Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Books

Perception of time can be such a weird thing. Here we are, with just a few hours left in May, and it feels like it's been a long month in some ways, while in others, it seems like it sped by. I have a book about time that I picked up at the Buncrana library last week. I think I'll read that next.

In the meantime, these are the books I read in May. Thinking back to Evicted, it seems like a long time ago since the month began!

Evicted by Matthew Desmond
   An ethnographic study of eviction and how it impacts tenants and landlords. The study was undertaken in Milwaukee, but the author informs us that the city works well as a microcosm of the US as a whole. He points out that to fully understand poverty in the US, you have to know about eviction, and yet it is not often spoken about. Statistics are very misleading, because so many of these things take place under the radar and so are not quantified. For that reason, he decided to take an ethnographic approach and lived in the city with the people he writes about. It is a book well worth reading. Here is a link to an interview in which the author talks about various aspects of the book, including how his research helped move a change in policy.

Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan
   It’s 2020 and people in Scotland and globally are preparing for the worst winter most have ever experienced. Dylan’s mother and grandmother have died recently and he finds out his mother has left him the title to a caravan in a park in rural Scotland. He goes there, meets and connects with his neighbours. They are Constance and Stella, her transgender daughter. All of them, and the other ‘misfits’ in the caravan park know what it’s like to feel the judgement of others, but they also stick together and form a community. Together, they face the coming disaster.

1Q84 Book 1 by Haruki Murakami
   I requested this as a result of reading a blurb about it in an Off the Shelf email. In spite of the fact that it is not the sort of thing I’d usually read, I thought it sounded a bit intriguing, so I looked it up. It started well enough--I whipped through the first 200 pages in an afternoon. I was into it. I read another couple hundred pages the following afternoon, but by then I was getting annoyed at the repetition of a few things. The chapters alternated between a focus on a woman named Aomame, who had some body image issues and a guy named Tengo who kept reliving a traumatic memory. Over and over and over again I read about these things in far too much detail in slightly different language. It got extremely tiresome. I started to think that I really did not care enough to read two more books and 900+ more pages in order to see how it all ended. I put the book in the return pile, googled, and read a plot summary online.

Lines of Vision: Irish Writers on Art--Janet McLean, ed
  This book came about as a project celebrating the 150th anniversary of the National Gallery of Ireland. Writers were asked to choose a piece of art in the gallery that spoke to them in some way, and then write about it. Some knew right away what artwork they wanted to write about. Some took a bit more time. Some accepted suggestions. The writing takes many different forms--poetry, essays, short stories. The book contains a photo of the artwork next to each piece of writing. A few authors chose the same art as another an it was interesting to see how the one piece of art spoke to those people in different ways.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
  This is the second book in a trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake, which I read last month. That book was told from the point of view of Snowman, formerly known as Jimmy. It took place after a catastrophe had struck, but also used flashbacks to tell the story of how that catastrophe came about. This book covers the same time frame, but from different points of view. It alternates between the story of Ren and that of Toby, both women who are in the God’s Gardeners group. Ren appeared in Oryx and Crake and God’s Gardeners were mentioned in passing. That book ended with a cliffhanger and the end of this book meets up with the end of the previous book.

The Yellow Houses by Stella Gibbons
   Stella Gibbons is best known for her book, Cold Comfort Farm, which, along with her other published work, is enjoying something of a resurgence now. A few years ago, her family announced that they were in possession of two previously unknown works by the author. The Yellow Houses is one of these. I came across it at the library e-book website and downloaded it, but had not heard of the book before then. It is an odd book and at first I was picking up the tablet and reading a chapter or two at a time and not returning to it for days at a time. In fact, I’d left it so long that I got a notice that it was almost due and decided to renew it in case I decided to finish it. When I picked it up again something clicked and I finished the last 2/3 of it in one sitting. Wilfred Davis is the character we meet first. He lives in Torford, a smallish British town. His wife has recently died; he has retired from his civil service job; and his 17-year-old daughter, Mary, has ‘run away’ to make it in London. He does not know what to do with himself and is despondent. As he sits weeping on a park bench, he is offered a handkerchief by a mysterious stranger. Later we learn that the stranger’s name is Lafcadio Taverner and he lives in the big yellow house that Wilfred and his late wife had admired. They become friends, but there is something a little bit strange about the yellow house and its occupants. Along with that thread of the story, there are the adventures of Mary and the people she meets in her new home in London. Everyone comes together at various times in the novel, which is full of characters from all sorts of backgrounds, and is sometimes quite amusing as such different sorts of people try to interact with one another.

