Children’s Sewing Day Camps on Inis Mor

20150705_165730

Sewing is very much like engineering: you’re building something. You have to plan ahead, visualize the finish project, and understand how each step creates the foundation for the next one.

It’s also good for children’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, but the mental exercises are just as valuable.  Problem solving, perseverance, and patience can all be learned from sewing. Following instructions and organizing abilities are also gained.

Each day camp teaches beginner sewing skills to children and is suitable for ages 6 years and up, boys and girls.

They’ll be taught to operate a basic sewing machine and use sewing tools as they complete a project each day.

Camps are held July 25-28, August 1-4. Each single day camp is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A single day is €30 and any additional days are €25 each.  Children bring a bag lunch and everything else is provided.

There are 7 projects in total with loads of boys & girls fabric choices for each.

20150806_140431July 25– Pillow with two front pockets— Great for first time sewists, the pillow has one clear vinyl photo pocket over a second felt pocket.

July 26– Lunch bag with waterproof, washable, breathable, and mildew proof lining.  Features fold top with velcro closure. Has a clear vinyl window to personalize.

July 27– Water-proof drawstring backpack with inside pocket.  Great for swim lessons.

20150805_145524 (4)July 28– Reversible A5 book cover with pen holder and bookmark.  Book and pen included.

Aug 1– Sew then colour your own tote bag.  Includes a set of ten colourful permanent markers.  Strap colours include pink, orange, yellow, red, blue, and black.

Aug 2– Set of three fabric nesting storage boxes. A great beginner project

Aug 3– Half-fold wallet with zipper closure for coins and bills, three 20150727_140340card pockets, clear vinyl photo holder, and velcro tabs to keep securely closed.

Aug 4– Water-proof drawstring backpack with inside pocket.

To register, check for availability, or to get more information, contact me here, call or text me at 087 315 2279, or send me an email at aranislandgirl@yahoo.com.    Cheers, Melissa

click on any photo to start a slide show…

 

Almost Home

20160713_19173720160713_191632

20160713_191737 (2)

The Straw Island lighthouse in the background is a sure sign of nearly being home.

Dolphins swimming in the wake behind the ferry as it motored into Kilronan Harbour were an unexpected surprise for everyone travelling to the island last evening. Though not an unprecedented sight, it’s far from a common one, and even if it were, how could it not inspire the marvelous feelings of wonder and delight?

For a split second I had the thought to jump overboard and join the dolphins. I am not insane, so therefore I didn’t, but swimming in the sea surrounding the island brings me much comfort. I’ve said over and over, no matter what time of year or how cold it is, I’ve never regretted getting in for a swim. And I always take time to just float, amazed how I’m completely and effortlessly supported by the ocean while conscious of my relaxed muscles, relieved tensions, and a silence that imaginably could only be duplicated through deafness.

I hope everyone has a sense of what that’s like– being utterly unable to be anywhere except for the moment one is in.  That feeling came over me and caused me to pause while taking these photographs. I put down the camera and just stared at the actual visual reality.

I’m certain that this magical encounter was just the beginning of a memory making island adventure for most who were watching. That said, for me it was a reminder of home sweet home. I hardly needed another prompt– returning home after being away often feels like the highlight of the trip, back to my husband and children, animals and garden, work and friends, routine and familiarity.

My photography isn’t good enough to express the adjectives I was feeling and these pictures don’t speak a thousand words or even a small fraction of that, but still, I couldn’t resist sharing them and, in the process, reliving the moment for myself.

Happy weekend everyone!

Melissa Xx

Three Cheers for Summer!

20160624_002953

bonfire night,

yippee! yahoo! yay!

summer starts!

Around sunset on June 23rd much of Ireland celebrates St. John’s Eve.   Also known as bonfire night, it’s a midsummer tradition that falls very near to the summer solstice–which celebrates the longest day of the year when the sun appears highest in the sky and when summer begins back in the States.  When summer officially starts may be determined by where you live but something we can all agree on–it doesn’t feel quite like summer until school has ended and summer break has begun.

Here on the island nearly all of the sixteen villages has their own unique fire.  Some bonfires are only attended by a few neighbors and larger villages have dozens of people gather around the fire.  Potluck food and BYOB can be found at most, while others might have storytelling, music, or singing.  Rituals around the fire to conjure up blessings for the weather, homes, land, crops, and individuals would have been the norm a hundred years ago, but not so much now.

School is out, summer schedule has already begun, and everyone is feeling relaxed.  Now for the sunshine and blue skies to return our way…

The picture above is one of the village fires on the island this week and is my ‘heat’ entry for this week’s photo challenge.  The haiku is for Ron’s weekly haiku challenge using the words ‘birth & cheer’.

Cheers, Melissa Xx

It’s a Good Day to Have a Good Day

Every day won’t be the best ever, but there’s a best part to each and every day.  It may not be what you hope or expect.  In fact, better on these less than best (hard) days to stop expecting and instead wait with optimistic anticipation for the completely unexpected joys that appear out of seemingly nowhere from unlikely people, places, and things.

