Friday, July 30, 2010

A Room Of My Own

Swisser reckons I need a retreat - somewhere where me and my pigs and my dogs can go to hang out. A hut in the woods maybe, with a wood-burning stove and a lamp to read by. No lecky, far too modern. Let's not tell the pesky Land & Property Services.

And we'll pee in the trees.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sometime in the 1930s

I love this photograph. It was loaned to me by brother Joe who got the loan of it from cousin Joe and I am going to make a few copies of it to share around the family. The little girl is my Aunt Mary, the same Mary who died recently. The boy is one of her many brothers. I'm not certain which one. Maybe Dessie or Cathal, both of whom emigrated to Australia, and are the only two of my father's ten siblings still living. The man in the background might be my grandfather but I'm not sure of that either.

I love the photograph because it is so informal, because the children are wearing their everyday clothes and because of the little calf. They were farm kids after all. I also love the fact that both children's faces are so familiar to me because they resemble so many other family members.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Matty

Matty's 84th birthday today. The picture shows her standing beside her new back door. It was taken at the beginning of the month. She is thinner and weaker now but mostly in good spirits. Happy birthday mum!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shiny Man

I was really looking forward to my wee lunchtime walk today because I've not been getting so many of them recently as I usually spend the time at Matty's. I decided to go a bit further afield from the office. There was a road I wanted to walk down as a neighbour had recently built a fine house there and I was keen on a nosey.

So I parked the car on a wide verge and headed down this road. I was stepping out smartly plugged into Proust (I'm on 'The Captive' now) when a jeep stopped beside me. I took off the headphones thinking I'd be asked for directions and hoping I'd be up to the job. The shiny man in the shiny car said,

I hope you don't mind me asking but you're parked outside my house - can I ask what you're doing?

I was puzzled. Surely it was evident.

I'm walking. I'm going for a wee walk.
There's you and another lady who make a habit of parking outside my house. I just want to know what's going on?
I don't know about anyone else but I haven't walked on this road for over a year and the last time I parked there I had a different car. As I said I'm just going for a walk.

I glared at him as I said this and he drove off, turned in the next laneway and headed home-wards.

I was miffed and resolutely ignored him so I've no idea whether he ignored me as well. And that was that. I continued with my walk as planned, 20 minutes down the road and 20 minutes back. But I was pissed off. Thought he was a wanker, so precious about his house that he couldn't bear people parking near it. I wasn't blocking his access. I wasn't making it difficult for anyone to get past me. I was parked on a bloody verge that belonged to the DOE. Not him! Maybe he was one of those prissy types who cuts the grass on the road opposite his house in case it makes his property look untidy.

I told the tale later on at Matty's and it turns out one of my cousins knew who this man was. Not his name but his profession. He's a police officer. Clink! Penny drops. Ah well Mr Shiny Man. I'll forgive your intrusion on my wee lunchtime walk - even though you're not as bright as you're shiny.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Picture it. Yours truly is standing, waiting to be served, behind a tidy wee woman in the local shop (for local people.)

This wee tidy woman, neat in pressed trousers, an ironed blouse and a cropped pewter-grey haircut receives her change. She takes it, places the notes in the appropriate note part of her wallet. She puts the coins in the appropriate coin part of her wallet. She zips her wallet, she folds it over, she snaps it shut, she puts it in the appropriate part of her handbag, she zips her handbag, she folds it over, she snaps it shut. She takes her shopping, she leaves. I look daggers at her, I mutter, I wish her and her ironed blouse and her fat, beige bum, and her pewter hairdo dead and in her neat, well-kept grave.

I stand there with my newly-washed, still wet hair and my jeans that are covered in pig slabbers and mud and I buy my Sunday paper and my toilet roll and I hand over four pounds and receive five pence change which I stuff in the pocket of my pig-smeared jeans and I leave with a heart full of hate for the neat, well-pressed woman. And then I think…. I bet that woman hasn’t lost her debit card twice in the past month.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Walking the Dog (and the Pig and the Cat)

I used to think it was cool when we took the dogs for a walk down the back lane and through the wood, that Holly de Cat would come too. Now we take the dogs and Lily and Rusty and Holly de Cat comes too. I don't think she's crazy about the pigs. But she comes too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Katy & Mark

Happy to be in love, originally uploaded by KatyKatkins.

Was my Katy not beautiful on her wedding day?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Strawberries For All

Bert said to me about ten days ago,

Blackbirds and squirrels are getting into the strawberries.

What! Didn't I tell you to put netting over them?

