Monthly Archives: March 2012

You’re welcome, butt-cheeks.

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I’ve been ‘spring’ cleaning today. The quotation marks are there because while it is undoubtably spring, I haven’t cleaned properly since before Christmas. Pretty much that makes this ‘much-delayed-post-holiday’ cleaning.

I knew I’d put off a good cleaning too long when I found a paper party hat that came out of a Christmas cracker under the couch. And a bit of a Pringle chip, which is something I only allow myself when I am on holiday and eat a whole can at one sitting. The Diet does not exist during holidays, and why should it? I’m pudgy because I love food (if you can really call Pringles food) and the holidays are about enjoying yourself. Well, mine are.

And: don’t I have a dog to take care of things like stray food on the floor? Sheesh, do your job, Neko.

Anyhoo, I went whole-hog with my cleaning efforts. This is not a one day, or even a one week, task. I take the DVD’s down and wipe or vacuum them. Same the books (less damp-wiping, natch). All the geegaws and knickknacks are wiped, vacced, or actually washed. I have a lot of crap. A lot of interesting and precious things, I mean. Nah, I was probably closer with ‘crap.’

In any case, it’s MY crap, and I’m sick of not being able to tell if a CD is Tori Amos or Metallica or Supertramp because of the thick layer of dust and dog hair covering my small collection of music.

Dust… when you think about it, or to be more realistic, do not think about it, it’s sort of clean. Until you remove some. Then everything that is still dusty looks like shite. Sigh.

I am, actually, a bit of a ‘clean freak,’ above observations notwithstanding. My house is an absolute mess, but it’s not dirty. (I already said dust is clean, right?) I mean, it’s not muddy or greasy or covered in sticky stuff that is better off not closely examined. There is just so much damn stuff! I wish I could be more minimalist like my sister, or my best friend, but… I hoard. There’s nothing like not having things to make you appreciate having things, to excess.

Which brings me, at length, to the reason for this post. Finally. Heh.

Last night the hubby, iDJ, was saying how he’d like to buy me a bigger, nicer, pillow to sit on in front of the fireplace. He first suggested a beanbag chair, which I vetoed as it would be too high, and I learned a long time ago that beanbag chairs are extraordinarily attractive to cats. For use as a toilet. Very much a situation where they were covered in sticky stuff better not examined – or smelled.

His next suggestion was a large, flat, but still fluffy, pillow. One sort of like…yes, exactly like…the dog bed my sister has for her greyhound. You cannot imagine my pleasure in hearing that my loving hubby thinks I should sit on a dog bed.

See, there’s nothing wrong with the little pillows I sit on. Yes, they are hairy – what isn’t in this house? Yes, they are really, really flattened from me squashing them with my pudgy arse for over a year. And yep, now that I think about it, they are probably over twenty years old.

So, because I’m a cheapo, tight-arse, hoarding type: during my cleaning frenzy I tossed my flat, old, hairy pillows into the dryer for 20 minutes to fluff them up and get some of the hair off. Worked like a charm! Too much charm for one of them, though – it went all lumpy. When I finally plunked myself down to rest it just was…horrible. The Diet has worked well enough since Christmas that my arse is a bit more bony and didn’t appreciate the new lumpy feeling underneath it.

Dammit, I don’t want to sit on a dog bed!

And still being a cheapo tight-arse, I decided I could pull all the stuffing out and see if it was fluffable. Super easy; they made pillows with zippers 20 years ago, and the fibre-fill was right there for removing. So I did, and I proceeded over the next 15 minutes or more to make a puffy mountain of filler in my living room.

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I never would have done this if I hadn’t vacuumed and – shock of shocks – mopped! today.

Now, how the living hell am I meant to fit all that back into a case that is only about 18″/46cm square?

