Monthly Archives: November 2013

Last Gasp of the Flowers?


It was gorgeous today. Sunny and about 8 degrees C, which feels warm to me at this time of year. In the last two months – officially winter here – we’ve had one day of sleet and hail, and about three so far where it got near to zero and there was frost on the car, and the grass. The wind barely made its usual horrendously damaging appearance in late October, and November has been equally placid.

Of course the rain never really goes away, it is Ireland, after all.

Last weekend it was also lovely, so I borrowed iDJ’s iPhone to take pictures of my remaining flowers.

The rudbeckia is still going strong. I am so impressed with how long one bloom can survive. They are very welcome; now more than ever with their warm autumn coloration.

More rudbeckia.

Galliardia is still in bloom, too.

I’m fascinated with their huge puff-ball seed heads, too. I’m leaving them to mature, just out of curiosity.

Now. This is something that really fascinates me! This is the stem of just one of the many black lilies that I grew this year. This one plant has not only made seeds, but seems to be growing bulblets all along its stem. I’m boggled. I think it is quite possible my garden next year is going to be overrun with black lilies. We may just have to dig up the whole front lawn (no great loss) and plant it with lilies and tigridia. I have no photos of them, but I have hundreds of tigridia seeds. Anyone in Europe want to have a go at growing them from seed? I’ll post them to ye.

The strawberry / raspberry patch is looking distinctly autumnal, and dammed ugly to boot.

One of my blueberry bushes always has incredible colour for fall. And it takes fall to heart: leaves everywhere.

I don’t know much about lavender. I grew these from seed last spring because I was told it was hard, and I love a challenge. They are blooming now, is that normal?

I had an absolutely terrible time trying to get the phone to focus on the lavender blooms. Oh well.

Some real colour to finish off with! The violas, a first for me this year. I expected tiny wee plants that were good as a border around another lavender plant. Instead they got nearly 2 foot tall, choked the lavender to death, and seeded everywhere when I wasn’t looking. As they are still beautifully in bloom, I can’t complain. Those little cat-whisker faces just make me smile.

Sad post: you may want to skip this.


I came to the top of a hill that leads to a curve to the left. I saw the high visibility jackets of several walkers, the right lane was clear, so I signalled and moved out nearly entirely into the right lane to give them room. Something came out from the right side of the road angling toward the walkers. I hit it. It wasn’t a very hard or loud hit, but I knew I had hit whatever it was. I wasn’t sure it was an animal, just something white moving fast. I thought it was a dog, I thought I had run over a dog! I had a coworker driving right behind me (who knew it was me in front) so I indicated for him to follow me and we pulled in at the garage in town (about a half-mile up the road) and I asked him if he saw me hit a dog. He saw something in the road, yes. There was fur on my tire: white fur. I was so shaken I couldn’t keep the car running, I kept stalling it. I went home and asked my husband to drive me as I was really shaken up. My coworker followed to make sure I was okay. I kept thinking: There were walkers, they were right there – they couldn’t have missed it. I thought that if it was a dog and they would have stopped to help, or an owner would have been close.

It wasn’t a dog. It was a cat. For me, that is worse. Cats have always been my first love. It also meant the walkers didn’t care, and left her lying in the road. Cats are legally considered vermin in Ireland.

She glowed stark white in our headlights. We pulled in, I took a deep breath and got out to walk back and face what I had done. Hubby offered, but no – I had to do this.

She was dead. A calico. Mostly white with black and red patches. I felt her neck, no pulse; her ribs moved in not-right-ways. I knew she was gone. There was a tear in her fur and I could see muscle at her elbow, but not much blood – she had died instantly. I couldn’t pick her up, because I didn’t want to see if the damage underneath was worse than on top; because she was still warm and soft. But I took her scruff and pulled her a few feet into the safety of a farmer’s gate. There is no side-of-the-road at all in this stretch of road, hence my moving out so far for the walkers.

She looked well cared-for, not a stray. Sparkling clean white, not skinny, no dirt around her face or ears. Someone’s pet.

