Monthly Archives: December 2007

My year

As the year draws slowly to its close, we all regardless of age seem to look back over the events of the past year, remembering lost loved ones, re-live our celebrations, rejoicing over achievements, tiptoe past disasters and move on to plan for the year ahead. On our way

At first glance sewing seemed to overtake if not punctuate my year at every available space. In fact it was actually a year of great variety. In March I attended the Irish Blog Awards in Dublin, where I had the opportunity to meet with other Bloggers with amazing talent. A week later I turned sixty and officially become a senior citizen.

Over the months many hours were spent talking to Elly simultaneously on the phone and internet working through suggestions, ideas and plans for the wedding.

Moving forward to May I was approached on Skype and asked to help a young man in Italy to improve his English. I almost said no, but now we talk regularly and I think at this stage he can be counted as a friend.

Here we come

The Wedding in June brought family and friends from across the globe to help celebrate and witness Elly & George’s Special day.

The weather was kind and Elly looked happy and glowing in her outfit. She said that it was very comfortable to wear and gave her the freedom she wanted.

The train of her outfit was detachable and was removed for dancing.

The end of June was rather scary with an emergency trip to hospital but thankfully I have recovered, and learned yet again to listen to my body! By the end of September I had sufficient energy to attend Podcamp in Kilkenny. It gave me the opportunity to learn and share, while renewing old friendships and making new ones.

November saw the passing of Cherry the mother of my new Son-in-Law George. I know that with Elly by his side, and the love of his father and siblings to share the great loss, George will feel the smile of sunshine on his face once more and hear and enjoy the birds singing.

Back in July I quietly marked the 30th anniversary of the day I married. Sadly, and not by choice, I have been alone for a third of that time. When Jack was alive our world was wonderful and I am thankful for warm loving memories.

The mention of marriage reminds me of a radio interview I smiled at over the holiday, an 80-year-old lady was the focus, because she had just remarried — for the fourth time.

The male interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband’s occupation.

He’s a funeral director,’ she answered.

Interesting, the young man thought. He then asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living.

She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years.

After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she’d first married a banker when she was in her early 20’s, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40’s, later on a preacher when in her 60’s, and now in her 80’s, a funeral director.

The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.

She smiled and explained, ‘I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.’

Some advice for the Girls

Don’t imagine you can change a man – unless he’s in nappies.

What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door.

Never let your man’s mind wander – it’s too little to be out alone.

Go for the younger man. You might as well, they never mature anyway.

Men are all the same – they just have different faces, so that you can tell them apart.

Women don’t make fools of men – most of them are the do-it-yourself types.

Best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he is too old for it.

If you want a committed man, look in a mental hospital.

The children of Israel wandered around the desert for 40 years. Even in Biblical times, men wouldn’t ask for directions.

Remember a sense of humour does not mean that you tell him jokes; it means that you laugh at his.

Grannymar has spunk! Or Taking on the Big Boys Part 2

One Christmas morning I looked at the gift I was handed and turned over the gift tag.

To Grannymar
With all my love
I love you from here to….

I carefully removed the gift wrap and discovered the missing word:


It was exactly what I wanted. A Bottle of Eternity Perfume, my favourite.


Only that morning I had squeezed the last dregs from the old bottle. With excited hands I opened the box to have another extravagant spray. Well, it was Christmas day after all! I sprayed and it might as well have been tap water! Plenty of liquid but no perfume! I was so disappointed. I ran and got the empty bottle I had discarded earlier and the scent from it was still so strong after months of use, yet the new one had none.

I asked Jack where he had purchased it. Boots, Donegal Place,” he said (that’s in Belfast).

My next question was “Do you have the receipt?” Alas, Jack was not good at keeping that kind of receipt. “No” he said “But I do have the cheque book stub!”

For several months that year in the run up to Christmas, it was not possible to listen to the Radio or watch TV without hearing warnings about purchasing Perfumes from reputable Dealers. ‘Perfume Shops’ were springing up all over the place and stories bandied about of counterfeit goods being traded. Jack had gone to a reputable dealer and paid full price for the goods. There was no way I would be fobbed off.

