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Number of posts: 72
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By Eileen Dight:
I have a perennial burning urge to grow beans and lettuces, tomatoes and zucchini. I missed the season last year, moving house and garden, but I’m back on track. Although I garden on a modest scale, inadvertently I’ve embarked on a bid to grow the world’s most expensive vegetables.
A preference for growing vegetables over flowers is proof of my prosaic side, but also illustrates a romantic approach to harvesting and cooking produce straight from the soil…
a fairy tale
Nothing prepared me for the shock discovery after months in a writers’ group where I now live in Ireland, that several of our members firmly believe in fairies. Nobody dismissed them as figments of the imagination. I had to look into this.
Joining this group had opened a new window for me into a writer’s world. We meet weekly on Sunday afternoons in a village coffee and book shop serving excellent latte…
stay vigilant but
We’re all exercised by recent events in America, even to the extent of disturbed sleep. I dreamed of America being violated, helpless to resist. This is not just America’s problem; it has the capacity to rock the world. Facebook is crammed with shared misgivings. My American friends, all Democrats, exchange tens of emails daily. Several attended the Women’s March in Washington. We are all in danger of burn-out, so I seek to restore peace of mind.
searched then hugged
Yesterday I mentioned to a British friend my concern (in the light of Trump’s edict banning arrivals from certain countries), that all our political views are frankly on record on social media outlets.
I said ‘It only takes a few minutes to judge a person’s political stance by checking their Facebook or Twitter accounts.’ He thought I was absurd to be concerned. He hasn’t lived in the States or used Facebook so perhaps is not aware of the extent to which people express their views, or that Big Brother is likely reading their mail.
greetings from ireland
A year ago, spending Christmas with my son’s family in Ireland, I finally decided to make the move. I’d been living eleven years in Harrisonburg, Virginia, near my youngest son. I was happy in America, comfortable, well established with good friends and plenty of activities. But my son had moved to Kansas in 2014 and I was long flights away from him and his brothers in UK, Ireland, Kansas, Arizona and Australia, all urging me to move …
I dreamed that my husband and I had bought a caravan and were towing it up a steep incline behind his rather old banger. (In reality we bought a caravan twenty years ago and towed it to France.) We felt a judder in the tow bar and he pulled over cautiously to the left of the road, but at that moment the caravan broke free, rolled past us and as we’d just reached the summit, careened at gathering pace down the other side of the bumpy mountain. We followed it with mounting panic, hoping nobody would be hurt as it left the road and ploughed through hedges and fields of crops …
Until a month ago I was a mobile phone virgin. I’d fooled around a little but my inexperience showed. In constant fear of making mistakes, I was timid, not in control. When we lived in the same town my son had given me a primitive mobile phone in an effort to keep in touch. Every few months when he or his wife needed to get hold of me to invite me for lunch or pick up a grandchild, the phone was invariably flat, turned off, in another handbag or glove compartment; frustrating for them.
Moving is about more than selling one house and buying another, booking your move and deciding where to put your furniture in the new place. It’s challenge enough to move from one State to another, processing changes of address, telephone, utilities, medical care and all related paperwork, deciding what to give away or dump, misplacing things in the process, but an international move rocks your entire center of gravity.
location. location. location
After making the decision at Christmas to move to Ireland, to live near my son Patrick with his wife Kate and family of four teenage children, I put my American house on the market a week later and sold it next day to the first people to view it. We complete in April.
I flew back to Ireland for a week in February to look at two houses newly available in the vicinity of my son’s house in the small market town of Nenagh, twenty miles from Limerick, in County Tipperary.
the things I do for love
On the way home to Virginia from a week house-hunting in Ireland, the ice storm and I collided on the east coast. After seven hours waiting for my connecting flight in Philadelphia to Charlottesville, it was cancelled and I was switched to a flight two days hence to finish my journey. My luggage was god knows where and I was obliged to wear the same clothes for three days.
I was stranded in Philadelphia, a city no doubt full of interesting places to visit, but …
familiarity breeds content
On the flight from Dulles to Dublin I sat by a woman returning from Las Vegas, where she had attended the World Freestyle fight between Conor McGregor, Irish Featherweight Freestyle Champion, and Brazil’s Jose Aldo. It took you longer to read that sentence than the fight lasted. Eyes brimming with enthusiasm, she told how Conor defeated his opponent in 13 seconds. For this triumph he was paid $500,000 but fifteen million more were set to roll in. I thought it an expensive trip for such a brief contest…
My nine year old grandson asked me last week, “Granny, what was the best Christmas you ever had?”