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver
   I think Mary Oliver is more well-known as a poet than an essayist--at least it’s her poetry that I’ve read before. The essays in this collection revolve around some of the same themes as in her poetry--nature in particular. She also has a section with essays about books and nature in her childhood. The middle section consists of essays about Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, and William Wordsworth. She writes in one essay about stealing turtle eggs and scrambling them and observing a spider and her egg sacs in a web in a rented house in another essay. I like Oliver’s poetry well enough, which is why I requested this book from the library, but I was not really taken with this book. I could not connect with it and found myself bored and wanting her to just get on with whatever she was trying to say in many cases. I don’t think I’d read a book of her essays again.

The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories by Penelope Lively
    I am a big short story fan and I liked this collection a lot. After I read it, I went to the library website and requested a couple more books by her. I read her book, Moon Tiger last year and quite liked that, too, so I suppose it’s safe to say that Penelope Lively is an author I will continue reading. The stories in this collection are varied--a couple had a sort of ghost story vibe, some were more about interpersonal relationships, one or two were sort of fantastical.

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  Laura (Lolly) Willowes grows up in the English countryside. Her mother dies and Lolly continues to live in the family home with her father and brother (and eventually his wife and son). Another brother studies law, marries, and makes a home in London. When Lolly is a young woman, her father dies and it is decided for her that she will move to London and live with brother Henry and his family. Twenty years later, she suddenly becomes aware that she must move back to the country, specifically to the village of Great Mop. She has ideas about how she wants to live there, but quickly has to revise them, as she learns that Henry has invested her money unwisely and she does not have as much as she thought. She moves to Great Mop nonetheless, where things play out rather differently than she’d expected. This was an odd, but pleasant, little book.

Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time by Penelope Lively
  ‘This is not quite a memoir. Rather, it is the view from old age.’ This is how Penelope Lively begins this book. She goes on to muse about a few topics in general and as they relate to her life. There are five chapters: Old Age, Life and Times, Memory, Readinga dn Writing, and Six Things. I liked her approach to this book, and the way she applied ideas that are important to her to her own life. She says she is an observer and that is evident. It’s also something I can relate to. Perhaps one reason I liked the book is that I tend to do the same things myself--think a lot about various things and then think about how my own life fits in.

Daughters of Ireland:Pioneering Irish Women by Debbie Blake
    This is a book of short biographies of 15 Irish women, organised in chronological order of their dates of birth. The first biography is of Dr James Miranda Barry, who was born in about 1799 as Margaret Ann Bulkley. She lived as a man in order to receive medical training and then practice as a doctor. The last biography in the book is Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, a crystallographer who lived from 1903 to 1971. In addition to these and other scientists, there are stories of women who were aviators, artists, philanthropists and more. It was quite an enjoyable and informative book.

Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood
   This is the final book in the trilogy, which began with Oryx and Crake and continued with Year of the Flood. It can be read on its own, though--there was a brief summary of the story so far in the befginning of the book and she was good about weaving necessary explanatory details into the story for those who had not read the first two books. This one was the fnniest of the three--you would not think that a post-apocalyptic dystopia would have such humour in it, but I found myself laughing at several points. Not to give away plot details, but this one continues to have Toby, from YotF as a central character, along with other people from the previous two books, but the story is told mostly through the voice of Zeb as he tells Toby the story of his past. One of the themes that I found interesting in all the books, was the way myths are created and passed on. I wasn’t sure about this trilogy when I requested Oryx and Crake, but I decided to give it a try and see how I liked it. I loved these books and devoured each one once I started it.

