Tuesday, July 22, 2008

High On A Hill Was A Lonely Goatherd..........*

Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo.

Look what the mail brought me recently....

.....a note from the wanderer.

But, I'd already had a phone call. She's home. Refreshed and renewed. Full of alpine air, and edelweiss, and inspiration---n'est pas Rise? Look for spectacular photos and astute observations---Lord no! Not here---over there, oh-verr theere!

The phone call was also to inform me that she had received a package......
Which means I can finally show all you quilting maniacs that, once again---is that at least three times this year? Could it be habit forming?---I've actually finished something!

"Folks in a town that was quite remote heard
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Lusty and clear from the quilter's throat heard
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo!"

I am waaaay better at starting stuff than at finishing it, so when I do actually finish something, it's cause for singing [see above] and dancing in the streets!

This pattern is based loosely on a pattern called "Quilting With Laura", the Laura in question being Laura Ingalls Wilder. I added the prairie points, since where do prairie points belong if not on a quilt inspired by Little House On The Prairie? As soon as the piecing was finished I folded it up and off it went to the closet, to join all the other disgruntled, half done quilts. But this was its lucky year. I knew Rise liked it. It seemed too easy----most of the work was already done! Add a little quilting, and presto---instant present!

Only trouble is, now the natives are restless [the other UFO's are threatening to riot, and burst out of the closet.] They want me to commit to at least an approximate date by which they might reasonably expect to see the light of day. Jealousy I call it. Geez, just because I finish one of them. You'd think they could just be happy for him. Instead we have all this unrest.....

But, you can't keep a good woman down----not even rioting UFOs. They just have to have faith. And patience.

Meanwhile, Rise is back!

"O ho laydee odl lee-o,o ho laydee odl lay,
O ho laydee odl lee-o, laydee odl lee-o-lay."

* With apologies to Mssrs. Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Old Curmudgeon Incoming......

I love my children.
They've been my life, my work, my career.
If they hurt, I hurt.
If they were scheduled for major surgery and I could, I would willingly take their place.
If someone breaks one of their hearts, as has happened, my heart breaks too.
If something makes them happy, my day is made.

Sounds like there are no limits to my maternal devotion?


I think I've reached a limit.
The limit of my patience for having my house look like like a frat house.

Yeah, yeah,I hear you. We're of age now, legal to have a brew once in a while after a long day working in the killer heat.

But couldja put the bottles in the bin when you're done?

And cleanliness? I'm glad you take frequent showers.
But would it break your heart to pick the damp towels up off the bathroom floor when you're finished? Oh, and while you're in there, try to remember to flush.

I don't mind doing your laundry. But do you think you could, once in a while, not toss your stinking socks and wet, smelly work clothes in the laundry hamper to fester, but rather take a minute to hang them over the side, where some air can circulate around them 'til I get a chance to do the wash?

I guess I should be happy that you can cook for yourself when necessary. And yes, I know that you can, and will clean up your mess. But before next week, OK?
'Cause dude, I need access to the sink!

And what brain blip caused you to think yesterday was a good day to embark on a big new project, to wit, cutting down old pine trees out back? The day before He Who Pays The Bills is due home for a quick visit?
I know, I know, all's well that ends well.


I needed my beauty sleep last night much more than I needed to lie awake, having panic attacks about the tree you cut that refused to fall, but got stuck, way up, among some of its neighbours, as darkness fell. About how we'd end up in the poorhouse after paying for the damage if, God forbid, it should fall and crash on the neighbour's pool enclosure, or, worse yet, on the unsuspecting neighbour himself....

Like I said, I love the boy. His heart is in the right place. I'm just too old to be in such close proximity to so much testosterone....He needs to move to a frat house.

Do boys ever outgrow the desire to impress their dad? To take his breath away with what an awesome job they did of taking care of the place in his absence? To, once in a while get a sincere, no holds barred "Attaboy" with no "buts" attached? I know that's what's behind it, but oh, I'm weary and stressed and still need to clean and go to the grocery store. Seven hours to go.....

