Saturday, 31 March 2012

Coming soon

to a Belfast near you. Super pictures of the about to open Titanic Belfast. We're very excited. Hopefully it will be a much more fitting, and less exploitative, experience than watching even the twenty minutes that I could bear of that Drownton Abbey series that started last Sunday!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Fur Mise

Well, Mise, being the lachrymose land, this is my favourite Juliet Turner song. And I too like her- too much to attempt to sing her in company. That would make us all lachrymose on a sunny day! (She sang this at the public memorial service soon after the Omagh Thing.)

Nearly midweek

It's very sunny, very busy, very exhausting and very good here in the sunny, sunny Land of the (sometimes tearful although at the minute that's generally only one of us) Strawberries. So here is this week's very belated dose of Rend. A little something for a moment later in the day when the sunny sun goes down!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Ancient Irish Bluegrass and Bins

I'm really not keeping up well with our theme this year! I have been thinking a lot this Lent about seeing things through new eyes, through His eyes. So here's an ancient Irish hymn through Rend's eyes! PC is playing his version of this for church in me for Mothers Day! Happy St Patrick's Part 3, Happy Mother's Day, and Happy Birthday for tomorrow, Mum!

Happy St Patrick's Day Part 2

Oh all right then! Well done, England! And thank you, Betty for this fabulous leprechaun! I love him! Most gracious of you, given our Six Nations defeat of this evening!

And thank you, Lisa, for the fabulous ancient swamp willow with happy boys! I love it! Today they didn't enjoy quite the nice weather that you give them!

All started sunnily enough- for a picnic with Nedboy and co at Navan Fort. Here in days gone by the warriers of Ireland met and feasted, and Cuchulainn became the Hound of Ulster, and Macha cursed the men of Ulster. All good grim stuff! This morning we just had to contend with the Willows feasting on our quiche, as real warriers do, apparently, eat quiche.

On we continued to Armagh: city of Saints and Scholars, Ard Macha after she of the chariot race and the twins and the curse. Also, as the sign says, a town of opposites. Aren't we cheerful in the rain? Mattman is licking it, and I don't know what Cooking Catherine is doing with it.

Here comes St Patrick leading his parade. Behind him his modern day successors- both Archbishops uniting opposites at the front of the procession. This did nearly make up for the irony of us all being held back by orange rope (the parade had been re-routed because of a bomb scare further down in the town)!

Happy, bouncy leprechaun, and then lots and lots of animals, which must have been this year's theme. I think they had heard that the Willows would be there! The boys were, however, safely out of the elements, for fear that more of poor Mole's ink would run!

This is St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. Our book says that he drove out the snakes as he had driven out sin. Well. I wish he had driven out Macha when he was about it- here she is screaming fury at us all! I unfortunately took her photo just as she caught my eye- and now she has me cursed along with the men of Ulster! Suggestions for avoiding disaster in the comment box below, please- we don't need any more lachrymose! Angela and Betty- I shall be posting the boys out of harm's way this week!

Happy St Patrick's Day Part 1

More later from the Willows and from us all, but for the monent- COME ON, IRELAND! (I taught him, you know!)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Today, galvanised by a good friend and neighbour's commentary on the pot at my front door, I went out and ripped up dead things. This was more emotional than expected when I found myself finally admitting that the huge, woody, lavendar bush was long past salvation. I planted that lovely thing when we moved in thirteen years ago. The last sprig is beside my bed with "a candle to lighten dark days"- it's the first one I've used from your package, Pom Pom! Gardening always makes me maudlin- all those visceral metaphors for life, and rebirth, and growth. That's probably why I avoid it at all costs!

Thankfully the strawberries and gang bring no angst to outdoor activities, and just get on with a return to tree house living.

There have been cupcakes this week. Many, many cupcakes. We had our now annual joint meeting of Mothers' Union and Men's Breakfast, and blue icing seemed fitting. At the time!

Duncan Morrow was the speaker- academic at the local university and recently Chief Exec of the Commuity Relations Council. Talking about where this little land has been and where it could go. Interestingly talked most optimistically about our present. It reminded me of the orange and green chocolate in Aunt Sandra's the other week. He shared much about his childhood, which was lived out partly in community, with great exposure to international influences. But the most formative influence, he said, was the fact that he lived amongst people for whom love and forgiveness were bedrock certainties. Food for thought, regardless of the colour of your cupcake!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Patrick Pilgrims (and this week's Pause)

We're gearing up for next Saturday's big celebrations! The Willows will be on their way to England soon- but there would be no point in leaving Ireland before St Patrick's now, would there? This afternoon we made our nearly annual pilgrimage to the St Patrick's Centre in Downpatrick*.

There will be a Rend CD for a comment that explains why pigs are in the middle of the exhibition! I've been thinking about pilgrims a lot this week, which is why it amazes me that Pom Pom has this post this weekend and also that Cooking Catherine came down tonight with this book for me to read! (I'll read it quickly, Fred!)

