There is an autumn touch to the air. The boys ate their first blackberries this morning and the weather has been so inclement that the stove and candles have been lit in the evening on more than one occasion. But there are still blue skied days and breakfasts in the sunshine and walks in meadows. There is also the prospect of August holidays by the sea and the pile of summer reading for those lazy moments when jobs are done. I'm halfway through The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor but I have to admit to being distracted - there's The Handmaid's Tale, Anna and the Swallow Man and Ginny Moon waiting for me too... thank goodness the days are still long.
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
I am just about finished this and I keep flicking on ahead and reading paragraphs in the hope that I can devour it quickly and slowly at the same time - the agony! On the back cover of the 1972 copy I'm reading a critic said 'It will keep thousands of people dithering with excitement' ~ ha, yes I'm all a dither and consequently I keep having to sneak off, away from children, to try and gulp down more in between feeding time at the zoo, refereeing squabbles and laundry baskets which seem to have their own life force.
Thursday, 13 July 2017
A scant half pound of gooseberries were picked from the bushes which are tucked into our boundary hedge. A little too much for a fool (as in gooseberry fool, eye roll) but not enough for jam. So to the cookbooks for a pleasant half hour or so until a recipe for gooseberry curd catches my eye. And now, with two little glass jars full of luscious gooseberry goodness cooling in the kitchen, I'm thinking of scones and cream or perhaps vanilla sponge filled with curd and raspberries...
Monday, 10 July 2017
Saturday, 8 July 2017
Mide did some quite detailed drawings of his character - Spaceman Skiff who fights with aliens and space pirates. And then ideas were transformed into comics...
Tuesday, 4 July 2017
It is so damp and grey that I light the candles before we eat. The steady drip, drip, drip of the rain is the soundtrack to the evening. We light the fire and set up a board game in the sitting room. The boys choose Trivial Pursuit. It's the family edition which makes it easier for their diverse age ranges and Mide and I play as a team. It sounds relatively simple to play a game together but for us it's not. Autism makes it hard to understand turn taking, it makes the unpredictability of the role of the dice agony, it makes not knowing the answer to a question tricky to acknowledge and guessing the answer just plain awful. However having said all that Mide managed well and actually enjoyed it! So much work, patience, understanding has gone in to getting him to this place ~ the first time he has played a family game with us all the way through to the end without having a tantrum or leaving the room in anger. Also, he happened to win. And slowly I feel that we are winning too.
Sunday, 2 July 2017
The day started with sun and a few puffed white clouds. On my walk I admired the sleek, glossy flanks of the little black cows tucked behind the hedges. Sunlight was in the fields, glinting off the sea of grass. Home to a sink full of breakfast dishes and homemade granola, coffee and yesterday's paper. Now the rain has come and books are the order of the day. Sounds of squabbling from deeper in the house ~ the two younger ones, all shorts and grazed knees, are bickering and I hold my breath, wondering if I should intervene. Silence again, dispute resolved and I turn back to My Cousin Rachel. The sun is struggling through the clouds, now it's time for tea, some cake maybe. The peace of a Sunday in July.
Sunday, 25 June 2017
To Dun Laoghaire to walk along the pier with icecream, seagulls screaming and boats with masts tinkling, clinking until all you can hear is the sea, the sea, the endless sea. We watch as the tug helps the cruise ship leave the shelter of the harbour and we wonder about the people on the deck waving to the people on the shore. How I would love to sail out from Dublin, out to sea, to places new to me but always, always with the prospect of returning home.
Thursday, 22 June 2017
Monday, 19 June 2017
The coast is undoubtedly my happy place. A walk along the shoreline breathing in salt laden air and suddenly everything inside me is calmer. I have no idea why the sea helps me to feel this way. We didn't grow up near the sea or even spend extended amounts of holiday time at the beach. To actually swim in any great depth of sea would frighten me and I'm an appalling sailor but that surge and swell of water meeting land, the sounds and sand are something I need. Tim Winton had the kind of practical, magical childhood by the sea that I would give my eye teeth for. He writes "I am in the sea but not of it". I think I am of the sea but not in it (due to my extreme cowardice and Jaws).
Wouldn't it be so nice to believe that anything is possible? Elizabeth Strout has carried on where My name is Lucy Barton left off. We are shown deeper insight into the lives led in small town America where Lucy's childhood poverty was despised and hidden from view. We get to understand more about her situation and the effect on adult life - hers and her siblings. The characters are cleverly interwoven- each person's story leads to another and slowly the picture of life in rural Amgash is revealed in all its pain and ugliness.
Speaking of cowardice why do we spend our lives so afraid? We are afraid of what others will think of us, we are afraid to take risks, to express ourselves. One of the luxuries of aging is that hopefully our fear diminishes and we get to worry less about the opinions of others. I'm in the middle of Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Two neighbours, in their seventies and both widowed, decide that night time is when their loneliness is worst. Addie asks Louis to come and spend the night with her - "I'm talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably. Lying down in bed together and you staying the night. The nights are the worst. Don't you think?".
Sometimes is pays to be brave. To get in the water, even though that's where the sharks live.
Wednesday, 31 May 2017
The simple pleasure of walking in the field, just after cutting but before baling. Just insects, birdsong and the sound of moving through grass.
And then a couple of days later the grass has been baled and we walk through the field in the evening sun. Dogs and children run free and golden light is all around us.
End of May.
Saturday, 27 May 2017
The other morning we woke to heavy fog. I walked the dogs up the lane and around what we call 'the loop' as it's mostly off road and brings you through the landscape using an old trackway that runs between fields. It's where we pick sloes for gin and eventually it joins the road that leads back home. It was slightly spooky walking through the fogged air, past the woods where the trees were dripping and cobwebs hung like spun air. Kevin had seen a fox there the day before. He was sick or old and was slow to move off. Kevin had called the dogs to heel to allow him time to go. There was no sign of him as we walked to the top of the lane passing the small field bordering the woods where the sheep huddled together. Then on through the overgrown bit and down the track that lies dipped between fields. It can be muddy underfoot, although at this time of year it's dry earth and easy to walk on. We ended up on trackway again and there right in front of us a fox full of rude good health, sleek in his glossy coat. We had startled him as he crossed in front of us and in one glorious bound he flew into the undergrowth and disappeared. And somehow just seeing him like that, for the briefest of seconds, made me feel better.