Netting'll not stop the squirrels.

Wee bastards. Can you not you kill them?

Kill them? How'd I do that then?

Shoot them.

I'd look well shooting at squirrels in the strawberry patch.

Trap them then.


Put sticky stuff down and their feet will stick to it.

And what do I do then?

Dash their brains out against a wall.

Humph! If you'd seen the wee young ones slippy-titting up the rows, grabbing themselves a big juicy strawb, running off, looking round to see if they're safe, then holding it between their wee front paws and getting stuck into it you'd think they were cute too.

Indeed I would not!

Many days later I emerged from the strawberry patch with another big bowl of fruit and said to Bert,

You know - there are enough strawberries for us and the pigs and the blackbirds and squirrels too.

I knew you'd come round to my way of thinking.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Lidl's has the best cottage cheese in the world and I love cottage cheese. I'd run out and it was time to get some more. All I needed was the cheese and some porridge oats but I ended up spending 28 quid. As you do. Tiramisu ice cream, gherkins, sour cream, frozen pizza, chocolate, red wine, spring rolls, you know, all the basic necessities of life.

As I was hefting my huge bag of groceries into the boot, giving all due consideration to my back, this wee shiny red R-plated car squealed into the car park on two side wheels. The driver roared her into a parking space with a great flourish and his front passenger opened the door and dumped a bag of McDonalds rubbish at his feet. I looked on with bemusement at the arrogance of the wee fucker and a bin only thirty seconds from where he sat. He and two of the back seat passengers got out and swaggered into the shop. I wondered what they were for buying? Probably not gherkins.

The thing is their car was shiny and clean. The chaps were well dressed in whatever boring fashionable duds dull and unimaginative fellows wear these days. Their hair was nicely cut and they were altogether shiny and clean. But inside they were dirty, filthy blackguards and obviously their parents have done a rotten job of bringing them up and I itched to go over and give the driver a good slap.

Did I? Of course not. I just drove off, munching on chocolate, in my utterly filthy car, whilst pondering this very blog post.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pig Wrangling

Apparently kune kune pigs are easy to train if you start them young enough. I can see that I am going to have to take a very strict line with Lily and Rusty. Dylan. the guy we bought them from, advised us to keep them well away from where the food is stored because they will not be turned from it. I should have listened to him. Today as we passed the shed Rusty found the feed bag, dunted it over and started to scoff. He was soon joined by Lily. I ended up having to shove them both out of the shed with a yard brush and it wasn't easy. They're only little now but if they were any bigger I'd not be able to push them out with a tractor. Dylan told us that Custard, his 10-month old sow, smelled out that he was keeping the food in the polytunnel and when she wasn't able to access the door she punched her way through the polythene. And as Dylan said, "Once she got in, the troops all followed."

We might have made a mistake giving our two strawberries. They go into a frenzy when they see them. It isn't that hard to have them sit before they get their juicy treat but then Rusty started to stand on his two hind legs and that looked very cute. But I shall have to put a stop to that. Imagine him doing it when he's full-grown - then losing his balance and falling on me. The wee brute has already bit my hand when the red-strawberry-mist was on him. More discipline, less strawberries from now on I think.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Want To Be Alone

You know the sort of things you say to your significant other that are meant to be between just the two of you? Like, "Oh for fuck's sake, what's she doing here? I wish she'd come to visit Pearlie when I wasn't here." The sort of thing you'd rather she didn't hear. Well I blew that one today.

Problem is my inner sanctum, otherwise known as my bedroom, is directly above Pearlie's room which was, of course, my previous inner sanctum. When I am in my bedroom I hear everything that is going on in her room be it her whining at Bert, hearty carer conversations, Deal Or No Deal or general multi-purpose whinging. So when Favourite Niece burst in this afternoon when I was resting up a spell after a night on Matty duties I got more than a little irritated. Which meant I got up in a pet and said that thing to Bert which the Favourite Niece overheard.

Humble Pie- it is so yummy, so nourishing, truly it is soul food and fit for a wretch like me.

Did I mention that nineteen different people where at our house yesterday, or that sometimes I have a strong urge to Go Garbo? It's not that easy when you live in Paddy's Market.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Joys of Beekeeping

beekeeping, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Bert and I just cannot wait to get out there and do a hive inspection. It's a better way to spend the Twelfth than marching or rioting.

Brother Joe's take on the Belfast rioters?

Those boys would be more use between the shafts of a turf barrow!

