Mother’s Day

Today I really noticed that Mother’s Day cards were abounding.  Ads for what to get “your Mother” are everywhere to be seen.

Mother’s Day is such a complex day.  Ok, on the surface it celebrates the roles of mothers with cards perhaps lovingly made in schools and a handmade present.  Perhaps the Dad or another relative has reminded the teenage child that a card is essential.  Perhaps they all cook a meal and celebrate the day together.

Perhaps for some women who have never experienced the privilege of motherhood, Mother’s Day is a day for curling up underneath the duvet and indulging in chocolates while allowing the tears to flow freely for those hopes and dreams which were never to be.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is another reminder of the child who is missing.  The hopes for the future again unanswered.  Perhaps a child has distanced himself, mentally/ physically or both.

Perhaps for the mother whose child has died, Mother’s Day is a public reminder of  the void that can never be filled in her heart.

Perhaps Mother’s day  is a reminder to a mother, that because of illness she is no longer able to be a mother and sometimes her child has to be her carer.

Perhaps the mother doesn’t recognise their child as a result of illness.  The laughs which would have been shared can never be shared as the mother retreats from the world.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is a reminder to a child, even an adult child, that the mother who should have nurtured, cared for and protected never existed  for that child.

On the morning of Mother’s Day, I always raise a cup to those mothers who are suffering that little bit more because of the day that is in it.

Perhaps we as women could go a little farther this year? Perhaps we could send a card, ring or call to a mother who is hurting on this year’s Mother’s Day.

Is It Bread Or Is It Cake?

4.15 a.m.  still wide awake and this tossing and turning is really not exercise.  So off to my writing space and firstly those lists.  I like lists.  I especially like lists when I am crossing off what I have accomplished.  Is it vain to want to pat myself on my back and say well done another job accomplished? Vain? No, definitely not.  It is just a good feeling.

So, the “to do list” for today which is very, very, very long as I was away for a few days was completed.  The next thing was a cuppa.  Kettle boiled, mug warmed, coffee jug ready and NO BREAD.  Yikes not good.  There are some mornings when only a slice of soda bread and jam will do.  This was one of those mornings.

Soda bread and scones would take me no time at all to make. I don’t need a recipe for either.  Changing my normal routine, I decided on scones first then the soda bread as it takes longer to bake.

Measured out the ingredients for scones and decided to measure out the flour for the soda bread while I was at it.  Butter milk out for the bread and while I was taking out the flour I came across the last spoonful of Christmas Mincemeat.  Yes, that would go lovely with the scones.

Baking in the oven, washing up completed, counters cleaned down, a quick scan of the local free newspaper which turned into a toal read of the said newspaper. Yes you’ve guess it I totally forgot about the scones.

I took the baking out of the oven and this is what I had……Scone and Soda Bread all in one!!!!!  Don’t ask.  I had managed to put all the ingredients together.

IMAG0877

 

It actually tastes grand even though it doesn’t look great. In fact I think that’s an understatement. It looks pretty miserable.

Perhaps I have come up with a new recipe? Perhaps it will take off and I will become know as the woman with the daft bread. Anyone who would like the recipe just give me a short while to try and remember what I actually used.

Perhaps I should have had that coffee or even gone back to bed before I started baking.

Then again perhaps I have given someone a laugh. I hope so.

Have a good day.

Found

My post yesterday entitled “Smile” featured an image of a sketch depicting a girl with an umbrella.  It was a very happy uplifting image but I hadn’t been able to find the artist’s name

Thanks to a friend of mine Kay I have now found out that the artist is Molly Hahn.

Molly Hahn is a catoonist based in California and she is known for her daily comic “Buddha Doodles”

She began these sketch doodles as a daily daily meditative practice and gradually found that people wanted to see more of them.  So she started posting “Buddha Doodles”on line at http://www.buddhadoodles.com

Molly Hahn has published a number of books including Buddha Doodles Gratitude Journal : Cultivate Love and Buddha Doodles Gratitude Journal: Shinning Your Light.

Even though it seems I am very late in getting to know Molly Hahn’s work , I am thankful to have found another inspirational artist. Where would we be without them?

 

 

 

Smile

 

I came across this beautiful picture but unfortunately could find no refernce to the artist. So if anyone can direct me it would be great.

 

I also came across a quote ” when others rain upon your parade open an umbrella and carry on”..unknown

What a powerful uplifting message.

Have a good day and follow your dreams.

 

Umbrella

 

Today is National Umbrella Day.

When I read this I was delighted.  I really enjoy using an umbrella.  I own a number of them.  Why I hear you ask?  Surely I only need one?

Rain Umbrellas

No not really.  I have a silver one which I purchased in Oxford while on holiday and the inside depicts the constellations of the northern night skies. I would never have chosen it myself but my husband found it and re introduced me to the night sky.

I have a red polka dot umbrella given to me as a birthday present and whenever I use it, which is often if you are living in Ireland, I always find myself twirling the umbrella and singing to myself.  On any grey wet windy day beside the sea it is a splash of colour.  The only draw back to this umbrella is that it doesn’t fold up.

So that meant that I had to keep an eye out for a fold up umbrella for my bag.  There are the basic ones which will do the job but…..A few years ago while on a visit to the National Art Gallery in Dublin, I came out to a down power.  The Gallery shop had umbrellas, books, more books so many items that by the time I had chosen and purchased the umbrella the sun was shinning when I came out.

The umbrella is based on a Monet design and I have to tell you that nine times out of ten when I have that umbrella in my bag it does not rain, but then again there is that one time when it is invaluable.

It was the Chinese who developed the waxed leather umbrella for use by the nobility to protect from the rain in the 11th century B.C.   While parasols were used in Egyptian and Roman empires the custom fell into disuse after the fall of the Roman Empire.  I was amazed to find out that the umbrella dated so far back.

 

25 de octubre de 2014

 

This painting by Des Brophy is one of my favourite paintings.

 

History Through Taste

I have been reading recently about food fusion and hearing about it on food programmes.  Surely this concept has been around since Adam was a boy.

Perhaps we use the style of cooking which we are used to, then move to a new location where ingredients are different but we use the cooking techniques we know, to cook with the new ingredients.  Surely people have been doing this for hundreds of years.

There are cook books abounding with the fusion concept.  The concept is not new but if it draws people into cooking for themselves I for one am all for it.

I really enjoy reading cook books especially second-hand ones.  I like to imagine those other food lovers who have read and used the recipes within.  However, it is the books which have been both loved and used which I cherish the most.

Some of my reading memories are to do with cook books and tonight not being able to sleep I started to read a cook book which had belonged to my mother-in-law Sheila and which was recently given to me.

The book is only 9 inches long by 5 inches wide with less than a hundred pages.    The cover is intact but the spine will need repairing and it is obvious that this book was used over and over again.    It is called “the Tricity cookery book”.    It is a very straight forward cook book with only 4 colour plates.    There are a few sketches but this book is all about the recipes.   Some pages were used more often than others and I love the fact that it isn’t in pristine condition.   It was a book which was used.

Right beside it on my cookery shelf, I found “A taste of Ireland in food and pictures” by Theodora Fitzgibbon.  A friend of mine Rhona, who knows how much I love cookery books, gave it to me prior to moving to Charlton near Banbury in the United Kingdom to run The Rose and Crown.  If you get a chance to visit just try the superb food there.

