Tag Archives: The Aran Islands

Hello, Monday Morning

 

We kicked off spring with a marathon weekend in the garden. Weeded, tidied, ground cover on, stones moved, some seeds planted.

Johnny and the boys finished removing the creig from one of the new tunnel beds; loads of work but we get needed depth and stones to use elsewhere in the garden.

My hands are sore from wild blackberry thorns, fingernails look unrecognizable, whole body is aching, and pulled a muscle in my bum from a running slip while racing the rain to get laundry off the line, but feeling accomplished and happy, happy! 

Have a wonderful Monday everyone, Melissa Xx

p.s. Daisy duck was no help at all, only poking her head up to see was I bringing her food or something like that, but we love her no matter.

 

What Winter?

Instead of the cold blustery gales of wind and rain that makes one not want to get out of pyjamas all day, it’s been more like spring than winter and we’ve been both working and growing in the garden the entire season.

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Garden photographs are quickly outdated by growing plants and newly built beds.

There’s a lot going on in the picture above: raised beds have been added in between the corn and pumpkin plots–rocket, beetroot, lettuce and winter garlic are growing in four of the beds. Stone paths are made after all soil is removed and sifted; soil in beds, stones back into the path. Long, narrow grow boxes are being placed along both sides of the pallet fences to help stabilize them and add grow space. A half pallet retaining wall is being fitted against the corn field. A lot of labour and nearly all Johnny’s doing. Continue reading

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

An Island Anecdote & Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe

I couldn’t believe my good fortune one day many years ago when a born and raised islander came up to me in the Spar parking lot offering me milk kefir grains. I had been wanting them but didn’t want to buy them. Just like plants for the garden, they’re much more special when received from a loving space which they’ve outgrown rather than purchased from a shop.

Because fermenting cultures reproduce and eventually one has to either give them away, throw them out, compost, or feed to one pet or the other, I believed they’d eventually come to me fortuitously. So, this was my day and when she said ‘Someone told me you might like these’ (I had told no one I was seeking them), I squealed with delight and gratefully accepted. Never did I dream someone on the island had any or I certainly would have made my desire known. Anyhoo, my hobby of fermenting was no secret and now I had kefir grains so I immediately put them to use. Continue reading

Expressly Ourselves From Creation to Donation

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I could count on one hand all the things I’ve ever created that have no purpose other than to just be. Because of this, I’ve felt less like an artist and more like a crafter, my thinking being that functional things were mostly created by crafters, and ‘things of beauty’ by artists. That thought probably says more about my urbanity than my ability as a maker, a direct reflection of my rural roots.

While admiring my star wreath and thinking how it was one of the few things I’ve made that has no practical function, the thought occurred to me that maybe functional objects that also communicate individual ideas are the very definition of arts & crafts/artist & crafter. As a well-paired couple, maybe it’s a case of them working hand in hand, not one or the other.

It’s not called ‘arts or crafts.’ Continue reading

The Wonderful Warmth of Winter

No more children sitting on their feet and no more cold bottoms because I finally made padded covers for the metal stools that surround the island in our kitchen. It seems noteworthy to tell you that we’ve nicknamed this seating area Inis Meáin, which translates tothe middle island’, and is the same name as our island neighbor here in the Aran Islands.

Most meals are eaten here in the kitchen. The dining room table is a hub for crafting, game playing, Lego and sorting clean laundry. As the chalkboard sign in the upper left corner so well documents, it was our 163rd monthiversary, ♥ 163 months married ♥, it was the 24th of November. Continue reading

I’m responsible for what I say. I’m not responsible for what you hear.

If you haven’t heard yet, the ferry service to the island I live on, Inis Mor, ended yesterday. I was on the final voyage home after having ventured to the mainland that morning.

Just before boarding the ferry, I was approached by a newspaper photographer asking was I living on the island and, if so, could he take my photo. I said yes and he requested that I “look sad”. Huh, really? ‘Click’ went his camera. But I wasn’t exactly feeling sad. Continue reading

An Island of Infinite Quiddity

It’s crazy o’clock in the morning and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet that’s filling the house right now. I should be tired but I’m not. I’ll surely regret being up so late when it’s time to rise and shine in a few wee hours from now.

As much pleasure as my holiday to America brought me, many days I caught my mind wafting away to my life here in Ireland. I couldn’t help but to be tugged back to all that fills me up here. This is where the most vital parts of my life experience are and that’s why I haven’t gone back for seven years; it’s not that I didn’t want to go, I simply haven’t wanted to leave. Johnny would probably find this funny, in the interesting, not ha-ha, sort of way, as I went many days without contacting home at all. But, though high priority, it wasn’t him or the children or the animals or the gardens that I was longing for. It was the island, or rather the island’s infinite quiddity– that which fills me up, tempts my curiosities and allows freedom to indulge in my wildest hairs like I haven’t experienced since childhood. All this while at the same time feeling completely grounded and centred. Often times I tell folks that the island reminds me of my own childhood, back a generation, exploring nature, knowing most everyone most everywhere I go. I doubt that’s my perception exclusively. Many, many people speak of this seemingly magical allure that the island has. It’s not the life for everyone but, thankfully, it’s the life for me.

Other than unpacking and settling in, I’ve been working zealously in the craft room and the kitchen, but that’s all for another day’s writing. Apologies for not answering mail and messages…there’s only so much time that I can sit in front of the computer without getting fidgety and abandoning it.

I hope all have been well and, please God, you’re all in your happy place too!

With love, Melissa Xx

 

The Mysterious Angle

 

What is the mysterious angle of the above photo?  I’ll give you a hint…the next photograph is of the same thing.

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And just because it’s cool, the following photograph is a view of our village taken from the same spot.

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The mysterious angle photograph was taken from atop the steep breakwater (2nd picture) with the camera on panoramic… sea to the left and lake to the right.  The mysterious angle photograph also works perfectly for this weeks photo word of the week, ‘mystery‘.

You must go and check out my friend Sandra’s ‘mystery‘ post.  Just incredible!!

Cheers, Melissa

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