smile. rotten pumpkin

The cost of a smile.

Yesterday I had the most expensive chocolate biscuit cake in the world. Yes you read that correctly. It cost €800. I’ll do the maths for you, that is $880.82 American dollars £563.83 pounds sterling and a whopping $1,205.53 Australian dollars!

Was it delicious? No

Was I out to lunch with a sugar daddy milliionaire in a six star hotel? No.

The sad reality is I was out to lunch with three friends in a local pub when I bit into the cake and quickly realised I’d crunched on a stone.

‘Jesus’ I thought, ‘what the hell have they dropped in this cake?’

I ran my tongue around my mouth but couldn’t find anything.

‘Weird’, I thought and cautiously continued to eat until I felt a sharp rip on my tongue. I ran my tongue against the sharp ragged object only to discover it was my tooth, or in reality, half my tooth. I moved my tongue away, then carefully checked again. Yep I was definitely missing half a tooth.

My ever observant caring friends hadn’t even come up for air in their conversation, nor had they noticed my absence from it. I checked again.

‘Feck, I’ve eaten my tooth’.

‘What?’ asked my friend, as I realised I had spoken aloud.

‘I broke my tooth’

‘Where is it?‘ she asked.

‘I’ve eaten it’ I sheepishly replied.

Now I can safely say I had the attention of the whole table.

‘Show me’, asked my friend.

‘There’ I said, showing her the tooth.

‘Where?’ she asked, and my heart soared. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. I mean if she couldn’t even see it perhaps it was magnified in my mouth. With hope in my heart I decided to leave quickly and contact the dentist.

On arriving into my car I hurriedly checked my tooth in the mirror. OMG the horror. There was a massive gap where half the side of my tooth was missing. Through the gap I could see the remainder. It was gross, large and black. How could my friend not have seen this? She needs an urgent appointment with specsavers. I on the other hand now looked like I could be a contestant on the Jeremy kyle show, as I had always wondered at the number of guests he has on with black or missing teeth.

Thankfully within the hour I was lying back as the dentist smiled down upon me with her perfect dentist white teeth.dentist

‘Right, well I’m afraid it’s too big to refill and rebuild. We’re looking at a crown here’.

‘Okay, how much would that be?’ I ask politely, innocent to what is about to come.

€800.

Now I live in Cork and over the past twenty five years here I’ve developed it’s sing song accent. However when upset, mad or in shock, as in this case, I return to my default Dublin accent.

‘Jaysus!’ I roared, ‘€800!’

There was silence from perfect dental smile, as I think my change of accent had shook her.

‘Cryist!’ I continued still broadly Dublin. (For someone with no religious beliefs, Jesus, Mary and Joseph along with Cryist, and Jaysus figure strongly in times of Dublin accent)

Perfect dental smile recovered somewhat and began to sympathise. She kindly explained the procedure, reassuring me I could pay in installments.

As she spoke I could be heard repeating over and over, €800 in many different tones.

€800 (incredulous)
€800 (ridiculous)
€800 (almost crying)
€800 (We’ll never holiday again)
€800 (shaking my head)

Eventualy she said we’d patch it up today and make an appointment for a few weeks time. Ten minutes later I walked out the front door in a daze.

Arriving home I went to the mirror and looked at my teeth. How much money was I looking at if that gammy tooth was €800. I mean the front ones were nice and white and I’d always liked them, how much were they worth? Could I afford to ever eat again in case I damaged them.

€800. That was a fortune. What could I do with that much money?wine

Buy a real crown with diamonds in it.
Fly to Australia and back.
Fly the whole family back to Portugal.
Fly to New York and have spending money.
Drink wine freely for a year, okay maybe just six months.

I then had the pleasure of A. telling my ever caring family that I’d eaten half my tooth and B. telling them the cost of fixing it. I can tell you all, they had minimal sympathy with me and when they heard the cost of repair I could see some of them wondering if it was worth it? Maybe just take my tooth out? Thankfully no one was brave enough to say it.

