Tuesday, June 27, 2017

On winning my first poetry comp - a night at Ó Bhéal

Long term readers of this blog will find it hard to believe that my brilliance in poeting has gone widely unprized - as in prize giving ceremony - as in recognition by winning of a prize... all these years.
But now, all that has changed.  Thanks to the lovely people at Ó Bhéal last night, the weekly poetry night that I have just made it to, after 6 years in Cork, and their fabby doo five word challenge.  Myself and Emerging Writer both had a go.

The words we were given were - Body, Ship, Planet, Palm, Avalanche -

and with only 15 minutes and the odd Sup of wine, I came back with this to scoop top honours and a free drink from the bar



The reader of palms was overly calm
as he sold me a planet of riches
he spoke of the lambs and how serious qualms
could be fed to a pallet of witches

So I stepped on the ship & intended to slip
to the east when the avalanche landed
But my body was tipped, on the side of my lip
& the feast was like nothing intended

like a terrible something was bended
& into the mist ever ended

the palm reader, I promptly unfriended



I was actually v honoured to win, and surprised to get it really, because some of the others were seriously good as well, and everyone seemed to know each other - so I thought naturally a long termer would get the honours, but a good punch line always produces a whoop or two, and the MC Ciarán is a good and fair adjudicator, at least according to me...

We then saw Linda Ibbotson & Sarah Byrne doing their thang.

It was super.  Linda is a visual artist also, and it shows in her work, bringing us to the Jardin du Luxembourg and back to Kinsale - she read beautifully.
Sarah, for me, was a revelation, she does something with criminals and victims of crime during the day, (almost like a superhero), then comes out and unassumingly slays audiences with gentle gin soaked hangover poems, as well as some darker ones, breaking up the lines with deft little additions

"I held the mouse's little brown body (I didn't really)"
or having said that Light & Fire are not the same thing, saying "I bet you're glad to have that clarification, it's good to get that one cleared up"

I've just joined her mailing list.  Anyway - great to know that Cork has a serious share of talented folk  around the place.

Friday, May 12, 2017

How is it not Friday yet, oh wait

So I was going to write a post yesterday about what a long week it has been, and how could it not be Friday yet - and how maybe it was friday somewhere else in the world but it really needed to be Friday here yesterday because I was, frankly, ex haus ted. 

So tired was I that I forgot to post the post about it, and now I'm too late, because it is Saturday.  No actually it's Friday.

I'm sorry, I'm a bit tired.

I was so tired on the train on Wednesday I wrote quite a garbled excel related email to a colleague that merited the following response which I really felt deserved wider reading

"Niamh,
 
I am sure that when you penned this email, it all made sense. However, in its transit via cyberspace it appears to have become, unfortunately, corrupt. I once tried to read Ulysses backwards. That was a similar experience."
 
I really wish he would start a blog.  The above mail had me in stitches.
 
Anyway enjoy the weekend all y'all

Monday, May 1, 2017

Here's the sun

Is it that time of year again? there were hailstones only last week, and ice on my car.  Now I feel like I could almost go out and buy an iced coffee, but not really.

The 3  year old's birthday party was  yesterday, only decided really what we were doing about it on Thursday night, being hopelessly disorganised... So texted around, invited people, most of my friends are pretty dignified people, so only committed to maybe making it - not sure, but they'd try, because they had possible other plans for the bank holiday weekend, which was totally understandable and fair enough, but it did leave me in a bit of a sticky position, half of the possible attendees were unconfirmed... anyway I won't bore you (too  late you say), happy ending, they almost all showed up, there was much merriment and screaming and running around, and very very few tears. The nearly 6 year old had bumped his head before the whole thing while playing "being invisible" which of course requires him to walk around with his eyes closed, so I was glad there was no further drama for the day really - that was plenty.

We spent much of today just getting over it all, lolling around the house and garden (not laughing out loud - at least not all the time, that'd be weird), it's annoyingly nice all day, so that any minute spent indoors is a minute of guilt, she says as the cartoons play in the background - yes I'm sick of bug hunting I'll admit it.

I do love the little one though, the threenager. (of course I love both of them, but since it's her big day I'm gushing a bit).  She is so stubborn. (I do not have a clue where that comes from).  She is fearless (ok so I stole that out of beauty and the beast, but she watched that, so she is pretty hard to rattle too),  She's always had a real ease in the world about her, as if she's a woodland creature from a disney film and everything is always just wonderful.  She is super kind to big bro - donating the caterpillar face off the cake to him yesterday so he'd be happy.  She's cool as a cucumber, she needs hugs less than I do, but when she does give one out it's amazing.

