situations
She must be mindful always of their fragile psyches. Hers however should be of tempered steel.
The applicant will find it is easier to achieve peak performance in her duties if she can arrange to have at least six hours more in each day than the usual twenty four.

For the few hours that the children are in school she will have complete charge of the family dogs.
Their intake of playdoh, which the little darlings generously share with their beloved pets, must be carefully monitored to ensure that it does not exceed the USRDA for dogs under one year.
The applicant's chances of securing this job will be greatly enhanced by the ability to wield a poopy scooper with skill and panache.

The father will be the easiest part of this job, departing, as he does, before dawn, and returning well after dusk.
He requires minimal care --- sporadic feeding, clean underwear and shirts occasionally, and peace and quiet on his rare sojourns at home.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is available only because the person presently holding the position is losing her grip on reality and is leaving tomorrow to take up beach combing in the Bahamas.

I never did get to the Bahamas. I regained my sanity and my sense of humour almost as soon as my pen fell limply into my lap, exhausted from its labours. So I never sent it, as I'd intended, to the classified ads in the local newspaper. And someone out there was deprived of the job of her dreams.

This is a little bit of cheating since it was originally written more than a quarter century ago! But hey, a post is a post, and it was prompted by that post of Isabelle's. At the time I never expected to get out of child rearing alive, but here I am, older, wiser, but still kicking.

I bet there are more running away stories out there. Come on, 'fess up!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shuffle Loudly and Carry a Big Stick

Vinca. Colourful but losing the run of themselves among the bushes.

Came home mid-afternoon one day last week. With one leg out of the car, I gathered up all the debris, water bottle, purse, books from the library, the mail, and milk from the grocery store --- what my father would call "the lazy man's load!"  All set to stagger into the house when something in the driveway behind the car caught my eye --- a snake! Winding lazily across the sun-warmed concrete towards the shrubs. I stared. How had I not run over him? Then movement returned to my feet and I galloped, fully laden, into the garage, burst through the door to the house, dumped everything on the kitchen table, grabbed my camera and dashed back outside, hoping he would still be there. The driveway was empty but I was just in time to spot his tail slithering in among the bushes where he paused in a sunny patch of dead leaves. He seemed in no hurry as I zoomed in on him for a couple of shots from the safety of the concrete. He very obligingly stayed still, watching me with his beady black eye as I snapped away.

Maybe the reason he acted so docile and moved so lazily was that he'd recently had a satisfying feed. Look at the width of that belly!

I emailed the photos to the Bean, very chuffed with myself at having identified him (I thought!) I was pretty sure he was a hog nose snake, reputed, by Wikipedia, to be harmless and un-aggressive. The Bean telephoned me....

"I hope you're not thinking of picking that snake up Mom."

Pick him up? Has he lost his mind? Does he think I've lost mine? Does he know his mother?  Granted, I no longer sprint in the opposite direction every time I see a snake, as I would have done years ago, but I could live a hundred lifetimes and never, ever, even once, be tempted to pick one up! No matter how harmless.... I've only calmed down enough about them to where I can get close enough to take pictures, from years of Bean talk about how there's nothing to freak out about, a snake is just another creature doing his job, keeping the vermin in check, keeping balance in nature.

"That's no hog-nose Mom. It's a juvenile diamond back rattler!"

Egads! And I was how close to him??

So what to do now about thinning out those vinca (top photo) that are taking over in that shrubbery bed where Mother Nature's rodent control workers are possibly lying low, staying warm among the dead leaves? Hip boots and the thick leather gloves I guess.

 Enough to freak a person out.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Earth Moved...Did You Feel It?

There's been some seismic activity across the water. Unusual, I know, for Ireland, but then the weather is changing everywhere...

The Little Blister wrote a blog post!

This is proof that there is a God.

I've been badgering her to write, all to no avail. It's been more than a year. I knew the impetus would have to come from her, but I was growing old waiting! And now the great event has happened and I think you should all go over and visit, and gush and coo and cajole, praise and critique --- whatever you think will encourage her to do it again.....before next May.

I've been in a bit of a slump myself. Not a year-long one, mind you, but a bit of a slump nevertheless. Too many voices arguing in my head. Resulting in immobility, indecision --- and no blog posts. But if the Beloved Blister can move herself to action so must I!

The above has been languishing in my drafts for a few days. I planned to come back and doll it up some, make it make sense.....and in the meantime, while I was deliberating,  she posted again! 

I am delighted, and guardedly optimistic that two posts in a couple of days indicates a trend. The only slight worry I have is that all these temblors might cause panic among my countrymen who can handle rain, sure. But earthquakes?

In other tidbits, Friko finally got around to doing a post on "Where I'm From." It is well worth the wait. Pay her a visit. You'll be glad you did.

