Sunday, October 31, 2021

From the Place Where It Began...

 Happy Halloween!
image from the article linked below
The original jack o'lanterns were turnips and other root veggies--pretty creepy. 😨😱
Here's more about the origins of the day. The link will open in a new window.

Whether it's Halloween for you or not, have a great day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Beautiful Ending to the Day

sunset over Magheraclogher Beach, Co Donegal on 27 October 2021

Sunday, October 24, 2021

A Chance Glance

dance of clouds and moon
softening autumn landscape
as the dark descends

As I glanced out the bedroom window the other night, the moon and clouds caught my attention. I got my camera, even though I figured the picture would be blurry. When I looked at it, I loved that about it--all the soft edges create a seasonal vibe I didn't expect. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

A Bit of This and a Bit of That

 We headed out to the library this afternoon to return books and to pick up more. It's been a changeable day, weatherwise and our walk was no exception. When we left, the sun was shining. A couple minutes later, when we turned onto the little lane, it was grey. As I stopped to look at this scene, it started spitting rain.
Then Bill pointed out the rainbow behind me.
The sun came out enough to create shadows.
At the end of the lane, we turned onto the road and there were more rainbows around.
We got to the library and picked up our books. I was happy to get the latest Fintan O'Toole. I have admired his work since I discovered it shortly after we got to Ireland. 
We decided to walk home the long way, so we took a different lane. It got more grey with each step and I stopped to take off my sunglasses. Then the light rain started. I looked back to see if I could see Mt Errigal and I could, but just barely.
It was a nice walk. It's nice to be able to do our errands while we enjoy the scenery.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Not Bad!

 It's not a bad walk to the grocery store. The sea and sky were lovely today, even with the tide being out.

I hope it's a lovely day in your neck of the woods today, too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


 I have never been a fan of the ovens and hobs I've had since we came to Ireland. In the US, I always had electric stoves and ovens, with one exception. Our cabin in North Pole had propane and it was horrible. The burners were either on high or off--there was no in between. We ended up buying an electric hot plate because that was better to use. If I remember correctly, all of the hobs I had in the US were part of a unit with the oven. But here, none of them have been. The hobs are just set into the counter. I have no idea whether that makes any difference whatsoever, but they've all been quite slow to heat up. With each one, I learned how 'early' to turn on a burner while I was still chopping so that by the time the food was ready to hit the pan, the burner would be hot. The hob in this place was at a whole other level, though. The first time I cooked something, it took 20 minutes for water to boil on the front burner. After that, I used the back ones, which are better, but still not great.

When we were moving, the friend who helped us said that he had an induction hob he wasn't using. he has a gas stove, but there was a problem with it at one point, so he started using one of the two induction hob/hot plate things he had and kept on using it because it works so well. He said he wasn't using the other one and thought I might like it. He said to check my pots and pans, though, because not all of them can be used on induction burners. If a magnet sticks to it, it can be used. I was kind of noncommittal, because I try not to accumulate too much stuff, but I did go to do the magnet test. Turns out there was no need, because on the bottom of the pots and pans it says 'induction' so I knew they'd be fine. After I'd waited 20 minutes for water to boil, my mind was made up. I said I'd love to have it. He came for a visit with some other friends about a week and a half ago and he brought it. 
I was shocked the first time I used it. It required a different way of working. Instead of turning the burner on while still prepping the food, with this the food has to be in the pan and the pan on the hob before it's turned on (and an empty pot/pan should never be left on the burner as it will melt). And when it's turned on, the sizzle begins within 30 seconds! It is so fast! I put hot water in a pot the other day and it was boiling in a minute or two. When I turn down the heat, it immediately cools down. I was reheating leftovers the other day and it was faster than the microwave. Because it's so fast, it's not a problem to cook things in succession if I need two pots and pans. The other day, rather than turn on the regular hob, I used this to make pasta and veggies. I cooked the veggies first, then took the pan off the burner and cooked the pasta. When that was done, I took that off the burner and put the pan of veggies back on while I drained the pasta, just to be sure they were piping hot. It was still quicker than using the regular hob would have been. In addition to be nicer to use, it will use a lot less energy than the regular sloooow hob. I love this thing! 

Monday, October 18, 2021

I Promise

 A friend sent me a picture of some wild mushrooms someone gave her. I am not a fan of mushrooms myself--don't like the texture or the taste and they make me itch when I eat them. But her picture reminded me of when I cooked in the soup kitchen. My day was Thursday, usually, although I'd fill in on a different day if needed. There were various people on my crew, including a pot washer, who I will call Jack (not his real name). When I started cooking there, Jack would ask me every week if there were mushrooms in the meal, because he did not like mushrooms. I would always reassure him that there were no mushrooms, so he could feel free to enjoy his lunch. After several weeks, I told him, 'Jack, I don't like mushrooms myself, so I promise you that when I am cooking, I will not be adding mushrooms to anything. I give you my word.' His face lit up and he said, 'OK!' and gave me a hug.

