Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"E.T. Phone Home!"

You know you're having a bad day when you pick up the TV remote, punch in the telephone number you need to call.......And wonder why they're not picking up.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's a Pup's Life

I have been traveling, virtually, to Kazakhstan, on traipses around Edinburgh, and camping adventures in the Australian outback, all of which make my feet itch. Edinburgh, in particular, makes me long to live somewhere so similar to where I grew up, although the weather would probably immobilize me! Meantime, I have not been sitting home, wishing. Those itchy feet took me north recently, to visit Daughter, Lily, a once-upon-a-time blogger, who, sadly, no longer has the time to blog. That's what two small boys will do to you! Seven and a half and six. It's go-go-go from morning 'til night. But, as busy as her boys keep her, Lily, who always had canine friends growing up, recently adopted a puppy!

The trouble with being an absentee grandma is that you don't know your grand children as well as you would like to......

I got to see them in all their sports.......Training for the world cup.......................

In center field....
#2 Grandson as goalie.......

And as goalie, relaxing while the ball is at the other end!

Laying the groundwork for the NFL.......................

Endlessly riding their bikes up and down and around------Tour de France, watch out!..

 But with puppies? No obstacles. You're here now---let's be friends!

Barely three months old, cute as a button, very calm, very friendly. And as you will see, very chatty! After he exhausted himself playing he'd sit by my chair in the garden. Between snoozes, we chatted. Of course I had to really guard my knitting from him as all that flickering yarn could get a guy very excited! When I wasn't knitting, he had a dozen suggestions for what we could do......

"Oh! You want to tickle under my chin? Here, let me move a little bit to the left, make it easier for you!"

"Perhaps you'd like to play tug-of-war with my squeaky toy? It's loads of fun....c'mon!"

"Say, do you like to dig? I can show you how! I love to dig! Especially right here, near these herbs....the soil is especially cool and muddy...."

"I can share my sticks with you if you'd like...They're lots of fun to chew on!"

"Come with me! Let's run around back and dive into the jungle [Lily's vegetable garden!] There are the prettiest round, red peppers in there. I'll pull one off and you pull one off [just grab it in your teeth and yank!] Then we can lie down in the grass and chew their deliciousness for at least half an hour. I do it every day. One drawback is that you get all these seeds in your poop, but Lily picks it up with her handy dandy pooper scooper;  she doesn't seem to mind! I think they're all past being good for canning or freezing anyway..."

He twitches his ears and glances furtively around, then whispers  "There's a lovely carpet in the living room. It's my favourite place to piddle. Lily gets very bent out of shape when you piddle on this carpet, so you have to be super sneaky. As soon as you feel the urge, don't wait. Scamper in there [make sure she doesn't see you] and do the deed. For some reason she thinks I should enjoy piddling in the grass. But between you and me, the grass can't even begin to compete as a primo piddling spot!"

"I absolutely love going for walks! I wish they wouldn't put that red, leash thingy on me though! It sort of cramps my style. For instance, every morning I get to walk my boys to school. You wouldn't believe how many other dogs we see along the way. I know they'd make great buddies, since they live in the neighbourhood, but that dang leash pulls me up short every time I try to dash across the road to say hello and indulge in a little mutual sniffing. It's enough to make a fellow feel downright downhearted! But, on a positive note, there are all kinds of pee-mail messages to sniff, at trees and bushes on my side of the road, so I guess I should be content with that. 

"I really wish I could go to school with my boys.They have this rule about no dogs on the playground. I don't feel that should apply to me. I'm just a wee pup. Don't they know that wee pups need to bond with their boys? It makes me sad that they spend so much time at school! But oh, the joy! At three o'clock, I get to walk them home again! And Buck, the neighbour dog, sometimes walks with us. Buck is only a few months older than me but lots bigger. He's a black lab, very big, and sleek and he likes to play just as much as I do, except that one of his paws could squash me.  Buck is my hero! Sometimes I hear him playing on the other side of the fence and I wish so much I could go and join him! He's a bit stingy with his toys when I do get over there. But I don't mind. It's enough for me to be on the same side of the fence with him for a while!"

# 1 Grandson

Marty Moose, # 1 Grand-dog. It was a lovely visit. The weather produced some Indian summer days, especially for me; I got re-aquainted with my grandsons; introduced to Marty-Moose, so called because of very large paws---we all know what that means, right? He might soon be as large as his hero, Buck! Lily and I drooled over yarn and she produced some of her stash so I could knit! Will show off my scarf when I finish it.....Regulars here will know to keep breathing in the meantime! And now, I'm back in my own nest, having satisfied the wander-itch without having to travel all the way to Australia. It's lovely to go, but being at heart a homebody, even nicer to come home again!

Note: And as easy as Blogger  makes it, having gotten into this "caption" mode, I have no earthly idea how to get out!

Friday, October 01, 2010

What Would You Write On Your Hat........

........If you were lost in the desert for six days and beginning to think the jig might be up?

Today is Friday. I'm off to visit Lily and family, which has grown to include, not only two grandsons, but a brand new grand-puppy, on Sunday. Soooo.....The List is longer than usual. But  nevertheless, I carried my coffee back to the sewing room this morning for a quick e-mail check, and to see what was going on in the world.

Edward Rosenthal, a fit and enthusiastic hiker of 64, took a wrong turn after a hike in Joshua Tree National Park and wandered in the desert, like Moses, but only for six days [and I assume six nights too.] Mr. Rosenthal had a bit of a name for himself as a writer of poetry and such area in the Los Angeles area, so never left home without a pen in his pocket. He decided to write some thoughts for his wife and daughter, whom he was increasingly convinced he would never see again.  He had his trusty pen, but no paper.

So he spilled his heart out on his hat.

By the time I finished reading about it the screen was kind of blurry. I sat there for a long time wondering....

What would I write on my hat if I were lost in the desert and thinking the show was over?

What would the OC write?

What would my children write?

What would you write?

Mr Rosenthal was eventually found, weak and dehydrated, but otherwise in good spirits, and is expected to make a full recovery.........I wonder though, if he will look back on this as a life changing experience?
Sometimes we need to take a wrong turn to see what is really important in life.

