Monthly Archives: November 2015


I would swap the modern Christmas celebrations for Thanksgiving Day at the drop of a hat. With each year that passes the simplicity of the former has been drowned in a loud opera of noise & commercialism. Unnecessary hours, days and weeks spent on the one-up-man-ship of proving how much people care by buying the biggest flashiest present, no matter whether they can really afford it, or if the gifted really wants or needs it.

Time is the cheapest most precious personal gift that anyone can receive. I mean real time… without the interruption of modern technology – a phones/games off zone!

So on this THANKSGIVING DAY, my message to all my American friends and family, far and near:

If you are travelling, may the roads rise with you,

no traffic and no troubles delay you.  

Hoping all of you will remain safe and well,

May your celebrations and gatherings be happy, serene and fun loving.

Your meals are delicious and your dessert sweeten the love in your hearts…


…With no need to loosen your belts!…

Wee Wimmin’s Worries.

Over the past few days I was far too busy thinking and you know some thing…

I came up with answers to a few major Problems!

As we wee wimmin grow older mature like good wine, several things happen to us and we keep blaming ourselves when they are not really our fault!

We wake up each morning with our hair standing on end and a hole in the middle of it. This is due to the fact our brains have collected so much knowledge down the years that our heads grow heavier. when we lie down, the hair is flattened to spread like sun-rays on the pillow.

And another problem…

As we mature, we grow down a little. First gravity squeezes the bits between the bones of the spine making them shrink. 🙁

Add to that, if there is any space left, that we are carrying around an amazing amount of information:

  • To-do lists, ideas of how to get our husbands to think they ‘want’ to help us with the chores, the garden and the car!
  • Then there are all the wurds for scrabble that we learned in the bukes we read.
  • The gossipy news to share with our hubbies… and the information we need to remember NOT to tell them… like the new handbag, gloves, scarf that we snuck into the back of the wardrobe, never mind the new boots we have our eye on to buy next week! 😉

Let me explain…

When the bits between the bones shrink there is less vertical space for all the ‘soft’ bits to sit neatly in place. Then a heavy head acts like an elephant sitting on a jam do-nut…. the soft bits flatten and spread horizontally!

So there you have it.. we are not Fat at all.

We are informative and walking cuddly cushions!

I didn’t colour my face

Almost everyone on my Facebook contact list changed their avatar to a French flag over their faces. To me it was all a knee jerk reaction, done as easily as the rainbow avatars a few months ago for marriage equality or the Santa hats for the past few Christmas seasons. My feed yesterday was a constant stream of posts about the attacks in Paris.

I could not join in.

My head was in another place.

My Elly left home on Friday morning to fly to the Middle East. She has been flying since she was one year old, in fact we celebrated her first birthday in the Balearic Islands. Normally her flights through the air, are as matter a fact as jumping on a local bus.

On her Facebook page she announced she was about to board her first flight of the day, to Paris. Travelling on Friday 13th with her allocated seat in row 13. We all wished her a safe and comfortable journey. She would have a few hours lay over at CDG airport before her onward flight to Tel Aviv. Thankfully she was out of French airspace before the atrocities began and the borders closed.

I might sound selfish, but I am not. The world we live in, is now very unstable. What happened in Paris was not forgivable, but there were bombings and killings in other cities and countries where Real people live, that got barely a mention.

I have friends living in Paris and my heart goes out to them. I have a friend who was born in Lebanon and evacuated to Paris at an early age, much later she emigrated to Australia. She has family still living in both places as well as across the US.

Can you imagine for one moment how she is feeling? To her there will be no difference between bombings in Paris or Beirut. People, ordinary people were blown to bits or shot as they went about their daily lives!

On Friday I was numb. After thirty eight years living in Northern Ireland with bombings and killings a daily occurrence, I was not immune to these feelings. Years when I kissed my husband and daughter goodbye as they headed out to work and school, not knowing if I would see them at the end of the day. I could tell many stories of those days that would set your hair on end!

BBC has a whole year full of programmes with a WW1 theme. Royalty were paraded to memorial functions with chests so full of medals, a dozen rapid fire Kalashnikovs would not penetrate them.

We were told that all this was to honour the dead, the wounded and the work done by those back on the home front, working in the factories making armaments, working in the mines digging coal, and the land Girls digging, planting and growing food to keep the nation going. Every scrap of garden or free space was used for vegetables.

The aim was to remind us – who were not even a sparkle in our father’s eyes back then – that it was the war to end all wars and should never be allowed to happen again.

It didn’t work.

