Writing & Photography

Curlicue, I Love You

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I’m not sure if my new snail is an early Mother’s Day gift or a just-because gift and it really doesn’t matter either way. I received this new piece of garden art from the heart and hands of Margaret Maeve last Friday. The opposite side is painted  ‘To: Mom ‘ and she made it in metal work class at school. How lucky am I?!

This is my ‘spiral‘ photograph for the weekly challenge hosted by Sandra and Cathy. Thanks for the inspiration ladies, and thank you for the one of a kind and made with love present Margaret Maeve. Xx

All Summer in a Day

 

This weekend’s wet and windy weather got me thinking of Ray Bradbury’s iconic short story, All Summer in a Day. I’ve thought of it often since moving to Ireland, a trip down the memory lane of primary school required reading. It left a lasting impression on me and today it reminds me that no matter how much it rains or for how long it’s grey outside, we truly never have to wait very long before the sun will be shining again.

Imagine this…

You live on a planet where rain falls continuously, except for every seven years when the sun comes out for just one hour. Now imagine you’re nine years old, once lived on Earth and, because of this, you’re the only child in your class who remembers experiencing the sun. Your peers don’t understand; it isn’t possible for they were only two years old when it last shined and they have no memory of it. Their envy of your knowledge fuels a wicked decision that results in you missing out on seeing and feeling the long awaited arrival of the perfect sunshine.

It’s a short story but the message is huge, depicting a true principle of the human condition–jealousy, an emotion that can cause people to hurt other people because they want something that they have and don’t want others to have it if they can’t. Groups of people can behave surprisingly, even do unethical acts that most of the individuals wouldn’t do if they were acting alone–mob mentality, gang bullying–and it isn’t pleasant. Continue reading

Maya and The Book of Everything

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I was really looking forward to reading Maya and The Book of Everything by Laurie Graves in a way I hadn’t looked forward to reading a fiction book in a long time. Even though it’s a young adult fantasy novel and a gift to my 13-year-old daughter, something about the plot caught my attention. The cover art charmed me also and I ended up reading it before she did.

The story begins in modern times America (coincidentally the same area where I grew up) and it centres around the young heroine Maya and the magical secret Book of Everything. In fulfilling her destiny to protect the book from an evil syndicate that would like to control and alter its purpose, she travels through time and space encountering dangerous situations and tough decisions at every turn. Many other compelling characters are superbly developed and contribute much to the plot which twists and weaves into such an intriguing storyline, I found it hard to put down. Talking books, a royal toad, a magic forest and Shakespearean references are just a few of the books creative highlights for me. The story grips you right out of the gate and continues straight through to the last page. In fact, the ending caught me by surprise as much as it did Maya and gave me the thought ‘this could easily be a movie’.

Ms Graves has a unique trait to her writing where she summarises some of the happenings in the book by way of revealing a comment or action to be carried out at a future time. She accomplishes this with the introductory phrase, ‘Later he would say…’, cleverly adding depth to the characters as well as the readers understanding of the bigger picture, all in a single sentence.

Even though the main character is a young adult, I believe the story would have appeal far beyond that age group. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and eagerly await Book 2 in The Great Library Series.

My daughter Margaret Maeve is a bit uncertain about writing her own book review for Maya and The Book of Everything. I was thinking I could interview her, asking some questions that would draw the review out of her and then publish it here in a Q&A format. What do you think? So I’m asking you, my dear readers, to please give me some suggestions as to what questions I might ask her. All ideas will be thoughtfully considered!

Maya and The Book of Everything can be purchased from the following:

Order directly from Hinterland Press
Maya and the Book of Everything
$14.95 Quality Paperback

Get Maya and the Book of Everything from Amazon.com
$14.95 Quality Paperback
or $3.99 Kindle e-book

Get Maya and the Book of Everything
from Barnes & Nobel
$14.99 Quality Paperback

Get Maya and the Book of Everything
from Amazon.co.uk
£12.20 Quality Paperback

Have a look at Laurie Graves blog, Notes From the Hinterland, or her Facebook page, where she expresses her creativity through her writings about “nature, home, community, books, writing, the environment, food, and rural life”.

Wishful thinking

After working extra hard to shed its seed coat, this one’s likely going to produce the biggest melons of the lot.

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The truth is it could probably go either way. Maybe it isn’t gaining strength; perhaps it’s actually falling behind the others. As far as I know, there’s no scientific research to back up either thought. I’ve been known to interfere and remove the seed coat from peppers. Their first leaves are much smaller (weaker?) than the melons in comparison to its seed coat and my gut instinct was that there would be a struggle to shed it themselves. I’ll give this melon another day and if it busts out, then I’m thinking it will be stronger, and if it takes any longer it probably needs my help and there goes my gut theory.

I’ve seen this scenario dozens of times, if not more, and have never really contemplated it until now. Oh, the power of a photograph to get one’s mind wondering! Thank you, Sandra and Cathy for this fun and inspiring weekly challenge.