His wife is planning to frame the hat....Naturally!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Notes From the Loony Bin


I don't handle it well.

The pool pump gave up the ghost with a very loud bang this weekend.

While I was home alone.

A few feet from my ear. Outside my sewing room. Where I was sitting at the time

Causing my heart to momentarily stop.

In a word, stress.

Like cannon fire.


One loud and ominous bang!

I looked out the window in consternation. Old Faithful was spewing skywards---from the pool pump. I ran in circles, like a chicken with its head cut off, for just a few seconds, before some straggler of a brain cell told me

"Quick! Turn off the pump!"

A wall of water blocked my way---but, like a good chicken, I ran around from the other side, found the switches and turned them off. Old Faithful calmed instantly.

Whew! Thinking under pressure! Little Blister would be proud!

The menfolk returned from golf and stroked their chins.

Then one went to the airport and one off to school.

Leaving me to make phone calls, trying to sound confident and knowledgeable, so some charlatan won't get a gleam in his eye and think

"Aha! A pigeon, ripe for the plucking!"

Because pool pump parts are not cheap.

And Charlatans have a very strong union in these here parts.

Monday morning I had to go to work [avoidance tactic #1] I can't make difficult phone calls if I'm at work. See Molly smile!. Unfortunately I have lovely hours and was home by three. Plenty of time to make the dreaded phone calls. Hmmm.....

So, bracing myself, I made the calls, in great trepidation, being careful to sound like I knew all about lids and bands and filters and what-nots. It all made me want to curl up in a corner with my blankie. Make the world go away please....lalalalalalala!  I told them I was just getting prices and would call them on the morrow.

Now it is the morrow. The OC is still up north. The Bean is still in school. I stand in my sewing room and think frantically

  "I need to sew something!"

"No you don't!" declares a voice in my head, crossly.

"You need to grow some balls and make those calls!"

But, but, but I don't want to grow balls! Apart from the fact that it would be biologically impossible.... I want to sew....or, or, maybe I could make some cinnamon rolls? It's ages since I made any of those. Wouldn't that be nice? Mmmmmmm! Warm cinnamon buns...can't you just smell them? Divine! I even know where to get a great recipe!"

Cross Voice, losing patience fast, says " You need to focus and quit quibbling. The pool is the problem. It needs to be fixed. It needs to be fixed now. And you, Madam, need to do it!"

"But, but, its not fair! I'm not genetically wired for this."

Plucked as an innocent from the bogs of Ireland,  I'm wired for long walks over the hills,  making quilts,  dreaming, scribbling, baking and cooking and growing things, with  lots of help from the Bean, granted. I'm a persona non grata at the moment because the weeds have taken over the vegetable garden  he worked so hard to prepare for me, and I've done nothing about it---because---it's been too bloody hot here! Which is why I should get myself re-wired so I can tackle all this pool fixing nonsense [so people can jump in and cool off.]

Maybe I should call the Little Blister? [avoidance tactic #3]

Maybe I should go for a prolonged visit with her? [tactic#4] Back to where I can handle what life throws my way?  We sneaked, behind my mother's back, to the river at Corbally to cool off, in the summers when we were young. No pool pumps needed. It's been ages since we walked across the Burren together. Or walked along the Rine when the tide was out. And we're not getting any younger.

Now that I've decided which company to go with, the guy is taking his sweet [donkey] time about calling me back. Eating into my sewing, cooking, and cinnamon bun baking time.

I think I'll go make them anyway, while I'm waiting. Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pastry and Wit, a Match Made in Heaven

Today was an un-working day. Which didn't mean I didn't have a list as long as my arm of "things to do," just that I didn't have to be up, dressed and clicking my heels at 6:30 a.m.

After the departure, for the Halls of Academe, of the Bean, always a blur of books, coffee and slamming doors, with exasperated eye rolling on the side from GF, who arrives in plenty of time and then w-a-i-t-s, I sighed with relief, fed the cat, and took myself and my coffee to the sewing room to check e-mails and catch up on blogs.

I planned on maybe half an hour. But I got side tracked [can you believe it?] I clicked on an interesting link on someone's blog, which led me to more interesting links...you know how it goes. If you put a gun to my head I could not retrace the path that brought me here. Pastry Methods and Techniques --- Fascinating, right? Bet you're not even tempted to check it out. But you should! The name is the only dull thing about it.

List as long as my arm of chores to do? It had to wait. I was riveted by her writing and laughing out loud at the wit and general snarkiness and the recipes.

Oh. Not interested in food blogs? Me neither. They usually put me to sleep. But this one is different. I would read this even if there were no recipes. I guess what I'm saying is this woman is a talented writer first. She just happens to write about food. I usually lurk around for a few weeks before adding a new blog to my list. I knew there was no need to lurk here. Signed myself up on the spot. Check it out. You just might love it instantly, as I did!

Meanwhile the "To-do" list was being sorely neglected. I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Pastry Chef! The OC recently bought a truck. Men must have their toys.....It was to replace the Beast, whose untimely demise was documented here. It needed a liner, but what with the OC being back up north and the Bean back at school, it fell to me to take it to the liner place----and me without a pair of bib overalls or even a straw hat to my name! It's been with us for a month but I have managed to avoid driving it until today. When I had no choice. Turns out it's a bit bigger than the Nissan, but otherwise not much different to drive. No one ended up in the hospital, and the truck sustained no dents. Done and dusted! Until tomorrow....when I have to go and pick it up.

Phone calls to insurance company! I'd been procrastinating on that one. Least favourite people to have to call ---but it's done!

Visit to Father-in-Law. The irony. Of all people, he's stuck with me....must be karma! But what did I do? But, see that notch in my halo? Sat there and listened for almost an hour! Which in real terms means I'm off the hook for tomorrow....

And I got a haircut--no more woolly mammoth look-alike!

I'd say I took care of that "To-do" list down to about the elbow.

Which is a good day's work for an un-working day.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

My Life As A Scribe

*Warning: Long, rambling post ahead. A letter about letters to you, my bloggy friends. If you are at all inclined to read it, you might want to wait until you have a few quiet moments, a nice cup of tea and patience for a lot of blather and Blarney.....