Again, this is a small cookery book but it has a wealth of history together with the recipes.  The edition I have ,was published by Pan in 1971.   One odd thing about the recipes is that the quantities are not only given in imperial measurement as was used in Ireland at the time but also in U.S.  cup measurements.   However, on the back of the book there is an endorsement by the Irish Tourist Board. Perhaps this book was intended for the tourist industry mainly and that would explain the use of U.S. measurements.

The black and white photographs which accompany each recipe give more information on the times and evoke a sense of times past. The recipes cover everything from toffee to cruibíns. If you ever come across this book it is well worth a read especially if you are interested in social history or cookery.

Resonating Image

 

 

Have you ever come across a saying or a quote which exactly sums up numerous thoughts which you have? Not only does it verbally say exactly what you want said but it immediately conjures up an image.

 

A few days ago, I “visited” Appletree Crafts via Facebook.  Appletree Crafts is a one stop shop for everything quilting.  A question was posed “What is the favourite part of your sewing routine?” among the many replies one just stood out for me………

” Learning new techniques feels like adding to my utility belt of skills.”

 

Wow what a brilliant image.  It really resonated with me.  I could so visualise the concept.  Learning a new skill is so exciting and mastering it is when I dance around the craft table.  What about dancing around with a utility belt…….

 

This sums up for me what crafting is all about.  Gathering new skills, learning new skills, enhancing established skills and adding them to this belt with pockets where one can dip into as the need arises

 

I have been playing around with the idea.  When it comes to fruition I will share but until then I hope this will suffice.

 

Abby, I hope you approve.

In Anticipation of Spring

For those looking forward to the days lengthening and the coming of spring. This poem was written by Paula Meehan.

SEED

The first warm day of spring
and I step out into the garden from the gloom
of a house where hope had died
to tally the storm damage, to seek what may
have survived. And finding some forgotten
lupins I’d sown from seed last autumn
holding in their fingers a raindrop each
like a peace offering, or a promise,
I am suddenly grateful and would
offer a prayer if I believed in God.
But not believing, I bless the power of seed,
its casual, useful persistence,
and bless the power of sun,
its conspiracy with the underground,
and thank my stars the winter’s ended.

 

Gladden the Heart

 

I remember when I was quite young I heard the expression “to gladden the heart”.  It was years before I actually understood what it meant.  The first time I read this poem I was reminded of that expression.  When I came across the poem again this morng  it lightened my spirit once more.

 

 

Smiling is infectious

You catch it like the flu

When someone smiled at me today

I started smiling too

 

I walked around a corner

And someone saw me grin

When he smiled I realised

I had passed it onto him

 

I thought about a smile

And realised its worth

A single smile like mine

Could travel round the earth

 

So if you feel a smile begin

Don’t leave it undetected

Start an epidemic and get the world infected.

Spike Milligan

Pebbles On A Beach

This morning on a craft group which I follow on social media a member made the suggestion of drilling holes into flat beach pebbles to use as unusual buttons.

I immediately recalled my grandniece, 3 years of age after a walk along our pebbled beach.  We had thrown pebbles in the sea, chosen many pebbles which she had entrusted to her older cousin to mind.  But when we came to the end of our walk she insisted that all the pebbles had to be returned so that other children could throw pebbles in the sea.

Out of the mouths of babe….

Sometimes it is the pebbles on the beach which make that particular beach so beautiful.  Those pebbles are needed to soothe the souls: to make the unique sound of the sea washing over them: to provide that feeling one gets no matter what age when throwing them back into the sea.

So perhaps if you contemplate taking pebbles from the beach as a memory, or for use in an art project perhaps pause and ask yourself if you really need it?

Are you a poet?

In an article for www.writing.ie “Thoughts for Budding Poets” Liz Cowley says and I quote “…poetry shouldn’t be like medicine – hard to swallow but good for you”.    I totally agree.

Liz Cowley is one of my favourite poets Her work is so accessible.   She can make the most mundane seem important.   That together with the laughter which mingles with the often-tough topics of everyday living is what makes reading her poetry so enjoyable.

Liz Cowley opens the article “Thoughts for Budding Poets” by suggesting that many people are poets but are afraid that that we would be embarrassed by our ramblings/ scribblings.  That those scribblings would not be good enough.  Perhaps she is correct and that there is a poet in all of us just waiting to get out.

 

Why Put Off Things

 

Why delay? Why put them off –

the things we could have done before?

Why is it that we hesitate

and what is it we’re waiting for?

 

Why don’t we do things sooner?

Why do we often hesitate

until the day it’s much later,

it’s suddenly become too late?

 

Taken from the book “And Guess Who He Was With” by Liz Cowley

No Interruptions

Did you know that today was No Interruptions Day? Nor did I til my internal alarm clock went off at 3.00am. Bored with the usual sites I decided to see if December 29th held special significance.

I found that today was the day for sorting out your workspace without any interruptions. This involves clearing out unwanted items. Sorting out those “must do” lists and doing or discarding the items on them. Perhaps they are no longer “must do”.

Perhaps moving the work station to have a different view of the world? Turning off phones, internet connections and have no interruptions.

I have to admit that I found myself laughing out loud. My imagination just ran riot imagining work places being totally overhauled. Work stations being turned around. Perhaps desks being painted? People totally reorganising and in the process creating total chaos.

What about those who work from home on this ” interruptions day”? Perhaps they have a family and with school out can they really have a”no interruption” day?

This idea is similar to “Tick Tock Day”. Yes, there is such a day. Again, it’s the idea of finishing tasks which have not been completed. Or perhaps a goal which has not been achieved.

So, if you have nothing to do today……

New Year Resolutions

via Daily Prompt: Confess

 

I confess that I am not a fan of making resolutions at a particular time of the year. I do like to set challenges for myself which are achievable. Life may intervene and these challenges can sometimes be deferred. However I prefer to set these challenges at a time which has been determined by me and not foisted on me.

In the northern hemisphere generally academic years begin in September and October so for me starting something new in Autumn feels right. Starting something new or setting new targets at Easter for some reason also sits well with me.

I like winter but starting something new just seems to jibe with me. Starting something new in January just seems a little forced or is it perhaps that I am not ready for these resolutions?

No I just don’t like all the hype about new year resolutions. So no I won’t be making any new year resolutions. I will not be looking back on 2017 to see what I have not accomplished. I will remember and toast family and friends and be exceedingly thankful to have them in my life. However New Year Resolutions will not be part of the start of 2018 for me.

Christmas

It is Christmas morning. A rainy mild Christmas morning. No one is stirring and there is a stillness about. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that this is an adult house now.

It is lovely to savour this slower beginning.,to remeber some of those warm precious memories of other Christmas mornings.

On this mild Christmas morning it is wonderful to have the time to be thankful.  To be thankful for the memories others have provided over other Christmases.

As a friend said to me one ” to be able to savour an experience is something very precious”. And she was totally right.

I hope you are able to savour this day and add it to your memory bank.

Secret Santa

 

 

This year for the very first time I have been involved in a Secret Santa through an on-line book club which I was able to join this year.

My Secret Santa parcel arrived this morning and with it a dilemma.  As you know paper is important to me.  My present was beautifully wrapped in Art Deco type paper.  Black background with small bronze Christmas trees in a line.  The next line was bronze zig zag with angular corners.  So reminiscent of the Art Deco period.  Each bronze decorated line was followed by a pure white straight line.   The pattern on the paper was a work of art.

