Category Archives: Friends

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.

 

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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?

16:30 hrs

Two weeks ago today I had a phone call from my sister at this time. It was the second call of the afternoon.

The earlier call, which lasted about an hour, was to tell me one of her four legged companions for the past fifteen years and fifty days, had been put to sleep two days earlier. Cariosa, a Golden Sheltie, had led a very comfortable life and returned the love by being a faithful friend. Over the past eighteen months, her health had slowly deteriorated.

At Christmas, I drove my sister and Cariosa to the vet. We were sure she would not be coming home. The vet suggested some medication, that worked for some, but not every patient. My sister was prepared to try and over the next few days she seemed to rally, find her appetite and show interest in gentle play.

In the early hours of the previous Friday morning, things went downhill. Fast! It was obvious that this time it would be a one way visit to the vet. That extra month was a bonus.

Cariosa and Alanah

Cariosa and Alanah

Cariosa& Alanah

The second call was so very different. It put life in perspective for both of us.

It was news of the tragic death of the son of one of my childhood friends. The young man would have been a few years older than Elly and a similar age to one of my nephews. A quiet fellow who I did meet a couple of years ago. He had been brutally attacked in his own home. Murdered.

As in all such occasions, the work of the Coroner, Forensics team and the law seem to go into slow motion while family and friends are left in limbo with no answers and not allowed to take the first steps through the grieving process with a funeral. The slow process of thorough examination of the body, the surroundings and checking of all movements take time. Journalists were the only people in overdrive, clutching at straws and a few snippets of news, enlarging them or indeed making things up as they went along.

Late on Thursday the body was released and permission given to go ahead with a funeral on Saturday 14th February. Extended family and friends from all corners of Ireland joined the bereaved to pay respects and bid farewell to the young man. I and most of my siblings were able to be among them.

We expect to outlive our parents, there is a chance we might outlive our spouse, but to lose a child is not something any of us are prepared for. My heart goes out to this family.

Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to hug my Elly before she flew out to Israel on Friday morning for a work visit. We are in contact via social media on a daily basis, but I long to see her and wrap my arms around her. Stay safe and hurry home my darling!

My sister does have another four legged companion: Alanah. She too was feeling the loss of her golden haired pal, She had become very quiet and lost all interest in food.

My visit seemed to help her turn the corner. She followed me everywhere. We played with a ball, went for walks and she kept my knees warm! I think my sister was worried I might be bringing home a furry friend today…

Fifty shades of Grey

Click to enlarge

Fifty shades of Grey

New Year Wishes

 

A big “Thank You” for your friendship, laughs and memories during the year. Without you, I’m sure that 2014 would have been extremely boring.

To those who need someone special, may you find that true love
To those who need money, may your finances be sufficient
To those who need caring, may you find a good heart
May 2015 bring you acceptance and peace.

Happy New Year!

Time

I no longer bother with decorating the house at Christmas, there is nobody only me to see it. Sometimes I am here and then other years I am away. There is nothing as bad as coming home to an empty dark house, that has been abandoned for several days, to an unlit tree and other trinkets needing to be packed away in boxes for another twelve months.

 
My Elly, George & Buffy were here for the weekend and that is our celebration over and done with. Sometimes she feels bad about not spending Christmas with me, but it is after all only one day and a short one at that. I cannot see the point in rushing around on the roads in bad weather and poor light. Roads filled with stressed drivers or others who are once a year drivers unsure of where thy are going, or those with drink taken.

 

We can have a fun day together at our leisure, in the summer when the weather is better, the days longer and the world calmer – Double the value, in my book.

I heard of one young lady, Molly, who was asked, at the nudging from aunts and uncles what she wanted for Christmas.

Her answer: A token of time! I love this child.

If each one devoted a few hours or a day, spread out over the year, It would be fabulous.

A TOKEN OF TIME AND A FEW HUGS…. Heaven at any age!

