Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Changing World Beyond My Garden

Thanks to Jayne at A Novice Novelist for the inspiration for this blog post. Jayne’s latest post is entitled ‘A Moment From My Window’.

Back in 2002 when the Photographer and I came to view this house, there were two major things that we both fell in love with. One was the long room extension that the previous owners had added to the back of the house. This room is now our dining room and it is where I write From My Kitchen Table. I love it because of its size and also because it has one full wall of windows overlooking the garden. And therein lies the second big attraction of the house. Our garden is south-west facing and overlooks a huge field belonging to a local boys school.

When we moved in first we could see the school buildings clearly but now it is a view we only have in winter when the trees at the bottom of the garden are bare. But I love the fact that we are not overlooked and knowing that we are surrounded by lots of birds, foxes and greenery. However last summer we did decide that we needed to reduce the height of some of the trees as they were robbing the garden of light in the late afternoon.

On Monday work started on upgrading the sports field into proper football pitches. The ground apparently needed to be levelled. So each time I came into the dining room, the view from my garden had changed. At one stage it looked like I overlooked a tilled farm field as a tractor chugged up and down the brown furrows trailed by a flock of seagulls. Then the big earth movers moved in and the noise increased dramatically. They continue to roar up and down, pushing great mounds of earth and forcing new landscapes daily. Yesterday afternoon it was time to remove some of the huge trees which were blocking light and would be inaccessible once the new football pitches were complete.

Mia and I blocked our ears as the giant machines pulled up some trees by their roots. Their leaves gave one last rustle as they fell through the air, in slow motion, back to the earth. Life and death. A continuous cycle. It was uncomfortable to witness. We had wandered onto Watership Down. We talked about how the foxes and other wildlife would be hiding while these huge monsters stalked their world. But it will soon be over and the fields will be planted with grass which will be minded for a year or so until they become pristine football pitches where generations of boys into the future will learn about being part of a team.

Then the animals can return to take up their part in the tapestry of life in the fields beyond our back hedge! But for now the world beyond the garden is full of diesel fumes, the smell of earth, the roar of heavy engines and dreams of better days ahead.
Photo by The Photographer of the view from beyond the hedgerow at the end of the garden

Friday, July 23, 2010


Well Hello... it sure feels like ages since I have spent any time at my own Kitchen Table.

Summer time and all routine has more or less vanished out the window. The days seem to take on a shape of their own each morning. Each one different. My youngest two are getting older and so whereas my summer days used to be filled with making picnics to take the local park or to Glenroe Farm in Wicklow, this summer it seems they have often made their own plans with friends and I am required to drop and collect with great regularity.

Added to that, the normal chaos of life in this house, including another mouse incident, just like the one I reported here. Although this time there were four of us surrounding this mouse for an hour last night. I sometimes wish we weren't all so fond of animals. Because trying to catch a terrified baby mouse who is hiding under a very heavy chest of drawers is exhausting. Anyway - mouse was finally caught and ejected gently from the house. It is the cat who is in mortal danger now! My oven also blew up - nothing to do with the mouse I might add - but I won't bore you with the details.

We spent a lovely week in Kilkenny at Croan Cottages (would highly recommend them for a break in the countryside) where we shared our days with cows, pigs, sheep, goats, millions of rabbits, peacocks and hens (don't think I have left anyone out).

As I write this, the sky is grey and the temperature has dropped. I am really hoping the fine weather will return in August so that we can again eat dinner in the garden and spend some time worshipping Father Sun! Although yesterday on the top deck of the bus into the city with Mia we passed a Chestnut Tree heavy with green spiky baby chestnuts and I am sure that last evening I could smell just a hint of autumn. It's just around the corner - but I, for one, am not done with summer yet!

I am off now to whizz around my favourite blogs! I have missed visiting and have been spending too long twittering away!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hello Wall... Have You Met My Friend Twitter

The following short feature appeared in The Irish Examiner, today Friday 16th July 2010.

Shirley Valentine, Willy Russell’s bored and put upon Liverpudlian housewife, used to talk to her kitchen wall. “Hello wall,” she would say when returning from her grocery shopping, “it’s egg and chips tonight for tea, wall.” And what happened to our Shirley? Off she went to Greece where she fell in love with the swarthy Costas who loved her stretch marks. But I digress.

Shirley Valentine was lonely. I get that. I too am a suburban housewife, albeit of the 21st century as opposed to the 1980’s. But it can still get lonely and sometimes a woman just needs a chat. She needs to be able to vent frustrations, laugh with another soul who gets the joke or just pass the time of day.

I am lucky to have great neighbours who I consider friends, but you can’t always go barging into another woman’s kitchen whenever you feel like it. Thanks to Mrs Valentine I am very aware of the danger of beginning to talk to the wall. I have a dog and four cats and I will admit to probably sharing more with them than I should. But they are not great for feedback and they don’t laugh at my jokes.