Early on the morning of 27th December armed with the perfume, cheque book and an Elly who was tightly holding Book Tokens for a promised visit to Crane’s Bookshop the Grannymar Clan set off for Belfast to do battle with the Big Boys. The Sales started that day so the streets were thronged with bargain hunters. We made our way to Boots and the Perfumery Dept was almost empty. Now we all know that most Cosmetics manufacturers depend on the three weeks before Christmas to provide them with their profits for the year. Once Christmas is passed the sales slump until Mother’s day in March. The empty Cosmetic shelves in front of us that day were more than proof. Eventually a young lady stopped chatting to come and see to us.

Firstly I asked if she had a sampler bottle of Eternity for me to try. She had, and I did. I was satisfied that it smelt as it should. I then produced my problem bottle and said how disappointed I was and indeed my husband was that the gift he bought for me was not up to the usual standard. I apologised that we did not have the receipt but was able to tell her exactly the day it was bought and showed the check stub. I asked her to try the offending bottle to see if she could smell the difference. The main problem that day was that this sales lady was a temporary employee and the usual Calvin Kline representative was away until after 2nd January.

I said that with all the publicity that year about counterfeit goods, we had listened and purchased from a reputable supplier. I queried if the goods ordered and paid for by Boots were not the goods supplied. I requested that ‘my’ bottle of perfume be sent back to the manufacturers for testing. I said “I know accidents can happen on conveyor belts” and that I wanted an explanation for the lack of scent in the bottle my husband purchased. I told the young lady that I knew that in no way was she responsible for the problem. My gripe was with her employers or Calvin Kline.

She did take the bottle, my details and phone number. Elly was becoming restless so we headed for Cranes and the wonderland of books. An hour at the book shelves and a refreshing cup of coffee later we were ready for home. We needed to be home at lunchtime as Elly was bound for a party in the afternoon.

During the afternoon I realised I had a dilemma! In my haste to have the Eternity problem sorted I had handed over my evidence and my details but had not received a receipt for it. I located the phone number for the Boots branch that we visited and asked to speak to the Manager. I was told he was on holiday. Worried that my ‘bottle’ might find its way to the garbage bin and my evidence with it, I then phoned the Head Office in Bangor, Co Down. Once again I asked to speak to the Manager but only got as far as his PA. She listened to my tale in full and assured me that she would pass on the information before the close of business that day. Again she took my phone number and said they would call me back.

At 5p.m. that day I had a call from Boots in Bangor. They had checked with the Belfast Store and had requested that the perfume I left would be forwarded to them. I received an apology for my disappointment and for the fact they did not have a replacement for me that day. New stock was not due until after the 6th January. I was promised a call as soon as it was back in stock. I assured them that my gripe was not with Boots but with Calvin Kline.

2nd January dawned and my phone began to ring. It was a call from Calvin Kline in London. They wanted to check the details provided to them by Boots. Once again I told my story. By this time I knew it by rote. Never once in all these conversations did I raise my voice. The apologies came my way once more and I kept stressing that I was not on the make but wanted the product sold tested!

On 6th January I had a call from Boots in Bangor to say the perfume order had arrived and a bottle was set aside with my name on it, in the Belfast branch. The manager in Belfast phoned later in the day to say the same thing and I arranged a suitable time to collect my perfume.

Two weeks later a parcel arrived in the post from Calvin Kline in London with a complimentary replacement bottle of Eternity. Later still near the end of the month when I had forgotten about the episode a third bottle arrived from Calvin Kline USA with their compliments. I never did discover what exactly was wrong with the first bottle, but the three replacements were all as they should be.

I still like Eternity and use it at every opportunity.

Grannymar has spunk! or Taking on the Big Boys – Part 1

‘Love your spunk, Grannymar. You do us (older ladies) proud!’

So wrote Hoof Hearted in America as a comment to Un-Christmas Shopping a post last week where I mentioned a problem while food-shopping at a Supermarket.

I digress for a moment to draw your attention to an article from ABC News Creative Consumer: How to Protect Your New Gifts posted on Christmas Eve. If you are not sure of your rights then take a moment to read it.

Now back to Taking on the Big Boys. I have two tales to tell and they are both connected with this time of year. I will tell one now and save the other for tomorrow.

Jack, my late husband retired from work in 1985. He spent most of his working life as a sales rep for a well known American food company. Part of a small team here in Northern Ireland, his territory crossed the religious divide. ‘Krafty’ as he was known to some customers, was well liked wherever he went and he could sell Oil to Arabs or Ice to Eskimos as if it was the ‘newest must have’ or latest invention! His sales figures were legendary in the company.

