Monday, May 31, 2010

Is it a bird?

Is it a bird?, originally uploaded by triciamorimori.

With all the sad and worrying things that have been happening recently it is good to have little dogs and babies to cheer us up.

Is it a bird they're looking at? If so, it was probably a damn buzzard as a nesting pair have ousted our long-eared owls from the Scots pines and are flying around Nellybert's like they own the fecking place. In their piercing, glinty little eyes they probably do.

And Katy....they're not called buzzards because they make a buzzing noise. That's bees.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Aunt Mary

Aunt Mary, my father's last surviving sister, died yesterday evening after an illness so courageously borne. She will be very much missed by all of us. It is the end of an era.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Internet users wasted almost five million working hours playing the Pac-Man that appeared on Google, a study revealed yesterday. The web version of the classic video game was put on the site's home page on May 21 to celeb rate 30 years since its launch in Japan.And the study claimed workers hooked on the gamecould have cost bosses around £83million in lost productivity.

Oh really? So what would the workers have been doing with those five million hours had they not been playing Pac-Man?
They would have been -
  • Facebooking
  • Blogging
  • Watching You Tube videos
  • Internet shopping
  • Yawning
  • Drinking Coffee
  • Scratching their asses
  • Playing solitaire/tetris
  • Making personal phone calls
  • Discussing the final episode of Lost
  • Engaging in a few moments of paid employment
And that millions of pounds worth of lost productivity. I'm not much of an economist but, if companies lost  £83 million then, someones, somewheres must still have that £83 million in their jeans pocket, so it's not really lost is it? Or is that not how it works? 
Obviously (goes without saying) I didn't waste one second of company time playing Pac-Man for I don't actually understand the rules.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Things She Left Behind (continued)

I first came across this abandoned and derelict house over a year ago but on that occasion I didn't have a camera with me. I had always intended to go back and document what I saw there. Last week I finally got around to it, despite one of the fellows from work, a local man, telling me to be careful going poking around old houses 'up there'.

Them boys up there would be straight out blasting at you with a shotgun and ask no questions.

But I do love a long lane and a derelict homestead and it is even better when there is enough detritus left behind to get some idea of the person or people who lived there. The house itself was not that old. The buildings around it, many of which had been dwelling houses, were a lot older. I'd say a number of folk had lived there at a time. Over time their dwellings had become sheds or were simply left tumbledown.

She was rightly on in years when she left. But she had been active. She liked to sew, she liked to keep herself smart and she was a keen baker. She laundered the old-fashioned way with a boiler and a mangle and she did her laundry in a wash house. She cooked on a range. Her big kettle sang on the range from morning to night, always ready to boil for a pot of tea should visitors call. She admired the Royal Family and had a soft spot for the Queen Mother and she loved flowers. She liked to keep in contact with the outside world. Her house was neat and tidy. There was a place for everything and everything in its place. She hadn't much time for reading but there were a few books around, old-fashioned children's books by R.M. Ballantyne and Captain Marryat. Perhaps they had been Christmas presents for children long grown old themselves? The books were mouldering to dust when I first saw the house, and gone by my second visit.

All this I know from the things she left behind. They were the things that no one else wanted. No one wanted her shoes, her great ancient kettle, her mangle or her boiler. No one needed her 1950s patterns or her telephone. No one had any use for her baking ingredients or her musty books. No doubt her good delph and china and linens and ornaments found another home and hopefully, her personal photographs and other knick-knacks were taken and treasured by someone close to her.

I see her in my mind's eye. She would have been strong, a well-made woman but nifty with it. She would have bustled and busied and kept herself active. She would have been hospitable and kind. In early summer, twenty-three years ago, for reasons I do not know, she left her home up that long lane and she did not return.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

After The Fall

If Miss Martha looks a little bit sombre in these photographs it is because she and her mummy have just broken the rope swing in the garden. Bert said it wasn't safe but Zoe said he probably meant it wasn't safe for me. Does she think I'm some sort of lardass? Martha was having a wonderful time sitting on Mummy's lap when suddenly the rope snapped and down they both came! That rope had only been round the beech tree branch for twenty something years. You just can't get quality materials any more.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Swarm In May

My life right now is so layered, so rich and so real that I cannot listen anymore to In Search Of Lost Time, for that would be far too much cream in my coffee.

At this very moment I am, or I was, revising for my preliminary beekeeping exam, a few moments ago I was weeping with Pearlie and in the next room Brendan Quinn, star of Irish country music, is holding a masterclass with Bert on clarinet and guitar. I've just put the hens in and said individual good nights to each and every one of them and then indulged myself in a bit of howling at the moon.

Our darling Matty is very sick (she told us she was sick) and my darling Katy is getting married in a few weeks.

And did I mention that those damn bees swarmed today. I missed it (no photographs) and Bert didn't catch them. It all happened within minutes.

Wish me luck with the beekeeping exam.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

Marcel Proust

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Things She Left Behind

I said to my sister and daughter today,

"I'd love to be bored. Maybe sigh a bit. Be idle."

Well - after I'd gone to work (six hours) I visited a hospital, had my tea in a traditional fish and chip shop in Randalstown, visited yet another hospital and did some beekeeping revision.

Then I found my idle moment and made this set on Flickr.

Bonnie on Slemish

Bonnie on Slemish, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

My 200th least interesting photograph. Just saying.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Outside the Hive

I'm revising hard for my preliminary beekeeping exam next week and have been poring over past papers. Some of the questions are harder to answer than others. It is tempting to embellish the answers. For instance,

Q. How many legs does a bee have?

A. Spider minus Bert = Bee


A. Kune Kune plus Nelly = Bee

Or what about this one? It deserves a fuller answer.