Oh my, but I was torn.  I wanted to find out what book I had received but I did not want to damage this beautiful paper.  A mug of coffee later and it was time.  With a scalpel, extra light on my work table and a steady hand I began the job of opening the paper.  Thank goodness, my Secret Santa had not used double sided tape.  With care I actually achieved removing this beautiful paper to reveal my book.

However, before scrutinising the book, the paper was ironed to remove the creases.  Yes, ironing it does work.  Just make sure it is a dry iron at low temperature.  I already have a few ideas for using it.  It definitely could be used as background for a greeting card but I think for the moment it will be placed in my drawer containing “special paper” to be used at a future date, possibly.

The book I received wrapped in that wonderful paper was “he said she said” by Erin Kelly and published by Hodder and Stoughton.  I would have walked past this book in a book shop.  The dust cover would not have attracted me nor would the fact that it was termed a “psychological thriller”.   Like everything else in life there are times to try something new and I look forward to reading it during the Christmas period.

Happy Christmas reading especially if it is a genre which you don’t normally read.

Traditions

 

Have you found Christmas Traditions have changed over the years?

 

If you have been fortunate like me to have become a parent then those traditions most certainly have changed.  A few years ago, I would have been sad about those changes but now at this stage I am glad that those changes have occurred.  It shows that life is being lived and for that I am very thankful.

 

However, there are still somethings which still herald Christmas.  Preparing and making the Christmas puddings, Christmas cake and the Christmas mincemeat are signals that Christmas is coming.  The first indication I have that Christmas is very near is when I post those first Christmas cards.  The next indication is when I arrive home with Christmas purchases.  These are small items which are either made or bought then wrapped and put under the Christmas tree for distributing among friends and family.

I met someone recently who told me that she detests January and February as the weather is usually awful, people are grumpy as they have little to look forward to and she has named them the BLAH months.  Last year she changed things and started making Christmas items which could be given to various friends and charities.  For her it extended the feeling of Christmas giving.  And in a very practical way it relieved the Christmas stress that she was normally under.  Next year as Easter is early, April 1st 2018, she intends to use her three least favourite months of the year to make Easter gifts.  A new tradition for her.

 

I like the idea of new traditions and I have to agree with her that very often people seems to be rather glum in January so perhaps extending the gift of giving to Easter is a good idea.  Those charities which we may support at Christmas I am sure need support during the rest of the year. Perhaps its a tradition which more of us could embrace?

 

A Christmas Card

I know this is going to be contentious but here it goes.  In Ireland over the last 10 years there has been a growing push by charities asking people to donate to a charity and not post or send Christmas Cards.  Why are they doing this?

There are many people and not just older people who look forward to getting Christmas cards in the post.   The card pops through the letter box usually with a Christmas postage stamp, the envelope hand written and inside there is a personal greeting.

Please pause a moment and thing back to the last time you received a personal greeting through the post? Let’s face it the occasion very rarely happens.  With the advent of paperless billing the volume of post has dropped.  Isn’t it good to receive that personal greeting?

Isn’t it wonderful to think that a friend, a colleague, a neighbour, a family member has taken the time to choose a card, write a greeting, address the envelope and then post it.  Isn’t it good to feel that even for a short time you were important to that person?

I attended a workshop during the year and a young lad asked me if I sent cards at Christmas. “Of course,” I replied “but why are you asking”? I learnt that this young lad has a chronic illness and at times it results in anxiety and depression.  When his energy is low and he feels his anxiety rising he will take out one of the Christmas cards he received and remind himself that he is important.

This conversation has remained with me.  We just never know how the simple gesture of sending a Christmas card can impact on someone.  I am sure there are many other examples of the smiles that a Christmas card can evoke.

Then there are the people who make their own Christmas cards who not only get a great buzz of making those cards but who also make others feel very important.  The hours which are spent choosing designs, paper and finally putting it all together before actually sitting down to write the personal greeting.

Many people send cards which they have purchased from specific charities knowing that the money is going back to that charity. These charities range from Children’s hospital to animal welfare. The money from those cards are important to those charities.

Can I ask a question of those charities who are asking people to donate rather than sending out Christmas cards? Why do you not ask people to consider donating the cost of an extra Christmas present? Why are charities not at Easter time asking people to stop buying Easter Eggs and instead donating the money to charity? There has grown the tradition of the 12 Pubs at Christmas in Ireland.  Why have the charities not targeted that?

These charities that ask us to donate instead of sending cards should really consider the impact this has on those who receive these Christmas cards.

 

Christmas puds

Stir Up Sunday

Over many years we have been fortunate to have celebrated “making the Christmas Pudding” with our son and various nieces and nephews.  Whether they enjoyed it I will leave up to them but these are memories which I cherish.

This year we celebrated “making the puds” with the next generation.  I can’t believe that around the table were three of my grand nieces and one of my grand nephews.

Coming into the seomra suite and seeing them engrossed in their tasks was just such a precious sight to behold.  Each and every “mixing memory” came rushing back.  Luke with “Delia Smiths Christmas” propped open to keep us on the right track; Jack and Katie with their incredible laughs; Sarah and Jessica with the phone images; Zoe Adam, Kaela and Clara (keeping watch with Luke) ready with the wooden spoons.

However I don’t think I am going to live it down that the only job I had with Jessica and Sarah was to put the flour into it the puds before steaming…..Yes you guessed it I left out the flour and on Christmas Day when the pudding was turned out it was pure liquid.

Another year with Jack and Katie, I totally forgot about the puds in the steamer and I ended up having to make them again as they the first ones were totally inedible.

The one thing which is common to all these memories is mixing all the ingredients once the stout has been added.  The enthusiasm, the laughter, the mess and last but definitely not least, making that important Christmas wish is the highlight of the occasion.  Eyes scrunched up while saying “I wish, I wish I wish” and silently making that wish.  It still gives me goose bumps.

Christmas PudWhen I was growing up the puds were made immediately after Halloween.  The latest date for making them was the Sunday before Advent in the Christian church.  The Collect for that day starts “Stir up we beseech thee O’ Lord”.  Hence the name “Stir up Sunday”.

I love the traditions of Christmas but sometimes traditions need to be adapted.  Perhaps with the use of Skype or similar, Stir up Sunday next year could include the grand nieces and nephews from farther afield around the world.

I am privileged to have been given so many Christmas Pud memories and to those who gave them to me, thank you.

Christmas puds

20 Minutes

Perhaps 20 minutes isn’t too long in the grand scheme of things.  Perhaps there isn’t much to be achieved in 20 minutes? Well let me tell you there is a hell of a lot which can be achieved in those precious 20 minutes.  A while ago I took part in a survey asking about using 20 minutes to volunteer.  It got me thinking.

What could be made in 20 minutes? What could it be used for? Could it really be termed volunteering? Twenty minutes with my slow crochet work will make a tiny premature baby hat.  Now there are others who crochet and who would make a premature baby jacket in 20 minutes. ( I am slow)  IMAG0791

 

 

Now before you switch off from this post just because you may not be a crafter can I make a suggestion here of how you might be able to volunteer 20 minutes.  Would you have 20 minutes to purchase yarn, fabric and donate it?  If you don’t know anyone directly who knits just contact your local ICA  or similar group they will definitely know.

IMAG0787

Crafting is expensive so two fat quarters of fabric would make a premmie blanket.  2 yards of fabric can be used to make a fidget quilt for a person with dementia.   Then there are the bravery blankies for children and teenagers in hospital with cancer.  2 balls of yarn would go along way to making so many things.