We built a beehive retreat for the Willows to give them a taste of Irish hermit life. Though we couldn't row them out into the Atlantic for the authentic salt waves.
They did walk up the steps of St Patrick's Breastplate, and Jo held them securely down in the wind whistling over Patrick's stone. (Don't want to lose anyone...)
Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cosy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. 1 Peter 2:11 The Message

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Quote attributed to Ghandi that may or may not go on to question the materialism of affluent Christian countries. PC told me about this quote after I finished Catch 22 yesterday, and was telling him how much I loved the fact that, despite the anti-God tirades from characters in the book, the chaplain is portrayed so positively throughout. Pilgrim on earth, come on, my soul. (*Fans of our vernacular should note pronunciation of "down"!)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Hookery in the Bookery

It's Wednesday so it must be crochet tea-break in the library night! Last week Patricia was bordering her blanket.

Heather was crocheting flowers for the cowl she is planning.

And this is her second finished blanket. It is a wondrous thing to be wrapped in! I was taking pictures, when not testing snuggle levels...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

I'm still going with my intention to bring you a Rend song for every Sunday in Lent- but have run out of official youtube possibilities, so I'm recommending you listen to Find Your Kindness this week- there is a guy on youtube who has it as a background to his video on working in Kenya!

It struck me last week during my little dip into Community life, that actually I'm not entirely bad at it, but I am poor at being gracious in the face of the things that really push my buttons.

So I'm glad that so many of Floss's Pausers are thinking about kindness this week. It has been much on my mind, which has been mulling over my inability to stay uncross sometimes. I had wondered if I couldn't recite "When you're cross, be kind" to myself. At least then I wouldn't maybe put my foot in it quite as often as I do! And the strawberries might be less lachrymose too!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Experiments in body clock

I know you're all faithfully and fruitfully attending Zumba and Pilates, or running marathan practice routes round the village every night before tea, but I've decided to address the tricky issue of not being able to go to bed early or get up on time the next morning. Obviously I need to change my body clock.

We read this article in the library one night last week, and it all seems very reasonable to me. I have been getting to bed early- between 11 and midnight this week, but have slept fitfully through the whole night. I always wake up slowly and sluggishly, and am never a happy girl! I realise that this is known by the technical term of sloth.

Last night we had progress. I went to bed straight after the boys. Admittedly PC was out at The Rugby, and we all know how long that takes. (Slightly less long than work "lunches".) I slept really well until 1.30am when I woke up very clearly and came downstairs for toast and a little study of Proverbs Woman- there is a reason for this other than madness. I went back to bed an hour later and slept really well until 7.30am when I got up wholly unmolested and decided to go out to rugby with the men. There was no reason for this other than madness, and indeed I relented on arrival and sat in the car listening to Radio 4.

The main disadvantage to this experiment so far seems to lie in the risk involved in using a serrated knife to slice Veda at 1.30am when your eyes haven't fully opened yet. I have also had to forego a cycling trip on the Shore this afternoon so that I could lie under a blanket on the sofa imbibing Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The main advantage has been the laugh out loud, at 1.30am, hilarity of reading Proverbs 31:15 straight after you've put porridge in the pot for breakfast the next/that very same morning. Minus the servant girls, you understand. This is the Year of Living Small.

There have been other breakthroughs this week. Pom Pom received her prize for guessing that Angela was here engaged on a craft activity- revealing invisible Egyptian ink, to be precise.

Then finally the dB Family have won the scary book- maybe they should save it for dark nights next winter, since Spring seems most certainly to have sprung. Mind you, given how long the stickers took to get to Denver, the book might not arrive in Canada until then, Deborah...

I am, by the way, loving Battle Hymn- funny, tongue-in-cheek, much more self-critical than the furore at the time gave Chua credit for, I think. But I tell you what, there will be way more push in this house from now on. Next week. When I get my body clock sorted out!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Leap Day at Aunt Sandra's

A few weeks ago my uber-beautiful friend K told me about a Radio 4 article that suggested using the whole free extra day of 29th February to do something you've been meaning to do for ages. So I took the boys, and the suns, to see Aunt Sandra's Sweetie Factory.

It's there, as tiny and as Aladdin-worthy as apparently it was in 1953 when it opened. When you walk in you have to stop and breathe deeply of the baked sugar before you can quite concentrate on the floor to ceiling array of it all!

Obviously you must have a golden ticket to proceed and obviously Uncle David is actually Willie Wonka's cousin.

He demonstrated the pouring of candy...

...the moulding of candy in their one hundred- year old machine...

...and the stretching of candy- can you hear it pop and creak and fizz?

We really could not decide what we should bring home. (Though a careful head-count was done at the door.)

In the little factory we lost count of shamrock lollies getting ready to traverse the globe, which made the Willows feel quite the experienced travellers.

And so home, laden with wonderment (and much baked sugar). We drove in the car. Toad beat us by half an hour on Aunt Sandra's moped. I don't think he forced any caravans off the road?

Happy St Patrick's Day!

  I hope you've had a lovely 17th March! The weather was glorious here today, and legend tells us that this must be because St Patrick h...