In the past, when I felt I would die if I didn’t talk to someone, I used to invent a reason to call my husband. Sometimes I might get a few minutes chat out of him. He knew that if I didn’t use up most of the 20,000 words women apparently use every day, he would be assaulted with a barrage of conversation on arrival home. I have engaged the postman, meter reading man and the egg man in conversations that went way beyond the socially acceptable “hello, nice day”, much to their discomfort and embarrassment.

Ah, but those days are over now. Now I am never lonely. My husband has forgotten what its like to be hit over the head with a ton of unused words on his return from work and the postman, meter reading man and egg man are now quite relaxed coming to my door. And what has brought this change? Twitter, that’s what.

I have discovered the Twitterverse and it’s populated by lots of chatty women, writing women, older women, wise women, other moms, all of whom love to chat, sorry tweet. Twitter is like being at a great party where you can listen to lots of simultaneous conversations and join in whenever you wish to. We give each other weather reports – ‘it’s another lovely day here in West Cork’. We hear news almost as it happens, find out what’s coming up on radio programmes before they air and of course there are links to all kinds of great websites. You could happily spend all day twittering along. Because just as you are tiring of the Irish and Europeans, the Americans wake up and tweets tumble onto screen such as ‘morning all.. another hot one on the Cape, off to the beach.’

Ah yes, Twitter, where great women can witter on and on all day to their hearts content. But sometimes I do pause and look fondly at my kitchen wall and wonder if somewhere on a Greek Island is there a stretch mark loving 21st century Costas waiting to take me off on his boat so we can go skinny dipping in the Mediterranean. Because I would really hate to miss out on that! But in the meantime why not join the party on Twitter. Let me begin by introducing myself, I am @aurora111.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


The last year or two have been strange ones in lots of ways. I have felt somewhat confused and lost by the death of the Celtic Tiger. My country lost confidence – in its banks, its economy and its Government. And I lost confidence in myself, a fact that I am only realising now.

During the Celtic Tiger years I was happy to be a stay at home mom. The photographer was busy and although we were never loaded or awash with money, we were confident that we would usually have enough to get us by. So he left the cave every day to go and bring home the bacon. I stayed home, tended the fire, kept track of all that needed to be kept track of for the kids and I cooked the bacon (you all know that that is only about 10% of what I and millions of other mothers do, but you can fill in the gaps yourself). I was busy at home and I also did some writing as the inspiration moved me. Latterly I began blogging. We all jogged along nicely. I was happy with my lot and content and grateful to be doing what I felt I should be doing. The photographer felt the same.

Then the world wobbled. Something called Lehman Bros collapsed and a shiver ran down my spine. I was very unsure what all this meant but I know now it was the beginning of a tidal wave of economic misfortune which eventually crashed into the side of the photographer’s business. The world had stopped. It seemed everyone was caught in the headlights of the financial collapse, frozen, unable to move. I watched the lines on his face and the shadows under his eyes deepen as day after day the phone didn’t ring and the diary glowed with pristine unmarked pages. There was very little to laugh about.

As all slowed to a halt, I speeded up in my daily chores, became desperate about getting paid writing gigs, applied for jobs I didn’t want. Round and round I went trying to cut costs, save money and think of ways in which I would help bring home some bacon. In the middle of all this chaos and deathly silence, we somehow reorganised priorities, never gave up and got by. And now as we seem to be over the worst (thank you Irish Times for saying this week that our country is coming out of recession) I am left floundering about wondering who or what am I?

This crisis of confidence was brought sharply into focus this week. We went out ‘en famille’ for a pizza to celebrate the younger two's great end of year school reports. Over dinner it transpired that Carla (eldest – 23 just) got not one but two emails of commendation to her employer this week. And the photographer also got a great testimonial from a client. I beamed with pride at my family gathered around me and tried not to hear the little voice in my head that said “what is it you do again? How is it you add value to this family”. It was a sobering moment.

I have since given it all some thought and I now realise that the slow, painful death of the Celtic Tiger has made me look at who exactly I am and wonder if I am doing the right thing or am I taking the easy option by being at home with my children. I walked away from my career and a job I loved 9 years ago because I passionately felt that I did not want to miss my children’s childhood. I also wanted to have time to pursue my own hobbies – such as writing and reiki. So now as we begin to negotiate calmer economic waters, I am glad we made the choices we did. I am grateful to the photographer for his tenacity and hard work which has kept our particular boat upright through the storm. But most of all I am very proud of my children…. And am grateful for the reminder that that was exactly why I decided to retire from the corporate world those 9 years ago. Who am I? I am a mother, a writer, a Reiki Master and a worrier. I am happy with the first three and am still working on the fourth.

Picture by the Photographer ( - not out of the woods yet....need a great photographer give him a shout) of the three reasons I retired and am 'just' a mom!