Please don’t think about it just head off and purchase that ball of yarn, or that piece of fabric and pass it on and put a smile on someone’s face.

Cherished Recipes

Early morning and yet again no sleep so think it is time for root among my cookery books. I really enjoy reading cookery books. I especially enjoy learning where the ideas for recipes have come from.

The most delicious recipes are very often those recipes which have been handed down through generations, with every generation adding a slight tweak.

I started to flick through some of the cookery books and immediately I was transported back to when I had bought them.  Wow I had totally forgotten I had the Food Aid Book.

Do you remember Band Aid in 1984? It was founded by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for the fight against famine in Ethiopia.   On November 20th the single “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was recorded and five days later it was released.

In 1985, while watching Live Aid Delia Smith got the idea that the food industry including chefs could also give or donate to the fight against famine.  The seed of an idea for a cookery book grew.   Together with Sir Terry Wogan and within two months the book was selling off the shelves in 1986, having been published by the BBC. The book  however, was different form the norm in that it is made up of cherished recipes donated by the people both famous and not so famous.   Some recipes were sponsored by food industry with the recipes themselves being wide and varied.

The first recipe was provided by Dian Princess of Wales.   However, the majority of recipes are from ordinary individuals willing to share a cherished recipe.

My favourite recipe is a recipe for a ham sandwich devised by the comic Ronnie Barker and which finishes

 

“Place £5 in envelope and whisk off to Food Aid .   Enjoy sandwich knowing that someone will eat with that £5 note.”

My recipe for soda bread was given to me by my Aunty Mary Dan and hasn’t changed. Our Christmas Pudding Recipe has changed from the heavy dark pudding of childhood to a lighter pudding which at this stage cannot be altered or it is no longer “our” Christmas pudding. Of course we have “drinky” biscuits, so-called because our son would have half the batter drunk before the flour had been added to make it into biscuits.

Do you have any cherished family recipes or new ones which you have devised and are now part of the family repertoire?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Punch

 

 

I can’t believe that the paper punch is over 100 years old.

I am sure if you use Google on a daily basis you have now realised that on 14th November 1886 it was patented by Frederich Soennecken.  This led to Benjamin Smith’s patent in and to the patent of Charles Brooke which not only punched a hole but also collected the paper which had been punched out.

I like punches: from the simple one-hole punch to decorative paper punches.   On my shelf I can see the one-hole punch, double hole which was used to hole foolscap paper.  I have one which can punch numerous holes for ring binders.  Great for keeping magazines in one place.

I can remember as a clerical worker a punch was an invaluable piece of equipment for storing correspondence in files.  However, if you had a punch which gathered the punched pieces of paper you were in heaven.  Those pesky bits of paper were in one place.

In later years, I have decorated jam jars or mason jars with those pesky bits of paper to give the effect of snow with a tea light candle glimmering inside.  All the time keeping a wary eye that the glass wasn’t getting too warm.  Those battery-operated tea lights have taken the worry out now.

Over the years I have seen beautiful handmade greeting cards which have used only punches to create wonderful designs.

Is a punch part of your life? Do you have more than one? Or is a punch obsolete?

A Special Experience

Have you ever been lucky enough to be part of a special experience?

Last night I attended a dinner in the Crown Plaza hotel, Santry, Dublin.  There was a buzz around the table with conversations to my right and left.  The volume rose as the tables filled up.  So, you are asking what’s so different?

Firstly, apart from my husband I knew no one at that table, however people introduced themselves and made everyone feel welcome.  Conversations with strangers flowed.

This was an extremely special night where blood and platelets donors who had donated over 50 units were honoured.  I was accompanying my husband who was one of those being honoured.

Just 1 teaspoon of blood for a premature baby! Yes, ONE TEASPOON.  It was amazing to think that a teaspoon could equal a miracle.  The shelf life of blood is 7 days or 5 days for neonatal.  Just look at some of your groceries and look at their shelf life very little has to be used within such a short time period.

To the world you are just one person but to one person you are the world” We have all heard that expression but blood donors and platelet donors epitomise this saying.  Very often a platelet donor would be matched with a specific recipient.

For many kids and perhaps adults the men and women of the fire service are special.  How many kids dress up as “Firemen”? Last night I listened to an awe-inspiring talk given by a member of Dublin Fire Service.  The talk opened with background information of how this officer started donating blood throughout his time with the service.  How he started donating blood platelets in James Street never realising that in a short time he would need the service.

This man’s young son was diagnosed with leukaemia and spent 3 years on Chemo but the first donation of blood platelets actually brought back the colour to his son’s face.  This man spoke eloquently, gently, with dignity as he allowed us a little insight into the journey of his son’s illness and the journey of the family.  We were a privileged audience and I thank this man his wife and his son for sharing such a personal and traumatic story but one with a happy ending. His son is now a TEENAGER with all that entails.

One of the facts which I have found very difficult to understand is that Ireland has a population of 4,757,976(according to the census of 2016) and only 3% that is only 142,739 volunteer donors are keeping this country alive with blood.  This makes me very frustrated as I myself am unable to continue donating.

A I was leaving the hotel last night amid a great buzz I was determined to write something about how proud I am of these blood and platelet donors and especially proud of my wonderful husband that I would in some small way try and promote the need for volunteers.  So, if you have thought of donating but have put it off please think again.

It is not scary.  If like me needles aren’t your thing just look away then you won’t know anything about it.  Before you realise it, your donation has been taken.  Again, if you are like me a scaredy cat and just want to bury your nose in a book the staff will not take offence.  However, if you are a chatterbox the staff are great conversationalists.

So here is the information for Ireland: Facebook Irish Blood Transfusion Service: online www.giveblood.ie: phone 1850731137.  Don’t put off donating for another day.  If you are reading this in another country just use a search engine and you will get the information.

Thank You in anticipation

 

Reading Something New

 

What books have you read which are totally out of your comfort zone?

UP front here, I am the biggest coward on two feet.  Dr.  Who tv series has always scared me.  I prefer to record tv programmes or download so that I can fast forward over the bits which scare me.  Yes, honestly a total whoosh

As for books? I have a vivid imagination so reading about a human being viciously hurting another human being is a scene I really don’t need to read about.  As I have said before I enjoy a COZY mystery the emphasis on COZY.  Blood and gore literally make me sick.

However, being a member of a Facebook discussion book group sometimes one must take the plunge and read outside of the comfort zone.  So last month the theme was “Books which Scare you”.  The suggestion for those who don’t like to be scared was Joe Hill’s “The Fireman”.  This was for the scaredy cats like me.  Ha, ha: after two chapters, which I read in daylight, I heard a noise above me.  I jumped out of my skin looked out of the window to see my neighbour’s cat casually sauntering along the path having knocked down a new flowerpot I had left on the window sill.  My heart was racing.  See I did tell you I was a scaredy cat.  I am afraid I didn’t finish the book.  Perhaps someone can tell me how it ends during daylight hours pleas.

Now I have a friend who absolutely loves these sorts of books.  Anne this is definitely one for you.

For anyone who enjoys horror books an author which has been recommend  is Chris Rush .  Book titles include “Folklore”, and “All Shall Suffer”.

For me it’s back to Ruth Dudley Edwards.

 

A Child’s Poem? Or Maybe Not

Surprise

 

The biggest

Surprise

On the library shelf

Is when you

Suddenly

Find yourself

Inside a book

(the hidden you)

You wonder how

The author knew.

