This post is dedicated to my sister Elise who is 71 today. She was my first roommate and confidant, although I admit we did fight like cats when it came to things like cleaning up our room. I remember that on one of these occasions, my father strode into the room, took all the bedding off the beds and threw it all out into the hall. He then picked up everything else and tossed it on the pile he had made. “There!” he said. “Maybe now I can get some peace.” When he stomped off, Elise and I looked at each other and collapsed laughing. And then we cleaned up the mess and went out to play.

She has a mischievous sense of humor and a ready smile. A true healer, she is gentle, kind, patient and a gift to everyone who knows her. Elise, I hope you have the best birthday! No one deserves it more ❤️🎂❤️

Elise 70 years ago today!

The news media reports that May was the driest month. I don’t know where they got that impression. Down here in the southwest of Ireland, with the exception of a couple of days in the middle and the end of the month, it was gray, gray, gray and almost always wet, even when it wasn’t actively raining. Nothing got enough light and heat to actually dry out much. The ground was still too cold for things to come forth. Even the peas took at least a week longer to germinate and are only now starting to flower, some six weeks after I sowed them. In any event, with all that rain, everything looks lush and green.

Happily, all that rain meant I spent a lot of time knitting and piecing quilts. I have one quilt ready to put on the frame. I’m doing that one for my granddaughter. I’m planning another for a daughter-in-law. These will have to be finished by September when the family will be over here for a weeklong trip. I may get going on those projects this week. In the meantime, I’m finished with the second project (a cowl) in one KAL (Knit Along) club and coming to the end of another KAL (a cardigan). Sadly, I have not even started with the third one but as it’s a blanket throw made of twenty 10” squares I should catch up soon. I really must get my impulse to buy yarn and patterns and join project clubs under control! I had great intentions of using up as much of the wool in my stash as I could but my desire to learn new techniques and undertake the challenges of a mystery knit along is hard to resist.

I did get up to Dublin for a Mother’s Day theatre matinée. I’m lucky, I also get Irish Mother’s Day in March! I went to The Gate Theatre with cousin Paula Bán where we saw “The Pull of the Stars” based on a book by Emma Donoghue. It was amazing, moving, and powerful. At the end, even before the curtain call, the audience was on its feet roaring its applause. I want to read the book but it will have to wait until I can give it the space to be its own thing.

The day had threatened rain but cleared as soon as we came out and strolled down O’Connell Street (oddly the setting for the play) toward Dublin Castle to Café Max, a sweet little French bistro nestled in Parliament Street, the shortest street in Dublin, I think. Moules Frites, a Côtes de Provence white wine and great company. It was a lovely relaxing day. I think we’ll make it a tradition.

On the Blackwater Cruise

There were some family things in May that got us out of the house and back into the swing of things. Robbie’s cousin Leish brought the ashes of their cousin Cáit to be interred in the family plot in Carrick-on-Suir. The following Tuesday we took Leish and her husband with us on Tony Gallagher’s boat up the Blackwater—the long trip with a picnic in Villierstown. While the sun wasn’t actually shining (no surprise there), it was pleasant and almost warm and, as my mother would say, any day on the water is a great day. Later that month, Máirtín de Cógáin invited us to a session at The Local in Dungarvan. Robbie’s cousin Dónal was there with an amazing box player, Joseph Mannion—definitely a man to watch! Robbie reckons he’ll get the All-Ireland this year. At some point in the evening a Bodhrán solo started. It soon became FOUR bodhráns. Often that’s considered three too many but not this night! See the video: Bodhránimania!

It’s election time here, and we are voting for local councilors and EU representatives. Next year is the national election. We’ve had weeks of the doorbell ringing and campaign flyers in the mailbox. Friday, we went to the local school and cast our ballots and now we are keeping “radio silence” as nothing will be finalized for about a week and the airwaves are full of speculation until all the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. votes are redistributed. It’s proportional representation here. You vote for as many candidates as you are willing to support in the order of preference. Counting the votes is time consuming.

I often wonder how history would have been different had a similar system be used in the United States for federal elections. For instance, would Al Gore have been clearly elected when Ralph Nader’s second preference votes were redistributed, assuming that anyone voting for Nader would have been unlikely to have chosen Bush as a second preference? Would we finally be able to divest ourselves of the Electoral College—an 18th century compromise institution that was invented when news travelled on horseback and now results in a handful of states wielding greater power than their populations warrant? From where I’m sitting, it seems to me that more people would actually vote if they could vote their conscience—if they could vote for the person they most strongly support first and then for whichever they consider the lesser of the remaining evils as second preference, and so forth. How much more invested would we be if the person who wins the election was someone we actually were FOR, even if they were our second or third preference? After all, no one has to vote for someone they absolutely do not support. That would feel unethical. All these questions (and indeed, this whole paragraph) is dedicated to my dear friend June who is herself an elected representative in Rhode Island as well as a professor of Political Science.

Back to less contentious matters. Below are photos I took throughout May (and maybe into June…). Now that we are a week into June, things are looking much better. The roses on the corner of the shed have never been so abundant, the potatoes we planted in the beds outside the studio have really come on—we scrabbled around for some early potatoes and, while they weren’t very big, they were very tasty.