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I’m back, but not ringing the bell

December 17, 2011

Here I am, after a hiatus of much longer than my afore-lied one month. Surprise, surprise – the novel didn’t get written. I did get almost 14,000 words down though, which is pretty huge for me. The idea I used would have worked great as a short story or even a screenplay, but as a novel it doesn’t feel doable. I’ve taken a break from it, but I think about it a lot and wonder at what I can do to fix it.

We are now in cloudy, wet St. John’s, Newfoundland. We arrived Thursday night after an epic day of Xanax-laced air travel. There was only one snafu – our plane left from Heathrow late, and we arrived in Halifax about an hour before our flight to St. John’s was scheduled to leave, and then had a customs problem. We made our final flight by about two minutes, no exaggeration. My Dad picked us up at the St. John’s airport and we’ve spent the past two nights at a hotel. We’ll move into our new home in a couple of nights, after we’ve cleaned the hell out of it (don’t ask) and filled the fridge with a bounty of President’s Choice goodies.

The past month has been a mix of sweet and sour. We spent lots of time with our friends in Ireland, drank a lot, ate a lot, and didn’t worry about much. As our moving date approached we slowly began to prepare. We had a lot of stuff to do over the last couple of days, but we made sure to take one last trip into Dublin the day before we flew. Two friends, angels in disguise, stayed the night Wednesday so they could drive us to the airport at 3 a.m. Thursday morning. We had so much support from friends, and we needed it, big time.

We are feeling very strange and uprooted at the moment. No friends and in an unfamiliar city – I am so sick of doing this.

A hiatus

November 6, 2011

I am going to take the month off blogging to get as much of my NaNoWriMo novel completed by the end of November! We’ll see my progress is like; we are also moving back to North America in a month and a half, and moving preparations are going to take up a lot of time and energy.

November 6

November 6, 2011

Nothing to write today, but a few videos to share.

in Cork

November 1, 2011

Right now, my husband and I are in the bathroom, waiting for our son to fall asleep in the hotel room. Every little while we open the bathroom door and peek out, and get this: “Turn off light. Go away.” Our kid is really into his sleep — we are blessed. He is asleep usually by 8 every night and wakes up at around 8 every morning. He is surprisingly cool with sleeping in new surroundings, but he needs the dark and the quiet and is indignant when that doesn’t happen.

We decided to take an impulsive two-day holiday to Cork, just to get away. We came here two years ago and loved it. We didn’t do much touring — just walked around, visited parks, ate, bit of shopping, etc. Ate here this evening — it was just…So good to have some hearty Mexican food. Cork is the quaintest network of cobbled alleyways. Little book shops, coffee shops (best coffee I’ve had in my life, here), lots of boutique shopping, LOTS and LOTS of gastrotouring to be done. The English Market makes me want to cook again and makes me want to care about locally-sourced food again (I have in recent years lost all desire to connect with my food; I am a reheater, not a chef, nowadays. I think it had something to do with the ghastly tiny perpetually-filthy galley-style kitchen in our old flat). It’s an inspiring place filled with fresh veg, lots of artisan cheese merchants and craft butchers, and LOTS of fresh fish, any fish you could ever want to eat. That is the highlight of our trip so far, I think, according to our son — just seeing all the fish. He even said: “I want to eat this fish.” He doesn’t say a lot, and has trouble getting his thoughts across, so that’s a pretty big deal.

We attempted Halloween back in Maynooth last night. Ivan got a good haul, with a few objectionable items, obviously from people who forgot to buy candy: a melon(!) (and actually, that isn’t objectionable — it’s healthy, and we’re going to eat it, but it was very heavy) and a handbag-worn package of glucose tablets!!!

A birthday!

October 29, 2011

My son turned four on October 25! Turning four is no huge achievement — many of us have done it — but it’s still cause for celebration.

That’s my husband and his positively biblical beard. There’s a fantastic, though quite weathered, mural on an internet cafe near Connolly Stn. featuring cats aplenty, and pretty ladies, and a few monsters, and it fascinates Ivan.

The birthday kid on the train back to Maynooth, with his hands full of Pokemon.

I made a Bunny from Mars for him!

Fantastic punk rock jammies from Crabby Q on Etsy.

A friend took us to Knowth this week — here’s the kid with a petroglyph.

And another.

October 29, 2011

Today, I went to Snakebite Piercing and Tattoo in Dublin and got a tattoo!

It’s Pangur Ban from The Secret of Kells.

My friend Mags and I were going to go get tattoos together, sort of a rite between friends, since I’m moving away soon. We made an unfortunate discovery however; because Mags is breastfeeding, she can’t get a tattoo! She’ll have to get a tattoo to celebrate when her son weans. Hmm.

I swore after my last tattoo that I’d never get another — it hurt too much. The vow of “never doing ______ again” has never really worked for me, though.

I care about X-Factor

October 24, 2011

I love this guy so much. And other people do too.

I’d like to think that I have a punk rock soul, but obviously, if I’m getting this much enjoyment out of X-Factor, that isn’t true. I love Johnny for many reasons; he’s 45, he’s a drag queen, he looks like Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, he actually can sing, he doesn’t take himself seriously, and he teases stony-faced Gary Barlow.

The soup that ruined all other soups for me

October 24, 2011

Late last week I had a sacred chunk of time to myself, and I went to Bon Bons in Maynooth, a new, cute lunch joint that is too dear to visit regularly, but special enough to visit occasionally. What I ate there has been tattooed into my memory, and I MUST replicate it somehow. I took a photo of it w/my phone, but alas, I had to restore my good old LG Cookie Fresh piece of shit phone to factory settings this weekend, as I often must do, and the photo’s gone.