After retirement he received, as I still do, a Christmas card signed by the Vice President and Area Director of the company. About 10 days before the holiday a parcel would arrive addressed to my husband, it contained a small food hamper suitable for one person. Items included a small bar of fruitcake (un-iced), and a single portion sized Christmas pudding, packet of three cheese biscuits, tiny tins of ham, tongue, pâté, fruit cocktail & custard. The only normal sized items were box of Fruit Jellies, a stick of Cracker Barrel Cheese and a tub of Vitalite.

Year one everything was fine and edible.

Things changed over the next couple of years and recognisable brand names were replaced by ones unheard of. Elly was a young school girl and was fascinated by the idea of the miniature pudding. It required TWO hours steaming……now that I objected to. After about four years I got cross. Jack was out to lunch with some friends one day and not being a person fond of waste I decided to make a sandwich and use the tin of ham. I opened the tin and was unable to slice the meat; it was as tough as shoe leather. The tongue was no better and the cake slab went to crumbs when it saw the knife. It was only possible to eat it with a spoon, and it tasted like sawdust.

That night when Dinner was over and bedtime story told, I sat to the table with note paper and a pen.

“What are you doing Darling?” asked Jack.

“I am writing to complain about the quality of the food hamper!” I replied.

“You can’t do that, Pet.” He said. “It was a gift.”

“Oh! But I can!” I said. “Don’t worry I will let you read the letter before I post it!”

Jack went back to his book and I concentrated on my composition. I addressed the letter to the Vice President and Area Director, by Name. Well why not he was the person who signed the Christmas card a couple of weeks earlier!

I began by thanking the kind gentleman for the card and gift of a food hamper to my husband each year since he retired, saying how nice it was to still be remembered as part of the Company family. I reminded him of all his fine words over the years about my husband’s impressive sales figures, and of the fact that all retirees were not living alone. The ‘Hamper for One’ was an insult to the effort to produce those sales figures, and to the wives who washed the shirts, helped and supported the men (sorry girls) working and travelling at times in very difficult situations, particularly in Northern Ireland.

Then I put the ball in his court. I said people were reluctant to complain about a gift particularly at Christmastime. I told him that we did not live on Caviar and fillet steak everyday, but I did manage to produce nutritious edible and tasty meals on a daily basis. I went on to describe the hamper contents as above. I mentioned that the gift we received was perhaps not the gift the company was paying for, but that if it was, then perhaps it was time for the Company to consider sending the money directly to Charity. I finished by wishing him personally and all the staff, good wishes and successful sales figures for the year ahead.

“Right love” I said handing the letter to Jack.

“You are really going to send that?” said Jack.

“Why not, it is the truth?” I said.

“Go ahead then, but you will never hear from them!” Jack said.

I addressed, sealed and stamped the letter before walking down to the local post box with it.

About a month later a letter addressed to me with the company logo popped through the door. It was an apology from said VP for the delay in replying to my letter. He had been away from the office for several weeks and was only beginning to deal with correspondence. He thanked me for taking the time to write and he was very interested in what I had to say. He promised to look into the situation and get back to me.

Well he did get back to me and as a result of my letter, changes were made. All the company pensioners received Food Gift Vouchers every year since. They are a much better idea as they can be used in many Food Retailers and are valid until the end of April.

Now that is enough for today. I have a smelly story for Part 2


Did you really ENJOY getting all those cutesy little gifts for Christmas from every person in your address book? You know the ones ~~

Smellies, of the candle or cosmetic variety that immediately turn your stomach or give you a rash.

Chocolates you are not supposed to eat or have nuts in to break your teeth or catch under your dentures.

A tasteless little ornament, to clutter a shelf and give you stress every time you see it.

Travel slippers three sizes to small

So here’s what I got:


I bet that he probably made you smile.

When you’re finished trying to see up his loincloth, (and you just looked again, didn’t you??) now put him back and remember I got him first!

Thank you Santa!

And finally…

A few quick thoughts before I tackle the cooking sherry hang my stocking…

Remember when you write your note to Santa be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it!

Christmas is the time when you exchange hellos with strangers and good buys with friends.

It is also the time when people put so many bulbs on the outside of their houses, you don’t know if they’re celebrating the birth of Jesus or the Electricity Board.

Go gcuire spiorad na Nollag

suaimhneas I do chroi

agus ceol ar do bheola

May the spirit of Christmas bring

peace to your heart and music to your lips.