But that's another post - The Joys of Turfcutting.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Talcum Storm

I really do believe that those carers are out to get me. All I asked of them was that they wouldn't leave wet pads in Pearlie's room. They seem to hate me picking them up on anything. This morning one of them spilled talcum powder all over her floor, trod in it then stamped, literally stamped her way out of the house ensuring that the talc got everywhere. Bert says I'm paranoid. Maybe I am.

When I speak of the carers and use the words 'they' or 'them' I really mean 'she' and 'her' for it's really just one of them, maybe two.

Bert says I'm paranoid. Maybe I am.

This I do know. If 'she' worked in any half-decent residential home it would not be long before 'she' was standing in the manager's office.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Matty has been getting on pretty fine recently. Going out for drives, bossing everyone around (nicely), flower arranging, supervising the housekeeping and eating like a Trojan. She has even started knitting again now that the super strong cancer medicine has taken away all her arthritis pain.

Then, last night, she fell. She cut her brow and bruised her arm and hurt her leg. She spent all of last night hanging around A&E with Trish and Joe. Thankfully no permanent damage done and they let her out again mid-morning. Trish said she was a hoot at the hospital. The batteries in her hearing aid were running down so that generally means she has to shout a lot and as the cancer medicine removes her inhibitions she is not one bit scared of speaking her mind. So all the other patients had to put up with her sharing her opinions of them and their ailments. She called one doctor 'a handsome hulk' and was very pass-remarkable to all within earshot.

She is not quite as mobile as she was but with luck she will regain her liveliness for a wee while at least. Matty wasn't the only one of her family in the wars yesterday. Her older sister had a fall too and she has broken her hip. We'll tell Matty tomorrow when she is better able to hear bad news. Hard times for us all.


When Pearlie returned from her last respite break in The Wee Free Orange Home for Retired Gentlefolk she found, to her horror and mine, that half her entire team of Caring Type People had been changed. It wasn't the ones that keep her clean and comfy - it was the ones that scramble her eggs, prepare her panada and carry her in cups of tea. They're the ones I hate the most because they invade my kitchen. They're not supposed to because Pearlie has her own kitchen but a lot of them prefer cooking on gas than electricity. Bert doesn't help as he has nice wee chats with them and they all think he's lovely and easy-going. I call his wee chats Fraternising With The Enemy and try to discourage it but it's not easy when I'm not there most of the time. In theory Bert could sort her out with food and drink because she's not that difficult to fodder but if she was depending on him she'd be dead of thirst and starvation many years ago. He forgets he has a mother when he is out in his polytunnel. He forgets to feed himself as well. There is nothing a hard working woman likes to hear on her return from a highly stressful day at the office than the words, "What are we eating?"

But - to get back to The Invaders - I'd got used to the last team and they got used to me. There was one I thoroughly loathed and a couple I positively liked and the rest were tolerable. But I'm not too sure about this new bunch. It hasn't helped that Bert started them all off on the wrong foot by telling them that they could use our kitchen.  Now I have to be Mrs Mean and tell them they can't. I'm sure that when I'm at work Bert has them in tee-heeing with them and laughing behind my back. But not at the weekends - no sirree!

On Sunday one of them came through the back door singing. Singing hymns! Christian hymns! I could have been a Muslim for all she knew. She spotted me washing down my worktops. She called out a gaily "Hello! Lovely day isn't it!" I glared at her and closed the door. She carried on carolling hymns. Surely I do not have my sorrows to seek when a hymn-singing harridan can enter my house at will and get paid for it!    

Monday, July 05, 2010

If I Had An Ounce Of Sense...

I'd be in bed asleep right now.

My rest was disturbed last night at around two am by Holly de Cat defending her territory from a strange intruder. For a small cat she makes a big noise. Of course I tried to help her by throwing objects at the invader cat but I throw like a girl and my feeble attempts were enough to make a cat laugh and they sure did.

After that I just could not get back to sleep for worrying. And not about cats either. I worried about work and I fretted about Matty and I tossed and turned. Heard Hannah up and about at seven am (It was actually six am) and raced up to get in the shower before her as she spends a long time in there being a great deal more high maintenance than I am. Afterwards returned to bed wrapped in two big towels and woke up from a rather disturbing dream about going Sapphic with Amy Winehouse and my hair like a brillo pad. Really must condition.

Then I went to work which is a whole other story. I might tell it someday but not now, not here. Maybe some other time and some other blog. I haven't been this stressed since I was working in Spide City, trying to manage a hostel with residents engaging in the highest of high-risk behaviours and actually bloody dying on my watch....