Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Between nights...

'The Miser' opened last night (after a batch of extra rehearsal yesterday) - and went really well.

I'm struggling with a cold at the moment: kind of sound like I gargle gravel for breakfast :-) Had to pause during my lines for breath.

Anyhoo, will take some piccies tonight before we start. I just wanted to thank everyone for the texts and emails wishing us well - they were much appreciated XXX

Thursday, December 24, 2009

All is calm, all is bright...

Gorgeous day here: Baltimore is still and quiet, and the sea is like glass.

It's been bizarrely mild - just nippy enough now to light the fire :-) Max and Dubh are calm at last, after getting overexcited about the all-new scents of spiced beef and butter respectively. Speaking of which:

And the Nosey Rosie proof copies are back from the printer (who took a copy home to read to his kids - and they loved it!). Slightly surreal see her all bound - it's been a manic few weeks! Sharon's illustrations came up great, and she was amazing to get the book together in time - well done Sharon!!

Safe travels, for those who are on the road or in the air. Hope Christmas Eve is filled with warmth and joy, and a very merry Christmas X

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No-one gets out alive

Off I went to drop off some rubbish, took four steps onto the pavement when I realised the glossy sheen to the path was not freshly fallen rain but slick ice. I stood, with two rubbish bags, wobbling, while planning a course of action.

There were several cars up at the top of the hill, setting up bollards to block off the road. A friend pulled up - he was trying this exit rather than the other hilly road coming out of Baltimore (which it turns out, is just as treacherous). 'There's no getting out of the village now,' he declared, turning and retreating home.

And I too retreated, reshuffling my To Do list in the hope that the Road Elves work their magic. For there's another Nosey Rosie road trip planned, and there's venison to collect :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nosey Rosie Road Trip

Quick note before rehearsal, while oven heats to cook frozen pizza (can't wait for all my free time when the Christmas treaty cooking can begin. And the Christmas decorations can be unpacked).

So, today was a Nosey Rosie fiesta: visits to her printer, and stockists of all kinds, and a trip to the Magic Embroiderer Machine, where I watched in awe as garments were transformed into branded NR goods. Very positive feedback throughout. Baby steps :-)

But the roads, oh the roads. Two slides on ice: one coming around a corner as we sailed across the road, swerved, avoided hitting the other side. The other was when we turned down at the top of my road - massive thanks to Paddy the Dub for freeing Sharon Rose and me from our second twirley slide, and well done Sharon for the quick reflexes throughout.

Home. Hungry. Adrenalined up. Dress rehearsal in - oh, half an hour. Just enough time for that pizza...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Meet Nosey Rosie

So, the other writing thing I've been working on is a children's book. It's the brainchild of designer Sharon Rose: about a girl who lives in a sleepy fishing village, who wants to be the greatest detective ever. Our first book is Case 101: The Search for Mr Quackers. Still crime writing, just fewer corpses :-)

Sharon's been illustrating, I've been writing and designing the layout. The book forms part of a major launch of Sharon's range of children's clothing (coming to the RDS in late January - more details as soon as they come in). Oh, and it's one of the Dragon's Den shortlisted ventures. Gulp.

We went out to the local primary school today and read the book to two classes (it's aimed at 5 to 7 year olds). It got a great response, and a zillion clever questions, and they sang us Harry the Hedgehog, and er... Bad Boys.

And the first pre-order was made. Whoo hoo!!

Here's a sneak preview :-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Yuletide Cheer

Managing to make a dent in my To Do list... I still haven't read a single Christmas dinnerey recipe, but in the meantime, I reckon it's time this New Orleans version of 'Oh Holy Night' got an airing. I probably mentioned in last year [invisible pause while I go and look - aha!]. So it's explained back here. A simply sumptuous arrangement.