The soup kitchen coordinator always gave the 'chefs,' as we were called, advance notice of what we'd be cooking with on our day. One day I got an email from her asking if I would make beef stroganoff, because there was a lot of beef and a lot of sour cream. When that happened, stroganoff was the default. I wasn't keen on the stroganoff idea, since I don't like beef, either. And there was my promise to Jack. So I asked if it had to be stroganoff. The coordinator said that if I could think of a different way to use up the beef and the sour cream, I could make whatever I wanted. I thought a while and came up with a taco casserole. I emailed and asked if we had the various ingredients I was thinking about. We did and she said it sounded good and she was looking forward to trying it. It was a big hit, Jack was very happy, and I was asked to make it again and a again after that. The coordinator later told me that it was her favourite soup kitchen meal. I thought it was way better than stroganoff for many reasons, one of which was that I could get a lot more veggies in the meal! Taco casserole rotated with fish chowder, which I thought was pretty funny, because I didn't have a lot of experience with fish in my home kitchen. 

I had never made it before, so the first time I was asked to make chowder, I was nervous. But I did it my way, much to the chagrin of one of the people who worked at the food bank, who wanted it with just onion, celery, spuds, bacon, loads of butter, and cream along with the fish. That's not how I roll, so I asked the coordinator what veggies we had that needed to be used and she brought out a bunch of stuff. She was happy that these things were being used, but had not thought to bring them out before, since that wasn't usually how the chowder was done. I wasn't sure how the diners would feel about having all the veggies in the chowder--it was New England and as my co-worker illustrated, some people like things a certain way. But I figured that for many of the people coming for lunch, it would be the only decent meal they would have that day, so providing as much nutritious food as possible within that meal while making it taste good was a good thing. And there we had all that healthy food that needed to be used up. So in the veggies went. I nervously ladled the chowder into bowls and watched as the servers brought them to the diners. They seemed to like it. People wanted seconds and then even thirds. What a relief!

One Monday, when I was doing my usual shift at the food bank, I had to speak to someone in the office, so I walked down the hall to go there. People were sitting there waiting for the soup kitchen to open and I heard murmuring as I walked by. I heard someone say to her neighbour, 'She's the one who puts all the veggies in her chowder. It's so good!' That made me smile. 

I felt so bad one freezing cold winter day, when one of the guys who worked there came in near the end of the shift, rubbing his hands together. he'd been out doing deliveries or something and said he was hungry and looking forward to some chowder. His face fell when I said there was none left, so all I could offer him was some broth or I could make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He took the broth. 

On my last day in the soup kitchen, before we moved to Ireland, I was asked if I wanted to make chowder or taco casserole. I chose chowder, simply because it was less labour intensive. The taco casserole was always a race to the finish and it took every minute to get it done before the doors opened.

I did a lot at that organization, as did a couple hundred other volunteers and the paid staff. There was a lot of community support, donations from local farms, restaurants, and grocery stores. People who needed it were able to get high quality, healthy food that would have otherwise been thrown away. But what a shame that such a place is needed and that without it, so many more people would go hungry and so much more food would be wasted. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Tip of the...

 mountain just visible over the hills. On our way to the grocery store--Mt Errigal, the wind farm, hills, and green fields.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Power in the Stitches

 The comments people kindly left on my last post set me off on a trip down memory lane. In that post, I mentioned how cool I still think it is every time I turn a heel on a sock. I started to wonder how many stitches I have made in the past 4 decades since I taught myself to knit and crochet when our daughter was a toddler. I'd done some needlepoint and crewel embroidery using small kits when I was a kid, but wanted to make more functional things, so taught myself knitting and crocheting. When I started higher education, I had less time, but I still looked forward to my little bit of stitching time. I remember how, in my first couple years of grad school, I was under a lot of time pressure. Bill was working graveyard shift and I was working as a TA, taking a full load of classes as required for the TAship, doing my own research, then writing my thesis. Bill would leave for work at about 9:30 pm. I would set the alarm for 1 or 2 am and place it across the room, so I would have to get up to turn it off. Had it been within reach, I would have simply turned it off and kept sleeping. I'd get up, make coffee, and do my reading for the day. I wouldn't have time once things got going--Bill would swing by from work in the morning, pick us up, drop me off at the university, take our daughter to school, then go home and go to bed. If I was TAing a night class, he'd pick me up when it was done, drop me off and head to work. If not, he'd pick me up at 5ish, we'd go home, help with homework if necessary, have dinner, hang out together, then he'd go to work. I would sit in bed and crochet, usually for just 10 or 15 minutes, since I was too tired to do much more, then I'd sleep for a few hours. I looked forward to those few minutes all day, though! I made a lot of blankets during that time. The first one was just a scrap blanket. I'd gone through all my scraps, tied them together in a big ball, chose a mindless stitch pattern, made a chain, and crocheted. I didn't have to count after the chain was made and I could just crochet away, even when half asleep. we had that blanket for a decade and it was still going strong, but we left it behind in a move, because it was heavy. When that was done, I started another, less scrappy blanket and gave it to a friend. Then a fellow student's wife was having a baby, so I made a blanket for the baby. It was so important to my mental health to have those projects to work on.