It is now a full twenty four hours later and I think I have begun to develop post traumatic stress disorder. As I eat, drink or even just breathe I stop in fright and imagine I’ve broken another tooth. With the fear of God in me (there is religion poppin in again), my heart racing, I tentatively check my teeth with my tongue only to discover it’s a false alarm. I’m telling you, I’m losing pounds, as after I recover from my fright I’m not too keen to continue eating.

A good friend has recommended I get a second opinion and I’ve an appointment made for ten days time. I’ve also enlisted the combined knowledge of a wonderful facebook group of bloggers called the Irish Parenting Bloggers who have furnished me with many choices, including travelling to Europe or Northern Ireland, yes that is cheaper than walking half a mile down the road!

So who knows where this tooth of mine will bring me, but keep an eye out, for if I’ve to pay €800 I’m not sure which child I’ll have to sell.

photo credit: my pumpkin has a bad case of halitosis via photopin (license)

photo credit: my pumpkin has a bad case of halitosis via photopin (license)

photo credit: IMG_0331 via photopin (license)

Diamond ring

Diamonds are forever.

This day last week was special, and I missed it. I was on holidays, offline. It was the only time in ten days I felt compelled to write, so I wrote this on July 23rd using pen and paper. I know I’m posting it a week late, but Mum and Dad this one’s for you.

Today as I go to the pool, relax and joke with my family and enjoy the exhilarating experience of being dragged along behind a motor boat, a part of me is missing. For although I am hundreds of miles from Ireland a part of me checked out early this morning, packing no luggage, and made it’s way ‘home’. Not home to Cork where I currently live but to my real ‘home’, the home of my childhood days.

This part of me is the part I never gave away when I said ‘I do’. It is the part of me which didn’t take my husbands name, or grow up to be a mother. This part of me is the child I once was, the daughter of Agnes and John. The final piece in a jigsaw I never shared, the part that is me.

Today that ‘me’ was absent. Instead of awakening surrounded by family in sunny Portugal, I woke up in the bedroom of my childhood. Walking downstairs I entered the kitchen, where I knew you would be, radio on, sitting enjoying an early morning cup of tea. This morning we didn’t greet with our usual chirpy ‘Good morning’, but with a wordless hug. As we stood there, just for a moment, we faltered. Today July 23rd is your sixtieth wedding anniversary, your twenty eigth anniversary alone.

Sixty years ago a young twenty two year old Co Donegal man wed a beautiful twenty three year old Donegal woman. There was so much ahead, life so full of promise. The wedding photos speak volumes, the smile on your face, the glint in my dads eye. He clearly knew he had got the cream.

Over the years they stood strong as a pair, never rich in money but millionaires in all that matters. A motley crew of children joined them and despite the havoc they caused, the bonds of love and marriage remained tight.

Until life ended it all too soon when Dad got motor neurone disease and slipped away at the age of 54, with you by his side.

Today as I phoned instead of hugged you I wept for those lost twenty eight years. Life can be so cruel, but I was stopped in my tears when you said,

‘Tric I’d not change it if I could’.

You are right mum. I wouldn’t either.

Even though Dad cannot speak with us today I know he is near you. I have no doubt he is reminiscing alongside you and enjoying the many happy memories you both shared. I can hear him tittering at some of what you say, and I know he’s so proud of what you achieved over the past twenty eight years.

So it is only right to take time out today to toast the happy couple from all those years ago. Congratulations to you both on your diamond wedding anniversary. You certainly prove that ‘diamonds are forever’.

Just for you mum, I’ll repost the song you first danced to as man and wife. Listen to the lyrics I’ve no doubt they are true.

‘If things go wrong dear and fate is unkind ,
look over your shoulder I’m walking behind’.

photo credit: Engagement Ring [Photo 2] via photopin (license)

photo credit: August 6, 2009: Late night hands via photopin (license)

Ireland. Summer 2015

Is it Summer yet?

If you lived in Ireland you would understand why for the first time in years I legged it to the airport ten days ago, leaving skid marks behind me in search of sunshine. It’s been a Summer in name only here, with cold weather, grey skies and rain on a daily basis.

