Category Archives: Blessings

Do you like Hallowe’en?

Yes I do, but not for the overblown festival it has become today.

I do have a very special reason…

I have told this story before, but it was in the early days of my blogging life. Just as with life’s seasons, readers/followers  can be blown away by the winds of work, play or new interests. In recent years those empty places have been filled with new and interesting people.

So for you, I will repeat the story of a Halloween forty years ago:

Back in 1976 I was happily working away in Dublin for a computer company known to most of you by its initials.  The days were busy but the toy boys were fun to work with.  The summer holiday season came and went and I worked on.  Since I managed to suffer sun-stroke at least three times in Ireland, the thoughts of heading to warmer climes for annual leave during high season were not my priority.  In late September I began to think of taking a holiday, but a situation at work had all of us in our department under pressure so the holiday was put on the long finger.  

While crunching through the autumn leaves along the Grand Canal during a late October Friday lunchtime, a sudden gust of cool air woke me from my day-dreaming.  Immediately I longed for some warm sunshine on my back.  ‘Warm Sunshine’!  What was I thinking about, we were at the end of October and I had not taken my summer holidays!  If I didn’t get my act together quickly, I would lose the holiday entitlement at the close of the year.

I quickened my step and headed back towards Baggot St.  On the way I passed a Travel Agent.  I went inside to make a few enquiries.

“Do you have anything going out tomorrow” I asked?

“For how many people” enquired the young sales lady?

“Just me” I replied cheerfully.

Fifteen minutes later I left the building holding my tickets for a two week holiday in Sunny Spain leaving the next day, Saturday 30th October.  I had visited most of Mainland Europe over the years, but this was to be a first visit to Spain.  Back then we did not have Credit Cards so my next stop was the bank to purchase some travellers Cheques and some pesetas.  With the business done I skipped my way back to the office, mentally packing a case.  


Back at the office I had to announce my plans.  Fortunately nobody else in the department was booked for leave and there were several people available to provide cover for me.  Next I phoned my mother to tell her.

“Do you need clothes washed” she asked?  

“I have no idea what I want, so wait until I get home and I‘ll sort it out.” I said.  

The first step was to check that my Passport was in order (I knew it would be) and the evening passed selecting and sorting my clothes.  The only thing missing was a swimsuit!  Never mind I could always pick one up in Spain.   

It was to be my first holiday alone so I packed three books and some writing materials to keep me amused.  I also had a pack of cards so I could play patience.  It would be a very quiet holiday with plenty of walking, resting and reading!

I arrived at my hotel in the early hours of 31st and decided to head straight to bed, catch a few hours sleep and set out to explore my surroundings after an early breakfast.

The sun was shining when I awoke around 7am and I quickly showered and dressed not wanting to waste any time indoors.  I headed out and walked the length of the prom to a small harbour at the next village.  I sat and watched the birds calling to each other.  Being a Sunday morning there were very few people about.  My return journey was along the beach and I enjoyed listening to the lapping of the water as I paddled at the water’s edge, arriving back in time for breakfast.

After breakfast armed with a sunhat and scarf for my shoulders, sun cream and a book I headed out once more taking the other direction this time.  The outside world had come to life and there were plenty of people about walking in groups of twos and threes.  Most of them were travelling in the direction that I had taken and I soon became aware of a church bell ringing.  On impulse I followed the sound of the bell and joined the congregation in a very small church for the celebration of Mass.  We were mainly holidaymakers and at a guess English speakers.  The priest was assisted by a lady in her mid to late fifties.  When the time came she passed a silver collection plate around the congregation.

Unlike a Mr Paisley collection ( It was said that he provided metal buckets for the collection, I wonder if it was to discourage coinage in favour of notes?), it was rather noisy mainly consisting of coinage.   The Lady assistant carried the plate from the back of the congregation to the Chancel while the celebrant continued with the service.  As she climbed the first step she tripped and the coins rolled loudly across the terrazzo floor before spinning for what seemed like an eternity.  Alas the solemnity of the mass was lost in the almost suppressed titters around the church.