I got back in the car, hubby asked should we try to find the owners. Yes. We went to the nearest house. I knocked, stuttered out what happened and described a calico with black and orange patches. Made circles with my shaking hands to show about how big the patches of black and red were. I had to do it twice – once for the man and once for the woman who came to the door. It wasn’t their cat; theirs was in the shed. But they’d lost two cats since they’d lived there, on the road. Maybe the neighbour on the other side of the road? But they thought her cat was black and white, not calico. They rang her. Her cat was out. We saw her flashlight and went back to the car, turned around and went back. The woman I spoke to came down the road with a flashlight, too.

We parked again facing the kitty and an older woman who was looking at her. It was her cat. In the headlights I could suddenly see that what I took for orange patches was blood and wounds. Oh no, no. I hugged the woman and told her how sorry I was.

Kitty’s name was Sheba. She was about six. She was a mostly-wild stray from a hay loft, had been socialised pretty good and was now indoors at lot, but had wanted to go out tonight (right before I came though) “because it was a nice night.” Her owner always made sure she was inside before she went to bed at night. She would have gone looking later if Sheba didn’t come back in. But by then…other cars wouldn’t have left much. That would have been worse. She thanked me for stopping. I offered to help move the body. The other neighbour offered to help move the body. I was still shaking, my mouth tasted of ashes and my fingers smelled of blood.

I immediately hugged both my cats when I got home.

I thought it was a dog, a small aggressive chasing-type like a Jack Russel. I thought it was charging at the walkers. Now I think the strangers walking past scared Sheba and she was running for home and safety. If I hadn’t been in the other lane, she would have made it. Her timing would have been just fine.

But…if she hadn’t been out at all, she would still be alive. If it had been anyone else who had hit her, she’d have been a grey and bloody flattened splotch by the time her owner went looking. I know it is a touchy subject, indoor or outdoor cats. And a stray is especially impossible to keep indoors, even if you want to. I guess if you live right on a road with an 80KPH speed limit (and I was doing it, for a change, the car is having more issues and slower is better), you can’t expect your cats to live a long and healthy life.

But. If you love your cat, and care about other people, too – don’t let them out. Your thinking that kitty is happier running through the fields doesn’t nearly make up for what I’ve been through tonight.

Pumpkin-head-dawg meme pics


I have made up my dog meme pics, based on your suggestions, and a few from Facebook as well. I know which one is my favourite – which is yours? These are all free to share, wherever you like.










More suggestions welcome!

Can we Meme it? Yes We Can! Part One


I did something really cruel to my Akita, Neko, last week. But…just lookit her! Awwwww!

It’s only cruel ’cause she wanted to eat that pumpkin, not wear it. If you look closely, her left eye definitely has a look that says, ‘I will have my vengeance. In this life, or the next.’

The right eye is too squished by the pumpkin to look very threatening. It’s her wonky eye, anyway.

I adore this pic, and think it is hilarious. But. I am terrible at thinking up clever captions for photos. I thought this one could go viral if someone were cleverererer than I. Any takers? I do have the technology, just not the brain power.

For instance: this is of my previous meme attempts that failed, miserably:


Yeah, sorry.

This is the best I’ve been able to come up with so far for Neek’s pic:


I think my inherent geekiness gets in the way of being universally funny. Please help! If this is fun for y’all, I’ll be back with an even better pic for captioning.

Funk, punk, soul n such


Aww! I’m so over the moon happy that one of my blog friends took the time to spread the word! Thank you SO much!

Ms. D. Ranged In AZ

If you’re looking for good music that you won’t hear on the radio, particularly won’t hear on the vapid radio we get in the U.S., I highly recommend you check out the “funkpunksoul’n’such” of Soul Shenanigans.  You can hear them live every Thursday PST 12-2 pm (GMT 8-10 pm) at or or explore previous podcasts over at    You can also find them on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@soulshenanigans).

Podcasts are recorded in County Mayo, Ireland (hence the GMT for those of you on the other side of the pond) and the DJ is the hubby of a fellow blogger and my friend    You don’t get a lot of talk (hardly any, really) but you will get an excellent variety of music.  Every podcast has a theme of sorts like “Indie Garage World RAWK Grooves” and they have a…

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Fall Festival or Fair Sentimentality


I just got a rare wave of homesickness for America.