Funny title from someone whose pen has been dry for almost a month! It doesn't mean I've stopped. It just means I'm overwhelmed. I'm in awe of all you bloggers---I'm lookin' at you Thimbleanna!---who work full time, run a household, bake cupcakes at the drop of a hat, quilt like someone's got a gun to their head, craft like there's forty hours in a day, and still manage to blog regularly!

Not content with the life of Reilly, I recently allowed myself to be sweet-talked into helping out at a friend's office. It's only two days a week, but what a difference those two days make! Life was passing me by at a gallop before. Now Monday is no sooner over than Whoosh! It's Monday again! It's making me dizzy.

The blog's been a wasteland as a consequence. But I'm on it! "Writer" magazine keeps repeating the same old mantra---If you want to write, you've got to write every day. So Molly Bawn has decided to heed that advice, for better or for worse....

Writing, after all, is how I bring order to the chaos. Whether what I write is good, bad, or indifferent matters not. The act of writing soothes me, satisfies me, and once in a while, something I write finds an echo out there. Of course there are exceptions. Take last night for instance. I'd been reading "Writer" magazine, which I borrow occasionally from the library, especially when the clue bag is on "empty." So, heeding the "Write every day" advice, I wrote down a word, and then another, and then a few more, in hopes that something would evolve. Something evolved alright. A few hours later I had a post. All I needed was a picture. Duly toddled off to Flickr and found an appropriate image. But between the hopping and the trotting, and "blog this" and "copy" and "paste," I ended up with a blank page. My howls of anguish were heard in Canada, I'm sure. So, add to my virtues Humility, hard won. Sometimes, though the blog gods seem cruel, one comes to the realization that they were right after all. It was a load of rubbish. Better not to have embarrassed one's self.

The scratch of pen on paper has always been music to me. After years of practice in the primary grades,I decided to go global in secondary school. Allison in Beloit, Wisconsin, was my first pen friend. She wrote faithfully for several years. Beloit, Wisconsin might as well have been on the dark side of the moon, but at least Allison wrote in English. She was crafty too, handy at the sewing. One year, for my birthday, she made me a red flannel nightgown. When the nightgown was washed it turned everything else in that laundry load a rosy shade of pink!

Then there was Anne-Marie who wrote from Alsace-Lorraine. In French. Which made me feel very sophisticated, though Mrs. Penny's drills on "La plume de ma tante" did little to help me understand letters from a French teenager, written in cursive. We were loved and sheltered and nourished, but there weren't many luxuries. So when Anne-Marie sent me a tiny pot of sweet-smelling perfume, I treasured it, eked it out for years. And I still have a letter-opener she sent me in the shape of a sword.

Anne-Marie sent photos of herself and her family, black and white with scalloped edges [the photos, not the family.]I poured over those photos, trying to imagine what it must be like to be Anne-Marie, to live in France and, [hardest of all to imagine] to have French dropping casually from my lips, something the long-suffering Mrs. Penny could only dream of!

Undaunted by the fact that the nuns didn't offer German at my school, I found another pen-friend, Gisela from Konigstein-Taunus. Gisela wrote to me in passable English, and I replied---in slightly more passable English. But I had a secret plan. Armed with a "German for Beginners" book I'd spent my scant allowance on, I planned to teach myself German. Now, who wants to say I'm not an optimist?

Eventually life moved on and letters to overseas strangers fell by the wayside, partly due, I'm sure, to my failure to advance, with any alacrity, beyond ""La plume de ma tante." How amazed I would have been back then if someone had told me that, in my life, I would live near each of the places those penfriends wrote me from!

Meantime, off to Dub-a-lin in the green, in the green.........to college, where I stayed in a hostel run by nuns. There was, apparently, no getting away from them. They were strategically positioned all around the country, bent on defending, for a modest monthly fee, the virtue of young innocents like myself. I'm sure my mother was overjoyed that I'd have three squares a day, responsible supervision and a curfew, all without breaking the bank. Not that I was financially in a position to be kicking my heels up with or without supervision of the nun-ly sort.

There were no cell phones, no computers, no texting, no voice mail, and telephone charges were astronomical, so that left the post office, whose services I used once a week to communicate with my family "down the cunthry." The letters home could have been as dull as ditch water. Life for a young "culchie" in the big city was fairly humdrum, especially for an impoverished young culchie, who got the princely sum of one Irish pound for pocket money every week. Besides, it was an all-girl college---what on earth had I been thinking? Not wanting to bore the folks at home to death, I set about making my letters interesting. I'd pick on small, inconsequential incidents and find the comedy in them. And so they looked forward to the weekly epistles and didn't forget me.

And when I went to a small town up near the border with Northern Ireland to teach, I hit a rich vein of material for those letters home. And in the fullness of time I met the OC, but most of the time there was an ocean between us, so that meant more letters! There's a box of them in a closet somewhere; better attend to it before I get much further into my dotage. Wouldn't want the children falling around after we're gone, helpless with mirth at the lovelorn ramblings of their staid parents!

I still have letters my parents wrote me after we were married. They're tucked away in the drawer of my night table...When I look at their distinctive hand writing it's like catching a glimpse of a loved and familiar face.....Faces I miss still, after all these years. In that same drawer I have letters from friends I've met and left, from all the places we've lived; letters telling me of the births of their children, the progress of their lives, of deaths and divorces, joys and sorrows, and asking about ours.

And now, even I, old time scribe [or chicken scratcher] that I am, hardly write letters any more. E-mail is so quick and convenient. But you can't hold it in your hand and it doesn't have the distinctive seal of a friend's unique hand writing. So, once in a while I do still write letters. And once in a while my old, scattered friends do too, particularly on birthdays, because we know the thrill of seeing our name on an envelope, in familiar handwriting, tangible proof that, though geographically removed from each, we still care enough to sit down and write. I never rip it open right away. I draw out the pleasure by tucking it in my pocket, waiting until I have a few quiet moments, making myself a nice cup of tea, and then settling down for a luxurious read.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Dream A Little Dream Of Me"

First love
Originally uploaded by mousebears
As you may have guessed from the recent silence in these parts, I'm suffering from severe summer slump. What could I have to say that wouldn't make you all yawn hugely, turn your computers off and take to your beds? Nothing, nada, zilch and so----silencio!