Thankfully the holiday was everything I could have wished it to be. I am safely home, relaxed, bronzed and freezing!

So here is just a quick ‘howareye’ post (a friendly Irish expression meaning ‘hi’), letting you know I’m back, and filling you in on the holiday craic.

Every day happenings…
At the pool, (may have been said by myself)

Wow it’s warm today.
2min later, ‘Jesus I’m roasting’…
1min later, ‘Ah for fecks sake I’m melting’…
Seconds later, ‘Right I’m getting into the pool for a quick dip’.
40 min later I emerge, ‘Ah it’s lovely today, definitely not as hot as yesterday’.
2 min later, ‘Jesus I’m roasting’…

Observations made as I look around the pool…

There are more stories among the different families around this pool, than in our local library.

On seeing my OH stretched out ‘sunbathing’.
Is is possible for him to look more Irish?

Factor 50 doesn’t always work.

This is the life, sitting here reading my third book in a week.

Regular musings away from the pool.
Wow look at that blue sky! (Repeated every five minutes in wonder)

I miss my daughter. (She went on her own holiday and didn’t miss us)

As my OH walks in the heat to get fresh rolls and groceries daily, I pat myself on the back for chosing so well so long ago.

My youngest infects us all with happiness.

Mayer appt. Portugal

Mayer appt. Portugal

Each evening…
Where will we eat? (Repeat for an hour as we wander the streets)

‘I don’t miss the internet’…
‘Isn’t there great peace without the internet?’…
Excuse me is there free internet here?

Each night…

I am a peaceful person, usually easygoing and laid back… until I play cards and lose!

For God’s sake what is the story with these portugese double beds? Who ever thought a double bed was two singles pushed together with separate bedding tucked in tightly?

Final morning…
What time is the taxi coming?
We wait for a half hour at the side of the road.
What time is the taxi coming?
Frantic calls… It’s on it’s way.
Twenty minutes later, What time is the taxi coming?
More frantic calls…five more minutes.
One hour and ten minutes later…
‘Sorry taxi broke down’ he tells us when he arrives.
‘Oh no problem at all’ we gush, ‘thank you for coming’.

So there you have it, we made it on time to the airport and are safely back home, relaxed with many wonderful memories. I am grateful to have had another family holiday with my growing children. This year we were lucky to have three out of four with us, but I know that, regretably for us, a holiday as a family of six may be a thing of the past.

Sigh. It was good while it lasted.

photo credit: Leonard John Matthews via photopin cc

Brace yourselves, I’m off.

It’s that time of year fellow bloggers when I and my family decide we can live together twentyfour hours a day, in a small space. Add to that amnesia re last year, and we are all set. Tomorrow we leave for our annual family holiday.

For years we went to my favourite place on earth, Allihies in West Cork. We packed swim wear, t-shirts, coats and wellies,01b139837e9bac3da089ea1a7352f75cf81b6be05d prepared for all four seasons in a day. Friends wondered why we risked it as they left for their sunshine holidays abroad. On rainy days I wondered the same, but each year we hugely enjoyed our holiday regardless of weather.

Then one year we relented. It was after my youngest had told her class that she had a great time in Disneyland Paris, a place she had never been. When I asked her why, she said she was sick of telling them we went ‘nowhere’. Since then we have been sucked into going abroad every year and each year I have faced it half heartedly, as a sun holiday is not ideal for someone like myself who dislikes the sun!

Until this year.

This year I am counting down the days and at last there is only one more sleep. Yahoo. Why you may wonder have I changed my mind this year? Well it is half way through July and we have had about three months rain so far. Add to this the fury I have felt since a trusted weather forecaster told us all, three weeks ago, that we were going to enjoy a heatwave. The excitement. My friend was going on holiday and I sympathised with her, spending all that money to get the weather we were going to enjoy for free.

It’s been three weeks now, so where is it? Where is the feckin heatwave? Is there someone I can sue?

