Monthly Archives: July 2012

Openings ~ 44

During the week I took my feet and camera for a dander through the grounds of Antrim Castle grounds. A long slow and tasteful makeover has been in progress, over about two-three years. Still unfinished – the long canal has yet to be unveiled.

I love these little features and the pathways have been relayed with a non skid surface.

I love the the idea of the opening or archway being a frame to what we see beyond.

Look who I found lurking in a corner round the back of the building.

Do you think it is him?

Care Giving

Happy third birthday to all members of the Loose Bloggers Consortium, those who write and all who faithfully comment and follow our efforts.

‘A baker’s dozen of mixed buns’ may well describe the members of the LBC, with a wide range of  life’s experiences under our various belts.  Many are in care giving roles of one type or another, but the common factor with all, is a great sense of humour – one of the greatest assets a person can have. Humour helps us to defuse difficult situations and reduce our stress levels and cope with whatever life throws our way.

‘Care giving’ is a term that arrived in my lexicon in very recent years. Mind you, it is something that has been part of my life from as far back as I can remember.  It may well have begun with helping my younger brothers to put their socks on or tie their shoes, carrying bundles of freshly ironed clothes up stairs to help an overworked and tired mammy, or finding the reading glasses that an elderly relation had mislaid for the fourth time in one hour.

Winter coats were a normal and well used part of daily apparel in Ireland, we often needed to wear them right round the year when summer skipped past without stopping. We helped our elders to don them and close the buttons, so became familiar with slow ageing limbs and stiffening joints. Walking sticks or canes were handed to frail elderly and we quickly remembered which hand to put the cane in. We learned the correct way to guide them into a chair or up and out of it.  We lifted heavy legs into or out of bed and opened and held doors for safe passage through.

Picture the bed above with wooden head and foot boards. We had one when I was young, and it plus a mattress moved up and down the stairs like a yo-yo.  My brothers and I became past masters at assembling/disassembling, humping and carrying that bed up and down the stairs when needed. With a large extended family we always seemed to have somebody inside in the bed! A room with a fireplace became the dedicated ‘sick room’ for the duration. It had sliding doors to the main living area, so when company was part of the cure, the doors were opened and the patient became part of the family buzz. If the patient grew tired or needed rest the doors were closed once more and our noise level reduced.

Felled every winter by severe bronchitis, that bed became my home for three weeks or a month, with daily visits from our local doctor.  Back then rest and an even temperature were considered the road to recovery. Medication was always something I reacted badly too, so the Doctor struggled at times to find an effective cure. The fire burned 24/7 since it was long before we had central heating. Meals and tempting treats were carried to me and my pillows were checked and puffed up by my brothers. They handed me items that were out of reach, told me stories of their day and made me laugh.

That bed taught me plenty.  I learned how to be a patient, and have patience for others who suffered and were in pain. I learned the weariness of weakness and difficulty with finding breath. I learned how taking three or four steps felt like a marathon race.  I learned how to bed bath my granny, mammy and an elderly aunt, all before I had reached middle teens.

I was eight years old when my sister was born, giving me the opportunity to feed, change and bath a living doll. A year later mammy had a serious heart attack when my father and older brothers were out. I had to quickly deal with mammy and sort out my three younger siblings. My father’s long road through illness began when I was eleven and he did not make for an easy patient.

Never once was any of the above considered as ‘care giving’. It was doing what was needed to the best of our ability and as quickly, quietly and smoothly as possible.

All good training for the future that lay ahead of me.

I was blessed with the gift of my own living doll and enjoyed every moment of caring, playing, teaching and indeed learning from her. It was only when she reached 18, that I pushed her out of the nest (for university) and changed the locks! 😉 Thankfully Elly has become a well balanced hard working capable and caring daughter, wife, and friend to all she meets.  She sees. She cares. She gives!

As many of you know the curse of cancer entered my home twenty years ago when I became a sole 24/7 care giver for my husband Jack, over the next six years. In that time Elly was at school and later University.

The training I had as a child certainly helped me along this road and to a whole new level of caring. Since we had no relations for a hundred miles, I switched off from the outside world for the duration, resigning from all organisations that I had served on, in order to devote all my energies day and night to the task in hand. It was long before I had a computer or heard of the internet.

My neighbour and friend was also diagnosed with cancer, after wrongly been treated for gall bladder over a period of nine months.  There were many times and days following chemo, when I sorted Jack out and made him comfortable before crossing the road to my friend’s house, to bed bath and cream her feet & legs. This gave her great comfort.