I was reading a fantasy novel, and in it there was a Harvest Festival going on. The writer’s description got me thinking about American festivals and fairs, and I realised this is a bit of America that I miss. They just don’t do that sort of thing here. Sure, there used to be market days in my small Irish town; but those are long gone, and nothing has been done to replace them.

What got me thinking was a passage about fancy candles, and how odd that seemed to the protagonist. He thought it was a waste to burn something so pretty. I immediately thought of those crazy carved candles and how I felt the same – how can you ever burn them?!? If you’ve never seen one, this is what I’m talking about:

Image credit: doing a google image search for “hand carved candles” and taking a screen shot of the results. Is that cheating on giving image credit?

In any case, I remember booths at our annual seafood festival selling these, and how beautiful I thought they were. I also remember: hand carved wooden toys, booths of ceramics, dried flower wreaths and arrangements, and tons of other random whatnot that people had spent ages making to sell.

And the food! Things you never found any other time: funnel cakes dusted in powdered sugar, those delicious but potentially tooth-shattering candy coated almonds (not Jordan almonds, a pinkish-coating that was just heavenly), and piles and piles of fried potatoes, curly spicy ones, homestyle-cut ones with the option of adding malt vinegar or not, waffle-cut fries. Cotton candy (candy floss). The popcorn! Buttered and salted, or with cheese (white or orange-coloured dust), or caramel corn – it all smelled so good.

If you were a child, you were glad to be “off the leash” and allowed to explore without your parents because it was a safe place. If you were a teen, dressing your best so other groups of roaming teens could see you. If an adult you looked at kids and teens and remembered when you were that age, and what it meant to you – and smiled.

Or, if you fell a bit in-between, you might meet your second-grade teacher when you have a plastic cup of beer in your hand, and feel a bit embarrassed for having grown up.

Gigantic Beetle!


It’s been more than a few weeks, but I’ve been holding on to this to share with ye. I was sitting outside, as I do, and I heard the unmistakeable sound of a flying bug crashing into our sliding glass door. It sounded huge, so I immediately jumped out of my comfy chair to find it.

Not knowing what the hell I had to catch, and not wanting to get bitten or sprayed with noxious stink, I herded the Bug into the grass and ran inside for a glass to trap it under. It was fast on concrete, but didn’t seem to be able to manoeuvre in grass very well, so I had time. Once caught, I put it in a plastic container for observation and identification.

That’s a nice clear container, you can even see through it to all the knife marks on my crappy kitchen counter. But it’s not a great photo, too dark, and you have nothing to compare for size, sorry! You’ll have to trust me when I say this beetle was over 3 centimetres, or well over an inch in length.

I have a book, Complete Irish Wildlife, and of course when it comes to insects and spiders it is far from complete. We are finding new ones all the time, aren’t we? But I figured any bad boy this big should be listed. No luck, nothing even close!

I put a call out on Facebook, hoping that someone knew what I had found. After a lot of mistaken identification, backed up by my online research, one friend finally came through: I had a Great Diving Beetle! Most likely a female, they are smoother and less ridged than the male, and missing the big suction pads the boys need to hold onto the slicker girls when the time for making more beetles comes around.

These guys are big predators in water, and can even eat fish! They also can release a nasty smell when threatened, so I did the right thing by not trying to pick her up with my bare hands.

I still have no idea why this beastie was in my neighbourhood. There aren’t any streams, rivers, or ponds nearby. Poor thing must have been exhausted! I can only hope a night’s rest in safe quarters did her some good.

Of course, leaving the container on the floor overnight as kitty entertainment probably didn’t help…

Radio show final – podcast link


Okay, I’ll stop bothering you with this now! If you want to listen later, here is the link to download the podcast. He (as always) starts off gentle and polite but it gets heavy at the end (my favourite part).

My pumpkins this year! I had five. I only managed to get two carved, and he did two… and one is still sitting on my kitchen counter. Oh well!