My Hair

Hair has always been important to my self-image. I have always worn it long, unclipped, untethered, unrestrained. I associate tying up my hair with working. All of those jobs of my earlier working life required tying up the mane.

I once had bouncing baby curls, as an Anne Geddes style baby photo will attest to but 1984 (Orwell chose the right year to be dystopian) saw a traumatic hair event in my life. My Mammy had my hair cut into a pageboy.

I started school looking like a boy. It was all-girl school so nobody got confused but this set in motion a terror of hairdressers that lasted a good twenty years, ending with a Rapunzel complex.

Long hair and a fear of cutting it.fairytale-1735367_640

I got over that.

 

My hair is brown, and therefore I am cursed with the early grey gene. My first grey (white piece of wire more like) sprouted menacingly from my naive head when I was thirteen and was promptly ripped from said head by an obliging friend who sat behind me and couldn’t look it at. (Done without my prior knowledge, sharp and secret pain). 38150068.jpg

The dying began in my twenties. Not a person who embraces the harlequin of colour style of hairdressing, a new shade a season, I stayed brown.

Basic brown

‘Chocolate’ most  dyes refer to it as.bitmoji-20170322040503.png

Children came into my life, magical pixies that bring spirit and energy, mischief and mania. Somehow my hair becomes in need of the touch up quicker. not to blame my babies…but there may be a connection.

I have made and cancelled two hair appointments in recent weeks due to other circumstances ( see Cancelling an Operation when under Anaesthesia?). The window had passed. I had gone from a few indeterminate greys to full on old man crown.comic-characters-2027416_640

Last Saturday morning, we were swimming. My two year old was perched happily on a changing room bench as I sweated with the latex suit, my head bent under her nose. She gasps.

‘Oh Mammy- what happened?’.

Quick glimpse around.

No blood.

‘WWhat happened your hair?

She plucked at the cement grey roots.

‘Who did it Mammy?’

Crèche culture has introduced my daughter to blame. Someone must be at fault for my terrible aging.

So it seemed anyone timeto get the job done.

Sunday evening, I lashed on the supermarket dye. Piled my hair into a top knot. b1251c2ebfe9ffcb4f31feed100c3fe0Slick with the unctuous liquid, towels everywhere, I showed my version of a ‘Mulan’ do to the girls. The raw state. The work in progress.

Delighted Gigi applauds.

‘Yea! You have lovely hair Mammy!’

I looked like Nanny Plum if she stuck her head into a semi-gelatinous jelly flood.11xcye

‘Thanks Gigi’.

The next morning, I brushed out the freshly coloured, conditioned locks, somewhat proud of looking like me again. I looked expectantly to my daughter, keen for her to praise my hair in a state of glory.

‘AAwww. Your lovely hair is gone Mammy’.

The self- consciousness I had developed as a result of Gigi’s observation took on a whole new meaning.

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Hair. It doesn’t really matter anymore.

 

Movie Gems for St Patrick’s Day treats!

A reboot for the day that is in it😊

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I like delving into nostalgia like this. Sometimes the past can make you lonesome. This type of remembering just makes me smile!

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Hope you are enjoying today wherever you are! Maybe you would like a little movie viewing. Here are my choices that match the day that’s in it. Lots of you will know these incredibly well. Others will not. Whether you like them or not is up to you.  Each and everyone are classics of Irish TV and will be found on the box when we wear the green.

1. Flight of the Doves

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A tale of two children with a fabulous surname, Dove. They must get away from their wicked uncle Tobias and find their Granny who lives in County Galway in Ireland. A true fairytale! I have blogged about fairy stories recently and all the elements are here. See Hairy Tales. I loved watching this as…

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Cancelling an Operation when under Anaesthesia?

An Open Letter. March 2nd, 2017.

To Enda Kenny. To Simon Harris. To the the People who Cannot See the Bigger Picture.

It is an awful feeling to have in the pit of your stomach to know your father is sick.

To know he is worrying.

To see him in a hospital for weeks on end like a caged animal, domesticated by force.

My father was diagnosed with heart trouble two years ago.