I know it arrived in Dublin as I had to listen to my mother panting down the phone every day, but the very opposite of a heat wave arrived here. The sky has been grey most days, and even when it isn’t raining it has pretended it might bucket down on us at any minute. So as you might have guessed, I’ve had enough of lying forecasters and rainy days.

With a skip to my step I’m off to the sunshine.

Yesterday I bought my holiday essentials, four books, a notepad and pen. I am so looking forward to passing my time photo credit: Al_HikesAZ via photopin ccreading, maybe writing, swimming, relaxing, drinking and not cooking, not in that particular order.

I have decided not to schedule any posts over the ten days I’ll be away. My reasons are simple. I love to interact with all who read and take the time to comment here. To know you have commented and I not replying for weeks would stress me out. So you’ll just have to do your best to get by without me. In reality it will probably be harder for me than for you, but I like to imagine you all missing me.

So until I get back, stay safe and for those of you living here in Ireland, stay dry!

Slán
xxx

photo credit: Al_HikesAZ via photopin cc
photo credit: Leonard John Matthews via photopin cc

photo credit: IMG_4580missnic10 via photopin (license)

My top tips to help you be the amazing mother I am.

Do you ever read my posts and wish you were as good a mother as I am? I knew it, so sit back and I’ll let you in on some of my secrets.

My life as the perfect mother began the moment I held my first baby, a daughter, in my arms. I knew I’d be a great mother, possibly even the greatest mother and I would of course raise the perfect child. That child would grow up to be clever, perfectly behaved and of course eminently successful in life.

All went well until the first night.photo credit: Jack Fussell via photopin cc

Yes, I think it was on that very first night that I left the road of lofty ambitions and changed direction. My reality was never going to happen, as I had not pencilled in the fact that my child would not have read the same books I had and worse again, she would have her own mind.

So I muddled through doing just about everything I swore I’d never do. Over the past twenty four years I’ve allowed my children sleep in my bed, eat all sorts of sweets, drink fizzy drinks and watch copious amounts of television. If I’m truthful Barney reared the first two and Bear in the big blue house the next two. When they became teenagers I watched their skirts get shorter and their tops rise up their bellies. Second holes appeared in their ears and their belly buttons were also pierced. They shouted most disrespectfully at me on many occasions and their father was definitely not a figure they feared.

I wasn’t stupid though and I learned many things along the way.

1. Listen to all they are not telling me.

“You’re home early”.

“Ye the party was boring”.

Lies, there was definitely a story there.

2. When you say something, mean it.

“Clean your room”.untidy bedroom

“Ye”

“I said clean your room, or else…”

“Chill mum, I will”.

I was not in need of chilling! This situation may or may not have been sorted by me going into the room and throwing everything on the floor out of the window, because I meant what I said.

“Put that plate in the dishwasher when you’re finished”

“I will, I always do”.

“You never do”.

Later I note spaghetti stained plate is still in the sitting room.

Much later…

“Mum you psycho!”

The plate just may have been left on her pillow.

3. Develope spying skills akin to a secret agent.

I just may, on more than one occasion, have driven to an area where I thought my children were hanging out when they told me they were somewhere else, after which we had this conversation.

“You were at xxx’s…. today”

“No I wasn’t”

“Really? I am your mother. I can spot a lie a mile away I’ve told you before, it’s mothers intuition. I know you were there and I bet so was x,y and z so don’t even try to lie to me.”

This almost always resulted in a confession of some sort.

4. Become an accomplished actor.

“Mum my friend xxxx is pregnant/a drug addict/ expelled”

Never bat an eye, keep all emotion out of your voice and never ever act like you wish to know all the details.

“Really, that’s awful. Set the table”.photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc

5. Now for my final piece of advice.

Accept now that even though you know you are an amazing mother, worthy of many awards, your children are pre programmed to blame you for everything that goes wrong in their lives, and at times they may even be in denial as to how much they love you.

However don’t worry about it, just follow my simple rules and delight in knowing you are a wonderful mother. Welcome to the teenage world of mothering.

photo credit: Jack Fussell via photopin cc
photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc
photo credit: juicyrai via photopin cc

peeping cat

What it feels like every time I post.