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Empty case for size.
Well, it came outta there, so it has to fit back in, right? Never mind that I’ve never done this before, and the chances of my creating an even lumpier pillow are quite high. Also never mind that the cats and dog are watching me make this shreddy, entertaining disaster. I can only hope they are smart/obedient enough to realise this is only something two-legs are allowed to do… but you see how Neko’s giant octopus toy is right next to the fluff-pile – yes, she was holding it and observing me closely. Damn…

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Final result, with the other, non-fluffed pillow for comparison. I done good! It wasn’t that much work, saved me at least €20 of well-intentioned hubby purchases, and it really does feel a lot better to sit on. Of course, now I’ll have to fluff the other one, too…

I will admit that the first time I sat down, I rolled right off the back of the suddenly-pouffy pillow and nearly cracked my head on a bookshelf. At least I wouldn’t have gotten dust in my hair.

Socks has a rutabaga!

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Let me just say it here and now: I suck. I was meant to update weekly on my best friend’s journey through pregnancy – but I’ve slipped, and slid, and now I’m the farthest behind I’ve ever, ever been. I apologised to her, and I know she forgives me as she’s seen the changes this silly space has gone through since I started in October, and knows how good it has been for me… But one of my first intentions here was to chronicle how it feels to be so far away from someone I love dearly, and how her life is changing so fast.

I told Socks that it’s hard to talk about her pregnancy right now, as there just isn’t a whole lot going on in the baby-growing end of things. This is true – but also, she is currently having to concentrate on another aspect of her life that is changing that doesn’t directly relate to Button. We talk a lot about that during our weekly phone call. However, my efforts to blog about Socks aren’t to gossip about her life – it is supposedta be my take on hearing her talk about becoming a mom. Also, my stupid job is sucking up my time and energy, and I’m so tired I rarely feel like writing. Bad!!! So yeah, I bitch to her about the job for extended lengths of time, too.

Anyhoo, I’ve got to go back to the dark ages of March 8 to play catch up. My notes are sparse, shit. Socks was just starting to walk with a waddle, which I find funny as hell trying to picture. I’m sure by now she’s old pro at waddling! Socks is a petite gal, and hasn’t gotten fat – just baby-belly-big – so when Button moves around you can practically see which of her body parts is front and center. Back on the 8th, Button liked to present her arse to the world quite a lot. Her whole size was that of an iceberg lettuce – big, but just wait until I get up to date! I have a quote: ‘I’ll probably give birth spontaneously in the kitchen!’ I’m pretty sure this is wishful thinking on Bear’s part…

On the 15th, Socks started getting allergies. Yuck. She’s not good at taking antihistamine even when not preggo, so I hope that shit eases off. She also has given up being freaked out about the impending baby shower on May 5 in favour of worrying over buying a house. I totally suck here, as I didn’t note the fruit and/or veg of the week, but I have some fabulous quotes. Socks to Bear, after watching The Walking Dead: ‘I’m the least productive member of this group, you better take me out and shoot me before the zombies arrive!’

Socks to Bear: ‘Guess what is in just three months?’
Bear: ‘Our first BBQ?’
Socks points to enormous belly.
Bear: ‘Oh.’

Bear, on putting his hand on her belly and feeling Button do a barrel-roll in there: ‘Oh my god, what the fuck was that? I thought she was in there further?!?’

Also, Button has become interactive: Socks says she can poke her in the butt and Button reacts. Cool!

Not so cool: Socks is getting a revisit of her old nemesis, sciatica. An ice pack and stopping what she is doing does the trick – unlike in the past, she says, there is no working through this pain. You just have to stop and rest.

Okay up to the 22nd now – god I’m a jerk – and the sciatic pain is much less. Yay! This week was a cauliflower: one of my least favourite veggies, glad that’s past! Socks did say her hands and feet were having a bit of swelling, so more rest is required. Oh darn, what a hardship when she’s so tired all of the time! A direct quote: ‘Button is supposed to be about 15inches long and weighing in at a little over 2lbs at this point. I’m not sure about you but I’ve never seen a Cauliflower that big. Another interesting fact about Button at this stage is that any day now she’ll begin to open her eyes. Kinda cool and creepy all at the same time.’

And we have a belly-photo update!

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Wait, this says week 27! I’m all messed up. Sorry…

Okay! We are up to yesterday, which is when Oirish Tirsday had to be scheduled due to house-signing business. Week 29 – I’m trusting that number as I wrote it down, how silly am I? – is either a rutabaga or acorn squash. Again, Socks says she’s not seen either of those that is 2.5 to 3.5 lbs and 15 to 16.5 inches long. I’ve not seen an acorn squash in years, but our rutabagas here are huge, and called a swede.

