Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year Day

Women Propose to Their Men
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years.
This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar.

Leap Year Day, 2008 fell on a Friday and because it was the weekend Nellybert had quaffed a bottle of wine, or maybe even two. We got ourselves to bed shortly before midnight and that is where I asked Bert to be my husband. He assented.

The next day I announced to the world that we were engaged. Bert had forgotten about my late night proposal and was surprised but not displeased. Our first Leap Year together was 1988 so it had only taken six Leap Year Days for me to get round to it. We married the following August, a very short engagement.

Regrets? A couple. I wish Bert had worn better socks. And I wish I'd asked my mum to be there.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Housewifery #1

Pearlie had this little book by L.C. Andrews titled Practical Lessons and Lectures on Cookery & Laundry Work. It was published in 1901, a quarter century before she was born so I expect it belonged to her mother or one of her aunts. It is fascinating and a reminder of how easy our lives are now compared to our great-grandmother's time.

I thought there might be some interesting recipes in there but they are mostly very plain. For example Lesson 5 has the following menu,

Sheep's Head and Broth. Brain Sauce. Fried Potatoes. Plain Currant Cake.

I could probably enjoy the Fried Potatoes and Currant Cake but there would need to be HP sauce on the potatoes and custard with the cake.

Looking on the bright side the meal only cost 8d. And the cake was the most expensive dish on the menu at 4d.

Lesson 17 gives some useful tips on what to watch out for at the butcher's shop - how not to get palmed off with elderly meats.

  • The legs of old turkeys are rough and blackish.
  • The bills and feet of old geese are reddish.
  • Old rabbits and hares have wide and tough ears.
  • If a lobster is freshly killed the tail will move when the eyes are pressed.

That must have been very useful knowledge back in the olden days.

The recipe for plum pudding isn't that different from the one my mother used. I might give that a go. And interestingly the recipe for shortcrust pastry calls for the addition of baking powder. I wonder why that should be? I'm going to try it and see. My pastry is very good. Will BP, as the book calls it, increase its fabulousness? We will see. Another thing. If there is any heavy duty cleaning to be done keep those skirts short.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Buying Stuff

On Thursday the girls and I went to our favourite charity shop, the one near the playing fields where the business plan is to pile it high and sell it cheap. Before we got there I had a talk with Martha about 'being discerning' and about not wanting the first thing she lies eyes on as she comes through the door. My talk fell on deaf ears as the first thing she laid eyes on was a box of china dolls all for a quid each.

We tried to be discerning. I spent 60 pence on a Kate Grenville book and a polka dot Cath Kidston mug, Martha bought a china doll, some plastic shoes and a tiara. Evie also chose plastic shoes and a parrot toy that she had no need of. Together we spent less than £3. Later that evening at Swisser's I told her about my mug (they're about £6 to buy new) and she shrieks,

I hate Cath Kidston! It's so twee.

I said rather glumly,

I suppose you hated Laura Ashley too when you were young.
I did!

There was a time when I yearned for Laura Ashley. I could just see myself in a lavender sprigged dress, a straw boater and a sweet little cardigan. Of course I would be in a field of buttercups and daisies but sadly Laura Ashley just wasn't for me. It was for willowy girls with moderate bosoms, girls like Diana Spencer, not sturdy country girls like Nelly Moser.

Willowy Laura Ashley type

Me. What was I thinking of, heading into a brambly wood in a voile skirt?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Minor Successes

...which don't include keeping up with my blog.

I have taken a walk for 25 continuous day and take an average of 14000 steps per day. I'm eating a healthier diet, enjoy six alcohol free days per week and have lost 12 lbs since the 11th of January.

And I feel a lot better for it.

Today I sowed lettuce and onions.

I'm sorting out my photographs but am only about 10 per cent through them.

I'm working on my tolerance. When Bert does something annoying (often) I ask myself, would you do that Nelly? Usually the answer is yes.

I'm thinking very hard about getting the new sewing machine out. My sight is better now so there's no reason not to.

Two batches of wine were begun, Strawberry & Raspberry and White Currant. In addition, ten gallons were racked and the Carrot & Raisin bottled. One bottle, Blackcurrant & Apple, was drunk (in company) and Bilrus pronounced it 'a triumph'. He's very kind. Gus tried my wine for the first time and if he didn't like it he didn't say. Bert informed him,

If you criticise her wine she never offers it again.

That's true enough.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I Learn About the Wheel

From the Granagh Road today

It has been a month now since I caught myself on. Truly tired of being a fat wee fecker I decided to eat better, drink less alcohol and walk more and I am happy to report that, so far, it's all going rather well. My daily walk has become a habit, I'm enjoying cooking and eating, I feel better and I have breathed out 11lbs of excess tonnage. And one of the things I'm enjoying most is that virtuous feeling when you don't eat all the leftovers, instead having them for lunch or dinner the next day. I love not being wasteful.

Then I found myself craving music/audio-books for the daily walk but I had nothing to play them on. Although there were two iPods that had been lying in a drawer for several years but they were probably broken. I dug them out, charged them up and tried them out. One was kaput but the classic worked! Unfortunately I'd forgotten how to use it. This is were the internet comes in handy. I found a video that some fellow had made for his elderly mother who must have been a complete eedjit but it was useful. My first walk (yesterday) was all about Massive Attack (the Tricky days) because I couldn't remember how to use shuffle. Eventually I worked it out with a little bit of assistance from that eedjit's son.

On my walk today I thought I had it on shuffle but it was alternating between Sinead O'Connor and Ry Cooder and that didn't seem very shuffly to me. Anyway I stopped for a pee up a laneway on the Granagh Road and stuffed the player in my pocket. When I resumed listening the sound had diappeared and I thought my headphones were broken. So back into the pocket it went and home I marched. Back on the internet I learned all about the wheel. I used to know this stuff. Where did my knowledge go?

Another problem. There was a lot of music on that iPod that I didn't want to listen to anymore. And of course I'd forgotten how to manage the player. I knew it had something to do with Rhythmbox. I don't do iTunes as my OS is Ubuntu. I've spent hours today figuring it out and I just got it sorted. I added John Lee Hooker, Rhiannon Giddens and the Milk Carton Kids. I'll add more tomorrow and maybe some audio books. Maybe Wolf Hall. I have the book but it's far too big and heavy. Far better to have it read to me.  

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Take One Haystack

Young women nowadays probably have more photographic images of themselves than at any time before. And often these pictures are very glamorous. The hair will be just so, the make up impeccable, the duck pout and Victoria Beckham hand on hip pose perfected.

It was all so different in their grandmothers' day. Back then when the camera came out girls tidied their hair, took off their aprons, grabbed their best chum and headed for the nearest stack of hay. For everyone had one - the perfect backdrop to to a beautiful snapshot.

Pearlie with her arm round Maggie Mitchell. Photo taken in the 1940s.

Aunt Sadie and friend. Also 1940s.

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.