Friday, March 25, 2016

A Great Send-Off

Monday: There was a funeral. Bert was conducting some important business and the girls wanted him to play so, to distract them, I produced a little dead mouse (one the cat had prepared earlier) for them to bury. They fell to this project with gusto. a box was needed, their Mum dug the hole and flowers were laid on the grave. As Rod said,

They're giving that mouse a great send-off.

Tuesday: I went to visit my friend, back in the nursing home. She's not too well, getting weaker but as warm and loving as ever. It is always a pleasure to spend time with her, short though that time may be for she is not fit for long visits.

Wednesday: A much needed haircut then I expect I went for a walk and wasted much time on silly things.

Thursday: The girls were here and had a playdate with three other girls. There was a funeral. They wanted to check on the banties so press ganged Bert to check on the eggs. Bert discovered eight new eggs under the clockers, removed them, got soundly pecked for his trouble and then found that there were only six of the original seven marked eggs remaining. We checked the eggs in the house and found a marked egg, cold as sin and, no doubt, containing a wee dead chick. There was a reluctance to check but Bert took the plunge and there was a tiny embryo in there not even as big as a child's finger nail. Funeral!

It was decided that the merest scraping of the ground would suffice for the smear so Martha got the very big shovel and made a very small dent. The chick embryo was carefully placed, covered with slate to prevent dogs from licking it up and, once again, my spring garden was raided for floral tributes. Martha wrote and read an eulogy then, off the top of her head, preached a short sermon at the grave side. I had no idea she was so religious. Seems like only yesterday she informed me that the Baby Jesus was just a made up story.

The Eulogy

At The Grave Side

Thursday Night: Read to the girls two chapters of The Faraway Tree and one story from real life concerning Aunt Josephine And How Her Ankle Got Cured. This story involved pears and hospitals and is one my mother told me. As always Martha quizzed me relentlessly and gave me the opportunity to explain that True Stories From Real Life may not be entirely factual but always contain a kernel of truth. 

Friday: I had taken a daily walk for sixty days straight but yesterday that came to an end. Then I ate far too many sweet things and this morning I recorded my lowest ever weight for 2016. Strange that.  After midday Zoe, Martha, Evie and Granny went to Ikea where I spent much money on pink flannels, dish scrubbers, bedding and picture frames.

Friday Night: Back home where I drank carrot and apple wine and spent even more money on a new camera. You can expect better photographs.

Tomorrow: Going to Fanad and wish I had my new camera. But at least there will be walks.

And what of my Facebook friend with the heart attack? He looks perky and is still keeping all updated. Open heart surgery tomorrow which will set him back a day or two. Fingers crossed he makes a good recovery. Did I mention he is a magician?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Facebook Strangeness

Sometimes I am amazed at the kind of things that people post to Facebook. There was the woman who threw her husband out and then, feeling sorry for herself, had rather too many glasses of wine,  got on to Facebook and produced a misspelled and incoherent rant about how he hadn't paid her for her birthday present and he'd gone leaving her without milk in the fridge. Sad and strange. She took it down the next day but it was too late. I'd seen it. But I was ashamed to have seen it and now I don't look at her posts.

Then there are the people who conduct family feuds on the site. Not surprising that they cannot get on with their family. Disparaging an ex-partner on social media? Not cool. Especially if there are children involved.

Sharing content from other sites that spread bullshit? I've probably done that myself but I wouldn't make a habit of it. It's not difficult to do a little background research before you post and it will keep your more discerning Facebook friends (like me) from thinking you a complete eedjit. And unfriending you.

But tonight I came across a post that stunned me. It's a guy, I don't really know him, from America - friend of a friend. He's lying on his back speaking into his phone. He looks so strange, telling some people that he loves them and that he is having a heart attack! He thinks he might be dying. Facebook is a strange animal. There be me - sipping a coffee, nibbling on a biscuit and there be him, mortally unwell, an ocean away and filming himself on a hospital trolley.

I hope he recovers. I won't unfriend him. For as far as I know he's not a Trump supporter. And I certainly won't be linking this post to my Facebook account.

Oh I forgot to mention, the woman who makes vague accusations that her parents murdered her brother. I stopped looking at her posts too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Clocking Banties

Despite having attained a great age I have to admit that I know very little about broody hens. Apparently Pearlie was a great expert and by dint of being her son, Bert considers himself an expert too.

The big hens rarely troubled themselves to sit on eggs but these bantams, Honey and Flour are at it all the time. The first few times they tried it Bert advised that they be set under a box, kept in the cold and dark until the broody notion left them. I thought this very cruel but it worked. The reason they weren't left to get on with it was because the weather was still very inclement.

But spring is on the way and when Flour made a nest and started 'borrowing' the other hens' eggs I thought I'd leave her to it. She sat nicely for about five days and I never thought to mark the eggs. Every day there would be at least one more egg added to the clutch. Then one day she raced out to get food and when she returned Honey was sitting on her eggs. There were seven by now and on Bert's advice we marked them. They are both sitting side by side and the number of eggs under them changes daily. Sometimes Flour has the most of them, usually Honey has them all. I lift the unmarked ones every day and get soundly pecked (by Honey) for my trouble.

Hopefully we'll have chicks before Easter and (fingers crossed) that they will survive.

Unlike this one. Bernie was really old for a bantam and we didn't even realise she was clocking until I heard cheeping coming from the boiler shed. The fox got Bernie and the chick didn't survive. It tootled around on its own for a day then disappeared for those were the days when the chickens ran about the yard. That was nine years ago.