Taming our wild side

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I’ve never understood (or admittedly bothered to research) how other gardeners manage to have their ducks live in harmony with the precious fruits and veg of their labour. When we first introduced our five eager quackers to our gardens, we were pleased with the efficiency with which they hoovered up slugs and bugs. Oh, how quickly these feelings changed. The sight of our steamrolled lettuces and carrots soon saw them evicted from the gardens, separated by a chicken wire covered wooden post fence. Continue reading

Life is Lovely

It won’t be long and the evening ferry will be arriving back to the island in daylight; for now, the artificial lights guide us into port. It’s hardly what I would describe as a romantic site. Picturesque, definitely. I’ve even thought it idyllic, but, other than the first time I visited fifteen years ago, not romantic. Johnny waiting for me on the pier is a scene we’ve shared a hundred or more times, but tonight I felt a little starry-eyed. It had me thinking later how I’ve probably been taking this gesture for granted. He’s always there, always. It felt so good, I’ll never again view my arrival back home as unromantic or fail to see the gesture of love he’s showing me.

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While I’m gushing on (it is the celebratory day of love ❤ ) I want to share a comment received last week that made me feel especially warm and fuzzy about writing and blogging, and towards everyone here who does the same- writes from the heart for the love of writing, appreciating connections made with their readers.

“Just to say I read you off and on, not a real follower though I “follow” you, and that I really enjoy the way you write about your life and the things you do, the everyday things that are so different from what I do and yet I connect with the art of doing life. You live in a beautiful part of the world. Be blessed always.”

My family & I appreciate with all our hearts each and every remark, opinion, and reflection that is shared here on our blog. Some of us share similar lives and many live very differently than we do. Either way, what we all have in common is the doing of life, and while it’s not always romantic, it’s certainly worth appreciating and occasionally even celebrating.

Joining in the one a week photo challenge, my interpretation of this week’s word ‘artificial.’ Thanks Sandra and Cathy!

With love, Melissa Xx

On the Cusp of Spring

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Through the open gate and into the garden.

If there’s one thing that makes it evident there’s a seasonal transition going on, it’s got to be the recent mud. A couple wet days and the heavy soil makes for clumpy boots, sticky shovels, soupy paths and a pigsty chicken run. It definitely reminds me of the spring thaw back in Maine.

Hearing one’s wellies squish squash while walking, brings awareness to the quiet cusp of winter-spring. No whirring lawn trimmers and zooming tour buses polluting the air with their constant background noise.

Quiet, but not silence for the birdsong in the background is pleasant and welcome and so uplifting that I felt a literal spring in my step, quite the opposite from that of having the bottom of my feet suctioned into the earthy mud. Continue reading

H5N8, Because Numbers Are Great In A Title But Bird Flu Virus Is Not

Day twelve and last night’s rain has made the chicken run very muddy. We locked both the chickens and ducks in on January 13 after Ireland’s second case of bird flu was confirmed in Galway.

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“H5N8 is the cause of recent outbreaks of bird flu in the UK and across continental Europe and is highly contagious among birds although it poses a low risk to humans” from an online RTE news report.

The law regarding free range backyard poultry keeping is that all birds in premises located within 3km of an infected bird would be required, by law, to be kept indoors. So we don’t have to keep them contained, we just aren’t sure that they’re not at risk if we don’t. Continual reassessment and watching how the flu progresses is what we’re doing. If you’d like to have ‘All your questions answered on ‘Bird Flu’‘ then here’s somewhere to start.

I’ll update on the state of the flu, as well as the state of the poultry run.

Melissa Xx

 

An Awkward Rescue

When asked what type of goats we keep we answer as best we know by saying ‘island goats’. They’re wild and hardy and prefer to roam the day in whichever large field they’re currently stone wall fenced into. Whatever the weather, they sleep outside under the evening sky with their herd of a half dozen or so. While they’re far from constrained, there’s a tendency for them to go through periods of rebellion where day after day for a week or so Johnny spends hours searching for which direction they’ve headed off to explore. It’s often not as easy to find them as one might think, especially if they decide to lie down and take a nap under a high wall. The children and I have helped their dad look plenty of times and there’s no doubt we’ve walked right past them on more than one occasion.

On this day, a month old kid had gone missing. After a second search within the same day, Johnny found him at last. Having fallen four feet down between a narrow crack in the stones, the goat was a huge challenge to rescue. What else would Johnny do but try and try again until at last successfully looping a noose around his neck and lifting him to safety? As if he would have been able to focus on anything other than helping save Hop’s life. Wild they may be, but they’re each named and cared for as best as possible.

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A very scared baby Hop and an awkward rescue for Johnny.

No doubt, Hop learned a valuable lesson about keeping an eye on where he’s bouncing about in his playfulness. Considering that these cracks are a common part of their terrain, it’s a wonder that this doesn’t happen more often. Gratefully, it’s a rare occurrence though.

Taking part in in the One A Week Photo Challenge with my ‘awkward’photograph. Next week’s word is ‘gate’. Have an idea? Join in!

Cheers, Melissa Xx

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