Throughout my time in the higher education system, I always felt like I was really on break when I could read novels instead of academic writing and I could spend more time knitting, crocheting, and doing a bit of cross stitch. Every Christmas break, I would spend at least one or two nights up almost all night listening to Christmas music, watching a Christmas Carol, and working on a big project that would be a Christmas gift. I loved that and looked forward to those nights. Sometimes this was a blanket or other thing for our daughter, but later on, near the end of my time in academia, I was working on a large project for Bill. I took a filet crochet chart, usually done with thread, and made it with yarn and a bigger hook instead. We had a large wall of dark paneling that it would be perfect for.
This was one of our dogs at the time--she was highly bonded to Bill. She loved all of us, but he was her favourite person.
She made it clear from the moment she came home from the shelter that she was a bed dog, not a sled dog!

Later on, after we'd moved and life took a different turn, I had more opportunities to see the power of stitching. I was asked to teach a crochet class to women in the shelter for those fleeing domestic violence and abuse. I did. We were there with donated supplies and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. The person who organized these classes sat in a corner and watched with her mouth open. Near the end of the class, one of the women looked at me while sort of hugging her project and asked, 'Can I keep this?' 'Oh, yes,' I replied, 'It's yours to keep.' 'Thank you,' she said,' I am making a blanket for my daughter's doll. I hope she likes it.' Later, we'd gone to a dinner in which both the organizer and the director of the shelter were present. They told me that they had their doubts about the usefulness of the classes, but that they were the ones that the women liked the most and they all said they got a lot out of them. That made me really happy.

When I'd left academia, I taught myself other techniques, including needle tatting. When we moved to a place with a new yarn shop in town, They held a meeting looking for instructors and I went. when they saw I could needle tat, they jumped on it and we'd scheduled the first class before I left. It was filled and I was able to recommend good resources so the shop always made a lot of sales in addition to the classes always being filled. I taught various things there for a few years and it was always gratifying to see the way people blossomed as they learned a new skill they'd been wanting to learn and often wanted to make something for someone they loved. This was true in all my classes, but especially in the needle tatting classes. Almost all of my students there were older and they'd talk about their grandmothers--one brought her grandma's crochet hook to join her picots. She cried at the end of the class, saying she never thought she'd be able to do it and how much it reminded her of her grandmother. Once, two friends attended the class together and they told us how they'd been talking on the phone with one another, cheering each other on. When one of their husbands asked what was for dinner, she replied, 'Make your own dinner. I'm tatting!' 

I have so many happy memories that involve yarn and thread. Thank you to Vicki, Linda, and Iris for your comments that brought me to this little journey down memory lane!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Simple Pleasures

 Last night, I made myself a mocha, grabbed a piece of chocolate, plunked myself under my blanket and worked on a sock while listening to part of an audiobook and then some music. It was lovely. And I still get irrationally chuffed when I turn a heel! 👵😉👣

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

I Lost One

 When we looked at this apartment, we noted that two of the windows had outer panes that were cracked and had small holes. We later learned that this damage was the result of a friend of the previous tenant throwing stones at the window to get his attention, since the main door locks automatically so people can't just walk in. When we signed the lease, we checked to see that this issue was included as a landlord responsibility to fix. It was. And the letting agent made sure to note the windows in the video he took of the place. When the owner came by later that day, which was almost three months ago now, he said that he'd been trying to have someone come and fix the windows for weeks, but was having no luck so far. We believed this because that's how things roll here. When we next saw him, he asked if he could give the glass guy a phone number because he was here once and we were not. He'd thought he could fix it from the outside but needed to get in. We gave him a number and said to tell glass guy (GG) to let us know when he was coming so we could be sure to be around. 