Anyway, gushing over, nothing to see here.  Smusheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Innit

Myself and Mr VC got to go to London for a couple of days last week, just for a break, it was, I can reveal exclusively here, the best trip to London had by any parents of two young monkey bootses so far this month, bar none.

Some random highlights included:

  • The amazing Foyles book shop
  • Finding Van Gogh's Sunflowers while looking for a coffee shop
  • Seeing Agatha's Mouse Trap in the Salubrious St Martin's Theatre
  • The Elgin Marbles that are not in fact marbles at all
  • The genuine friendliness of the Londoners.  I often go there for work, but rarely stop to talk to anyone (except the people in the big fun meetings I go to), so it was an eye opener how nice they all were, we didn't meet one unfriendly person, and even got a free plastic bag from a big supermarket who shall remain nameless.
  • Having a train all to ourselves because it wasn't really supposed to be going from that station but yerman said "Not officially - but hop on there anyway" and even the driver still talked to us as if he had a full train.

Other than that, the house is full of Chocolate here. Hope all y'all had a good Ishtar.

Monday, March 27, 2017

More notes from a train

The guy across the way, diagonally has his two fingers up to me, he's lucky I don't take it the wrong way, they're just supporting his temple as he stares in deep concentration at the screen.
My baldy friend opposite has just answered his phone after zero rings. Talk of a hotel in London, 7 k a room, fuck off.
They both got on while I slept, and then I was woken by the ticket man, pesky ticket man.  I was all in a heap getting out this morning, 6 minutes later waking than I'd planned, nearly fell down the stairs, (last two steps of it at least), ripped the calendar and made an awful clatter, probably waking the kids.
I needed that hour of sleep that "they" stole from me at the weekend, "they" who decide these things, why don't "they" just leave me the hell alone...

They're building a funfair next to my workplace, honest to goodness, funderland, with a proper ghost train behind my bosses desk, and when we're at meetings upstairs there'll be people outside the window dropping from heights and screaming (and I don't work at Apple or anything).  This will go on for 3 weeks.  Can you believe it?  We had a lovely bit of wasteland beside us, there used to be a dairy there and it had been reclaimed by nature, was a real little paradise in suburbia, a haven for wildlife.  The fun fair is putting paid to that though. 

Yerman opposite has lost his call now 3 times in a row and last time hung up while shaking his head in disgust, all while I could hear the other person still talking.  Hates losing any bit of control I'd say.  Expensive headphones on him.  He'd love to think I was writing about him.

Anyway - so yeah, there was a poor little lost pheasant going around our car park yesterday, avoiding the diggers and construction, and I hope he'll be alright, but sure nature never really has a happy ending.  Wild animals don't live long lives, finally quietly and peacefully passing on surrounded by their loved ones. 

I'm very tired and have been up very early, so that thought is making me disproportionately sad.

So I'm going to think of sleepy puppies instead.

http://videos.komando.com/watch/5754/kims-picks-dont-even-bother-trying-to-get-this-sleepy-puppy-out-of-bed

Though I daren't go back to sleep in case Mr Money decides to sell my laptop out from under me.  I'm fierce secretly passive aggressive to strangers though aren't I? 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

At the cutting edge of Milk

Two threads of research into milk have come to my attention in recent days... which I thought I'd share, being the kind sort of sharing type of person that I am.

One is in terms of milk's interaction with the microbiome* of a baby - apparently natural human milk encourages good guy bacteria bifidobacterium to grow like crazy in the baby's intestine (so it becomes 80% of what's there), and that in turn sort of gives the child a good micro "fingerprint" for want of a better description, it shapes how their guts will work and what types of bacteria will live there for a good while into the future - reducing a person's predisposition to all sorts of diseases and yukkiness.
Now, the scientists love the bifidobacterium, partly because it's "Y" shaped, and partly because when they give it in spades to prematurely born babies they are 15 times less likely to get a nastly gut illness called NEC. So Mam's milk encourages this good bacteria, got it? Right, so what the scientists are now trying to do is figure out what the good bacteria is making out of it - basically what is it excreting, so that they can mimic this, you guessed it, and add this product to formula, bug poop.  I think this is a little strange, but admittedly fascinating. 