Compared to the road other friends are walking, my tasks were easy.

OK, so my having three consecutive hours sleep, instead of an hour at a time, was a rare occasion to celebrate.  We had the odd day when Jack would tell someone that ‘We washed the car/cleaned the windows/cut the grass’(you pick), when in fact he had been sitting inside the window watching me complete the task. He never complained, had total faith is any suggestion I offered and always knew who I was!

Right to the end he was the best thing that ever happened to me!

Master care giver, Ramana chose this week’s topic for the Loose Blogger’s Consortium. I suggest you bring along your thermometer and cooling wipes to check how the other active members give care to the subject: Anu, Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott..

Thursday Special ~ Why teachers turn to drink

The following questions were set in last year’s examination
These are genuine answers (from 16 year olds)…………and to think that they WILL breed someday.

Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large  pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists

Q. How is dew formed
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire

Q. What causes the tides in the oceans
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight

Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election

Q. What are steroids

A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs 
(Shoot yourself now , there is little hope)

Q.. What happens to your body as you age
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental

Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery  (So true)

Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death

Q. What is artificial insemination
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour
A. Keep it in the cow    (Simple, but brilliant)

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts – the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I,O,U..    (?!?!)

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

Q. What does ‘varicose’ mean?

A. Nearby

Q. What is the most common form of birth control?
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium (That would work)

Q. Give the meaning of the term ‘Caesarean section’.
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.  (Julius Seizure, I came, I saw, I had a fit)

Q. What is a terminal illness?

A. When you are sick at the airport.

Q. What does the word ‘benign’ mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight (brilliant)

Thank you Paddy for the update on modern education.

Blogging the alphabet ~ D

D ~ Dogs

I may have told you before that when I was a child we had a dog.

We had a dog for a weekend!

Gus & Nora, friends of our parents always had a dog. Make that a series of dogs. As each one aged and moved to doggie heaven, it was replaced by a replica of the last one.  The dogs, all male, came from the same breeder in Cork.  Smooth haired terriers, not unlike Buffy, but a little taller.  Not alone were the doggy bed and feeding dishes passed on, but the name Dinky went down the line too!

The dog we had in our house (for one weekend) came from that breeder in Cork. Gus decided on one of his holidays to Skibbereen, I think without consultation, that we needed a dog. Our dog arrived as a very small puppy, still untrained and behaving like a leaky hose all over the house. Mammy was NOT impressed. She had enough on her plate with her own leaky hoses, I think we numbered four at that time.

Picture the scene: Four miniature people surrounding the little scrap of fur and asking it to do four different things at one time.  If the dog ran down the garden we ran after it, shouting and screaming.  When the dog changed direction and ran towards us we screamed and shouted with fright. I think we were as untrained as the puppy.  For some reason, I have no memory of the name we gave this new family member.

So this new little one was surrounded by people all day and left totally alone to sleep at night. He/she missed his/her mother I suppose.  Like babies that miss their mothers, this little scrap cried all night.

My poor mother!  She had us screaming all the day long, and the dog wailing all night. Noise never bothered daddy, he just seemed to switch off.  By the end of the weekend mammy was at her wits end.  She had more than enough so made a decision:

“Either the dog goes, or I do!” she said.

As daddy said at the time…. ‘mammy could cook’, so she got to stay! Gus was asked to find a new home for the dog.

Unfortunately over the next few years a couple of nasty incidents happened in our area, the elderly placid dog next door snapped at one of us, and although no skin was broken it left a mental scar.  Down the avenue, a large dog – German Shepherd, I think – attacked a little girl and her face was scarred for life.  Back in those days there was no cosmetic surgery available.  These incidents left me weary of all dogs and I would run under a bus rather than pass a dog on the pavement.

It was many a long year before I became comfortable with dogs. I am glad I overcame that hurdle.

Buffy on our first walk together

Now, although I do not have a dog myself, there are three dogs in my life. You have already met Buffy (after the Vampire slayer) who lives with Elly & George.  She is a Patterdale terrier and full of fun.  At the foot of this post is an opportunity to see once more how she entertained the guests at recent party for E& G’s 5th wedding anniversary.

Almost fully grown

Caraiosa and Allanah live with my sister.


Caraiosa is a Sable & white Sheltie that I made several attempts to photograph, but her speed of movement means that she is a fluffy streak or her eyes look like marbles when I try to sort out the red eye problem!