And the largest tidbit ---- California Girl is coming to visit. Leaving her four legged ones in the care of friends for a week and winging her way to see her aged mother! And not only that, the OC will arrive home for a visit while she's here.....

Talk about seismic activity!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Newest Grandchild.....Mostly Legs

Here's Maggie with a nice round belly. Daughter was thrilled --- a new baby in the family, the sire no less a personage (horseonage? studsonage?) than her beloved Rooster! But then Maggie, even after the vet said "any minute now!" took her time, so much so that California Girl, having slept several nights at the barn in anticipation of the Great Event, decided that it must all be a hoax and went home to sleep in her bed for a change......And so wasn't on hand when the little filly made her entrance...... 

But drove down to the barn like a mad woman when she heard!

Here's Rooster, begetter of beautiful colts and fillies...

And here's their brand new baby girl....

taking her first, wobbly steps!

Here she is with Maggie, her proud mama...

Having a snack...

...then a cuddle...

...and then a lie down...

...because being born is exhausting work!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Mr. Fuzzy Britches, Guest Blogger

My suspicions were first aroused when she dragged a suitcase out of the closet and set it, open, on the floor.

"Oh, oh," I thought. "This does not bode well. This smells to me of Going Away!"

Now, I am a reasonable cat, but a creature of habit. I dislike disruptions to the normal rhythm of my life. Experience has taught me that suitcases on the floor, smelling of Going Away, are forerunners to disturbing disruptions.

From my perch on the bed I watch her antics with a jaundiced eye
"What should I take, Casper?' she asks me, distractedly, rummaging in the closet.

"Is it going to be Springy, (pretty chilly by Florida standards,) or still bloody freezing ? Should I pack jeans and fleeces, or T-shirts and capris, or boots and a woolly coat ?"

I lift one eyebrow.

 "Oh, you're right," she says. "I don't even own a pair of boots! My closet is not bloody-freezing friendly!"

I maintain a haughty silence. She is not going to draw me into conversation about Going Away in an effort to assuage her guilt. Being a more evolved species, I don't have to worry about what to pack, if and when I go away. I'm always perfectly dressed for any occasion, whatever the weather.

"Oh, come on Casper!" she says coaxingly. "Don't sulk! You'll have a lovely vacation down at school with the Bean."

While it's true that I love chilling with the Bean (he's my best bud), getting to his place at school gives one pause. Usually they have to play a trick on me. They open the window in the small bathroom, where I love to sit on the sill and spy on the birds, and after I'm lured in by the birdsong, snap! They shut the door. Too late I spot the cat cage on the floor! Tricked! I am then unceremoniously stuffed into this cage and carried to the garage. My wails of protest go unheeded....

"Oh hush your noise, Fuzzy Britches," they say, "You know you'll love it when you get there!"

And I do. I love nothing better than sitting nearby while the Bean studies for some exam or other. I purr in solidarity as he mutters darkly about professors, and quiz grades, and some qualification they all have---Piled-Higher-and-Deeper, I think he calls it. It's all Greek to me. I just purr to let him know whatever the battle, I'm on his side. And then there's the scratching and the wrestling, which I always enjoy, and sorely miss when I'm at home and he's at school.

She's the kind of packer who works better under pressure. So she decides to suspend operations. She has now decided to let the packing question marinate in her brain juices while she sleeps. But first a cup of cocoa. Somehow that always seems to calm her.

"And anyway," she says to me, as I follow her to the kitchen, hoping to guilt her into an extra helping of kibble, "We've all seen the OC pack. Five minutes, tops! If he can do it so can I!"

Absentmindedly, she pours some kibble into my bowl, though not too much (she's always worrying about my waistline.) I arch my back, curl my handsome (if I do say so myself) tail over my head, and head butt her leg as gracefully as it is possible to head butt some one's leg, and finally she remembers and bends over and scratches me behind the ear. Then I turn the other ear and lean in, to maximize the benefits of this little service I have trained her to provide. Then, satisfied for now, I turn my attention to the kibble.

At least I can look forward to some entertainment tomorrow as she scatters around like a mad woman, flinging random clothing items into the suitcase at the last minute and scattering out the door, in a scramble to get to the airport on time...... While I spit and hiss in the back of the Beanmobile on my way to what I know, after I get there, will be a nice change of pace, hanging with my Bean every day for a whole week. Ah bliss!

Now, if only I had opposable thumbs so I could shove that suitcase under the bed, and  not have to fret all night about the tricks that will be played in the morning!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Lowly Worm and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day*

* With apologies to Judith Viorst.

I'm ready....where do I sign?

A few mornings ago I woke up late. I had set the alarm for p.m. instead of a.m. Drat! Leaped into my clothes, brushed my teeth, dragged a comb through my hair and galloped out the door.