 

by Beverley McLoughland

 

 

Beverley McLoughland is a children’s poet.  She doesn’t have a blog, website or Wikipedia entry.  Her poems have been published in literary magazines.  This poem can be found in a book called “Good Books, Good times” by Lee Bennet Hopkins published by Harper Collins.   It is a collection of funny poems celebrating the joy of words.  Although published for children it is a great read for any age.  The illustrations by Harvey Stenson just add to the fun of the book.

An Unexpected Angel

 

Shopping! Oh, how I detest it.  Let me quantify that.  Shopping for books, pens, paper, fabric, yarn, pottery and ceramics isn’t really shopping.  It is going on a mini holiday.  The weekly grocery/household shopping is a necessity which just has to be done and at this stage of my life I have it down to a fine art.

Shopping for shoes is mildly entertaining.  Shopping for a bag is good as I look at a bag and envisage how I will fill it with pens, notebook, journals and the other necessities one requires.

Then there is what I term the Nightmare Shop and it is clothes shopping to which I refer.  It is with dread and a heavy heart that I look at clothes shopping.  Yes, I have tried personal shopper.  It certainly was an experience. I have tried just wandering into a clothes shop to browse, however it isn’t long before I am browsing a book shop instead.

Yesterday I walked into a shop to be greeted by a vista of rich autumnal colours interspersed with shards of colour which should have been discordant but in fact enhanced the whole image.  No this was not an art gallery but a clothes shop.  Not only were the colours eye catching but the texture of the fabrics was enticing.

Having spent a time just wandering and noticing that the outfits were put together using unusual colour combinations I took the plunge and “tried on an outfit”.   On showing it to my friend I was approached by a guardian angel of clothes whose name is Serena.  I call her a guardian angel because she guided me through the process of choosing, discarding and turning the experience into an adventure.  She showed how to try something and to see where it did enhance or didn’t.  To look at different combinations and to realise that with guidance an outfit can boost the confidence of a person. I tried on rich colours,different shapes and laughed. You would have too if you had seen me. It was fun, yes fun. I never thought I would say that about clothes shopping!!

So, all I can say for those of you who like me hate, dread and dislike clothes shopping with a vengeance I hope you find your clothes angel.  However, if you are in Ireland or ever visit Ireland then take a trip to Newbridge County Kildare and call into Maybell Lady Plus Boutique.  There you will find two angels Ann and Serena who will help in making clothes shopping a really good experience.

And yes I  have an outfit I would never have thought of looking at never mind buying which makes me feel 6 foot tall and a million dollars. Good shopping.

 

 

 

 

One of Life’s Pleasures

A mug of coffee or tea and a good book are not just life’s pleasures but a necessity. I don’t think I could survive without a book. There are many book genres which I enjoy but a “who done it”  with a cuppa? A definite yes.

A book where the “baddy” is caught by a believable sleuth, justice is served, without any blood and gore details, is the basis of a good mystery book.  The sleuth can be a lady of indeterminable years, a young lady, a police detective, a retired detective, a librarian, a cook; it doesn’t matter as long as the writing is good and lures me into the story.

I was introduced to a mystery book while attending the children’s public library in Rathmines, Dublin by my good friend Úna and 50 years later she is still introducing me to new authors. During the years I have been enthralled by authors such as Ruth Dudley Edwards, Miranda James, Kate Ellis, Deborah Crombie, Ann Cleeves, Ann Granger, and of course Agatha Christie together with Colin Dexter and his Inspector Morse series.

Unfortunately, a “cozy mystery” is not a popular genre or so the publishers would like us to think. So many book shops do not stock them. In fact, it is hard to find them in general. Thank goodness for the independent book shops where they are more than happy to order these books. Dubray Books in Bray http://www.dubraybooks.ie/ being one such shop with their knowledgeable, friendly staff. Really what more could you ask for.

It is great to come across a new author. A new addition to my author’s journal is Lilian Watts, http://lilianwatts.com. She is an Australian author who has a theatrical series set in U.S.A. which is really enjoyable. So, if you are looking for a cozy mystery read try her out.

Thanks to Úna I have been enthralled, entertained and visited numerous countries through the “cozy mystery” genre.

 

Poetry

 

Pen paper and mugs are part of my life but words are an integral part. I enjoy reading poetry as opposed to studying and learning poetry as had to be done in school.

During those many sleepless nights I  have come across some wonderful websites all to do with poetry. I am just amazed how a poet can put a few words together and conjure up images that are as vivid as an artist’s painting. It is pure alchemy.

I came across a contemporary poet Eileen Carney Hulme. Her poetry seemed to just lift off the page. She was born in Scotland of Irish/ Scottish descent. Here is just one I would like to share with you. It is from her poem The Letters

 

I wonder if you keep

 the letters still,

spidery and blotted

now, like old days

I remember sunlight burst

that inspired

Those winged words

Conversations and Meetings

 

There is a need for interaction, for dialogue for the sharing of ideas not just in the written word but also verbally.

In fact, I have to push myself to join a group and continue to push myself to remain within that group.  I have found that by taking on particular roles or jobs it makes me remain active within the group.  For me, there is a need to push the limits.  If those are not expanded at times then my world would shrink.  This I have learnt the hard way and the only person who can stop my world shrinking is me.  Listen I am no saint and many a time I have just remained within the environs of my home.

There are times when I have to push myself to leave the four walls of my home and go out.  Most times it is difficult and then later when I realise I have enjoyed myself I get annoyed with myself.  Talk about a vicious circle.  I don’t think I am alone.  There are many more of us who give the illusion of being at ease meeting people while all the time there is the urge to scurry away and beaver at home.

It is so much easier now to interact with people via Skype, Whats app, video conferencing, texts email, but to actually sit with someone and communicate is just in a different league.  I have been trying to work out just what makes it different and it is the human touch.  Maybe it’s giving a person a lift while having a chat.  Perhaps it is sitting opposite over a cuppa and having eye contact.  Sometimes it is that hug which can speak volumes or maybe it’s that laugh which can lift one out of the doldrums.

Have you ever found that you are in conversation with someone and they can give you an idea for another interest?  Or perhaps expand an interest you already have in a totally different direction?  Or they have a way of listening and giving a response which suddenly makes everything clear. I am blessed to have such a friend. Catherine can take my verbal musings and make things clear for me in just a couple of words. She has an amazing ability to reflect back ideas in a constructive and more importantly concise way.

Perhaps a way to make Skype and all those other electronic conversations more personal and interactive is to share a cuppa. What I mean is that each of the participants has a cup of their favourite brew while they chat. Perhaps have a small bite to eat… can you imagine the exchange of recipes which could ensue especially if the conversation was over thousand of miles.

So if you are going to meet a friend be it in person or  virtual what would be your drink and your nibble? For me it would be a big mug of coffee preferably ground Ugandan coffee beans or Malawian coffee. And to have with it…pineapple upsidedown cake (made by my husband) or lemon meringue pie.

 

 

 

Reading too fast?

Hello there

 

I hope you this finds you in a good place today.  We have been blessed with some beautiful Autumnal weather these last few days.  There has been heat during the day but still the smell of Autumn permeating through.  Today however, has started with a grey sluggish morning and the inevitable forecast of rain.

Have you ever misread a sentence, crossword clue, line of poetry and in doing so gone on a totally different tangent to what was intended? Ok there will be some you who will say “no” while others will say “probably” while I have to say definitely.

