Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wonderland and Ruby Tuesday

This is not a dream of Ireland. And it's not a depressing post.

We're in snowy Wonderland here at the moment, but it's also relevant to the story I'm about to tell.

Younger daughter was co-producing the 5th Year play in her school - "Alice in Wonderland". It ran for 3 nights last week. She has put an enormous amount of work into this, adapting the script, doing up selection rehearsal schedules, fundraising, programme, and about a million other things I don't know about. What I do know is that we've seen very little of her in the last 3 weeks; in the evenings and even on weekends she has been at the school.

So, opening night was Thursday, and she wasn't home at all after school, busy organising last-minute stuff. I was just about to make dinner when she rang me, asking if I could bring down a booklight. Searched high up and low down and could not locate the booklight.

After many phone calls the easiest thing was to head into rush-hour traffic and buy a booklight, which I safely delivered.

After that, I nipped into the local deli, pictured below, to get some lasagne and coleslaw for dinner.

I always chat to the man who owns the deli, and told him about the play, the daughter etc, being the reason why I was here buying dinner. And yes, I was being a proud Mama too.

He told me they were providing the canapés for opening night.

The following morning, daughter informs me that I left my credit card in the deli!
Apparently, when he delivered the canapés, he told them to tell the producer that her mother had left her credit card in his deli! And I got a big slagging for being a show off!

But I am proud as punch of her. She is so capable, carries out tasks in a committed, enthusiastic way, and really did a fantastic job of juggling the many tasks of producer. And she made a wonderful speech on closing night!
I'm including a photo of her, which also has a touch of ruby in the chair, from last summer when she played solo at a Feis Ceol (music festival), yet another proud moment for me as her mother. Here she is, on the right, with the accompanist just before she began playing.

If you'd like to see more Ruby, head over to Mary T by clicking on the slippers at the top.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Howling Storm

This is not champagne popping. It's raindrops through my window. This is a sad and depressing post. Don't read it if you need cheering up.

Outside, a storm has gathered. Rain and howling wind.

And our little country is engulfed in a similar storm. Talks are under way for an EU/IMF bailout for us. Apparently the banks have the big problem, but the banks and the country are completely intertwined, thanks to a blanket guarantee given by our government 2 years ago. We now don't have any more billions left to capitalise the banks, and no option not to capitalise them.

I'm recording how I feel here.

I feel like howling too. We're about to lose our sovereignty. This government has been disastrous for our country, and they have lied traitorously to the people. They have completely failed in their handling of the crisis that they got us into. They have poured billions that we can't afford into banks that behaved irresponsibly lending to developers that have gone bankrupt, but held onto villas and mercs. They have lived it up, squandered taxpayers money on trips and junkets. In their view, it was party, party, party.

Well, we have one hell of a hangover now. And it's not going away, no paracetamol or aspirin will work for it.

Yesterday, an unemployed developer strangled his two daughters after his wife left for work, then doused his car in petrol and drove it at high speed until it crashed and burst into flames.

It is a black day for Ireland. A terrible mess. I love my country, love the fact that I'm Irish, love how other nations love us. `We've produced some good people, great writers and artists among them. But tonight, I feel desperately sad, and I'm in tears for a nation brought to its knees by silly, greedy politicians.

And I hope that I will live long enough to see us recover and to tell grandchildren about how it came about, and how we recovered from it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chance Encounter

Went to the Met Opera HD in the local cinema again tonight; this "Don Pasquale" performance was sold out. My usual partner(my 18yo daughter) was otherwise occupied (party), so I had a spare ticket.

To be honest, I had a mini debate in my head around what to do with it. We got the tickets free through a Sunday Times scheme, and part of me didn't want a stranger sitting next to me. But then when I realised it was sold out, I went back to the ticket booth to see if someone would like it.

Initially, I approached two ladies, who looked at me with deep suspicion and a touch of scorn, and informed me that they had booked. But the man behind them started waving at me, a 50 euro note in his hand, very keen to get the last remaining ticket. He couldn't believe his luck when I wouldn't take any money for it, as they sell for 25 euro each!

