September 2010

They are on average smaller than us, and weaker in physical strength.  Am I being sexist?  I don’t think so?  I think it is a biological fact that we are different. Do Women have a higher tolerance of pain than men?  Honestly I think that question needs to be more specific to be answered.  I think if you give me pain I can handle it as well as most women.  But, endurance of pain is a different matter entirely.  Intense pain for long sustained periods of time is something that we are not equal in, in my opinion.

I always knew the lovely Sharon had a very high pain threshold but on Sunday she went through something that I believe I would have only endured for a few hours before blacking out.  She endured it for an entire day and did not black out, she did not even shed a tear.  She screamed and lost some composure a few times, but not a tear was shed.

It was a traumatic entry into the world for our son.  An entry that would not have been possible if it were not for modern medicine and the skills of a dozen amazing people.  These people are true heroes that melt into everyday existence.  They simply love their jobs and are outstanding at them.  Job is not a good word for what they do.  They do what they love and it seems they get paid a little for it (not enough).

Back to the lovely Sharon; an amazing woman.  A moment stands out from the delivery that I think shows her strength and a little of the woman herself.  It was a moment where she was in the bath at the hospital after sixteen hours of labour with no pain relief (not even paracetamol).  She was trying a bath before moving on to the inevitable gas and air.  This was a point were her sugar levels were low (mine too) and we were trying a little tea and toast in the bath (very surreal).  I was trying to get her toast buttered in between the contractions, windows of opportunity when I was free from hand holding and massage.  I had the toast buttered and she took it in hand just as another contraction took hold.  The wave of pain was heart wrenching to watch.  She usually moaned, but this time she spoke words in a moan through clenched teeth and a red flushed face, “NOOOOOO, BUTTER IT TO THE EDGES”.  The lady never lets her standards drop.  I do as she commands.

A day of pottering and distractions today.  The pottering was out of necessity as many little jobs needed doing before borrowed power tools needed returned.  I had more bookcases to build from left over wood. I had to move the chickens, but first I had to build a door for their run to make sure they did not run away in the 20 meter move.  I had things to take down from walls and other things to put up.  These little jobs took our minds off the overdue soul.  A soul still calm and oblivious to the world, curled up inside its mother.  The distractions helped a little but not enough.  One moment stands out that calmed my own soul a little; I was outside with bits of wood thrown around and glue in hand when I heard a ripping sound from just meters above my head.  I was not scared as I had heard this wonderful sound a few times before.  This was the sound of black wings tearing a ribbon through the air. This did not sound like one of the usual crows and before I heard the second I knew what it was. They were a pair of ravens.

Raven by Paul Sullivan

Ravens are not commonly seen near urban areas but our new home seems to be definitely rural.  I never used to see ravens apart from a pair sometimes in the mountains.  Then a few years ago I spotted them in adolescent gangs (an unkindness of ravens) along the coast of Antrim.  It seems they are common enough in some areas but they are definitely a bird of the wild areas.  Their name in Irish is Fiach Dubh which, I am told, translates to Black Wildness.  A book tells me that they can be a trouble for chickens, stealing their eggs and maybe even attacking them.  Not here, not today; this pair of wildness glided on without a care in the world.  They held themselves above the world below with an uncaring confidence.  The ravens and the chickens seem to be polar opposites of each other.  One being free and the most intelligent of birds while the other is the definition of domestication and could not even know freedom or even have a chance of coping.  The ravens are majestic, but this is not what touched my soul.  It was the sound.  I cannot describe its comfort, its warmness and its rawness.  It is one of those sounds that mixes chaos and calm, like the sound of ducks landing on water.

solstice raven by fool on the hill

The nervous but proud mother looks on as I hold the new arrival.

The lovely Sharon is a little annoyed at this, as she as been visiting them every morning to check for eggs and this morning she did not.  Instead, I went out to feed them and found the egg lying on the grass in the middle of their run.  It is nice to think that they are indeed laying instead of just turning chicken food into poo as they have been doing for the last two weeks.  They are supposed to begin to lay when they are between 20 and 22 weeks old.  They are currently 20 weeks old and so are on target.  It is hoped that they will lay 6 or 7 eggs a week each before they stop for the darkness of the winter months.

