Dear Mother …

January 29th, 2017

Dear Mother,

January 29th will never mean anything else to me except your birthday. It’s far more significant than May 31st ~ the day you died in 2009.

It felt ‘your birthdayish’ from the minute I opened the front door early this morning to bring Stan for a walk. The birds were chirping in the Monkey Puzzle and the snowdrops in the garden seemed to have multiplied a hundred-fold since yesterday.

It was Men’s Final Day at the Australian Open so I planked myself down in front of the fire and the television from 8.30am until around 12.30 and savoured every single rally in a brilliant match between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. Federer won in five sets and  would you believe Rod Laver presented him with the cup.

I was thinking that you’d have been listening to it on the Radio if you were here  and  got to thinking then how it was you who got me into tennis in the first place and how it was your father who got you into it. I wonder who introduced him to it?

The game was played in the best possible spirit and Kipling’s If kept coming to mind. Roger even said in his speech that he would have been quite happy to share the tournament with Rafa. You don’t hear that very often and needless to say it had me balling, probably like half the people watching. So much for Dad’s ‘killer instinct,’ for today anyway.

I can’t imagine what on earth it would have been like to grow up in a house where sport wasn’t on the agenda or dogs,  gardening,  your trifle, poetry, the sea,  rules about ‘no sweets before lunch,’  diaries, crosswords, slogans,  horses, everyday phonecalls when we never ran out of stuff to say … never, ever, ever …

Harry and I went out to the beach in the afternoon with the dogs and we drew a huge heart in the sand and wrote in it with an old stick – the kind you always managed to find when the situation demanded. We agreed that writing in the sand is much nicer than going to a grave. I’d never given the’no grave’  bit any thought when you were adamant about cremation. It’s not an issue, you’ll be glad to hear, because we always seem to go to places you loved ~ or should I say ‘beaches you loved’ on special days like your birthday. Must be that every day is special cos we’re at the beach every day!

I came across a poem the other day that I thought you’d like and then I wondered if you knew it as it was written by a woman who lived from 1918-2001, not too different from your 1921-2009.  Anyway here it is:

Peace
At the ship’s bow. It was my eye that drew
the perfect circle of blue meeting blue.
No land was visible. There was no sail,
no cloud to show the mighty world in scale,
no sky and ocean, by my gaze defined,
were drawn within the compass of my mind
under a temperate sun. The engine’s sound
sank to a heartbeat. Stillness all around.
Only the perfect circle and the mast.
That moment knew no future and no past.

(Amy Witting)

It’s strange not getting you a present or even picking your little bouquet of snowdrops. Remember that year we were in Tenerife for your birthday and I got you the post card with the flamenco dancer with the real skirt and wrote it in terrible Spanish from our phrase book?

Well, there’s a touch of that today. I have a photo of a robin that seems to have been waiting for today. I hope you like him. Imagine him singing Happy Birthday; much more melodious than me ~ that’s for sure.

robin

Lots of love,

Jean xxx

 

Crossings and Connections

if

    there

               is

                    no

                          bridge

                                        please

                                                       use

                                                               my

                                                                      stile

stile

Stormy Seas

It has been one of the stormiest days for a long time and the sea took on a whole new look in Co. Waterford today.

storm2
Rolling Waves at Kilfarrasy Beach

 

Stormy seas have a wild beauty about them,  but they are also reminders to never, ever take the ocean for granted as it has its moodiness and turbulent times, just like the rest of us.

Here’s a few quotes about storms that I especially like:

The heart of a man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too. ( Vincent van Gogh)

 

You don’t have to love the storm but you have to know its language in case you meet it. (Mehmet Murat ildan)

 

There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms. (George Eliot)

 

America needs to get over it. We can’t control everything. We can’t control the storms. (Russel Honore)

 

Nothing is more beautiful than love that has weathered the storms of life. The love of the young for the young, that is the beginning of life. But the love of the old for the old, that is the beginning of things longer. (Jerome K. Jerome)

 

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray. (Lord Byron)

 

storm1
Sea Spray at Newtown Cove, Tramore

From Glory Days to This …

Every single day I pass Newtown House in Tramore and it’s like it just doesn’t want to be noticed any more or, worse still, photographed.

picsart_01-25-10-06-13
Newtown House, Tramore, Co. Waterford

 

It dates back to the 1750s and is described in An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Waterford as follows:

… Newtown House (c.1750), Tramore, a substantial five -bay house with enclosed porch….. This attractive, substantial house of solid massing is historically associated with the Power family; a wing was added in the mid twentieth century and accommodates a private chapel.

One of the lovely features of Newtown House is its location. It has stunning views of Tramore Bay and there are remnants of a walled garden which is now used as a soccer field.

