Saturday, June 30, 2018

Resolved, I Killed the Camera, and Books

It would appear that the Electric Ireland issues I wrote about yesterday have been resolved. I was surprised to get an email from them this morning--I thought that we'd have to wait until next week. We will hope that things can now proceed smoothly.

I dropped my camera last night--just about a foot and onto the window sill. But the lens was out and that was the point of impact. Now we cannot get the camera to work. Google was no help. Bill had an older wee camera that he'd gotten from someone at work years ago, so he gave me that. It should meet my needs just fine. He says it's a bit different, so I will have to play with it to see how it behaves. Here's one of the last pics I took with the old camera.

We started the month in disarray as we had to unpack and put away our stuff. We end the month settled and with everything in its place. As always, I read through whatever was going on. I was grateful for my e-reader when my books were at the bottom of the pile of stuff.

The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose by Alice Munro
As the subtitle indicates, this is a collecton of stories about Flo (stepmother) and Rose (stepdaughter). Taken together, they tell the stories of the lives of these women--especially Rose. Rose grows up with her stepmother and her father, who run a shop in a poor Canadian town. Like the rest of the town, the family is not well off. Rose leaves, goes to college, and lives a very different life than most people in the town. The book begins when Rose is a child and Flo is relatively young. By the last story, Rose is middle-aged and Flo is elderly. I enjoyed this book a lot.

Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie
As we were unpacking a bit each day, we were without our books, since they were in the first load to be moved here, so were at the bottom of the pile. I grabbed my e-reader and chose a book from that. I remember having this in hardback as a teen--pretty sure the dust jacket was purple. I’d not read it in yonks, so decided to read it again. It’s the last Tommy and Tuppence novel and the last novel Christie finished before she died. Tommy and Tuppence, older and retired, have moved house and purchased some of the items that were in the house as well, including old books. Tuppence is looking through old children’s classics when she discovers a message written in one of them. She and Tommy set out to solve the old and forgotten mystery, reminiscing about their lives and past cases along the way.

Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists by Martha Hailey Dubose
I wrote about this book here.

New Selected Poems by Eavan Boland
A collection of poems by irish poet, Eavan Boland. I’ve wanted to read her work for a while. I’d come across a poem or two in anthologies, but never any of her books. As I recall, I’d looked her up when we lived in Maine and they had nothing by her for me to request. I came across this while scrolling through the e-book section of the library.

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

Friday, June 29, 2018

Dear Electric Ireland, Today Is Not the Day...

and I wish I was not the one.
Day 5 of this heatwave--the day the nausea arrives and not the day I want to be dealing with nonsense from anyone. However, now that Eircon is gone from our lives, I guess someone has to step up and sadly, Electric Ireland has volunteered.

When we moved into our apartment in Ballinrobe, the letting agent signed us up in Bill's name. Fine. That's good. We cannot do any of this ourselves, mind you--it has to be the letting agent and this sometimes takes a while. The exception was the letting agent in Moville. The young woman who worked there was wonderful and got things done. The other two we've dealt with, not so much. They take their time and sometimes require a push. But I digress.

Weeks after we moved in here--just the other day, in fact--we got a letter welcoming us to Electric Ireland. The account is in my name alone, as it has been since we moved in here the first time. We were told by a letting agent that this was because Bill had switched providers in Ballinrobe and had a closed account or something like that. Who knows whether this is true. W never know when someone is speaking whether the words tumbling out of their mouth have any relation to reality and if so, which ones. In any case, by then Bill was receiving a household benefit payment each month that goes towards the electricity--they credit the account. But for that to happen, he had to actually be on the account, so I had to email and request it and he had to email and request it, and they put his name on the account. It was no big deal--simple and quick.

When we moved to Moville, we asked the very competent young woman if she could have the account in either Bill's name or both our names and they would not let her do either. They don't like having the accounts set up with two names (!!!) and there was still the issue of Bill's previous account. Why either of these things is a problem, I cannot imagine, but there it is. It was slightly more complicated that time, because they did not change our address right away--just added the new electricity address and kept our mailing address here. A few emails took care of that, although it took longer this time.

So here we are back again. Once again, we asked that the letting agent try to put the account in both names. He said he would try--again, he is unreliable and we have no way of knowing whether he did or not. He often says one thing and does another. I sent the email and Bill sent his email at the same time. We got the automated replies saying they'd get back to us in three days.  I had to resend my email. I got a reply saying that they needed my date of birth, contact phone, Bill's contact phone, and had also--in addition to those other bits of information--to confirm they were communicating with the account holder. I resisted the urge to comment that I had no idea how I was supposed to confirm that, except by pointing out that it was unlikely that an imposter wanted to pretend to be me for the purposes of paying my electric bill.