As you know I love journaling which in my case is actually writing in a journal not journaling as a craft.  A few years ago, I received a diary and each day there would be a thought or a suggested action.  One day it was “see a beautiful word” and it resonated with me.

At long last there was someone who actually realised that words could be beautiful: from the meaning to the sound to script in which they are written.  Even in what context they are written.  I remember years ago a teacher talking about the beauty and richness of words to convey the thoughts of each reader, but I had never come across the beauty of an actual word.  From that day on words looked totally different

Well, today I happened across that same diary.  For some reason, I found it among a folder of crochet patterns.  How it came to be there I have no idea.  Flicking through the diary I came across the thought “see a beautiful word”.  EXCEPT it did not read see a beautiful word it read “see a beautiful WORLD”!!!!!!

 

I fell around my craft room with the laughter.  How daft could I have been not to have checked the sentence.  How could I have made such a mistake? Honestly it made a lot of sense when I read it correctly.  Perhaps it had been serendipitous? The dropping of a letter had led me down a different path.  I have come to appreciate words.  I am generally on the lookout for unusual words and relish the sound of words now.  So, was it a waste that I had misread? Definitely not if nothing else it gave me a great laugh this morning.  I wonder if anyone else has had a good outcome after misreading a word?

Take care and look after yourself.

Sleep or Lack of

Good morning

 

No automatic alt text available.

 

I am one of those people who don’t have a regular sleep pattern.  There are many nights when 4.am arrives and I am still wide awake.

I gave up as fruitless remaining in bed tossing and turning and getting mor and more frustrated.  When I knew sleep was not going to happen I would get up and do something.

Years ago it was card making which kept me going during those hours thanks to a brilliant crafter and fantastic teacher Mary.  It cemented my love of paper.  This was in the day before tablets, iPhone and well before the ready availability of Wifi.  Paper crafting allowed me to have something to show after a sleepless night.  It allowed me the luxury of trying different ways to manipulate paper and card.  I still remember spending a night making a bag using tea bag folding to decorate the outside of the bag.  It was incredibly relaxing.  Would I do it again I don’t honestly know!

My Christmas cards got made during those hours especially those special ones which required many hours to choose colours, paper, card fold before assembly. Deciding on a specific card to suit someone can take me hours. Night time was great for this process. There was no pressure as there is during the day, when I have the myriad of “to do” to be completed.

My journaling came into its own giving me the space and opportunity of clearing my mind.  In the quiet of the night it was easy to allow the thoughts and ideas take flight.  So what, that those ideas didn’t come to fruition? I had the time to allow them to float and then decide whether or not they were not for me.  Some of the ideas were a bit barmy but they provided great amusement when re read on my five yearly clear out.

Recently a neighbour confided in me that she didn’t feel so alone when she could see lights on in my house.  She realised that there was someone else who also wasn’t asleep.  It surprised me that my inability to sleep was actually comforting someone else.

One just does not know how our actions can affect another human being.

 

Thank you for reading.

Post

There is something magical about the clatter of the letter box and the hope there is something there other than a bill.  Generally, nowadays bills are online so it is mainly unsolicited mail or rubbish.

However, do you remember the anticipation hearing the postman and hoping there was something just for you.  I love to get post.  I especially like to get a letter or a card when I am least expecting it.  There is something really exciting to see a coloured envelope which has a hand-written address.  Wow to think someone has taken the time to write to me.  I find it humbling, exciting and just the very thing to accompany that “mug of ..”

If you are of a similar generation to me you will probably remember the blue “air letter”.  It was a sheet of flimsy paper which was folded in on itself forming its own envelope.  It was amazing just how much information could be squeezed onto one A4 sheet of paper.

 

Image result for aerogramme paper

I had a friend in the 80’s working in India and those “air letters” were great.  I remember the lady in the post office near to where I worked telling me that she had a note pad of them that would work out cheaper for me! That was how Ger and I kept in touch.

Very often these pages or air letter were surrounded by the country colours.  The Irish air letter had a border of green, white and orange.  Air mail must have seemed so much quicker than surface mail which had for so long the only way of getting information across the miles.  Not forgetting the different class of stamps depending on how fast you wanted or could afford to post a letter.

I was just trying to think over my morning pot of tea just when was the last time I received a chatty letter.  I actually couldn’t remember.  It is normal to receive what I term as a “catch up” letter with some Christmas cards but excluding those I honestly can’t remember the last time I received a letter.  That got me thinking as to when I had last sent a letter.  Again, I was stumped.  Excluding a note with a card it is a long time since I sent a letter.  I would send cards regularly to people just to say hello but it would be very seldom when I would enclose a long missive.

I have heard myself complaining about the closures of post offices however if the majority of people are like me and don’t write letters then is it any wonder that post offices are being closed?  But that is for another day.

I think it is time to re-invent the letter.  How? Every month I am going to write a letter to someone different.  I know I am going to find it strange.  A mug of tea and I will start the letter.  It is Image result for letter imageseasy to forget how one can get lost in a letter but if you haven’t written in a while like me then it can seem like a large.  Finally, off to the post office and pop it in the box.

 

Now I know, some of those who know me are now laughing out loud.  Why? Just today I found a get-well card for someone who is back at work after undergoing an operation which they underwent over three months ago.! Yes, I made the card, made up a verse for the insert, popped in a note, addressed the envelope stamped it and totally forgot to post the letter.  I have a friend and in our teens and early twenties we corresponded by post.  Well the number of bulk letters which Mags received was embarrassing to say the least.  So my penchant of not remembering to post the letter is going to be the biggest hurdle of all.

Please if you have any hints on how not to forget to post the letter please, please let me know.  If you are a letter writer I would also it would be good to hear from you.  Perhaps you are still corresponding with friends using a pen and paper? If you are would I would love to hear about it.

Take care.

A Lunch…..

A while back, I met a wonderful lady.  I met her at a lunch which was given by a mutual friend.  This lady, I will call he Kate, after introductions she apologised that she didn’t know why she was invited to this lunch as she had nothing in common with anyone there.  She said “I am not a university graduate and only finished secondary school so I have nothing to contribute but I would love to hear about your work”.  I was stunned.

Eventually I think I closed my mouth and gradually found out that Kate was a craft artist, mother, home provider, parent carer, volunteer, voracious reader and still sane.  How she managed to do all she was doing, was beyond me.  Back in the day the buzz word in companies was time and motion management, now it is called work study.  Well Kate had a PhD in it without the certificate to prove it.

How could this lady be so demeaned by society even though she was a primary carer, educator, financial manager, caterer, cook, maintenance manager, craft master and artist oh and a volunteer?  When did the criteria for being a worthwhile person start with the premise that one needed to be a graduate?

After many years of getting to know Kate, I asked her one day why she had apologised about her education qualifications when we met.  She said the number of women who had dismissed her as insignificant because she wasn’t working or hadn’t a degree had led her to a deflecting strategy and allowed her to get through these social events.

You may think that this is a scenario from the 70’s or maybe 80’s but unfortunately not.  It happened within the last 5 years.  There may be inequality between men and women as I know there is but if women cannot respect and support each other there is no way that equality between men and women will ever happen.

 

 

Daily Prompt: Educate

 

“All of life is a constant education” ….  Eleanor Roosevelt.  I came across this quote in one of my journals and it has set me thinking.  What does “educate” mean?  “To give knowledge to or develop the abilities of somebody by teaching” Bloomsbury English Dictionary.  But is education solely learning by teaching?

