Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blackberry Way

I maybe got a dozen of this size

I had one of those As Good As It Gets moments this afternoon. I was up the back lane, accompanied by three dogs, picking blackberries while Robert Powell read The Well-Beloved to me.

The weather wasn't quite as fine as yesterday and the blackberries weren't as plentiful as last year but it was good.

I remember picking blackberries with Zoe a few years ago and she was carefully selecting the biggest and juiciest berries leaving the scrawnier specimens behind while I picked all within reach. She would have trouble covering the bottom of the pail with the big ones this season.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moving On

I thought I was running out of energy a while back. And I thought it was going to be forever, but I was wrong.

I have just spent time with Miss Martha for four days in a row. The night she stayed over was tiring but it did not take me long to get over it.

Since the beginning of August I have started blackcurrant, rhubarb, damson, parsnip and more rhubarb wine. All of these have been made from home-grown fruit and vegetables. It was not always me that grew them but that is no matter. I still have in my freezer enough peaches and damsons to make another four gallons of wine. Today Miss Martha and I gathered blackberries. They are not that plentiful this year but I'll get enough to make another gallon of wine. Miss Martha ate more than she picked and she asked to be carried which rather stayed my foraging frenzy. Still I carried her and it wasn't too hard – more proof that my energy is returning.

I have started to cook proper meals again.

And Bert and I have resumed watching The Sopranos. When Matty got ill we stopped watching at the end of Season 4. Said we'd start again when all was over. I only felt like again it a few weeks back and asked my darling Katy to gift Season 5 for my birthday. Just three more episodes left now. Bert is waiting impatiently for our evening's so I must go.

Not before I tell how I've resumed my audio books. Two Austens redd up and a Hardy on the go. I'm also proper reading Wuthering Heights and realise it's for the first time! I thought I'd read it but it turned out I'd just heard a song.

Still I'm overweight and haven't properly got back to walking, I have a sore shoulder and hives all over. So what! I'm on the right track.

I thought of Matty today and felt very sad that she was not here. I still miss her so much and my eyes well up as I write this. She would have loved this beautiful day, wouldn't have approved of my manic wine-making, “Why not make jam?” she'd have said. She'd have been excited about her new great grandchild Miss Ava and would have been looking forward to the new one due in a few weeks time (Miss Martha's brother or sister) Miss you very much Mammy but for now I am, and we all are, moving on. I even got my hair cut.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sleep Over

barrowful of winter pansies, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Miss Martha is having her first sleep over tonight. She chose a pig pillowcase, brushed her teeth, (weighed herself), fell off the standing stool, bounced on her camp bed, had me read the book Hayley bought her while she read Peter Rabbit, then we swapped - I read Peter Rabbit while she read Hayley's book (The Little Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business), then I told her a story of my own invention.

With my grandchild apparently settled I phoned Zoe to tell her so.

Five minutes later a little voice, "Ganny?"

I went up. She was standing behind her little safety gate like a forlorn prisoner. "Want to get up." I told her, "No. It's sleepytime." She went back to bed. We chatted. I tried to reassure her. She said, "Mummy not here?" I told her it was so but that she would see her in the morning. Separated at night for the first time in her life - it's a big deal. Got to go now. Check she's OK.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Born To Be Sociable

Nellybert were watching clips from seventies Old Grey Whistle Test, Bert says,

Is Elton John American?

Nelly says,


Steppenwolf come on.

Bert says,

Wee Manny got that tattooed on his arm.

What! Steppenwolf?

No. Born To Be Wild.

Ha ha! Born To Have An Early Night you mean!

No! He was wild in his time.

Wild! Your arse. what way was he wild?

Well - he would have went anywhere, done anything, ceilidhed with any mob, anywhere, took any drug you would have offered him.

Huh! That's not being wild, that's just being sociable.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Monday: Every day we have Pearlie's team of carers, 3 single carers and 4 doubles. Every day. Some are quiet, some are noisy. Some come roaring through the door in mid-conversation, some slam doors behind them. Mostly they never wipe their feet. They haven't the time. I know we are lucky to have this level of care. And most of the carers are lovely people. But they are still - in my house - all day long.

Also on Monday we had Miss Martha, her dad and her grandfather (who is also my first husband) and Miss Martha's two dogs. We had, briefly, R. Bluebird, his mum and their dog. R. Bluebird calls up pretty often with fruit and veg for the pigs. He nearly forgot his dog. She's a dote and we could keep her but she doesn't get on well with Miss Martha's dog. They sort of hate each other. There was lots of snarling and snapping.