Would you like to read one of my most popular blog posts here on wordpress? It received seventy five likes in a few hours, at a time when I had only a handful of followers and even less readers. I wrote it in a moment but it seemed to resonate with many. I was new to blogging at the time, but obviously knew enough to put a picture of a cute kitten on it to lure people in. Since then I have had posts which got a much larger number of views or likes, but this was the first and I still enjoy reading it.

Hello, I’ve posted, anyone out there?

I finish typing and re read my post.
“Wow this one is, if I may say it, Good!”.
I press publish.
Big smile.
Dare I hope “freshly pressed material?”.

Moments later.

Hello? I’ve posted,peeping cat
Anyone out there?
I have quite a few followers.
Hello, where are you?

Its been ten minutes.
No star.
Oh dear God I forgot to check,
have I over tagged?
Am I not available on freshly pressed topics?

Oh no. Worse again. I have tagged correctly.
What is the problem?
What time is it?
Maybe everyone is busy.
What time is it in America?
Or India?

“Feck”, they are not asleep.
Maybe it is a special holiday,
or the day after a holiday?
(Here in Ireland we understand,
what it is like to wake up the day after a holiday!)

Nope not a holiday.
Time is marching on.
No star.
No comment.
No follower ( not even someone promoting their blog!)

Quickly re check stats.
Heart sinks.
People have read it.
No one “likes” it.

I re read my awesome post.
Somehow it doesn’t seem so clever now.
In fact it is really bad.
What a rubbish post.
An embarrassment.
What was I thinking?

Young man having trouble studying, on white background

Young man having trouble studying, on white background

I close the laptop,
and try to carry on with normal life.
Thoughts such as walking away from blogging,
never writing again,
or quickly posting something better,
spring to mind.

I avoid my blog for another half hour.
Then, unable to resist,
I check in for a hypothetical two minutes.
I don’t even sit down,
in order to prove to myself, I am uninterested,
and not heartbroken by my followers lack of love.

Then I see it.
A star.
With a comment, “I liked your post etc”.
My heart lifts.
I smile.
Somebody “likes” me.
I knew it was a good post all along.
I am a great writer.
I hum to myself,
and bask in the glory of my own genius.

photo credit: miguelavg via photopin cc
photo credit: fazen via photopin cc

 

****If anyone would like to link their most successful post, or a post they are most proud of please feel free to do so in the comments, I’d love to read them as I’m sure would others.

photo credit: Chris Kealy via photopin cc

What’s next?

Ever look at you blog and wonder why you bother?
No me neither.

It’s two and a half years since I began to blog. I have loved writing every post and this blog is now my diary. My thoughts are here, often in their rawest form. There are days when I am working, or even the occasional moments when I do housework, and I dream of blogging. Yes without doubt I am now a blog addict.

So where to from here?

It has become clear to me that I have no interest in expanding my blog by working on seo or other important blog things photo credit: notemily via photopin cclike I should. Just like in real life I am a minimalist. I like to put as little effort into everything as possible. I see other bloggers getting big views and becoming better known and a part of me cries, (and a part of me bitches) but really I shouldn’t be jealous, for my blog is doing exactly what I am asking of it.

Some of you may remember I completed a creative writing course last year (well all but the very last module) and I loved it. It was with fish publishing. The feedback I got was worth it’s weight in gold and my kind mentor taught me so much. The biggest lesson I learned however, was not about point of view, perspective or show don’t tell, no it was a much simpler lesson, I love writing. Here on my blog I write reality, but when I was doing my course I was writing stories and how I loved the experience.

Every couple of weeks an email would arrive with the details of the module within it, along with relevant stories showing how it looks when the topic is done well. I would look and wonder, how was I going to do what was asked? Sometimes I’d think that it was an uninteresting topic, or I’d no idea how to begin. I’d close my laptop and go away daunted or disappointed.

