Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Nostalgia

Christmas Eve, Ring Co. Waterford

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. When the children were young the house buzzed with excitement. The first indication that Christmas was approaching came with the making of the Christmas pudding. As I began measuring one aromatic ingredient after another the children pulled chairs up to the counter and watched in fascination. Once all the pudding ingredients were in the bowl, it was time to stir and wish. This was done with such concentrated determination. Each in turn with eyes closed tightly moved the wooden spoon around the bowl and made their wish. Children wishing on the Christmas pudding is as old a tradition as pudding itself. 
Daughter's hands visible in bowl. Notice sugar in Child #3's hair!
A few weeks later it was time to make the snowball cookies. A recipe handed down by my mother.  Chairs were once more pulled around the counter as I beat the butter and sugar into a soft creamy batter. While the snowballs were baking four large bowls were filled with icing sugar. Aprons were fastened on and the children sat anxiously waiting for the oven timer to buzz. The signal for fun to begin. I placed the hot butterballs into the first bowl of sugar for tossing and passing along. If I was lucky only a dozen snowballs would myseriously disappear in the process. No-one could explain this mysterious disappearance. "Mr. Nobody" a regular visitor in our house was blamed. But I had my supisions as I observed the mischievous sugar mustached grins looking back at me!

Husband, Firstborn, Child #3, Daughter's best friend & Daughter
Decorating the tree in Ring, Co. Waterford
The Sunday nearest December 8 was designated for decorating. Once Sunday lunch was over, snowball cookies, chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate covered Kimberly biscuits were arranged on a Christmas Cookie plate, placed on the Christmas tray with glasses, a litre bottle of Cidona along with glasses of sherry, for mom and dad. Children waited anxiously for the tray to arrive. This signaled the decorating was to begin. Each year at least one ornament met its end and this too became part of the ritual. With the decorating done we would sit and watch the taped video of the Late Late Toy Show that had aired the night before. Christmas was now just around the corner.

I sit here now with a longing in my heart and tears brimming my eyes remembering these sweet moments. The years flew by way too quickly. My children are now all grown. But all is not lost! My daughter is expecting her first child in February.....so in a few short years I will have another mischievous sugar mustached grin looking back at me.

I would like to thank you for reading, commenting and following my blog. Your support and encouragement has meant the world to me this past year. 
My warmest wishes to you and your family for a very Merry, Peaceful and Happy Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

Stockings all hung in a row!

What a fun way to celebrate!  Thanks to Jen at Unedited and Melissa at Through the Looking Glass for this Christmas Cheer Blogfest.  I have collected a number of wonderful recipes already and the day is only beginning! Stop over at Jen's and Melissa's and catch a glimpse of bloggers beautiful Christmas decorations and discover new holiday recipes.

Husband's Snow Village
Child Number 3 is placing the angel on the "Ring Tree."  This tree travelled with us from Ring, Co Waterford, Ireland.  It has its own special ornaments some of which also travelled from Ring. 
It bears the Children's school and homemade decorations.    

Ring Tree
Firstborn is putting the finishing touches to our second tree.  In previous years this tree took pride of place in the dining room......but our family is expanding so it has been designated to the family room.  I have to say it is looking very much at home in its new corner.
Family Room Tree

Onto food.......
We have a number of traditional Christmas foods. But the fare with rituals or stories attached (some of which will be revealed in next post) are the Christmas Pudding, Trifle and Snowball Cookies.  Snowball cookies were a family affair.  Children donned aprons in the futile attempt to reduce the mess. A large bowl of icing sugar was placed in front of each child to toss and coat the delicate butterballs. These powdered sugar treats were brought out during tree decorating, the exchange of Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and  were the treats left out for Santa.  This recipe is my Mom's given to her by her best friend from our time in Chicago eons ago.  That's as much as I am going to say about that except thank you Mom and Betty Issac for giving us and our children this wonderful fun tradition.
Snowball Cookies
Cream 8 ounces of butter and 1 ounce of icing sugar
Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 Tablespoon of water
8 ounces of sifted flour and mix well
add 2 ounces of nuts (optional)
Form small balls and place in fridge until firm
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet  in a slow oven.  300*F/150*C for 20 minutes or until golden brown
While hot roll in icing sugar.  Makes 3 dozen.

When dinner is finished and my work is done, I love to sit curled up in front of the fire and sip a creamy topped Irish Coffee.

Irish Coffee
1 tsp of sugar
Powers Irish Whiskey
2/3 cup of coffee

Heavy cream, lightly whipped

Preheat the glass with hot water. Dump the water out and add the hot coffee with the teaspoon of sugar and stir. Add the Power's or any other Irish whiskey you might have, and top with the whipping cream. Pour the cream over the back of a spoon so it doesn't sink.  Dark coffee's are best for this recipe.

Monday, December 13, 2010

And It Snowed, And It Snowed!

Did someone say snow?

At nine o’clock on Friday night the snow began to fall, twenty-two inches of it. As you might imagine our weekend was spent drinking tea, hugging the fire and shoveling. Well I wasn’t shoveling. Thank God for small mercies. That task was left to Husband and the snow blower. Thankfully the children had the foresight to give their father a snow blower for his birthday two years ago. But even with the snow blower it was arduous work. Pushing that snow blower through the first five inches of snow wasn’t too bad. I even braved the elements to take a photo. Once the driveway and paths were cleared a bowl of porridge, toast and a pot of piping hot tea seemed in proper order. A quick look out the window, when breakfast was over produced a groan from Husband. So much snow had fallen it looked like the driveway and the path had never been cleared. Husband donned his partially dried coat, boots and gloves and headed out to battle the snow accumulation with his new best and constant friend the snow blower. Pushing the snow blower through the next five inches proved a bit more difficult and took longer. This became the routine of our day with two more forays outdoors. Son telephoned to inquire if he could use Husband’s snow blower. A short time later Son arrived and Husband helped load the snow blower into Son’s truck.  At some point during this effort Father and Son bonded resulting in Husband offering to help dig out Son’s driveway and path. En route they stopped to pull people out of ditches and help others dig their cars out from under the snow. Husband arrived home three or four hours later red faced and breathless. Hot whiskeys by the fire were the next order of business.