Hector called to see Pearlie. He slipped in and slipped out and I hardly even knew he was there. I wish all Pearlie's callers were like that.

While I went to Miss Martha's second birthday party in town Bert entertained his friend Bilrus. So not counting the eleven carers we had seven humans and three dogs visit with us on Monday.

Tuesday: Quieter day. Bert went out a-visiting himself so I was hoping for a peaceful day with just me and Pearlie and with nothing else to do for her but keep her fire on. Was not to be. Pearlie's niece called just after Bert left and was here until 8:30pm. There is lots of toing and froing, little delicacies being prepared, re-positioning of pencils and other business. Around seven hours of it. I go picking beans and damsons while Pearlie is pandered to. Apparently no-one can mix her laxatives like Niece, or like Hannah. Bert is useless at it. Laxative all lumpy when Bert prepares it. And me? I don't do medicines. I just do laundry and cleaning and wipe up after the carers. I also have occasional murderous thoughts but we won't go there. I offer the Niece her Aunt as full-time house guest but she declines. It must be nice to have a home you can relax in. I wouldn't know. Relatively quiet day. Eleven carers, two physiotherapists, one very long visit from Niece. No dogs. Don't be getting me wrong now for I am very fond of Niece and she is often a great help with Pearlie. It's just that I envy her the home that she can relax in.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Martha

bonnie mid song, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

The words of Bonnie's song are as follows:

Happy Birthday to you-hoo
Happy Birthday you're two-hoo
Happy Birthday Dear Martha-hooooo!
Happy Birthday to you-hooo.

Pity Bonnie is such a terrible singer. No wonder Martha and Judy look bemused.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Living In Chaos

shrine, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

According to FlyLady CHAOS stands for Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome because the damn house is such a mess.

Well - my problem is slightly different . My house is chaotic because I can't keep people from coming over and cannot get round them to clean.

But at least the attic is much more orderly since Miss Hannah and I had the massive clear out on Tuesday. We carried two car loads to the charity shops and Bert carried a van load to the recycling centre at the council yard.

Some people have said I could have made money out of that stuff and I daresay they are right but that would have been more procrastination. If I hadn't got round to selling any of it in 30 years, I doubt the next 30 years would be any different. Anyway, if I ever get the selling urge, hasn't Bert a tunnelful of clematee?

The picture above shows that I am not the only one living in clutter. Big Blessed Virgin Mary and Little Blessed Virgin Mary keep a very throughother shrine but it hasn't stopped Saint Bernadette Soubirous from calling over.


This would have been Daddy's birthday and he would have been 92. I'm glad now that he didn't make it to that age because he wouldn't have liked being so old. He enjoyed being active and getting out into the fresh air. The picture above shows him in his sixties. He was weather-beaten and gruff but always with a look of kindness. Kerry Sister, who took the picture, used to call him 'Badger'.

In the picture he's taking a bag of hand cut turf out of the boot of his car. He was never happier than when he was cutting turf and working in the moss.

Thinking about you today Seamus, oul hand.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Diary of Nelly Dismal

My 25th year found me living alone in Drumtara, pregnant, poor and lonely. I was also very bored so, to pass the time, I kept a journal. It ran to two volumes and I have to admit it was one of the most tedious, self-obsessed and whiney journals ever written. It didn't contain an ounce of humour or interest and every time I've looked at those two notebooks since I have cringed.

So why did it take me more than three decades to rid myself of these woeful books ?

Today, during an epic attic clearance, I decided the time had come to burn the dreary things and the only place in the house with a burning fire is in Pearlie's room.

What's that ye have there?

Just some old diaries.

What! Reach them to me!

They're not yours Pearlie. They're mine. Just some old diaries I kept when I was in my 20s.

Setting them carefully on the fire.

I'd love to read those!

You would not.

Piling the coal around them.

I'd have been very interested in those.

I bet you would.

