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".

Friday, September 11, 2009

Minty smile

I'm watching a glorious sky, changing colour by the minute as the last of the light slips away: washes of orange fading along the horizon as above the baby blue sky turns to sapphire. What a beautiful day.

So, the weather this week has been great: summer clothes reappeared, and people in general seemed to savour the days of warmth, bathed in autumnal, almost rose-gold sunlight. But the quintessential moment was this afternoon: I was headed towards a busy Fields Supermarket, and the area is all lorries reversing in to the loading bay, and cars double parking, and piled-high trollies being heaved along... and in the midst of it all is a boy in shorts and t-shirt, intently focused on a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. He's about half-way through eating, but it's melting fast in the heat, and life as he knows it, the entire charted universe for this boy has narrowed to that cone, to the drippy green ice cream that's trying to escape his predatory attentions. And he's loving the totality of existence.

It brought a smile. And he made it safely through the trucks and cars and trollies, which was also good.

Off to watch the first stars come out. Have a fabulous weekend, all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I am gradually getting my head around Google Book Search Partner Program.

I wanted to make some previously published stories available online, for free.
I've started with A Tall Tale, which is now live on Google Books; you can download the story, read it online, or just enjoy the pretty tag cloud that Google generates (featuring the word 'wiggle' - who wouldn't smile...) - anyhoo, it's available over here.

The process takes a few weeks, so more stories coming soon. Baby steps :-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Things to do

Well today's just been Make & Do Central.

The change in season has me thinking it's time for a new website layout, which means hours of palettes and patterns and searches for images of nice thick laid paper. And there's tidying up a screenplay (at long last), and working on its accompanying cover letter, and other kinds of makey-doey things: knitting a sweater, morning yoga, whipping up a great tomato & basil soup, picking bunches of sweet pea (whose just-rained-on scent is infusing the house), running on the hamster wheel, making a purdy thank you card for a friend, oh and those coffee canisters I've been contributing for the photo project - turns out they're not accepted as donations, but are bartered for a fabulous selection of salad leaves - ah, lunch was all treaty crispiness...

...and then there's series 5 of The Closer.

All in all, a fine day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Medley

First off - pinhole cameras: who wants to play?

There's a collaborative arts project going on at the moment, which has its starting point on Sherkin Island. Basically, lots of pinhole cameras are heading out from West Cork to pastures new, so that they can take solargraph images of skies and landscapes around the world.

Hosting the project involves taping a pinhole camera (which is a canister with photographic film inside, all provided) up somewhere and leaving it alone for a few months. The results - of a skyline over several months - are evocative:

Now, they don't need any more Baltimore hosts, so my contribution is to drink as much coffee as possible and free up those camera canisters. They're especially interested in getting pictures of urban skyscapes, so all City Folk most welcome! Details of the work so far are over here. If you're interested in being a Camera Taper, either let me know (I have five to find homes for) or contact Sheelagh ( she'll send you out a camera.

In other news, months ago a friend told me about this Martha Stewart recipe for ham, baked on freshly-cut grass. That's right, grass. I wavered between thinking it was a delightful satire and thinking she's just loopy enough for it to be true. Finally checked on it this morning: "Locate an area in advance with tender, young, organically grown grass that has not yet been cut... It is best to cut it very early in the morning while the dew is still evident."

Surely this is symptomatic of an underlying psychological condition; something serious, like Craziness.

And finally, the prize for the weekend's best post goes to my sister, who sent this little darling arrangement:

Tum de tum, life feels so purdy :-)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things that make you go hmmm...

An e-intensive few days - apart from my stuff, there was a little flurry of things that other people are working on, with which I was able to help. One more left to do, then I'm all about me again!

But there are times online, you know when you're not necessarily researching, it's sheer exploration, e-play... and (via Jonathan Carroll) I came across learn something every day which is fun, and offers insights like:

[yes, we're ignoring the lack of apostrophe]

Now, I'm not saying we can't all live happy lives without this knowledge, but such things do make me ponder, and wonder. I used to love reading appliance instructions when I lived in States - from the list of warnings, you could guess at the court cases that had preceded this version of the manual (microwave: not to be used for drying kittens). Anyhoo, my personal favourite was the blurb accompanying one of those hand-held whisky-zappy wands, which warned: Do not operate whilst sleeping.

Turns out, it's not at all unusual, judging from this list of numpty instructions. (The Swedish chainsaw, if true, is the clear winner.)

Like I said, things that make me ponder, and wonder.

Have a great weekend :-)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is it now is it now is it now?

Milestone this week: my nephew and niece started school, and being the brave little folk that they are, the twins boldly ventured forth into separate classes.

When they visited over the summer, we put on a teeny snippet of Midsummer Night's Dream, so that they could take part as fairies (well, technically speaking: a fairy and a Spiderman, who was disguised in Thomas the Tank Engine gear). I basically napped, woke up, and called the fairies out. Then we all took our bows, to rapturous applause.

The expression on my niece's face is priceless: waiting for her cue, her little fairy wings quivering with anticipation...

Can you imagine how exciting Day One of School must have been :-)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Silver linings

I spoke to a friend in Madeira yesterday. We hadn't caught up in months, and she'd had an uppey-downey year. I asked a favour: if she'd phone the removal company who has had a year to ship (or not) my stuff from the island to Ireland, and has now cut off all contact with me. I figured we'd reached the stage for a frank conversation in rapid-fire Portuguese.

Under normal circumstances, my friend adores - just adores - taking a complaint to a service provider and getting it sorted. And despite being at a low ebb, she was interested.

We spoke later, and oh the brimming enthusiasm as she gleefully recounted her tactics and threats, a familiar strength and confidence in her voice. She was back on her game, no longer struggling on but forging ahead.

Funny, the way we sometimes get stuck in a rut, and lose touch with some aspect of ourselves, until something happens and suddenly it's there, clear as day, in all its technicolor glory.

So, even if my belongings are trapped in some Raiders of the Lost Ark-esque warehouse, never to see the light again, their predicament has given one lady cause to smile :-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The week beginneth

I'm back on Irish time now, after indulging in the spirit of the UK's Bank Holiday weekend :-)

Well, the goldfish are missing their house guest, who is back in London, safe and sound. And while you can still catch the lingering maple-syruppy scrumminess of this morning's pancakes, the lovely lady is most certainly gone. Little sigh.

The weekend was a classic mix for us: lazy breakfasts and old buildings and plants and purdy stained glass and conversations over wine and bemusing encounters with every eccentric within a twenty-mile radius (I swear, it's like we're drawn along ley lines straight to the quirky folk). Anyhoo, a lovely weekend.

One stop along our travels was the Wishing Tree, which stands sentinel over a holy well (supposed to be good for eyesight). Actually, the tree is 'trees', at least two. On first sight, it was a bit Blair Witchey for me, but I was soon won over. It's festooned with all kinds of things and mementos: ribbons, stones, crystals, coins, a Pink Floyd cassette...

Luckily, I always have ribbon on hand for such occasions :-)