[and in case the embed function doesn't make it all the way to facebook, the link is:]

Reading that post from last December, I had totally forgotten about Straight No Chaser - off to listen to them now. Ho ho ho :-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Breaking news

Kitties unable to contain excitement at being home; may go into fine papier mache production business:-

Friday, December 11, 2009

Road Sense

So, the trip went well. The kitties walked in to their own travelling cage this morning and watched me close the door without so much as a mew.

I, of course, took this as a sign of good things to come.

However, when the cage moved to the car, the yowling commenced. Figuring they'd run out of steam eventually, I set off.

I caved after an hour of solid noise and ever-increasing distress (for most of the hour, I was wishing that someone had invented a feline calpol). And then, I did the potentially most stupid thing ever, and unlocked the cage in the car.

Max settled on the back window and watched traffic for the next four hours (and brought a smile to many a driver); Dubh slept in my lap. A journey of ease and contentment.

I'm conscious that it could have been the most embarrassing death ever: 'Woman dies in car accident; new heights of stupidity scaled'. However, it worked out, and in Dublin the kitties made friends with the kidlets, and all is well.

And now to work...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

pre-trip prep

Okay: oil & tyres checked; all petrolled up.

Gathering things together for Dublin, and trying to get work moved ahead here before I leave. Of course, the attendance of the table quiz tonight is non-negotiable, it being in the lovely Algiers :-) I shall just have to squeeze everything in to the time allotted.

And the kitties - who are acting like they're coked out of it - just knocked over my cup of coffee.
Which I cleaned up.

I think I've gone and made a clean spot.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Home Comfort

Still grey day. Scribbling is going well, and I'm happily planning a weekend in Dublin. And baking something to go with my soup-ey lunch :-)

Ah if only Smellovision had been invented...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Surviving the Fall

Among the myriad weekend activities, I was practicing some calligraphy, and wrote this poem out a few times. And each time, I liked it even more. Slow burn :-)

Falling Stars

Do you remember still the falling stars
that like swift horses through the heavens raced
and suddenly leaped across the hurdles
of our wishes--do you recall? And we
did make so many! For there were countless numbers
of stars: each time we looked above we were
astounded by the swiftness of their daring play,
while in our hearts we felt safe and secure
watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate,
knowing somehow we had survived their fall.

R M Rilke

Friday, December 4, 2009

New Heights

Having spent weeks watching long-legged Max jump to great heights, Dubh has discovered that being on the teenier, lighter side has its advantages. Yes, with the grace of a not-very-graceful thing, she clambers up to the curtain rings and abseils down again.

But at present, they're curled up by the fire, as is only right and proper for felines on a drizzley grey day. So I shall sneak away for an undisturbed clean-a-thon & then a yoga session. Fingers crossed that they don't get curious while I'm all upside-down...

Have a scrumptious weekend :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quire and leaf

Juggling a little this week - a writing tangent materialised out of the blue, of which more, if and when it materialises to the Talking About It stage. And the book typeth on, and the kitties nappeth most beautifully, and a couple of big rehearsals loometh.

While looking at papery things this morning, I came across Peter Callesen. His work has a lovely blend: strong imagery rendered in delicate paper forms; he seems to muse on transitions between real and imagined, earthly and heavenly. His archive - from A4 projects to enormous installations, is well worth a stroll through.

Halfway through

Down the River

Between Angels and Devils (detail)

Nature's Maze (detail)

Birds trying to escape their drawing

And while we're on the subject of paper, here's a book staircase designed by Levitate Architects; you can see more images over at

Monday, November 30, 2009

Behind the Fridge

With December looming, it's time to break out the Xmas Peter Cook & Dudley Moore: Matthew interviews A. Shepherd for the Bethlehem Star.

"Basically what happened Matthew, was that me and the lads were abiding in the fields..."

Sheer genius :-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

sneak peek

Rehearsals for Moliere's The Miser are coming along :-)

Lines are coming along slowly (on my part). I started off well, learning them while I ran in the gym, but then Murder, She Wrote happened to be on one day, and it's all been downhill since then. Sat with script over a coffee in Field's the other day and several Baltimore Folk paused to say hi - I looked like a total swot. Snicker snicker...