But an old friend with whom I e-mail back and forth, often just one-liners, recently inquired in passing "So how did you and J [the OC] meet?" And since it wasn't a blog post, and I didn't feel I had to edit and tweak and polish and rewrite until I had a headache, I shot an answer right back at her, and she was so highly amused and chuckling still today, that I thought "Here's a lazy-man's blog post, ready made, no headache required!" Not that blogging gives me a headache. Quite the opposite. But as I mentioned, summer slump and all that, steaming heat that saps one's energy, thundershowers every day--not conducive to scintillating posts.

"J and I met at Kennedy Airport where we were both working for the summer. He was at Lufthansa, and I was at Aer Lingus. His sister, O, was at Aer Lingus too, and she and I became friends. Her father would pick her up after work and sometimes drop me off at my digs. He was always blathering on about his brilliant son [yawn!] and eventually asked me [when J returned from AFROTC summer camp] if I'd mind if he came to one of our after work parties with me, to get him back in circulation. J had then, and still has, hermit tendencies, so his father deemed it necessary to meddle in his social life. The last flight for Ireland didn't leave until 9 or 10 at night, so the parties always started late. I agreed. J. of course, didn't know that he was being set up. When his father told him, he just blew it off, figuring the old man had badgered me enough that I just said "yes" for a peaceful life. Meanwhile, the other summer hires [all college students like ourselves] were disappearing from Irish Airlines like rats from a sinking ship. The guy driving the last car asked if I needed a lift to the party. J had been supposed to pick me up, according to his pater. I asked the guy to hang on [if he'd left, I'd have been stranded---trusting Irish lass that I was---with no way of getting home to my digs, let alone get to the party!] Hold on a sec!" I said and called J's house. He was sitting, unconcerned, in his boxers shorts, [I was furnished with these details many moons later!] watching a game on TV. I told him I'd been given to understand that he was going to pick me up, but [on my high horse] if he didn't want to, I'd understand, but would rather not be stranded, in the dark, at the deserted airport for the night.

" I'll be there in ten minutes!" And he hung up.

He was wearing AF issue eyeglasses [AKA birth control glasses] and snot-green trousers when he squealed up to the curb..........But I had never before seen such beautiful brown eyes. The rest, as they say, is history!

Years later, I learned that his father thought I'd be an amusing dalliance, a young innocent for his son to practice on [his father having been, in his day, quite the ladies' man himself.] The nerve! He was very annoyed when his brilliant son did not succeed in deflowering me [the nuns had done their job well] and was, as a result, so enamored [not quite the word I used in the e-mail to my friend, but this is a family friendly blog and I'd like to keep it that way] that he wanted to marry me! The old man fought us tooth and nail , saying we were too young to be talking of getting married, which only made J all the more determined. So, to this day, I don't know whether he married me to spite his father or because he was blinded by lust....

While I'm in reminiscing mood I should add that, in the middle of winter, when J was back at university in the frozen north, and I was back at college in Dublin, his father got on a plane at JFK, landed at Shannon, found his way to my parents' doorstep, rat-a-tat-tatted and brought them to the door, puzzled as to who might be visiting when the rest of the civilized world was getting ready for bed. They found a tall, aristocratic-looking man standing on their doorstep in the dark. He introduced himself in his broken English, and after they'd picked their chins up off the hallway floor, they invited him in. He had come to check on my pedigree. To ascertain if I was worthy.

Whether or not I was is a story for another day!

You really should know better than to ask such leading questions!"

So while we're on the subject---I'm sure mine isn't the only entertaining story of "How we met." Let's hear 'em!

Note: The Mamas and The Papas hit song "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" was the soundtrack to that summer, hence the seemingly irrelevant title!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mr. Bunny Hill, I love You!

I'm not sure where I saw it first [on someone else's blog, undoubtedly] but in January of 2009 I fell in love. The object of my mooning was a series of free blocks by Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs. She planned to dole out the patterns for the blocks, one at a time, at the beginning of each month throughout the year.

So do-able! So adorable. So sign-me-upable!

What harm could it do---one wee block per month? Speaking of blocks, I managed to block out the fact that, behind the closed door of the guest room closet, which itself was behind the closed door of the guest room, was a groaning shelf, laden with an [ahem!] unspecified number of unfinished quilt projects. What can I say? New projects hath charms....]

It was painless. The most fun was seeing the next block at the beginning of each month....Or maybe it was picking out the fabrics once I knew what the block was.....Or maybe it was the actual stitching.....To be fair, I think it was every step of the process! I bought several yards of a lovely cream fabric for the background...and nothing else. I had such fun [and made such a mess] every month, rooting through my stash for just the perfect scrap for each part of that month's design. I think Anne must have to pinch herself every day. Imagine making a living doing what you love to do----in this case playing with fabric! When I was a child, nowhere on the horizon did I see the possibility of making a career out of such fun. Which just goes to show that my imagination wasn't firing on all cylinders at the time. Of course I did love art in school, but art was associated with Beatniks and Teddy Boys and in no way to be encouraged!

But better in one's dotage than never. I finished January's block in record time. And February's.....March's.....April's...... Then there was the added incentive of posting one's finished block each month on Flickr [see sidebar], taking a bow, and handing out kudos to one's fellow stitchers as they posted theirs!

Every month I managed to keep up with the program, and every month I was loving it more. Christmas loomed and I fell a bit behind. New year came and I fell more behind. But this week I finally put all the blocks together.[Takes a deep bow...]

I had long ago decided I didn't want to do the simple sashing shown on the web site. The idea of an Irish chain setting appealed to me, so I made alternate blocks with the background fabric and a variety of yellows from my stash that would compliment, but not steal the limelight from, the applique blocks.

