Friday, March 30, 2007

Bon anniversaire, Papa

1 jour à l'avance - je te ressemble à ce point de vue, toujours à l'avance, de peur d'être en retard!

La raison, c'est que je n'aurai peut-être pas le temps d'écrire demain.

J'espère que tu passeras une bonne journée - et on t'interdit de dire que tu deviens vieux!

Voyez comme il était beau et souriant quand il était petit!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Poppy - finished at last

I finished my Poppy painting last week. I used plenty of different techniques for it, mostly using thicker paint than in the past, which gives the whole thing a much richer texture, more like acrylics than watercolours.

But I still made the most of the watercolour medium, in that I was able to lift the colour where I needed to have highlights. Over the last few weeks, I've been putting together a chart of all my watercolour paints, which shows the exact colours, how opaque or transparent they are, and how easily they lift. This has been very useful in anticipating how the different paints will behave.

I masked the whole center of the flower with low-tack paper before I painted the petals. This is a technique I had learned from Elizabeth Kincaid's book, which I've now used a few times. It gave me a lot more freedom when painting the petals. I also used masking fluid to mask the stamens while I was painting the other items in the center. Again, this enabled me to paint more freely, without having to be too careful where the paint went.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My little house - how dreams come true

I was thinking about the shomera, and why it is that I like it so much. And then I knew why!

It reminds me of the little wooden house that Josianne, our neighbour, had when we were kids. She was a few years older than me, and her father, a joiner, had built her this gorgeous wooden house in the back of their garden, where she could play house. All the younger neighbours, i.e. me, Nadine and Isabelle and probably plenty others whom I don't remember, were only too happy to go there and play school there, where Josianne would be the teacher and we were her pupils.

I used to dream of having a little wooden house like hers! And now I have one! When I was 8 or 10, that was probably my biggest dream. When I grew older, I used to dream of having a purple electric beach buggy, like they had in the window of the shop around the corner. It was a bit like a golf buggy I guess, only a lot cooler. I guess I'll have to work on that one!

Friday, March 23, 2007


Here is a picture of our Shomera. This was built in a week last year - quite amazing how quickly and efficiently these guys worked. I can't remember if I posted these pictures already. I have a strange feeling I might have posted them already. Or maybe it was Brendan who posted them on his blog or in his Flickr account.

For those of you who, like me, don't speak Irish, "shomera" means "room".

It fits nicely in our backgarden, and is a great spot for Brendan to play loud computer games or to play his guitar.

(Véronique, j'espère que ces deux photos de donnent une bonne idée de l'atelier dont je te parlais ce matin)

Happy Birthday, Lisa

I hope you have a great day today!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Brendan and I went to the pictures on Sunday evening. Our choice was Venus, the recent movie for which Peter O'Toole got an Oscar nomination.

It was a great movie. I had a few tears in my eyes at the sad moment, but, surprisingly enough, I didn't cry.

It's the story of an old man who meets an 18-year-old girl and strikes a relationship with her - part lust, part friendship, part just anything to break the loneliness and to feel the human touch again.

I found it very good - it's not sickly sweet or cringy, yet it's not over sad or dramatic. There are a lot of laughs - this is not a sad little old man, here. It's a man who's always loved women, and craves a woman's touch and company, even if she is a sulky teenager, who's really only interested in pretty dresses, nice jewelry and boys her own age.

It's also a good reminder of what it's like to grow old alone - who is going to touch your hand? who is going to clip your toenails? And the wheeze! Although this old man still has plenty of life in him, his breathing is that of a dying man. Darth Vader eat your heart out!

Peter O'Toole was brilliant in it. Apart from Lawrence of Arabia, I can't think of any other movies he's made - yet, he's been nominated for Oscars 8 times. There is a summary of his career on the movie website, and I can't say I've heard of too many of the movies he was in. Isn't that a bit sad? If this turns out to be his last movie, I'll be glad I saw it!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Spring Lambs

The first of the new lambs have arrived at Airfield. We went for a walk there on Saturday, and we just saw a glimpse of the first 3 or 4 lambs. They were still in the main barn, well away from the crowds. I'm looking forward to seeing a few more tomorrow evening, when I go for my yoga class.

We also saw one of the new calves - it was with 2 of the jersey cows, so I assume it's a jersey, although it was mostly white. One of the jerseys clearly had plenty of milk, but the calf was staying closer to the cow that looked like she had no milk whatsoever. We must ask Jeanne the farmer about it next time we see her.

It's been a cold few days - hardly feels like spring, after the warm weekend we had a week ago. I think the highest temperature we saw today was 5 degrees celcius, and there was some sleet and hail yesterday. Today is a bit brighter than yesterday, but the wind is really cold! Poor little lambs will be sticking close to their mammies to stay warm!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Willow!

7 today! We gave you lovely tuna for breakfast for your birthday, and now you're looking for more food. No wonder you're so big.

Here is another action shot of Willow playing with his friend, the dead rat...

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Wildlife of South Dublin - Continued

Willow is continuing to impress us with his hunting down of unwanted rodents. I'm not sure if it's the same rat that had escaped the last time, or his twin brother/sister, but Willow proudly brought it back to our doorstep yesterday.

And this time, there is no doubt that it's well dead. When his little friends don't move any more, Willow has this habit, like all cats I guess, to throw them in the air to see if they will fly or try to escape. This one did not budge.

I've got very mixed feelings when Willow brings us his prey after the hunt. On the one hand, I'm proud that our cat is a competent hunter - particularly when he is catching rodents. But on the other, I hate the way he literally plays cat and mouse with them until they are exhausted and die. When he catches a bird, we do what we can to distract him so that the bird has a chance to escape, but Willow is very focused when he is in hunt mode.