The doctors have swung between stents and by pass surgery, medication and ‘talks’ since that awful summer two years past.

What has happened since?

A stent operation that was cancelled at the last minute due to a low heart function (despite prior knowledge of this).

Horrid, long waits in St James hospital for a blunt, arrogant machine of a surgeon to make my parents further stressed with his horrendous manner, curt manner of delivery, lack of desire to empathise, sympathise or show kindness to a worried middle aged man and his wife up for the day to Dublin from their rural home. This man- Dr Young- gives you 3-5 minutes, four sentences of information whereupon he parrots his orders into his dictaphone for a letter and barks ‘Cheerio’ to signal that your interview with Him. Is. Over. No questions please, as it were. This man told my parents in this brief time how ill my Dad was, terrified them with what was true but really could have been delivered in another manner. I appreciate time limits and pressure is on the hospitals but I also think that does not stretch to your own choice to be human when dealing with humans.hands-981400__480

A wait for this surgeon that was going on and on, with a father (diabetic) who didn’t want to eat until he had seen the doctor. I went to his office door at one point and broke my moral code by looking at the files. My dad’s file wasn’t even in the wait list pile.  He knew he had little to tell him until he spoke to some other people but did not tell us this in any time. Just let us wait and wait.

Yes, as soon as I made a fuss, we were seen.

Barked at.

Dismissed.

No information.

Disillusioned.

Out of pocket. Out of energy. Fighting for hope.

We have changed surgeon since Dr Young. He had no confidence in helping Dad and honestly the new surgeon gave my father confidence by treating him in an infinitely kinder manner. However we have still been shunted from one place to another,  decision to decision, each one more indefinite and uncertain than the last. This further delay has allowed my father’s condition to worsen. This dillydallying from a rude surgeon to the waiting lists that our country is subject to as a result of our health system taking a backseat to other more trivial matters has let my father become more ill. My father was finally on put onto the list for a triple bypass. Isn’t it awful that our lives are subject to lists?

Times passed.

January brought pneumonia. His heart function is considerable lessened.

Is it fair say that if we had better care two years ago my Dad would not be so unwell? Would it be fair to say this country has allowed him to become worse? That my mother is living a sub-life, in and out of hospitals as  my dad cannot leave one now as he is high risk?  That he cannot drive. Write (his job). Work. Be at home. Be free? Is it fair to say this country is letting my parents down at a time when life should be enjoyed? They should be relaxed?horror-2028165__480.png

I have rarely seen my Dad cry but I did see him cry yesterday.

No one needs to see their Dad cry.

Yesterday in St James’s hospital, after four weeks in Tullamore, he was prepared for the triple bypass surgery. He was anaesthetised. I took time from work. My mother prayed. We sat and waited.

Three hours after he went in, a surgeon comes to us. We sank into our chairs. Why was he here? Why was this gowned man here when he was supposed to be in there? He explained they had reach a complication. They had realised his heart function was so much less. They couldn’t do it this week.

They talked of next week.

Relief at the news that it was not worse was our first response,  it took us awhile to consider these implications.

We waited all day to talk to someone else.

We were sent a young man, a doctor who was not in the team that morning who gave an explanation that my Mother and I don’t really feel satisfied with  (blame Tullamore essentially. That was it. He was officious. Curt. Talked over my Dad. Attempted to answer our questions but really it was not good enough. No other human in the know spoke to us. No other surgeon. Nothing.

Retrospect is powerful for knowledge and I hope that you Taoiseach and your selected minster realise this in years to come when you look back on your administrations.

My father would have been operated on and recovering by now if you all had done a better job.

My mother would not be crippled with fear and anxiety if you prioritise ordinary people.

Apple are laughing at you Taoiseach.

I hope you fall over with your hypocritical bowl of shamrock, and if you hit your head you might realise that you have focused on all the wrong things. You let your administration squabble and lose confidence in you. They sit like pumas in the long grass ready for you to go before they swipe in to take your place. And continue this non-progression.

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Enjoy your trip to Washington in the meantime and remember us. Still in hospital. Still recovering. Still dreadfully unhappy.

We are one story in millions.

