Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baby Softness and Bleary-Eyed Jet-Lag.....

Greetings from Bristol, my lovelies! Having a wonderful time....Wish you were here!

If you do come, do bring your woolly coat. Standing in my Florida kitchen, I laughed at GB when he warned me........He couldn't be serious? After all it's almost Summer, Spring at any rate, and therefore warm....ish? Guess who'll be having the last laugh!

I really am having a lovely time. The chattering teeth are a minor distraction. The natives here are absolutely lovely. If I'd been assigned the job of finding a partner for DMS [dear middle son] I couldn't have picked someone nicer than N, whom he found all by himself! And seeing him after four years of not.....well, I don't know what kept me! Maybe the fact that he hadn't yet settled down in something more civilised than batchelor quarters?

And the LB? [Little Bundle-thusly dubbed by his Aunt Lily.] What can I say that

won't make you all jealous of the cuddles and coos,

the little waving arms,

the tiny kicking legs,

the sweet little half smile,

the wise and wondering examination of my eyes and face as I murmur absolute doting nonsense to him,

and, most of all, the new baby softness of him?

Best to say nothing at all.....I wouldn't want to gloat. It wouldn't be very kind.

Back to the weather. I grew up in this kind of weather. How wimpy we become when cossetted by warmth and sunshine!

I was fairly wrecked at the end of the day and eager to curl up in the very cozy looking nest that had been prepared for me. But first, a shamefaced enquiry as to whether there might be a hot water bottle available. There was! And they were even polite enough not to laugh!

I slept like a baby, snug and warm and jet-lagged. I didn't even wake for a four o'clock feeding.... And today, despite the soft drizzle, there were plenty more hugs and snuggles, and walks outside. Everyone walks here, which is one of the things I miss most. And everyone was so friendly and civilized and Britishly polite [of course having a sweet baby with you makes you feel like a rock star anyway! Passing houses with gardens bursting into Spring bloom ,along village-y streets lined with small shops, and more people walking, and talking and riding their bicycles....all so normal....we forget what is normal when we no longer live in such a place.

The result is that I'm once again wrecked and heading nestwards. Forgive me if I sound like a doting grandma......But, as Popeye would say, "I yam what I yam...."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Woolliness, Of Cats And Coats

This time tomorrow I should be somewhere out over the Atlantic. After breakfast this morning I dragged out my suitcase. Time to stop procrastinating and do it---pack!

Off to the closet to make decisions, not my strong suit. While rummaging therein I came upon a brand new navy blue hoodie.......Ooohhhh, soft! But for whom...? Then it dawned on me. My nephew's birthday [son of Rise]....... was in January! Thought I'd mailed it long ago. Evidently not....So that was the first item into the suitcase. Off to the kitchen then for a minute. Came back, lifted the lid of the suitcase again to white cat with wanderlust.....and a death wish, nestled snugly against aforementioned soft navy hoodie. After all, all the cool young guys these days are decorating their duds with hair of white cat.... what rock have I been hiding under?? Upon realizing that I was not amused, he scarpered. Thereafter, every time I put something in, I zipped it shut again, much to El Gato's chagrin.... In spite of aggressive attempts to open it, he failed.....I guess he'll be wanting thumbs for Christmas.

Recent reports from the new Dad in Bristol have the sun shining and the weather glorious! But Rise's dear husband, the fabled GB, advised me today, with evil glee, to "bring my woolly coat!" What woolly coat would that be?? I have become extremely unfamiliar with such garments.....Woolly Coat is an unknown quantity in Florida! But I'd better get my head around it, as the reason he [so gleefully] advised the bringing of a Woolly Coat is that Ireland,today, was battered with hailstones and lashing rain.......Hmmmmm. I guess I'll just leave the shorts [and the cat]at home!

Monday, April 20, 2009

It All Started With "What Katy Did." Question #3

Some time ago, when we were all a lot younger, Rhubarb asked me some questions. In my capacity as queen of procrastination I still have not answered all of them. But time's a-wastin', so here we go with question number three!

"Your love of books and reading is apparent. What genres and authors are your ultimate favourites, and why? Fiction or non fiction?"