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Acorn squashies. I forgot they are green. How do you know when they are ripe? Good thing Button is a singleton, I think Socks would explode if she had this many.

I got to hear a weird story about someone who felt it necessary to question whether Button was a girl or boy, and how everyone seems to think it is perfectly okay to make extremely personal comments and observations about Socks and Button. Socks doesn’t mind – she’s not easily offended and the way humans act and interact is a never-ending source of entertainment for both of us.

I’ll end with another quote from Bear. They were talking about how Socks is a bit upset that she can’t do all of the packing and moving that needs to be done (a very hard thing to admit, for a person used to doing it all, always). Bear told her that what he wants, needs, and expects from her is to point at things that need to be done and let him know when it is time for lunch. Aww.

A grumpy kitty

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I’m sleepy, and I’ve not been feeling well this week – perhaps psycho-somatic as I would much rather be sitting in the sun we have had this week, rather than stuck in an office smelling girl-farts.

So, to make me feel better: here’s my Bengal boy Spot looking as if his life is a misery; when in reality it is a never-ending joy of sunbeams and comfy blankets and cuddles with his brother, or his people.

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Life is hell, life IS hell – better get used to it, Spottie-Pants: at your age, it will only get more difficult.

Sunshine, music, and kitties

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I have had a lovely, sunny, summery day today. And I did next to nothing. I enjoyed the sunshine; I ate the huge breakfast my hubby cooked; and eventually I did some of the dishes. I’d intended to paint my scavenged trellises a bit more – but only if the hubby could help me remember what odd place I’d left the paint tin. Instead we ended up with a huge crisis in which a tin of clear varnish was not only upside down and opened up and spilled everywhere, but did so inside The Closet Of Doom. Hence things like toolboxes, old paint tins, step stools, work gloves, ironing boards – and our Dyson – were coated liberally with acrylic varnish. Yay! After cleaning that enormous mess up, I no longer had any desire to paint, so I sat and read in the sun for several more hours.

The hardship, the horror. I know, I know.

I had to move out front as there was no more sunshine in the back garden. Now, I grew up in the American south, and it just isn’t done to sit out front of your house and drink a beer unless you qualify as po’ white trash (I am white, what other color trash could I be?), but I get sunshine so rarely that I just had to. My concession to being sort-of-in-public was to take a shower first. Good thing I did, because I just wouldn’t have been respectable enough to listen to my neighbour’s teenage son and his friend – who were conversing a few yards away in his driveway – fart loudly and giggle softly if my hair wasn’t clean.

Eventually, the sun gave up on me and I relocated to the back garden again where iDJ was preparing to have a BBQ and, of course, had the tunes a-goin. I stopped trying to read about serial killers and took pictures of Spot trying to open the sliding glass door with one pathetic kitty-arm:

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You can’t blame him, really. Both of his people and his dog were outside (see Neko in the reflection?). And because iDJ has to have music allllll the time, the door was open a crack to allow for the speaker-wires. I understand, being a sun-worshiper myself. But I’ll stay in my yard, and he won’t, the bad boy.

Evening ended up with lovely sausages and burgers and me being dead tired but having to get up extra-early for some physiotherapy on my back. Somehow I think a few more hours in the sun would do me a better turn…

The Reek from a distance

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One day, a few weeks ago, I was on my way home from work and for the first time since I started The Job, it wasn’t raining. I looked over to my left and nearly swerved off the road.

I could see Croagh Patrick! It was backlit with the sunset and was just gorgeous, a perfect pyramid in the distance. I only had my iPhone, and it was a Thursday so I didn’t have time to try to stop and take pictures, or even go home and come back with our proper camera. I didn’t even know where I could pull off the road. So I bucketed on toward home regretfully.