It was a less than auspicious start to the day. Had I had access to a crystal ball I would have blown work off and crawled back into bed. No crystal ball though, so off I went. Started to reverse out of the driveway, heard a sickening crunch and, too late (much too late, though only a millisecond) realized the Bean's car was parked just behind and to the right of mine.

Groan. How. Could. I. Be. So. Stupid.

Got out to have a look. It wasn't pretty. One millionth of a second for one moving object to meet another, immovable object. So much damage in so little time, to not only one, but two vehicles.

And me without a rewind button.

Some wag asked later in the day

"So, how many glasses of wine had you had?"

"None! Not even a cup of coffee!"

Maybe if I'd taken the time for coffee I'd have been wider awake. If ifs and ands were pots and pans.....Sigh.

Groan, moan and olagone!

Through tears of anger and frustration I decided I'd go to work, deal with it later. The damage to my car was the lesser of the two.  It was still fit to drive.

Left a note for the Bean. Preferable to telling him in person. Courageous I am not. Not, at least, in the matter of announcing that I have done horrible, needless damage to your car. Neither was I looking forward to the daily call from The Man In England. Meanwhile, I would go to work and not have to think about it right away. Except for the five hundred times throughout the morning that I heard again in my head that sickening "Crunch!"

As it turned out, The Man In England was indeed less than thrilled. As you are when told such news.

There was some growling. Several abrupt questions, and many sharp intakes of breath (breathe J, breathe.)

The silence stretched out, across the miles, all the way over the wide Atlantic, flying low over the emerald fields of home (where I would have liked to be, in a little cottage by the sea, and all of this merely a dream) and on over the Irish Sea and along to the hallowed halls of Oxford where it came to rest in the ear of The (angry) Man, listening expectantly, while I racked my brain for a satisfactory answer to whatever impossible question he had asked. Generally speaking, he longs for me to be silent. Silence, in this instance however, was the wrong answer. At that moment there was no such thing as a right answer. I hung up the phone feeling very much like Lowly Worm.

The silence persisted throughout the next day. My dilemma: Call the insurance company? Or just take the cars to be fixed and leave the insurance company out of it? I'm a good driver, despite very recent evidence to the contrary, but I have never learned the finer points of automobile appreciation. If it has four wheels, an engine and takes me where I want to go, I'm happy as a clam. Which isn't a problem until something goes wrong. Then my brain switches to la-la mode. I was pretty sure the MIE would want to leave the insurance company out of it. All they'd do would be to hike our insurance rates. But Lord! How much damage had I done? Could we afford to just absorb the expense ourselves? Through the email gods I asked for guidance.

And then, not wanting to be home for the daily phone call, being somewhat allergic to the prospect of feeling, once again, like Lowly Worm, I went to yoga. Surely all that breathing, stretching and zen-itude would give me fortitude.

Meanwhile, the Bean had found alternate means of returning to school. Throughout the whole fiasco he had held his tongue, stiff upper lipped. I think he managed it by clenching his jaw. Hurting a guy's car is cutting close to the bone, though I rather think he was relieved that, if it had to happen, I was the perpetrator, rather than he. It's been long established that I am not the perfect wife, so I have less to lose.

Funnily enough, nothing happened during the night, as I had madly hoped, to make the dents disappear. What should have been smooth and shiny was still crumpled and glum next morning.

The email gods sent word that I should get me to an auto body repair shop for estimates. I spent the day up and down the highway, getting lost, over-shooting my mark, back tracking, finally figuring out where the body shop was. First with one car and then with the other. And one more estimate to go tomorrow morning.

I had never even driven the Bean's car before. So it was with trepidation that I sat into it this afternoon and prepared for take-off. He was at school, swotting for a chemistry quiz later in the day, and sweating at the notion of his inept mother driving Miss Daisy.

"Be gentle, mom. Don't do anything else to hurt my car," he whispered hoarsely into the phone.

Turns out it wasn't rocket science after all. Even though the impression is of a rocket when he's driving it. I still remember how to drive a stick shift. Though I did have to go back in, hat in hand, to the mechanic and ask him how to put her in reverse.....She is safely back in the driveway now, resting peacefully. Gathering strength for further adventures tomorrow

And me? I'm ready for that cottage by the sea. The one with the riotous flower garden and roses climbing over the door; a lazy spiral of smoke curling up from the chimney; the smell of soda bread wafting out the half door. And not an automobile in sight. Just the old, green, leg-powered jalopy, leaning against the garden gate in the afternoon sun.