The OC recently remarked, to a friend who was borrowing some books from me, but worried she'd leave me with nothing to read, that

"Molly is not so much a reader, as a collector, of books!"

Which is a little bit like the pot calling the kettle black, since he still has physics and chemistry books from college which he never reads anymore, with which he is, nevertheless, loathe to part! I do love to read, but don't seem to get around to reading half as many books as I'd like to. I add books to the TBR pile on my night table at a much faster rate than I remove them.

We read much the same way we eat, the OC and I. If it's dinner time the OC eats. So do I, but I'm a dawdler, always the last to finish, chatting between bites. It's the same with books. If he's reading a book, he hardly puts it down until he's finished, whereas I.....dawdle. I like to take my time reading a book; to savour it. After all, when you consider how long it takes a writer to write a book, it seems a little disrespectful to blaze through it in one afternoon.......

I have Lofty Ambitions. I would like to read the classics that sit in [dusty!] leather-bound splendor on the bookcases in our living room. My Lofty Ambitions include Dante's Divine Comedy, little bits of which I read long ago in a Renaissance Literature class; The Decameron, for which my appetite was whetted in that same class; Anna Karenina, which I still haven't read; The Aeneid, which was crammed down my throat in Latin class at school, and which, at the time, made not one iota of sense to me. I'm mildly curious to find out if I'd understand it now. I never did get why the Department of Education deemed it necessary for fifteen year old Irish lasses, who were mainly interested in fifteen year old Irish lads, to be battering their brains out on the rocks of ancient Romans' ramblings. I scraped a Pass, and promptly forgot all about them. Now, in my dotage, it occurs to me there might have been something valuable to learn there.

But not before I read Sebastian Barry's book The Secret Scripture, which, I have it on good authority [Rise told me!] is excellent! I loved The Long, Long Way.

The Lofty Ambitions list is one thing, but the more pedestrian fare in the teetering,

untidy pile on my night table is what I'm more likely to read any time soon. And just because they've been there a while doesn't mean they won't get bumped by an intriguing-sounding read I find at the library tomorrow!

Rhubarb asks what genres I prefer. I think she wants to know what kind of stories I like.....[genre always seems to me a word that is too big for its britches!] I love a good yarn. When I was a child and we'd go and spend a few days in the country at my granny's, I'd creep from my bed at night and hide around the corner from the kitchen and listen, while my grandmother, mother and aunt sat around the fire telling stories and remembering the old days. To me she was Mum, and it was strange and exhilarating to hear about a time when she wasn't, when she was young and carefree, and thirsty for life.....She was a reader too, and I relished tales she told me of reading long into the night, with a candle under the bedclothes so my grandmother wouldn't see light under the door and come in and snatch away whatever penny dreadful she was enthralled with, all the time trying to ignore her little sister, my Auntie Bid, fiercely hissing at her that she was going to burn them all in their beds!

I am drawn to anything by an Irishman, or woman. Which doesn't mean I will automatically like it. Sometimes I intensely dislike it. Roddy Doyle, for instance....Ugh! Couldn't stand it, though the critics rave. I recently read The Sea by John Banville, also Irish, and loved it. I found myself going back over passages just to savor the words, and the pictures he painted with them.
The Irish R.M was another I loved, which I was prompted to read when it was serialized on Masterpiece Theater.

Just this weekend I was reading the book review section of the paper and came across this gem: "....reading a book on writing can be one of the most satisfying ways to avoid writing..." The writer was reviewing Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within. There is no poet within here, but there is one book on writing that I keep going back to, On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

You don't have to be Irish [but it helps!] to catch my eye. Gerald Durrell captivated me with A Zoo In My Suitcase. Likewise Per Pettersen....whose book Out Stealing Horses was a lucky, random find at the library.

Angela's Ashes By Frank McCourt is another favourite. And not just because he was writing about the town I grew up in. His version of it and mine were very different, but still there was so much that was familiar.... His humor transcended the misery he wrote of, and I loved the way his sentences ran along without much of a nod to rules and regulations, much the way one's thoughts do. When I got to the last page I wanted to go right back to the first and read it all again!

Ironically, the most awful excuse for writing by an Irishman I've read in recent years was between the covers of Malachy McCourt's book A Monk Swimming. The title was brilliant, but the brilliance ended there.