Two is that there's actually a lot of research going into Equine milk.  Yep, horses.  I know there's a brand called Cow & Gate and a scandal called horse gate, so marketing might struggle a bit more with that.  We don't mind getting a helping hand from Daisy to feed our babba's cos we're used to that idea, but Black Beauty, or Shergar?  Would that only make the kids too bloody fast anyway? Any parent who has raced behind a toddler in a terrifying game of multistory carpark chase, knows this is possibly not the best idea.  The boffins are looking into it because apparently horse mammies are very like human mammies and feed their young more often than cows.  I also wondered if this one will ultimately lead to Monkey Milk, which would surely be closer again, but again marketing might stop this bright idea in its tracks, sure it's unlikely the monkey equivalent of veal will have such a ready market.

Maybe easier to support mammies who want to use their own home made stuff, family recipe, passed down the generations, freshly batch prepared every time, perfectly adjusted according to the weather, age of the child, time of day, growth spurts the child is going through, and infections going around.  Just maybe. 


* for the science bit - the microbiome is the family of bacteria that we all live with, that live on and in us, they outnumber our cell's 10 to 1, but scientists think that ratio goes down to 1:1 after a good poop.  (sorry - gawd I seem to be apologising in my posts a lot lately)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Poetry is mainstream now - and sorry but so is humongous horrible suffering.

Almost 7 years ago, I posted two groundbreaking and prescient reports on the popularity of poetry

http://variouscushions.blogspot.ie/2010/05/poetry-getting-incredibly-popular-says.html

and

http://variouscushions.blogspot.ie/2010/05/poetry-getting-incredibly-popular.html
and now dear readers, it has come true.

Poetry is so popular, the wonderful Stephen James Smith was at the pre-Oscar's party last week reading his specially commissioned poem "My Ireland" well worth checking out if you haven't seen it by the way... I knew him before he was famous but after he was 12.

Then, you know what happened, a young poet, like younger than 200 years of age, was on the Late Late show on Friday.
Just to put it into context:  The late late is our barometer of what is mainstream in the world of Ireland.  You hear about a trend of people wearing bottle caps over their eyes for example in new york (so this is the start of the trend, 0.0000000001% in Ireland even know about it), then you see it on a cutting edge arty magazine that the experimental fashionistas in the capital are into it (so the top 0.0000005% in Ireland have discovered it), then you see a cooler than cool looking hipster in the local tavern with one (we're at 1% levels), and eventually someone on the late late has it (totally mainstream - up to 40% of the population are into it)
Anyway yerman Emmet Kirwan he was called, was brilliant and talented, eloquent, engaging and overall a really good representation of the power of poetry.

So now, that must mean that 30 - 40% of Ireland are into poetry in a big mainstream way at this stage.  Which is lovely and aren't we all great.  I'll have to start writing again soon to take advantage of it!

Unfortunately after him, there was a lady with a too familiar story of abuse, and horrific neglect suffered at the hands of supposed care givers. Rosemary Adaser spoke about the terrible things that happened to her, and I'm glad she did, and I'm sorry they happened, and I hope her telling us about it helps somehow ensure it is way less mainstream into the future.
Ryan said to her at one point "I don't know what to do with what you're telling me".  This is a natural reaction - it's like, don't be telling me sad things, It doesn't make me any happier to know about your sadness.
I do feel like the very act of living in the first world and having first world problems is a bit like burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the suffering in worse places, especially that caused by our wasteful habits, greedy insatiable appetites and climate change, but sure, feck it.  At least poetry is getting mainstream, isn't that great?  I've loads of lovely little notebooks bought for when the muse strikes again.  All made from recycled and recyclable paper and sure there's a lovely resonance there as the poems will be recycled too when they eventually get wrote.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Playground Challenge

Foolhardy of a Friday morning on a Parental Leave day off, I says to the kids, I says, Will we do a challenge?  We'll see how many playgrounds we can "do" in one day will we?

So we drew a map, and we made a list, complete with check boxes, to fill in on successful conquest of each site.

We started with the windswept seaside one.  It was busy for some reason, tripping over itself with toddlers.  A bit wet, and treacherous for climbing because of that, there were lucky moments (well I make my own luck by following the two year old closely) when I managed to catch a child that was otherwise about to stand up half way down the tall slide and trip over herself.

Then it was time for the one inland a bit, beside the GAA club.  There was a dog doing laps around the outside of it, and as always at this one, a good sprinkling of hippies within - one with a gorgeous babba strapped to her.  Kids climbed more, pretended they were kings of the castle.  This one has a particularly good spider's web type yoke.

Next up - the wilderness called - there were only two other families at this one.  Hardened by the elements, the mammies were chilling out, the kids running riot, falling off things from heights, and eating junk food - sort of junk food, crisps - that Danger Cushions was mad jealous about.  The energy was flagging on my side by then, so with a promise of our own junk food I enticed them back to the car to go home for lunch.

