I'm never gardening again...

...without this guy...

...and without this.

When my friend Steve peered over the fence after he was done mowing Ethel's yard, I could see the surprise on his face. All the hard work we'd done last summer in the garden (read about it here and here) was disappearing. I'd made good progress against the weeds earlier this spring, but then I went to Ireland. And when I got home, weeding was the last thing I wanted to do (evidenced here). 

So we set a date and got down to business. Put on our gloves, got out the clippers and shovels, popped the tops on the Summer Shandy.

And commenced to drinking beer...I mean fighting the weeds.

One more night of work, and I think it will be clear. Then I think I'll have to bite the bullet and buy mulch. Last time I did, it took 44 bags. Not even kidding. Dad had to rescue me from the Menard's lot...the mulch-getter-Menard's-guy laughed at me when I said I was going to carry it home in my old Explorer. Laughed right out loud.

Oh, my adventurous life.


Note to self...

Yep, that's my purse.
And yep, that's a note taped to it reading: "BEER."
'Cuz sometimes, you just can't forget the important stuff.

I got this note-taping-on-my-purse habit from my Mom. The best note she ever taped to her purse was when I was in high school. She had kept forgetting to get heartworm medication for the dog, so she got a giant piece of paper and wrote "DOG PILLS" on it in marker and attached it to the handle of her purse. It worked great - she remembered the dog pills - but it was kind of embarrassing walking through the mall with her with that note fluttering behind her.

I'm normally a wine drinker. And I love icy-cold prosecco in the summertime. So why was it imperative that I remember beer that day? 

Stay tuned.


It's going to be 95 degrees today...

...and at 6:30 a.m., Harry had already assumed the position in front of the fan.

With all those hairs, Harry doesn't move much on a day like today. Which is expected to reach 95 degrees with high, high humidity. The heat index could make it feel like over 105. Yuck.

Wait, did I just say "cat chow?" Harry can always move for that.


Vegetarian...except for full Irish breakfasts

I've been a vegetarian for...I don't know how long. I've never liked meat, and it really never liked me. After I moved out on my own and away from my parents' meat-and-potatoes dinners, I never cooked meat for myself. I'd only eat it when I went out or if somebody cooked it for me.

And then I happened upon a book called "Skinny Bitch" and read it all in one sitting. Gulp. Stopped eating meat cold turkey (no pun intended). Freaked about eating ONLY organic and ONLY local. Spent a long time wandering around the supermarket trying to figure out what I felt right about eating at all.

It's all balanced out now, but it's taken a long time. I will eat clementines in the winter and I will buy non-organic food. And I'll make exceptions to the "no meat" rule under special circumstances. Like if my Mom fries one of the chickens Dad has humanely raised and processed.

Or if I'm in Ireland and this is placed in front of me.
I'm a sucker for bacon and black pudding (a.k.a. blooding pudding).
Don't judge me.

I knew it would happen, but the bacon and puddings really didn't agree with me. Like, in a pretty dramatic way. To the point where Mom and Sheila would raise their eyebrows worriedly and protest a little every time I placed my order for the "full Irish breakfast" with the B&B. Finally, Mom just gave me her whole supply of Tums and told me to shut up when I'd start to groan.

I have a friend who's vegetarian...except for bacon. Another one is vegetarian...except for pepperoni (because pepperoni isn't really meat, she argues). Well, I guess that I'm vegetarian...except for Dad's chicken and full Irish breakfasts. 

And I'm ok with that.


And here's what I decided to do...

There's a book to write, blogs to post, new music to get under the harp strings and onto paper...and here's what I decided to do:

Yep. I embroidered some dishtowels.

I could say that I need a little break from the writing to clear my mind, get new ideas, see the story from a fresh perspective.

I could say that there's nothing going on in my life that's interesting enough to blog about, so I'm not going to force the posting.

And I could say that the new song has been rolling around in my head for almost a month...it's not going anywhere, I don't have to play anywhere soon, there's no need to rush its "setting" to paper.

But really? Really I think I needed to take some thread and kind of sew myself back together. Travel always leaves me a little unraveled when I get back, especially emotional journeys like the trip to Ireland was. Needle up and down, stems and petals forming, progressing, completing, blossoming under my fingers. Bright red poppies on dishtowels for my kitchen. One of them already has a big tomato stain on it. Yesssss...Craft-art therapy. 

I think the other things will fall into place soon. For one, I'm going to meet with a writer friend on Monday. For another, I'm meeting with a harp friend on Thursday of next week. Resulting in, perhaps, more news for the blog. For now, though, I've got the 4th towel in progress. Stitching things back into making sense...


Jingle Belle loves harp music

At least not right now, when it's time for cat chow.


