Monday, August 31, 2009

Listening Not Blogging

Thoughts on Blogging & Audiobooks

The last time I blogged about audiobooks I'd notched up six books. Since then I have listened to
the following works -

  • The Wind In The Willows
  • Don Quixote (Volume I)
  • Queen Lucia
  • The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Tess of the d'Urbervilles
  • David Copperfield
  • The Quiet American
And I'm presently nearly finished with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But there is a snag with all this book-listenin' and it is this:

All that time, all those hundreds of hours whilst I was driving, or walking, or doing mundane tasks I'd have been thinking, and while I was thinking I'd sometimes get ideas for blogposts. Now I just listen. And listening is very different from reading and it is very different from just thinking about whatever comes into my head. Listening is good. But is it as good as reading? I'm not sure.

That is part of the reason why my blogging has become sketchier. A lot of my thinking time is taken up with listening. I still think a lot but they are important thoughts, personal thoughts, maybe not for general sharing. I think about work, ageing, Zoe's pregnancy, my mum, my family, Katy's wedding, Bert's cabin fever, the dire-dish-of-the day prediction of imminent global disaster, the weather, Hannah's general happiness, food and whatever book I happen to be listening to.

Things I Bought Today

Today I bought a vintage postcard portraying nasturtiums which I did not need. I also bought six tins of dog food which the dogs needed. Or so they said.

What I Did Today

Dirt Bird came for her tea and I made a vegetarian pasta with vegetables freshly harvested from the garden. I also made buttermilk pancakes to please Bert as he does not relish pasta. I discovered that Dirt Bird could eat her way through the Cave Hill if it was made of pancakes. In honour of our guest (to be renamed The Pancake Queen) we drank our tea from my vintage nasturtium-patterned teacups.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Zoe: Into The Wildnerness

Zoe: Into The Wildnerness, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

It is Zoe's birthday today. Whilst looking through my archives for a suitable picture to mark the day, I came across this one and it struck me how little she has changed over the years.

She still has that fabulous smile, she still loves hiking about in the wilderness and she still has her own quirky style. You'll note she's wearing short shorts over tights - a look that's taken the fashionista three whole decades to pick up on.

Those are Paddington's wellies she's wearing. She and her bear shared those boots for months. She was working that festival look long before anyone else.

And this is what she looks like these days. (photo courtesy of dave)

Happy birthday Zoe.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

When Townies Met Piggies

I replaced the silly link with the ackshual video. For some reason (gin?) I couldn't get that to work fror me yesterday evening.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bert Does Not Get It Easy

Bert has been stung by his bees many, many times. He usually gets attacked about five times a week. He has been stung on the face, the neck, the arms, his bum, and his ankles. I asked him,
Is there any part of your body that you haven't been stung on?
He answered,
My penis.
He has been pretty stoical about it, which I didn't expect, as he can be very babyish about nettle stings and whinges for hours after.

It's not just the bees, for our pigs are also proving hazardous to Bert's health and well-being. They can be very rough with him. He has a great bruise on the back of his calf where one of them bit him. He reckons it thought he was taking far too much time getting the scoff out to them. So far, the worst thing that has happened to me was last time I fed them whilst wearing one of my good red Monsoon skirts (I have at least three red ones) and got it all clarried with muck and pig drool what with them snurfling and crowding around me. I'd be too scared to go in with them now.

Still - if they're going to cut up rough with us we'll feel far less guilty when they're sausages. Unless....unless they eat us first.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Forty Years After

I catch that Woodstock movie every ten years or so and each passing decade brings a different reaction. I was fifteen (almost sixteen) when Woodstock happened and at that time I would have liked to have seen Arlo Guthrie, because he was so pretty, Joan Baez, because Daddy liked her too, Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix because I loved them.

Back then I wasn’t that enamoured of Ten Years After or Joe Cocker and the Grease Band mainly because I didn’t fancy Alvin Lee or Joe Cocker. Alvin might have been greatly talented but he had a chin like Bruce Forsyth and I couldn’t imagine myself walking hand in hand with him through a cherry orchard in full bloom. Likewise Mr Cocker – great to listen to, but so sweaty, so rough, so not a Jackie pin-up.

Last night though told me a different story – there were Alvin and Joe, their sweet young faces, so soft, so unlined, and so young. How could I ever have thought they were hard or manly? They were darling, clever, brilliant and talented infants.