It snowed throughout the night. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the city plows made their way down our road. This meant all the snow from the road was pushed into the entrance of our driveway. Packed heavy ton weight snow. With a sigh of resignation, Husband once again donned the winter gear hanging over chairs to dry in front of the kitchen and mudroom heat registers. An hour later I turned on the 24/7 weather channel to learn the temperatures were dangerously low. Getting Husband’s attention over the roar of the snow blower to warn him was a chore in itself. When he finally looked in my direction I gestured for him to come in. I did not relish the thought of trying to navigate snow laden roads on the way to an emergency room due to frostbitten digits. I related the warnings and asked that he not stay out for long intervals. Clearing the paths and driveway took up the rest of the day. There was nothing for it but to make a hot chili and some homemade New Zealand beer bread for dinner. I made it extra hot. Lip throbbing hot according to Husband, which didn’t deter him from refilling his bowl! So that was our weekend. Everyone I have spoken to has a similar tale. A weekend revolving around keeping up with clearing the snow. Thankfully neither we nor any of our family or friends lost power, there is always a silver lining. But I can’t end this tale on the silver lining, because in the early hours of this (Monday) morning the plows came down our road again. Pushing more snow into the entrance of our driveway and every other driveway on the street. Guess what Husband was doing at 4:30 this morning!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Last Sunday I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. Actually I felt very sluggish and deflated dissolving into tears at the slightest provocation. But the grocery shopping had to be done. Husband said he would drive me as he needed to get another one of his bargain basement haircuts. I was relieved because there is nothing like driving in snow to put the heart crosswise in me.

Husband pulled up to the doors of Festival asking how long I would be. Tears began to spill down my cheeks. Why this simple inquiry reduced me to tears is beyond explanation…..I managed to say “half an hour if I’m lucky, an hour if I’m not,” to a very bewildered looking husband!

I moved through the fruit and vegetable section struggling to keep the tear flow under control. I quickly went up one aisle and down another until I came to the shampoo/cleanser aisle. I slowed down because I needed some cleanser. Casting a glance along the shelves searching for Ponds a blue jar caught my eye. I stopped right in front of the blue jars stacked on the shelf and felt a little smile threaten to supplant the tears. The big white letters on the blue jar read “NOXZEMA”. I have not seen or maybe just not noticed a jar of Noxzema in years. The white letters on that blue jar plummeted me back in time. I was a small child watching my mother open her jar of Noxzema and rub the white cream all over her face and neck and then dab a smidgen onto my cheeks and nose. Well what do you think I did….I grabbed one of those blue jars and placed it gently into my cart. Not with the rest of the groceries…Oh no….it was carefully placed in the child seat.

When I got home I sorted out my pantry and put the shopping away. I began to feel a bit light headed and chilled. I just couldn’t get warm. Was I coming down with the flu. I discovered I had a fever of 102. My weepyness was now explained. Whew! For a while there I thought I was losing my grip! I decided the best place for me was bed. Grabbing my Noxzema jar I headed up the stairs. I opened the jar, held it under my nose and breathed in the scent. There is no way to describe the Noxzema smell, it has its own distinct scent in the same way Vicks does. The very mention of Vicks and one can smell the vapours. Well I smeared a big glob of that cream all over my face and neck. Closing my eyes I felt soothed by the scent and the tingling sensation on my skin. The overwhelming emotions that had gripped me washed away as I rinsed the Noxzema from my face.

Most people assuage their well-being with “Comfort Foods.” It seems I am not one of those people. I have discovered to my surprise my well-being is soothed by “Comfort Scents.” Which begs me to wonder what other little mysteries am I hiding from myself???

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Talli Roland's "The Hating Game"

Talli Roland's "The Hating Game" Kindle edition is now available on Amazon. Help make Talli'e debut novel soar on the Amazon bestseller list at Amazon and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today!

A delightful read. I was gripped instantly! Anxious to find out what trials and tribulations where in store for Mattie Johns with the turning of each page.

A very cleverly written book filled with witty sarcasm and just the right amount of tenderness. I read this book in three sittings. I recommend "The Hating Game" to anyone!!! Talli Roland is an author to watch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Writing Assignment

I wrote this scene for my writing class this morning. The premise of the assignment was to  flesh out a scene from a list of verbs that one person or animal can do to another person or animal and then randomly assigning words like “boy,” “girl,” “man,” “woman,” “dog,” “cat,” etc. to the left and right of the verb.
I chose man loves girl from the list. 

He scans the hall searching for his wife among the crowd. He catches sight of her face looking anxiously towards the door. She smiles with relief when she sees him. Pulling his coat off he quickly makes his way up the aisle to the front row where she is waiting for him.  The musty odour of soggy wool permeates through the hall. The sounds of people shifting in their seats, coughing, sneezing and clearing their throats fills the air. He settles into the seat beside her just as the lights in the hall begin to dim.

“I didn’t think you were going to make it,” she whispers

“Traffic,” he replied

“Did you bring your camera,” she asked.

“Oh no! I left it in the car,” he said, running his fingers through his hair.

“It’s okay, I brought mine.”

"Was Amy nervous?"

"Once I told her you would be here she seemed fine."

The hum of hushed voices and polite laughter is silenced by the darkness.
A sliver of light is visible through the gapping curtain. The silence is shattered by a microphone voice from behind the curtain.

“Is this thing on?”

Laughter ripples through the hall. The principal appears through the gapping curtain microphone in hand and welcomes the parents, grandparents and family members to this years Christmas concert production. She steps back behind the curtain to the sound of pounding feet on the stage. The curtain opens in short jerking spurts to the claps of the anxious and expectant audience. The band begins to play under the supervision and direction of the band teacher. The concert is underway.

The chorus sing and the band play a selection of popular Christmas songs. Parents are bopping up and down in their seats and making their way towards the stage with cameras to capture and record another milestone event in their child’s life.

The band and chorus fall silent as a piano is pushed onto the stage. A young man rushes out and places a microphone at the centre of the stage. The principal walks out and announces a special treat for the audience, a young soloist who possess the voice of an angel the music department discovered purely by accident. The principal lowers the microphone and backs off the stage with arm outstretched by way of introduction.

Amy walks across the stage taking her position in front of the microphone. He reaches over and takes his wife’s hand in his and gives it a little squeeze. Tears of pride and love pool in his eyes. He wills the nerves and stage fright he knows Amy is feeling to ease. The band teacher sits behind the piano and begins to play the first chords of Pie Jesu.