Suddenly feeling hungry I headed back to the hotel restaurant for lunch.  After a short wait to be seated, I was guided to a table with three other young ladies.  We introduced ourselves and I discovered that they were all from Belfast.  Like me they arrived the previous night.  Their journey had the added hassle of a delay before take-off.  Our chatter covered the journey, our resort and expectations for the holiday ahead.  Their holiday was for one week, while mine was for two.

The meal was simple, tasty and satisfying but we succumbed to, and lingered over dessert.  Two gentlemen from a nearby table stopped on their way out from lunch.  They were known to the girls as they had all travelled out to Spain on the same aircraft.  One of the men stood behind my chair.  I was introduced and immediately he said he had noticed me in the church.  The men entertained the girls with the story of the collection plate.

At one point the man behind me called Jack, wanted to tell me something so he placed his hands on my shoulders to tilt me in his direction.  I do not remember the story he told but I do remember his laughter, the twinkle in his eyes and the touch of his hands.  Later that night he danced with me and for the remainder of the week he sought me out when planning his activities for the day.  

I discovered that Jack, like me, had reason to make changes with holiday plans.  He wanted to have a week away earlier in October, but there were no places available.   The only week free was leaving Belfast on 30th October.

As the week went on we spent more time discovering shared interests, our likes and dislikes of food and music, the type of work we each did and the stories of our lives so far.  All too soon the first week was over and Jack returned to Co Antrim and a town I had never heard of before in my life.  The second week seemed dull without him and I spent my days travelling about the countryside and reading.

For some reason on Hallowe’en morning when I first felt those hands on my shoulders I knew they belonged there and without looking I had found the final piece of my life’s jigsaw that I never realised was missing.  We made contact with each other by phone when I returned and met again at Christmastime.  From then we travelled up and down the road every couple of weeks.  We became

Engaged in February and married in July.

For many years Jack dined out on the fact that we met at Hallowe’en.  He told everyone that he thought I was wearing a mask, but by the time he discovered it didn’t come off, I had my hooks in him!  This was all said as he winked at me and gave me a gentle squeeze.

I have often said to young folk who are on their own that you can’t go looking for love, and you certainly can’t buy it.  Love bites, when you are least expecting it and even sometimes when you don’t want it.  If you are lucky enough to find love, CHERISH it.  

Coming in Last


“I’ll tell you a true story,” he said. “A young man with disabilities wanted to win the 100-metre race. And he got into the finals. And he was running like crazy to get that gold medal, and somebody in the next lane tripped and fell. And he stopped, picked this guy up, and they ran together, and both of them were the last.

“That’s a true story,” Mr. Vanier confirmed. It’s the deepest lesson the disabled have to teach. “It’s not that they can become like us – but how can we become like them and have fun together. And lift up the chap who has fallen on the other lane, and come in last. There’s in us all an ego we have to conquer. You kill the ego so that the real person may rise up. And the real person is the one who’s learning to love.”

Jean Vanier created L’Arche – a unique community for mentally disabled adults

The full article is well worth reading. There are lessons for all of us in it.

With thanks to my pal in Newfoundland for directing me to this heart warming article.

In the doldrums

Not me.

I have been busy making up for lost time.

My eye surgery was a wonderful success and I have found a new joy in craft work that had been neglected for the past year or so.

There was a t-shirt that Elly threw on my bed one morning, way back last year.

“Could you alter the neckline for me mum, it is far to high and tight? You know me, I hate tight necklines they make me feel like I am choking. I think it needs to be shortened about three inches… and the side seams taken in”.

I love how my non ‘needle’ daughter sees her mother! 😛

The t-shirt is well on the way now and I have a morning’s hand sewing left to finish it off… photos to follow.

I emptied, washed and refilled my heat packs and made a new one to Elly’s specifications. I use a fleece fabric.

I washed and re-corded my kitchen blinds.

Fabric that I bought over a year ago for bathroom curtains, has now reached the top of my sewing bundle. And I still have a fitted sheet to alter.

I completed some crochet items, a star knee blanket, a jacket – which you have seen, two berets and a third is at the final stage.