Beyond the Blue Mountains by Penelope Lively
  This is one of the books I requested after reading The Purple Swamp Hen. It’s an earlier collection of short stories. Like all the Penelope Lively books I’ve read, I liked this a lot. She exhibits a kind of dry wit in her writing which I enjoy. These stories are all about personal relationships in one form or another.

Here's hoping you had some good books to read this month, too. Away we go into June--my book piles are ready.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Needles and Pins

We went up to the garden this morning, where things are going crazy! It was hot here last week--close to 80--and then it got a little cooler over the weekend and we had rain over the past few days. I guess that was a good combination because things are growing like mad! I scraped some weeds, planted some seedlings outside, tied up tomato plants, and picked some stuff. Bill watered the beds inside the polytunnel. Outside didn't need any water. A woman followed her wee dog, Benji, into the garden area. Benji was determined to investigate the area. First he accepted some attention from myself. Then he wandered around while I chatted with his mom.

When we were done, we came home and had lunch. Then I went upstairs and got my needle felting supplies and settled in with some iced mint tea to engage in a bit of repetitive stabbing..

I had a couple of pieces that were partially felted--I'd started a project several months ago before veering off in a completely different direction. I cut the pieces so they'd be a little smaller, setting aside what I did not use for a future project of some sort, and proceeded to make a small landscape. It's just a little bigger than a business card. The flowers, stems, and leaves are made with small bits of yarn that are left after I weave in ends. They felt right in.
I'd originally envisioned this as a pin, but it's a little too big for that, I think, so I went back upstairs and got out my found objects. I grabbed a washer I'd picked up from a sidewalk somewhere and attached it to the back for a hanging loop.
Then I decided to continue stabbing, so I made a little Donegal dude. I knew I had a piece of beach glass or pottery that would work as a chair, so I plunked him in that.

The other day, I was wondering where I'd put my bottle of beads, along with a few other things, since they were not where I thought they would be. I wanted one bead to finish a bookmark I made a few days ago, but wasn't having any luck finding them. I was about to give up when it dawned on me where they might be. Sure enough, the stuff I was looking for was found--and as it turned out, it was all  just a few feet away from me as I was sitting on the couch trying to figure out where it was--LOL. I got my bead and finished my bookmark.

Finally, there's this simple circle pin that I made the other night with an orphan earring that has an embossed flower on it. I wanted the focal point to be the flower, so just did a simple circle in a dark purple thread to act as a sort of frame.

Now that I have found some of my stuff, I will probably try out a few more needle felting ideas I have.

May you find whatever it is that you're looking for, too!

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Last night, I remembered my Altoids tin full of someone's unwanted earrings. I took them to use in future projects. I decided to make some pins using some of those and some buttons from my orphan button tin.

I crocheted this one using sock yarn and a size E (US) hook. The motif came out to 2 3/4 inches. From the top of the motif to the bottom of the dangly bit is about 4 3/4 inches.

I made this one using size 10 crochet cotton and a size B hook. It measures 1 1/2 inches across and about 2 1/2 from the top of the motif to the bottom of the bead.
 I picked a motif from my motif dictionary and adapted it slightly to make these.

I've made a few more booksmarks, too.
 I just realised that I accidentally cropped out the bookmark that was at the bottom of the original picture. 😕

Maybe I'd best get back to crocheting!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Crocheting Some Wee Bits

I've been crocheting these last couple of days, making motifs into bookmarks and little mandalas with small embellishments.

I'm using thread scraps, buttons, and stuff we've found on beaches here. I went through one of the boxes of beach finds and found some things I'd forgotten about. Some of those will be useful.

It feels like summer here. Yuck. I spent a little bit too long out in the heat and sun this morning while we were tending the garden. When I felt the headache and queasiness coming on, I knew it was time to come home. I thought at first that this would be the first of my summer sick days because I felt worse and worse, but after some cold mint water and a little time, I started to feel better. Shari 1-summer 0, so far, anyway!