Monday & Tuesday

Yesterday, I had a short walk before heading off to keep a hospital appointment.

Mahonia

Mahonia

Yellow Mahonia blooms beamed at me to brighten the day.

Rich green moss

Rich green moss

I was almost tempted to remove my shoes and walk barefoot in the moss.

Today, I brought a friend to Clotworthy House for coffee, we talked that much, I forgot to air my camera, so there are no photos.

I called at Lidl on my way home, where I met Ivy

Ivy with her trainer, whose name I have forgotten

Ivy with her trainer, whose name I have forgotten

Ivy is a Labrador/Setter cross, about one year old. Today she was learning to sit and stay. She behaved very well. In the next couple of months she will learn to become an assistance dog, before moving to improve the quality of life for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, 

Ivy in her training coat

Ivy in her training coat

Assistance Dogs Northern Ireland (ADNI) aim to train assistance dogs to improve the quality of life for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and for people who are disabled or have uncontrolled epileptic seizures, their services are available to residents all over Northern Ireland.

May Ivy enjoy many years providing a physical and emotional anchor for a child with Autism.

I got it!

I have been in the waiting room for the past few days. Yes. I was waiting for my copy of Letters for my Little Sister to pop through my door.

Letters for my Little Sister

Letters for my Little Sister

I knew it was on the way. Each day there was news from The Fellowship’ of the Farmy, that readers and contributors had received their books. They were actually holding a copy in their hot little hands.

I write as I speak. My contribution is my story, in my words. Simple words.

Mine was an instant response, I wanted to write it before I changed my mind. Once begun, my fingers would not stop. I wanted to share. To let other women know they were not alone, what was happening to them, had happened to other women. Just as there are no text book bodies, there are no text book/alarm clock menopauses. Each is unique, but there are similarities in the symptoms.

As I waited, I worried: Did I ramble rubbishingly with unnecessary detail? Then I consoled myself…

IF IT HELPS JUST ONE WOMAN, THEN IT WILL HAVE BEEN WORTHWHILE!

There are 68 contributions, no, strike that, there are SIXTY NINE contributions altogether. Number sixty nine comes in two parts – the opening and closing of this wonderful book. No better way to begin and end than with the words of Cecilia B W Gunther, the inspiration behind the project. A project to share personal stories about a hidden and sometimes forbidden topic: The Menopause.

Tales long and short in poetry and prose, from all corners of the globe, with just one aim: To help our sisters, cousins, aunts, nieces and granddaughters. This book will have you laughing one minute and close to tears in the next, so tissues at the ready….

Letters for my Little Sister is available on Amazon.com go check out the reviews, you know you want to.

Cecilia Buyswheeler Gunther, originally from New Zealand, is now married to an American living on the prairies of Illinois, USA. She spends her life writing and managing her own sustainable farm, She is the founder and writer/photographer for the blog The Kitchen’s Garden. We the contributors, are part of a band of regular readers who comment on the blog.

Now all I need to do is deliver the other copies to my little sister and to Elly, my daughter.

Isabella

From Mrs Beeton’s Cookery and Household Management 1981 edition….

We are told on the flyleaf that it is ‘A totally revised, metricated and updated to bring it into line with the very latest developments in the cookery and Household management world’. How things have changed in the kitchen during the last thirty three years, never mind the one hundred and fifty three years since Isabella put her quill to parchment!

While searching for something else this morning I came across this entry in the household management section:

Menopause

This means the cessation of the monthly periods, which normally happens any time between forty and fifty-five. Many women are frightened of the ‘change of life’, but there is no necessary reason why trouble should arise. If you are worried, go and talk to your doctor. You can be sure that the disturbances, which include hot flushes, insomnia, joint pains, increase in weight, and the general irritability, will pass: but in a number of cases the emotional upset is made worse by domestic strain or by loneliness. By the time of the menopause, children are likely to be leaving home and husbands are often absorbed to an increasing degree by the responsibilities of their occupation. In such circumstances it is sensible to try to find a new interest in life, or to resurrect an old one. Although hot flushes are unpleasant they go unnoticed by other people, and there is no reason to worry about how you look in company. As for sexual activity, the menopause need make no difference, except, obviously, that there is no longer the possibility of pregnancy.