Andrew Carnegie said that his education came through books rather than formal education.  Is todays image of education restricted to the image of a teacher standing in front of a class or is that an antiquated image? Although there may be whiteboards or tablets in use in schools.  The school is still divided in classrooms with a teacher.  Looking at it another way by having the basics of education taught in such a way it opens up the whole world of learning and that is a wide and varied world.

I have to agree with Andrew Carnegie to a great extent.  Books are a great wealth of knowledge and in many instances a free source of education.  The Public library system and free E books can open up the world of learning.  However, I think it is when we actually realise how we as individuals learn that education comes alive.

For me I still need paper and pen to take notes to write to edit and through these steps I learn.  For others, the arrival of you tube has opened the door to another aspect of education and learning.  Watching rather than reading enables these people to learn in a way that is beneficial to them.  Even if I am watching you tube I invariably have to take notes.

Edith Hamilton an U.S.  educator and author, spoke of how little stress was put on the pleasure of learning.  A friend of mine in her 80s reads the Sunday Newspaper from cover to cover because she enjoys being up to date with current affairs but also enjoys learning about the world of which Ireland is only a small dot.  She loves to learn but also can impart that knowledge.  I really enjoy the debates we have and also the unusual snippets she has gleaned in the newspaper.  A cuppa with Peggy brings me right up to date.

 

via Daily Prompt: Educate

A Community?

 

How are you this evening?

All today I have had a craving for chips.  Not homemade oven chips but honest to goodness chipper chips.  So in order to banish the thoughts I had the usual prom walk but then instead of the cuppa and a biscuit I put on a walking video.  I made sure to have plenty of chopped fruit and veg for those snacks which for some reason seem to be still in the fridge.  It didn’t help.  I found myself just an hour ago crossing over the threshold of the chipper.

The aroma was wonderful: that heady mixture of salt, vinegar and spices.  My mouth was salivating.  A few minutes reading that enticing menu but all along I knew when my time came I would say “Onion rings and chips please” My shoulders relaxed, the pain my neck eased.  And now, for the next part of a trip to the chipper the act of people watching.

I love people watching and there was so much to see and hear.  The majority of the customers were known by name.  Was I envious? Definitely.  To be part of a community is a necessity.  Did the people here realise that they were part of a community and that others would be envious of them? Maybe or maybe not.  Did it really matter?

Every age group was represented here.  “Redser” a small ten-year-old had a list as long as your arm memorised.  It seems it was different to his normal order and Joe who owned the chipper was quick to check just in case.  “Me bleedin cousins are here” Redser told us all.

Two young men came in having rung in their order as they were on their way to watch the match. Kitted out in the Irish Jerseys and scarves, they told Joe Ireland was going to win by the single goal.  “Darren Randolph will have a clean sheet”.  I hadn’t even realised that Ireland were playing.  I’d better remember to check out the score later or perhaps catch up on the I player.  They all dissected the team and the opposition and  all the while Joe took orders as new customers came in.

At the same time, there was an ongoing conversation being had by 4 teenagers “We need bulking out if we want to make any sort of an impression.” Ah obviously, they wanted to impress some girls I thought.  “How are we ever going to get onto the senior cup team”? Ah well I was way off the mark there.  They continued talking about buying protein supplements and extra training sessions.  Then the image was spoiled when the order of “2 quaterpounders and chips” for each of them was called together with the diet coke. Just priceless to listen to the serious discussion on nutrition and for the image to be shattered by the reality of the order “2 quaterpounders and chips” for each of them together with the diet coke. It was hard not to laugh.

Before I knew it my order was ready and all my thoughts were on getting home as fast as possible and curling up to watch Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple and slowly enjoying every last one these delicious golden nuggets.

Image result for images for an Irish Chipper

Definitely a little piece of heaven……

 

A little explanation for those not from or living in Ireland.  A chipper is a shop where potatoes are cut into chips, deep fried and sold wrapped in paper.  Deep fried fish, burgers and onions are also sold.

 

A Little Sun

Another beautiful early Autumnal morning.  There is a totally different smell to the early mornings and the morning light seems to gradually appear without any pomp.  Each of the seasons is so different and very similar here in Ireland. I heard a comment recently which described Ireland as beautiful green expanses under a sky that has every tone of grey imaginable. Which is very true.

For many the absence of sunlight here can be draining.  I have avery good friend who adores sunlight and heat. As soon as the sun appears she is there gathering strength form it.

 

I came across this poem a short time ago and after rummaging through one of my journals.  I hope you enjoy this extract.  It is by Marshall Gebbie Australian born but lives in New Zealand.   He states he is “a poem writer for the average Joe”. He certainly speaks to me. I found this poem on https://hellopoetry.com/poem/201060/warmth-of-autumn-sun/

 

Warmth of Autumn Sun

Turquoise in the morning light
The treetops are alive
With the myriad of birdsong
As the swirling mists arrive
And the shaft of brilliant sunshine
Penetrates the greenish gloom
To illuminate the craggy ridge
In a honeyed, golden bloom…..

 

Ah, that cup of…

Do you ever find that a coffee shop or restaurant will linger long in your memory? I have two such coffee shops.   While it is nearly 8 years since I have eaten in one the other was only a few months ago.

The first is Samovar tea room in Yerba Buena Gardens San Francisco, U.S.A.    The visit to the U.S.   to see the Irish Rugby team, play the U.S.    Eagles in Santa Clara led to trip to San Francisco.   San Francisco was everything I thought it would be and more.   Friendly hospitable and so much to see and do.

A visit to the Samovar Tea Room was an oasis in a very busy schedule.   There is no possible way that one can hurry through a meal there.   The first thing which literally hits you on entering are the aromas.   Although there are hundreds of blends of tea and with the Tea Rooms catering to a number of gusts the aromas seem to blend to give a warm welcome.

It was great the way various different types and blends were suggested so as to enhance the food.   The staff were friendly and had the patience of job as we took forever to choose after plying the staff with so many questions.   What really impressed me was, at the time we had a young teenager and he was accorded the same respect as the rest of the party.

So, if you are heading to San Francisco pre-book a table at the Samovar Tea Room.    It is an experience to be savoured and enjoyed but not hurried.

The Second place is yet another tea room which is strange as I am a confessed coffeeholic.    It is the Glencar teaShed beside Glencar Waterfall in County Leitrim, Ireland.    (Please remember that waterfalls in Ireland are not very tall but are very pretty).   This tea shop has a wide selection of speciality teas but for the coffee lovers there is a wide selection of coffees.

It is a very calm tea room served by exceptionally friendly staff.   It is nestled beside the waterfall with stunning views over Glencar Lake.   What I was delighted to see was that this tea shop catered for the needs of those who can’t eat gluten.   Take your time to sample the soda bread just soft and extremely moreish.   The ethos of the tea room is to keep it fresh, local and provide a wonderful environment.    Which is exactly true.

The current owner’s great aunts ran a tea room in the early 1900s.    there are artefacts from the original tea rooms to be seen.    The poet W.B.  Yeats visited Glencar Waterfall and the old Sibery Tea Room.    His poem “The Stolen Child” was inspired by the beauty of the waterfall.

So, if you are visiting the Wild Atlantic way in Ireland take a detour and visit the teaShed nestled beside Glencar Waterfall.

An Unexpected Find.

How do you choose a book? Invariable when returning my borrowed library books there will be a recommendation based on previous reads from the librarian. A librarian’s wealth of literary knowledge is amazing.  Then again perhaps a book cover will catch my eye inviting me to take a pew and pause. The bold colours of a dust jacket with angular lines, the gentle tone of soft summer colours on another or even the placement of a title on a monochrome background can entice me. Sometimes the title just jumps out.