The last thing to do was to put on the borders. All along I'd thought that green would be good for a narrow border, separating the blocks from the outer floral border. But when I went to the quilt shop to buy the green, had it in my hand and was heading to the cutting counter, I spied a beautiful red, all dappled with sunshine and calling my name! So much for the best laid plans.

The borders are on and the corners are mitered. The first three came out perfectly, but wouldn't you know it [I got smug? or careless?] the fourth corner did not. But I have learned it is futile to fume. Far better to unpick an inch or so, tweak a little, and restitch by hand, coaxing things into the way you want them to go.

It's close enough to perfect now.

I need a break before I tackle hand quilting it. And let's face it, after all that applique, I think it needs to be hand quilted. Sigh. Which means I might be able to hang the finished product in my sewing room five years from now.

Besides, there are ladybugs in that closet clamoring to get out......

Pipe down in there ladybugs! I'm coming to get you!

Note: And thank you Anne Sutton....I had so much fun with this!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Mysterious Case Of The Body In The Pizza Box

I didn't get much rest that night. It's difficult to rest when you're involved in a murder. When the alarm went off at six a.m. it was still dark. I groaned. I don't do early risings at the best of times, but having stayed up very late the night before, I needed just a few more minutes. So I bashed the alarm and went back to sleep.

At ten past seven I bolted upright, rigid with panic. I'd been off in the land of my subconscious where the goings-on are much more interesting than those in my waking life. Trouble is, I usually can't remember them. As soon as my eyes open and the light gets in, the characters in my dreams scurry off around corners, and, try as I may, I cannot call them back.

But this time I did! It was all fresh in my mind.

I had murdered somebody.

I was very calm in this knowledge, whereas the waking me would, first of all never have done it, and secondly, if she had, would have been a mess of guilt and jitters and nerves. But no. There I was, cool as a cucumber, unencumbered by guilt or remorse, walking along in the half light, carrying a box under my arm.

I was in a place that my dream self knew well, but my conscious self does not know. It seemed to be a village. It was dark and the street was deserted. The box was made of shiny black plastic, with a hinged lid. It was flatish and rectangular, and it contained the remains of my victim. No blood, no guts, no gore, just facts. Cold, hard, dispassionate facts.

I went into a barn-like building where I met and was greeted by a man who seemed to know me. He appeared to be in a workshop of some sort. I was not alarmed to see him. But when he saw the box I was carrying he tried to take it from me, telling me it was one of his pizza boxes. [I never said this wouldn't be bizarre!] I clutched it tighter to me and refused to give it up. I knew that if he opened the box, I'd be exposed as a murderer[ess?]. Who my victim was, why I had killed her, how I killed her, and what I was planning to do with the body, were all mysteries, parts of the dream that scurried away as soon as I opened my eyes.

I have no idea what happened after that because that's when I woke, in a panic, realizing I had to be somewhere by 8 o clock and it was already ten past seven.

I am fascinated by the places I go to, and the things I do, when I close my eyes. I know that, often, when I am fretting and worrying about something in my waking hours, the solution will come to me when I am fast asleep. And while that is helpful and amazing, it reinforces my feeling of the unfairness of it all: that I am deprived of fully knowing who I am, when I can recall so little about the state in which I spend so much time.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Cussy Futting and Bavishing Reauties.......

The title of Silfert's most recent post is a spoonerism. It took a second or two for the penny to drop here, as it does. I had just uttered one myself, so should have been quicker. It has always fascinated me how our brains can do that. I get tied up in knots if I try to think of some. Yet, when I least expect it, they drop, unbidden from my lips! No thinking, no plotting, no effort. I meant to say one thing today, but what came out was "cussy futting!" You quilters will know what I meant!

The OC's long time favourite is "bavishing reauties." When Silfert heard that she came right back with "beeping sleauty!"

There must be some howlers out there....Care to share?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Losing My Mind, One Marble At A Time

The OC is away. He is not a demanding man, but if he's around I stick close to home, because, you know, he might need a sandwich, or a cup of tea, or he might go to the bathroom and find the roll was empty, and then what would he do? He doesn't know how to make tea, or sandwiches or find where the TP is stashed.....At least that's his story [wink, wink.] So, I stick around most of the time, and we play house. Well, maybe I'm the only one playing house. He plays the overworked program manager,sitting in his cave, tearing his hair out over demanding customers who want their rocket parts and want them now and no they don't want to pay another million dollars for the five million worth of extras and the additional man hours they decided they needed since signing the contract ......

We're both up for Oscars this year. Watch for us on the big night, decked out in dazzling duds, smiling radiantly, bowing, speechifying and thanking our mothers and great-uncle Boris.

But I digress.

The OC is away. It seemed a good time to go trawling around the shops. I never got beyond the first one because it's the kind that gets last season's merchandise, and discontinued lines of all manner of tempting things I really don't need, from luxury Italian linens to gourmet coffee to Polish pottery to gorgeous German dolls to scuba equipment to extra-fine quilting pins! I could have spent the entire day in there. In fact, I only realized how late it was when the manager moved into my orbit, coughing discreetly but insistently.

Paid and left. Clutching my pins and a nice pair of casual, gray pants, original price fifty nine dollars, mine for twelve ninety nine---and long enough!

Trawling around shops, even just the one, is exhausting work and I was gasping for a cup of tea when I arrived home. Started the kettle and put a tea bag in my favourite cup. Got distracted putting away my loot, but did remember to set the timer for five minutes.

Wherever I was, I heard the timer go off, and returned to the kitchen, eager for the restorative cuppa, only to find that I had never poured the water into the cup! Sigh.

I do all the right things. I exercise; I eat my fruit and veggies; I do crosswords and sudoku every day; and still, brain cells are dying.

Last week, late one afternoon, I wasn't in the mood to make a big production out of supper. The OC was fine with my suggestion of warming up some frozen pizza. I set the oven to preheat,and while waiting I put the pizza in the fridge because I wanted the crust to be crispy. The directions on the box advised keeping the pizza frozen until ready to bake, and who would I have to blame but myself, if I didn't do as I was told, and we ended up with pizza that tasted like soggy cardboard?