On a warm sunny day in spring, what observation from outside the hive would suggest that the colony has wintered safely?

On a warm sunny day in spring the observer will first notice four furry creatures being expelled from the hive. At least two of these creatures will be admitted soon afterwards. At around 8:30 am the observer will note a worker bee leaving the hive and getting into a car. Usually she will sit there for a few moments adjusting her iPod before getting out of the car, re-entering the hive muttering "Shit, shit, shit!", before emerging again clutching a bunch of keys. The worker will then drive off on a foraging expedition. As the observer watches he will see a number of worker bees enter the hive. These are attendant bees whose job it is to look after the old Queen. Before long they are off again although they will make several return trips throughout the day.

Later in the morning. some say between 9 and 9.30am, although regular observers have noted that this can be as late as ten o'clock the drone emerges from the hive yawning and scratching. He gives a shiver of distaste at the bright light and soon returns to the warmth and safety of the hive not to emerge again until at least midday.

By the way Bert says this is a rotten answer which will get me nul points.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bee Specialist

I'm studying hard for my Federation of Irish Beekeeper's Associations exam (preliminary). It helps that Bert did it last year. We were provided with a selection of past papers.

So I ran this past him,

I'm to name two different ways in which a novice beekeeper can obtain a stock of bees. Buying a nuc would be one way. Would gathering up a swarm be another, or would that be too technical for a novice?

Two ways? Hmmm. I'd say you could buy a nuc or you could steal a hive. You should put that in your exam. Buy a nuc or steal your bees!

So saying he bursts into delighted and mischievous laughter. Sometimes I fear that Bert is not quite as well-reared as I was. I blame Pearlie for his lack of graciousness. That and the fact that he wasn't educated by nuns.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Martha in May

looks like rain, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mission Accomplished

This weekend I was determined to come home with my outfit for Katy’s wedding. Should I have to scour the town from East to West I was buying that rig. Preferably in the first shop I went into and that happened to be McKillens.

First thing on my agenda was two new bras for, as every matron knows, all kit looks better when the lady lumps are sitting nicely. A well-fitting bra instantly makes you look 7 pounds lighter. It boosted my confidence that my mother had told me that morning that I looked like a film star compared to her who must remain nameless but is no blood kin to Matty. I didn’t like to ask her what film star she had in mind. Elizabeth Taylor? Lauren Bacall? Harpo Marx? It was better not to spoil my delightful buzz.

The wee woman who fitted me was lovely. And this is not the Norn Irish use of the word ‘wee’ here because she was very wee indeed. Even wee-er than me. She noticed a big red blotch on my back and brought it to my attention.

Oh that’s where I got stung by a bee last weekend. I got stung three times last weekend and I’ll probably get stung again this weekend.

This led to a conversation about bee-keeping and a contact for selling honey and it turns out I know both her brothers already. Sometimes I love living in this wee country.

Underpinning bought and on I headed to the fancy outfit department. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a dress with sleeves, in a sort of floaty shape and in a cheerful colour like blue or apple-green or pink. I did a preliminary search of the shop recoiling in horror at the obvious mother of the bride outfits. I dallied a while at a rail of dresses that appealed but did not look as dressy as I thought I ought to look. I did find the sort of dress I was after only it was brown and white, I hated the fabric (too clingy) and it was really far too drab. The next best thing was a turquoise blue silk jacket with a toning floral skirt. I liked the jacket but the skirt looked like something Matty would have worn fifteen years ago. The sales assistant persuaded me to try the plain skirt with it. And so I found myself standing in a turquoise blue silk suit that was well over my budget and I heard myself saying. “I’ll take it.” And as she was heading off to wrap it up I’m thinking, “How the hell do I get out of this? Matty will love this outfit but I feel sick at the thought of being seen in public in it and I’m going to boke right now.” Then I heard myself saying, “But before I go there’s another dress I looked at, it probably won’t suit me but…” And the assistant said, “Sure you might as well try it on while you’re here.” And I did and I felt far better in it than in the turquoise silk. Even though it was cream and black and fuchsia and orange. Even though it had hardly any sleeves to speak of. And even though it was not in the least bit floaty. Now for a handbag and shoes – my kind of shopping.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

More Tales Of Bad-Tempered Bees

Wee Les arrived on the yard today just as Bert was pulling on his bee suit and heading out to check the supers. Bert wasn't expecting much trouble from the buzzing devils as the last time he'd checked there were only about six of them in the super. Les chose to watch the proceedings from a very considerable distance.

But - when Bert opened the hive there were hundreds in there and they were awfully cross. The good news is that there is uncapped honey in there, the bad news was that there is also an army of angry fighter bees determined to defend that honey to their last heartbeat.

They attacked Bert in their thousands stinging his poor suit to death. Les wasn't wearing one and he was yards away but still too close for our vicious stingarees. He ran (like fuck) divesting himself of his garments as he went. I'd like to report than Les ran around the house, pursued by bees, at least ten times, ending up in his boxers but the truth is he only ran around the house three times (pursued by bees) and ended up in his simmet.

Les finally found refuge in the house and barred the doors against Bert (pursued by a cloud of bees). Bert got the bee suit off and ran for shelter for once the suit was off the bees lost interest in the wearer and dive bombed it and stung the suit until death. We're going to have some fun harvesting that honey.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Mother Love

I am on the point of leaving the house to go to work.

Matty: Do you have a comb or brush with you?

Nelly: I do.

Matty: And have you...?

Nelly: Yes Mother. I have.

Just to remind you all. I am in my mid-fifties. My mother is in her eighties. They never, ever let up on you.