Thursday, February 04, 2016

Dehydrate Bad Hippy

... or in other words, Happy Birthday Dede.

What a day it is too. Your first birthday with a Ph.D. We couldn't be prouder of you.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Red Velvet Jeans

We watched a short video of Martha's third cousin Conor McCavana dancing in some seriously tappy shoes. Quite different to Martha's version of tappy shoes. Hers are little plastic dress up heels we picked up in a charity shop.

She was here yesterday and she brought her princess dress with her. As she said, “Just in case.”

Then there was a little accident and Martha had to change into her skinny jeans. She was not pleased for she hates jeans these days. Later in Lidls she moaned under her breath. “I don't like jeans.” I said to her, “Don't look at them. Put your head in the air and pretend they are red velvet trousers. I'll do it too.” So there we were, striding along, me in the cheapo supermarket jeans I've been living in for months and I don't know about Martha, but I was imagining well-fitting red velvet jeans and swear to God, I immediately felt better about myself.

Written in 2013. Martha never has accidents nowadays.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Strawberry and Raspberry fermenting merrily

I had two lots of yeast to choose from last night. One, from VinClasse, smelled a little sour and is three months from its sell by date. The other one (Youngs) was fresher but there wasn't much of it and I wanted it for white currant wine. It might be a while before I get to Nature's Way in Belfast. So I asked Bert to sniff the VinClasse, second opinion and all that. Of course he was wreathed in pipe smoke and could smell nothing else but his aromatic tobacco which reeks like old woollen socks sprinkled with essence of vanilla.

Nevertheless he pronounced the yeast fine and I tossed it into the bucket thinking to myself, if it hasn't started fermenting by tomorrow I'll re-yeast. No need to worry for it was off and running by bedtime. I've used yeast with added nutrient for a long time now and it is always quick to get started.

I really wish we had a decent wine supplies shop close by. There is a place near Ahoghill but it's more about beer and every time I go there there is always something needed that they haven't got. Which is annoying.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Went And Gone And Done It Again

Went and let the home made wines get out of control again. I have 23 batches on the go, 24 if I count the raspberry and strawberry one I started today. And there is still enough frozen fruit in my freezers to make at least another six batches.

Today I racked off four batches that have been sitting around since October last year. Two were blackcurrant. It has a good flavour but is a little on the sweet side which is a pity as I made it in bulk, five gallons altogether. I'm sure somebody will like it. Swisser definitely as she is fond of dessert wines and Jazzer, she will probably go for it too. I also racked two that I've never tried before. The first was gooseberry. Maybe a little sharp but not so your eyes would water. I like it. It's the first time I got to the goosegogs before the blackbird. We definitely need more gooseberry bushes. The other was beetroot and blackcurrant and it is rather good. The earthiness of the beetroot balances the acidity of the currants. Bert thought it tasted of cherries.

Strawberry and Raspberry Stage I, before yeasting

Then I started a new one, the strawberry and raspberry. Easy recipe.

Slightly over 3lbs of fruit, a gallon of boiling water (cooled) and a bag of sugar then a wee bit more. I used a yeast and nutrient mixture which was still in date, but slightly old. It might not work out so fingers crossed. Before adding sugar I squished the fruit up using my incredibly clean hands and tried not to think about how the strawberries looked and felt like slugs. And I dissolved the sugar in hot water before I added it to the fruit mixture.

And this is how I keep track of my wine making activities. The coloured entries are finished wines.

Click to embiggen. But you knew that.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Living in a Backwater

There are times when this bloody place makes me sick. Of course I'm talking about the Six Counties, Northern Ireland, the Backwater Province, the Land that Time Forgot.

In November the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission went to court to argue that Northern Ireland's abortion legislation was in breach of human rights law.* The judge, Mr Justice Horner, ruled that there should be exemptions in the law for women who were victims of sexual crime and for cases of fatal foetal abnormality. Northern Ireland's Attorney General, John Larkin said he was 'deeply disappointed' with the decision. Today the Christian Brothers educated QC, has appealed against that decision.