Hope it's a good day in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Morning Concert at the Moville LIbrary: Patsy Cavanagh

This morning, Patsy Cavanagh, a local singer/songwriter came to the Moville Library for a music and storytelling event. What fun! He told us the stories behind some of the songs and what inspired them.

He took a request from his friend (and our expert gardener at the community garden), Paddy, who said it was his favourite. It's called Can't Hold Back the Years.

This one, Home to Donegal, has been translated into several languages, including Norwegian and Danish. He said he has no idea what they are saying, but he's been assured that the song in those languages convey the same meaning. He said the song was inspired by playing in places like The Ballyliffin Hotel during the time of year when emigrants return home. He'd see them come in with their families for a meal. Afterwards, they'd go along and join in the sing song.  It was interesting for me listening to the song, because while this is not my homeland--not the land where I was born--I can so relate to the idea of coming back home to Donegal. It took me until I was in my 50s to feel that way about a place. It's not that I felt like I didn't have a home before, because I always made a place 'home,' even if it was a tent while we were camping across the northern US. I have always found my homes to be very important to me, but that had to do with the space inside the walls, not the world outside those walls. I liked some of the places I lived, but I always felt disconnected in some ways. I knew that, while they were nice and I liked them, they were not 'my' place. This is different. This is home inside the house and outside in the landscape.

Foyle Waters is an emigration song. Moville used to be a place where people would board large steamers as the first step in their journey to the US. He said that as the steamer would be leaving, people used to light turf and wave it as the ship went by as a way to say good-bye to their loved ones who were leaving. Back then, when someone left, you knew you were probably never going to see them again and they knew they would probably never see their people and that landscape again.

Listening to these songs and the others he played, I was reminded of how much place plays a part in both individual lives and the cultural stories here. I have been deeply affected by places I have lived, both positively and extremely negatively, but not in the same way. There has never been one place that has been 'my' place and I have not been in any one place longer than a decade. Most places have been far more temporary. I do not regret this, because I have learned a lot about the cultures in each place and have met some wonderful people. I know that I would not have been able to stay in one place for a long time because, for one thing, I never was in a place where that felt like the right thing and for another, I do not think I was wired that way. It's different for a lot of people here, though. I have had so many people ask me if I am 'homesick' or if I think I will go 'home.' It shouldn't still surprise me, but it does. For them, I was born in the US and lived there until I was in my 50s, so it must be home to me. I have never thought of the US as home, though, so I am still startled when people assume that it is. I have no doubt that there are many people who have left Ireland who do not feel the least bit nostalgic and are happy to be wherever they are or who move around a lot and are happy to do so. The people we talk to are those who have either been here forever, have traveled and always come back, or who went to live elsewhere for a time, but have returned home. In any case, I am glad to be able to answer enthusiastically, 'YES!' when people ask if we are happy here and if we think we'll stay.

Patsy started off this morning talking about how music is a universal sort of communication. I guess so--his songs got me thinking about a lot of things this morning and made me appreciate this place even more!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Tatting Today

I've spent a little time doing some tatting today, using scraps of thread and a small piece of sea glass. I'm working on some small things for a table at the community garden cottage market. Since I expect that anyone who comes to Open Day at the garden, which is where the market will be set up, will be local and at least somewhat interested in plants, I have decided to focus loosely on those themes--flowers/plants and local. I'll make small things, since there really isn't time for anything else--the market will be 10 June. I have a pretty good start with plenty of ideas, so I'll just do a little bit each day, making whatever strikes my fancy on any given day.

