Monthly Archives: November 2012

Doom & Gloom

The world is full of doom and gloom:

  • The world is ending…
  • Global warming is upon us….
  • Food costs are escalating….
  • Fuel for heating is running out….
  • Pensioners are living far too long…
  • The world is full of scroungers…
  • Bankers are all thieves…..
  • Politicians are vile people….

Take your pick out of that bunch of sweeties, I’ll stick with a boiled egg and some soldiers.

“Don’t let negative and toxic people rent space in your head.
Raise the rent and kick them out!”
– Robert Tew

Our topic Doom & Gloom was chosen for us today by Padmini, I wonder how she will deal with it? Now I suggest you trickle along to see what the other active members have to share on the subject this week: Anu, Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

Thursday Special – Spanish Computer

A Spanish Teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

‘House’ for instance, is feminine: ‘la casa.’

‘Pencil,’ however, is masculine: ‘el lapiz.’

A student asked, ‘What gender is ‘computer’?’

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether computer’ should be a masculine or a feminine noun.

Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men’s group decided that ‘computer’ should definitely be of the feminine gender (‘la computadora’), because:

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
  3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval;
  4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your pay check on accessories for it.


The women’s group, however, concluded that computers should be Masculine (‘el computador’), because:

  1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
  2. They have a lot of data but still can’t think for themselves;
  3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem;
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

Ello, Thank you for this weeks contribution.

Food Monday ~ Carrot, Root Ginger and Orange Cake

Carrot, Root Ginger and Orange Cake
Preheat the oven to 175°C

6 fl ozs Sunflower Oil
6 ozs Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
4 ozs Walnuts (optional)
10 ozs Carrots, peeled & grated
2” root ginger, peeled & grated
zest of ½ an Orange
6 ozs Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
Place the oil, sugar and eggs in a bowl.  Beat well.  Roughly chop nuts.  Wash, peel and grate the carrots & root ginger.  Add carrots, root ginger & nuts to oil mixture with orange zest, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Mix well and pour into 2 greased and lined 2lb loaf tins**.  Bake for approx 1 hour.

For icing:
8 ozs icing sugar    2-3 tablespoons orange juice
Mix the sugar into the juice and spoon over the warm cake.

** My mixture filled a 9 inch ring tin & a 2lb loaf tin.

Do Gooders United

It is that time of year again, when the frenzy of shopping begins to find the perfect present to fit into the Christmas stockings for all the family, their sisters, cousins and their aunts.

Like life itself, there is a Yin & Yang to this situation, the guilty feelings of spending so much money on loved ones, not forgetting a few wee treats for ourselves, we salve our conscience with buying a gift for someone less fortunate than our selves. It makes us feel good.

The marketing folk are well latched on to this ‘guilt’ these days, and the begging envelopes start dropping through the letterboxes at the beginning of September.  Quite a few come bearing gifts, a cheap plastic pen, or gift tags, anything to lure you into sending dosh to fill their coffers.  The begging letters are not on cheap scrappy paper. Oh no! Quite a sum of money is spent in the effort to part you for your hard earned cash. All of which has to be paid for.

Then we come closer to home. Christmas parties for pensioners. If they are lucky a turkey dinner will be served, followed by an hour of a sing song, a party hat and a small swag bag. So who does it?

Let me use my small town as an example, I am not counting the surrounding villages that come under the same umbrella.

Let me start with the local council, then at a quick glance, we have a bouquet of churches and meeting houses. Add in a charity or two like the Rotary & Lions Clubs, some sports clubs and you have the idea. If you were up to it, you could have a free lunch maybe three or four times a week between now and Christmas.

“All very laudable.” I hear you say, but is it really laudable or cheap charity? I have heard elderly pensioners say that by the middle of December they were fed up of the look and taste of turkey, plum pudding and mince pies. They often accept the invitations just for the company.

How many people are involved in organising and preparing, serving and chauffeuring patrons to and from these events?  Quite a few I imagine.

Well, I have a suggestion.