Every day since on my way home I look for The Reek. Clouds, clouds, clouds… did I imagine seeing it? Surely that glorious moment couldn’t have been my imagination. But nothing, no sign of a mountain in the distance, and definitely not one of such perfect angular shape. I couldn’t find the spot where I’d seen him (I’ve decided a mountain named Patrick has to be a male), either – there was just no sign of it at all.

On Tuesday, I thought (for the first time, I can be a little slow) to look for Croagh Patrick on the way in to work. it wasn’t cloudy, shockingly enough, and lo!- I found him, at a point on the road much closer to Knock than I had originally thought.

Ah-ha, I thought, I’ve got you now!

All the rest of this week I’ve been slowing down and looking, hoping for another sunset behind Ireland’s Holy Mountain. No, I’m not religious, but it is what it is – the biggest, pointiest thing around and where Patrick is meant to have fasted for forty days in 441AD. Of course he picked the place because it is unique in appearance and had been considered special to the Irish long before Christianity existed – about 3,000 years before. Here’s the Wikipedia link if you want to learn more.

Anyhoo, this Thursday I got my chance, sort of. It wasn’t a perfect sunset by any means, and the sun no longer sets directly behind the mountain. But I whipped the Mini into the other lane and backed up into a cow-track, jumped out and took a few shots with my phone. *Edit – I forgot to say that a drive from Knock to the Reek is about 60km (37mi) – and as the crow flies it is probably about 50km (30mi) away.

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Hipstamatic again, zoomed in. I had it on black and white still. The colour Hipstamatic shots I took aren’t worth posting.

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Regular iPhone camera, but heavily mucked around with back at home. What I saw with my eyes just didn’t come through on ‘film.’ Very disappointing – but I’m still putting this up because I’m now taking the ‘real’ camera to work with me in hopes of catching what I really see.

Paddy’s Photos continued

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Okay, here’s a few shots that say it all about why I love our parade, and why nothing in Dublin or New York City can ever compare to the amount of joy I get out of what happens in my small town.
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Zombie babies.
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I’m not even into kids or cuteness, but these wee ones were hilarious.
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Mini-Jedward. Okay, only my Irish and UK readers are going to even have a clue who these adorable boys are meant to be. But: awwwwwwww! Way more cute than the real thing.
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I have no idea. But someone took the time to make a float with nothing but a toilet on it and drive it down the main street behind a tractor.

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…?
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…!!!!!
I know this man pretty well, and the question every year is what dress will he wear in the parade? He’s well over 6ft, and a well-respected businessman… who is acting out Rhianna being told to not be such a hussy while shooting a video in an Irish farmer’s field last year. I’ve never seen a man in a woman’s bikini smile so much! This was the highlight of the parade for me, and his shenanigans usually are the funniest part every year. I didn’t spill my drink, but nearly wet my pants laughing.

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Samba band! For Minlit :)

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Seeing close friends in the parade is great fun, too! Nurse Bella didn’t really enjoy the noise and activity, but it seems ‘flooding’ worked for her and she’s less of a scaredey-dog than she used to be.

I’ll leave you with not the one, but two pictures stolen from hubby. I realised there was a third shot of his that I really loved. First, another action shot.

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We think this was meant to be about some celebrity fat-fighting, boot-camp style reality show. No matter – I love the energy these young lads still have after running and jumping and dragging bloody great tires up at least a mile of the town before they got to iDJ and his camera. I also love that iDJ had the guts to stand right there and let them leap around him!

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I’ll finish where I began – with the pipers. Another iDJ shot, and wow! Again he was right out in the road in the way, but our man never blinked an eye. He must know he looks that dammed impressive!

Paddy’s photos

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Right! Hubby uploaded 118 pictures today to Facebook from his iPhone and our ‘real’ camera, which now has issues of keeping battery contact and dies constantly and is super annoying.

I forgot I even had a camera until the parade was at least half over. So, these are my pics, except for the two I’ll give him credit for – I only really loved two of his 118 enough to steal them, and I think you’ll see why. My pics are mostly rubbish, but I think they give an idea of what it felt like to be in my town on Saturday afternoon.