Today it was tatting. I remembered a flower-ish motif that I'd made a couple of years ago in Ballinrobe. I thought I wrote down the numbers, but if I did, I have no idea where. Fortunately, I had pictures and could blow one up to count the stitches and picots, so I didn't have to start over, experimenting with different stitch counts and ripping out to try again. I decided to make this one both floral-ish and local by making the flower-ish motif in Donegal colours.
After I finished that, I made a different motif that I wanted to use for a sort of suncatcher with a piece of sea glass. As I was rummaging through our smaller pieces of green glass, I started to think I would not be able to do what I wanted--all of the pieces were too big for the tatting--next time I will try using the thread doubled with a larger needle. That will give me a larger and less delicate motif that can handle a bigger/thicker piece of glass. Anyway, just when I was about to give up and set the motif aside, I found a wee piece that works perfectly. Yay!
I'm not sure what I'll work on next. I might have to go upstairs and have a rummage through my odds and ends before I decide. Before I do that, I have a book to finish and some supper to throw together.

Hope this day is treating you well.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Stuffed Stuff

That was the theme of last night's supper--stuffed stuff. When I made the pizza dough on Friday night I made the large batch of wholemeal dough so I'd have half of it left. I used this last night to make stuffed buns.
I rolled the dough out, cut it in half, and on each half I put some extra mature cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and some onion and yellow bell pepper that'd been sauteed in olive oil. I sprinkled some of the pizza spice and some dried parsley on top, folded the dough over, sealed the edges, and baked.
These were sooo good! I will be making them again. 😋

To go with our buns, I made some tortelloni with veggies. To cooked tortelloni I added green peas, the rest of the onion and bell pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes. I stirred in some pesto and topped with some snipped parsley. We had this hot last night, and we will be having the leftovers tonight with bean burgers and avocado. Not sure if I will heat up the tortelloni or just eat it cold. It's good either way.

I am now off to make a cuppa and gather some cross-stitch supplies.

I hope your day is peaceful and full of everything and everyone you like best 😊

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Beautiful Above and Below

There was a gathering of gardeners at the community garden today. We got there a little early and scraped some weeds, watered, picked a few things, and looked happily at all of our stuff growing so nicely. The carrots are coming up, the bean seeds have sprouted, and it appears that one of the first cauliflower seeds I planted actually came up. We planned out where to put some more plants. One woman asked if we had any string with us. We didn't but I went home and got a couple of scrap balls of yarn for her to use and then leave there for anyone who needs it. No need to go buy twine! We chatted, drank tea, had our picture taken, and ate scones, apple tart, and banana bread. We got a list of when future gatherings are going to be. The next one is 10th June, but this one will be a little bit different, as it will be Open Day and Cottage Market. They got a grant from somewhere and having those kinds of things is a requirement, so I guess there will be more of them. They asked for people to bring stuff to sell, whether baked goods or art/craft items--in future markets, people will be able to sell produce, they said. It is not much notice, but I said I could probably get some small things made, so now I am working through ideas for that. We'll be able to come up with more stuff for future markets, but we plan to share any extra produce we might have, not sell it.

These flowers are blooming in a planter in the picnic table area--so pretty! I love spiky flowers.
This was growing on the side of the road:
There was a downpour shortly after we arrived at the polytunnel, but those clouds soon moved along and it was just spitting a bit when I went home for the yarn. By the time we were walking home, there were fluffy white clouds and some blue patches on one side

and complete grey on the other. The next shower started shortly after we'd gotten home.

Now I am off to make a cuppa and ponder possible projects for the cottage market, bearing in mind that there is not much time to get ready!

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend so far!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pizza Spice

A few weeks ago, I was making pizza and we invited Gerry, our neighbour, to join us. He did. We had a nice time chatting over pizza and salad. During the meal, he asked if I make pizza often. I said I do.  A few days later, he came over with a bag of pizza spice.

He said he got it somewhere thinking he'd use it, but he never did, so he figured I might like to have it. I do! It's quite a supply, but it will definitely get used! It's a blend of garlic, oregano, tomato, and chilli. I can think of many different things to use this with, not just pizza, although it's great for that too--we both loved the pizza I made with this tonight.
wholemeal pizza crust with some added oats

with the sauce and pizza spice

ready to cut and eat
As always, I made a large batch of dough and have half left to use in some way this weekend.