Many of these pensioners live alone, they have long outlived their partners, and their children – if they have some – have flown the nest for far flung corners of the world. They may not be that agile and bus routes may not go past their doors, so getting out on a regular basis is difficult.

Take Churches for example, they have flower and cleaning rotas and people have no problem putting their names down to provide and arrange the flowers or clean the church once a month or just three or four times a year. What is to stop them having a Granny/Grandpa Rota. People put their name down and are matched up with a senior citizen to invite for lunch on their allotted dates. It needn’t be the same senior citizen, it might be a different person each time.

This type of situation can have benefits in both directions. The older generation carry years of life’s experiences on their shoulders, they can teach you about frailty and children without grandparents might have the opportunity to adopt one.

The older guest has something to live for, and look forward to, throughout the year. They have specific days with younger people and time away from the four walls of home and the problems therein.

If you were on your own, frail and elderly which would you prefer? Four weeks of feasting on the same menu and then be forgotten about for the other eleven months OR a family meal maybe once a month for the full year?

I would put it on the same footing as barging into a famine torn country and providing aid to bring the inhabitants back from the brink of death, only to then turn around and walk away. If we decide to feed the starving, we have a responsibility to see it through by providing the means for teaching them how to feed themselves.

It was speccy at me, mine and other bits who reminded me to do something about this post festering in my brain.

Cooking the Turkey.

Warning: If you are vegetarian, vegan or squeamish, maybe you should give this a miss.

Tilly, the Laughing Housewife had a post the other day about cooking a turkey. I had just finished my lonely portion of Beef in Guinness stew, when I read it. It would have been about the time all my American relations and friends were about to sit down to groaning tables of full and plenty. I decided to save my turkey story for today when their meal was well digested!

I cooked my first turkey when I was 12 years of age.

Let me set the scene…. It was Christmas. In Ireland we didn’t do Thanksgiving. No the Yanks did that – Our funny relations over the pond who all lived in Ranches like Southfork, as big as aircraft hangers with Olympic sized swimming pools in the back gardens. They drove cars the size of buses and grew oil wells behind the paddocks.  This is all true. We saw it week after week on TV, so it had to be true!

Where was I?  Oh yeah, the turkey.

Our turkey was usually big enough to feed about 15 – 18 people. We were 8 in family and granny was always there for high days and holidays, add to that several waifs and strays unattached relations or friends, who would otherwise spend the day alone. Leftovers were essential for later in the evening, when nobody was hungry, but yet they devoured the platefuls of sandwiches, like they hadn’t seen food for a month! I suppose singing round the fire was hungry work.

Then we always needed plenty of cold cuts for the lunch the next day. Normally the feast of Saint Stephen, 26th December, was mammy’s one day off from cooking. I peeled a mountain of spuds, together we cut them into chips/fries and she cooked them in a large vat pot of oil. The chips when ready, were served and you helped yourself to the cold turkey, ham, pork, salads, chutneys and brown (wheaten) bread & butter. It was all washed down with gallons of tea, or since it was the holidays, glasses of Cidona – an apple based soft drink – for the childer and stout or beer for the men.

A whole ham was boiled or baked each year on Christmas eve and a joint of pork was roasted. Brothers had hollow legs and took plenty of feeding. You would need a sack of spuds, a field of Brussels sprouts, half a dozen heads of celery and several pounds of carrots to go with all those meats, the bread & the sausage meat stuffings, never mind the gravy! This was besides the starters, the Christmas Pudding, mince pies and trifle for dessert!

Goodness it has taken nearly twelve years to get this far and not a child in the house washed!

So the year I was twelve…..

Mammy was ill in bed in the run up to Christmas, and granny had been allowed home from hospital for the duration, with a badly broken right arm covered in a heavy plaster cast. At 75, she was considered ‘old’. She had an arm out of use and a bad arthritic hip (it was before the days of hip replacements), and she needed a walking stick to help her rolling gait.

BUT the story is only beginning….

The turkey arrived by train from friends with a farm deep in the county of Cork. Don’t be daft, it didn’t travel first class with a suitcase and sit there reading ‘Fowl friends’ or playing patience for the duration. This is a true story!