In the meantime, we got a letter in the post today saying that they'd sent a letter about setting up the direct debit (we never received any such letter) and saying that I needed to do this immediately or pay the 400 euro deposit. Bill checked the page to see if our account details were there, so he could set up the direct deposit. They aren't.

I tried to call the number provided. I was told to press 1 for residential accounts. Upon pressing 1, I was greeted with silence and then the whole message again in both English and Irish. After three attempts, I gave up.

We wondered if something had changed, so we headed for the bank--in the worst heat of this miserably hot day. Just what I wanted to do was trudge a mile through town in the blazing sun. Let me take this opportunity to say that Bank of Ireland, Killybegs branch, has the perfect woman out front. I felt much more calm talking to her. Everything is automated and she is there to offer help. She is well suited to the job. Friendly, calm, happy to explain--just what is needed. She told us that Electric Ireland has to set up the direct debit, based on details we give them. That's what Bill thought. So home we walked. I realized when I got to the top of the hill that is the driveway, that rage* had propelled me up the hill this time--I was at the top before I even paid attention. Now I could add the headache to the nausea. Sun hates me and I hate sun.

I am still in the dark as to what is going on. I have emailed again and will just have to wait for them to get back to me. I pointed out that we have had a direct debit with them for over 3 years and nothing relating to the bank details has changed during that time, nor has it changed now. Can they not use the details they already have? Could they not offer a box for the letting agent to check off saying to just use those same details with the new account number?  There is a huge push to force people to do stuff online and then they make doing things way more complicated than they need to be. I suspect they will want me to start a new online account for some reason--they didn't when we moved from here to Moville, but that seems to be where this is going. When you do that, you cannot use any email address that you've used before. We are running out of email addresses. I pointed out that their policies regarding names on accounts don't seem to work very well and end up wasting everyone's time. I do not expect any rational response to this, but at least the complaint will be registered.

Should it really be this complicated and such a hassle to be allowed to give them money?

I will end on a happier note and then go medicate myself. The planters in town were looking lovely.

And, Bill went and got some ice cream.

I hope your day is comfortable and hassle free!

* I should hasten to add that my rage was not expressed to the lovely and helpful woman at the bank, nor to anyone else, unless you count Bill and I venting together with each other. I am quite good at presenting a public face that has nothing to do with my internal, actual feelings--was trained early and often and those neural pathways are well established. When I express anger, it is deliberate and directed appropriately. In this case, the woman at the bank had nothing to do with the hassles I was experiencing, so I was friendly, smiling, and grateful for her courtesy and professionalism, which I reciprocated. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Needed a Kick

The other day, we called in at the butcher shop/deli. Dave and Kath, the butchers we used to go to when we lived here before, and who made the best sausages ever, retired while we were gone. What used to be their shop on Main Street is now a hair salon--looks all modern and out of place. As Bill says, 'It just looks wrong.' Ah well, things change.

There are two butchers left in town and we decided to try this one. It's a small place that sells meat on one side, ready-to-cook stuff in foil trays in a centre case, and deli salads, sandwiches, and things like that on the other side. The other day, a group of workers were sitting outside at a small table having a meal when we went in. There's no seating inside.

We'd gotten some sausages there a couple of weeks ago. I cooked a few and froze the rest for another meal. We liked them, so in spite of the fact that I still have the frozen ones, I suggested we call in and pick up a few more for the freezer--if they had them. I've found that sometimes things are just not available when I expect them to be. I don't know if that would be true of this butcher or not, but it's been the case in some grocery stores.

They did have sausage and, in the case in the centre of the shop, they had turkey burgers. This was good to see, since we do not like beef and cannot always get turkey mince to make burgers with at home. There were two packages of plain turkey burgers and a package of these:
I bought all three, put the plain burgers in the freezer and cooked the sweet potato and chilli turkey burgers for supper that night. We had the leftovers for lunch the next day. They were good, but disappointing, because I could not taste even a hint of chilli in them. I was expecting a kick, but didn't get one. Maybe they forgot that key ingredient. Either that or they found the most flavourless, heatless chilli pepper in existence!

Since there were no turkey burgers of any kind the first time we were in the shop, I assume they have their regular offerings and then add some other stuff periodically. I'll call in every once in a while to see what's on offer.  I like the fact that the stuff comes in foil trays, too, because I wash them well, save them, and reuse them--they come in handy.