Then slowly I’d find myself becoming consumed. A thought would occur to me, usually out of the blue. I’d begin to wonder was this something I could make into a story? Over days I’d become more and more obsessed with the story until I had to drop everything to let it out. Finishing it always left me with a great feeling of satisfaction.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/69065182@N00/12011421575">Certainty and Doubt</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

Then I’d leave it there, and sure enough over a few days I’d begin to doubt what I’d written. Was it any good? Did it make sense? Did I fall into traps I wasn’t even aware of in my writing? By the time I’d press send I’d be a mix of embarrassed and nervous by my story.

Thankfully the feedback when it arrived was always very positive, even when it was not.

Since then I’ve joined an online writing group, called Imagine, write, inspire. It is mentored by Carmel Harrington who has two books under her belt (Beyond Graces rainbow, and The life you left, both great reads) and another two soon to be published. She has been hugely generous of her time and I’ve found the group a great place to bounce off ideas, dust off stories, listen and learn with like minded individuals. Since joining I’ve had the courage to send off two stories to competitions, one was longlisted, the other is not to be decided on until September, so it’s still a maybe.

Come September my youngest is off to secondary school which means that for the first time in nineteen years I will be free from 9am until 4.15pm. I am thinking, surely I’ll have time to write? So my plan for the future is, to continue to write short stories and flash fiction, perhaps do another course and wait for it… continue to write my book.

Yes I have begun a book. I’ve only written the first chapter and already I’m full of doubt, but it’s a story I’ve been thinking of for quite some time. I’m not exactly sure where it’s going to go yet, but everyone must start somewhere.

So there you have it, my future hopes and dreams. I was reluctant to write this as sharing it meant I’d have to follow through, but I’ve done it now, so no going back.

The biggest drawback of all this is that I cannot share my stories here as all the competitions want unpublished stories. I itch to let you read them, but for now I’ll have to leave them to your imagination.

So now you know, probably more than my own family, where my writing is going. I will continue to blog here and read and enjoy your posts and comments as much as I always have. This blog has been a life saver for me, and now it has brought me to a new path in life.

I look forward to travelling it with you all.

photo credit: Certainty and Doubt via photopin (license)
photo credit: Chris Kealy via photopin cc
photo credit: notemily via photopin cc

The ones that got away.

How many drafts have you sitting unfinished? The other night as I was posting I realised I am only seven posts away from my 700th published post. I then checked how many unpublished posts were sitting there, gathering dust.

Would you believe it there are 194?

So I thought you would like to see what some of them look like. Some of these date back to my early days, while others were only last week. Some may yet see the light of day. Some will quite rightly not…

What next?281659324_d511fcf23f_n

Over the past few weeks I’ve been wondering… what next for me? For my writing? I’ve been blogging for over two years and I can’t quite put into words how much I enjoy it…

Take a moment to breathe.
In every day we have moments which wow us. Often we meet this moments, think ‘wow’ and then move on, forgetting them. Today I had a number of such moments…

For all the things you do.
The way you insist on driving slowly on motorways, and like a rally driver on a narrow country road, The way you think you are the only one, who can load the diswasher, The way you twitch when seeing…

Untitled.
In my life I have two sayings, the first is, “no one has everything” The second is, “Life is short, is this worth it?”

New day.
Do you look back wistfully, wondering if your best days are behind you? Or do you do as my youngest does, wake up every day with a smile, in anticipation of another good day? A combination of writing this blog…

Untitled
Tonight you came into the sitting room and began to recount part of your day. As I looked at you, standing before me, I zoned out and my mind began to wander. You saw me sitting in front of you…

Dreams and wishes
A while ago my younger brother, who is my daughters godfather, gave her a hardback notebook. It was titled ‘Dreams and Wishes’. Today I happened to come across it and read a page of it…

So there you have it, just some of the possibilities sitting waiting to be brought out of the darkness. I must say I like the sound of some of them, while others I looked at and wonder “What was that about?”

Now enough about me, what about you? Have you any interesting drafts waiting to be written?
I’d love to hear.

photo credit: fountain pen.JPG via photopin (license)