It never will.

Not while weapons and armaments are made and sold across the world. Surely the sellers are not expecting the buyers to put their purchases’ on the mantelpiece or in a glass case and throw sugar at them.

How can you sell arms and then stand up and complain about those who use them. Why does Pilate come to mind?

Now is time for reflection. The answer can’t be bombing people to smithereens, fighting fire with fire and making martyrs out of extremists. There are no easy answers, we need to learn how we co-exist on this planet of ours.

“I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.”
Shel Silverstein

A few more Firsts

First driving lesson.

It was on the firm flat 5 km beach called Dollymount Strand on Bull Island. The island was located on the northern end of Dublin Bay. The island is connected to the mainland by the Bull Bridge, a one-lane wooden road bridge. In recent years, access by car is limited to a portion of the island near the Bull Bridge and two sections reached from a causeway road at Raheny.

I was just seventeen and daddy was my tutor for the day. He showed me the clutch, break and accelerator and how to change gears. Then pointing straight ahead he said:

“I’ am getting out, you drive down to that mound of sand, then turn and bring the car back.” Then added “If you cannot bring the car back, don’t bother coming back yourself!” 


First sewing machine.

I always liked playing with fabric. My father worked in the ‘rag’ trade – not selling rags, but fashion fabrics. Latterly he worked his agency from home, so we were surrounded with texture, colour, and types of fabric that would be on the streets, at least six months down the road.

When the new season’s samples arrived, mammy and I would spend several evenings helping daddy to record the details of each fabric blanket in his little black book. There might be up from twenty to forty colour-ways on the one blanket. Occasionally we drifted into conversation:

Me: I would love a dress/skirt/coat in this colour.

Daddy: If you would sew, I could get you the fabric.

Me: If I had a sewing machine I would sew.

Daddy: You will have to wait until you leave school, for a sewing machine, You do not need any distraction from your books. (Somehow helping him was not seen as a distraction!)

The morning after I finished my final exams, my first ever sewing machine was delivered to our house. It was a Brother straight stitch. I was in heaven. By the time daddy came home for his dinner, I was wearing a new fully lined sleeveless dress! That machine cost all of £24 sterling and well paid for itself, with the dresses, tops, trousers, suits and even a tweed winter coat that I made during the twelve years I had it.


My first formal dance.

Nowadays it would be called a School Prom.

Unlike today, our school Formal Dance was held after we had finished all exams and the final term completed. We left school in June and the dance was in September. The evening consisted of a dinner and dance in an hotel. I no longer remember which one or if it still exists. There were no gatherings in the hours before the event, parents stayed at home and each couple arrived on their own. When the dance was over we returned home, often around midnight.

I spent a couple of days making my own full length dress. A princess line in a beautiful shade of blue with a motif, Dupion fabric.

My beau for the evening was Ray, a regular visitor to our home, a part of the gang and good friend. We had a Dress suit/tuxedo in the wardrobe for the use of all the lads in turn. I offered it to Ray for the evening, He might have been working and studying at night, but pennies in those days were hard come by. He accepted my invitation and offer of the suit.

On the night in question, he arrived in the suit and bow tie, with an orchid and the biggest box of chocolates that I have ever seen. It was the shape of a casket with six tasselled drawers. It became my first work box for sewing!

Ray & Marie

Ray & Marie

We had great fun and we are still friends to this day!


Special words…We all have them, and indeed most cannot be found in a dictionary.

Yesterday I learned a new one from Viv:


It was in connection with quilting and crafting. We are both avid followers of talltalesfromchiconia and were wowed by her latest creation.

In needlework of all kinds I ferniggle, adapt and cheat all the time. We are often reminded that there is more than one way to skin a cat (mind you I like to keep away from cats, so never tested it) I am a great believer in there being more than one way to do anything.

Hush will you, I am not talking about a right way and a wrong way, as if that were the only choice. I mean adapting a different way to make something fit, look, feel etc., I might use a ‘what-ya-ma-call-it’ or ‘a thing-a-ma-gig’ to help me get there.

Daddy had a phrase: Cut your cloth to suit your pattern. He might have meant living within my means, but I ferniggled it to mean fiddling about and adjusting my pattern to suit my cloth, yarn… or indeed my recipe to suit the ingredients in my pantry!

If I like the sound of a recipe that calls for butter, well, I will find a substitute for that ‘butter’ that can never touch my lips. It works for me and so far nobody has refused to eat my home baking.

