Friday, June 23, 2017

Off Limits For Now

Bill went to the garden by himself this morning, to water the plants in the polytunnel. Fortunately we had rain last night, so the outdoor plants were fine. The tomato plants are loaded with fruit and it looks like the first cherry tomatoes will be ready for picking in a few days. It won't be me picking them, though, because for now the polytunnel is off limits for me.

We've reached that point in the year where grass and weed pollen are all over the place and the population of fungal spores is thriving--especially in places like that polytunnel. I'd already become aware that I had to limit my time in there based on how I felt whenever we went there. The other day, I tried to get things watered and tie up some tomato plants as quickly as possible. It was not as hot in there as it had been on our previous visit, but it was still far too warm (for me, but the tomatoes are happy!). Of course the plants are not the only things that like hot and humid conditions--the mold must be flourishing. It did not take long for me to feel the effects of my time in the tunnel. I spent the afternoon sitting on the couch with my eyes closed, my stomach upset, and my head pounding. I'm done in the tunnel until autumn.

In addition to avoiding the tunnel, I am getting into the habit of checking the Met Eireann website each day. They have a page where I can see what the levels of grass, tree, and weed pollen will be for our region, as well as the fungal spores. So some days I will also be limiting my time outside. Last summer I experienced many non-functioning days, feeling sick in bed, because of the allergies. Much of that was probably due to the mold-infested apartment, but some of it was also because of something in the outdoor environment. In the other places we lived since we came to Ireland, I had almost no issues, so last summer was a surprise. It was also extremely frustrating, so I am trying to be proactive this year and limit my exposure.

I know that I will continue to be uncomfortable no matter what I do. I am used to that and it's one reason I find summer so unpleasant. However, that is different than being unable to function because of pain, nausea, brain fog, and the rest. I would really like to limit those days so I have as few of them as possible. The summer will pass and the pollen with it. I'll be glad when it does. In the meantime, I will do what I can to take care of myself.

Today I went to the library, where I had a few books in--it always feels like Christmas when the requested books arrive. I started a new book this afternoon with a nice cup of tea. I have a knitting project started as a break from the large thread crochet project I've been working on for several days straight. I was starting to feel an ache in my wrist and hands, so will switch for a few days. A Good Read is on BBC Radio 4 tonight and I will knit while listening to that. I made pizza for supper and that was delicious. I'll be turning on the coffee maker shortly.

I've had a very pleasant and relaxing day. I hope you are having the same sort of day wherever you find yourself at the moment!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More Discoveries: Books and Pepper Jack

It's been a week of small discoveries so far. Yesterday we discovered an access point to the river trail right across the street from our house. Later, we were looking at the cheese selection in the shop on Main St and Bill spotted some pepper jack.
It's the first time we've seen pepper jack cheese in Ireland. We used to eat a fair bit of Tillamook pepper jack when we lived in Oregon and Alaska and there was some other kind in Maine that was good, too (but Tillamook is the best). They only had two packages in the store, and they came home with us, but maybe they'll get more. We'll keep our eyes open.

On Monday, Bill discovered a new pop-up charity shop in town. This is something we'd not seen in other towns, but in Moville, in addition to the two permanent charity shops, there is one further down the main road that has one group for 6 or 8 weeks. Then they clear out and another group moves in. yard sales are not very common here, although there is the occasional (car) boot sale, so maybe these pop-up shops serve the same purpose. The one Bill found is on a side street--the shop is usually empty, but since we've been here, there have been 4 or 5 charity shops in there for a few weeks at a time.

Anyway, he came home with a pile of books, saying they had good ones in there. I was particularly excited about this one:
I started hearing a lot about ElizabethTaylor (writer, not the actress) a few years ago as her works was being 'rediscovered.' At the time, I read one of her novels, but wasn't aware that she also wrote short stories. I love short story collections, so when Bill saw this, he added it to the pile. Yay! Most of the books we pick up at the charity shops are ones we know we will read and then either re-donate or leave in the wee free library. Once in a while, though, we find books that we plan to keep--this is one of those. It will stay with my collection of short story collections!

He suggested we stop in again yesterday on our way to the shop, so we did. We came away with another pile of books. There was an older couple behind the counter and we were chatting with them. She talked about how great books are--much better than telly. She said that now she's not hearing so well, she has to have the volume up too high and it's not pleasant for the husband. At that, he joined the conversation, joking that this was just an excuse, because her goal is really to be able to ignore him.  She then commented about how frustrating it is to be near the end of a book and to be trying to get to the end, but having the eyes 'go funny' and to not be able to stay awake. He one-upped that, though, with his own book story. He was reading a book by Louis L'Amour, he said, which was some sweeping saga about the Middle East and migration and stuff like that (I was thinking that I had no idea that author wrote such things)--quite the tome, it sounded like! Well, just as he was getting to the point where he'd find out how it all ends, he turned the page and discovered that someone had torn out the last 5 pages. He looked and looked for a new copy, he said, but his search was in vain. Then he was in California and went into a Borders book store, where he found it, bought it, and read the last 5 pages. He said it was a happy day. I told him I think that, in future, I'd better check books before I buy them, to make sure all the pages are there. They were such a friendly, good-humoured, and affectionate couple. They made me smile.