I have no interest in science fiction. Just not interested. Period.

I like a good romantic story, but the romance "genre" makes me shudder! A woman I was friendly with when The Bean was a babe, went on to become quite a famous Romance novelist. I bought a paperback of hers once, making sure no-one I knew saw me lurking in that section of the bookstore! I tried to read it, but it made me gag.
Which isn't to say everything has to be great literature, but there is enough out there that's worthwhile reading that I can't see wasting time reading rubbish. Which sounds harsh, but hey, I'm just trying to answer the question.....

Romantic stories that I've loved include Dr. Zhivago, which made me swoon, and for once, the film did justice to the book. I have an ancient and tattered copy of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier which belonged to my mother. It was a gift from a former beau, who exhorted her to remember him on the inside back cover,

which means it predates my wonder it's falling apart.

I loved Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre, when I was in school. I tried to reread them recently and just couldn't get off the ground. One of our English books in school contained excerpts from many famous English writers. The excerpt from Pride And Prejudice was called "Mr. Collin's Proposal." I was immediately hooked! Another was an hilarious excerpt from The Pickwick Papers. Yet another got me reading The Mill On The Floss. There was one extremely funny excerpt called "The Man Of Feeling." I have tried many times to find the book it was taken from, my efforts being seriously hampered by not knowing the title of the book or the author. If it rings a bell with anyone reading this, I'd love to hear your suggestions. My memory, which is vague at the best of times, is that it was about an English gentleman, who was socially inept and suffered from gout.........slim clues I know.

Maeve Binchy's earlier books were a great read but became boring when she started churning out the same tale with the names changed to protect characters she'd trotted out too many times before.

I enjoy books by Edna O'Brien, whose books were banned, I think, in Ireland for a while because she was so naughty, and embarrassed The Church by writing unflatteringly about the holy nuns and Irish colleens getting up to unholy mischief. Of course The Church has since found much more to be embarrassed about than Edna O'Brien.....

I hope my answer was satisfactory, Miss Rhubarb, even if it had to be dragged out of me.....And by the way, is there a prize for the person who drags this meme out the longest?? If there is, I must be a finalist, at least, if not the Grand Champion!

Meanwhile it's Monday morning. Barely a week to go! I need to get cracking and leave a sufficiency of clean socks and underwear, and tidy living quarters, so the natives won't grumble when I'm gone. Not to mention stitching to be finished.............

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thursday, April 09, 2009

#1 Reason To Do A Happy Dance

I know Isabelle is patiently [or not!] waiting to be informed of six things that make me happy........Unfortunately I'll have to keep her waiting a wee bit longer. But I do have a preview for her --- one thing that's making me very happy right now. The other five will have to wait....

The reason they will have to wait is that I can't think straight.

The reason I can't think straight is that my head is spinning.

The reason my head is spinning is that I'm going to be flying in three weeks time.

The reason I'm going to be flying in three weeks time is that I need to get to the UK, [and swimming there is out of the question.]

The reason I need to get to the UK is --- see if you can guess the correct answer from the following options:

1.I've never been to Bristol and I hear it's a lovely town;

2.The OC needs a break from my constant blather and figures if I'm "over there" his ears will get a rest;

3.It's been four years and three months [one hundred and fifty six weeks] since I've seen my middle son, and it's time;

4.I've never met his Beloved and it's past time for that too;

5.April is a very nice month in that part of the world;

6.If I get to England, Rise is only a hop, skip and a jump from there!

7.To see our newest little grandson!

Excuse me while I stand up and do my happy dance!

As you can guess, there are several correct answers, but #7 is the most correct!

Other five things that make me happy to follow shortly....when my head stops spinning.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Oh Baby! And Waiting By The Phone......

The other day I made a momentous discovery.

I discovered that I, Molly Bawn, am a genius!

The OC took the news very calmly. Just smiled his Confucian smile, rolled his eyes and carried on. Do you think he suspected all along, and was wondering when it would dawn on me?

I used to think only astrophysicists, mathematical wizards, and saintly nuns could make such claims! Of course the Nobel prize committee haven't been in touch yet, but I'm a patient woman. It may take some time for word to get out. Meantime, I'll be plodding along, in my humble way, making quilts and evading the paparazzi.