Then Santana came on. Now I have never been much of a Santana fan, nor did I ever care much for drum solos – but talk about babies! You should have seen that drummer! A cherub! I said to Bert. Look at him. He’s a baby. You wouldn’t get anyone as young these days, who’d be as skilled as that (correct me if I’m wrong). They wouldn’t put that effort into learning their craft. So spake the fogies of the Woodstock generation.

Later, I turned to Wikipedia to find out more. Michael Shrieve was that young drummer, he was only twenty, and he was the youngest performer to have played at Woodstock.

Here’s a link to the performance.

It starts with a shot of some fat, bare asses, a beautiful collie dog, then a guitarist with the best ever red hat, Carlos Santana and his amazing sinewy arms, some naked guy acting messianic, guy pubic hair shots, some blonde librarian type looking like she’s having an orgasm, lots of silly hippies, more fat bare asses and the amazing Michael Shrieve.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You Should Have Seen It

Bert tells me that he can get the spotty pig to collapse in an ecstatic stupor just by rubbing its belly. That sounds like a good opportunity for a comical mini-vid thinks I to myself. We go out to see the pigs. Maybe our timing isn't the best for they are due their evening meal in half an hour or so. When piggies see Bert coming out they get excited. I start filming... or so I think. Pigs are in no mood to be having their bellies stroked, they want them filled! They are very rough with Bert. The spotty one nibbles him, our one bites him. Bert tries to rub tummies but they are having none of it. They give him a hard time. At one point Spotty sticks her head between Bert's legs and almost knocks him off his feet. The look on his face - you should have seen it! I'm delighted. I switch off the camera... or so I think, and I make enthusiastic noises to Bert.

He goes off to feed them and I go off to upload my mini-movie. Well blastnations! I discover that I actually switched the camera off when the fun began and switched it on when it was over so my film only consisted of a brief, blurred shot of Bert climbing out of the pig run while I'm heard saying, "That was great! Wait 'til everybody sees this! They're going to love it!"

And you would have loved it. Duh!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Hair He Always Wanted.

Same guy, different hairstyle, features less contorted. Much better. I think he has a seventeenth century look going on here.

Who Is This Handsome Fellow?

His mother told him that one day the wind would change and his face would stay that way.

He didn't listen. He never does.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Matty informed me that she had what she believed was a mini-stroke on Thursday. "I've had one before," she informed me. I'd taken Matty on her weekly outing to Tescos on Thursday evening and she never mentioned the mini-stroke. She did say that her wrists were very sore. I resolved to give her plenty of help whilst shopping. We started off at magazines, My Weekly and The People's Friend. I glanced quickly at the books then caught myself on, remembering the height of my 'to read' pile. Matty was wandering up the household goods aisle. I tried to keep her in sight. She darted off, then I lost her. I searched up and down the aisles and found that she'd backtracked. I waited for her then became distracted by the office supplies. It was only for a few moments but when I turned round she'd disappeared. Up and down the aisles I went before bumping into her in fruit and veg. I swear she was trying to shake me off. "Wait here," says I, "I'm going to get some onions." I was quick as I could be but of course she hadn't waited. She never, never does. I had another searching match for her with no success and after throwing a few bits in my trolley I decided to call it an evening and tried to catch her before she got to checkout. She'd got there before me and smiled triumphantly as she took the last item out of her trolley. At least I was able to pack for her while she went off for a scratch card. I'd exhausted myself looking for her and didn't get a quarter of the things I needed but, thanks be, I did get the gin. In the car she winced at the soreness of her wrists but never mentioned the mini-stroke. We talked about an appointment with her GP to discuss pain relief.

On Friday I phoned her from work and she said she wasn't feeling that well so I went to visit her during my lunch break and made up a bed for her and put together a rhubarb crumble. She was expecting Ganching for the weekend. She seemed perky enough. No mention of the mini-stroke.

On Saturday I went to the car boot sale at Dunsilly and was sitting in Matty's at eight o'clock. Ganching had to pick up a hire car so I said I'd take Matty to Randalstown for a coffee. She'd already had her usual toast and tea breakfast. She was keen as mustard and we went to the Forge and had Ulster Frys. Matty ate everything except a tiny bit of bacon and pronounced it very enjoyable. I wanted to go to the charity shop to see if they'd sold any of their high-priced books. They all seemed to be there, the book on the 19th century religious revival (big chapter on Kells & Connor, 55 pounds) and the book on Winston Churchill (12.50) , and the Arthur Grimble (17.50) and one at 75 quid, damme if I can remember what that was, but it was in very middling condition. Matty complained of not feeling great while she was there so we didn't stay long. When we got home I made a cuppa and she told me about the mini-stroke.