I hope your world provides many opportunities for smiles and joy today.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Discovery: Bredagh River Trail

Shortly after we moved to Moville, we met a woman in the library who told us about the Bredagh River Trail. The way she spoke about it gave the impression that it was like a short muddy track or something, so we never made much of an effort to find it. She told us how to access it and we walked around the building she mentioned, but didn't really notice where we were supposed to go, and we never looked after that. Then I had all of the health issues from the mould and for me, walking sort of fell by the wayside, except when necessary. At some point during the past year, they put a sign up, visible from the road, and we commented that we should go down there sometime. Yesterday, Bill did. He was very pleasantly surprised! As he was walking, he looked up the hill and saw what he thought was another access point, which happens to be right across the street from where we live. We were on our way to the shop at the edge of town this morning and Bill wanted to walk over and see if we could access the trail across the street from us. We walked down the rather steep driveway (there's a handrail, which is handy) and sure enough, there, down some stairs, was the trail. I said we might as well go that way to the shop, so we walked along. What a hidden treasure! It's wonderful--wooded, shady, cool, quiet, beautiful, and there's the lovely sound of the river as you stroll along. There are a few benches along the way, too, so people can stop a while and just enjoy the surroundings.

bird hut--they were doing some work on it today--those are plants on the roof

It is not a very long trail, but it is so lovely and we have not seen quite all of it yet. It's a really nice way to get to the shop at the edge of town, too!

I hope you discover something beautiful today in your part of the world!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Busy Bees

There were some busy bees in Moville this morning.
We were busy (and hot!) for a while too--we went up to the garden to water stuff.
The chard that I picked last week has grown back to just about where it was when I picked some. The other chard plants, which I put outside weeks later than the first plant, have caught up. I will make a dash up there later in the week to pick more. The beans and broccoli continue to grow and the spuds are flowering--such pretty blossoms!
Inside the polytunnel, most things just keep on growing. The peppers--both jalapenos and bell--seem to be growing slowly, so I think we may not have enough time for any peppers to actually form and ripen. I have never had good luck with peppers, so that's not really a surprise. The tomatoes are threatening to take over, though. Last week, Bill put some egg cartons around the strawberries to keep the slugs away from the berries. Today he picked a few caterpillars or something off of the cabbage after he'd filled the watering cans. I worked quickly to get the weeds scraped and everything watered, including the bed in the hoop house belonging to the schoolchildren. They cannot get up there every day and I told their teacher I'd water when we're there, if needed. It's hot today and supposed to be so for the next couple of days, so I figured it could use a good drink. Once I had that done, I got out of there and came home.

I am heartened seeing the chard growing so well. I am hopeful that we will be able to keep some greens, including lots of chard, growing in the polytunnel through the winter. That would be nice. It would also be enjoyable. Right now I go when I must (trying to limit myself to once a week) and leave as soon as possible because it is so uncomfortable, but it should be a different story over the winter, when it is nice, cool, and past the grass, pollen, fungal spores season!

As I was quickly walking down the hill towards home, I walked by a house with a really lovely front garden. A woman was standing on the front step. I said hello and she commented on what a beautiful day it is. I have learned to just go along with this, even though if an Irish person is telling me it's a beautiful day, you can safely bet that it's a day that is too hot, too sunny, and making me miserable!! 😎😕 I heard myself sort of grunt a half-hearted 'yeah' to her joyful 'beautiful day' remark and then I told her that her garden was beautiful. She beamed at me and asked, 'Do you like it?' 'I love it,' I replied. And I do.

Hope you find something beautiful in your day today, no matter what the weather!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

That's Supper Sorted

The other day when I was at the garden, I picked some chard. We used to eat a lot of chard when we were part of a CSA farm in Maine. I have not seen it here, except for baby chard in bagged salad, so when we decided to have a garden, chard was one of the things we decided to plant. We could not find any seeds locally, but our friend, Karen, sent us some. It seems to like this climate and is growing well.

As I was thinking about how to use it, I remembered a rice bake thing that I used to make fairly often in Maine. It's one of those things--like almost everything else I cook--that is different every time I make it, depending on what I have around. It almost always had chard in it, though.
This time I cooked 1 1/2 cups of brown rice and dumped it in a bowl. To the rice, I added some cheddar cheese, some honey-mustard smoked mackerel (in the past I have made this with various sorts of fish, or sausages, or vegetarian) and a mix of veggies sauteed in olive oil.
The veggies were: chopped onion, a bit of sweet red pepper left from the pizza I made last night, broccoli, a bit of spinach, and the chard. I added some granulated garlic, oregano, and crushed chilli flakes, stirred everything together and then poured in 4 extra large eggs, beaten with a little milk. Once everything was well mixed, I dumped it into two foil pans that I'd buttered using one of the butter wrappers I'd saved for this purpose. The foil pans came home with us because sometimes, when we buy boneless, skinless chicken breast, they come wrapped in those pans. I wash them well and reuse them.