These tasks all take time. I am slower than I used to be and the late, but welcome Gypsy summer as my friend Celi calls it, gave us extra daylight for the past month. The first of November was a wonderful bright and sun filled day, so totally different and warmer than 1st of June – our high summer.

I am also enjoying driving again. For quite a while it was local and utilitarian. I am venturing further and even had a week in Dublin. Elly suggested their late bank holiday weekend and she stretched it by taking an extra day’s holiday on the Friday. We did Girly things – shopping, eating, visiting friends and an evening at the Movies. George worked in the background and my car was given the works, a complete Valeting – it looked like it was just out of the showroom. Pity the skies cried all the way home to County Antrim!

I do have photos, but need to sort them out.

I am back! And hope to return to regular blog reading and commenting, although I missed it, the weeks away from screens large and small, was good for my soul. I knew you would understand. Good friends do.

Quilt Comfort


Quilting in my book requires time, space and a bucket load of patience. An eye for colour, pattern and placement all contribute to a completed work of art. A finished piece can bring comfort and love for many years. The quilt below brings a different kind of comfort

Comfort quilt_1

Comfort quilt_1

Comfort Quilt’ 2006
Ceramic artist: Diane McCormick

It is a ceramic wall-based work, by Diane McCormick  the ceramic artist from County Tyrone for Marie Curie Cancer Care Hospice, Belfast. The link above to her website gives the background to the Quilt. It was commissioned by Marie Curie Cancer Care supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland


Comfort quilt_2

A closer look

Hand made ceramic tiles, mono printed with ceramic colours and glazes. Multiple fired to build up layers of colours and textures. It measures 2m x 1.8m on the theme of Marie Curie history

Alternative theraphy

Alternative therapies

depicting some of the alternative therapies available to the patients.

Comforting words

Comforting words


Daffodils often used as a Fundraising symbol


These sections cover some of the fundraising efforts. Sponsored walks and cycling. The engagement ring was a rather special donation: At one of the early meetings when funds were needed to build this hospice a lady present removed her engagement ring and placed it on the table, offering it as a gift to be auctioned for the fund.



The border strips include symbols to represent the research work of Marie Curie.

The Log Cabin Quilt, which this design is based on, is associated with the home, with light and dark strips of cloth around a central square which represents the heart of the home (Marie Curie nurses come into the home to help care for patients).

This design is made in clay tiles of various sizes, printed and patterned to resemble material and quilting. Each square panel incorporates a central motif to show aspects of the history of Marie Curie, the work done in the Marie Curie units and research into the causes and cures for cancer. Strips around each motif have patterns, textures, words and sayings to illustrate the central panel. Uplifting proverbs and written words (from patients and staff) are printed in this area to give comfort to patients, staff and family. The panel is surrounded by a border of daffodils.

Diane McCormick graduated in 1988 from the University of Ulster with a first class Degree in Fine Craft Design. Since then she has had pieces commissioned for numerous hospitals, a restaurant, a bus station, shops, an arts centre, a church, a major charity, arts awards and a museum as well as many private clients.

Since 1991 she has exhibited at trade fairs in Ireland and the UK supplying numerous shops and galleries with her quirky and colourful ceramics. Her work is in the collections of the Ulster Museum and has been presented to musicians, politicians and heads of Church. She and her husband Martin, are now concentrating their art skills in public and private commissions and selling their unusual ceramic and wood pieces from their studio in Co. Tyrone as well as making pieces for exhibition.

Each public art commission is designed specifically for the enjoyment of the users of the building often with references to the history of the site or with input from the staff or patients as a major influence.

Life is good

Maybe I should up that statement: Life right now is a wonderful high!

Yesterday, my friend Emily brought me out for the day and treated me to lunch at Il Pirata. No. We did not fly to Italy for lunch, we travelled to Ballyhackamore, in East Belfast. We eat slowly and talked plenty.

Back in the car, our mystery tour continued.

Some months ago, Emily mentioned a sculpture that whetted my appetite and I was anxious to see it for myself. Yesterday was the perfect occasion and I was introduced to the work of two wonderful creative souls.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will introduce you to a wonderful sculpture, if I manage to sort my photos.  The second piece should be ready for Wednesday. The latter was right up my street and I fell deeply in love with the work.