 

There you go… ONE paragraph and it is all done and dusted! I actually wonder, how much of the above appeared when the good lady first published her Book of Household Management in 1861? I know it proved incorrect in relation to the ‘change of life’ in my case, but then I always claimed that I did not have a text book body.

The Book of Household Management (1861), comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort. – Wikipedia

I think we should leave dear Isabella to her rest these days and discover more practical and up to date information and advice from a new book about to be published in September.

Letters for my Little Sister – A Fellowship Book b— Cecilia Gunther

If the group name for zebras is a dazzle, let me see what I can do to dazzle you with the group names of the animals who are regularly roaming the 5***** farmy hotel at THEKITCHENSGARDEN.

The grist of our swarm, flock to peep over the five bar gate each day, braceing ourselves for the news of brooding hens, silent sheep, droving pigs (believe me, they go for a walk twice a day!), pouncing dogs, strutting peacocks and pea hens or visiting children clutching eggs laid by plump hens.

Drooling for a knob of fresh butter, cheese or yoghurt while waiting for the bread to rise to accompany the glories of the vegetable patch for supper each day all washed down by the home-made wine. We clutter and clowder for big servings of chowder, trying not to be a nuisance as we watch with Ton-ton and Boo, the dogs, as Daisy or Queenie provide milk for the tea, the churn and the animals.

Good Queen Celi rules over her clutch of chickens, kine of cows, kennel of dogs, muster of peacocks and peahens, flock of sheep, and pigs led by Shiela, always watchful for the odd snake in the grass.

When most of us are ready to collapse at the thought of all that work, Celi finds time to bottle and freeze food for the winter, make candles and soap, before sitting to document her day with photographs from the previous twenty four hours, on her blog for the fellowship of the farmy.

A few months ago she threw us a line. An idea. A suggestion for a book.

Letters for my Little Sister began as a real letter, that Cecilia Gunther was writing to her little sister. Their mother died when they were young, so they grew up with no one to lead them through the hurdles of life or to give them any very personal advice.

Celi was trying to help her sister navigate the journey of aging and menopause. She felt there were others out there in the farmy fellowship who daily offered support or advice, and since they came from all ages & corners of the globe, they would have a wide perspective from dealing with mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters, never mind their own experiences of the dreaded word ‘menopause’.

So a book was born sixty eight brave men and true women stepped up to the plate to share their experiences. The book includes essays, letters and poems all written to share this common experience that effects no two women the same way.

Drum Roll…..

Coming soon, from Sable Books, and Pre-orders are available.

Which kind of friend are you?

 

A friend had this graphic on her blog this morning, as a lead into a post about depression.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

I never knew RW, I may have seen him in one movie.

The picture holds a powerful message and food for thought.

Which kind of friend are you? Are you available to listen?

REALLY LISTEN.

Unplug your ears and switch off all modern devices to actually hear what your friend is saying, meaning and NEEDING?

Think on, my friend.

You are not out of this world yet, and long runs the fox (depression), but one day it might catch up with you.

I hope, if it does, you will still have friends around to…

LISTEN.

 

 

Mind the good chair!

Yesterday, one of those days when unsure what season we were in, so it took longer on choosing my clothes for the day. It was a day for layers. I had planned to collect my old young friend Janet, for a bit of adventure. I can see where she lives from my kitchen window.

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She lives on top of that bump to the right of the wind turbines.

Nearly there

Nearly there

The idea was to exercise our legs…. and our tongues with the odd bit of chatter.

Did I say the odd bit of chatter? I am not sure I gave Janet a chance to say more than a half dozen words. Next time, I will bring a band-aid to help keep my trap shut. 😉 I promise!