Postscript: The offending tree was coaxed to earth this morning with the chain saw, vroom, vroom! piece by piece, without damage to life or limb or neighbour's
property. The only damage was to my life expectancy, which has been shortened by at least ten years.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stalking The Wild Armadillo...........

I headed out into the garden one afternoon last week, gasped in disbelief at what I saw in the middle of the grass, and zoomed right back into the house for my camera!

I knew he lived in the shade garden, because I had happened on his burrow one day when I was pruning azaleas, and saw him scurrying down into it. He seemed so shy, I had reconciled myself to never actually meeting him. As fast as I sprinted to get my camera, he was still gone when I came back out. He looked so ungainly, I was surprised he could move that fast. But as I stood there, disappointed, I heard him snuffling about in the bushes. Hope rekindled, I tiptoed over to a big tree, and sat softly down under it to wait.

"I've got all day buddy," I whispered. So much for the garden chores.

I could hear him in the tangled thicket, but I couldn't see him.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

"This must be what it's like to work for National Geographic," I thought.

Short bursts of exhilaration.

With long stretches of boredom.

Just when I thought I might as well give up, he emerged from some ferns and scampered close to where I was sitting, afraid to breathe in case he spooked. He stopped a few feet away and I clicked. He didn't stick around for an encore, so this is as good as it gets!

Moving at a surprisingly fast wobble, he took off in the direction of the road, with me in hot pursuit, not only in hopes of more pics, but to act as his crossing guard since his silly a*s seemed bent on getting to the other side.

A bit [lot!] blurry, taken on the fly, but you can at least see that "svelte" is not a word you'd use to describe him! I'm sure his mama thinks he's adorable though......

When I saw his tail disappearing into the neighbours' shrubbery,

I figured I'd seen the last of him, but then he emerged again on the other side...

As he got deeper into the neighbours' garden he picked up speed,

and since I don't know them very well, I thought they might not be exactly overjoyed to look out the window and see the nutty neighbour prancing through their flower beds, so I retreated.

Back to the garden and the chores.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Saving The Earth--With Papersticks

Waste not, want not. We didn't think about recycling when I was growing up. We just did it. My mother would as soon have sold her first-born [me] to the tinkers as toss a glass jamjar in the rubbish. They were saved and stored on shelves in the shed out back until she got a notion to make jam or marmalade.

The shed was also where we collected waste paper, in a hemp sack, for the monthly Diocesan Collection. But many of our newspapers, at least in winter time, never reached the shed. We used them to make paper sticks for starting the fire.

Once a week, our dad would gather a pile of old newspapers, and recruit us to help, since we had no distractions such as video games, ipods, dvds or computers. Dad was, at least in his own opinion, the fastest and best paper stick maker in the land. And we all aspired to be as good as, or better, than he was. He had the complacent smile and nimble fingers of a master. The air crackled with competitive tension and the rattle of paper as we fashioned the sticks, with varying degrees of skill. Looking back, I can see now, that making us want to be better at it than he was, was his clever way of getting a bigger pile of paper sticks with a smaller outlay of energy! I don’t believe I ever took his crown away....

It was no good if you rolled the paper too tight or too loose. You had to get it just right. If you didn't fold it exactly in half, you'd run out of paper on one side. And if your last few twists weren't neat and tight, so that when you tucked in the last piece it was snug and secure, the whole thing would come undone.

Our paper sticks were usually made from the Irish Independent, the Limerick Leader or the Cork Examiner. If you were in the know, that would tell you a lot about my parents' politics, and religion--Catholic, of course. We rarely got the Irish Press, and the Irish Times only occasionally, when Dad was feeling especially hoighty-toighty and intellectual. Besides, everyone knew that the Times was only for Protestants! I remember thinking how exotic it must be to be Protestant, one of the Five Percent, and breathe such rarefied air....