Without hesitation I answered, “It was the Christmas when I’d just separated from your grandfather and moved into a different house a few days before Christmas. Your Daddy was 14. My three youngest sons were still in school, one was in college and one had left home. I’d put my last penny down on the house. We had no money at all. In those days we didn’t have credit cards and I never borrowed money.
the way i see it
My eyes are super-sensitive, as I discovered fifty years ago when, walking on a gusty day on an unfamiliar city street, a piece of grit flew into my eye. I was in instant agony: blinking, holding the eyelid, eye watering and conscious of time changing. Seconds became nanoseconds of excruciation. I looked around with the good eye for help. In one of the most fortuitous coincidences of my life I was passing an optician’s shop…
One of the internet’s main advantages is the opportunity to make one’s voice heard, however small. Our opportunity to support change has never been greater. If we can’t personally command attention, we can join with others to promote causes in common. I don’t look for bandwagons to jump on, but as issues present themselves I consider if my signature will advance a good cause. (If not mine, I don’t sign.)
widening my american horizons
For ten years I’ve lived in the Shenandoah Valley, enjoying it so much that when my son whom I came from England to live near, moved to Kansas, I chose to stay here. I’m keenly aware of this vast beautiful country extending from Virginia to California (twice visited) in the west and Montana in the north and I’ve another son and family in Arizona, but there are so many places in America I yearn to explore. When I told Virginian friends “I’m going on holiday to Kansas,” they mostly said “Huh.” I think it’s something to do with the fact that Kansas hasn’t got mountains.
my write to reply
We’ve heard a lot about flags lately and I’d like to comment on the contrasting styles of American sentiment and British cynicism. This difference in style might also account for our nations’ different perceptions of each other’s sense of humor. We need a Special Relationship to reconcile our differences.
I followed with interest controversy over the Confederate flag, admiring those who, understanding its history, agreed to its lowering; repelled by those who knew its significance to those whose oppression it represented, and wanted to preserve it anyway. Flags are indeed symbolic.
a loving tribute
At the beginning of 1997 I bought a new car. It was modest in price and style, but automatic and practical for a woman living in London. It was easy to park, small enough to fit in the narrowest spaces and comfortable to drive: a navy blue Daihatsu Charade that would not attract thieves or envy. I got it at a bargain price because one of my sons worked for a dealership. It was zippy in traffic, when traffic allowed. British roads are narrower and more congested than American ones, this small island being packed with a population of 63 million. It was economic in fuel consumption and cost of insurance…
are we there yet?
I clicked on this topic, interested to expand my ingenuity to distract children on a long drive or transatlantic flight. We played games to keep five boys from fidgeting and fighting during road trips when my (now middle aged) sons were small, growing up in England. We visited distant grandparents, camped in France and Spain in a Hiace van because we couldn’t afford air fares for seven…
this i believe, i think
At the Unitarian Universalist church I attend I was asked to speak on Sunday about My Spiritual Journey. Oh God, I thought. Where to begin? When I was young I supposed that by forty all my opinions – political, religious, ethical – would be decided. At 78 I’m politically consistent but still adrift about a lot of other stuff.
Growing up in a Catholic family in England, the nuns at school told us we were lucky to have been born in the One True Faith; I enjoyed this certainty for a while, but in my teens was already uncomfortable with rigid dogma. Papal Infallibility didn’t fit with the history of the Borgias or the Inquisition. When I was 15…
In England the bookies William Hill are giving odds of 4-1 (a tumble from earlier 14-1) on the new royal baby being named “Alice”, unless it is “Arthur, Henry or James” (all at 20-1.) If it’s Alice the pay-out for the bookmakers will be eye-watering. My first reaction to reading this today was to feel dubious about “Alice” and to shudder at “Arthur.” I wondered how they could admire names that made my mouth turn down at the corners.
It’s all about association.
a northern princess
My father, born in the northern English port of Liverpool (a likely landing place for sea farers) was tall, blonde, with piercing blue eyes, a Roman nose and flat back of the head. As a girl I fantasized that he was of Viking descent, and I a northern princess with a fine thermostat: I was never able to tolerate a hot climate, feeling moribund when the temperature is above 85 degrees and at my best when there’s a nip in the air.
One of my black friends confided in me this week that he was really demoralized by all of the events surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. He was so devastated that it affected his mood, work and outlook for the future. This is a man who had a successful career, is buoyant by nature, sociable, outgoing and a humorist. He continued: “Specifically, the events in Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island, NY plus the widespread disrespect shown to my President has made me — a normally optimistic person–very pessimistic about the future of race relationships in the U.S.”
atlantic coast pipeline
It’s hard to talk in the same breath about the outstanding natural beauty of the Shenandoah Mountain and the plan to cut through it with an Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Yet the 550 mile Gas Pipeline proposed by Dominion Resources is a real threat to the natural, recreational and water resources in the area. It would drive through the southeastern portion of the Shenandoah Mountain in the Braley Pond – Hankey Mountain area. If the pipeline is approved, this could make a portion of the Shenandoah Mountain Proposal ineligible for designation as a National Scenic Area.
we are here to help
When my phone rang a couple of weeks ago I glanced at Caller ID to avoid predictable requests for my generosity. I’m too polite to turn people down without explanation, which wastes my time and theirs. Sometimes they are so persuasive, I’m sorry I answered. The screen announced a caller with a “Private number” so I answered the call. A recorded Asian voice introduced himself as “Stephen Wright”, immediately arousing my suspicion.
come the election
Readers of my articles on LikeTheDew will know that I’m not an advocate of defying the law, but I’m about to encourage this where necessary. Often focused on the joys of my grandchildren, this time I’m focused on yours too. I’m talking about Climate Change and our need to DO something about it.
