Sunday, 22 May 2011

Keep checking in

I have been busy, but will post more soon. Promise.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Life With Girl

This weekend, with The Girl keeping me company, I picked bushels of nettles before the season ends. I boiled some nettles and blitzed them, and separated it into liquid -- nettle tea – and solid puree. Let the tea cool, and bottled it for later this week. I froze the puree for dishes later in the year.

I tied more nettles into bundles and hung them from the ceiling of the greenhouse, where they can dry over the next week or so and yield tea all through the year.
Most of the nettles, though, went with some lemons, sugar, cream of tartar and yeast into my first experiment with beer. The yeast is bubbling along happily when I last checked.

Also this weekend, The Girl and I ran all over the garden, playing the game of “Raw, Cooked, Poisonous.” Cowslips raw, elderflowers cooked, foxglove poisonous. Hostas? She asked. Ummmm ... I don’t know, I said. Assume anything is poisonous until you find otherwise.

Later that day she asked to go fishing, so I dug up some worms and we walked with her fishing rod down our driveway to the canal. When I showed her how to bait the hook, though, she began to cry, saying she felt sorry for the poor worm.

I’m proud of you for caring about how others feel, I said – but there are millions of worms under our feet, appearing and disappearing. When it’s their time to go, they become part of Mr. Robin, or the naughty magpie, or the fish. And the fish becomes part of the big heron that lives outside our front gate, I said, so when we wave to the heron, we’ll be waving to the worm too. She looked dubious, but the energy spent working that thought over was energy not spent on tears.

I promised we could go camping Saturday night, but it got chilly and damp again that evening – only ten degrees or so in May, that’s Ireland. So we set up a tent in the living room, and camped there. I read her favourite fairy stories to her, and as I sang the Sesame Street song “That’s About the Size of It,” she fell asleep curled up in my arms.

The next evening I asked her if she wanted me to read the next chapter of her fairy book, and she said slyly, “I already got a chapter.”

Of what book, honey? I asked.

“Not out of any book,” she said.” I got a chapter of the Papa Fairy.”

You’re right, I said, you got a chapter of my life this weekend, and I got a chapter of yours. Thank you.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Girl

Every night I read The Girl at least one book, and as she can read most words herself now, I make her read part of it. She still needs a little help with certain words, though, and like any six-year-old, she gets distracted easily.

“What’s that ribbon there?” she asked, pointing to a small illustration halfway down the page.

Well, I said, the story is about the fairy getting her ribbon back from the goblin, so perhaps that’s to show you what the ribbon is like.

“But it has a D on it, and the fairy’s name doesn’t begin with D!” she said, perplexed. “What does the D stand for?”

She’s a dancing fairy -- maybe it stands for ‘dancing,’ I said. We agreed that was a bit of a reach. Honestly, I said, it doesn’t seem a very clear illustration.

“Well they should have made it clear when they wrote the book,” she said.

Perhaps it’s there to encourage us to do what we’re doing now, I suggested – to ask questions and think. Things that make you stop and think are usually a good thing.

“Well, they shouldn’t do it here,” The Girl said indignantly. “We’ve slid completely off the story now.” Kids don’t tend to like it when people play with their expectations.

Let’s get right back on, I said. We won’t even think about that little picture.
“Okay,” she said. “I will look away until you’ve turned the page.”


My apologies for blogging so little – with Ireland’s economic situation, we’ve been working a lot more to pay off our debts, and our weekend garden-building has gone into overdrive. Today built the last bed of the garden for a while, completing our year’s work transforming our muddy and overgrown acre into a working kitchen garden.

Photo: The Girl running through the woods in the boglands. We were hunting for wild garlic, but came up with nothing but armfuls of bluebells.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Girl at Glendalough

The Girl at Glendalough, a monastery built in the 400s AD. I notice the roof is made of stones and mortar like the walls, the only such roof I have ever seen. I wonder if they built a wooden frame inside and built the stone up around it, as they did with arches.