Table quiz fun continues this evening in Casey's.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

TED: Ideas worth spreading

There's been lots of e-talk this week about TED talks. Every few months I explore their site, and watch different short talks about a specific theme, or else cobble together an eclectic mix of speakers.

For me this week, it was about learning and creativity - Ken Robinson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amy Tan (and I've just clicked on the tag 'inspiring' and can see a whole other afternoon of thoughtful listening right there!). Anyhoo, well worth a look.

And in other news, West Cork remains somewhere between soggy and flooded. Hailstones today made for a bracing, refreshing change. Kitties are loving this thing called Roaring Fire, and somehow have avoided the singed whisker look. Thus far.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh please oh please oh please...

...let the staff involved with making these lights have more perspicacity than their design team...

Monday, November 23, 2009

RS Thomas

I was meandering online through some poems by RS Thomas - looking for one about a daffodil (at least, the poem reminds me of a daffodil).

And though I didn't find the daffodilly poem, I did find this:

A Blackbird Singing
by R. S. Thomas

It seems wrong that out of this bird,
Black, bold, a suggestion of dark
Places about it, there yet should come
Such rich music, as though the notes'
Ore were changed to a rare metal
At one touch of that bright bill.

You have heard it often, alone at your desk
In a green April, your mind drawn
Away from its work by sweet disturbance
Of the mild evening outside your room.

A slow singer, but loading each phrase
With history's overtones, love, joy
And grief learned by his dark tribe
In other orchards and passed on
Instinctively as they are now,
But fresh always with new tears.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

While there's air...

Yesterday the e-world was halted in its orbit - broadband, mobile, even RTE2, bless its little cotton socks. I'm blogging now before the connection goes again (it's been on and off all day), so without further ado:

I took advantage of the dark and stormy night to catch up on podcasts: some stories that I'd downloaded for Halloween - MR James, Stoker, Lovecraft (it'll be all F. Scott Fitz & martinis for Christmastime :-) ).

Meanwhile, today focus remains on the inclement weather. And while this isn't an exact representation of the road into our little edge-of-the-world village of Baltimore, it's not too far off:

Maybe if I photoshopped in another element: a tumble dryer teetering on the rock, its door flapping in the howling gales, with two little kitties holed up inside...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All was quiet; I wondered why...

Think regular kitties are scrumptious?

Try them fresh from the dryer for warmer, softer, altogether fluffier snuggles :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Crowd pleasers

Squally squally day... stretches of blue sky with swathes of black clouds and rainbows galore.

Speaking of blue skies, you know those people who magically infiltrate crowded areas and dance to something like The Sound of Music, and bring smiles to everyone's faces? Well, this weekend, that happened in Cork - it's a little muddled, and takes a while to warm up, but still lovely. Here's the footage:

In Kitty Land, tuna is the new ham. Bowls polished, turned upside down, staring at the fridge, crying for me to take out the rest of the scrumptious fissheyness.

Me, I'm onto Pot o'coffee #2 and settling down to writing. I hereby ignore their mewling pleas :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Table Tops

While the pot of coffee gurgles to completion in the background...

Tonight marks the opening of Winter Table Quiz season. It's beginning with a series of quizzes organised by the Baltimore Drama group, but there'll be other organisations, other causes, other quizzes through the winter and spring.

In teeny villages, in the dark midwinter, it is the great Table Quiz that helps keep us off suicide watch :-)

[invisible pause while I go and get coffee...]

Oh my goodness - must share the news! So, a certain someone emailed through a coffee tip, with the note 'I think you're the only person who might find this interesting' (fair point). I harbour strong feelings about milk in coffee: the amount; the warmth thereof. Anyhoo, this was a short cut to warm frothy milk.