The oven beeped, we were good to go. I set the timer for the recommended twenty minutes and gathered up tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms and onions; the least I could do, since I was off the hook for cooking, was to make a salad. So I stood at the counter, humming to myself, washing and drying, slicing and dicing, carefully cutting off a good chunk around the occasional hole pecked by the birds, whose mothers, obviously, never taught them to finish all the worms on their plate, or at least to only take as much as they intended to finish.

Salad ready. Table set.

"Supper's ready dear!" I really do play my part well [modest blush.]


That'll be the pizza.....except.....it wasn't! Oven mitts in hand, I opened the oven door, felt the blast of heat and saw.....nothing! [Unless you count "seeing" that the oven needs cleaning.] I stood with my mouth hanging open....

"What the heck???" Mutter, mumble, mutter....

Then it dawned on me. The pizza was still in the fridge, maintaining its crispitude!

Meanwhile the OC sat down at the table, ready for his supper. He had heard me muttering, so asked with a smirk

"What did you do now?"

Among my other services I provide entertainment, albeit unintentionally.

But, on a positive note, the oven being so thoroughly heated, the pizza, when it was finally done, was nice and crispy!

I guess I'll have to up the ante on the mental gymnastics....Chess maybe? Bridge? [shudder!]Classes in calculus? Logic? Egyptian hieroglyphics?

Or,radical thought, slow down and do one thing at a time?

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Eating supper Sunday evening, the OC was congratulating himself on having cut the grass, in the nick of time, since it was raining now.

"Doesn't it look nice?" he asked. Of course it did. It always looks nicer after it's cut than it did before, when it looked all scruffy and uneven, like the OC himself with a seven day beard. But he craves the praise, so.....Yes dear, it's lovely. You're so good.....Small price to pay for not having to cut it myself! Though I might try, some day, after I've done a particularly stellar job of scrubbing the toilets, to see if anyone would be interested in coming to gaze into their gleaming depths and be rendered speechless........Some day.

Enough speculation, though. Back to my story! The grass was cut and it had started to rain. Just the thing to settle the dust.

But it wasn't just raining. It was bucketing down, and as we watched, the trees started to thrash wildly.

"Where on earth did that come from?"

Fifty percent chance of rain, they'd said. Ho hum. A normal Florida summer afternoon. But Whoa! This had the look of a mini hurricane. Right there, in the recently calm and sunny back garden.

And as I heard the ominous "Craaaack!" and instant splitting of wood, I knew why the trees were writhing so wildly...they were trying to escape! But the small matter of roots prevented them.... We stood rooted, ourselves, by the sliding glass door, not daring to breathe, as a huge pine tree crashed to the ground. It missed the pool cage by a couple of feet. That would have been a disaster. And the OC airport-bound in half an hour!

And then it stopped. As fast as it started; and by the time we got to Tampa, the sun was shining and the sky was looking innocently blue....

"What? Me? Have a tantrum? No way!"

Monday morning I went outside for a gander. Two stumps, sticking up into the blue.

They'd broken off up high, so let's be thankful for small mercies. Had the trunks broken lower down, there might have been lots more damage. Both trees were on our neighbour's property, but fell onto ours. I don't even know if Bird-Legs-Bob is aware of what happened, or if he's even home. I do think we'll need to put our heads together and take down a few more....Like these bad boys....

We still have miles to go before hurricane season is over. The next one might fall in a much more inconvenient place!

The Bean went out, chain saw in hand, to clear up this mess....

Chain saws make me nervous, especially in the hands of one of my children. It's not that I don't think he's competent, he is. But I have an over active imagination, which is why my heart stopped when he came back in, fifteen minutes later, barely able to drag himself through the door. I was sure he'd cut off a limb, and I don't mean from a tree.... He hadn't, but had twisted something in his back and was in pain. So there he was, long spawgs stretched out on the carpet, groaning. Definitely a tripping hazard. Ice was applied, Florence Nightingale summoned, and the chain saw retired for the day.

When you're on a losing streak it's best to quit early!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Of Little Blisters And Dresses On Backwards......

My Dad came to get me from school for lunch and took me home on the back of his bicycle. Mum wasn't there when we got home and Dad told me she had gone to a special place in town to get us a baby sister. He promised to take me to see them after school. Then we had lunch and he took me back to school.

I was a quiet child, and shy. But this news was too huge to hold inside me! Breaking all the Senior Infants class rules, I left my seat and walked up to Miss McCarthy's desk, and whispered to her that I had a brand new baby sister and my daddy was going to take me to see her after school! To my mortification and astonishment, Miss McCarthy did not think this was a good enough reason to leave my desk without permission. She scowled at me and told me to return to my seat immediately. I crept back to my seat with a very red face. It was a cruel lesson, one I've remembered all these years. Anything nice that Miss McCarthy said to me, or anything encouraging or hopeful that I may have learned from her, were completely overshadowed by that scowl, and that dismissal of my wonderful news.

The OC had a similar experience. His family had just arrived in the U.S. from South America, where they had emigrated from post-war Europe when he was a baby. Having had his first few years of school in Argentina, he spoke fluent Spanish. He also spoke Ukrainian, which was his parents' native language and the main language spoken in their home. But,as yet, he did not speak English very well, though he was learning. His teacher asked him a question which he didn't understand, so she told him he was stupid.

My heart aches for that little boy, and for my six year old self, although the OC believes it is nonsense to dwell on such things. But I think events like these form and transform us. The wars and the toppling governments, the hurricanes and the tsunamis, the earthquakes and the collapsing bridges, the scandalous conduct of politicians, the abuses we are capable of inflicting on innocent children and defenseless animals all affect us greatly, but seemingly insignificant, personal events, like these, colour our thinking about who we are, about our place in the world and our value as human beings.

Imagine a world where everyone acted nobly; where no one abused the power they had over others. Imagine all children growing up confident that they are loved, and lovable, and worth listening to.....One day soon they will be the grown-ups. I doubt Miss McCarthy ever gave her sharp dismissal of my great news a second thought. Maybe she would be amazed that a woman, much older now than she was then, still remembers that day in Senior Infants. And if that insensitive NY teacher could see how un-stupid that little boy turned out to be, maybe she would have the grace to be ashamed.