It was the title “When Books Went to War” by Molly Guptill Manning which attracted me one day. Such an unusual title. Normally a book jacket with a soldier would turn me off but the title was intriguing and unusual. This is the story of the armed services edition of books which was authorised by the U.S. government during world war 2. The U.S. government supplied over 120 million free books which were read and reread, borrowed shared, read aloud, read silently and provided an oasis to all those serving. This was the polar opposite to Nazi Germany where the government ordered the burning of books and the destruction of many more in libraries across the countries as they invaded. The bill led to books becoming more accessible through paperback editions.

However, this would not have been possible without the work of librarians. When they realised that the Nazis were destroying books, they launched a campaign whereby free books would be sent to US troops. They collected over 20 million hard covered books all free donations. The Publishing industry and the Government then joined forces to provide free books.

Many books which would not be read today except for this amazing programme. “The Great Gatsby” was rescued and the author of another wonderful book “a Tree Grows in Brooklynn” became a national hero. The comradery which developed through reading lasted long after the war was over.

“When Books Went to War” is a wonderfully written and engaging book. It could have been a dull read as so many reference books are but this book captured me and kept me engaged throughout. This book showed how a book could be educational, instructive, comforting, engaging and through the idea of passing on a book reinforcing the strength of comradeship. This is a gem of a book.

In a very practical way this book epitomised how a book can be extremely powerful.

 

 

 

A favourite Read

 

 

I know it has been said that there should be no favourite reads but one of my favourite series is “A Cat in the Stacks Mystery” by Miranda James.

Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows librarian Charlie Harris-and his Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash.

It is set around a librarian by the name of Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat Diesel.

So, if you enjoy a mystery set to a background of books or with a cat being a main character this is the series for you.

An excedingly enjoyable read with twists.

The Generosity of One Man

I don’t know about you but I love to read.  Books were and still can be expensive so for me the Public Library has always been a source into the world of books.

I have been a member of a public library since I was a small child.  There was the anticipation of the weekly trip to the library and the thoughts of two books for reading when homework was completed and household chores done.  During the long school summer holidays having two visits in the week.  So, double the number of books and if you had a friend living near who was also a bookworm you had the chance of swapping books.

The first membership I had was in the children’s library in Rathmines, Dublin.  This library was opened in 1913 through a grant from the Carnegie foundation.

Andrew Carnegie who set up the Carnegie Foundation was a Scottish emigrant whose family settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1848.  He started work at 13 in a cotton mill but soon got a job in a telegraph company and taught himself how to use the equipment from there he got a job with the railroad.  Colonel James Anderson a prominent citizen in Allegheny opened his private library to all working boys and Carnegie took full advantage of that rare opportunity.  Books would provide his education throughout his life.

Andrew Carnegie was a famous US industrialist.  In 1901 when he sold his steel business for $480 million he set out to distribute his wealth by setting up the Carnegie Foundation.   “It was from my own early experience that I decided there was no use to which money could be applied so productive as to the founding of a public library” Andrew Carnegie (www.carnegie.org) By 1905 he pledged $39 million for 1200 libraries in English speaking countries.  That figure rose to over 2000 libraries.  In Ireland 66 libraries were built and 62 of those remain to this day.

Many people may have heard of Carnegie Hall in New York City or seen it while visiting New York.  It was also built from funds given by Andrew Carnegie.  It was the culmination of a crusade for a building which would be able to accommodate the New York Symphony Society.  The proposed building would have three separate performance spaces.  The reviews from the opening nights performance concentrated on the building rather than the performance.  TheMusic Hall founded by Andrew Carnegie” was an overwhelming success.   (www.carnegiehall.org)

Rathmines LibraryRathmines Public Library was the first public library in Ireland to have a dedicated children’s library.  It also has a stained-glass window by the famous English designer William Morris.  I have so many memories queueing up beneath that window as it cast its shadows on the warm wooden steps.  It seemed to add to the adventure of the trip to the library.  It was only many years later that I realised how privilaged I had been to have seen the craftsmanship that was on show.

My local library is now in, Bray, in county Wicklow.  It is also a Carnegie Library It was built in 1911 on land donated by a local land-owning family, the Quinn Family.  All the material was sourced locally and it was built by local craftsmen.  We are fortunate with the expansion of the town we also have a second library in the town which was opened in 2000.

The public library even in today’s world of eBooks is still an essential part of the community.  It is a treasure throve of treasures which now can be accessed by all.  It is amazing that the generosity of one man is still being felt nearly 100 years after his death.  His legacy is giving is still giving so much to so many.

Now all that remains is to decide whether to brave the rain and head to the library or to download a book via the library website.  Decisions, decisions, decisions!

 

Tea

While meandering and browsing poetry sites I came across this poem on https://hellopoetry.com.

It seemed to resonate with my thoughts on “a mug of”

 

Tea

Sitting, drinking tea while watching the rain come wandering down
a smile brought on by cool breeze on misted skin
steam rising from the cup in front, the fragrant herbs steeping
and cascading come memories of other times
of once close people and far away places
and endless cups of tea

No matter where i wander, be it deserts cold or mountains rugged
there are always memories of those left behind in time
bring they a smile, a grin or a tear to flow my face
i will find joy in seeing them again
even if only inside my mind
and over a cup of tea.

 

Tomas Denson Jan 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Mug

I wanted to explain a little further about the name of my blog.  Previously I explained why paper and pen.  Let me tell you about “mug of”

Sometimes one of the most important decisions is a mug of? The anticipation of wrapping one’s hands around a particular mug; followed by that first smell; finally taking that first sip.  It certainly is one of life’s pleasures and for many an integral part of their day.  Over the years my “mug of..” has changed.  I will freely admit to having been a coffeeholic.  Twenty mugs of coffee would have been the norm.

I began to research and taste various coffee beans.  A friend gave me a coffee grinder so the experiments continued but now it was to find the ideal grind.  Now I was not a coffee snob.  Yes, I enjoyed and enjoy instant coffee but I can appreciate and savour coffee which has been lovingly made.  I am convinced whenever I taste a bitter or burnt cup of coffee it is because the maker has lost the incentive to really make a good coffee.

I use a china mug for tea.  I know it shouldn’t make a difference but that morning mug of tea has to be in a china mug.  Perhaps it is all in my imagination but to me it tastes differently.  At this stage, I have slim china mugs specifically for that morning cuppa.  The colour will be chosen depending on the weather outside.  I have always admired the shape of teapots.  There is something happy about a tea pot.  Perhaps it reminds me of the 1939 song “I’m a little teapot” which always made me smile or perhaps the people who had a smile on their face while pouring that first cup of tea.  So, morning ritual is a tea made in a teapot with a china mug.

Throughout the remainder of the day it is the mug of coffee which is the go to.  Many of my mugs for coffee are generous in size.  Either tall and elegant or squat and round; the latter invitingly made for warming the hands even in the middle of summer.  It is my go to mug when heading out to the garden on a cold winters day.  A good friend gave it to me and when I get to the bottom of the mug “another one?” is written and I immediately think of her.

Now I find that my “mug of …” is dependent on the time of day, what I am doing and sometimes who I am with.  Over the years I have acquired a great collection of mugs.  Each has its own story and memory associated with it.  Those memories are equally as important as the brew it holds.