We set off again, making a pit stop for the promised junk food, and arrived the one between the marsh and the train tracks.  The rain was just stopping as we got there so we had it to ourselves for a few minutes but then they started coming out from the woodwork, mammy judging me for having my kids eating junk in the playground, judging me more for dragging them away after only 25 minutes, I wanted to shout "it's their fourth one today" but I didn't want to appear to be ungracious.  They clicked well with some kids here, but it was really time to be getting on to the next place, so we bade them farewell.

The next spot beside the community centre had a lovely little vibe to it, and really good mix of things for their age groups, ie a super easy side, and a just at the edge of the older one's ability side, so though I thought they'd be bored and just as likely to sit on the bench at this one, they continued to play, tirelessly roaring around it.

The last playground of the day was suddenly drenched by an arriving cloud that seemed to smile down at me saying "Niamh, you've done enough, the kids have been exercised enough for today" and the threatening looking teenagers within it finished the argument in my head, it was home time.  And if I don't win Mammy of the year after that, then I tell you it's not worth playing for!!!

(Whitegate, Cloyne, Lisgoold, Glounthane, Carrigtwohill & Midleton playgrounds were not harmed in the writing of this post)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Perspective

Have you ever watched the International Space Station live feed?  on youtube?

Here's the edge of night-time from over the atlantic - just off the edge of Canada, just as I type - screen shotted



You really gotta check it out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzMQza8xZCc


You can even see where in the world you're looking at on the map here

It makes you feel pretty small, and also freaks you out - i mean what if you see the other side of the world exploding, how long would the internet still work for?


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Worriers

Are you a worrier?  They sound a bit like the less glamorous cousins of the Borrowers... I'll admit it though - I am one.  One am I.

I have forehead creases to prove it, that's the only outward sign though.  Most people think I'm very relaxed.  I like to act that way, still haven't shaken the cool dude type act that I photocopied from my older brother when I was about 12 and took his advice to heart "Just act like you like the doors",  but deep down, I'm really not as cool as I seem.
Ok, ok, don't ROFL,,, those who actually know me in real life know that I don't seem as cool as that last phrase seems to suggest that I seem, but I mean cool in the sense of unworried.  I've had various people tell me that they think the world could fall down and I'd still be relaxed, unruffled, unworried, and maybe that's true.  I think the worry I talk of is more of an unreasonable type of thing, a less practical thing than being worried about the real things that you should worry about.  Now really it's not a big hard type of worry or actual anxiety thing, (see now I'm worried I'm falsely advertising it) my worries are a type of fuel to imagination perhaps emanating from the supernatural type worry generated by a Nun teacher when I was 9 years old telling my class the devil might actually be hiding under the bed, and also to say good bye to our parents carefully each day since they might die in our absence at school.  I have move on from such serious worries to WAY more trivial things.  Maybe I'm like trump, tweeting to my innermost mind the drivel of my opinion on entertainment shows to distract myself from more serious things.
For example - I worry about which lane I should drive in, in the Jack Lynch tunnel - the side with the phone or the side with the escape doors - I hate that they have them on different sides, but I suppose everyone would only want to drive on the side with both if they were together.  I also always hate slowing down at that point that has the sign post showing you are 50 metres each way to the door or the phone, how would one choose which way to go in that case, in the event of an emergency?
I was worried about winning that recent trip to the movie premier, not just about what to wear, who would mind the kids etc, but about whether or not to accept a bucket of popcorn in the extremely impossible chance that I ended up seated beside Ewan for the picture, like would my munching put him off the film?  I suppose that wouldn't matter too much though, as at least he already knows what's going to happen, unless they filmed alternative endings to keep it secret.
Of course others can stoke worries for us too,  Danger Cushions recently invented a whole new worry for Monkey Boots as she embarked on the adventure of  potty training, he called it the "poo monster", and said she had to be careful to go really quickly and run away when done.  He even found proof, a sample of the same monster's fur (otherwise known as cotton wool) which I duly confiscated to get tested in the lab at work.  Luckily she doesn't seem to have paid him much heed.  Her biggest worry is whether or not to accept the burden of ruling her kingdom as recently revealed in a late night conversation with herself.... in very serious tones... whispered... "I am the queen..... I am not the queen.... I am the queen.... I am not the queen"

Of course she will always be the queen of cuteness in my eyes.
Apart from the obvious (with the world kind of falling apart and all) what are your biggest worries oh dear readers?  I will try and set your minds at ease.