It was converted into Bed and Breakfast accommodation around the 1970s and has falling into complete disrepair, especially after a couple of fires, in the last decade or so.

Deep within the abandonment of the house lies some hints of its past:

Newtown House Fireplace.JPG
Fireplace in front hall
newtown-house-interior
Archway over Remnants of the Staircase

Beating one’s way around the back through briars, there are some fairly intact windows that draw ponderings about the former inhabitants and how they must have loved the views of the the Bay when they opened the shutters:

newtown-house-window
Window to the Past

Something that matters hugely to me is that it was the O’Neill -Power family from Newtown House who were responsible for planting my precious Newtown Wood in the early 19th Century when they opened an avenue from the Metal Man landmark to Newtown Cove.

I live in hope every evening when I see Newtown House at sunset that it will experience a new dawn that will see it rise again from its abandoned state.

picsart_01-25-10-08-58
Sunset over Newtown House …

Primrose Spotting

When the stretch comes in the evenings in January, primroses are always on my mind and my  eyes speed read every possible ditch, in search of that joyous yellow with the velvety scent.

You don’t expect to find primroses on working harbours like Dunmore East, here in Co, Waterford, but lo and behold I found one there yesterday ~ albeit navy and white!

picsart_01-23-08-25-27
Floating ‘Primrose’ at Dunmore East

My heart missed a beat when I saw her and then went on to miss another when I found that she was from Drogheda, the town of my youth and schooling in the North-East of the country that is built on the Boyne Estuary.

So, so many times, we went looking primroses back then, especially Mother and me. She would clamber up onto all sorts of ditches, beating back briars, in the kinds of places that primroses flourish. She used to laugh at me and say that I was a pessimist who lived in fear of  seeing a dead rat in the ditches rather than glowing primroses. I have to admit there was quite a bit of truth in her opinion of me back then.

But, we can change, especially if led by example!

Spurred on by Primrose from Drogheda, I was fired up to find even the first signs of wild primroses today and my journey wasn’t in vain. Co. Waterford served up her first primrose of my year out on the ‘road to the sea.’

Spring has definitely sprung!

picsart_01-23-08-21-23
Precious Primroses

And I must tell you that while I was driving along, I got to thinking about the relationship between shadows and reflections. I still haven’t worked it out fully but clearly the sun has a lot to do with it.

Here’s how Dunmore East was reflecting yesterday with the Lighthouse, built in 1824, looking magnificent both above and below water:

picsart_01-22-09-16-58
The Harbour, Dunmore East, Co. Waterford.

Poetry Prism

George Gordon, Lord Byron was born on this day ~ January 22, 1788 ~ and he has been very much on my mind since early morning.

He was a poet who was much loved by my late mother who often quoted lines from his work. She had been introduced to him early in her life and it always gives me great pleasure to read an English composition which she wrote in 1934, when she was 13, comparing his life with that of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Here is a short extract:

Both were wonderful poets, both hated tyranny and wrote of freedom. But with such a difference! A comparison of portraits emphasises it more even that a comparison of poems.  Shelley, mournful, longing for a better world, with a melancholy face and a grave outlook on life. Byron, handsome, extravagant, impulsive, thoughtless and dissipated.  Of the two, I infinitely prefer Byron, both his poems and his portrait, even taking his faults into consideration.

I often wonder how many portraits of Byron Mother ever got to see and which ones.

375px-george_gordon_byron_6th_baron_byron_by_richard_westall_2
Portrait of Lord Byron by Richard Westall

 

I’ve no doubt that she had probably read all his poetry but these are the  lines that she tended to quote the most:

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
(George Gordon, Lord Byron 1788-1824)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woof, Woof, Woof …

Hi Everyone,

People talk about ‘a dog with two tails,’ and today I kinda feel like I’m a ‘puppy with three tails’ cos it’s three years today that I left my Mama and Dada and all my brothers and sisters on the farm in Co. Wexford and came to live in Tramore.

The time has flown by ~ just like those birds that I’m always racing after on the beach. You never catch up with time or birds from what I can see.