I suddenly realised about mid morning today that the air bubble in my eye had disappeared. I was like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Yes. I can see clearly, but I am limiting my time at the laptop for a few more day.

Slowly, very slowly I will get back to my routine of blog reading. Again I plead for your patience.

Silent solace

‘Silence difficult to create’ was a statement or question I came across a few months back, for the life of me I cannot remember where, but having lived totally alone for seventeen years with neither kith nor kin within 125 miles, I am an expert on silence:

Silence in joy and silence of sorrow
Silence to help through the cares of tomorrow.
Silence in pain and in frustration
Silence in coping with a new limitation.

Silence as I watch each new day dawn
Silence of long evenings when the blinds are drawn.
Silence when tucked up all cosy and warm
Silence before a violent winter storm.

Silence for when someone refuses to listen
Silence when engrossed in a project or mission.
Silence of persistence to learn something new
Silence when struggling with a rusty old screw.

Silence of a day when the phone has not rung
Silence of satisfaction when the beads are strung.
Silence returning home from a day of fun
Silence sipping coffee just made for one.

Silence of aging ears needing turned up sound
Silence when you find yourself lying on the ground.
Silence when the washer stops before the work is done.
Silence as you wait for workmen to come.

Silence of my world with a first fall of snow
Silence as I mix a new batch of dough.
Silence of expectation at each new destination
Silence watching a child in deep concentration.

Silence of special hugs when loved ones arrive,
hoping they don’t say “We are leaving by five”!
Silence, long silence when the foot-falls fade.
Silence of thanks for the love they conveyed.


We are all go for another year!

I drove on the all new bright and shiny A8 to Larne, this lovely sunny morning. There were stretches where I was all alone with green fields and cows chewing away, far too busy to notice me tootling along.

Naturally I was early for my appointment. I was asked to arrive at the vehicle testing Centre ten minutes before the appointed time.  I was due to arrive at 10:40hrs, for a test at 10:50hrs.  At the appointed time, you draw the vehicle up to the line and wait until you are beckoned to move forward.

Being a little earlier than required, I reversed into a parking space with full view of all that was going on. Driving school cars with would-be drivers nervously arriving to take their driving test. then I noticed some unusual activity from the MOT hanger …

The car in waiting at Lane one, began to reverse away from the building. It was closely followed by another car and a white van.  Then ever so slowly I saw something bright yellow inching the way out of the hanger. I got out of my car with my cell phone a photoo opportunity if ever there was one…

Wait for me!

Wait for me!

One of the testers was at the wheel, he reversed in a circle before roaring off to circuit the building.  I was ready when he came round to the front again,  I hit the button not quite sure if I had the object of my interest lined up properly … he was moving fast, but with caution.  Another half circuit and the sound of the engine died, so I expect the car belonged to the driver and he needed to return to duty.

I joined Lane 2 as arranged and in no time at all I was waved forward.

Nose into the hanger so the exhaust immision was tested. I was then invited to move forward to the next position and was asked to switch off the enging and open the bonnet/hood. Happy with that it was closed again and I had the fun of trying to remember the things I do automatically every time I drive:- indicators, lights on all three levels, fog light and the horn. That was my job complete and I was asked once more to switch off. vacate the car and move to the seating area along the side of the wall. With doors open at both ends it can feel rather cold, well it does for me.

The tester took over for the next stages, the car is driven forward the front wheels are placed on a metal pad and the guts are shaken out of the front axel/wheels, they are then dropped down in to a vice like well where they are pushed and pulled with gusto. This process is repeated for the back axel. When all four wheels are back on the ground level, I sigh with relief, only one more stage to go.

On to a ramp and up she goes!

My little Beauty

My little Beauty

Not bad for a car manufactured at the start of the century. Yes, the year was 2000 and the milage on the clock this morning? 70,474 miles.

I was talking to Elly when I came home she will be spending the wekend at the Sea of Galilee. When I told her the milage on my car, she replied “I will propable cover more than that on my working trips to Israel, by the end of the year”!