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


It's been slightly cooler, less sunny, and more humid these past several days, so we have not had to water the garden as much. We haven't been up there for a few days, but went this morning to give everything a drink. Stuff seems to be growing faster now and I spotted a couple of wee green cherry tomatoes forming. It was roasting in the polytunnel, so we did not mess around. I picked some stuff, planted a few more radish seeds, and watered our beds and the children's bed while Bill filled watering cans. Then we staggered out into the fresh air--but not before I spotted this peeking out from under the foliage.
The other side is still a bit green, so I did not pick it. There's a community garden gathering on Saturday morning, so maybe we can pick it then! Fortunately, there is another berry of the same size and ripeness on a different plant, so there'll be one for each of us. 😋😍

The slope next to the sidewalk around the corner from our house continues to get new blooms.
These are pretty, whatever they are. It's nice to see all the different flowers as we walk by.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Hope in Dystopia

Recently, I got an email from a friend in which she mentioned the fact that she'd read the book, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, on the recommendation of one of her other friends. When she finished it, she was left wondering why he'd suggested she read it. She said she wanted to read utopian novels, not dystopian ones, which she finds depressing.

This got me thinking about my own thoughts on the matter. I thought Oryx and Crake was a great book and I was about to begin The Year of the Flood, the next book in the trilogy (I've now finished it and I liked it just as much as O and C). I did not find them upsetting or depressing as my friend did--in fact, I realised that in a weird way, I found them hopeful and full of a sense of possibility.

 I do not have a fondness for utopian novels--I've read a few and found them bland and unmemorable. They simply do not seem as plausible to me as the dystopian novels I've read. I should say here that I only read a particular kind of dystopian novel and I am aware that there are many kinds of books within the genre. If a novel is all about the brutality, I'm not interested. If it's too sci fi-like, I am also not likely to read it. The dytopias I am drawn to are those that seem plausible and like logical outcomes of what we are doing now. I am also usually more interested in what comes after society has broken down than the path to the destruction. This is because what I find hopeful about such novels is the fact that the dysfunctional cultures that brought humanity to catastrophe have been destroyed and a new way is possible. The ways in which people begin to rebuild communities is what I always focus on in these kinds of books and it is that which makes me feel hopeful. As the reader learns about how the disaster came about, how societies broke down, and how new kinds of dysfunction take centre stage, we also learn about how there are always resisters. There are always people who rebel against the status quo and people who imagine a better world. It isn't that I think that eventually such thinking will lead to utopia--as long as there are human beings there will be conflict. But there will also always be people who can imagine a better, more just, more humane society than whatever the current situation provides. No matter how ugly and terrible things get, there are always people who pay attention, learn how to work the system, and, in ways large and small, create something better, even if on a small scale. I like reading about that. That's why such novels make me hopeful and not depressed.

Here are some of the books I've read over the past couple of years which I enjoyed very much and which fit this pattern:
Station 11 by Emily St John Mandel
The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan does not focus on the aftermath of a catastrophe, but on the experience of a few people as a crisis is gradually unfolding.

I would particularly enjoy a sequel to Station 11 to see how she imagines new cultures were built.

After the catastrophe, who knows what might unfold?

Saturday, May 13, 2017


There's a woman who come to the library on Friday mornings to expand her crochet skills. She is an experienced knitter and wanted to add crochet to her repertoire. She started by making a hat. When that was finished, she wanted to learn how to make a basic granny square, so we started on that. There are so many ways to make a granny square--even the 'traditional' one. When she asked me to teach her how to do it, I had no advance notice, so was not able to bring her a pattern. I just talked her through the start of it and she set herself up to continue at home. She came back the following week with a few mistakes that impacted the shape--it's hard for beginners to remember to make the corners--so she ripped back and crocheted on. Yesterday she wanted to start over again to see if she remembered how to start. I wrote down the beginning for her, but that was all I had time to do before she had to leave to catch her bus. I told her I'd look for a pattern we could print or copy so she could take it with her. Last night I looked for one online that would not be confusing. It had to be in UK crochet terms and have the same numbers I used, since she has memorized those--it's just where to put things that occasionally trips her up. I had no luck--some patterns used 1 chain in the corners, some 2, and some 4! The number of chains in between each set of 3 trebles (dc in the US) also varies. It is working well for her to do one chain. When I make a granny, I make no chains in between, because if I do, the piece ruffles. I have some patterns in my stitch dictionaries, but they are in US terms, so won't help here. I guess before next week, I will write out the pattern. Maybe I can take some in-progress pics, too.