I felt a tiny bit guilty depriving Pearlie of the pleasure of finding out what a shallow twat I was when I was 24 but very, very happy to be rid of the reminder. Thanks be for the cleansing power of flames.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Which I Become A Casting Agent

A few days ago I had a call from a fellow blogger. He and his lady were shooting a video in the vicinity and did I know of any young couples. preferably late teens, boy being dark and girl being fair? I said that I did not but I knew a suitable couple who, despite being well into their twenties, were still able to get half-fare on public transport if they so desired, although being good honest people always told the fare collector that they were liable for the full whack. They also wanted someone dark and mid-thirties for an older version of the boy. I knew of a fairly fresh young fellow with the mature, dark looks that they were looking for.

Where was the video shoot to take place? Why - on the farm of Joe Bloggs who lives very close to us, practically beside us. The young actors made their way to my crib and at five minutes before the appointed hour we set off to Joe Bloggs' place. I have to admit that I was surprised it was going to be at Joe's as he is rather a taciturn fellow, hardly the type to get mixed up with media, arts and Country & Western types. The yard was deserted. Back home to phone Joe Bloggs only to find out they'd never heard of such a carry-on. Maybe it was the other Joe Bloggs who lived a mile up the road? So off me and my car-load of budding actors went to the other Joe Bloggs who lived opposite The House With A Beard on the Killyless Road. Mrs Joe Bloggs was most bemused and, natch, knew nothing of a video shoot. She thought, and it took her 10 rambling minutes to tell us so, that the action was probably taking place at The House With A Beard. Miss Hannah went in to enquire and it took the Man Of The House With A Beard 10 rambling minutes to tell her that it wasn't happening in his crib. Maybe it was the other Joe Bloggs who lived on the road to Ahoghill.

By now I was in despair. We were communicating through Bert on the landline back at our place because, believe it or not, all this had been arranged on landlines and nobody had anyone's mobile number and there we all were 'on location' or 'trying to get to location' without any way of getting in direct contact.

Eventually Bert saved the day. He'd taken a call from the main people and they were at Alec Bloggs who he knew well (everyone knows him) and it turns out he had a brother called Joe. We went back to our house, Bert took over the driving (for I was a nervous wreck) and drove us straight to the right place where fun, frolics and hilarity ensued.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Despair Of My Hair

martha in the garden, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

I had a similar issue with my hair but, unlike Miss Martha, I lack the necessary cuteness factor to carry off the hair fountain look. I had to rely on pinning the offending hank back with clips and grips. But it would come down and tickle me horribly. Most annoying.

I lost patience with it last night, grabbed the nearest pair of blunt scissors and whacked it off. Feels great.

But what does it look like? It looks like this!

Of course I haven't the sideburns.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Idle Thoughts

The alarm goes off at 7am and I hit the snooze button.

7:05am RINGGG! I'm wondering what to do about the vintage Orange Order collarette in the attic. I hit the snooze button.

7:10am RINGGG! Trying to figure out the names of Adam Lambsbreath's cows in Cold Comfort Farm. Let me see - there's Pointless, Aimless, Feckless and what is the other one called? I hit the snooze button.

7:15am RINGGG! Pondering the minister's reading at yesterday's funeral service. Dorcas/Tabitha. Would those be good names for girl twins? Technically they are the same name just as Zoe and Eve are. I hit the snooze button.

7:20am RINGGGG!!!! There's this clairvoyant in Randalstown I'm going to later. She channels through an eel. Holy shit! I'm dreaming! Time to get up.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


I'd always thought that a former boss of mine had a very poor style of writing, so in an idle moment I decided to lift a sample of his prose from the internet and run it through one of those grammar-testing sites. Sure enough he only scored 43% and the prognosis was 'weak - needs revision'. Hah! thought I. Now to try me. Result! I got 73% and the comment 'adequate - needs revision'. Of course I had to run my greatest rival Ganching and she got the same comment as me but 7 points more - 80%.

Then I wondered - how would Charles Dickens score? I copied and pasted a paragraph from 'A Tale of Two Cities' and was astonished to see that he only hit 31% and the comment 'poor - needs revision'. Dickens failed majorly on wordiness - imagine! I then ran a passage from 'Mansfield Park' through. Jane Austen did rather better than Dickens as she scored 61% and got 'weak - needs revision'.

So Final Scores were:

1. Ganching - adequate
2. Nelly - adequate
3. Jane Austen - weak
4. Former Boss - weak
5. Charles Dickens - poor

Saturday, September 03, 2011


Sally, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Bert's Aunt passed away in hospital today after an epic fight for life following a car crash 12 days ago.