I am afraid I cannot send my usual kind regards.

Your citizen.

 

One Year Old Little Blog

It has been one terrifically fast year.

Or are WordPress are making a mistake?

Was it truly that one year ago that I felt so challenged and afraid that I needed to DO something so desperately?

Do something about it or take something for it, they said.

I did something.

Like First Defence, it may not have solved the problem, but just delayed it.

Also like First Defence, it worked for awhile and then I had to face the problem anyway. Which I am doing.

So what else has the year brought?

My home is filled with the sound of laughter and screams, chatter and reproaches. Yoghurt stains and spitty kisses. Frozen and Peppa. Tale telling and soothers. Nappies and potties. Tiredness and tempers. Love and laughter. Dirty dogs gathering scraps. Diets and secret eating.Man to pets about upside down house: 'I don't care who started it!'

A sick Dad. Awaiting the good times healthwise.

New bedroom furniture. The little things.

Meltdowns.8a5d5b8383fd1e820d5b184fbbb81efc

Make ups.

A blog that I love. I don’t know if I will ever be one of those ‘successful’ bloggers but I have had success in so many ways. Depending on your definition. Blogging friends.  Linky love. Family Friendly hq articles. Being a Boolino Friend. The Littlewoods Blog Awards Parenting Nomination.

The best thing is having a space to think and write.

Happy birthday little blog. Belated birthday..it was a few weeks ago. We will celebrate together.

Another first birthday in our little world.

So to everyone who helps me keep my head above water and likes my blog, keeping it alive. Thank you.bitmoji-20170301031216.png

The Daily Grind

Do you have a phrase to describe the times when they are challenging? To avoid an old swear word session? Mine is Ducky Longstockings. I don’t know why. The daily grind can get you down. Ironically, the daily grind (of coffee beans) can get you up. So what causes this feeling of absolute blahness as a parent? Give it a lash, shall I?

  1. Weary weary nights. bitmoji-20170228114718Some are better than others. Betsy rarely does a full night. It catches up on us all until tiredness is a permanent state.bitmoji-20170228113931
  2. Food. The diet can be down the pan and up the Swanee but recently I have done quite well to tackle it. Slowly, slowly. We eat bad, we feel sad. Try telling that to a tired Mammy with a Toffee Crisp in her hand.
  3. Clothes. The body never feels the same after baba one. girl-925485_640Baby two? You may have had a body transplant when you were having that child. I still don’t feel right. I find that Mams stop buying themselves nice new clothes in favour of kitting out the minnies leaving themselves shabbily shod and clad as a result. This does not help the self esteem! Hoody  central.
  4. Muddy, mucky car. Did you ever think that your mode of transport can cause a mental health issue? car-1140405_640I spend so much time in the car. As I live in the Irish Midlands, in the bog as it were, cleaning the car is almost as pointless as a chocolate teapot (as I probably have eaten that anyway). Debris of Liga. Little feet. Milk. Water. Mud. Clay. Cows. Rain. Chaos.
  5. Kitchen Inspiration. My freezer, once full of interesting bits such as kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass or chillis, is now a virtual supermarket of pre-cooked meals for children going to crèche.spice-370114_640 I find that I cannot make that curry from scratch anymore but am proud to throw together a tin of tomatoes based pasta sauce. New parents can’t beat themselves up over this -but we do!
  6. No Time to Breathe. sunset-1207326_640All the advisors say ‘Take the help’ when you get it. I am lucky to have family nearby,  yet when asked what I need help wise,  I just freeze and think, time to breathe.  I never say this though.
  7. Enjoyment of Food. Food is now eaten whilst being attacked by adorable mini us people. Why does our porridge/ toast/ yoghurt look so much more appealing to our children than their own?bitmoji-20170228114600
  8. Your Other Job. Educating the teens is mine. You can imagine that isn’t always easy too. Take that on top of no sleep. Teaching 25 sixteen year old boys why poetry matters when all you want to do is have a little nap. Maybe you are a banker.  Writer. Homekeeper. Try getting ANY of those things done properly at the same time as parenting!

What gets us through?