She scans the hall looking for her parents. Finding them her eyes lock onto his. She clears her throat takes a step back from the microphone, takes a deep breath, opens her mouth and the hall resounds with the sweet and pure timbre of her voice. He holds her in his eyes until the last note. The silence is shattered by the sudden crash of chairs being pushed back. The audience is on their feet clapping and shouting for more. She bobs a curtsey and blows a kiss towards her parents and with a nervous little giggle runs off the stage.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If I Were......

When I stopped over at  Rainy Day Wanderer  for a bit of a visit I found this great list.  I thought it was fun and so decided to take a leaf from the The Words Crafter's post. Pop over and check out her very interesting list.

-If I were a season, I would be autumn
- If I were a month, I would be September
- If I were a day of the week, I would be Friday
- If I were a time of day, I would be twilight
- If I were a planet, I would be Neptune
- If I were a direction, I would be East

- If I were a tree, I would be a Cherry Blossom
- If I were a flower, I would be a lily
- If I were a fruit, I would be a peach
- If I were a land animal, I would be a horse
- If I were a sea animal, I would be a dolphin
- If I were a bird, I would be a dove
- If I were a piece of furniture, I would be a sofa
- If I were a liquid, I would be water
- If I were a stone, I would be pearl
- If I were a tool, I would be a hammer
- If I were a kind of weather, I would be stormy
- If I were a musical instrument, I would be a piano
- If I were a color, I would be royal blue
- If I were a facial expression, I would be a smile
- If I were an emotion, I would be uncertainty
- If I were a sound, I would be lapping waves
- If I were an element, I would be water
- If I were a car, I would be a 1920 Stutz Bearcat.

- If I were a food, I would be Black Forest Gateaux
- If I were a place, I would be Florence
- If I were a flavor, I would be cherry
- If I were a scent, I would be lavender
- If I were an object, I would be a Degas painting
- If I were a body part, I would be an eye
- If I were a song, I would be Tapestry by Carol King
- If I were a pair of shoes, I would be a pair of  heels
- If I were transportation, I would be a horse drawn carriage
- If I were a fairy tale, I would be The Little Mermaid
- If I were a holiday, I would be Christmas
- If I were a novel, I would be Tale of Two Cities
- If I were a movie, I would be Gone With The Wind

Thursday, November 4, 2010

All About the Zip and the Geese

The voice on the radio this morning told me it was only 31degrees outside and I didn’t doubt him for a second. I felt the chill in the air as I moved about the kitchen filling the kettle in anticipation of my first and favorite cuppa of the day. Once breakfast was finished I went in search of my down lined winter coat that had been stashed in the storage wardrobe last spring . Once I located my coat I next rummaged through the winter hat and glove drawer. I eventually found my woolly ruby red cap and gloves. The voice on the radio warned me and I was taking the warning seriously.

I struggled with the zipper on my coat for a good five minutes. The coat is in perfect condition but the zip….well the zip is temperamental to say the least. It is a nylon zip, need I say more. The worst kind in my estimation. It likes to split from the bottom as I zip it up. I struggle to re-zip by forcing the zipper down and starting over again. I tug and I pull. I huff and I puff. It can take many attempts and usually does especially when I am pressed for time and rushing for work. This morning to vent the frustration welling up in me, I cursed the zipper and gave up. With the zip separated half way up, I resorted to snapping the snaps and out the door I went.

The sky this morning was a wonderful soft blue and nearly cloudless, expect for one lone cotton puff that seemed to gently glide by. The air was crisp as promised by the voice on the radio. My exhales visible bringing to mind smoke signals from old black and white movies and that’s when I heard it. The first time this season! The honking sounds of Wild Geese and flying in formation directly overhead. I don’t know if this is early or late for the geese but a silly thought crossed my mind. Had they heard the voice on the radio this morning? I shivered slightly as a gust of wind caught my breathe. Shoving my hands into the pockets I pulled my down lined winter coat closer into my body.

So the geese have decided it is time to get out of town. I looked after them longingly thinking there go some pretty smart birds. The sight of the geese overhead flying out of town heralds the impending arrival of winter. I wish I could pick up and fly off to avoid the approaching winter. How I would love to head for warmer climes. My restless spirit once more coming to the fore. My mother often told me she thought I had gypsy blood flowing in my veins as I was only happy when packing a suitcase. I smile at the memory as I make my way across campus. The honking of the geese fills the air as I dream of flying away.

I look with envy at the geese as they fly off into the horizon. They are free to go. To migrate away from the bitterness of the coming winter. While I will spend the next months struggling with the annoying nylon zip in my down lined winter coat. Oh but to soar free. I look up towards the sky again as the geese fly further away and the sound of the honking fades in the distance with each step I take. And then I hear it, the clack, clack, clicking of my coat’s zipper separating again. I look wistfully at the geese. With a deep sigh I resign myself to being earth bound in my down lined winter coat with the temperamental and very annoying nylon zip.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jack's Mr. Pumpkin

This is a story I wrote when my youngest child was five.
 He turns 21 this week.

It was a tragic end to Jack’s day. Someone had taken his pumpkin, smashed the remains and scattered them just a couple yards from the front door. We all knew it was Jack’s from the tell tale pink and green florescent pieces. Jack sobbed his little heart out.

“Why did they do that Mommy, why my Mr. Pumpkin?”

How was I to explain to my tired, overwrought five year old why fate in the disguise of Halloween pranksters had picked his pumpkin for this sorry end?

Earlier that day I brought the children to the shop, pumpkin hunting. We looked over the specimens that remained and finally each of the children made their choice. Jack and his three older siblings chatted excitedly as they planned their carving strategies. The minute we arrived home they scrambled for crayons and paper. Each design of prospective faces set off a chorus of, “What do you think of this one Mom?” I scrutinized the drawings carefully and then made the only pronouncement a mother can in this situation, “That is just wonderful! So Original!” Designs finally decided on, it was time to clean, scrape and carve the pumpkins into the proposed masterpieces. The older children got right to the job at hand. Tops were cut off their pumpkins and insides scraped out. After cutting the top off Jack’s pumpkin, I handed him a scraper. He put his little hand into the pumpkin and his face screwed up into a knot. His big blue eyes disappeared as his button nose scrunched up into his forehead. His beautiful bow mouth stretched straight across his face as he roared, “YUK! YUK!” With disgust he turned to me and said,” You do it Mommy!” Well I suppose that’s what mothers are for, the Yuk jobs. Once cleaned, Jack drew the face he wanted carved on his pumpkin. It was a very interesting face, with two large oblong eyebrows, round eyes, an upside triangle nose and a lopsided grin. On reflection, it was quite an endearing face. I think it was the mischievous grin.