A couple of months went by and there was no sign of GG, until yesterday when he showed up. Fortunately we were home, because there was no advance warning at all. There was just a ladder propped up against the outside windowsill and a head that appeared in the window, followed by a knock. I went and opened the window a crack so as not to knock him off his ladder and he said he was here to replace the windows and he needed to come inside. Would that be OK? Would I go downstairs and let him in? I did, while Bill hustled to clear away the windowsills and stuff around the windows. One has a desk under it and one the counter/breakfast bar. The guy came and removed the windows. Bill has a pic here (link will open in a new window). He said he was done inside and would go and install the new ones. He was on the ladder putting the first one in and I was in the other room. I was walking down the hall when I heard Bill made a noise of dismay. As I turned into the room, I saw the guy with his head back, softly expressing himself using expletives. I understood why and felt bad for the guy. Running from one side to the other, in a lovely curvilinear shape, was a crack in the outer pane of the new window.

He finished installing the cracked window and took a few pictures of it. Then he moved on to the next window. When we appeared in the space he said, 'I lost one.' We said some sympathetic words and he replied, 'This job must be cursed. I came once and Owner was supposed to be here to meet me and wasn't. I couldn't get in another time. There was one day when I had the windows in the back of the van and one of them broke. Now this.' I did feel bad for him. This job, for reasons both in and out of his control, has been hanging over his head for months. Just when he thinks it's about to be done and out of his life, craaaack. 

So we assume he will be back at some point to replace the replacement window. Or maybe not. One never knows here. The best thing to do is to believe it will happen after it happens and not until then. In this case, it doesn't affect our day-to-day life. It's not our responsibility, so if he doesn't show up, not my problem. For his sake, I hope we're home if/when he shows up the next time! 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Seizing the Moment

 It's been quite rainy here, which is typical. It's also been quite warm--in the high teens--which is not usual. September was warmer than usual too. Of course, 'usual' probably isn't much of a th9ing anymore as the climate crisis deepens.

In any case, it may be bucketing down rain and too warm, but books with my name on them are still showing up at the library! I've had a few in for several days and got another in today. The last one surprised me, since it was just put in transit yesterday or the day before after being processed and entered into the system. I'd requested it several weeks ago after reading a review of it and I'm happy to have it in my pile now!

Today I checked the Met Eireann website to see if there was going to be a window of opportunity we could seize upon to get to the library and back without ending up with waterlogged books. Three o'clock looked good, so around that time, I checked the satellite image and saw that we should be good. We headed out a few minutes later.

On days like this, I am reminded of how spoiled we've become. Since we've lived here, our local libraries have been just a few minutes away and we could be there and back in less than 15 minutes. This is very handy when we're dodging heavy bursts of rain! Now it's a mile away and takes 20 minutes to get there, however much time it takes inside the library, and 20 minutes back, so we need more time.  We were lucky today and avoided downpours. There was just a bit of spitting/mizzle and the books stayed dry. Yay!
These are the books I came home with. The Dawn of Language is quite new. I'm looking forward to reading his ideas about how language evolved and his reasoning behind these ideas. 

I used to think of Georgette Heyer as a romance writer and never read any of her work, since I'm not into that genre. While I think she did write mostly romance, she also wrote some mysteries, which I did not know until I read about it somewhere. This one, Envious Casca, takes place, in part at least, at Christmastime, so I decided to check it out (bad pun, I know!) and see if I like it. If I do, there are more to read. I think there are two different series detectives, but I am not sure.

I found the listing for the Thich Nhat Hanh book when I was looking for his newest book, which I also have on hold. It's still on-order.

The House that Disappeared on Tory Island is quite a (true) story! I recently somehow stumbled across a 5-part podcast that told this story and contained interviews with some of the people involved, as well as dramatized scenes. I am not sure the book will go any deeper than that podcast did, but I decided it was worth reading. Bill didn't listen to the podcast, so he might read it, too. The short summary is that Neville Presho was working as a filmmaker whose work was well-received. At one point, he went out to Tory Island, which is not far from where we are now and is said to be the most remote inhabited island off Ireland. I think it's 7 or 9 miles off the mainland. They used to have their own king--LOL. He fell in love with Tory while he was making the documentary that brought him there and he bought a house. His life took him to New Zealand, where he married and became a father. He was having mental health issues and his wife suggested they go back to Ireland. It wasn't clear to me whether it was to be an extended visit or a move. As the ferry approached Tory Island, he brought his son to see his house, which was visible from the sea. He was very excited, until he realized that his house was not there. Of course, he was frantically trying to find out what had happened, but no one was talking. Things went downhill from there as he slowly pieced things together.

I'm always happy to have a new pile of library books! Glad we were able to seize the moment and collect them.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Saturday Smiles

 This reminded me of cats I've served in the past--made me laugh!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Something for Everyone

 It's finally feeling autumnal here--such a relief! Today we had heavy rain, sun, howling wind, and rainbows. Happy October!