Windiest gig EVER

WOW. Not only was it hot, not only was I barely over my jet lag, but it was soooo windy on Sunday at the Arts by the River event. The wind buffeted the microphones, knocked over our music stands, carried our music northward over the river and up onto the prairie.

Check out the wild hair! You'd think this was Ireland...

The bet use of clothespins - to keep your music from blowing into the next county.
(And check out those arm muscles - all from hauling luggage in Ireland!)

But we persevered despite the elements. The band carried on without me when the wind nearly knocked over the harp. Three times. During those minutes when I listened to them play along I started wondering if they needed me at all. Like, would they get ideas about breaking out on their own, without a harpist? 

When I posed the question, they all shouted "NO!!" So did a couple of nice people in the audience. 



It must be time for a Riverfront Park performance

The Celtic Band and I will be at Riverfront Park in Mankato to perform during the Arts by the River event on Sunday, June 10, at 2:00 p.m.

Of course we are. I mean, I just got home from Ireland and I'm jet lagged. And it's going to  be 90+ degrees on Sunday. Where else would we be performing? Here's the history:

2010: Just back from Ireland and jet lagged.
At our 2010 performance, I'd just come from a Minnesota State Arts Board trip to attend two harp festivals in Ireland. I was full of music and ideas and the band and I even debuted a couple of new songs I'd written on the Emerald Isle. I don't remember a moment of the performance - that's how jet lagged I was. But I hear it was lovely and that my babbling, incoherent commentary was..."charming."

2011: Hotter than...

Last year the crowd was big and friendly and responsive - people even danced improvised Irish jigs - despite the oppressive heat and humidity.

So yes, it's all coming together, people. The stars (and the temperature and the post-vacation stupor) are aligned. Riverfront Park is a great place to spend a day and a wonderful venue for music. So slather on your sunscreen and bring your hat and come out Sunday to hear us play some Irish favorites, my original music and perhaps even a brand new song or two (depending on if I can make sense of all the notes floating around in my very confused, time-challenged brain). There'll also be great art and yummy summertime refreshments available!


Ireland: home again

I'm back. I think. The trip home was long. The flight was tummy-heavingly bumpy. Suitcases were heavy. Vacation was over. Jet lag has settled into my foggy brain and it's hard to tell what time it really is. Driving to the grocery store was an adventure - I wasn't sure which side of the car or road I should be on.

And while it's always good to get away, it's still good to get home. To my own bed (which my wonderfully amazing house-and-cat-sitter had made up with clean sheets...ahhh), my own huge clawfoot cast iron bathtub (double-ahhh) and to my kitties.

All of them jumped onto my suitcase within 5 minutes of my arrival home to tell me, "You're staying put for a while, Lady."

I still have a few more Ireland posts brewing, if you'd like to see photos and hear a couple of tales. Watch for them this week...once the jet lag fogginess lifts. Thanks for following along on this trip with me!


Ireland: Yarn - resistance is futile

I'd been told the store was out of business, but when I turned the corner in Dingle and saw Commodum there with its red awning and Latin lettering, I started to run.

Mecca, to this knitter. (photo from the Commodum site)

 But I wasn't going to buy any yarn.

No way, no how.

Oh, be still my knitter's heart.



Oh, FINE! I "only" bought 4 skeins each of a glorious, buttery yellow (to remind us of the whole pound of butter we ate in four days with our bread and scones at Mermaid Isle) and some grey-heathered-purple that I just couldn't leave behind. And some natural white, straight off the sheep. And some Irish cotton-linen. And a red already-made cape with dotted and felted sleeves and cowl (because I'd never want to make that myself...yes, that's the justification...). 

Now you know my weakness. Tempt me with yarn, and I'm yours. Well, within reason. And I hear the weather back home is done with its heat wave and has turned cooler and rainy - perfect weather for starting a new knitting project.

It would be kind of nice if the sheep just kind of knit themselves, wouldn't it?
You could place your order, the sheep would grow wool in your pattern and when it's shorn,
it's ready to be worn. Yeah.


Ireland: luxury accommodations

They're a little old. OK, many many centuries old. But they're well-constructed. And well-ventilated. Cozy, let's call them.

Dry-stone construction. Still standing, snugly, after soooo many years.

In communities, built by early people huddling along the cliffs of Dingle.

All connected by walls for protection from invaders. And from that wind off the sea.

 From the inside, you get a good idea of how fragile human existence was,
despite the protection of these thick walls.

But that view. That view must have been what made it all worth it.

I think this modern-day girl with ever-stronger hermit tendencies could get a lot of thinking and meditating done in a little stone hut like that. Just give me a couple of sheep skins to sleep on, a good wool sweater and scarf and hat, a little fire to heat soup and tea, and let the dreaming commence.