Cold supper again tonight as the sun continues to shine down upon us.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


We only went for a short walk this morning. By the time we got out there a little before 9, the sun had already been beating down for a few hours and it was too hot. Bill commented that, had we been out there at around 6, it might not have been so hot. True enough, but considering I did not fall into a decent sleep until 5:30 this morning, that was even more unlikely today than it is on any other day. Darkness comes late and the sun shows itself early, so not much cooling occurs and each day gets warmer than the last. One news outlet has reported on melting tar issues! And I noted that not one person we came into contact with this morning had any comment to make about the weather. As people gushed at me in recent days about how grand/ glorious/ brilliant/ wonderful the weather is and was going to be, I was thinking that it would not take long for that excitement to turn into grumbling. I've seen it before after a couple of days of this kind of weather and with this heatwave expected to hang around for another week and a half or so, I suspect I will, for a brief time anyway, not be alone in my unhappiness about the heat and sun. There was no grumbling this morning, but there were grim, sweaty faces and no commentary at all. An absence of weather related remarks is notable. I am not even going to try to go out until things ease up some, so I may not be aware of when the shift is complete. I've noticed though, that even news stories have switched the tone of their coverage from cheerleading to a mix of breathless stories about sun and ice cream and safety warnings to now being virtually all warnings about the hazards of this weather. It's interesting to observe--for me, anyway.

As I marched around town this morning, I noticed how dazzling everything was. There was the sun relentlessly beating down, the water reflecting the bright sunshine, the brightly coloured boats in the harbour, and the brilliant colour of the flowers along the roadside and in planters and window boxes throughout the town.

If you come across some dazzle in your part of the world today, hope you have your sunglasses handy! 😉

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Happy Discovery!

We went out early again this morning (I am catching up on my coffee now) and it didn't take long for my dodgy leg to get tired! We walked up the steep hill through the graveyard to get to Church Road. That got the old heart pumping! As we walked along, we made our happy discovery.
I perked right up when we came across this! We'd recently been talking about how a wee free library would be a good thing for Killybegs to have. I guess the good people of St John's Church thought so, too. I probably don't even have to say that a few books came home with us. We have some to put in, too. We'd been planning to just stash the books we'd read but didn't want to keep until the pile was big enough to bring to the charity shop. Now we'll just stick them here. Yay!

It was pleasant this morning--no sun shining and not too hot, although it was a bit muggy. We even had a few sprinkles, which made me very happy.

These little beings looked like they were having a nice breakfast...
 as were these crawly creatures
I found these fallen trees so striking

The light was shining on the river in a lovely way.

And the water in the harbour was once again very still, so there were great reflections.
This little boat was heading out.
It's nice to be out wandering around again, and looking at little things that catch my eye. Happy surprises, like our discovery of the new Little Free Library, are a bonus.

I hope your day is filled with beauty and a happy surprise or two!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Walking Early(ish) to Beat the Heat

We got up earlier than we'd like (yuck) and postponed the coffee (UGH!!!) so we could go for a walk before things heated up too much. I suspect this will be less effective as the heatwave lingers through the week--night is not long enough here at this time of year to cool things off well. But now is not the time to worry about that! I have to say, once I resigned myself to this early, coffeeless thing, it was actually pleasant out there this morning.

There was a bit of a breeze, but water was pretty still.

Good day to repair nets, I guess.
As in so many other places, Japanese knotweed is a problem.
The flowers look particularly bright in the sunshine, but pretty spectacular in the shade, too!
in a planter in town
hanging basket by our door

part of the outside of a shop wall in town

When we got home, I had some water while the coffee was brewing.  Gotta stay hydrated! I'm going to start some bread in the bread maker soon, but for now, I am here with my feet up and some iced cranberry green tea by my side and feeling pretty content.

I hope it's a beautiful day in your neck of the woods!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Life Reimagined

Life Reimagined:The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

I came across this book in e-audiobook format as I was scrolling through that section of the library website one night. I remembered her from NPR and I'd read her first book and liked it, so I borrowed this one. I am glad I did. It was fascinating to hear about the brain research that is going on, the life stories shared with the author as well as her own, and the ideas put forward by researchers about how to live a healthier, happier life.