Elly has promised …I did hear her … not to try walking on water! Knowing her, she will probably dip her toes!

Stay safe my my love!


It was a very good day!

At 06:30 I was making a cake, well actually two cakes.

While they baked, I showered and made myself beautiful prepared for the day.  As I finished breakfast, the phone calls began… at one stage there were toyboys on the landline, the mobile and on Skype all vying for my attention. Don’t tell them. I didn’t.  You know they all think they hold the number one spot!

My date for morning coffee had to be posponed until today (Wednesday), so one of the cakes will be grand to bring with me and extend the party.

The skies cleared and the sun danced in my honour. The Postie serenaded me on the doorstep and the window cleaner brightened my world even more. A day not to be wasted, so I headed out in search of fun,

Carrickfergus Harbour

Carrickfergus Harbour

Look how smooth the water was.

I found a Toyboy

I found a Toyboy

I found a Toyboy

Brendan was on holiday from the US with his mum and aunt. I met them at the Castle taking photos… you know the routine

“I’ll take one of you two, then you can take one of us and….!”

I approached and asked “Would you like one of…..

A chorus of “Oh yes please!”, came back before I finished the sentence, and I was handed an iPad.

I took several at different angles to make sure they had a worthwhile selection.

Job done, I asked for payment…

Well it was my birthday and a photo with a Toyboy was not much to ask, was it? I handed over my smart phone and Brendan’s mum took the photos, then followed hugs and another rendition of Happy Birthday. They were next headed for Ballycastle and invited me to join them. I had to decline the invitation, so we said farewell and I headed off for my walk along the promenade.

I had not gone too far when there was loud tooting of a car horn. Turning round I saw my new found friends driving along Marine Highway with arms outstreched from every window  of their car, singing Happy Birthday to me!

The remainder of the day can be found in the slide show.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Barbara, I was just about to light the candle on my cake when the phone rang, it was your dad. Growing up we always shared our birthdays, his being two days before mine, so he sang Happy Birthday as I blew out the candle!

For all my knitting friends, I found the extreme knitting at Parlour Yarns, Carrickfergus,they do have a Facebook Page. The piece was sitting in a basket with an invitation to knit a few stitches, a row or half the rug! It was very heavy, the yarn was carpet wool in four colours with two strands of each colour. You would need a tub of good hand cream to sooth the fingers after working on it for any length of time. I once used carpet thrums to make a 10 ft X 6 ft Mister Men rug for my kitchen floor. It was back in the day when I had a little doll to play with – then she grew up and ran away for her own adventure!!!!! I do love you Elly, REALLY!

In all I had a very good day.  Thank you to all who played any part in my celebration, with calls, texts, postings, cards and song singing.

You all rock.


UPDATE: What a difference a day makes:

The Sky has a hangover today

The Sky has a hangover today

We are back to whistling winds and driving rain. Did yesterday really happen? Was I dreaming?

Two hours before sunrise

I was in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. It was 05:19 and was thirsty. The idea was to fill a thermos jug and bring it back to my scratcher with me in order to be well hydrated when the sun was due to awaken at 07:19 in my part of the world today.

A glance at my cooker top, drew a “Tut, tut!” from my lips, so I had a go at cleaning it. Job number one done for the day! So here I am feeling good and sitting sipping my boiled water.

Yesterday began with a gap in the gloom, so I headed out for some retail therapy. It was certainly not weather for me to go hill climbing, scrambling over rocks or on long walks. The air was damp and the frequent showers kept the it that way.

20150226_132215 What happened the Cavehill?

What happened the Cavehill?

That is not fog, it is rain.

Twenty minutes later it had improved…

20150226_133804 Cavehill appears

Cavehill appears

20150226_133902 More rain

More rain

Yes a minute later the rain was on again.

Right now the outdoor temperature is 1°C with Humidity of 94% and the high for today should be 5°C. That dampness goes for old bones, makes them stiff and noisy.

Hell, I am alive. I can move about and I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge and heat indoors. I am blessed indeed!