Sunday, January 10, 2010



Well why not? If the Queen of England can have two birthdays, why can't the plebs of Thomastown extend Christmas by another week. 'Back of the Moon' loves Christmas and the snow... wow! An extension seemed like a good idea seeing how poor Katy had missed a week of festivities because of her sojourn in hospital. Christmas is a state of mind anyway! So why fuss about dates! That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it anyway. I have a friend in Dublin who has often left his Christmas decorations up until Paddy's day! That's stretching it just a wee bit perhaps, but Gerry just can't help himself... he loves a 'bit of colour!' Some people believe it's bad luck to leave them up beyond 'Little Women's Christmas'... bah humbug!

Contorted Willow - Resplendent!

This gloriously, frosty Christmas Eve lit by the second full moon of December (and 'blue' to boot!) will be remembered as one of the best. At around 11.30 pm, we headed off down the boreen and across fields, no torch required. Menfolk stepped it out ahead with dogs, while the girls lagged behind singing Christmas carols crocheted by shaky, but spirited three part harmonies. Cold-faced, but warmhearted, we floated into Christmas Day... under moon and stars.

Okay - A Cross-Dressing, Country and Western, Pipe-Smoking Snowman....AND!?!

Snow revives the child in most of us, and as we get precious little of it, there is an almost indemic panic to build snowmen, find hills to slide down... and oh... the thrill and joy to be the first to step on a sheet of virgin white. The desire to stay out longer than feet and fingers can bear the biting cold, reminds of being called into bed on a Summer evening. Complaints and pleadings that the kids next door were still outside kicking football or playing 'Simple Simon Says.....!', evaporated, unheeded.

I did paint a snowman on the left-hand side, but it was scaring us all so much I cleaned it off! - Twas reminiscent of Stephen King's 'IT!'

My neighbour and dear friend, Jim, an artist, musician, magician and lecturer of Maths at UL has promised to give me some lessons in perspective and dimension. He's got some job on his hands!

This cold spell cosies me into the world of 'Wind in the Willows' and 'Beatrix Potter.' I find myself wondering if and how the foxes, badgers, rabbits, weasels etc. etc. were warned this winter was going to be a cold one, and that they should be extra vigilant about the harvesting of hops, berries and nuts etc. Perhaps it was foreseen by the Wizards of the Night, and sanctioned throughout their domain, by the whispering breezes of an Indian Summer, and surly winds of Autumn, or by gabbing, winged returning emigrants, boasting of their epic tales from the other side of the world.

Driveway to my brother Marcus's House

I do feel a little guilty about enjoying the snow and cold so much, when animals and old folk suffer as a result. I guess it's up to us fit and able people to do what we can. On my way over to my brother's house, yesterday, I spotted two people breaking up the ice on a pond close by.

A Cornish Folk Dance?

Ducks looked on patiently. I stopped the car and asked the wonderful couple (knew by their body language!) , if I could take their photograph. On my way back, coffee taken, couple gone, the mallards were restored to their watery playground... happy once more.

Come Fly With Me, Come Fly, Let's Fly Away! (Cue for a song!)

Unfortunately for some people, and in particular, those suffering from manic depression or bipolar disorder, winter can be an extremely difficult time. I have a feeling they may just need to hibernate, like some of our smaller creatures of nature, perhaps. Last week, I read an article written by Marian Keyes, Irish writer, about her battle with alcoholism and her on-going war with depression, 'the black dog'. (A phrase coined by Winston Churchill, I think.) In spite of all the demons, her courage and determination, have seen her top the best seller list on countless occasions. In the same newspaper, journalist Mary Carr criticized Ms. Keyes for being so forthright and outspoken about her psychological illnesses throughout her blogs and journals etc. I was troubled and disappointed by this article, but to my mind, it is typical of an inherently Victorian attitude to mental illness. We have seen several psychiatric hospitals closed over the last couple of weeks, including Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. About time! You don't have to be Einstein to know that the standard of psychiatric care in Ireland is not good. I would think there isn't a family in Ireland that hasn't somehow been effected by a mental illness of some kind. So why on earth, shouldn't it be thrown out there and discussed. We talk quite openly about cancer, heart disease, diabetes and millions, quite rightly, are poured into their research. I wonder is it the whole blame and guilt scenario? Mental illness is not class conscious and can strike down the most beautiful, talented and intelligent human beings. The sooner we get that, and break the taboos around this whole area, the better. Marian Keyes, whether you like her style or not (I'm not a chick-lit fan) has got balls and I say to her and other celebrities...keep on talking... keep it out there! Maybe something other than lip-service will be paid to this whole area of dis-ease! In the mean time, on a more immediate level, it might help fellow sufferers to feel less like the isolated, wasted and forgotten tribe of this precious, civilized world!

Our Outdoor Christmas Tree - Will remain lit- up until Wednesday!

Reticent to let go of this wonderful childlike day carved out by snow, a fire was lit outside. The Finale was applauded and encored... until red, burning faces and tired, aching bodies wearied their way to bed.

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