In addition to finding the research interesting, there were a few parts that related directly to my life and gave me food for thought. I could see areas that I need to work on. For example, stretching ones mind is an important aspect to brain function. Coasting isn't really good for the brain and leads to boredom. This is relevant to me at the moment. I have had a tendency to coast, especially in the past couple of years. I've had ideas that would require me to move into new territory, learn new skills, or do things I am new at and uncomfortable with. I end up thinking about it, but not doing it. It brings to mind something I heard someone say once. 'Five frogs are sitting on a log. One decides to jump. How many frogs are left? The answer is five, because deciding to jump is not jumping.' For the last couple of years especially, I have not even really decided to jump. I'd think about jumping, decide I was too tired to jump and besides what's the point of jumping, and settle in with the comfortable and the familiar. I am still thinking about this, but I can see how, given the situation I was in and how I was feeling, there were benefits to this--I probably did not need more discomfort and stress in my life during that time. On the other hand, it might also have been very helpful to have 'beginner's mind' about some things. In any case, that part of my life is over now and it's time to move on. Finding ways to stretch our minds and creative abilities is important for all of us. I vaguely knew this, but hearing from the researchers about how crucial it is brought home to me that it's time for me to do something about it. I might stumble around for a while, but there's joy in the journey as well as frustration! And whether or not it helps as I grow older, it will enrich my life now, which is also important.

One thing I really enjoyed about the book was the personal stories, including the author's. She'd put up a post on the NPR Facebook page asking for people to share them and she got hundreds in a few hours. She readily admits they were skewed to a certain demographic and that brings me to the one 'problem' with the book. It is true that no book on a topic such as this can cover every possible situation, so I am not sure 'problem' is the right word. But it is true that much of what she reports from the experts in the field are things that would probably not be possible for people who struggle to find enough money to pay the rent and eat. It's great to suggest that people stretch their minds, rethink careers and how skills are being used, how to be more fulfilled, how to stave off dementia, and things like that, but these things require a certain standard of living. One of the things she discovers in her research is the importance of education and reading in avoiding the symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease. But far too many people lack access to good education at any level, let alone college and grad school and for many time to read is a luxury, even if the interest is there. However, she is reporting what the research findings are and there is nothing she can do about what the research says.

One anecdote really stuck out for me. She recounts the story of a woman who was a corporate lawyer. It was always assumed that she would be a lawyer--her father and brother were lawyers and she followed in their footsteps. She worked for Philip Morris, in Europe for a while and then in DC. She became restless and wanted something else, but would entertain and then dismiss the thought. One day, she was in her backyard, preparing to read the paper. As she sat in her hammock, the frame broke. She fell to the ground and was hit in the head with a piece of it. She was knocked out and when she came to, there was blood everywhere. She said that she realized the time for change was at hand, since who knew how much time she had left--she never considered that she could be killed in her back yard reading the newspaper! So she thought about what she loved to do and saw that she loved caring for her elderly black lab. She did some research and discovered that there was a need for aqua therapy pools for dogs. She and her husband sold their home and bought one where they could build such a pool and her business was born. Then she was surprised at the response she got from friends and acquaintances, all of whom thought she'd lost her mind. She commented that she used to work for Philip Morris and people thought that was OK, but caring for older dogs isn't? It does rather point out the skewed thinking that's out there about what a successful life looks like.

All in all, I thought this was a good, useful book. It gave me some things to think about and I enjoyed the stories. She did a good job of using the stories to illustrate the research findings. The audiobook I listened to was read by the author and she did a good job. I have been unable to listen to some audiobooks I've checked out because the reader's style has been too annoying or distracting, but I remembered her from NPR and knew that would not be the case here.

I hope there are some interesting and thought provoking books in your world today!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

New Lace for the Table

When we moved back in here, I was happy to see that the round metal and glass table in the living room was still there. It's a good table that holds an excellent lamp with plenty of room left for my stuff--beverages, stitching needs, books, notebooks and pens, mp3 player, phone, and whatever else I stick on there on any given day. And there is a shelf underneath where I keep my pouch of stitching tools, books, and my little netbook and tablet. It sits between the chair I use and the couch, which I also use, depending on mood and I can twist the lamp to direct the light where I want it. When we moved in the first time, I made a sort of dark royal blue doily for it. I had enough thread in that colour and it matched the blue curtains and worked with the brown furniture that was in here. This time, there is different--and better--furniture, but it's not brown and I wasn't keen on the blue doily there. Besides, I recognize an excuse to crochet a doily when it comes along!

I started one with some variegated brown thread that I'd gotten in Sligo. I loved the way it looked on the ball, but as I started crocheting it, I was less smitten. Still, even though I should know better, I kept on for days, hoping that my feelings would change. Finally, I accepted that it wasn't working and I would not ever like it, so I ripped it out, chose a different chart, got out some thread better suited to the purpose, and began again. Today, I improvised the last couple of rounds and got the ends hidden.
I'm glad I started again instead of continuing with the first attempt. This is much better! It's the perfect size and it makes me happy to see it there. I will use the variegated thread for something else.