Tonight the sky is full of moons and the moons are full.  The sky had a brief period of clarity before it got all moody with moonlit clouds.  As the moon is not quite a full moon tonight (it was last night) I thought the werewolves might have had their fill and so I braved the cold air.  I dusted off an old web cam that had been given to me, as it was destined for the bin, and I had a look through the telescope at the bright ‘star’ Jupiter to the right of the moon.  And Jupiter’s moons were on full display as slaves spinning around their gravitational master:

The cloud band around the middle ish of jupiter was just visible after I stayed out and my eyes adjusted to the dark.  unfortunately the webcam could not pick this detail up and you will just have to trust me when I say it was beautiful.

The four moons visible are the Galilean moons in order of tonight’s appearance:


I should have turned the webcam round.  My pictures are upside down compared with what stellariums locations of the moons:

Ok, I’ll stop now.

I remembered to bring home my camera tonight, just in time for the “super harvest moon”, nearly.  Tomorrow is the equinox and is seen as the start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and for the first time in 20 years the full moon falls on this day.  Although, many of us feel like it is already autumn and has been for a wee while.  We are forgiven for this as the irish season of autumn began about a month and a half ago and the equinox falls in the middle of this season with Halloween at the end marking the end of the year and the quiet curl up into winter.

The clouds that were bringing big lumps of rain all day slowly drifted away.

Leaving the moon and jupiter to give a light that you could nearly read by.

paint pots by mistersnappy

Two nights ago I put down the paint brush and was glad.  I hate painting and I hate the mess it makes.  The lovely Sharon is the painter amongst us, I am far happier making things then finding they don’t fit or work then trying to remake them, etc.   I had to pick up the brush as there was a pressing need, a race against time.  Every since we moved house there was a major decoration that needed done, a special room.  The clock ticks and the days grow shorter.  The lovely Sharon and I had a battle of wits to try to paint, she too knew the room’s importance and  would paint it when she was supposed to put her feet up. And so I tried to foil and scuttle her plans so that me and the walls and the paint and the mess had time to ourselves in the evenings.  But paint needs to dry and needs coat after coat.  And time keeps marching as the trees rust and give themselves to the wind.  Friends came and helped and halved the job, and dined and laughed.  Now it is done, the bookshelves are complete and the books can come in from the dampening garage.

If you thought I was talking about the baby room then worry not.  The visual system of a newborn infant takes some time to develop.  Their first view of the world is indistinct and only in shades of gray. 🙂

jupiter and the moon by yeimaya

I am slightly annoyed that I left my camera in school today.  I suspected the moon and Jupiter would be big and bold across the sky tonight and tried to remember to bring it home.  I forgot.  All is not lost as it was amazing to see and  they were indeed the feature of the sky tonight.  Is this a gathering moon?  Sources of the old moon names do not agree and I imagine local names differed a little when people knew such things and relied on the moon as a timepiece for jobs and the gathering of people.  It is certainly a moon that is gathering itself; gibbous, protuberant and fattening. And it is a time for the gathering of things as they are ripe on the hedges and trees.  The fruits are all being picked, preserved and even some pickled.  The apples still have their time though; they shall remain gibbous for some time to come.  Closer to Halloween (or Samhain) is the time for apples, under a different moon.  There is a drink for such a season that I have yet to try (but am planning to).  Lamb’s Wool; a mixture of warm ale and a spiced apple concoction.  Some say roasted crab apples that fizz when added to the ale.  Some say that no, it must be toast and thus the drink may be the  origin of a ‘toast’ to a health.  The drink’s name is said to come from “lá maois úll” a “day gathering apples”.  Maybe “day of gathering”, “lá maois” might be the origin to another special local day?  Is the Ould Lammas Fair a gathering of a different kind?

These things are all distractions.  The moon will keep turning and the hedgerows and trees will continue to be bountiful again and again and again.   It is the other things that are the exciting things at the moment, the things in-between.  These things have their own rhythm aswell.  These things cannot be rushed, so the moon helps tonight.  The moon and apple trees and the old words.  Maybe the Lamb’s Wool might help as well?