For we live in a place where the Christian religion rules the roost. Some of our elected MLAs are fundamental creationists who believe the earth is a mere 4000 years old. The pro-life movement is strong here. It's about the only movement that brings Catholics and Protestants together. Although their protests can be quite amusing as the two religions sing different hymns both the same time. Those old nuns and their Dana-esque companions will be belting out Faith Of Our Fathers while the Born Agains give Nearer By God To Thee some welly. Is there even such a creature as the pro-lifer without faith? I don't suppose there is.

I've never been able to grasp why people should be so concerned about the unborn whilst doing absolutely nothing to help unfortunate children already in existence.

So we'll see how this goes. I pope that Mr Larkin gets a good slapping down but this is Northern Ireland. We're not quite ready for the twentieth century, never mind the twenty-first.

*The 1967 Abortion Act does not apply to Northern Ireland

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Two More In The Box

Three more boxes of books hit the recycling bins this afternoon but not before Bert pulled one out. It was a book on submariners in the Second World War. I thought he'd read it. I finished Lucky by Alice Sebold this morning. It began with a harsh description of a brutal rape which was hard to bear but as I persevered with Alice's story I found it gripping and uplifting and a well written book that I'm glad to have read.

My second choice was a slim book called Leaving Riverton by Jodie Something. It doesn't matter that I cannot remember the author's name as her writing was stiff and dreary and I won't be wasting any time on it. Straight into the box for disposal.

In other news the Catching Myself On project is going well. I have lost 5 pounds and am feeling a whole lot better.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Too Many Books

Staying for now

Thursday There are too many books in this house and too many bookshelves as well. I have three bookshelves in the spare room, one in the bedroom, two in the hall, one in the attic and a wall of shelves in my private, secret sitting room. There is a pile of books on Bert's bedside table and another pile on mine. Far, far too many books.

So I have decided to cull them. I've been off loading as I read for about a year now but am finding it far more difficult to deal with the books that have been sitting around for decades without ever having been read.

I'll need to live until I'm at least eighty to read all these books if I go through them at the rate of one per week. It also needs to be taken into account that I'll want to read books I haven't bought yet. Heck, I'll want to read books that haven't even been written yet! This is the plan. Lift a few from the shelves, glance at them, then choose one and read twenty pages. If it turns out to be tedious get rid of it at once but if it intrigues, finish it, then get rid.

I chose Lucky by Alice Sebold and shall let you know how I get on with it.

Meanwhile here is a rough guide to what went into the recycling boxes.

There were about thirty that I'd two or more copies of. Mostly classics.
All plays except for the complete works of the Bard.
Stacks of crime fiction as they are mostly all the same.
Anything by Alexander McCall Smith.
Lots of old history books.
Everything about Dora the Explorer and Spot the Dog.
Herman Melville for if I ever feel the need I'll get it on audiobook.
Surplus books on birds and the like. How many bird books does a person need? I've still got too many.
A novel by Jill Tweedie that I've never read which for some reason depresses me every time I look at it.
Chick lit with embarrassing covers.
All books about dieting. There were only about three.
Ancient book on palmistry printed to cheap paper.
Pearlie's tattered school books.
Shabby copy of The Origin of the Species. I will never read that from cover to cover. Ditto famous tomes by J.S. Mill and Adam Smith.
All sociology classics, Captive Wife, Street Corner Society etc.
All seriously out of date ECDL and computer manuals.
Christian books except Bible and few improving Sunday School prizes that belonged to Pearlie and need further investigation. Such books fascinate me.
Nancy Drew series. If Martha and Evie ever want to read those they can get them at the library.

Friday. I have completely cleared two bookshelves and have only the ancient books, cookery books and Irish Interest books to go through. There are seven good sized boxes of surplus literature to be re-homed. Bert wouldn't let me throw out any of the D.G. Hessayan books, not even the one on lawns. He also refused to part with any books on pruning.

I'm about a quarter through Lucky and it is so harrowing that I had great difficulty getting to sleep last night.

Moving on