The centre and the outer edge are done in brown raw silk thread held double, while the rest is done in ecru size 10 crochet cotton. I used a US B hook, which is, I think, 2.25 mm.

The blue doily now lives upstairs on the dresser.
And now to decide what to work on next.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Three Weeks. Hot Water, and Solstice Sunset

We moved in three weeks ago today and now we finally have hot water in the sinks. Yay! It was actually an easy fix--took the plumber a minute or two, but it's not something we could've done ourselves. We have three ways to heat water for the sinks here (we have an electric shower, which heats the water for that). There's an 'instant hot water' heater in a cupboard. If we are running the boiler (kerosene), it will heat the radiators and the water. If we have an open fire, the back boiler in the fireplace will heat the radiators and the water. This is handy in winter when we actually want heat, but that's only 3 or 4 months of the year, so what we use most often is the switch (electric). It only takes 5 or 10 minutes and the water is very hot. Then we turn it off. The day we moved in, we turned it on and nothing happened. We waited. Nothing happened. Two and a half hours later nothing was happening. The plumber said that at some point, someone probably had the fire going for a long time or the fire and the boiler or something, and the water got too hot, tripping the overheat switch. I asked if we should know how to fix the problem if it happens again, thinking it would be a simple thing, but apparently, it involves removing bits and stuff. Never mind.

After walking a little more than 3 1/2 miles yesterday and the same the other day, my leg is tired and slightly achy today, so I went for a shorter walk. I've been pleasantly surprised at how things are going with that. The muscle that was hurt last summer continued to bother me, but I think walking has helped, because I realized a week or so ago that I wasn't noticing it anymore. The pain had gone.  After only three weeks, I feel much better physically and less stiff--I assumed I would loosen up once I could move around more again. I have still not had a headache, an upset stomach, or sinus problems since we've been back. I rarely even take any allergy meds now. What really hits home for me is how much ease I feel here. It's not that there are no aggravations and stuff. Life goes on and there are good days and less good days wherever one is. But in Moville, the first thing I did every morning when I woke up was to start giving myself a mental pep talk in order to convince myself to get out of bed. Then I would sort of rigidly move myself through each day, again having these mental conversations with myself--one part of my brain talking me into doing what another part did not want to do. What I wanted to do was stay in bed and sleep as much as possible. What I actually did was to keep myself occupied and distracted. It was tiring. When we found out we might be able to move back here, Bill commented that I seemed like my old self again. It is true that I feel different, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Still, even as I was talking myself through each day, I was noticing that I was drawing on lessons I'd learned years ago when living in a different place that was not good for my well being. I was pleased to have learned something at least and to handle a difficult living situation in a better way than I did then, although it took some time for me to get there. At the same time, I was aware of how privileged I am--it's not like I was in fear for my life or having bombs dropped on my house or anything like that.

This week, RTE aired an investigative report about illegal dumping and one of the things they reported on was the fact that there was/is an illegal, contaminated dump outside of Moville. Some guy has a skip hire company--we saw the skips sitting around and being transported all the time--and he was dumping the waste and burning it in the Moville area. The river that runs through town is also one of the most polluted in the country--raw sewage continues to be dumped into it. It's so sad. Moville is a nice little town and very scenic. It's not for me, but I can see, in an objective and removed way, that it is beautiful, full of great people, and has lots of potential. I know not everyone gets sick there, but how many people are getting sick and have no idea why--both visitors and residents? I hope they can clean things up there. The people who live there deserve better.

I happened to look out the window last night just about at sunset (10:10ish) and it was lovely, so I got my camera.
There are so many reasons I am grateful to be back here.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

More Wandering

We both had books in at the library, so we headed off for Donegal Town again today where that was the first stop. Then we decided to go on the Bank Walk, since we were right there. I love that walk with all the big trees and the green--so many interesting textures and shapes. And we can't forget the fairy doors!

After the bank walk, we wandered around town for a while.
our part of county donegal

county donegal

flowers behind bars

We called in at the Animals in Need charity shop and as soon as we walked in, I spotted this on a shelf right by the door--not a colander, but better, because it doesn't take up space.
We also found a wire thing with a mesh bottom that I can keep my cooking utensils in--wooden and slotted spoons, ladle, etc. And we each found a book. The one I brought home is one by Kate Atkinson. I have only read one or two of her books, but I like them and want to read more. She always keeps me a little bit off balance. I think I will always remember one in which the whole storyline was not wrapped up until the very last sentence of the book--and it was a surprising sentence!

It's a lovely day here. I hope it's the same in your part of the world!

Happy Solstice!