A girl can dream.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Crock Of Gold-(en Quilts)---For The Day That's In It

 Quilt show season! 
So off we went to the big one yesterday.
 Before going I checked my photos from the last few years' shows (which I forgot to share with you--I know, how could I be so heartless?) I just wanted a reference compare this year's offerings. As I was going through them all, the amazing, the beautiful, the traditional, the innovative, the ordinary and the blah, I had an idea. Because, as I perused them, they sometimes made me think of some of you.  So, here they are---quilts from last year's show, a few from the year before's show and from yesterday's. I decided to pick one, at least, for each of you based on what little I know of you. I'd be very interested to know if I'm miles off the mark or spot on!

This may take a while. I hope you ate your Wheaties!

Since it is the 17th. of March, I thought we should start with a green one! It's for Patty who loves all things Irish.

You can click on the pictures to enlarge so you can better see the beautiful detail work.

This hexagon/sashiko beauty made me think of Birdy, maniacal hexie maker!

When I came to this one I knew it was perfect for Relatively Retiring (Judith?) because of her recent post about sitting perfectly still in a garden in Madeira, so still that little lizards felt completely safe, crawling around on her, as though she were merely another feature of the landscape!

This beautiful detail of a large applique quilt was for Ali for sure, as she often reports on mischief wrought by the peacocks who visit her garden.

This piece made me remember a similar bird wall hanging Ali made a few years ago......

Secret Agent Woman seems to be able to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of life so I choose this colourful, vibrant beauty for her....

                                 This bold and daring quilt seemed a good fit for Susan Kane

Thimbleanna does such precise, detailed work, these little Dresden plates seemed a perfect Anna choice.

For Isabelle, what else but a pair of black cats! And because she loves flowers so much .......

.......this gorgeous piecing and applique combination. I've had my eye on this pattern for a few years. It's one of the many I want to make---hopefully in this lifetime.

This one's for Gillie, detail of an applique quilt embellished with stitchery such as she excels at.

For my fellow countrywoman, WiseWebWoman, this seemed most appropriate since she lives by a sweeping bay in Newfoundland. I think the pattern is called Storm at Sea, of which she has described at least one, making me thankful I live where I live!


I'm sure that when Friko is out digging in the dirt with Gardener she must come upon plenty of these, or their British relatives!  Bonus point: I'm fairly sure the talented lady who made this one hails from Germany too.

And here's another that could make you think you were out on a walk with Friko and Millie in Valley's the same artist.

 I thought Elephant's Child, that bird obsessive, would enjoy these flamboyant fowl.....

.....and these wild lovelies.......

Pauline gives us matchless poetic descriptions of the changing seasons from her cottage in the Berkshires, so I thought this mantel cover was perfect for her.....

And since winter is sooo long up there I thought I'd throw in this traditional charmer to keep her warm!

If ever I met anyone with the gift of the gab it's Lee! I thought she might enjoy chatting with these two ladies I found enjoying the quilt show from the comfort of a bench....

Marilyn, my friend in New Mexico, reads here but hasn't figured out how to comment! I thought she'd like the southwestern feel of this quilt.......though, on closer inspection, it looks more Australian than American Southwest.

Marlene always has such cute Christmas projects I picked this one for her.

And how about this one for Dianne, that innovator---Doesn't it look as though there's a giant ball behind it? And yet it was perfectly flat....

Here's something to cheer Julie up and take her mind off all the health issues she's had the past few years....

For Smitonius and Sonata I thought these Dutch tiles would hit the spot. This is another I want to make before I die!

This next one's for Persi who appreciates all things beautiful and has been struggling to bring order to chaos after some big life changes...To me this illustrates both beauty and order.

For Meggie who loves flowers.....

Here's one for Dee who, I feel, would like the old fashioned feel of it...

For Frances, a newcomer to this blog, some more flowers...

For Denice, also a new face and a quilter. Only someone who has tried it can appreciate how good you have to be to make something as small as this---and have all the points be perfect!

For Jen who is always so positive and upbeat...

For One Woman in her cottage in the woods....

And, last but not least, here's the quilt I'd have brought home for my sister if I could have snuck it out of there, because I know she'd love it! It's also on the bucket list.

If you've made it this far I congratulate you on your stamina! There were a lot of beautiful quilts. If I inadvertently left you out and you didn't "get" a quilt, you may pout and I'll run and find you one!

I hope everyone had a happy and peaceful "Irish" day!

***Amended on Monday to include a quilt for Ganching. Of all the people to forget---another fellow Irish woman! You don't often see a comment from her here but she lurks I'm pretty sure! And I hope you read her outstanding version of "Where I'm From" a few posts back. Not sure what colours she'd go for besides green, white and gold, so I selected this vertigo-inducing number!

Stomper Girl! You really can't blame me too much---You just haven't been around much lately. This one reminds me of all the posts you wrote about Climber and Cherub as they grew from toddlers, right before our eyes, into almost teenagers!