The pumpkins carved, the time had come to add drama with paint. Jack loved to paint. He watched with wide eyed delight as I placed the paints on the table. With a soft chuckle he hugged his pumpkin and said, “I’m going to make you the bestest pumpkin in the whole wide world.”

As the children painted I got the camera. Any mother worth her salt knows these are the precious moments. They stood with brushes poised waiting for picture taking to cease so they could proceed with phase two of their artistic creations. Ten minutes later everyone was finished painting, everyone except Jack. He was busily painting every inch of “Mr. Pumpkin.” When Mr. Pumpkin’s identity magically emerged, I do not know.

The finished creations were placed on the front steps for display. The time had come for costume assembly and creativity on my part with face paint. Once decked out they rushed about excitedly trying to find the trick or treat bags bought the week previous and put in the proverbial safe place. Bags found and in hand they raced out the door and I breathlessly tried to catch up. They knocked on doors for the next two hours stopping only because their bags had become too heavy.

The treats we had for callers had dwindled down to a few tootsie rolls. It was nearly 8PM and there was a knock at the door. I gave the three young teenagers the last of our goodies and apologized to them for the rather thin pickings. They let me know in no uncertain terms that they were not amused.

I closed the door, turned to the children saying, “I hope you weren’t rude like that and remembered to say thank you to people.”

They assured me they had thanked everyone, even the person that gave them a toothbrush.

It had been a long and exciting night. but the time had come to remove costumes, wash off  face paint and get ready for bed. The children wanted to bring in their pumpkins before going to bed. This is when we discovered to Jack’s horror and mine that “Mr. Pumpkin” was missing. Oldest son spotted “Mr. Pumpkin’s” remains scattered on the road. Jack was inconsolable. Finally to settle him I promised first thing after school the next day we would go to the shops and buy a new, “Mr. Pumpkin.”

I spent the night tossing and turning hoping I would be able to keep the promise I made to my five year old. There had been so few pumpkins available earlier that day.

The next day I collected Jack from school and we began our great pumpkin expedition. We tried shop after shop, but no pumpkins. I was just about to give up when we passed a garden shop and there sitting outside the door I spotted at least a dozen pumpkins. I felt like I had found the pot of gold at the end a rainbow. I sighed a huge sigh of relief as I pointed them out to Jack. Before I had the keys out of the ignition Jack was at the door of the shop weighed down by his new “Mr. Pumpkin”

The shop owner was a friendly elderly man who looking at my son asked, “Well young man, what’s your name?” “Jack,” he replied, “and this is Mr. Pumpkin.” The shop owner laughed turning to me and said, “Aren’t they wonderful at this age!”

Agreeing I then asked him “How much?” Looking at my son he said, “Jack, you can have Mr. Pumpkin. You brought a little ray of sunshine into my day. Enjoy.” I thanked the man profusely. Jack sang and chatted to his new Mr. Pumpkin the whole way home.

Once home the carving and painting ritual was repeated. The new pumpkin was now a bonafide “Mr. Pumpkin.” Jack insisted this “Mr. Pumpkin” be kept in his room where no harm could come to him. Weeks passed and as “Mr. Pumpkin” withered, Jack began to lose interest.   We were able to move “Mr. Pumpkin” who began to smell a bit offside, outside. He was placed by the backdoor and there he sat until after Christmas. I just hadn’t the heart to remove him. I had grown attached to the old boy!

My scanner is not working so I was unable to post the actually photos of that Halloween or of Mr. Pumpkin I & II. But rest assured I do have them, buckets of them!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Face in the Mirror

John Ormond, 23 (Dad)

I had a profound conversation with my Father a long time ago.  The sentiment he expressed with a wistful sadness resonated deep within me. Our conversation had taken a philosophic turn about life and he said,
“You know Ann, when I look in the mirror I don’t know the old man face looking back at me.”

With a sigh he continued, “And when I realize the old man face is me, I am shocked because the face I expect to see is 23. Inside my face is 23."

I looked into his eyes and was surprised because for a split second I caught a glimpse my Father's 23 year old inner self.

I hadn’t reached the stage in my life where I did not recognize the face in the mirror nor had I experienced shock at the reflection looking back at me. But I understood the sentiment he was trying to convey.  It seemed a truth to me. Once I heard it my being knew it. I was deeply moved as he struggled to reconcile his inner self image with the outer appearance time had dealt him. My father was about the age I am now when we had this conversation.

The reason this is on my mind, well I recently looked into the mirror and guess what, I gasped at the old lady face looking back at me. I had to look deeply into her eyes before I saw myself.  In my mind’s eye I am  the 30 year old woman my father confided his struggle in that day. 

I began wondering why the reflection I expected to see was my 30 year old self. Was it because at this time in my life, I had my beautiful children, full of life and vibrant around me?  Was it because I lived in my dream house and when I closed the front door against the world each night I felt safe and contented? Was it because this was the decade of my life when all the planets seemed to align. I was young, healthy, with a wonderful husband, four beautiful, healthy children and a life filled with possibilities. This led me to speculate about my father’s age of contentment and endless possibilities.  Was it 23?

Dad & me at 30

 At times I grapple with age, but I don’t give it over much thought. Except of course on those occasions  I don’t recognize the face in the mirror looking back at me. When it does happen though, that moment, that split second of not recognizing self is not quite as shocking or distressing as it might have been, because my Father forewarned me.  He had prepared me

Ever since that conversation when I look at an elderly man or woman, I immediately wonder what face is in their mind’s eye. Sometimes I cringe when the elderly are patronized, because I know in their mind's eye they are not the feeble bodies, gnarled hands and worn faces the world sees. They are not that face in mirror. And if you look closely…very closely and deeply into their eyes you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of their inner self.

When you look in the mirror what face do you expect to see?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just Put One Foot In Front of the Other

My business cards have arrived. Aren't they pretty. I love them. You may notice the blank space under my name, where a title should be. I toyed with the idea of having "Writer" printed below my name, but I felt that would be presumptuous of me. I know…. my friend, Theresa of Substitute Teacher’s Saga is always saying if you write, you are a writer and I agree with her. Really I do! But that didn't stop me with big red face, gingerly hitting the backspace key six times. Maybe by the time I order the next batch I will have published something and feel justified in declaring myself, "Writer."