Our paper sticks looked like this:

Five or six of them were lined up on the clean grate in the fireplace. Lumps of coal were placed neatly on top. When it was time to light the fire, a match was put to the paper sticks, and as they slowly burned, the coal would catch, and soon there’d be a lovely warm fire, crackling away. Setting the fire was a specialized task, one I was, thankfully, not expected to do! I was glad someone knew how to do it though, since curling up by the fire with a good book was my idea of bliss.

We don't use paper sticks over here, though they'd probably be great for starting the barbecue....But I still recycle newspapers, and junk mail, and even the little paper tags from tea bags! Cereal boxes and all the excessive paper and cardboard wrapping that comes with our food these days also finds it's way to the recycling bin... And, whenever possible, I buy products made from recycled paper. If my head is in the clouds and I forget to bring my cloth bags to the store, I opt for paper rather than plastic, and reuse the bags in the kitchen garbage can.

Waste not, want not........Our parents had it right. We have too much and we take it all for granted. If we were all just a little bit more frugal, as our parents were from necessity, we could reduce pollution, conserve natural resources and leave some of the wonder and beauty of the world for our children and our children's' children to enjoy.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Fourth of July.

Red, White and Blue.

A day to celebrate freedom.

Time on my hands,

OC far away,

Son off with friends,

Ancient ones visited earlier.

Sympathetic sounds made for the ailments.

Draw them into talking of the old days

And their old country.

How Stalin and communism forced them to flee,

Or end up in Siberia,

For daring to want to be free.

No big barbeque.

No children clamoring for fireworks.

No children. Period. All grown and scattered …..

Fielding calls for fireworks from their own children, perhaps….


To sit in the balmy evening air,

With my book,

Or the paper.

To read about who’s blowing up whom in the world

In the quest for “freedom.”

Free to do the crossword,

Or sudoku.

Or, perchance, to blog…………

Free ,free, free!

But how free am I?

How free are you?

How free are any of us?

I think we are all prisoners of how we think.

Some of us in darker cells than others.

My parents and the nuns taught us many things.

I learned to read and write.

Not to stick my tongue out and not to stare.

I learned to count and do arithmetic.

To say “please” and “thank you”

And not pick my nose.

I learned there was a lot of world out there,

Beyond Galway Bay and the Irish Sea.

America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia.

Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Eerie and Superior.

I learned that the world did not begin the day I was born.

And probably won’t end on the day I die.

I learned how to sing and dance,

How to jump rope and play ball.

Latin and French

Algebra and geometry,

And a little trigonometry

[although it hurt my head.]

And every day started with religion class.

The ten commandments.......

Thou shalt not,

Thou shalt not,

Thou shalt not.

The four gospels,

The seven deadly sins.

But no science.

No biology.

We might have to see pictures of naked people.

We couldn’t have that.

It might lead to impure thoughts...

Or occasions of sin……

No chemistry, no physics.

Because God made the world.

In six days, remember?

We couldn’t have people believing

It might have been gasses, or molecules or big bangs.

Critical thinking was not on the curriculum.

Because the nuns didn’t want us to think.

Thinking was dangerous.

Don’t ask awkward questions.

If they couldn’t explain it, it was probably

A matter of “Faith and morals.”

We would just have to believe.

Faith, Hope and Charity---the first one of these.

To do otherwise would make you a heretic.

Get you excommunicated.

Secure your place in hell.

So here I sit, in the fading light,

The air a-crackle with fireworks,

And the raucous din of insects,

In a free country [the Current Occupant’s efforts notwithstanding.]

Where the nuns have no sway.

Where a person is free to think as she pleases.

To bend, and maybe even break, the bars of the prison cell,

Fashioned in her youth,

And let the light shine in.

Free to question, and

To wonder, out loud,

Without being called a heretic,

Or being excommunicated,

Or sent to Siberia…….

Thursday, July 03, 2008