I was heartened to read about two activists who set an example in May 2013, protesting about the burning of coal in an attention-seeking move…
One night about three years ago when Jake was five, I was settling him to sleep with a book about Chicken Licken. I hadn’t met her before but Jake knew her well. When we got to the end of the book and he asked for another story, I was too tired to fetch another book, and didn’t want to disturb his sleepy state, so I made up a variation on this theme. We lay with our eyes closed, imagining.
My son has gone to England on an extended business trip. His two sons in Virginia keep in touch with him most days by Skype. Jake (8) has a tablet and Connor (11) an iPad. Jake has a 6th grade reading age. His brother Connor is similarly advanced. When we talk we never dumb down vocabulary, although I sometimes check their understanding.
When his father was three, I was reading a book about Paddington Bear to him, his twin and his four year old brother. “ ‘And Paddington’s hat blew off and fell into the river. Paddington was upset because it was a family heirloom.’ Do you know what an heirloom is?” I asked, knowing they didn’t.
only in america
Around the clock, Channel 354 on Dish TV is devoted to hour long programs for dogs. I stumbled upon this when flicking channels, wondering why plastic balloons were drifting across the screen to no apparent end. It was emptier in content than the billiards my Mother with dementia liked to watch for hours. I read the notes: Dog TV provides “Active Camera Moments, Exciting Animations and Moving Objects to encourage your dogs’ playfulness when home alone.” Further, “It’s relaxing time! Research shows that soothing music and relaxing images help your dog feel calm and relax.”
look at me
The first time I realized I was invisible I was 44, arriving at the Spanish border from France. At the age of 20-21 I’d spent 18 months living in Spain. Then I was blonde and foreign, and young Spaniards acted like fruit flies around a ripe peach. It was good for my ego and I got the message that Spaniards like women. I was English and Englishmen look the other way as often as not, out of shyness and ineptitude.
who/what do you read?
A fellow writer asked me yesterday: What do you read? Which writers do you value? Who influences your style? This knocked me for six. It’s a Big Question. I have a long history in libraries and five bookcases stacked with a lifetime’s paperbacks (cheapskate) and short of trawling the shelves for authors’ names which often escape me, I didn’t think I had time to respond. IRS accounts waiting on my dining table reproach me every time I walk past doing something more interesting. But this intriguing question slipped into my mind’s cogs as they surreptitiously rotated.
When they were small my husband used to say, “With a mother like you, Columbus would never have discovered America.” I knew I was over-anxious and didn’t want to burden them; I could barely contain my anxiety when small boys walked along a pier by the sea peering down at the fish (I couldn’t swim) or stood on a cliff’s edge (I suffer from vertigo) but I could keep quiet about my night vigils when they were growing up.
don’t delete the expletives
When my boys were growing up they learned rude words from their classmates (school is an education) and naturally I tried to filter out the most offensive. When a four letter word slipped out of their mouths I would always say “Please don’t say that.” After I explained that their meaning was offensive, and if it became their familiar vocabulary it would inevitably slip out when they didn’t want it to (like in front of a teacher), they were pretty accommodating. Their father however replied to my request not to swear in front of the children (without prevarication) “I’ll effing well swear if I want to!”…
contrast british and american
“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.”—Auden
There is a distinct British sense of humor, often wry, dry and irreverent. It doesn’t rely on smut to be effective, although we’re amused by suggestion. We like the casual delivery, so leave your eyebrows out of it. Half the fun is subtlety. Brits like me enjoy the unexpected outcome, the double entendre, observations on human nature and misunderstandings; slapstick not so much.
When his obituary appeared prematurely in the press, Mark Twain remarked: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” In the last weeks a number of deaths of celebrities have been falsely reported. Nothing but fame seems to connect the individuals whose erroneously reported demise has set the twittering classes tweeting. First I read on the internet that Michael Moore had died. I was dismayed at the loss of this useful member of society and great campaigner, and relieved next day when I discovered the report was false…
how’s your neuroplasticity?
At 76 I find my brain getting foggy at times (along with most of my peers) during tasks which I once saw clearly. My main concern is to avert dementia which debilitates and aggravates us and them. So I was interested when a brain training product on the internet introduced itself to me. I read the blurb, played a couple of simple but stimulating games and recognized that this could help keep me mentally limber; then I hesitated about the expense.
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