Why did I get business cards you may ask? I attended a writers’ workshop this summer. Are you fed-up of hearing about this workshop? Anyway at workshops end and before my fellow students and I went our separate ways addresses were exchanged. Actually business cards were exchanged by all but me. I handed out little bits of paper with my email and blog address scrawled across them. So I had a light bulb moment. Why not get my own business cards. I know, a bit slow on the uptake, but better late than never! Right?

Now I am wondering who does one give undeclared “Writer” status business cards to. Last Saturday night, I gave one to a couple, husband and I met while out for a meal. Needless to say I had indulged in a glass of wine at dinner or I would never have been so bold. But what I am going to do with the other 199!!!! I suppose I could put one in with the Christmas cards. But that strikes me as a bit cheeky. Sort of like....hey look at me and my beautiful fancy business cards. Well, I guess it is either that or indulge in 199 glasses of wine.

The other thing I want to ramble on and bore you with is my purchase of Sketcher Shape-Ups! I made this bold online purchase last spring. I was delighted when the rather large box arrived in the post. Ripping open the box I pulled out the Shape-Ups that promised me a tighter, shapelier backside and good legs. Included in the box I was surprised to discover was a booklet and DVD. Did Sketchers think I needed a DVD to instruct me on walking I muttered to myself? I tossed the DVD aside, after all I learned this skill eons ago.

I have walked miles in my Sketcher Shape-Ups. And to date, neither my backside, nor my legs appear to be any shapelier. In fact they look much as they always have, shapeless and flabby. Is it possible I have been walking incorrectly all these years? Doesn’t one just put one foot in front of the other. Is there some other way to walk I am not privy to. I suppose I should go on a search for the discarded DVD and find out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm A Big Blog Now, I'm One!

I got up this morning and there was a chill in the air. It seeped through to my very core and gripped my bones. Nothing would do but a hot shower. The hot water gently kneaded and warmed my skin.  A simple pleasure making early mornings slightly more tolerable, even enjoyable. The chill in the air spurred me to rummage through the storage boxes under the bed containing my winter woollies. This is the time of year when the morning air is crisp and filled with frost. So you need a jacket and a scarf and a woollen sweater as you head out the door to work. But as the day wears on the sun warms the air and you swelter in your woolly jumper. Then you feel like a twit with your jacket and woollies surrounded by people trotting around campus in tee shirts, shorts and flip-flops.

The sun was shining in a vivid blue cloudless sky as I walked to work this morning. I knew it was chilly, after all I had my woolly jumper, jacket and scarf on. I was not prepared for what I saw floating down the river. At first I thought I was seeing things. What are those lumps of white floating down the river. I had to stop and to my surprise and horror, yes they were miniature icebergs.

“No! No it is too early,” the voice in my head screamed. At least I hope it was in my head!

There is no denying it, the air is filled with the promise or threat of winter, depending on how you look at it.


My blog is one year old this week. I chose to ignore the mini iceberg sighting and celebrate!

I have received four wonderful presents/awards from fellow bloggers recently.  I want to take this opportunity to mention these wonderful bloggers and the wonderful prezzies they graciously bestowed on me.

Firstly, Lydia Kang of "The Word is My Oyster," was kind of enough to pull my name from her contest pool and sent me a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card. I can’t wait to use it. Thank you sooooooooooo much Lydia.

Next Nicole Zoltack of "Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight,"sent me an email to tell me I had won a chapter critique from her blog contest. Now all I have to do is write a chapter. Thank you Nicole!!!! Hopefully there is no expiration date to this chapter critique. I'm working on it......honest!

Then the very lovely Kittie Howard at The Block gave me the "Happy 101"blog award.
And Talei at Musings of an aspiring scribe   very graciously awarded Inkpots & Quills with theVersatile Blogger Award.  Thank you Talei. 

I dub all bloggers who comment on this post with the above two awards!!!  You all deserve it!

And now I would just like to congratulate my friend Barbara of "From My Kitchen Table." Barbara has much to celebrate of late.  If you haven't checked out her blog yet, well you should do it right now! 

So my little blog and I are happy out with all the above mentioned prezzies. I am so very grateful to all who follow my blog and leave wonderful supportive comments. This blog has been a journey in writing confidence for me. I was very nervous when I started it. I remember how my finger nervously hovered over the publish button of my first blog post, "Blogging, The Way To Go." What if no-one was interested enough to read my musings. Would this end my dreams of entertaining through the written word. I bit my tongue…no really I actually did bite my tongue and drew blood.  Then I hit the publish button and here I am a year later. As a telly advert from those long ago days of my childhood went, "You’ve come a long way baby to get where you’ve got to today!" I know it was a cheesy cigarette commercial, but the sentiment rings true.

Have a wonderful week! :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Once I Was Fearless! No Really!!!

The second year of my life was a time of great change. My father left Ireland for the United States on January 22, of that year, leaving my mother and I behind.  Immigration required a family man prove he could provide for his family, before they would be granted permission to join him. He had to have steady employment, earn a wage to sustain his family and also have a home address established before final permission would be granted for us to join him.

We traveled to Cobh on that winters day to see my father off.   His ship the 'Nieuw Amsterdam' sat in the harbour waiting for my father and his fellow Irish passengers to board. When the time came to say our final adieus, I wailed and howled as if my heart would break.  I did not want to let my father go. My arms had to be pried from his neck and he slipped away, boarding the ship that would carry him across the ocean and thousands of miles away.

I spent the next six months living between Abbeyside, my maternal grandparents home and Emmet Street, my paternal grandfather’s home. As the weeks wore on more and more time was spent in Abbeyside. I loved my grandparent’s house in Abbeyside. The back garden was huge and filled with cats. All sorts of cats, big ones, small ones, black ones, white ones, grey cats and spotted cats. Everyday I watched Nanny put bowls of milk out and the cats came out of the garden’s overgrowth from all directions. They fascinated me the way they magically appeared when the bowls of milk were set down and just as magically disappeared when the bowls were empty. Nanny sometimes allowed me pour the milk in the bowls she set on the ground for them. Pouring the milk into the bowls without spilling took great concentration. 

I liked to hug the cats. I hugged them with such loving determination, I nearly strangled them. It didn’t take long for the cats to become wise to my ways and they quickly scampered off when they saw me heading in their direction.