A couple of large boxes containing the turkeys for our family and those of friends, had to be collected from King’s Bridge Station (now called Heuston Station) in Dublin and distributed to those who ordered them. Collecting the turkeys was Daddy’s job and I was regularly brought along so he didn’t have to touch the birds – this is daddy who grew up in the country, with chickens and geese and turkeys roaming about the yard and a goat and a few cows beyond in the field!

Each turkey had a manila tag tied with string, with the name of who had ordered it, and the weight of the bird. This made distribution easier. By the time we reached home there were only two turkeys in the box, one for Christmas day and the other for new year’s day.

The story does not end there. No way! There was no chucking these birds in the fridge. These were special, straight from the farmyard. Their necks were pulled, but they came complete with head, feet covered in half a farmyard, and all the feathers, and yes, the innards were still intact.…..

Daddy tied the feet with string and the birds were hung in the passage-way outside the back door for a few days before Christmas eve. That was daddy’s work done for the Festivities. We had to remember not to run out the back door in a hurry without putting on the light or a blood dripping turkey head might hit you in the face!

Picture of me at twelve.

So the big day arrived. No, not Christmas Day.

Christmas EVE had dawned.

Breakfast was over, I had mammy sorted and granny bed bathed. It was time for me to take over the kitchen, I put the ham on to boil, the pork roast in the oven and then it was time…. The older boys were given chores… chop sticks, fill the turf and coal buckets and to keep the younger siblings out from under my feet.

I had an operation to perform. I had watched a rather bossy aunt only a few months earlier, demonstrate with great theatrical drama how to clean out a chicken. I was not looking forward to this but there were mouths to feed not alone today, but the next day too.

If my brothers came into the kitchen they would tease me about my bloody hands and tell yarns about turkey guts etc… So I wedged a chair back under the kitchen door handle and once I brought the bird indoors, I locked the back door. Nobody was getting in.

The enamel kitchen table was scalded and the knives sharpened. I got an empty potato sack and sat down with the turkey between my knees and began plucking the feathers. I was slow to begin with but gathered pace as I went along. I had kettles on to boil and the sink cleared. The tricky business of singeing the fine feathers took what seemed like an age.

Next was time for the knives. My stomach heaved, but I opened the window and calmed myself down. I was doing this for mammy.  I cut the feet off as close to the knee joint as I could and into the sack they went. I set the legless bird on the table and with my eyes almost closed, I chopped off the head. It went into the sack too. I didn’t want to see it again. At twelve, I was not that worried about saving the neck for making gravy.

I poured boiling water into a basin and in went the turkey for the first wash. I removed it and set it to drain while I cleaned the basin and the table again. Back to the draining board. I had set a kitchen chair there to stand on while I worked.

Surgery began. Pretending I was a vet, I gingerly pushed my hand into the hole and moved in a clockwise manner around the abdominal cavity (back then I didn’t know what it was called), then I gently but firmly pulled the innards out, all the time worrying that I would break the bile bag – that would mean the whole thing was ruined. My aunt had spend time telling me how important it was not to do so. To my amazement, I had managed to get all the innards out in one go and leave the cavity clean. It did naturally need to be washed and dried out, but I DID it! I would have danced a jig, only I was still up on the chair.

I was not going into that hole again so I cut a lemon and pushed it in there and roughly stitched the hole closed. I had made up my mind to cook the stuffing’s separately and if daddy didn’t like it he could stuff the turkey himself!

I set the turkey in the roasting tray and covered it with a clean glass cloth, It would be fine overnight in the cool pantry. I then had to deal with the roast in the oven and the ham on the stove, and a gang of hungry people who wanted feeding that day.

Christmas day was easy. The turkey, the stuffings and the potatoes for roasting were put in the oven at the times mammy suggested from her bed. I cooked the vegetables, heated the soup and made the gravy on the stove. And all went to plan. I washed and dressed Granny and brought her down stairs to join the family. Mammy was not fit to join us, but managed a mouthful of dinner. She said it was the best dinner she ever tasted, but daddy muttered “It is not as good as your mother’s cooking”! I didn’t care, he cleared his plate and I saw him going back for more.