When I got home I looked up mini-strokes on the internet and I really don't think she has had one. There are no obvious symptoms and apart from her complaining, which is usual, she seemed well enough, with a good appetite, talking normally, no real difference in her movements or appearance.

If a doctor in a hospital once told her that she had suffered a mini-stroke I would think that he/she may have been (a) talking shite, (b) she didn't hear them properly, (c) she imagined it, (d) he/she was thinking of the woman in the next bed or (e) she really had one.

But Matty is a panicker when it comes to her health. Her GP once told her, maybe 25 years ago, after she presented him with a host of vague symptoms, that he was going to test her for Multiple Sclerosis. She told me that she fully expected she'd end up in a wheelchair. I have other stories like that but I'm not going to tell them right now.

I'll never forget how upset I felt when I heard that. Then I felt angry that she upset me because she didn't have MS, no wheelchair was necessary. Matty, when she's in good enough form, is a great woman. She has many wonderful qualities and I'm glad she is my mother. I love her. I do not love her preoccupation with illness and I feel that it has blighted her life. But now that she is over 80 and she does have angina and she does have painful arthritis and thyroid problems and I don't know how I should deal with her. I try to be supportive and I worry about her lots. But if I'm honest, I have to say that I find her never-ending preoccupation with illness hard to handle. I used to try all kinds of strategies when we were both younger such as ignoring her, jollying her along (I still use that one), reasoning with her, getting cross with her but now she is very old I have to find new strategies.

What do you do with a mum who has had hypochondriac tendencies all her life and then she gets really old and she does have health issues? Maybe there's a simple answer. I've got a feeling somebody out there might have it.

We are going to the doctor tomorrow and I'm going in with her. That's a start.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Bert Is A Tosser

Bert went to the fridge on Saturday night and pronounced it a 'bad fridge'. I asked why. "Because there is nothing good to eat in it." I told him that this was errant nonsense and that a fridge containing the ingredients for pancakes was a very good fridge indeed. And I did make pancakes, and Bert tossed them and they were delicious served with honey and creme fraiche.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

In Which I Clean My Car

My Hairy Helpmates

Matty has been dropping hints about me getting a new car. She does not like my current vehicle because it is too hairy and she has a serious aversion to dog hair. I’m afraid I am not prepared to give up the pleasures of taking Bonnie and Paddy out in the car just to please her and if she wants to buy herself a nice clean wee motor then I’ll happily drive her around in it. I don’t know where she got all these notions from, her having been a farmer’s wife and all. I blame Ganching and the London Sister. They come over here and hire shiny clean cars to ferry Matty around in and now she thinks that’s the way life should be.

Hairiness I can handle and the smell of a wet dog is one of my favourite scents but when the car starts to smell faintly yogurty then it’s time to get busy. It wasn’t easy getting the cleaning done with both dogs in the car watching me and totally refusing to get out. Half an hour later I had vacuumed a ton of hairs and found several quids worth of loose change, one rotten banana and a mouldy orange. Surely that was the source of the smell? I trailed the dogs out, closed all the doors and went for a coffee break. When I returned the cheesy reek was still there. I moved to the boot. There was a big cardboard box of Pearlie’s surplus ornaments that I keep meaning to drop off at a charity shop. I noticed that the edge of the box looked nibbled. Maybe there was a family of mice living in my car and they had all died and that was the source of the smell. With much trepidation I started to clear the boot out. By this time Zoe and Dave and Young Loveheart and Bert were all standing around sniffing my car and making disgusted faces. Young Loveheart (him being a mechanic) ripped the boot apart and there before us was the source of the smell. Some sort of buttermilk dripping through into the well where the spare wheel lived had all had turned to cheese and was quietly fermenting. My spare wheel was covered with stinking cheese! Oh the scrubbing, the boiling water, the bleaching and the power hosing that had to be done before I got rid of it.
Later I asked Young Loveheart if, in the course of his duties, he came across many filthy cars.
Oh yes.

And what has been the rottenest car you have ever seen?

Oh yours. Without a doubt.