I loved the smell of Grand-dads pipe. Remembering the smell of Grand-dads tobacco wafting around me always transports my mood to ease and brings a smile to my face. My grandfather was a big man and I had to strain my neck back to look up at him. When he sat in his chair by the fire, with his pipe lighting he would lift me up onto his lap and bounce me until I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. He told me wondrous tales of fairy queens, magical mists and little people. I sat on his lap mesmerised, my imagination totally engaged as he wove amazing tales filled with rainbows, magic dust and a world just waiting to fall at my feet.   I adored everything about my grandfather. Right down to his large flannel slippers which I liked to clip clop up and down the hallway in.

Time was drawing nearer to our departure for New York.  Nanny was very concerned for my safety due to what she perceived as my mother’s relaxed attitude towards my supervision. My grandmother decided to run a little test. One day the coal man came to the house with a delivery for the coal bunker.  The story goes that Nanny met the coal man at the front door and asked him to do her a favour. The coal man agreed. Nanny made her way to the back door,  opening it to let the coal man into the scullery. He began emptying the burlap sacks of coal he had hoisted in on his back into the coal bunker. Hearing the commotion, I ran out to investigate what was going on. Nanny smiled, thanked the man told him to pull the door out behind him when he finished and left me alone with him. I chatted happily to the coal man as he emptied one bulging sack after another into the coal bunker.

“Do you make the coal,” I asked?

“Why are you all black?”

So many questions. He closed the door to the coal bunker, rolled up the empty sacks and stuffed them under his coat. I laughed at his big tummy. He asked me my name and I told him. He asked me how old I was and I proudly pronounced I was two. I asked him where the coal came from. He told me if I came with him, he would show me.  He held out his hand and asked me if I would like to go with him. I took his hand without a moment’s hesitation and we walked out the back door together.

Nanny and my mother were waiting for us at the front door. Nanny thanked the coal man for helping her with this experiment. She handed him an envelope and a package covered in waxed paper. The coal man thanked Nanny for her generosity, doffed his cap and said he was glad to help.

Turning to my mother, he said,” You have a beautiful little girl there Missus. Very friendly, full of the chat and not afeared of anything.” 

My mother nodded at the coal man in stunned silence.  The coal man winked at me as he turned and walked back to his horse and coal laden cart.
Nanny turned to my mother,  “You see I told you," she said wagging her finger sternly.
"You need to be ever watchful of that child. She has no fear.  If a strange man covered in black coal dust didn't frighten her nothing will. She might wander off with anyone who catches her interest or tells her a story that fascinates her. New York is a big city, with many dangers. You must be diligent and ever watchful.”

I look at the photos of this brave and fearless child that once was me and wonder where did that fearlessness go.  If I could find a fraction of that fearlessness and tap into it today, what might I be able to achieve.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Precious Find

Photo taken from
"Lismore, Autobiography of an Irish Town, 1937-1957"
by  James Ballantyne

Last August as I perused the book shelves in the Lismore Heritage Shop I stumbled upon the above photo. It includes Mike Feeney, childhood friend of my Dad's, Cora, Dad's older sister, Theresa, his first cousin, Paddy Ballantyne and five year old Dad.

When I got over the shock and delight of discovering the photograph, I was struck by the strong resemblance between my father and my third child. They could be twins.

A copy of this photograph now graces my family album. The album holds many photographs of my Dad as a teenager and young man. But only two of the child my father once was. The one above and his Communion photograph. So this was a very precious find. When I saw it on page nineteen of "Lismore, Autobiography of an Irish Town, 1937-1957," I had to purchase the book.

Also in the book is a photograph of Dad's Uncle Jim, leading an FCA march down Main Street, Lismore in 1942. Uncle Jim and his daughter Theresa (see photo above) are mentioned a number of times in the book. There is a recounting of Uncle Jim spearheading the effort to keep the Lismore Library at its Central Library status. How Jim supplied and delivered milk to the locality until the creameries began to bottle it, putting him out of the milk delivery business.

The book's authour, James Ballantyne, grew up on West Street. Just a few doors down from the house/shop my family resided in for over four generations before my Grandfather's birth. West Street is where my Grandfather with his brothers, Jim, Jackie, Mick, Patrick and sisters Brigid and Nora grew-up. It is where my Dad spent all his free time. Dad's childhood reminisces of adventures and friends were always Lismore based. This  makes me wonder, could there be other photographs from his young boy days floating around in Lismore attics or in Lismoreian family albums. The prospect excites me.

You never know what you may find, where or when you might find it.  If you are lucky like I was one afternoon last August....something totally unexpected might just fall into your lap!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mystic Forest - A Writing Prompt From Creative Writing Ink

My first attempt at Olive's writing prompts.

The anger was draining from her body. She spotted a large stone at the side of the path. Her knuckles white from the tight grip she had on the reins as she pulled Betsy up short. The horse reared its head coming to an abrupt stop.

“Sorry girl” she murmured into her beloved Betsy’s ear, gently patting her neck as she slid off her back.

She sat on the large stone looking at the path ahead of her. Fear of the unknown gripped her. She did not know what lay ahead anymore then she could see beyond the fog that held the path. Should she go back? Smoothing down her skirt she drew the sweetness of the early morning dew into her lungs. She was alone; all alone expect for Betsy chomping at the grass beside her. The light breeze appeared to be sweeping the rustling leaves along the path. The sound of her pounding heart began to ease. The beauty of the sun’s rays filtering through the mist soothing her heart and her soul.

“Well Betsy, what do you think? Do we go on or turn back?”

Betsy snorted in reply. The trees began to sway as the wind picked up. Startled she snapped her head in the direction of what sounded like a voice. Every nerve in her body alerted she reached out for Betsy’s reins. She appeared to be alone and yet she felt a presence. She heard the voice again. Out of the mist a woman in a flowing green cloak and large dark eyes moved towards her. She moved as if carried on the breeze. Elena froze.

“Who are you?”

“You must go back Elena. There are hard times ahead for your house. They will have great need of your strength.”

“They care nothing for me. According to them I am the reason for the family's misfortunes.”

“And yet when sadness and ill fortune befalls them, is it not to you they turn.”

Elena knew the woman spoke the truth. She wanted to just get on Betsy and ride far, far away but if there was trouble ahead she could not abandon her family. When Elena looked up the woman in the green cloak stood before her. A deep sigh of resignation escaped Elena’s lips. The woman held Elena in the pools of her large deep eyes and smiled sadly. A feeling of peace and strength flowed through Elena.

“You will return?”

“Yes,” Elena said raising herself unto Betsy.

Elena turned to thank the woman in the green cloak seeing only leaves swirling in the wind.