There is one creature on the planet who may have had an inkling that he wasn't in the company of your garden variety Hausfrau. That would be El Pussygato. Animals, you know, are more tuned in to this kind of thing. How do I know that he knows, you ask sceptically? Well,it doesn't take a genius [ha!] to figure that out! Whenever I'm in my think tank, he's always right there with me, usually sitting near, if not right on, my current opus....

.......just in case he needs to fend off any quilt thieves who might be skulking nearby. Or.....maybe he just enjoys hanging out with geniuses! And when it comes to the nuts and bolts, the putting into action of all that brilliant thought, planning, and design, he takes up his position,

watching and marveling, "too proud of me to speak," as Shel Silverstein said.

So what is she blathering on about this time, you're wondering? If you've been here recently, you'll know that my thoughts are full of a little someone in a far off land. I've been holding out on you, teasing you, but, finally, here he is!

A very little someone, barely five days old!

Is he not gorgeous? And huggable? And squeezable? Oops! There go my fingers, itching again!

I knew he was on the way, of course, but not knowing his gender was a bit of a dilemma. At least as far as making him a quilt. I thought I should wait until I knew, but my fingers were itchy. I needed to be making something, for him. Or her.

"What would work for either a girl or a boy?" I asked myself. And that's when I remembered the teddy bears' picnic fabric I'd bought eons ago, because it reminded me of the song. I knew that some day, I'd use it to make a quilt for someone special.

So, I snipped and stitched, and laid it out on the floor in the think tank.

And wasn't sure I liked it much. But kept on stitching. Because of those itchy fingers ...... And when it was together, I thought it needed a narrow green border. But alas! I was a few inches shy of enough green! What to do? Then I remembered I had a teeny, tiny bit of red check left, just enough for four one and a half inch corner posts. Which was enough to solve the problem! I started to like it better.

I folded it up and hied me to the nearest quilt shop. Because no quilt is complete without the perfect border. And to my amazement, found it, right away [I usually have to look much longer.] So home again, home again, jiggety jig.....

and stitched it on, and stood back, and purred with pleasure at how nicely my mitered corners came together. El Pussygato was nearby. We purred together, and agreed it was shaping up nicely.

And then the Refugees from Winter arrived, and there was a flurry of wrestling with the OC, and splashing in the pool with Uncle Bean, and grilling in the sunshine. Then, just as quickly, they vanished down the road to a nest on the beach. But close enough to visit. So, off we went, a few days later, the Bean and I.[The OC could not be pried from his desk.] I had a secret agenda. One I didn't share with the Bean right away. We would be passing a quilt shop I'd heard of, but never been to. Certainly a situation that cried out to be rectified.....And besides, I was on a hunt for backing fabric for some teddy bears.

Loud were the howls of protest when I veered of the beaten path. But I was driving,[possession is nine tenths of the law!] Anyway, I'd only be a minute. Grousing all the way, he came inside with me, the better to enforce the "only a minute [or ten!]" promise.

Then a miracle happened. Perhaps because the name of the shop is Country Quilts and Bears? In sixty seconds flat I'd found the perfect backing fabric. Moda [always good] and fifty percent off!

But, there was one small problem.....There were only two yards and I thought I'd need three. But could not put it down. If I'd hunted all over Florida I couldn't have found a more perfect match. So I took it, determined to perform another miracle. And went to the beach and had a lovely time.

Back home, I tackled the vexing problem of the loaves and fishes.

And found out how brilliant I am!

I had triangles of red and green left over from the square-in-a-square blocks. And had had the foresight to stitch them into half square triangles right away, instead of piling them up to deal with "some day." And stitched the half square triangles into pinwheels....... So there they were, just waiting for the penny to drop with the genius in the driver's seat that they were ready and willing to help with the miracle.

Now all that's left is to decide how to bind it....Red or green?

Aren't all you quilters out there proud of me? I, myself, am pleased as Punch! Psst, if you're as impressed with me as I am, drop a line to those Nobel fellows! I'll be waiting for their call.

Note on the messy think tank: I've heard that creativity thrives on chaos. That's my excuse anyway.......