And it works! It's not two-inch high fancy barista froth, but smooth cafe-au-lait-in-Paris kind of foam. Afternoon coffee break just got better!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What chaise longues were made for

Gorgeous bright day; driving back from Skib, the sunlight through the trees was honeyed gold...

And then, coming up to a blind corner, a car seemed to be reversing from a by-road back onto the main road. As I slowed, I saw it was only backing up a little so that it could make a very sharp turn.

Into a field.

And then I noticed that the brown sign directing people to the ever-picturesque Lough Hyne had been twisted, that instead of pointing along the by-road...

Sigh. Nothing waited inside the field but neat bales of hay and an acre of tar-pit strength waterlogged mud.

And in other news, for the lovely EmergingWriter, here are the kittens on a break during an epic bout of Stealth Ninja Wars. Don't let the innocent expressions fool you:

And here's how they while away a rainy afternoon:

There's much to be gleaned from their approach to life :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rainy day games

I'm scribbling away, happily ensconced in Art Deco New York.

Meanwhile, the kitties have been keeping busy with Stealth Wars and a napping extravaganza. They're now playing a more amicable Hide & Seek.

Max is winning.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Last week in pictures

Just before I resume this evening's scribbling, here's a few catch-up photos from last week...

The big cake, a heart attack enfolded in choux:

The boys, back in the day when everyone had an appendix:

And, in a neighbourhood renowned for passers-by staring in, one house decides to turn the tables:

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Hallows

I meant to post some photos, but the camera is in another room, and two kittens are asleep on my lap...
...and then I realised I had taken a few pics with my phone on Halloween, and both the phone and its little connector cable were within stretching distance :-)

So, on Halloween in Baltimore, friends came over, and we made decorations (to hang) and dumplings (to eat), and a fine pumpkin was carved. Then we processed not-so-solemnly to the Community Hall, stopping in at the Leisure Centre (of course) to show off the Costumed Ones to the swimming pool staff.

Did I mention two of our party were carrying a coffin? Well, they were. Hence the coulda-been-more-solemn procession.

The dim-lit Community Hall was a veritable paean to the arty folk that live in the area - with gorgeous spooky hangings and death masks, and the Shelob-esque spider mascot overseeing it all. It was filled with little witches and spidermen guessing how many eyeballs in the jar and performing forensic examinations of their seasonal loot.

And then there's the pumpkin carving competition, which is taken purdy seriously:

Lovely to wander around, sip some mulled wine, dance with the kidlets (felt like a giant on the dancefloor). And then as the stormy weather rolled in, it was time for home and scary movies and candles and kitties (my ideal Halloween kitty Dubh showed no interest in the proceedings - it's not like any ham featured. Little sigh.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Pastry Plunge

Alrightey, today I suspect is going to be all about cake.

When I was a child my mom used to get a Gateaux Saint Honore from time to time - though I adore anything choux-esque, it was a bit busy for me. At the best of times, it has lots of textures and flavours going on, but our local bakery also added a layer of crushed pineapple, which I always squodged over to one side of the plate, along with the heavy pastry base.

I said I'd make one for the birthday boy, and so this week I've been reading recipes. There is no crushed pineapple in official sources, and the base is more often puff pastry than anything of the shortcrust variety. Basically, it's pastries puff & choux, and cremes patissiere & chantilly. And some caramel.

Deep breath. Saint Honore is the patron saint of the Pastry Folk, so there'll some incantations coming his way. Or teary pleas.

In related news, the official day was yesterday, but as the official celebration is today:

Autumn drawing to its close already. Goodness me, this season just blinked by :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Elusive textures

Oh how the kittens love chasing the cursor along the screen...

Well, the bank holiday weekend turned out to be extremely holiday-esque for me: cooking and friends and late-night drinks. I did manage to dabble with a story, but it's at the dough-proving stage now; I just need to leave it in a warm spot and let it rise.