If there’s something ostensibly big keeping you from your joy, focus your attention on something small.  There are little miracles everywhere in nature just waiting to distract us from our thoughts of ourselves and our worries…

💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛

A couple photos of our nesting duck.  Johnny got a picture of her nest while she took a wee break to stretch her legs.

Recently separated from their kids, everyone wants their turn to milk the goats.

20160611_143719

Here’s a video from Instagram of my six year old, Nuala, successfully milking the goats for the first time.

 

A bit of garden flora and fauna…

Almost every day I post to either my Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account.  Not so much here because I can’t do so from my phone and I am so on the go these days.  This post is a mix of some of the highlights and wonderments of nature that have made me stop and stare and often share, always boosting my day and hopefully someone else’s too.

Expect your day to be full of little blessings and that you’ll notice each and every one of them!  Share them with me too and brighten my day–tag me on Fb, or Insta, or Twitter, #littleblessings, @thearanartisan.

Peace, love, and light, Melissa Xx

Native sean nós singing on Inis Mor

native Éire sean nós,

winding melismatic tunes-

a fresh sound to most

 

Irish dance is world renowned, but it’s counterpart in song, sean nós, hasn’t quite reached the same global recognition.  Translated from Gaelic to English, sean nós mean ‘old style or old way’ and rightfully so as it’s used to describe this purest form of Irish music.

Each song is unique to the singer and is made up of very technical aspects of performance such as intonation, ornamentation, and tempo.  In many ways it reminds me of Indian/Hindi music.  Seemingly, it’s sung while also breathing, as long verses are expressed with barely a break for air; difficult is an understatement, though when they are well practiced, it flows with apparent ease.

This excerpt from Wikipedia–

Decorative elements common in sean-nós singing include:

  • Highly ornamented where the voice is placed near the top of the range
  • Nasalisation
  • A second form of nasalisation, used in the south, produces an “m”, “n” or “ng” sound at the end of a phrase
  • One syllable in a word can be sung to several notes
  • Brief pauses initiated by glottal stops, “slides” or glissandi (predominantly when sung by women)
  • Very long extended phrases
  • A tendency to draw breath after a conjunction or linking words rather than at the end of a phrase
  • The ending of some songs by speaking the finishing line instead of singing it
  • Varying the melody in each verse

A live experience is magically hypnotic.  A whole room immediately shushes when someone starts singing– always from their seat, no standing and performing (unless it’s a competition), just wherever they are at the time.  Though others may join in the song or offer encouraging words, the attention remains on the singer.  And some songs can be six or seven minutes in length.  That mightn’t sound like very long, but this can go on and on as a new singer starts just after one ends.  I’m always touched by how so many people who are gathered but not together can remain so respectful and attentive and enthralled.

The songs are passed down from generation to generation and as I have difficulty understanding the content of the songs, I have another Wiki excerpt to describe the meanings of the song lyrics:

Many of the songs typically sung sean-nós could be seen as forms of love poetry, laments, or references to historical events such as political rebellions or times of famine, lullabies, nature poetry, devotional songs, or combinations of these.  Comic songs are also part of the tradition.

Not everywhere in Ireland practices this tradition, but in the Gaeltachts (Irish speaking regions) the natives are raised with it.  We’re fortunate enough here on The Aran Islands to have sean nós singing taught in the schools starting at the age of five years old at latest, but most children are exposed to it from the crib by family members.  Two of my children have won awards for their participation in sean nós singing competitions–there is a video of my eldest daughter on my Youtube page.

The above video is an Aran native who frequents the hotel for some conversation, a bit of craic, and song.  I videotaped him earlier this week.  Other fine examples of sean-nós singing, sung by several phenomenal talents, may be heard here.

Snapshot 2 (14-06-2016 23-36)

A snapshot from my video for my photo entry.

This post was inspired by the photo word of the week ‘native’ and Ronovan’s haiku words ‘fresh & wind’.  I love sharing this bit of my world with you and hope you enjoyed it too.

Cheers, Melissa Xx

In the Merry Month of May

20160528_113401

As the end of May approaches it’s time to share what’s been going on around here.  The weather has been simply amazing, much too wonderful to stay indoors.

Johnny and Adrien made new window boxes, designed to fit perfectly inside the window ledge.  There’s more space for soil which should retain moisture much better.  They dry out quickly, often needing watering twice a day so I’ll also add some recycled plastic bottles for a water drip system to each box.

Another item off the Amazon wish list!  A weather vane is now adorning the roof of our chicken coop.  Nuala and Tadhg worked very well together assembling it for me.

Despite the very young man at the home and garden store telling me tires couldn’t be painted and thinking I was a bit of an eccentric, I purchased six colours of outdoor paint to transform the tire planters and I’ve been chipping away at the 42 tires over the last two days.  The students will be planting out their pumpkins in a few weeks, one plant per tire.  Cornflower, borage, and nasturtium are growing in the soil between the tires and the stone walls.  Sorry, no photo of finished tires, yet!  A work in progress…

We’re collecting pallets that will become a fence around the pumpkin area that will double as vertical flower planters and a much needed wind block shelter for the plants.