He also has this horrible habit of chasing butterflies. And he knows we will try to save the butterfly, so, if we come too close, he will actually eat it to stop us from saving it.

He's a cat! That's what they do. If you are squeamish, do not click on the picture to make it bigger. The rat looks like a lovely little cartoon mouse. I would have loved to save it, but it was already well dead when Willow brought it to us, so there was nothing we could do. I'm far too sentimental - it was a rat after all, so I should be happy it's dead!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


It's not very often I comment on news items, but this one has got my blood boiling.

Here is a summary from the Irish Times:

"Victim condemns rape sentence

A rape victim who watched her attacker walk free from court with a suspended sentence today said she will never trust the justice system again.

The devastated woman, who said she felt on trial, was even forced to travel back to her home town on the same train as convicted rapist Adam Keane.

The 33-year-old had vowed to take her fight for justice and a tougher sentence to the Director of Public Prosecutions and Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

"I will never ever again trust the justice system to do right after a wrong has been committed," she said, slamming the sentence handed down to the 20-year-old bricklayer.

In February a jury convicted Keane, from Daragh, Co Clare, of raping the woman at her home on May 30th, 2005.

He had broken into her home and climbed into bed with her while her three children slept in the next room.

DNA evidence linked Keane to the scene, but following his arrest he told gardai he could not remember anything as he blacked out after drinking heavily and taking ecstasy in a nightclub.

Mr Justice Paul Carney handed down a three-year suspended sentence at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday. The sentence was based on a previous ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeal, he added.

The victim, who is deaf, said she could not hear his barrister's defence or the judge's comments, and did not know he was free to leave until her sister started crying and told her.

"I am devastated," the woman, whose name was given as Mary, told RTE's Liveline programme.

"I really didn't want it go to court in February in the first place. It was the hardest week of my life, to go up in that stand and give every detail of my life explored by the DPP and his barrister and when he was found guilty I was so relieved and I really believed justice would be done.

"But yesterday it wasn't, there was no justice done for me at all and now I'm back to square one where I was when I first got raped. I feel worse now."

Mary said that after the attack she and her children had to leave their home, where they had lived for nine years, and moved back in with her parents because she was afraid. The family have since moved home twice."

I'm lost for words to express my outrage at the sentence passed by the judge. I think this judge should be sacked! There has been a lot of press lately about lenient sentencing, but this is completely outrageous. What hope is there in a world where a convicted rapist can walk free, while his victim continues to live in fear?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Joyeux Anniversaire, Laura

Avec un jour de retard, je te souhaite un très bon anniversaire! L'année prochaine, pour tes dix ans, nous serons très heureux de te recevoir en Irlande.

Ce dessin est un peu différent de ta carte. J'espère qu'il te plaît.

A big mouse

Yesterday afternoon, Willow came running into the garden with something in his mouth, and then dropped it on the ground for us to admire - a lovely big mouse! Of course, the big mouse was not dead. It made several attempts to escape, each time only to be caught again by Willow, just as it thought that it was safe to run. We tried to distract Willow to give the mouse a chance, but he can be very focused when he is in his "Fang" mode, and he kept a close eye on his prey.

After a few minutes, we decided to let Willow be a cat, and play with his prey - as we came to the conclusion that it was a bit too big to be a mouse, and was more likely a small rat. A very handsome little rat, but a rat all the same.

My parents think that the rat escaped in the end, as they saw Willow run over the wall and the shed's roof and look over the back of the shed. At that stage, there was no sign of any rodent around. This morning, Willow was sniffing around the garden, trying to pick up the scent. I had a look around the garden, but found nothing. Hopefully, the rat was eaten by a fox at some stage during the night or escaped to a better life!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Blue Moon - Red Moon

Conditions in Dublin for the total eclipse of the moon last Saturday were perfect. Clear skies made for a great show - though it was a bit cold!

Brendan took a few pictures. Here are two of them.

This reminds me of another of my classic songs, which I will sing if you ask nicely - Blue Moon.

Blue moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked - the moon had turned to gold

Blue moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Charlotte's Web

On Thursday, Lisa and I went to see Charlotte's Web at the Ormonde in Stillorgan. We didn't have any children in tow, but we didn't feel too out of place. The cinema was very quiet - there was a couple with a small child, a young couple, and Lisa & me! I guess this movie has been showing for a while, and most children have all sorts of activities on week nights - between ballet, speech and drama, swimming, Irish dancing, etc, children live such busy lives that going to the pictures can only be scheduled in at weekends.

It was a lovely movie, and I recommend it to everybody who has a bit of a soft heart. It's not too fancy, and it is a simple story, set in simpler times (in a world that doesn't exist anymore, if it ever existed - rural America, with red barns, tractors, rich fields, sunny summers, and nice, decent hard-working people).

I did cry at one point (it was a very sad moment!), which is my yardstick for a good movie! (Or maybe I'm emotionally unstable?)

And, if you have children, I highly recommend the website's game section, where you will find colouring tools, a spelling bee, and lots of other fun games to play (I've spent the last 15 minutes there!).

Friday, March 02, 2007

Birthdays this month

March is a busy month. We have a lot of birthdays coming up!
  • Laura on the 10th (Belgian Laura - Irish Laura's birthday is in April)
  • Yves on the 15th
  • Willow on the 17th (Willow will be 7!)
  • Lisa on the 23rd
  • Eve on the 27th
  • and Papilou on the 31st
To celebrate these birthdays, we'll give you a picture of Willow at the door. When he wants to get back in, and we're ignoring his cries, he jumps at the door and holds on for dear life to see if we're inside. How can we resist that?