Check out Olives writing prompts at Creative Writing Ink

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Bath Plug Saga!

Yes Blogging friends it is another bath plug saga.  This time the location, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. 

I checked into Lynhams Hotel in Laragh ending day one of my Creative Writing Workshop. Feeling mentally and physically exhausted, a relaxing lavender scented bath consumed my thoughts. The first thing I did when I got to the room was inspect the bathroom. A sigh of disappointment, there was a very nice large shower but no bathtub. Feeling slightly cheated I consoled myself with, the room is large, comfortable and clean. I stretched out on the bed and put on the television. There was no sound and the picture looked like a jumbled puzzle. Trying the remote control did nothing and on closer inspection I noticed it had no batteries. I pondered my next move. I am not normally one to complain at hotel desks, but I decided this was the new me, I drove from Dungarvan this morning I am audacious. With remote in hand I went to the reception desk.

To my surprise and delight I was moved to a different room. A bigger room with a bath. Thrilled with myself I took my lavender oil from the wash bag and placed it by the tub. After dinner, I got a glass of wine and brought it back to my room. What a wonderful night, I thought as I placed the glass of wine on the bedside table. The bath plug sat on the side of the bath. I put it in, ran the water and added my lavender. Life was good.

When the bath was over, I couldn’t unplug it. It was another un-pluggable bath plug. My first thought…don’t panic, you have dealt with this sort of thing before, remember Florence!(see here) I searched my wash bag and pulled out the nail scissors. I struggled trying to pry the plug open but to no avail. I cursed the fates that had brought me to this. Perspiration rivulets were forming on my forehead and trickling down my face blurring my eyesight. I had to empty the bath somehow. Otherwise how would I shower in the morning. I spotted the small pedal bin under the sink. I proceeded to empty the bathwater into the sink via the plastic bin insert. Half an hour later the bath was empty. Stressed and sweaty my back ached, I was breathless and there was now raging streams of sweat running down my back and legs. The whole relaxing thing totally defunct now. After splashing my face with cool water, I flung my tense limbs and aching back on the bed and grabbed that glass of wine. To be honest I could have done with a second glass a whole bottle even!

The next night I brought a half bottle of wine back to the room! I was determined to have the relaxing evening that evaded me the night before. I couldn’t find my floss, so I unfurled a hair clip and jammed it under the plug. Ran the water, added my lavender and once more all was well with the world. All expect the loud annoying sound of water gurgling and draining. I placed my heel on top of the plug to deaden the sound but my foot slipped and the hair clip popped out from under the plug. After a litany of unrepeatable words escaped my lips. I grabbed the small plastic bin and started to empty the bath water into the sink. Once the bath was empty the plug removed I took a much needed shower. Thankfully I had the half bottle of wine to soothe my soul.

I was staying in the hotel one more night. I found my floss and with a sigh of relief I believed tomorrow night would be different. Ever the optimist or glutton for punishment, your choice!

I mentioned my bath dilemma to Maria, a fellow workshop attendee who was staying in the same hotel. Through convulsions of laughter she informed me there was a dial on the tub to open the bath plug. I insisted there was no dial in my tub. Maria said she would accompany to my room and show me. She followed me into the bathroom and smiled instructing me to put the plug in. I placed the plug into the bath.

“See that dial, turn it,” she said.

“The overflow,” I asked looking at her in disbelief.

“Just turn it.”

I did as instructed and what do you think happened, that pesky bath plug popped up! I stared at it and felt heat rush to my face in embarrassed astonishment. Maria could barely control her laughter as she attempted to assure me these European bath plugs perplexed many people. I was not feeling very convinced.

Needless to say I had a very relaxing bath on my last night. When the bath was over I just turned the overflow dial and the plug popped up and the bath emptied. As I walked out of the bathroom feeling relaxed I smiled as I gave the pedal bin a quick passing glance.

I purchased two universal bath plugs a few weeks ago at Ikea. One is in my overnight case and the other in my wash bag. What lesson have I learned from all this….
Always travel with a universal bath plug!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Awards and Thank You's

Olive at Movie News First and Write Olive gave me this award awhile ago.  Thank you so much Olive. I'm chuffed!

The Rules for the Award are; thank the person who bestowed the award! Share seven things about yourself and pass the award along to bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
So here it goes...

1. I am petrified of rodents.  Especially the mouse or mice that seem to have taken up residence behind my cooker.  That is why I am hiding out upstairs!

2. I am trying to write a story, but my MC seems to have taken a little holiday.  I am hoping she returns soon.

3. I hate, hate, hate to sew!

4. I have more books than I can read beside both my bed in Wisconsin and my bed in Ireland and yet I buy more.

5. When feeling a need to take a break from the world, I call a pajama day, head for the sofa and put on Pride and Prejudice.  God help anyone who disturbs me unless it is to bring me a nice hot cup of tea!

6. A long hot lavender bath can soothe most of my ills.

7. I savour that very first cup of tea in the morning. Pure heaven.

Now the time has come to pass this award on.  This is the hard part.  So many wonderful, versatile blogs! And if you have gotten this award before...well you deserve it again!

1. Barbara  at From My Kitchen Table
2. Karen at Get On With It
3. Brigid at Sort of Writing
4. Niamh at Words A Day
5. Tabitha at Through My Eyes
6. Lola at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
7. Talei at Musings of an aspiring scribe

 A loud and vigorous bualadh bos (Irish for clapping or applause)to Karen Gowen over at Coming Down the Mountain: From Reclusive Writer to Published Author   for hosting a spectacular Blogging Labour Day BBQ.  It has been such fun finding so many new writerly bloggers.  Not to mention the calorie free delights that were brought to the table. Take a bow Karen! 

I also want to thank and welcome all the new followers to Inkpots n' Quills.  I look forward to getting to know you all better.
Have a wonderful Monday.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's That Smell?

The other night I arrived stateside thoroughly exhausted. The way you would expect to be after a twenty-seven hour journey door to door. The world seemed to spin under my feet. It took colossal effort to balance myself and stay upright as the floor rose in waves to meet me. I maneuvered my sluggish body in an attempt to get through lopsided doorways, banging my shoulders and hips off walls and door frames that appeared to move to the left and then to the right on approach. But I was together enough to detect the stale frat house smell that assailed my nostrils on entering the house.