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First – this is from the night before. The pipe band went all around the town playing in each pub (a shorter journey with fewer stops than it was even six years ago, alas). We were at one end of the town – in a pub, of course – and when the band moved on they lined up smartly in the street, be dammed to traffic coming either way, and marched right down the entire town. I don’t know if any photo can convey how surreal and exciting this was for me. ‘Scotland the Brave’ at full volume at ten o o’clock at night is…amazing. From the other gawkers, I wasn’t alone in appreciating their miniature solitary parade.

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Parade day! What’s a parade in the whest of Ireland without a big, feic-off-tractor or three? This was the first one, and the reason I remembered I had a camera in my possession. Can you tell we’re standing outside of the same pub as the night before? Oh yeah.

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Bet you didn’t expect a helicopter, though! I think – but I’m not sure – that this is the one I’ve been up in. If you’re afraid of flying, or of being on a motorcycle, don’t go up in a wee two-seater whirlybird like this one. I adored my all-too-brief time in (this?) one.

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Classic car 1.

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Classic car 2.

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Classic car 3.

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Classic car 4 – and I’m back to black and white as this just was meant to be in B&W.

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Now we’ll have a compare and contrast. This is my best shot of The Rocky Horror Picture Show cast tribute.

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This is the one iDJ took. Damn him!!!

I think I should break here and do another post for the rest…

Two artsy-fartsy photos

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Early on in the pub, iDJ and I were playing around with our phones and the Hipstamatic app. I took this one of him using his phone:

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He complained about it at first, because of the blur. According to him, my pics are always blurry. But I pointed out its only his pint that is blurry, his face is clear. It implies movement, even if he was being quite still.

This one is of one of the drummers from the Oldham Pipe Band that is in town for the parade (in just a few hours, yay!). I took a lot of shots but only this one caught his hands.

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A shame, really, that this is the only one that turned out. The app is bleedin’ slow! I was snapping away and only got about 5 pics. Lucky I guess to get one good one at all.

Oh, and he’ll give out to me for publishing this with the stupid ‘MAR 82′ date stamp on it! I can’t be arsed to remove it.

Currently I’m out back, freezing, listening to what he calls skiddleyidle music. Irish traditional, or just Trad. He’s got the Weber grill out and we’ll be having burgers and sausages from our amazing local butcher. I’m cold, but I didn’t have the shakes and shivers until he poured me a pint of O’Hara’s Stout, 6%, to follow up my ‘morning’ coffee. Yes, it’s just gone 1 and I’m on the beer…

Earworm OTD

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Ah, quite the easy one today! I popped a CD of The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem into the car yesterday. Easy And Slow isn’t a song that is about much, but it has such a lovely wistful sound that I could listen to it for hours in a loop. My dad had The Clancy Bros on vinyl, so they are a huge part of my childhood. Irish folk can tease me all they like – a good trad tune makes me feel good in ways nothing else can.

“And what’s it to any man whether or no
Whether I’m easy or whether I’m true
As I lifted her petticoat easy and slow
And I tied up me sleeve for to buckle her shoe”

Happy Thoughts just don’t work for me

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I’m sure you’ve heard that the best way to have a great night’s sleep and to wake up happy and refreshed is to think positively before you go to bed. I’m here to call bullshit on that theory.

I was chock-full-o-giddiness last night when I went to bed. I went immediately after my last post, which was about how excited I am about Paddy’s and how much I love our parade. How much more positive could I be? Also, I’m currently reading one of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books. These are happy, lighthearted fare. I dropped off to sleep reading.

So what wakes me up at 2:30 in the morning? A dream in which a man sets himself on fire right in front of me. I saw him inhale the smoke into his nose, I heard membranes in his eyes pop, I saw his clothes shrivel and become tight as they melted onto his arms. The he walked away toward a lake, fell, dragged himself, and eventually made it into the water to become a tightly-curled corpse floating on the shore.

Kee-rist. Where the hell do I get this stuff from? I gotta wonder: if I read something equally horrible and was in a rotten, black mood – would I dream of unicorns pooping rainbows?

On the bright side, I can say for sure that I dream in colour. The man used a cigarette to light the gasoline, and I remember it had a brown filter. There were also some colourful…fluids…spreading out from the body when it was in the water. Yay, me.