Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I Learn About the Wheel

From the Granagh Road today

It has been a month now since I caught myself on. Truly tired of being a fat wee fecker I decided to eat better, drink less alcohol and walk more and I am happy to report that, so far, it's all going rather well. My daily walk has become a habit, I'm enjoying cooking and eating, I feel better and I have breathed out 11lbs of excess tonnage. And one of the things I'm enjoying most is that virtuous feeling when you don't eat all the leftovers, instead having them for lunch or dinner the next day. I love not being wasteful.

Then I found myself craving music/audio-books for the daily walk but I had nothing to play them on. Although there were two iPods that had been lying in a drawer for several years but they were probably broken. I dug them out, charged them up and tried them out. One was kaput but the classic worked! Unfortunately I'd forgotten how to use it. This is were the internet comes in handy. I found a video that some fellow had made for his elderly mother who must have been a complete eedjit but it was useful. My first walk (yesterday) was all about Massive Attack (the Tricky days) because I couldn't remember how to use shuffle. Eventually I worked it out with a little bit of assistance from that eedjit's son.

On my walk today I thought I had it on shuffle but it was alternating between Sinead O'Connor and Ry Cooder and that didn't seem very shuffly to me. Anyway I stopped for a pee up a laneway on the Granagh Road and stuffed the player in my pocket. When I resumed listening the sound had diappeared and I thought my headphones were broken. So back into the pocket it went and home I marched. Back on the internet I learned all about the wheel. I used to know this stuff. Where did my knowledge go?

Another problem. There was a lot of music on that iPod that I didn't want to listen to anymore. And of course I'd forgotten how to manage the player. I knew it had something to do with Rhythmbox. I don't do iTunes as my OS is Ubuntu. I've spent hours today figuring it out and I just got it sorted. I added John Lee Hooker, Rhiannon Giddens and the Milk Carton Kids. I'll add more tomorrow and maybe some audio books. Maybe Wolf Hall. I have the book but it's far too big and heavy. Far better to have it read to me.  

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Take One Haystack

Young women nowadays probably have more photographic images of themselves than at any time before. And often these pictures are very glamorous. The hair will be just so, the make up impeccable, the duck pout and Victoria Beckham hand on hip pose perfected.

It was all so different in their grandmothers' day. Back then when the camera came out girls tidied their hair, took off their aprons, grabbed their best chum and headed for the nearest stack of hay. For everyone had one - the perfect backdrop to to a beautiful snapshot.

Pearlie with her arm round Maggie Mitchell. Photo taken in the 1940s.

Aunt Sadie and friend. Also 1940s.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Dehydrate Bad Hippy

... or in other words, Happy Birthday Dede.

What a day it is too. Your first birthday with a Ph.D. We couldn't be prouder of you.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Red Velvet Jeans

We watched a short video of Martha's third cousin Conor McCavana dancing in some seriously tappy shoes. Quite different to Martha's version of tappy shoes. Hers are little plastic dress up heels we picked up in a charity shop.

She was here yesterday and she brought her princess dress with her. As she said, “Just in case.”

Then there was a little accident and Martha had to change into her skinny jeans. She was not pleased for she hates jeans these days. Later in Lidls she moaned under her breath. “I don't like jeans.” I said to her, “Don't look at them. Put your head in the air and pretend they are red velvet trousers. I'll do it too.” So there we were, striding along, me in the cheapo supermarket jeans I've been living in for months and I don't know about Martha, but I was imagining well-fitting red velvet jeans and swear to God, I immediately felt better about myself.

Written in 2013. Martha never has accidents nowadays.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Strawberry and Raspberry fermenting merrily

I had two lots of yeast to choose from last night. One, from VinClasse, smelled a little sour and is three months from its sell by date. The other one (Youngs) was fresher but there wasn't much of it and I wanted it for white currant wine. It might be a while before I get to Nature's Way in Belfast. So I asked Bert to sniff the VinClasse, second opinion and all that. Of course he was wreathed in pipe smoke and could smell nothing else but his aromatic tobacco which reeks like old woollen socks sprinkled with essence of vanilla.

Nevertheless he pronounced the yeast fine and I tossed it into the bucket thinking to myself, if it hasn't started fermenting by tomorrow I'll re-yeast. No need to worry for it was off and running by bedtime. I've used yeast with added nutrient for a long time now and it is always quick to get started.

I really wish we had a decent wine supplies shop close by. There is a place near Ahoghill but it's more about beer and every time I go there there is always something needed that they haven't got. Which is annoying.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Went And Gone And Done It Again

Went and let the home made wines get out of control again. I have 23 batches on the go, 24 if I count the raspberry and strawberry one I started today. And there is still enough frozen fruit in my freezers to make at least another six batches.

Today I racked off four batches that have been sitting around since October last year. Two were blackcurrant. It has a good flavour but is a little on the sweet side which is a pity as I made it in bulk, five gallons altogether. I'm sure somebody will like it. Swisser definitely as she is fond of dessert wines and Jazzer, she will probably go for it too. I also racked two that I've never tried before. The first was gooseberry. Maybe a little sharp but not so your eyes would water. I like it. It's the first time I got to the goosegogs before the blackbird. We definitely need more gooseberry bushes. The other was beetroot and blackcurrant and it is rather good. The earthiness of the beetroot balances the acidity of the currants. Bert thought it tasted of cherries.

Strawberry and Raspberry Stage I, before yeasting

Then I started a new one, the strawberry and raspberry. Easy recipe.

Slightly over 3lbs of fruit, a gallon of boiling water (cooled) and a bag of sugar then a wee bit more. I used a yeast and nutrient mixture which was still in date, but slightly old. It might not work out so fingers crossed. Before adding sugar I squished the fruit up using my incredibly clean hands and tried not to think about how the strawberries looked and felt like slugs. And I dissolved the sugar in hot water before I added it to the fruit mixture.

And this is how I keep track of my wine making activities. The coloured entries are finished wines.

Click to embiggen. But you knew that.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Living in a Backwater

There are times when this bloody place makes me sick. Of course I'm talking about the Six Counties, Northern Ireland, the Backwater Province, the Land that Time Forgot.

In November the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission went to court to argue that Northern Ireland's abortion legislation was in breach of human rights law.* The judge, Mr Justice Horner, ruled that there should be exemptions in the law for women who were victims of sexual crime and for cases of fatal foetal abnormality. Northern Ireland's Attorney General, John Larkin said he was 'deeply disappointed' with the decision. Today the Christian Brothers educated QC, has appealed against that decision.

For we live in a place where the Christian religion rules the roost. Some of our elected MLAs are fundamental creationists who believe the earth is a mere 4000 years old. The pro-life movement is strong here. It's about the only movement that brings Catholics and Protestants together. Although their protests can be quite amusing as the two religions sing different hymns both the same time. Those old nuns and their Dana-esque companions will be belting out Faith Of Our Fathers while the Born Agains give Nearer By God To Thee some welly. Is there even such a creature as the pro-lifer without faith? I don't suppose there is.

I've never been able to grasp why people should be so concerned about the unborn whilst doing absolutely nothing to help unfortunate children already in existence.

So we'll see how this goes. I pope that Mr Larkin gets a good slapping down but this is Northern Ireland. We're not quite ready for the twentieth century, never mind the twenty-first.

*The 1967 Abortion Act does not apply to Northern Ireland