Would you believe that Jean put up a thingy on Twitter about me today and it’s gone zooming around the world. Here’s what she said:

Sometimes love comes with black spaniel ears, soft brown eyes and a heart of gold.

and there was this photo of meesy:

picsart_01-21-04-51-44

Well I got Harry to help me to get a photo of Jean to give her a surprise today  and this is the one he chose out of the collection I showed him cos he agreed that she ‘s kinda multi-layered and always keeping her eyes on us.

picsart_01-18-03-20-06
‘We See Through You’

This is the photo that Harry chose of me and didn’t know what Jean was thinking of with the Twittery one ~ even looking at that word has me thinking about those birds that tease me all the time:

picsart_01-20-11-32-30
Looking out to Sea

Now, I just have to wish the Stan I was called after bestest luck in the Australian Open last 16 tomorrow. Here’s hoping he can win the whole tournament just like he did three years ago.

stan
Stan Wawrinka

I’ve ‘doogled’ Stan W and I think Jean will be a bit surprised to hear that he’s a Samuel Beckett guy too cos he has this tattoo on his arm:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better (Samuel Beckett)

(I wonder if I could get a tattoo just like this one cos it just might help me to grow wings or maybe the three tails will help me to take flight after those birds …..)

Love ya to bits, Jeanio,

Your Puppy,

Stan

P.S. Sorry about ripping your furry boot to bits this morning. It was all the excitement of it being today and me and Harry were having a game of ‘catch the boot’ while we were planning this post.

P.P.S. The pieces are under the sofa if that’s any good.

 

Going With the Flow

I wrote about Mahon Falls up in the Comeragh Mountains here in Co. Waterford a little while back and the River Mahon has been on my mind ever since.

Here is the river gushing down at Mahon Falls;

mf
Mahon Falls, Co. Waterford

and in this next photograph you can see the river (on the left of the winding path) making its way down towards the sea.

mf3
View from Mahon Falls

The River Mahon rises up in the mountains and eventually enters the sea at Bonmahon which is on the Copper Coast. I was drawn to Bonmahon today to capture the river as it enters the sea.

Just before it turns its last corner, it serves as a place where a few boats are usually moored ~ boats that always catch my eye with their colours and reflections:

img_20170119_145738
Reflections

Down by the point where the river meets the sea, a beer bottle in a crevice in the rocks was glinting merrily. I couldn’t imagine that it had been put there by human hand and wanted to think that there might be a message in it:

Bottle.JPG

And, here’s a glimpse of the how the ocean and the River Mahon greet each other in Bonmahon:

Daisy Chains of Life

When I was trying to focus on the daffodils the other day, a little daisy kept catching my eye with her yellow blending in with the yellow of the daffodils.

She’s been playing on my mind ever since because this common flower ~ or weed, as some are bold enough to call her ~ evokes so many thoughts and memories.

daisy

He loves me, he love me not, he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he … Hot Summer days lying on the grass plucking the petals off poor daisies with my sister as we looked toward the horizons of heady romance.

***

That Summer’s night in 1979 when the love of my young life, who was later to die from cancer when I was in my early twenties, jumped out of the car and gathered daisies to make me a daisy chain. It remains one of my treasures, pressed in a huge book with other special flowers that have bedecked my life.

***

And what of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby ~ how I envied her!

***

There was my embarrassing innocence on my fist day as a researcher in a Cheshire Home for people with physically disabilities and chronic illnesses in England. I was introduced to a man in his thirties who had multiple sclerosis who was asked by the guy in charge to fill me in on life in the Home. We had a long chat, with plenty of laughs, but in the middle of it, he said something about how he’d soon be ‘pushing up the daisies.’ I hadn’t a notion what he meant and he saw my puzzlement and came straight out with the shattering disclosure that he probably only had a couple of years left to live. He is a man I will never, ever forget as he was the first person to show me the human side of disability ~ something that influenced many of my decisions in pursuing research into the experiences of people with disabilities for many years after that.

***

In 1989, Driving Miss Daisy hit the screens in Ireland and it remains one of my all time favourite films. Yes, it was very American, but its messages about racism and stereotyping, connections and ageing are as pertinent today, if not even more so, than they were back then.

***

The humble daisy has much to teach us if we let her. What a difference there is between being defined as a wildflower and a weed …..

 

 

 

 

 

Sixth Anniversary of Social Bridge

I was gobsmacked to hear from WordPress that today marks the 6th Anniversary of my blogging life.

I feel like I could write a tome about the lessons I’ve learned about blogging since January 2011 but what I want to do tonight is thank every single person who has interacted with the blog over the years.

I deeply appreciate the many friends I have made through Social Bridge. I find that you are with me on my daily round as well as here online. Hardly an hour goes by that I don’t think of how one or more of you would respond to a particular situation.

Maybe I’ll be bold and ask if there has ever been a time that I’ve suddenly crossed your radar as a result of something I’ve written either on my own blog or in response to one of your posts?

So to sum up six years of blogging in six words.

#1. CONNECTION

#2. EMPATHY

#3. FUN

#4. INSPIRATIONAL

#5. CATHARTIC

#6. FRIENDSHIP

img_20161101_165404
Tramore, Co. Waterford