Well! I seem to have gone off on quite the detour there. The Little Blister's birthday was last week, and that was what I intended writing about. Not that I was there to help her celebrate or anything so exciting! But it was a momentous day for me, the day she was born.

First of all, since Dad didn't have much of a clue about such things, I got to wear my dress the way I thought it should be worn. After school, I changed out of my school uniform and into a pretty cotton dress my mother had made for me. It wasn't until we got to the nursing home, and were admiring the new little sister, that my mother gave me an odd look, and asked my dad why I had my dress on backwards.

Secondly, it was the day my best friend was born. Of course, I didn't realize this until years later. I spent the first half of my life trying to give her the slip. I guess I was as much of an insensitive clod to her as Miss McCarthy was to me. Realizing the error of my cloddish, big sister ways, I have spent the second half of my life trying to spend as much time with her as possible. Which is problematical when you consider that pesky ocean that lies between us.

Even though she has not been blogging lately, she is still writing. She was recently short listed [out of 1500 entries!] in a flash fiction writing competition [Big sisters are allowed to brag!] Her duties at The Palace keep her on the trot and in spite of all my exhortations she steadfastly continues to un-blog. But I am not giving up hope.

And just so you know, even though my mum is no longer around to check on me, I don't wear my dresses backwards any more.

Have a great year Rise!

Note: That's us in the picture when I was home last year. She likes to think she's taller than me, but as you can see, she's standing on a rock. I rest my case.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Keys To My Innocence

I am prone to moving things [from places they shouldn't be!] tidying up, putting things in a "safe" place where I will be assured, maybe, of finding them next time they are needed. Somewhat like a squirrel. I recently decided to search, once again, for a key that went missing months ago. And, naturally, I'm the prime suspect. When something can't be found it is automatically assumed that I am the culprit, due to the aforementioned zeal for tidying up, or to my penchant for driving the men in the house crazy. So, in an effort to establish my innocence, and maybe even find the bloody thing,I decided to start with my jewelery box. Which, for me, was a logical place, since I often stash small items there which I want to keep "safe."

I'm not into wearing jewelery much,feeling a little like a Christmas tree if anything is dangling from my person other than a bona fide body part, but the jewelery box was a gift from my mother-in-law, who thought every woman should have a one. And at age twenty two, and clueless, who was I to argue? So it has sat there, on my dresser, part of the bedroom landscape, for forty years.

It measures 12"x7"x5".You wouldn't think it possible to cram large segments of a life into that small a space! But I seem to have done it! [Takes a bow...]

I lifted the lid and started my search.

No key was immediately visible, but looking at the disorganization of all the little compartments, I thought....

" I really ought to empty the whole thing out, and maybe, as I put things back, I'll find it."

Right. I'm nothing if not an optimist. I don't believe I've ever completely emptied it. Even when we moved, it would get taped shut, still bulging, and transported like that.I wasn't brave enough to just upend it, so I took things out, one by one, creating a fine mess,

examining each piece, puzzled by some, careening off down memory lane at the sight of others.

There is jewelery in there, most of it never worn. It would be more accurate to call it a memory box, because the jewelery is incidental; mostly it holds my memories and treasures, such as:

Hospital wrist bands from the births of each child;

Baby teeth, dried up and brittle, jumbled together so that it would take a DNA test to identify which tooth belonged to which child!

A tiny, silvery high heeled shoe that was on our wedding cake, forty years ago;

A Child of Mary sodality medal with my mother's maiden name on the back, probably from the mid nineteen thirties when she was in her teens;

Various Mary Help of Christians medals from my school days. She was the patroness of the order of nuns whose school I attended.

Two tiny saints's relics, which might mean that somebody's ancient bones are sitting, all these years, on my dressing table! Can you tell I grew up Catholic??

Two kilt pins;

A large sand dollar and a few random shells. Artifacts from the beach find their way into all kinds of unlikely corners of our house!

A newspaper cutting from the nineteen eighties about Lily's synchronized swim team;

A drawing of a dinosaur by a very young Bean, for my birthday in the early nineties;

A ribbon and lace garter from Lily's wedding, thirteen years ago;

Various academic and soccer medallions from kids' high school days;

A beautiful gold cross and chain of oldest son's, whose leanings these days are more towards Buddhism;

A high school ID card for California Girl;

Coins from various times and countries;

A small bottle of water from Lourdes; my mother brought it back from one of her trips there with my brother; it must be at least fifty years old! And not all evaporated yet, though what little is left is kind of dingy and discoloured looking.

No less than,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,eight watches, in various states of disrepair. One of them is the watch my father gave to my mother on their wedding day in nineteen forty seven! I never had luck with watches, so depend on my cell phone these days for the time.

The stub of my airline ticket from Munich to Cork, from when I went to visit my German friends about five years ago on a trip home;

A note to the tooth fairy from a small boy, asking her if she could please leave his tooth for him this time "because I haven't got to keep one of my toothes yet."

An envelope containing curls from Britboy's first haircut in 1979;

A medallion from the Royal Life Saving Society---proof positive that, at one time in my life,I was qualified to save a person from drowning. Between you, me and the wall,if I'd been the person in danger of drowning I'd have died of fright instead to see "me" coming to "save" me! Fortunately no-one ever tested my abilities.

A string of pearls that belonged to my mother. I do wear them occasionally;

Several brooches which I used to wear, but rarely now, since moving to Florida. Bare feet and T-shirts never seem to call for the addition of a brooch.

After several hours I gave up the search, closed the lid, order [or some semblance thereof,] restored.

What I did not find: The keys which were the purpose of the exercise, so I will continue to be presumed guilty! Or my original wedding ring which I had lost several years ago. Since the OC recently bought me a replacement, I am confident that it is only a matter of weeks until the long-lost original shows up!

I am curious now: What do other people keep in their "jewelery" boxes?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Into The Trees

There was a frightful racket in the trees out behind us early this morning. I stumbled out of bed to see what was going on. From the window, I could see crows circling one particular pine tree, flapping their wings and squawking like fishwives. What was their problem? Didn't they know it was Sunday morning and people might want to sleep in, for heaven's sake?

