Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Where We Found Ourselves Today.

So yesterday, after three lovely days in my parents we made our way home to our cold house. It's still trying to warm up, as are we.  Old houses do not take kindly to being left unlived in for more than a few hours at a time in winter, especially if the frozen sea winds are blowing around it like demented Selkies!
Today, feeling the need for fresh air, we decided to make the half hour journey back up the coast again to our home town of Dun laoghaire instead of heading for the hills as we so often do.

We decided to take a stroll down the east pier, as so many others did, and it was a magical wonderland of another kind. Heavy swathes of sea mist crept silently around, making sound a strange muffled loudness.
And as we walked through the dense moisture the foghorn resounded forlornly in our ears, and I was instantly transported back to my childhood bed, burrowing under the blankets as I listened, waiting to hear it again. It's a sound that will forever be both haunting, and powerfully poignant for me.

And on we walked, people's footsteps echoing quietly-loud across the concrete, their voices murmuring in our ears. And then I heard, as though on some fairy wind, the lonesome sound of music, gradually growing louder until a tall, bearded man loomed out of the freezing haze, his fingers walking over the strings of his banjo, an accompaniment to our walk.

And although I have done this same walk so many times down the years, still I find my heart constrict at the sight of the old town, as seen from the sea side, as though I am on that boat, leaving the harbour yet again. So many times I have done so, and always come back, but for so many that is not possible. And I listen to the various accents that pass us as we walk, voices of people come home for the holiday, their 'foreign' families in tow.

And I marvel. Even though I am only half an hour away, I still get 'homesick' for Dun laoghaire, and driving down Glenageary Avenue never fails to give me a pang. And I feel so grateful I never had to leave.
Well, more than a few miles!

So I walk and savour, (there's that word again!), and I listen. And though the air is bitter and cold, there is a lovely sense of holiday, a certain bounce in people's step. And my thoughts meander on, becoming reminiscences of other times, memories stirred up by the route we walk. There is a strange comfort in it, and I love the fact that even though Jay and I didn't know each other as children, growing up in the same place means we have a lot of similar memories.

So, the everyday mundane walk we anticipated became a trip down memory lane, something the older children love. And following this, as we did, into the beautiful, magical world of 'Where The Wild Things Are',  I have arrived home immersed in nostalgia.

Something which always gets my creative juices flowing!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

A Gathering of Happiness.

All through the festive days,
the childish chatter, the heartfelt delight,

it clutches at my heart.

Exquisite, bittersweet joy.

The easy mingling, the threads picked up,
the weaving of family ties continuing it's magic odyssey.

The generous table shared and enjoyed side by side,
and we are reminded it is never enough, our time together.

And our days become lingering quiet,
small moments we can pause and really feel,
when we take off our hasty wings
and practice the art of savouring

And I am blessed,
to be surrounded, encircled, by so many,
by so much.

And even though for some
we have to make do with a faraway voice
traveling halfway around the world,
our Christmas greetings are earnest, wholehearted and deep.

So, I'll sit in contemplation, and wonder.
And all those years of Christmases gone by fill my head and my heart.

And I raise my glass to you all,
family and friends alike.

For this year is closing, and a bright new one just around the bend.

And I tip my hat to Sara, and Pamela who I found of similar mind this festive season! And I have no doubt there will be more.

And I wish, I wish with all my might that next year Santa brings my sister!

Monday, 21 December 2009

'The Door of Winter Stands Ajar...'

We sit in the deep night,
the cold midwinter sun fled from our skies,

And all around the frost creeps and cracks,
sparkles in the deepening the dark.

And yet another year has spun around us.

The longest night,
emboldened with a sweeping swathe of milky stars,
And a perfect crescent mother moon
cradled in a bed of cloud, alone in the bitter sky.

And as the night draws deeper round us,
like a friendly whispering ghost,
we light a candle
and smile and nod to one another,

For now the door of winter stands ajar,
with a promise of returning light.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

I Wish I Had A River.

Finally the tree is up.

I admit to finding I have to dig deep for 'happiness and cheer' this year.
But their excitement was infectious. And though I found it emotional I was careful to guide their choice of music as we decorated the tree, which helped.

There is nothing like children to ensure the magic comes creeping in through every crack and crevice in spite of everything.
And that magic and excitement is a balm for the heart.

So, this morning there is snow on the mountains, something that is a rare treat here this time of year. And the promise of a white Christmas for some seems like a real possibility. And there is something wondrous and soothing about the sight of snow. A cleansing, heartening something.

And so, on this eve of the Winter Solstice, I'd like to dedicate this post to all of you who have lost someone dear this year gone by. May you find some solace this coming year.

'In this deep season of darkness and
introspection, seek the sun at midnight,
the rich treasures that lie in the lap of Winter.' 
 ~Caitlin Matthews~

Friday, 18 December 2009

Through The Doorway.

It's been a busy week.

The excitement is mounting.
Santa's been sending messages.
Snow has been forecast, and the flurries have been tentatively drifting down.

Here's to a wonderful, wintery weekend.
We have plans aplenty, and normal blogging shall resume.