I was the driver for the duration, so as chief navigator, I allowed Janet to choose direction and the destination for our coffee spot. Our rain jackets travelled comfortably on the back seat.

She chose the Creative Gardens Galgorm Castle, Ballymena, County Antrim. It opened in February this year, so a first time visit for me. They have a Garden centre, Seasonal Shop and the now obligatory Coffee shop.

Mind the good chair_1

Mind the good chair_1

This display caught my eye as we were wandering about.

Side view of the chair

Side view of the chair

The plants are not just sitting on the chair. Oh no. The side view  gives you an idea of how it works. The original seat is long gone and a sacking type fabric is stapled to the inside of the seat space, slightly sagging, growing medium added and then the plants inserted. If you look very carefully you can actually see the petunia plugs, lifted out of the compost by the weight of the blooms.

If you try this please watch dear old aunt Mabel, in case she tries to sit on it! 😉

It did rain:- when we were in the car or sipping coffee.

Neither of us were in a hurry home.

Janet suggested a walk in Portglenone Forest Park. I was game for anything.

Map of Portglenone Forest

Map of Portglenone Forest

It was very overcast as we arrived in the car park.

“Do you think it will rain?” asked Janet.

“Not to worry, says I, we can shelter under a leaf!”

We took the Red route.

Portglenone, in Irish: Port Chluain Eoghain, means “The Fort of Eoghan’s meadow”. We local yokels might tease and call it Port-glen-one, but the correct pronunciation is more like Port-glen-own.

Portglenone Forest Park, lies 8.5 miles (14 km) west of Ballymena. It is classified as an ‘Ancient Woodland’, and has well marked nature trails, with the River Bann flowing through the forest. Records show that the forest was once part of a much larger woodland comprising Mountreivelen, Killetra, and Glenconkeyne Woods.

These woods formed one of the biggest oak forests in the country. In 1607 Sir John Davys, the Irish Attorney-General, described this area as “well nigh as large as the New Forest in Hampshire and stored with the best timber in Ireland.”

The ground flora contains extensive colonies of species such as bluebell, wood anemone, and wild garlic. We would need to go back in late April or early May to enjoy those beauties. These plants take centuries of woodland cover to establish, and provide the wood with its important conservation and educational aspects.

Augustine Henry (1857–1930) was an Irish plantsman and sinologist. He began work as a medical officer and customs assistant to the Chinese customs service in 1881. He was an ardent reader of botanical literature and collected 15,000 dry specimens and 500 live plant samples of flora for Kew botanical gardens.  From his specimens 25 new genera and 500 new species were identified.

In 1913 he was appointed the first Professor of Forestry at the Royal College of Science (now University College Dublin), serving until he retired in 1926. He was involved in developing the national Forestry Service and in evaluating foreign conifer species. These included Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole pine.

In 1935, J. W. Besant was to write: ‘The wealth of beautiful trees and flowering shrubs which adorn gardens in all temperate parts of the world today is due in a great measure to the pioneer work of the late Professor Henry’.

 

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I have another Janet surprise, but that is for tomorrow!

A-tisket a-tasket

Do you remember this
And wonder what it is,

What will it be

What will it be

It changed along the way

A gadget warmer, perhaps?

A gadget warmer, perhaps?

And became….

Finished basket/container

Finished basket/container

A-tisket a-tasket
A diamond trellis basket

It was the first completed item from this crate of yarn, a gift I received from Brogen.

Box of treasure

Box of treasure

Brogen’s mum, Emma Sharma Hayes was a very talented lady and knitting was only one of those gifts. Alas she was not given time to use all the yarn in the crate above, before her allotted time among us had expired. Knowing I enjoy yarn crafts, the crate came my way.

The basket was my token of thanks to Brogen. I was so busy finishing it in the early hours of Saturday, that I forgot to take a photo of the finished item. I had to ask Brogen to email me a photo.

Now I wonder what I will make next…….?