Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Gorbin' and Aytin'

On Sunday I baked scones in order to delight Swisser who was calling around. It's just as well she brought her own supply of tasty treats as those scones were the worst I've ever made. I could not figure out where I'd gone wrong as my scones are usually quite delicious.

Bert said,

You would have been a popular girl during the Bogside riots.



Those scones.

I'm thinking, he must mean that when the Derry folk wearied of civil unrest they'd call round to my house for a reviving cup of tea and a hot buttered scone before hitting the streets for more rioting.

He said,

When they run out of cobblestones they'd use your scones instead.

Ha! Very funny.

It was yesterday before I figured out what happened the scones. I was going to try again. This time I wouldn't use the mixer. I'd do it all by hand. This time I'd use fresh buttermilk instead of past sell-by date (October 2019), this time I'd make sure the oven was pre-heated to the correct temperature.

I gathered my ingredients, buttermilk, egg, butter, salt, soda bread flour. And I realised what had gone amiss. There was no soda bread flour and I'd used strong white by mistake. No wonder the scones were as hard as rocks.

Soon remedied. Off to the shops for the proper flour and as I'd decided to make a bread and butter pudding as well I added cream and sultanas to the shopping list.

And it all turned out really well. The scones were up to my usual standard. Bert had made a vegetable broth so we had that and cheesy scones for supper. It was good and I ate too much. In fact, I barely stopped eating the entire evening.

It was close to midnight when I realised I was a thousand steps from the recommended number so I thought I'd march around the house for a while until my pedometer marked the desired 10,000. And it was while doing this that I thought how ridiculous I was. Nelly, striding from room to room, counting steps, circling the kitchen island all whilst chomping on a big wedge of bread and butter pudding.

So I decided to give my digestive system a holiday and fasted until four o'clock this afternoon when I had a bowl of vegetable soup and three scones. And then later on a big wedge of bread and butter pudding.

By the way, Rusty and Lily just loved Sunday's hard scones.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Right Up His Street

Nelly: Hey! How do you fancy going to the cinema tomorrow? My treat.

Bert: What to see?

Nelly: Little Women.

Complete silence from the Bert corner. His brow furrows and his mouth twists a little. He's thinking hard. Thinking about what he should say.  Then he speaks.

Bert: Mmm. Not really sure what I'll be doing. Maybe think about it tomorrow?

Nelly: Hah! Just kidding about Little Women. 1917 is on in Antrim.

Bert: Oh yes! I'd really like to see that. Let's do it!

I'll go see Little Women with Jazzer.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Screaming At The Moon

It's the Wolf Moon tonight, the first full moon of the year and so-called because wolves howl a lot at this time of the year. There was also penumbral lunar eclipse but too much cloud cover to see anything. It would have been better observed had it been last night when skies were clear and the moon, nearly full, was beautiful. No howling wolves here but foxes woke me from sleep with their screeching and screaming. It was close to the house, maybe as near as the orchard and when I opened the window I could hear twigs and branches snapping so maybe in the overgrown wilderness behind Hannah's rooms. 

I listened for a while. They were much too close to the chicken run for my liking although the hens were securely locked up. But, mating season and they were preoccupied with other matters. Hens were unperturbed as were the dogs. I closed the window and returned to bed. Excitement over.

Then dreamed an amusing dream about fervent Unionists rallying against Nationalism. A purple car containing Shinners was driving around Ballymena terrorising the locals. The Orange Order was mobilised, a pipe band skirled up and down Wellington Street and people strode purposefully around costumed as B Specials, WWI volunteers and nurses. There might have been wooden guns. My role was to pour oil on troubled waters, to bolster confidence, to explain that things weren't as bad as they thought. There was also something about working in a hairdressing shop in Harryville and wanting to give up the position, but feeling that I needed the money and then remembering that I was a pensioner and need never go out to work again. That was a relief. 

I woke up to Judy's cold, nudging nose and this gorgeous morning sky and...

wallflower in bloom. In January?

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Stats And Stuff

I have been writing Nelly’s Garden for 15 years, 4 months and 12 days. During that time there has been 3133 published posts which works out at a post every other day and we all know that’s not happening. So, what’s going on? What has changed over the past 15 years, 4 months and 12 days?

I became fifteen years older and a small bit wiser.

Back in 2004, I didn’t actually expect anyone but a few fellow bloggers to read the damn thing.

Now so many of those fellow bloggers have quit. Some of whom I greatly miss.

Then one becomes disheartened.

Gets to thinking, who even fucking cares what I blog?

Becomes self-conscious. People come up to me at funerals and address me as Nelly.

Run out of things to say.

My husband doesn’t read it.

Many of my friends don’t read it.

Sure I hardly even do anything anymore.

And some of the things we do are secret.

And I don’t want to offend anyone.

Peak blogging year was 2005 when I wrote 486 posts. What was going on in 2005? I had a job, there was a lot going on, a lot of material for blogging. Looking back, it’s a wonder Nelly's Garden didn’t get me the sack. Nowadays, with absolutely everyone on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram most people tend to be much more careful about work-blogging.

My slackest year for blogging was 2013, just 99 posts that year. I vaguely remember feeling very flat. Matty had died in 2011 and that took a lot of getting used to. And we still had Pearlie, getting frailer and frailer and that was hard too. Bert tried to cheer me up by buying me a ticket to Vancouver and that was a good experience although there was no blogging from British Columbia. Martha and Evie were pre-school age then, always fun but tiring too. 

So here I am, in 2020, wondering how much longer I can keep this thing up. My sister, whose blog is nearly as old as mine, posts every day. And has a full-time job. I don't know how she does it. Actually, I do. Her life is more interesting than mine.