So, back to weaving sub-plots into the book. Some have a fine silken texture, which makes them kinda fecky to work with, but you just need to foster patience :-)

The photo below is from Annaghmakerrig - the fence by the boathouse. There was a fabulous array of lichens there, in every shade of green - silvery and wet-moss and verdigris... they highlighted the most mundane post or stone, drawing the eye to its decorative texture.

Meanwhile, the kittens can't quite figure out why they can't feel the texture that they can plainly see.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kittytalk #1


Spiritual persuasion:
Rather not say

Favourite colour:
Well duuuhhhh!

Favourite book:
Any newspaper. Absorbent :-)

Greatest fear:
That the world will run out of ham

If you had a superpower, what would it be:
Ability to turn things into ham

Words of wisdom:
Purr loudly, nap often, inhale all the ham in sight.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Scents of place

Tappety tap tap (the closest I can come to a typing version of 'scribble scribble'). Writing today was all about very physical Cloisters details - stepping from room to room, remembering how the light enters through the stained glass in several of the galleries, casting jewels of light along the floor. Easy to feel mildly disorientated when immersed in that world :-)

Well, it's autumn: the house is filled with roasted vegetable aromas; I have emptied out the dried petals from my sweet little wooden bowl and filled it with glossy conkers instead. All most seasonal.

But orchids just do their own thing, don't they; they operate on their own internal, unpredictable space-time continuum. I had bought one en route home from Dublin the other week, and settled it in before I headed for Annaghmakerrig (a moment's revered silence for that place). When I arrived home, it had flowered :-)

I thought the flowers would be white, so the dainty yellow was a treat. And it releases an exquisite scent, which I inhale, curled up on the sofa, typing quietly, kitties sleeping on me. Doubly treaty.

Funnily enough, the scent suits The Cloisters perfectly.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Seasonal colour

Wind is whistling down the chimney... definitely an autumnal feel to the evening.

Trying to emulate the Annaghmakerrig flow of life at home means I seem to miss a lot of e-life. And at the moment, the writing needs that. I'm scribbling away; missing my podcasts and zillions of updates, but there you go.

Last week I took a walk on my last day in the Tyrone Guthrie Center, to try to capture some of the autumn colours festooned on the estate. As I traipsed around I thought of people I know who love trees, who feel them as real as people in their lives; they would enjoy this place.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New arrivals

Okay here are the little guys; a selection taken over the weekend.

Clearly, they're spending a lot of time on the couch. I expect it's just a phase...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

House rules

There's a lovely tradition here: you're not allowed to knock on anyone's door unless you've been invited.

It doesn't entirely work in practice. This morning's example was the Chairman, who appeared with some visitors in tow. 'I'm quite put out,' he declared, 'this is the room I'm normally given when I stay.'

I waffled about feeling terribly privileged, and then went on to Louis MacNeice, and snow, and roses.

And when they left, I turned slowly, praying that I wouldn't see a vista of wine bottles or laundry.

It looked pretty neat. Phew.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Roses and Snow

Conversation last night turned to past guests, before Annaghmakerrig was a retreat, when it was personal theatre-friends like Alec Guinness staying here, or since the centre was established. (One person appeared in both, a woman who used to live here, and who lingered here after her death.)

Someone mentioned that when Louis MacNeice stayed there, his room was my room; and that he'd written 'Snow' sitting at the desk, facing the bay window.

I looked up the poem this morning:

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes -
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands -
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Photos galore

Okay, let's start with Editors; kind of a mood-collage rather than fine detail close-ups (all these, you can click to enlarge):

Lots of good lights; great crowd; and yes you're right - the image on the bottom right is not the band, but some odd Riverdance-esque thing that we passed on the way back to the car.