The square she is working on will be given to a woman she knows who takes donations of small blankets and clothing for babies and squares of all sizes that can be joined to make larger blankets for the beds of some people in assisted living. She enjoys making things to donate. I decided to make her a square that could either be a small baby blanket or part of a larger one. I gave it to her yesterday.

She gave me  a bag of tiny scrap balls. She told me she almost didn't bring it, since she figured it was too small to do anything with. I told her about 'granny's daughters,' the first round of a granny square, and how they'd be perfect for that. She seemed pleased that I had a use for them. I think I will start making some. I can make more when I have appropriate yarn, join them as I go, and eventually I will have another blanket, which I can give to her to donate.

We walked up to the garden in the rain this morning. The rain is so welcome! This guy started talking to us just as we were about to go through the gate, telling us this is considered a soft Irish day. Then he laughed and laughed. So now I know that I am a huge fan of soft Irish days.

I hope you're having a great Saturday in your part of the world!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Lovely Friday with Friends

As you can see, it's a much nicer, greyer, cloudier day here today than it has been. It has rained and there is more to come, I think. This is good news! Hopefully no more gorse fires will break out now.
 It's pretty hazy and humid out there, but there's a nice cool breeze.

Some friends came to visit this afternoon. It was wonderful to see them. We chatted and strolled and ate delicious pizza. And I was the happy recipient of this beautiful flower arrangement, composed of flowers from their gardens. I love it!
I hope that you are enjoying some good company today, too!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Our Small Spot in the Wider World

This morning, Gerry (our neighbour) took Bill up the road to the garden centre to get some big bags of dirt. When they returned, he asked us if we could use a couple of chairs for out back. We were thrilled, because we'd hoped to find something for out there locally, like a couple of lightweight plastic chairs or some other easily carried chairs with no assembly required. We brought the dirt out back and Gerry went to his place and handed the folding chairs and table over the fence. It is quite a nice little set--made of wood and folds up flat.
After I unfolded the table and chairs, I turned my attention to planting stuff. One of the bags of dirt had caught on a piece sticking out of the boot and had a hole. I decided to just plant some stuff right in there, so I enlarged the hole and made a couple of others, before sticking in some bean and chard seeds. Then I planted a bunch more stuff--lavender, potatoes, lettuce, radishes, leeks, some scallions I had in water in the kitchen window and some mizuna (I found my seeds--yay!). I was going to plant my lupine seeds, but it said on the packet that they should be soaked before planting, so I will stick them in the container tomorrow. I also transplanted a couple of houseplants that were in desperate need of more room for their roots.
 Before Gerry came by, the postman rang the bell and handed Bill a tube--the maps he'd found online had arrived. The walls here are cream-coloured and most are bare. There is a print over one of the couches, which we like, so we are leaving it there. In the kitchen there was some weird thing hanging on one of the walls, which we removed in order to replace it with something of ours. The thing about the walls here is that you can't just shove in a pushpin or tack or something to hang stuff--they just bend. In the other places we've lived, we either left the walls bare or we took down the stuff that was hanging there and replaced it with our own stuff. In this house though, we have one large wall in the living room with just the storage heater in front of it--nothing to break up the space. We figured we could use sticky tack to hang up our Ireland map, but that would leave a lot of space. We thought it'd be nice to have the Ireland map in the centre, flanked by a map of the world and a map of Europe. Bill found a place that sells such things online and they were having a 'buy 1, get one for half price' sale, so he ordered the maps we wanted. They arrived today.
I like it! They are nice and colourful and interesting to look at--and now the wall is not just a large expanse of cream. 