From that day on I cooked the Christmas dinner and gave mammy the day off. We were a good team. Mammy and I!



Irish rain has many guises
there are times it can surprise us,
from cloudless cornflower skies
to gently touch the lids of eyes.

Soft and silently soaking our souls,
it hangs in the air with no great goals
to reach the earth beneath our feet,
yet dampness everywhere we meet.

Long and straight without cessation
it lasts for days to our frustration
turning fields to mini lakes
rivers rising cause consternation.

Icy winds and freezing rain
bring dagger shards of pelting grain
to cut and slice our red raw faces
no time for glitz and glam, bring on the boots and braces.

In the dark and dull December,
from gun mettle skies so heavy and low
weighty raindrops plop in puddles
and make us wish for feather-weight snow.

This home made attempt at poetry is my offering for the topic Rains chosen this week by Ramana for the Loose Bloggers Consortium. Now I suggest you pitter pat along to see what he and the other active members have to share on the subject this week: Anu, Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.

Thursday Special – Wooden Ball

An old man walks into the barbershop for a shave and a haircut, but he tells the barber he can’t get all his whiskers off because his cheeks are wrinkled from age.

The barber gets a little wooden ball from a cup on the shelf and tells him to put it inside his cheek to spread out the skin.

When he’s finished, the old man tells the barber that was the cleanest shave he’s had in years. But he wanted to know what would have happened if he had swallowed that little ball.

The barber replied, “Just bring it back in a couple of days like everyone else does.”

Thank you Mr Engle for this weeks story.

An up and down day

Yesterday was what you might call an up and down day, as I climbed a set of steps to emulsion the ceiling and the walls in my hall. I did miss my painting partner of years past, the companionable silence as we worked, his whistling and the beakers of coffee he brought me at regular intervals.

So yesterday James Last non stop dancing provided the tempo for my brush strokes, and I let my thoughts wander as I worked the longer straightforward areas.

I was working against time as I wanted to finish in daylight. My pace was slower than in the past, but I was testing the ankle I injured in September. It behaved, I behaved – no messy spills – and as I finished the last stroke, the words “I DID IT” echoed round the space.

Replacing the lid on the paint bucket and gathered the brushes for cleaning, I realised it was at 3.45 pm and I had not eaten since breakfast. Don’t tell Nurse Hitler, she will only nag at me! By that stage the leg began to nag and my neck was stiff.

A plateful of home made lamb stew from my freezer and a few boiled spuds, a couple of painkillers and a kettle full of boiled water helped get me back on track.

The next stage is to paint the ten door surrounds with a coat of eggshell finish. Yes. There are 10 doors in my hall, but I can do that with my feet on terraferma, no climbing needed. It can wait until tomorrow, I need a day of rest today, so I am off to meet a friend for a good old chinwag and some lunch.

Some of the phrases from my young days that came to mind while on top of the ladder:

“The sun was splitting the trees!”
“Twenty fags please.”
“A rubber and a parer”

We eat rashers & sliced pans and kept clothes in a hotpress.
Lino covered the floor and we bought  ‘toilet rolls’.

Now I will leave you to work that lot out or add a few phrases of your own…

See you later alligator….

Blogging the alphabet ~ G

G ~ Gift of Getting Old

Getting old is a gift!

It means I am still around to watch, listen and learn from the next generation. Back in the years of ‘growing pains’ (who remembers them?) I was often asked: What will you do when you are old and grey?

I wanted to be like granny.
With a gleam in my eye and bright in mood,
outlook, style, and ability to do good.
To know I am loved, always ready to giggle
while sharing life’s lessons without sounding smug.

Gloriously free to dance and sing
around the room,
quite out of tune
with nobody near to scream or sneer
at how I move or what I wear.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. A heart never broken will never know the joy of being imperfect. I have lived long enough to have my hair turning grey, to have my youthful laughs forever etched into deep grooves on my face. No matter what…..

I have fun in my heart to warm my soul.