Are you supposed to get planning permission for a house extension?  Today while the lovely Sharon was putting her feet up and taking it easy making damson jam, making wheaten bread, making oatcakes, potting plants and scrubbing the floor (there is no talking to that girl), I built an extension.  My girls were making demands for more space and some room to stretch their wings.  No time for building control or planning permission for this extension, they need their luxuries.

Am I hen pecked?

At 7:30 am I was sitting cross legged on a wet tiled floor staring at a bolt. I contemplated the bolt for what felt like an eternity. Should I undo that bolt and am I prepared for the consequences. Let me explain.

Firstly the early rising; since moving to the wilds of culchieness we have taken to leaving the bedroom curtains permanently open. This way we can watch the plough spin around the pole star in the wakeful moments deep in the night (the lovely Sharon watches this, all I see at night is a myopic fuzziness of black and grey). A happy/unhappy consequence of this is that our sleeping rhythm seems to be more closely dictated by dawn.

Now to the washing machine. It has leaked a little ever since we moved and seems to have progressively become more poorly. Yesterday it hit rock bottom by continually vomiting wash water all over the floor and making strained pump noises. Does it need a mechanic? Has it met the end of its own spin cycle? I thought I would give it one last chance of continuing its domestic life of service; by taking apart.

The bolt. The bolt needed some pondering. If I loosen this bolt then the machine will bleed the entire contents of a full load of water onto the floor. The options were to do it or take it outside and do it. The solution seems like a no brainer until you contemplate the fact that I would have to disconnect it and manoeuvre it down two concrete steps. This would be done on my own as it seems that women who are nine months and one day pregnant are pretty useless at lifting and carrying things (apart from the obvious additional soul). Then there is the floor, the floor was already wet. Can a wet floor get wetter? Can a broken machine be more broken? The mop was already beside me and some towels were at hand (no boiling water required). It seems that the universe was speaking to me, and so I released the bolt and the deluge began, and the work began.

My 2 step guide to washing machine repair:

Step 1 – Disassemble washing machine.

Step 2 – Reassemble washing machine minus the parts pictured below.

Job done.

Apparently we are supposed to be nesting. So, after building our new bookcases I had a spare bit of wood to play with and I built this:

It’s not quite a nest; it’s a bat box.

Someone special was scheduled to visit us today.  They might visit, but more than likely they will take their time.  We, don’t mind.  Life is not about timetables, it’s about living.  Although, that said, this day does have a name.  We shall call it caturday.  Enjoy.

happy sleeping cats by CyboRoz



No, actually it’s in real life!

The trees are turning to rust and red, and the winds are putting a chill in the autumn air.  The Native Americans have an old story about the bear that dances in the night sky.  At this time of year the bear (ursa major) is lying on its back.  The old story goes that the hunters who chase the bear around the pole star all year finally catch up and slay the bear.  Before the cycle begins again it is said that the bear’s blood spills across the land and can be seen in the trees  as it pours its way through the forests.  It is a story that reveals that as things come to an end it can become a thing of beauty.  Change is inevitable but the cycle is always moving and the bear will continue to turn around the world.

September sunseptember sun by Kristín Sig

The lovely Sharon and I have moved house.  We don’t understand how it is possible for some people to move every few years.  Maybe it is a process that requires practice to become efficient at, but I’m not interested in finding that out.  We have moved to somewhere with a little bit extra space.  We have already begun the process of filling this space.

It is hoped that these little layers will supply a steady stream of eggs and the new range will bake bread for the toasted soldiers that go with the eggs.  I hope to build a little run for them to stretch out their legs.  But, right now the priority is the building and painting of shelves to get some of the waiting boxes unpacked.  And our new garden seems to be packed with an array of bewildering vegetables.  It is a bit of a puzzle to definintly make sure that these are indeed the cardoons and Jerusalem artichokes that we believe they are.  And the trees are heavy with plums and damsons that would waste if they weren’t preserved.  These things are all a wonderful excuse to get friends and family to visit.  We can pretend that we need them to be busy; the reality is that we simply need them.