Some lovely things around the flower gardens and farm.  Can you see the slug’s pneumostome/breathing hole?   I loved the photo of Nuala drawing her world, then saw it on the video at the end…life through a child’s eye!

I’ll leave you with a few shots from inside the tunnel.  I swear most of these plants have grown significantly in the three to seven days since the pictures were taken.  The apple tree was potted up since and the lettuce has really shot up in size.

Enjoy the last days of the merry month of May, Melissa Xx

S’craic?

20160514_121749.jpg

charmed by the misdeed;

is it defiance or play?

a glimmer of both.

This caught my eye last weekend and gave me a giggle.  For a moment one might think it means no bikes allowed on the grass over the wall.  But seriously, it’s obvious.  Getting a bike to the other side is way easier said than done; the wall does a good job of not allowing access over it other than by foot.  Besides, a glance across the street at the row of bike racks and it’s pretty clear what’s intended.

Ti Joe Watty’s is one of four pubs here on the island where the ‘craic’ can be found most any night of the week from the start of May through the end of August.

What’s the craic, you may be asking?  Well, my just now Googled search reveals an astounding ‘About 3,270,000 results‘.   Though pronounced as the word crack and listed as a derivative of the same, it seems to have metamorphosed from ‘Old English cracian ‘make an explosive noise’; of Germanic origin’ to ‘Irish craic ‘entertaining conversation’.

More simply put, it’s a highly recognized Irish turn of phrase and when you find it, you know it.  While the craic has an intangible presence, it’s often described as mighty.  It’s fun, lively conversation, wonderful company, and most likely includes music with the options of food and alcohol.  I’ve had the craic over dinner and tea with girlfriends.  It’s about the buzz, the energy, the socializing, and the esprit.

‘S’craic?’ (what I hear whenever someone asks me ‘what’s/where’s the craic’)  can mean anything including how are you, what’s up, any news, or where’s the fun.   It’s asked so often that an outsider might wonder if many had a hard drug problem.  But, no worries, it’s always used in a most innocent way.

Anyhoo, I thought the photo subject was unserious and irresponsible enough to fit this week’s photo word ‘frivolous’.  Its proximity to the pub allowed a nice segue from my ‘frivolous’ photo to a bit of lighthearted Irish vernacular, hence, more frivolity (though possibly useful?).

*As frivolous has such a broad definition, the point must be made clear that the craic, while all about the fun and carefree amusement, is far from vapid or shallow.   It’s more happy-go-lucky than devil-may-care.  Know what I mean?

Thanks again to Ron for the haiku words, ‘magic (charm) & glimmer’.  Ron has recently published his first novel, Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling, The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales, which I found to be a thrilling read and gave a 5 star review.  But don’t just take my word for it…check out his book and what other reviewers had to say here on Amazon.com.

Cheers, Melissa Xx

 

THE POWER OF (the right book) NOW

20160518_161544.jpg

A few years back I loaned a book to a friend thinking she might connect with it because of a conversation we had.  The book was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and after reading it she thanked me for saving her life.

I understood her sentiment.  I hadn’t literally saved her life, but the contents of the book had had such a profound effect on her that she was a changed person; she now had the understanding that we are not our minds.  It’s a most magical moment when the concept is grasped that you don’t have to acknowledge a thought in your mind and attach a feeling, emotion, or belief to it.  You can view it instead from the side-line, choosing to watch it pass through your mind or choosing to give it your attention.  When you know your thoughts are separate from yourself, you’re in a neutral position and can then choose your reaction to them.  Way easier said than done.

Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one.  But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” –Eckhart Tolle

Continue reading

A Late Arrival

20160506_133418

chicken and dragon

invite oviparous friends

to just lay around

 

Dragons lay eggs.  Thankfully.  That little fact was helpful to know when trying to harmoniously combine Ronovan’s haiku words ‘dragon & invite’  this last week into my photo/haiku combo.

I had a bit of fun with the photo word ‘layer’ as it’s an accurate description of our chickens– they’re all very good egg layers.  And when they’re not laying eggs they like just laying around, particularly in the holes that they scratch for themselves.

I had this post nearly ready to go last week but then my son became ill.  He is fine now; not his appendix.  Another thing to be grateful for, this one more meaningful than the bit of trivia I shared above.

One of the disadvantages to living on an island is that a trip to the mainland hospital isn’t uncommon if there’s any uncertainty as to what’s ailing one.  The flip side to that coin is that we have constant access to competent and caring medical professionals here.  

More often than not, when we find ourselves in the hospital we arrive back home knowing only that the cause of discomfort or condition is not life threatening or serious.   This, after a night or two in the hospital because, after all, if there’s a chance it could be life threatening or serious, they can’t be sending us back to the island.  Always relieved to be sent home eventually, but puzzled that no definitive diagnosis is made.   Maybe this is par for the course with children?  Anyhoo, happy to toss my overdue haiku/photo into the mix.  Now to get moving on my ‘fern, lightning, & rain’ combo for this week….

Melissa Xx

p.s. Go here to see how other’s interpreted the photo word and to the comments of this post to see what other’s wrote for their haiku.