The house had been occupied for the past eight weeks by husband, youngest son and Louie. Husband spent the drive from the airport regaling me with his house cleaning prowess. With pride he informed me he had even mopped the kitchen floor and how he discovered those magic blue tablets for the toilets. Yes indeed all the toilets ran blue but he had forgotten to clean the toilet seats, bathroom sinks or replace dirt stiff towels. On opening the shower door, I quickly slammed it shut for fear of catching some deadly disease.

I noticed a particular long gangly weed gracing all my outdoor flower pots too. The real plants all brown, withered and dead. I inquired if he had grown partial to that particular weed which looked well watered and cared for.

After a night’s sleep, it was time to tackle my surroundings. I proceeded to collect Febreeze cans from practically every room in the house. I guess husband believed all that was needed was a squirt of Febreeze and all was well. I cleaned or rather scrubbed down the kitchen sink and counter tops. Scoured the grease film off the cooker hood and between gags cleared out the fridge.

 I got rid of his weeds from my flower pots replacing them with budding chrysanthemums. Sage and basil plants now grace my kitchen windowsills affording a fresher more appealing ordour on walking through the backdoor.

Today is designated to oven and bathroom cleaning. At the moment I have the oven on auto clean. Next I will be putting on a gas mask, rubber gloves and a hazmat suit to clean the bathrooms which I know is going to be a grim all day job. But in fairness to him, my bedroom was a sanctuary from all the mayhem I surveyed around me. The bed was made up, with fresh sheets and even pillow shams. The room was dusted and vacuumed and not a single dirty crumpled sock was on the floor.

Welcome back Ann!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Storm In A Teacup

I am here at the page. A place I have not frequented on a regular basis all summer. At present I am trying to overcome jet lag and some lethargy. Of course jet lag cannot be the excuse for my lack of concentration and motivation throughout the whole summer. A summer where reading and writing required such mammoth effort.

But here I am now with my favorite pen in hand. Actually I have two identical favorite pens. Twins you could say.  One I always carry with me and the other is kept with my notebook. I brought both these pens to Ireland with me. Better to be sure than to be sorry, Right?! I was delighted I had the foresight to bring them both when pen one ran out of ink. I clutched pen two in my hand with a self satisfied grin and continued to write. About a week later pen two ran out of ink. I did not have the foresight to bring ink refills with me. I tried to find a replacement pen, one that words just couldn’t wait to leap from pen’s tip to the page but my efforts proved fruitless.

Could my lack of writing enthusiasm really boil down to the feel of a particular pen in my hand? An idea would flash into my head. I sat to the table, holding the replacement pen unhappily in my hand and wrote the first sentence of new flash. Replacement pen unlike favorite pen did not keep going. I stalled, I struggled, I stopped. The answer it seems is yes, it did boil down to the pen. 

Okay so maybe the pen was the reason I did not get much writing done. But reading….what happened there. In fairness, I can’t blame the pen for that. That comes down to a total lack of concentration. It took me forever to get through a book. My reading slowed to a snails pace.  Last summer I read no less than fifteen books. I wrote every day, I was productive. This summer I read only six books and wrote very little. In an attempt to console myself I took to editing writings from last summer. Telling the unconvinced voice nattering in my head that this was good! This was productive! This was writing too!

Adding to my angst, I lost patience with the slowness of my broadband computer service and just had to give up blog commenting to maintain some semblance of sanity. It was taking a year and a day to post a comment, never mind the loading a blog to read it. Then there were the blogs I had to just give up altogether. Beautiful, wonderful blogs, but my computer totally refused to load them. Dispatches from the Deise, Writing in the Crosshairs, Agnes Pages, Diary of a Virgin Novelist, and Walk2Write in Florida. I am looking forward to catching up with your wonderful blogs. I have missed you.

The thoughts swirling around in my head, keeping me awake at night and paralyzing my hand these past weeks are, "Am I just a storm in a teacup? Is my lack of concentration and inability to produce a sign I’m all used up. A has been before I have been and a ten month blog wonder?" I dread the thought, because this year of writing and blogging has been a year of great contentment for me.  I have experienced an inner soul type of contentment.  Something I have been grasping at and chasing all my life.

So what is the moral of this little tale? Well first off, not only bring both favorite pens everywhere, also bring multiple ink refills.

Hopefully the storm in my teacup was only momentary and my muse….my writing mojo will grace me with it's presence once again!  Fingers crossed.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Winners Are....

Let me introduce my niece Ellen's two adorable children, Juliette and Harvey

Eyes closed and twirling the names around before
And  now Harvey pulls the winner out of the bowl.
Though my camera blurred the name, I think you can see it is KarenG

 Olive O'Brien of Write Olive clocked in as follower 100 and KarenG of Coming Down the Mountain: From Reclusive Writer to Published Author won the copy for commenting and advertising this contest. So there you have it. Signed copies of Barbara Kingsolver books will be put into the post. Congratulations and happy reading.

On another note I want to thank Stephanie Butland from Bah! to Cancer, and the BBBB Brilliant Book Bonanza.  Stephanie picked my name from a hat or bowl and sent me a signed copy of 'Going Dutch' by Katie Fforde, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed while on holiday in Portugal. Thank you Stephanie.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


If is an obstacle,
that stands in your way,
and If it wasn’t for If,
you’d be happy today.
often recited by J. B. Nagle

I have searched the internet in an effort to discover the origin of the verse above but have been unsuccessful. So, I credit it to my Grandfather J.B. Nagle. Jackie as he was known to family and friends. If you are familiar with this verse and its origin, please let me know.

Proverbs spilled from my Grandpa's lips to suit all occasions and occurrences. "If" is a particular favourite of mine. It has stayed with me throughout my life. To this day I hear Grandpa’s voice whispering it in my ear whenever the "If" word dares to raise its head in my thought system.

What brought this to mind? I attended a Creative Writers Workshop given by Irene Graham in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow a few weeks ago. In one of the lessons she told us, every story line boils down to a proverb. For example: All is fair in love and war; To thine own self be true; All for one and one for all; Beware of Greek gods bearing gifts; Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, etc.

This concept was a revelation to me. Why had I never thought of it before? I spent yesterday searching the internet for proverb sites. There were lists and lists of proverbs to read. I smiled at some of the obscure ones. Proverbs I had not heard since my teenage years and almost forgotten. With these obscure proverbs came Grandpa, sitting in his big winged back chair beside a blazing coal fire, puffing his pipe and nodding his approval. What a sweet moment!

I now read books trying to determine the proverb. Will I use my Grandpa's verse for a story? Yes, I am sure I will. But only "If"