And so to the outdoors of Annaghmakerrig - gorgeous house, beautiful grounds sloping down to an ever-changing lake. This morning a thick mist blanketed the estate, which later transformed into gorgeous sunshine-drenched green. I took a walk down to the boat house (residents here eagerly explained how it would be a perfect way to kill someone off, er... in a book that is), and I sat on the wobbly jetty and gazed out on the mirror-lake. Very peaceful.

And then back inside, pausing to top up on coffee before retreating to my cosy room.

There are times when you're working on something; it feels like the reins are let slip, and work becomes play. There's this tremendous energy of sheer creating that catches you up and you just type or scribble as fast as you can, knowing - trusting, I guess - that connections are being made and patterns are being formed, even if you can't yet make them out.

And that was my afternoon. Which for the book, is like a paradigm shift.

All in all, a treaty day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sneaking online...

In brief: the Tyrone Guthrie Centre is fantastic. And work is going great. And in this rarified atmosphere, we all seem to feel guilty for checking twitter or facebook or email or texts. Amazing how much extra space - extra air - there is when you limit or excise all the e-talk from daily life.

So the blog may be scanty this week, but I will try to get some photos up. In the meantime, keep an eye on the twitter feed for mini-updates from my mobile.

And the writing - oh my writing is going great! Speaking of which, I can get another hour in before supper :-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Full to the brim

Early start le matin, so this post will be superer-quicker than yesterday's.

A friend&family-filled day; the great Kitten Adoption Plan seems to be going... well, according to plan (see above). And Editors in the Olympia were fantastic. They'd clearly put a lot into the stagecraft side of things: from the running order to the lighting, all aspects were well-considered, and phenomenally entertaining. Could have watched them forever :-)

Okay, sleep before my expedition to the land of artists. Nighty night x

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mid-Week Mix

Super-quick pre-bedtime post. So, Dublin is a smidge hectic, and charmingly so. Last night I headed out to UCD, as a guest speaker for the English Literary Society. The committee were impeccable hosts; there was a good turn-out of members (who sparked a bunch of questions/interesting conversations), *and* there were a couple of (most welcome) gatecrashers to add to the mix. And after all that, there was my sister-in-law and a bottle o'wine in the early hours, and much catching up. Lovely.

Today I caught up with friends, and a professional therapist who treats/massages/pummels you until you bruise. But in a good way. Honest. This evening was the world premiere of Sebastian Barry's latest play - challenging and captivating - followed by Dublin pub life.

Tomorrow I'm on a kitten-seeking road-trip, and then friends-family-friends-family-concert.

Reading that back, it sounds like a lot. Time for sleep.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Seeing and Doing

Wanted to link to one of TED's talks today: photographer Taryn Simon gives a brief tour (18 mins) of two projects.

The first began after September 11: instead of looking outward to map other lands, she spent five years gaining access to traditionally secret American sites (her favourite rejection letter was from Disney, who didn't want a photograph to threaten their created world). A great presentation, from inbred white tigers and Lucas's Death Star to live HIV virus. Gets the neurons firing :-)

The second project focuses on men who were wrongly convicted based on photographs, highlighting how easily images can be distorted, and deceive.

In the midst of prepping for being in Dublin most of this week, and from there I'm head on to an artists' retreat.

Sigh. Perhaps I'll just type that again, slowly, and savour those words:

An artists' retreat.
For a week.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A rose by any other name...

A dashey-roundey day, just wanted to inform y'all that Robert the Goldfish now answers to 'Guildy' (again) and 'Tom'.

Let's hope he never needs business cards.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


My goodness, is it Wednesday already???

Alrightey, so the week of children and recuperation progresseth. The goldfish live still, although Guildy seems to have been renamed (Robert). And somewhere within the day's action-packed schedule, there was time for a sunshiney coffee with my mom :-)

All is well.

Oh - and parcels from Amazon keep arriving, adding to the Daily Treat Count.