These two belonged to one of our Jersey Giants. It was July 2013 and I looked after them so tenderly. Then I went to Vancouver and instructed Bert to mind them carefully. He did not. Jess killed one of them and a buzzard (probably) got the other one.

So I'm cautiously optimistic about these Easter chicks but I'll take the wise woman's advice and won't be counting them until they hatch. Maybe there will be a yellow one. I do hope so.

Friday, March 11, 2016

In Which I Am Irritated.

Off to Belfast today to visit my old friend S, still in hospital. I had a look at that Tiger shop in the city centre which had been intriguingly described as a pound shop for middle-class people. I wasn't that impressed with it. The nicest thing in there I already owned, a Christmas present from Leitrim Sister. All I bought was a picture frame (they are better in Ikea) and a pair of reading specs, four times more expensive than the scally pound shops.

The train journey was not as relaxing as it usually is. On the way to Belfast some dreary bitch was blaring into her phone to someone, probably her mother as she finished the conversation by saying 'love you' in a taking someone for granted kind of tone. What's wrong with me? I don't find eavesdropping quite as entertaining as I used to. Is it because people expect to be overheard these days?

Then on the way home there was a crashing bore telling his companion about the interior decoration, layout and drinks prices of every club he'd ever been to. Not a word about drunken adventures or wenching. Every now and again his friend got a word in edgeways and the boring one was sort of half listening and dying to be doing the talking again. They got out at Antrim and the talkative one was as plain a young man as I'd seen in a long time. I felt a flash of sympathy for him for few girls would look the road he was on. No wonder he was able to take in all the details of the decor.

Thankfully my dear old friend did not bore me. She has Alzheimer's as well as other troubles and can be repetitive but even so she is still as engaging and pleasant as  ever she was. She thought she saw Shane's Castle from the window and I reminded her that it is in ruins. And funnily enough she was able to recollect the names of some of those long dead boys allegedly responsible for burning it down. Of course this was long before her time and mine.

I ate lunch at Cafe Airang where no one annoyed me as they were all speaking Korean. Happy days.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Five Days In March


Woke up this morning despairing that I would not have a minute to myself for three whole days. Then I gave myself a good mental shake and rethought the whole thing. Today is looking after the girls day. What could be more wonderful than that? I wished it was 11:30 already so I could pick Evie up so the fun might begin.

Then tomorrow I have to go for a mammogram. How great that I get to have this for absolutely free. Three cheers for the National Health Service. Long may it continue.

And on Saturday London Sister arrives for a super-fast visit. We are going for lunch and maybe a walk. Something to look forward to.


Went for the mammogram and parked 30 minutes from the hospital. Walked past Evie's nursery school and spotted her, through the winter-bare hedge, playing on the slide. I did not draw attention to myself as peering at children through hedges is frowned upon. The breast-screening people have a new mobile unit. It is enormous and looks like it might have cost a million pounds. They told me that all of Northern Ireland got brand new units this year. I approve of this expenditure. Worth every penny of my taxes. Then I remembered that I don't have to pay tax any more. Worth every penny of Bert's taxes then.


London Sister! We went to Harry's Shack on Portstewart Strand and had wonderful fish and chips. We got to sit next to the wood burning stove which was very cosy and much appreciated by LS, who feels the cold. The place was teeming with happy folk scoffing away and the service was excellent. I will be back.


Mother's Day. I forgot all about it until the girls arranged a walk and picnic in Portglenone Forest. We met at midday and were greatly entertained by the littlest ones who were playing a complicated cat game which involved fishing (pretend) and climbing trees (actual). Hannah got to be an honorary cat and their names were Ginger, Chocolate and Sweetie.


Gardening and Cooking For The Family Day. I got a Mother's Day card from Katkin which had the loveliest message in it. Martha very excited as her bantam, Honey is sitting on a clutch of eggs and we are hoping for Easter chicks. I made a sausage cassserole with mash and kale and steamed chocolate pudding for dessert. Chocolate pudding is the current favourite with grandchildren and older relatives. After they finished they asked for the pot so they could scrape the chocolate sauce out. Before I got round to clearing the table (careless me) Ziggy climbed on to it and ate all the sausage out of the remaining casserole. There goes tomorrow's lunch.

I think I may have a day to myself tomorrow, hope I don't get bored.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

And As We All Know, He Didn't...

Written eight years ago today. It was posted at just after 8:00 am when Bert was languishing in bed and all unaware that he was engaged to be married and that Nelly meant business.

Eight years later we have separate sitting rooms and separate bedrooms which is probably why we're still going strong.

In Other News...

We are canvassing everyone who comes to see us on their views on the EU Referendum. I am being quite rude to some of them. If nothing else I hope it will make them think.

Bert is reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. And I am listening to On The Road by Jack Kerouac. We are both listening to Rhiannon Giddens who we saw a few weeks back in Derry when she guested with Transatlantic Sessions. That was the best gig I've been to in a very long time.

On Friday past we went to Banjo Man's fiftieth birthday party. What is he doing being fifty? I can barely fathom it. It was a good evening. I was the designated driver (I designated myself) and sat on my high horse tutting happily at all the drunken fools. Still drank two large G&Ts when I got home but that's all right because no one knows. Except Bert. And The Reader.

Tomorrow I'm going to Belfast to visit my friend in hospital. I won't bring Jack Kerouac as I only like to listen to audio books when I'm walking. For trains I like a proper reading experience. That will be Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I'm nearly half way through it. The war has not begun.