And then I saw him.

The cause of their distress. A huge big owl, sitting on a high branch, imperturbable, while the crows circled and squawked. I grabbed the OC's field glasses and headed out to have a closer look.

The picture isn't very clear, but enough, I think, to give you the general idea. He could have had those crows for lunch. He just wasn't hungry. He certainly didn't look under-nourished! I watched through the glasses while he groomed himself. He looked like a baby bear sitting up there, confident that when he did feel a pang of hunger, there was a smorgasbord of little rodents available for the snatching in the brush down below. He lifted a leg at one point, and when I saw those massive talons, I was glad I wasn't a little rodent......

I've been making snails' trails blocks for a quilting project. I need to make forty of them [I know---what on earth was I thinking??] I've been a little obsessive about reaching number forty, sewing, sewing, day and night. Not healthy. Hunched over the sewing machine, muttering.....bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, 15, 16, 17, 18, ......[I got to #24 today!] So, to blow the cobwebs from my brain, I went along on a Little White Balls hitting expedition later in the afternoon.

I have a limited capacity for concentrating on watching people hitting Little White Balls, so it wasn't too long until my attention wandered.

This fellow helped.

He was up a nearby tree, chattering like a thing possessed, so I went to investigate. He looked down at me indignantly and launched into a long and involved rant, with much tail twitching and bristling of whiskers. He was very upset at having his peaceful afternoon shattered by men arriving to hit Little White Balls.
He'd been in the middle of a lovely nap when the first whack disturbed his slumbers.

"Don't you people have homes to go to?"

"It's Sunday afternoon, for Pete's sake! You'd think a fellow could take a little nap without having to worry he'll be whacked out of his tree by lunatics hitting Little White Balls!"

And so it goes.

The circle of Life.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Entertaining The Brother, Who Can Be Quite Entertaining. If You Have The Stamina!

I've almost forgotten how to do this! Blame it on my brother's visit. Blame it on the gardening course. Blame it on my airport taxi service. Blame it on Quilt Camp......Or, just blame it on life!

The volcano in Iceland nearly scuttled his plans, but my brother arrived, nothing daunted, a week late. He stayed for a month and went home two weeks ago with a great tan, and enough sunshine stored in his bones to see him well into old age. The Bean was delighted to have his uncle's help in the garden, and between them they got it shipshape.

I even had the grace to feel a little guilty. But I needn't have. Even though it's way too hot for my liking, outside in the middle of the day, he gloried in it! He'd be out there at noon, sweating and smiling, working away and marveling at how much nicer this weather is than the steady diet of piddling rain he left back home.

He spent hours swimming at the "Y", perfecting his stroke, our humble home pool being inadequate for his Olympic aspirations! Since he is in excellent physical shape for his age, I'm sure he caused some hearts to flutter among the elderly ladies as he ploughed through the water in his tangerine Speedos!

It almost made me hanker for the days when race walking was his obsession. Have you ever seen race walking? For him it was serious sport, and for a while he was one of the best race walkers in Ireland. But, for me, it was serious comedy! All those locked knees, pumping elbows and get-out-of-my-way determination! When he was visiting us, he'd train for his walking every day. He'd take off out the door and be gone for hours. Low maintenance. We lived in Belgium back in those days, in a suburb of Brussels, and one time he went out walking and didn't come back.

And didn't come back.

And darkness fell.

And the temperature dropped.

And it started to drizzle.

And still no sign of the bould brother. Or his walking companion, our black lab, Maggie. I was on my knees, weeping and pleading with the Blessed Virgin [who probably had forgotten who I was, it'd been so long!] begging her to keep him safe and to please not let my deceased mother's ghost find out what a terrible big sister I had turned out to be by carelessly misplacing the apple of her eye!

This was before cell phones took over the world. And the workings of the Belgian public telephone system were shrouded in mystery, not to mention foreign languages, neither of which he spoke. And his English was delivered with a very thick Irish accent....

I was pacing the floors in the wee, dark hours of the next morning, wringing my hands and letting my imagination run away with me, when lo! A knock at the door!

And there he stood, barely, exhausted and bedraggled, with a half-dead pooch at his side, who immediately betook herself to a quiet corner where she collapsed, and from where she did not stir for several days. You can bet she ran [or limped] for deep cover the next time she saw him preparing to go walking! Not quite the "walkies" she was accustomed to! I would give a lot of money to be able to hear the exchange between him and the Belgian police who gave him a lift from Waterloo back to our house!

A few years ago, Rise gave him a present of a course of swimming lessons, so, since he was getting older, and swimming is easier on the joints, he gave up the walking and fastened his focus on the water! Unfortunately the "Y" is on the other side of town, and since he couldn't drive here, I was constantly driving him there or picking him up. High maintenance. When we went to the beach he wanted to start out early, cook his bones all day long on the sand and in the water, basting himself occasionally with the magic creams that were his insurance policy against skin cancer.... After a couple of hours I would wilt in the heat and glaring sunshine, in spite of sun hats, sunscreen, beach umbrellas and towel tents. But heaven forbid I should suggest heading home before sundown! By the end of our beach sojourn there was The Brother, hale and hearty, full of fresh air and glowing bronzely, while a grease spot on the beach blanket marked what used to be me.....

He's a great guy, and he didn't stink after three days, but after thirty I was tired of having to have an agenda every day. I hankered to have my life back. And my blog! If he saw me on the computer he'd roll his eyes and say

"Don't tell me you're wasting time again on that yoke, and the sun splitting the rocks outside!"

I hope they'll have a nice summer in Ireland this year. He's much happier when the sun shines. He works hard, restoring antique furniture, for which he is much in demand, even in these economically lean times. Give me a year or so and I'll be ready to take him on again. Meanwhile, I'm hoping I earned some brownie points......I sent him home safe and sound, Mum! Give me a little credit!

So, there you have it: one reason you haven't seen much of me in these parts of late.....

Note: You can read another post about my brother here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless, More or Less, Wednesday

I have not died,

or been sold into slavery.

The Brother has been visiting,

We've been living in the garden,

Chasing dragonflies.