I baked these in a 180C fan oven for about half an hour. We had some with fruit on the side tonight and will have the same again tomorrow night. Looks like there will be enough for a breakfast or lunch on Monday, too. Yay!

I am happy to report that the shower is working again and much better than it has since we got here. The Shower Man called Thursday afternoon to say he was in a neighbouring town and had finished earlier than expected, so he could come and have a look at our shower. He came and repaired it, all the while explaining to us what the problem was, showing us how the shower works and what the various parts in the wall unit do, what the quirks of that particular model are, and how we could work around them to make it work better. he was great. We were impressed and I emailed the company to tell them so. Last night, as I was scrolling through my Facebook page, I came across a post from the company, which was a copy and paste of my email. The guy commented that it's nice to be appreciated. Isn't that true of all of us?!

I hope your weekend is wonderful!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


It's Tuesday, so the first thing we did after breakfast was to walk down the street to Market Square so we could call on veg man, the traveling greengrocer. We brought our produce home and I unpacked it, freeing the bags for the stuff we needed to bring to the garden. While there, I pulled the coriander (will plant more in a pot that we will hang in the polytunnel--this stuff was too woody). This freed the space for a pepper plant that was ready to spread its roots farther than the wee pot would allow. I picked a bunch of stuff--chard, parsley, fennel, a few spinach leaves, the last radishes. I scraped the weeds up by (gloved) hand in the side bed in the polytunnel and took a hoe and scraped up the ones in our outdoor bed. I was out there ready to plant a chard plant and thinking that there used to be something in that space when I realised that the large cauliflower plant we had there was completely gone. It was there Saturday when we were chatting with our garden 'neighbour' between our beds, but you'd never know anything was ever there to look at it this morning. I am not having good luck with cauliflower. Everything else looks good. I planted a few more bean seeds and the rest of the leek seeds I had in the outdoor bed. The tomato stems that I had rooted got planted in the polytunnel. We watered the stuff inside. I was working at a pretty good clip so we could get done and come home. I have done my bit for the week and Bill will take over now.

I have noticed that I cannot spend too much time there at this point. We went on Saturday to set some stuff I'd made on a table for the cottage market, but there were few tables and they all were taken, so we chatted for a bit and came home. This was a relief because I was sorry I'd agreed to participate in the first place. The addition of a screaming child made me even more happy to get away! As it happens, it was just as well--I would have been miserable for the rest of the day had I stayed there for hours. When we went back in the afternoon to pick some stuff, we chatted with a few different people as the event was breaking up. We were there for maybe 20 minutes, but when I got home, I had sinus pressure and my arms were itching like mad--as is happening right now. I had forgotten until then how my arms used to itch like that when we would go to the farm in Maine to pick up our CSA produce every week. I reminded Bill of how I used to joke that I might enjoy gardening more if I could do it in the winter. It's not really a joke, I guess, and this year I will have the chance to do some winter gardening in the polytunnel. That's more my thing, I think. I enjoyed the process earlier in the year. I am not enjoying it anymore.  For now, I'll be spending less time up there until we get past summer and when I do go up there, I'll take an extra pill in an effort to avoid ruining my whole day with the aftermath.

I noticed this planter on Saturday, which I thought was cute. I'm told it's been there, so I guess I just wansn't paying attention!
On Sunday, our electric shower stopped working. Someone was supposed to come and replace it tomorrow, but they have just cancelled and said they will contact us to reschedule 'in the near future' whatever that means. In the meantime, we do what we did when we lived with no running water for two years in Alaska and would use pitchers of water dumped over our heads. It's easier here because we do not have to heat the water in a kettle and we (luckily) have some milk jugs that I was going to cut apart and use to stick plants in. I had not done so yet, so we have a few we can use as our 'shower' until the 'near future' turns into the past and we have a working shower again.

Now I have a few free hours until it is time to make supper, and I have a book and a crochet project calling my name, so I am off to heed the call!

I hope your Tuesday is wonderful!

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Few More Bits

For some unknown reason, while I was sitting in bed last night listening to BBC Inside Science and crocheting, some tatted motifs popped into my head. I'd been doodling with some thread a few years ago when we lived in Ballinrobe and ended up with a motif I liked. I did change some numbers to make them easier to join, but I had a few of the originals that I kept, thinking I'd find a use for them one day. Last night, they came into my mind as I was thinking about a piece of sea glass I'd taken out of the box where I keep our beach finds. I decided to leave the idea alone until this afternoon and I went on with my crocheting.

This morning I was off to the library where I helped someone with her crocheting and picked up a book that came in. Afterwards, I came home, had some lunch, put in a load of laundry, and grabbed a few of the motifs. When I put them with the sea glass, I found that I really didn't like it. What I had in mind would have worked with different colours--either the sea glass or the motifs--but as it was, I did not care for them together. I didn't want to make more motifs just now, so I let go of the idea and rummaged around for something else I could use in a different way with the motifs. I ended up with two shells, a different piece of sea glass and a small rock.

I'll add these to the small collection of stuff I've made for the cottage market at the community garden, which is tomorrow.

Tonight it'll be back to the crocheting, and I'll be listening to the first episode in the new series of A Good Read on BBC Radio 4--love that show!

Happy Friday!