I feel very grateful to have such pleasant spaces to sit and read/stitch in, both inside and out. Now that we have chairs and a small table out there, I'll be able to sit there with my coffee and stitching or a book and watch my plants grow (fingers crossed). 😃

I hope you have some nice surprises in your world today!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

This -n- That

It's cloudy today with a nice breeze. It actually feels a little cool. I am so grateful--and not only for selfish reasons this time! We had below average rainfall in April and that has continued into May, which has, so far, been sunny and warm (or hot depending on your perspective). Often there has not been a cloud in the sky. This is not normal. For a couple of weeks, it has been warmth, sun, and blue skies out there. Before that it was not so warm, but still dry. The soil needs moisture. Gorse and forest fires are burning. We are being asked to conserve water--not what you'd expect in Ireland! We might get some showers over the next few days. They would be welcome, but may not be enough to get things back to normal. Personally, I am in favour of a good, long, hard, soaking rain. I live in hope.

We went to Buncrana yesterday and it was too hot and there was not enough of a breeze, but the bus ride was pleasant. Another passenger was chatting with the bus driver and they were talking about the good old days. It was fun to listen to them and look out the window at the scenery and the many sheep, lambs, cows, and calves in field after field.

I've decided to give up on the book I was reading--1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I'd requested it after I read a blurb about it in an Off  the Shelf email. I hesitated because it is not the kind of thing I normally read, but it sounded intriguing, so I figured I might as well give it a chance. I requested the complete trilogy, so all three books were in one. When I started it on Sunday, I was a little surprised to find myself immediately drawn into the story. I settled down and whipped through a couple hundred pages. The next day, I read another couple hundred pages, but was starting to be annoyed with the repetition of certain things. The chapters alternated between a woman named Aomame and a guy named Tengo. She had some body image issues and he had a traumatic memory--and both were discussed in endless detail in almost every chapter. This did not seem to be necessary for the unfolding of the story. I tried to give the author the benefit of the doubt. The book was written in Japanese and translated into English and I read in a review that the translation was not that great, so I suppose it could have been down to that. But whatever the reason, by yesterday morning, as I completed Book 1, I realised I was so annoyed that I really did not want to wade through another 900 pages, reading over and over again about Aomame's dissatisfaction with her body and Tengo's traumatic memory. I looked online and read a summary of the book, so I know how it ended and was able to spare myself further annoyance. The book is on the return pile and will be going back to the library today. Last night, I started a new book. So far, so good.

We had to go water the garden this morning. Another woman came to work on her beds while we were there. She brought cauliflower plants that she started from seed. She said she has way too many plants, so she brought them to the garden to share. I was thrilled because I have twice planted cauliflower seeds with no result. I planted one of her plants and she seemed happy that someone took one. She says she has plenty more--I should've asked her where she got her seeds! I watered our stuff and gave the children's bed a drink while I was at it. I picked some herbs and pulled some baby radishes.

On the way, we walked by this slope that is by the sidewalk around the corner from us. At some point, someone planted a bunch of flowers there and they mix with the wildflowers. There are some new flowers blooming now. I wonder what this is:

I hope you come across lots of beautiful things in your part of the world as you go through your day!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

It Needed a Little Something

We popped into one of the local charity shops the other day. We've been keeping our eyes open for a small table to put at one end of one of the couches--big enough to hold a mug of coffee or tea and a book or some stitching supplies, but not so big that it would be in the way. They had a perfect wee black table, so we bought it. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would need a little something and that this would be a good excuse to make some lace, so I considered colours. I decided to do another one in Donegal colours, which are perfect against the black table.
I used a chart from my Pineapple Lace book, but changed a few things. I did not do all the rounds on the chart, but stopped a few rounds beyond the end of the pineapples and did a simple improv border in the green thread. I have plenty more green and there's a fair bit of yellow left on the ball, so the shelf underneath the tabletop might get some lace too. I will flip through my book later and see if anything calls out.

Happy Thursday!