Allanah otherwise known as raggedy Anne.

Allanah is a grey and white dragged through the hedge, scruffy looking Sheltie/Terrier mix, related to Caraiosa.  She has the long coat of the Sheltie, but it is the texture of a wire hair terrier. The blaze above her nose stands in strands across her eyes, giving the impression that she is looking through Venetian blinds. I wonder if we look striped to her?I swear she has some kangaroo blood in her as she can jump from 0 to 6ft in seconds!

Come play with me.

She spends hours everyday grooming and washing her legs and paring her nails!
It must work since she looks clean in photos.

My holiday alarm clock.

Buffy entertains

Food Monday ~ Californian Potato Salad

Californian Potato Salad

750g small new potatoes, scrubbed & quartered.
125g rindless streaky bacon
125g raisins
25g cashew nuts

For the dressing:
60 ml  natural yoghurt
5 ml clear honey
50 g blue cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steam the quartered new potatoes until tender. Drain thoroughly, place in a bowl and allow to cool.
Grill the bacon until crisp, then crumble and add to the potatoes with the raisins, mix them together.

To make the dressing:
Mix the yoghurt, honey and cheese in another bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add to the potato mixture and toss through to coat.
Serve the salad warm or cold, sprinkled with cashew nuts.

The blight of Famine

Summer seems to have forgotten to arrive in Ireland this year. Listening to the weather forecast on the radio in Dublin recently, there was a blight warning for potato growers. Spores develop on the leaves, spreading through the crop when temperatures are above 10 °C (50 °F) and humidity is over 75%-80% for 2 days or more. Rain can wash spores into the soil where they infect young tubers. Spores can also travel long distances on the wind. 29th June seems to be considered the time to begin digging the new crop of potatoes.  Well, it was back in the day we grew and eat seasonally.

Any mention of blight reminds me that it was a major culprit in the Great Famine of 1845 in Ireland.

Famine ~  Bronze
Sculptor ~ Row
an Gillespie

On 29th May 1997, this really imposing Famine Monument sculpture was installed at Custom House Quay, on the North banks of The Liffey.

It consists of seven men and women and a dog.  All are obviously marked by starvation. One is carrying another man. The statues are evocative of the wiry artwork of  the Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti.

They appear all the more striking placed in front of a whole new Dublin background. The people in this work just slowly move forward, more dead than alive, more ghost than human. At the same level as people passing by, the figures seem to it engender a mood of being far away in a different time and dimension.

Rowan Gillespie has featured in my sculpture series in the past.  He was born in Dublin to Irish parents, but spent his formative years in Cyprus.

His singular and often exhausting modus operandi involves taking the work through from conception to creation, entirely unassisted in his purpose-built bronze casting foundry at Clonlea, in Blackrock. This is one of the things that makes him unique among the bronze casting fraternity ~ Wikipedia

For more of his work check this link.

Alice once asked about the lack of people or traffic in the photos I took, so to prove that I don’t frighten everyone away, here is a photo of the sculpture with people about:

Openings ~ 43

Yesterday we had a rest from the rain in my neck of the woods, so I took myself off to the great outdoors for a ration of vitamin D. My faithful companion the camera accompanies me on all occasions these days.  Well you never know….

Walking through a park my eye was drawn to a litter bin.

Not just the litter bin but the light through the opening for the litter.  These bins have a slot opening on all four sides. So I retraced my steps and gave the camera some exercise.

Perhaps it was the light, but I liked the idea of a view within a view.

The red square in the centre of this one is proof that dogs are welcome – it is a bin for dog litter.

Light from a different angle.

Using the litter slot as a view finder.

Is Pessimism More Realistic Than Optimism?

It might well be, but I prefer to see my glass half full.

So many people waste their lives worrying about what might never happen.   I prefer to live in the moment.

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The question: ‘Is Pessimism More Realistic Than Optimism?’ was posed for us by Conrad, as this week’s topic for the Loose Blogger’s Consortium. Now I suggest you skip along optimistically and check how the other active members answer this question:
Anu, Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott..

Thursday Specials ~ Higgs Boson

So anyway, the Higgs Boson goes into a catholic church.

The priest says “Hello, who are you?”

“I’m the God Particle”, says the Boson.

“You can’t say that here, that’s sacrilegious!” says the priest.

“I can…..

Without me you wouldn’t have Mass.”

Boom, boom!

With thanks to my Big brother for this one.