Yawwwwn. Well, a glass of wine awaits me, so I shan't dawdle...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lifting the Veil

Okay, I realise from the outside looking in, I tweeted mysteriously and then disappeared. It didn't feel at all like that, more like: breakfast - pack - make pot o'coffee - pack - figure out the packing of goldfishies - drink a cup of coffee while loading up the car, then fill the High Maintenance Travel Mug with the rest of the pot and hit the road.

Whew. So no mystery there. E-curtness, maybe. Just no enigma.

Speaking of which, the NY Times has a new blog up on e-protocol, "to help you gracefully navigate the murky waters of a hyper-connected world". Now we can all be charming online :-)

And as for me, I have navigated to Dublin, where I am babysitting nephew & nieces this week while my sister tries out a radical treatment for a slipped disc called: "rest".

Intriguing. So far so good :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

bunnies & beatles... and love

I'm in the midst of scribbling, so just a quick note. Today's lunchtime e-exploring ended in (always a good site to meander through).

So, for your Friday pleasure (and although strictly speaking, I think Duracell should focus on developing more rechargeable products), here's what happens when bunnies of the world unite:

And a teeny Beatles snippet, appropriately all about love, and complete with wild soaring imagination:


Have a lovely weekend, all. Particularly if you should happen to be getting married tomorrow, and dancing your weekend away. Yeah, you know who you are. Lots of love XXX

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Four score years less ten

This month there has been commemoration a'plenty of Germany's invasion of Poland seventy years ago. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has a small, great, on-line exhibition, with photos, eye-witness testimonies and this 10-minute film by Julien Bryan, the last neutral reporter remaining in Poland on September 1, 1939. Reporting styles have changed so much - the opening music suggests we might be about to watch a Hollywood swashbuckler, and the narrative tone seems more removed, more fluid and in control than these days. But the story utterly belies the film's glossy production.

War footage is like a trillion permutations of same emotions: grief, terror, panic, pain, devastation. The loss in the faces of the survivors: you can change from B&W to colour, and change skin tones and languages and reporting styles, but that look of loss never changes.

Wonderful exhibition.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reward at Day's End

I've been in front of the computer all day, and just glanced up as the sky began to wash through with the colours of sunset.

Happy sigh. Very purdy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Google the Generous

Catching up with The Onion this evening; this one is a gem:

Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village

The thing about Onion's news features is that you have to watch them twice - once to enjoy the story, once to catch all the scrolling news feed articles: 'Obama to slip Universal Health Care into iTunes User Agreement' - genius :-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Customs of the Road

Driving etiquette can vary quite dramatically from place to place. Certainly, elements of the dominant driving style here might be er... surprising, or challenging, or at times downright loopy - but you get different krazy-nesses everywhere, so this is about a positive local trait.

One of the nicest things about Cork driving is when there's a major "something" coming up that's going to impede the flow of traffic (usually some temporary roadwork lights). You turn a corner on a 100km road; ahead the traffic is stopped on red, but the last car in the queue has its hazard lights on (and at that speed, every millisecond of warning helps). And when you join the queue, the last car turns off its hazards and you turn on yours, which another car joining will in turn 'take' from you. One by one, each driver helps to keep the others safe.

It's like a Pass the Parcel road safety game. Sweet :-)

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Grail Legend

Yesterday I finally bought a travel mug. I know, I am probably the last person in the world to own one (I resisted for a long time, thinking I wouldn't use it enough to warrant it taking up space).

So, I take it out of its box, and there's a little concertina-ed set of instructions. Instructions, for a mug - I'm intrigued. And I quote:

For Best Results:
Preheat or precool mug by filling it with boiling water or ice water.
Let stand for five minutes.

Already, they've lost me. Surely their demographic is Those Who Do Not Have Time To Drink Coffee At Home. If the Drinker had five minutes, wouldn't they just sit down and enjoy their coffee?

Anyhoo, I digress. After the pre-heating/standing stage comes:

Empty bottle and immediately fill with your favourites hot or cold beverage.