Keep warm!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Week of Pictures.

Breakfast of rockets and rice crispies.

Little boys.

The red balloon.

Through my window. Sunrise over the sea.

Hallelujah Choir. 2000 children's voices raised in song. 
Oh, I was moved...


In the morning, in the garden.
All that rain brought mud.

A week of sunrises.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

A Christmas Art Fair Thing.

As the Christmas season gets underway I love to see the commitment so many bloggers have to supporting both handmade and local art and crafts. This year I haven't managed to produce anything myself, but I thought it might be nice to share a few things with you all. And where better to start then at home, so to speak!
Any regular readers here will be familiar with one of my younger brothers, the multi-talented Chris, as I can't resist often featuring his warm, uniquely funny artwork. So, this Saturday he's having a Christmas Art Fair Thing in his little studio in Dublin city. Anyone who is in the Dublin area is welcome to pop in for a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie or two, and have a look at what he has to offer. I promise you a good chance of finding something for that discerning art lover of yours with a love of the bizarre and humorous.

Details of when and where can be found over on his blog.

Do take a moment to pop over and check out his website which includes a stunningly extensive array of paintingscomics, including one to download for free, illustrations, many of which you will recognise if you live in Ireland, and a favourite pastime in our house, spotting his work in action out and about the streets of Dublin and beyond!
And for those overseas visitors, he does have a fantastic postcard box set which gives a good cross-section of all of the above available for sale in his shop.

Happy browsing!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Re-Post: The Grandmother Memory.

I have never re-posted something before, but this particular post has been on my mind as Christmas looms. As we clean and clear and organise, I've been thinking about all the Christmas preparations women have done down through the ages. How some things never change, and many things do.

1st January 2009.
~This is a wordy post. I apologise. But it's something I have wanted to share with you for sometime.

I believe in the Grandmother memory. The possibility of 'just knowing' things. Memories that we inherit from our Grandmother's Grandmother's. It explains the things I cannot explain. The things I have always just known. And I regret the word of mouth knowledge I have missed out on. My father's mother died before I was born, my mother's when I was a teenager and running a house was a distant speck on my horizon.
I often think about what it must have been like for my ancestral mothers, the hours they spent in their kitchens among the quiet sounds of running water, the breaking of an egg, kneading bread. I imagine a world scented with the strange and wonderful smells of orange peel, roses, spices and herbs. I think about the seasonal year, the turning seasons, the tasks, the making, the baking, the preserving. They were preserving their lives in each of those daily offerings. From their morning ablutions, to their night time prayers and every small task throughout their day. These women lived with routine and ritual their constant companions.

I do have one thing though. I have my Nana's notebooks. Her Household Book and her book of collected recipe's. I hadn't known of these when I started my own book of collected recipes about six or seven years ago. When I mentioned it to my Mum she produced these gems. I couldn't believe it! It was amazing to read her so familiar handwriting, to read recipes I knew well and associated with her, with family gatherings in Nana and Grandad's house, gatherings that are long distant childhood memories now.

Her household book is filled with things like paint codes from different rooms of the house, cooking temperatures in fahrenheit and centigrade, quantities of food for diferent numbers of people, E numbers, recipe for playdough, home cures for ailments, knitting needle sizes, things borrowed and from whom, phone numbers, spellings. My favourite though is her list of things to do in the week before Christmas. It makes me realise how some things don't change, although her list is a lot more extensive than mine!

I adore this little paragraph, both for it's humour and because it is such a sweet reminder of my grandparents.

"If when cutting up meat there is no room in the fridge, make sure that parcel of turkey etc is clearly labelled so it won't be put out as refuse! as in - 1976".

At this point I would like to say a huge grateful thank you to my Mum, for she is now the Grandmother. And she has taken the role to a whole new height. Far beyond what any of her ancestral mother's could ever have imagined. She is a shining star example to me and my daughter. She is an amazing role model to have. I am so grateful to have this.

I like to think that each of us in our own way are recording a little piece of family history for our daughter's and their daughter's. It means so much to me that I am aware of this. That this child paced time in my life will have meaning to someone in the future. Maybe even has meaning now. That we are creating family traditions of our own, to be passed on and learned from.
We are a link in the chain. All of us. And isn't that incredible! ~

So, how are your preparations going? I'm really only starting. But today was a breakthrough day in the organisations and preparations, partly, I am sure, because I didn't have my laptop to distract me!

And I do hope to have some little Christmas things to share over the next few days.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Amidst the busy hours
of running around chasing my tail endless forking out meeting needs hugs and kisses bumped knees shouting laughing toast and jam fireside stories bedtime waking up time bath time homework dinner washing clothes cakes birthdays coffee driving nagging hugging walking breathing dreaming loving loving loving...

Little ones are good at getting their needs met.

Some nights I would go to bed,
and wonder,

Did I have any one to one conversation with him today?

But now we have an hour
in the pre~dawn quiet before the house awakes,
before he leaves for school.

And I am amazed.

Who is this young man?

This young man.