Turns out, he knew quite a bit about opera, which he willingly shared with me, including a snippet about the lead lady, Anna Netrobko. She worked as a janitor at St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre. and then went on to audition for the same theatre.

Just goes to show, one good turn leads to another. I appreciated the information and he appreciated the free ticket!

The picture above is one I had in my archives, taken near my brother's house in Kent. I like the light in it, and the rainbow seemed appropriate to this post!

P.S. My 14yo son thinks I was mad not to take the money, and says I could have given it to him if I really didn't want it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day, Freedom isn't Free

Thought I'd share this picture today, taken at Arromanches when we were there in June.

I kept thinking "But for their sacrifice, we would not have the freedom to walk on this beach, to make sandcastles with our children, to savour this beautiful, blue sky".

Many of those were Irish, even though our official position was "neutral"; these men had joined the British Army, and helped in the fight for freedom.
I thank them for the ultimate sacrifice- they gave their lives for us.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A tale of knitting

It's 23 years today since we buried my dearly beloved Mother.

My heart still breaks when I think of all that has happened in that time, all the things she has missed. Or rather, that I have missed having her here for, because I do believe that she can see everything that's going on, and that she is here, just that I can't see her or hear her. I sometimes feel her presence, and there have been a couple of occasions over the years when I have really needed her, and she was here for me. On one recent occasion, I awoke in the middle of the night, felt her right beside the bed, and "heard" her ask me to look out for someone for her. I thought that very strange, as I didn't know that person needed me so, but later it transpired that Mother knew best.

Anyway, in her honour, I'll share a knitting story today.

My Mother was a fantastic knitter.

She learned to knit at age THREE, taught by her Dad (the same grandfather who was born in Buenos Aires!).

This was in the 1920's and Ireland was a poor country, making this recession look like chickenfeed! My Mother's family were poor too, and materials were scarce, so she would knit her little piece of yarn as she walked around the yard, throwing it over her shoulder when it became so long that it trailed the ground- which wasn't all that long, she was only 3!

Then, when all the yarn was used, she would rip it and start again. Over. And over.

When she was older, she had a job minding a little boy. A latter-day au pair.
She loved to knit little outfits for him, and our family album had a couple of photos of him in her creations. Sometimes she would follow patterns, but she often adapted or made up her own. A latter-day designer.

Then she went to the UK and trained to be a nurse, but in the evenings she would knit beautiful jumpers and cardigans.

When we were children, her speciality was Aran knitting. She sold her creations, and had quite a little business going sending them to the US, through a lovely lady who we met on a family holiday in Donegal. With each sweater, there would be correspondence, and I was the scribe. My Mother was left-handed, but in those days at school, children were forced to write with their right hand, so she never liked writing, and would always dictate the letter to me as her needles clacked away. Well, I had nothing better to be doing, and she did!

When she passed away, she had about 20 Aran sweaters completed which didn't have wearers. She always had something "on the needles", so if she didn't have an order to complete, she just knitted something anyway.

We wondered what to do with all these sweaters

One in particular was a beautiful "bawneen" gents cardigan, in a lovely subtle cable and trellis pattern, similar to the pattern in this picture. It had two pockets in the front. I knew exactly who it would fit!

At that time, there was a broadcaster on Irish radio each weekday morning from 10 to 12, and my mother greatly enjoyed his programme, as did most Irish housewives. She had often said to me that she would love to knit an Aran cardigan for "Gaybo".

Not long after that, Gaybo had his autobiography published, and he was doing a signing at a Dublin bookshop. I wrapped the cardigan, along with an explanatory note, and went to the bookshop. I got cold feet at the last minute, and thought I would be extremely embarrassed giving it to him, so I just gave it to the employee who was managing the long queue, and told him that Gaybo would know what it was!

I received a lovely note a few days later, typed and signed by Gaybo, He was thrilled with the Aran, told me that it fit perfectly (which I knew it would!) and that he would enjoy wearing it on his walks around Howth Head.

When I read his autobiography, I discovered why the note was typed and not handwritten. He too hated to write, ever since his accountant had embezzled his pension fund - Gaybo had trusted him and just signed whatever papers he produced. And after he discovered this, Gaybo found it almost impossible to write.