Fine. The immediate is good. But then we talk about cleaning:

To clean your beverage container, wash with warm water and mild detergent. Let stand for five minutes.

Again with the five minutes? By now I'm thinking I should just stick to buying coffee as I get petrol en route. The odd paper cup here and there isn't exactly tipping the Eco-Scales of Ireland.

Pour out and rinse with warm water. Wash with mild detergent with a soft, damp cloth or sponge and rub dry.

Why yes, you have just washed the cup twice. And no air-drying for this magic vessel...

If interior becomes stained, use a mixture of baking soda and warm water. Let stand open for one hour...

If the one hour doesn't work, you're supposed to leave it overnight. Sigh. While I am totally a baking soda-for-cleaning advocate, can you imagine the house of the Travel Cup Inventor? It must be an array of things ever-shifting between states of soaking, washing, drying.

If the cup was crafted from fine Bohemian crystal, maybe I could understand. Maybe...

Have a great weekend, all :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Faceted day

What a treaty day!

So, it started in Clon, with the Fabulous Baking Lady (and as I type, I am tucking into an entire cake of melt-in-your-mouth shortbread). It had been months since we caught up, so we chatted over a variety of coffees in two of Clon's coffee shops (it's only polite to spread our business around).

Then on to Cork, where among my wanderings, I explored the street where my mother grew up. The site where her family grocery store stood is now a shopping centre, but a good bit of the street survives. One building was in a half-demolished state, exposing three storeys of the house's walls, with their last tattered traces of once having been a home. The area was filled with resonances as I meandered, but they were elusive, like little glimpses of fireflies that vanish as you focus on them.

And then the afternoon whirled on: lovely meal with a friend who's down from Dublin, and off to the library on the Grand Parade to meet old friends, and make new ones, and to hear the writer Petina Gappah interviewed by Ann Luttrell (both pictured below). It was part of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival. The session was a great mix: funny and poignant and engaging, and it fed conversations among our little group in its aftermath.

One of the striking moments was when Petina was asked when she writes, as in, how she structures her writing around her life and work in Geneva. "I get up at 4.30am."

I'm sorry?

"Then I write for a couple of hours, until I get my son up..." and then make breakfast, school drop-off, work (she's a lawyer, and not like a Devil's Advocate lawyer, but one that works for the good, on a global scale), school pick-up, make dinner. Then she reads in the evening.

So, I sat with my friend - also a writer - and we waited for the Big Bone-Idle Lazy Hand of Shame to appear in mid-air, and quiver slightly as it scanned the room, locking irrevocably on to us.

All in all, a day to treasure :-)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

At the dimming of the day

Today was a mixture of long- and super-short-term things; felt kind of like a camera refocusing from a detailed foreground to an epic horizon shot, and back again...

But the big break was nipping out on the sea for a bit: we headed over to Sherkin, where we had a picnic (crab sandwiches & wine) then took a spin around.

We got to Hackett's Creek at low tide, and for about five minutes we just sat in the stillness, herons and seals moving around us as dusk settled.

A lovely evening :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Treats

My drive up to Bantry this morning was lovely: the brilliant red fuschia hedgerows are thinning out, revealing purple heathers in full bloom; and the air was speckled with butterflies and autumn leaves. Very purdy.

And now, back in Baltimore, folk are making the most of the sunshiney day:

Me, I'm scribbling away, and feeling quite pampered. And even though it's only Tuesday, the odds-on favourite for Post of the Week is clear:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday smiles

Lots of sea-thoughts this afternoon, and while meandering online I came across the work of David Doubilet, who among other things, is one of the photographers-in-residence for National Geographic. His work is a wonderfully eclectic mix, from the looming Wreck of the MV Keith Tibbetts, the elegant duality of this little convoy of ray... this baby green sea turtle, which must be the underwater equivalent* of a ginger kitten in a wicker basket, wearing a bow.

*Obviously, the major difference is that ginger kitten doesn't make you think "Mmm... pina colada".