  1. Love.
  2. Cuddles.
  3. Coffee.

The Daily Grind!  Here it is to squashed beans with milk.coffee-break-1291381_640.jpg

‘The Song from Somewhere Else’- A Review

To review a book is either pleasurable or piteously painful, depending on what you have got on your hands. I can honestly say this handsome treasure by A.F Harrold (illustrated by Levi Pinfold) for young people makes me smile slightly every time I spot it (casually awaiting my stolen moments in time) on the desk.bitmoji-20170216102759 Hardbacked and dust-jacketed, I felt elegant just holding it. I loved reading this book. I loved reading what is essentially a tragedy to me. Friendship, parenting, the supernatural and love all feature as key themes combining to form a tale of intrigue with more than a tinge of sadness.

A beautifully sibilant title, ‘Song From Somewhere Else’ is consistently sonorous in tone from the mysterious title to the last line, singing strangely to you across every page. Beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold, this is somewhat a gothic modern day fairy story, brutal reality at times juxtaposed with magically surreal moments. Tim Burton would be my director of choice for this story. Strange, angular creatures from other worlds appear alongside the mundane dad making tea or the the group of bored teenagers living their own version of Lord of the Flies in the town park before they head home to an absent parent home or a grim supper.

Frank (Francesca) is quickly introduced as a victim of bullying. Blissfully ignorant parents smile at the group of boys who harass her, terrifying me as a new mother. Can parents be so unaware of their children’s misery? The thought appalls me as I read Francesca’s tale. Yet I remember my own teens. Many the day I kept a horrible experience secret from loving parents. Just as Frank does. Haunting images of the frail, frightened Francesca, as her head hangs in her loneliness, are painted in both words and sketch on every page. Threatening shadows prevail on every street corner exacerbating her solitude. Her stomach appears almost as a character in its own right as her digestive system is held hostage to her tumultuous daily world. 20170208_102308-1.jpgThe foreshadowing of sadness occurs early on as Frank searches for a much beloved and fabulously named cat, Quintiles Minimus.  As someone who has named a black feline Humphrey Bogart, I am drawn to this girl immediately.20170208_102333.jpg

The theory that we are all bullies and victims in life at different stages of our lives is quickly brought to the fore with the introduction of classmate Nick. Frank’s treatment of the much scathed and teased Nick can lead the reader to judge their heroine harshly. He falls to the bottom of the pile when it comes to the teenage predatory circle of life and leads to me wonder. Would I have acted any differently as a teenager? Concerning to think, possibly not. The bullying escalates in a grittily true way, cleverly demonstrated by a two page sketch of nettles as the climax of the torture is reached. Words are not always necessary. 20170208_102203Frank’s desperation and terror combine to create her horrific actions. It is possibly easier to forgive her as an adult. I wonder would a tweenage reader empathise or criticise? Nick’s family story is the enigmatic mystery of the piece. It is the unexpected salvation of Frank- in a less than predictable way.20170208_102228.jpg

Shades of grey, blacks and whites dominate this teen mystery in both copy and imagery creating a dramatically tense environment as the plot progresses. A colourless world is depicted, at times almost totally lacking in hope or joy. Pinfold’s beautiful illustrations were captivating and brought the tale to life as I found I wanted to study every image. This is not to lesson Harrold’s writing in anyway. As an English teacher I almost compulsively felt a need to underline (I didn’t do it as I couldn’t ruin the book!) most effective uses of imagery which were employed throughout, as examples for a student to learn from. Delicate personification, accessible pathetic fallacy- the reason this plot is hauntingly atmospheric. A beautiful piece of writing and a visual joy.

I would be concerned that a young person may take the message that world is a sad place. On the other hand, I think they can handle this message better than I – a thirty something mother! I will honestly admit that one scene made me sob, truly ugly cry, for another mother. As a younger person, it is likely this scene would be much simpler to deal with. So I would leave it you. If your young adult loves dark mystery and social drama on an enigmatic level, this is the one they need. If they enjoy looking at charcoal or pencil sketch visuals, this is a must.