There! I've answered my own question. I just need to get a more interesting life. Either that or start spilling the secret stuff. Wish me luck.

This is the very first picture I posted to Nelly's Garden.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Sugar Rush

I was telling Bhrian about my serious sugar consumption over the holiday period. He told me about his healthy diet.

Porridge and fruit for breakfast, lunch is a salad, lean meat, a drizzle of ranch dressing.

Sounds good. What about dinner?

Ah. Dinner. Well, I make about three dinners. Y'know, kids wanting different things.

(He has a lot of kids)

Then, I can't be bothered making myself anything, so I eat bits of everything that the kids are having. And - the leftovers, so maybe dinner is not so good.

I said,

Well. I've been eating industrial amounts of trans fats and sugar. I woke up the other night and my pulse was racing. I think I was having a panic attack.

Fats and sugar are the worst combination. So addictive.

I know. I read a short story once about a morbidly obese man who bought margarine and white sugar and mixed it into a paste and ate that. That makes me feel a tiny bit better about eating four mince pies today.

At this, Bert cuts in.

Four mince pies! You ate four!

I said,

I hope you never have to go to an AA meeting. I can just hear you. Some poor addict would be talking about how much they were drinking and you'd be like - you drink gin straight from the bottle at eight in the morning!

I went on,

They'd kick you out for being so judgy.

I'm not sure if the AA people would do that as I've never actually been to a meeting. Yet.

Then Bhrian told us about a short break he and the family took to Letterkenny after Christmas.

Did you all go? 

Not the eighteen-year-old. He stayed home. The morning we were leaving he was practically pushing us out the door.

Bhrian described the holiday and it sounded idyllic. Lots of long walks on windswept beaches. I said,

I hardly know Letterkenny apart from passing through. But Uncle Vincent used to live there. He worked in a confectionery factory and I remember him telling us that if we only knew what went into sweets we'd never let them pass our lips. I was dying to know the details so pressed him on it and it seems that the vats of sugary stuff were very attractive to all sorts of flying insects and that they'd often end up in the finished product. Didn't put me off sweets one iota.

Bhrian agreed.

Probably made them even tastier. 

Yea. Hygiene is bound to be greatly improved since the 1960s, no more wasps and flies in our chocolate caramels and now they're nowhere near as delicious.

Tomorrow I plan to have porridge and fruit for breakfast and I've already researched bean sprouting. I think there might be some mung beans at the back of the cupboard. They've only been there for about eight years but I'm sure they'll be fine.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Quidditch and Other Questions

Bert's first utterance this morning was one of his random questions.

Do you know what Quidditch is?

Of course.

Is it a sport?

Yea, sort of. It's semi-fantastical, played at Hogwarts. From Harry Potter. Why do you ask?

They were talking about it on some TV show last night.

My Bert. He's only interested in what he's interested in. Some cultural references just pass him by.

Meanwhile - Miss Martha is going to have a Room Of Her Own. Which, incidentally, means so is Miss Evie, but because Martha is Moving Out that is a big deal. I was pleased that I guessed what her room will be called - The Cupboard Under The Stairs - for Martha is a Harry Potter fan too. Apparently, there is also a Harry Potter-themed password before entry to Martha's room will be granted. I didn't guess that which is probably just as well as who wants one's granny barging into one's room uninvited?

That photograph of Lily was taken this morning. Both pigs were allowed in the orchard this morning and after they got bored gorging on windfalls Lily stripped a pinus of whatever it was that covered it during the summer. Maybe bindweed, so hopefully, that's not very poisonous for hogs.

Meanwhile - it's New Year's Eve and we are Nellybert, Hannah, The Banjos and Sarah and five dogs. The evening is still young. Unlike me. I remember reading 1984 when I was sixteen and thinking that was the scary, scary future.

Anyways, if you are still here, have a Happy New Year. Someone's bound to have one. Hope it's you.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Viewing, Walking and Ranting

Lulu and Nelly on Waterfoot Beach

Nellybert entertained Vancouver Brother for a few days over the holiday. All the cooking on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was my own effort and turned out very well. After lunch, we watched a TV programme about a steam train travelling on the Highland Railway from Fort William to Mallaig. It was relaxing, no narrative, just the choo-choo, clacking sound of the train and the gentle snoring of Eamon and Bert.

Brother Joe* had recommended The Two Popes so I watched it on Netflix with Leitrim Sister and Bert and enjoyed it. That night, before I went to sleep, I found myself yearning for that certainty of belief. Maybe that's what is needed to make my life better. I opened my arms and my heart and asked for guidance. Then I dreamed that I lived under a harsh, totalitarian regime. Guidance? Or a glimpse of the future that awaits us under The World King?

Between all the eating, drinking and lying around it was definitely time for a nice walk. Leitrim Sister, Lulu the Jack Russell Terrier and I headed off to Waterfoot beach. It was lovely, Lulu made lots of new friends, some of whom were giants.

There was just one thing that spoiled it. There were at least five children who had been given quad bikes for Christmas (Bad Santa) and they were churning around, driving like crazy on the beach and, worse than that, riding over the dunes while their foolish parents looked on indulgently. Waterfoot beach is a conservation area. I might need to pen a letter of complaint to the World King, who (I'm told) is a keen conservationist. Failing that, a letter to Moyle District Council might suffice. Ach! Who am I kidding? As long as there are stupid, irresponsible parents, there will be wrecking children. And while I'm on this rant, come May, keep your wee shites off the bluebells!

* Brother Joe is not a monk.