Mammy was a dab hand at ferniggling a hat. In her book it was a ‘mortlar’ (think mortal sin) to plonk a hat like an upturned flowerpot on any head. She would always perch them at an angle, add a tricky feather or punch a dent in the side of chosen hat for the day. Do you think that is where I got it from?

The last hat/headgear I made was not alone ferniggled but footery into the bargain. It was well worth the effort and a great success!

The answer to all my dreams!

Yesterday, I got a text message.

Nothing new about that I hear you say. Well in this case it is rather special…

Great News, we have 3886.21 in your name for the accident you had, for us to put in your bank. Now just fill out http:// The text arrived at 4.46pm.

What will I do with it? I sat up thinking about it all night until it dawned on me:

  • Go on a holiday of a lifetime.
  • Have a wild party for all my friends.
  • Put a down payment on a nursing home.
  • Leave it to Elly for…. AFTERWARDS ❗

Oh wait now a minute… it is only 3886.21 and it does not say whether it was £££, $$$ or €€€.

I suppose I could phone the number it came from to check:

+44 7546 3908

I was having a glass of Bucks Fizz, as you do on such occasions and trying to calm the dancing butterflies, when my inner Mrs Sensible began to nag: “You were never really a dreamer, stop and think about  this for a moment. It might prove to be


stones or worse still…


Art with my needle -My hattering

You saw my jacket here a few weeks ago. At the end of the post I was playing with the left over yarn.

using the left overs

using the left overs

Not alone did I finish the project and make a beret, I completed two more.

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With thanks to Jennifer at Parlour Yarns for the encouragement each week, the coffee, laughter & humour and especially for playing photographer yesterday morning.

10th of November.

A time of the year when I would normally be found deep in layers of warm clothes.

An hour before sunrise the temperature was 16°C and felt even warmer.

The winter layers are ready, fuel for the fire stacked high, but in the meantime… soft rain or not, I will go a wandering, sure as daddy would have said:

“It is good for the completion”!

Today would have been his 104th Birthday.



Clare, can you see your Dan in his Irish Grandfather?

Did you have a Dowry?

“A dowry was the wealth brought into a new marriage by the bride. This could either be in the form of cash, goods or property and was usually provided by the bride’s father. Negotiations over the exact level of dowry for a particular marriage could be complex, there was no standard sum.

I did have a dowry.

A silver sixpence.

If you believed my father, it was payment for Jack to take me off his hands!

When we were well and truly married, daddy asked Jack if he could have the sixpence back… because he had another unmarried daughter on his hands.

The sixpence went back, and when daddy died, it was found in the pocket of a suit jacket, by my eldest brother. On one of our visits to Dublin, my brother handed the coin to Jack with the words “I think this belongs to you”!

I still have it today.

Five Firsts

The idea comes from a post by Nick at nickhereandnow 

First day at school aged four. I remember standing on a chair as mammy dressed me and put a large bow in my hair. She was taking my older brother to school and decided to bring me with her and register me for the following year. The headmistress said she would take me that day, so I went to class and mammy went home alone.

My first boyfriend. He had a makeshift stage in the garage, the family had no car and we put on shows. My party piece was singing ‘How much is that doggy in the window’? We spent evenings collecting mushrooms and at the weekend he took me to the pictures/movies on the crossbar of his bike. He had a summer job in a grocery shop and bought me 4ozs of Kimberly biscuits every week when he was paid. I was all of SIX!

Meeting my sister for the first time. She was twenty days old, I had spent the summer in Sligo on the west coast of Ireland with an aunt and uncle. They brought me home in time for the new school term in September. I had not known the baby was expected (I later learned that like the rest of us, she arrived two months early!) and figured she belonged to one of the many visitors to our house that day. It was only when the last visitor was leaving without ‘his baby’ that I was told she was my sister and would be staying! I was Eight.

First time I was bridesmaid. It was February 1963 in Worcester, England and the worst winter in nearly 20 years. Low temperatures meant snow was thick and solid on the ground.  It was difficult to smile for photos in my long dress with teeth chattering. I was to become bridesmaid three times despite the old wives tale ‘Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride’. Thankfully they were warmer occasions with plenty of sunshine and I eventually met and married my true love, fourteen years later.

First weeks wages. I had to stand in line, sign a register and then I was paid in cash counted into my hand! A total of £6.14, as my mother said, it kept me in nylons for a week! It was the height of the Swinging Sixties; hems were shorter, music was louder and even back then I preferred to hear the words than the loud noise.


Since I have only reached the age of eighteen, I might well return to this topic with a few more ‘firsts’… there are bound to be a few more.