I am waiting for the moment to buy this book for a young person. I can think of many adults that will adore it. As it stands, I don’t want to give it to my relations under ten, probably due to the grip on reality in the plot. Maybe I don’t want to expose these children to the ugly world of intimidation that Francesca Patel abides within, even if it has a resolution. Maybe I am part of The Cotton Wool Gang. The youngster I get this for this for must have a love of the supernatural. Then again- I was personally gripped by this tale. A childhood lover of Blyton, an avoider of anything too ghostly, this was a book I may have turned away in my youth. Which would have been a terrible shame.

Of course, I really, really wanted to know what happened to the cat…as I am sure you do too. You will have to read yourself to find out. 20170208_102253

As a Boolino friend, I am occasionally sent books to read and review. I receive no payment for this, but will have a free copy of the text. All opinionated ramblings appearing here are very much my own! Hope you enjoyed.

The best laid plans o’ Mice and Men…

My dad is in hospital.  Let us get that out of the way first. In hospital with a heart condition that has been described as ‘walking time bomb’ awaiting the call to St James for the big one. Triple bypass.

It is a grim irony that today,  on the Day of Hearts, I worry about hearts. Damaged ones. Shrinking arteries. Broken ones.apple-570965_640.jpg

I could talk about my grievances with the leaders of our country and their tenuous grip on reality when it comes to our atrocious health system. I could discuss the ‘hidden public’ as patients like my Dad are now known, that are listed and ignored until they are called. The hope is their life can outlast the list. It is that grim.

I am that afraid.

I could talk about hospital drives. Visiting hours. Depression. Fear. Anxiety. Watching my mother dissolve and stay strong in the same moment. Being the older sibling who is trying to juggle home life, children, full time job and this hospital sub-life that we are now imprisoned to.

I could talk about how I really feel. But let us not open that reservoir of pain.heart-1297121_640

This morning is Tuesday. Disgustingly selfishly, I can’t stop focusing on my own exhaustion despite watching my dad suffer this daily monotony of hospital living and my mother rotate her whole world to accommodate it, I think of me. Despite a sister flying in and back from Scotland, so much travel and pressure,  I think of me. Despite my little girls having to spend a day in crèche, I think of me. Despite a husband working solid days on a busy farm, I think of me. I feel guilty.image-0-02-04-e87646cf18b513008786f02d06be4408091eb1e1900fbfa1165973a06406d9ca-v

On the constant weight watch,  I make a decision.  Fully loaded fruit scone with Cappuccino in a little cafe I love. Sneaky moments with the blog. Renergise. Forgive myself the calories this time. Make myself better with FOOD. I can handle it all with a happy  (yet chubby) tum. So, I do it.

As Robert Burns once extoled, these plans we have ‘gang aft agly’. (Often go assways). robert-burns-1593923_640This is why I am sitting chewing on something brown and nasty, seedy and burnt, literally NOT my cup of tea. The waiter got confused.  I have been given a spelt scone. Spelt Stone more like. Nutty and healthy, I can feel it almost extending stinky, fibrous  fingers attempting to massage my aura. No amount of butter and jam is giving this luxury for me. It tastes as smoke damaged as the lost dreams of dead hippies.

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Beautiful presentation.  Irish guilt stopped me from sending it back. 

I am sorry for insulting the lovers of the health food and please know that I can give it all a fair good whack usually.  Just not today. Today I need butter and white flour, sugar and cream.

I can hear a few voices mutter as they read that maybe the spelt might save me from the same fate as my father.

Maybe.

Maybe not. Spelt might spell healthy for my heart but today it ‘spelt’ disaster for my soul.

The spelt is not working any magic right now anyway. That is for sure.

Burns was not joking. Steinbeck had it on the ball. We make plans in life. To travel. To play. To not be in hospital. To eat scones. To do it all- soon. And sometimes it doesn’t happen that way at all.

Sometimes we are made think a different way.

The Day of Hearts. I never thought I would spend it like this. Obsessing over a heart, yes. My own? No. My lover’s? No. ( Though I love you Mr Paper, know that). No. I am over thinking the organ that doesn’t appear on the cards.

Unless it is a medical card.

Praying we can fix it.

Soon.