What I got was a “winter vegetable soup,” but it wasn’t one of those typical, but nice, winter veggie soups that are blended to heck and usually contain butternut squash, carrots, and/or pumpkin. This was chunks of the aforementioned, cooked to a perfect al dente, and sitting in the creamiest, butteriest, golden herbaceous broth I’ve ever tasted. The combination was absolutely *perfect* in every way. It was served with cheese soda bread, but it didn’t need to be served with anything.

So since then I’ve been trying to craft a recipe for this soup in my head, but because I can’t cook, it’s pretty hard. In the past, when I’ve “winged” soups, they have never once turned out well. I also can’t make soup made from recipes well. Soup scares me.

When I search for winter vegetable soup, all I get are blended soups. When I search for winter vegetable soup with cream, all I get are creamy/chowdery soups. I didn’t ask about the soup at Bon Bons because I was nervous — no way a restaurant would ever give you a recipe.

So I guess the search continues, unless of course someone out there who happens to read this can come up with a recipe given my above description. The key thing here is the creamy broth the soup was in — how do you make that? It was a *thin* creamy broth, not a floury one. Like you could (and I did) drink it.

It rained all day today and yesterday. I’m worried we’re going to get another rat visitor, as that’s what happened the last time it rained like this.

Also, I gave myself the worst burn I’ve ever had today, by grabbing the handle of a saucepan that’d been in the oven. Why did I do this? Let’s not discuss that; I’ll just say that my mind was on other things. The palm of my hand is blistered and shiny and tight and it hurts, oh man, it hurts. I was all by myself in the house and tears were shed. I am using the very saucepan that burned me to hold ice water in which to soak my revolting hand, swollen, bacon-like hand. On that note, I’ll end by saying that do not, under no circumstances, GIS hand burn.

The great coldening

October 23, 2011

The great coldening

Yesterday, October 21, was the date of the re-rapture, as predicted by Harold Camping. I don’t really want to talk about raptures, but I will say that I completely approve of the trend of rapture bombing. I rapture bombed my own bed:

You might be thinking: wow, crosswords? Thermal underwear AND ski socks? A 3x-too-big hoodie commemorating her role in the local musical society’s production of Godspell? That shit is SEXY to the MAX.

Alternately, you might be thinking: finding humour in this depressing situation — in which a deluded 90-year-old man persuaded many of his followers to forfeit their life savings, their homes, etc., because they believed his prediction that the world was ending – is wrong.

If you happen to be thinking that it looks like I wear a lot of bulky crap to bed, you’re right! Because my house is UNINSULATED. Yes, uninsulated houses exist in Ireland. If you were to build an uninsulated home in Canada, you would be fined or arrested or worse, and you’d deserve everything you got.

I am 32, and I haven’t lived in an actual entire house since I moved out of my parents’ at age 18 when I went away, fresh-faced and hopeful, to university. My husband and I have lived in many flats and suites within houses over the past several years, and they have always ranged from good to great (I am lucky enough to have lived in only one shithole in my life, in second year university, with two roommates), but have never been large.

So when we got the opportunity to move into the house in which we live in (sorry, I’ve got Live and Let Die stuck in my head, thanks to X-Factor UK) at the beginning of September, we were really excited, even if the circumstances surrounding our need to move weren’t good. The house has four bedrooms, a big kitchen in which several people could sit and/or cook, TWO bathrooms, a laundry/utility room, a fireplace, an attic and a big back garden AND a local hedgehog.

Since there are just three of us, we have two extra bedrooms, so we can finally, for the first time in our lives, have guests over to sleep in a bedroom of their own, AND have a room for my fabric and yarn and “other” (all of these things have lived in boxes for years). Living in this house excites me. I feel like I’m on vacation.

Except for this one thing that has only revealed itself in the past few weeks. The house is permeated with bone-chilling cold almost all the time. It gets so cold at night that it actually hurts both to sit on the toilet and to put a bare foot ANYWHERE there isn’t carpet.

We haven’t had to worry about heating economically before. Most of the places we’ve lived have been at least decently insulated (a suite in a 100-year-old house in Saskatchewan comes to mind, with our landlord’s spray insulation puffing out of cracks inside and out like Yorkshire pudding) and fairly cheap to heat. But now we have an actual two-storey house – a two-storey uninsulated house – to heat, and it turns out, it’s impossible.

We have radiators throughout the house. Initially, they didn’t give off much heat at all, so we bled them. But though the radiators are now working at their full capacity, the heat is gone shortly after we turn them off, sucked right out any crack in the house and out the (closed) windows. We can’t turn our heat on all the time; it would be hundreds and hundreds of euros in oil, so we have to use it as carefully as we can.

We’ve talked to local friends about this, and apparently IT’S NORMAL. We’ve had people say that they just sleep in their living room with the fire going over the winter, that they bought big felt curtains to hang over all the doors and windows, and have draft dodgers everywhere. We have a friend who lives in the exact same model of house that we do, and when she and her husband bought it they insulated it themselves, so she doesn’t need to deal with this!

It’s amazing what damp cold, deep down in your bones, does to you. It’s a sickening feeling. We build a fire every night – a tower of kindling, peat and coal that can burn for hours – the fireplace is so small that it only heats up the living room. We may need to copy our friends and camp out in the living room until December 15, when we leave Ireland and move to St. John’s, Newfoundland (and into, I should mention, a two-bedroom basement suite).

Three bouncy songs to get you through dumb old Wednesday afternoon

October 19, 2011