Sunday, November 26, 2006

Squirrels cubed

I was driving down the avenue the other day and movement in the silver birch to my left caught my eye. I slowed and stopped. Sitting on a branch about five feet above the car was a squirrel peering down at me with bright eyes and a tail like a bottle brush. I watched it for a few minutes when movement in the sycamores at the end of the avenue caught my attention. There was another squirrel scampering around among the branches! I was so excited because I had never seen two squirrels together before. I knew there had to be more than one squirrel and, like mice, the fact that I was seeing one meant there were many more in the trees, however this was my first time seeing two together. Just as I was getting over my excitement, I saw another squirrel higher up in the sycamores. The squirrels in the sycamores were bigger with bushier tails than the one in the silver birch so could it be a juvenile and the others adults - even parents - perhaps? I don't know, but I was excited and once more I bemoaned the fact that I didn't carry my camera in the car. When will I learn?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

So this is Christmas

Heard my first Christmas song on the radio yesterday and again in Superquinn this morning. I have only one more weekend to wait until I can put up my Christmas decorations! I can't wait, I am so excited already.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Random thoughts

Haven't done much writing since my burnout weekend.

Put some more photos on myheritage. Got Charleze Theron, Drew Barrymore and (can't remember third person!) but I got Kirsten Dunst the most often, so I guess we are most alike.

Taking Janna for walks again this week. Haven't gone back to the beach yet because the tide is in at the times I go for my walk, so the birds are safe for the moment.

Was going to go to the Prestige this week, but it only lasted one week in Dundalk cinema. Very disappointing. Another movie to add to my ever growing list of films to watch on DVD.

Have a lot of things to get finished for December. It is a struggle not to put my Christmas decorations up, but I will wait until the firs Sunday in Advent. I will enjoy it all the more. My writing plan is to finish writing my two books in November and then just edit in December with the view of sending out once again in the new year. It would be nice to get my Christmas presents sorted in November as well. I don't want to think too much about it though, because if I do, I might go back to bed and hide unde the covers! Little chunks are better to take than the whole burden.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Christmas Shopping

Went Christmas shopping in Dublin with Michele (my partner in crime) today. I was very disappointed there were so few Christmas decorations in the shops and no Christmas music whatsoever. I know it is still early, but come on! Christmas is less than six weeks away! There were carol singers for a short while in Arnotts. They could really sing - very operatic voices - and it was truly beautiful. There were a couple of blokes outside Arnotts dressed in santa's elves costumes making balloon shapes (couldn't even call them animals) - it was a bit pathetic really. In the Jervis centre they had a life size Santa robot climbing up and down a rope. At first I thought it was real, but as it slowly started to descend, I realized it was one of those cheesy toys - except on a larger scale. It didn't look Christmassy though, it looked more like Santa was robbing the shops and running off with the loot, MI style, rather than anything else. Part from that, there was nothing much. Arnotts window was really disappointing.

Shopping wise, things went well. Had a few set backs to begin with (it is not a good book shop week for me) but then we got into our stride. Had lunch in Barmitzva in the Powerscourt centre - love that place. They had exotic fish watching us as we ate, we watched them right back. It was nice. Then we wondered around Powerscourt and saw lots of little interesting shops that reminded me why I go to Dublin for Christmas shopping in the first place. Then we headed north side and got the majority of our stuff. It would be nice to get everything finished and wrapped by December 1st. I think it is possible after today's results.

Shop Assistant wise, I would give all the shops a big A+. Every shop we went into, an assistant came over and asked us politely if we needed help (maybe we looked a little lost?) and when we did buy, they were very friendly and helpful.

Went into one shop that seriously spooked me. It had full face baliclavas, lighters shaped like grenades and lots of hand gun equipment. Maybe it was just for hunters, but it felt like an terrorist shop. I couldn't get out fast enough.

Met a shop assistant in Hodges and Figus who was like a woman from another era. She was very nice, wore a red fuzzy tank top and had her glasses on a chain. She spoke in a soft voice, ending her sentences with an upward inflection, and she leaned closer to you when she spoke. I told her I had been sent up to her from downstairs to look for a book, and she said 'That was very naught of them.' She was like a slightly nutty librarian from a movie. She was nice.

Another shop assistant who stood out was an old man at the watch counter in Arnotts. He was really friendly - a real old gent - and did such a good job at describing a watch we were enquiring about that we almost bought it - despite it being WAY above our budget.

No writing done today (obviously) but I'll be back refreshed tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Random Thoughts

Uploaded my face to to see who I looked like, and apparently I have a 64% likeness to this woman here /
Kirsten Dunst. She is M.J in the spider man movies, starred in lots of things as a child, including Little Women and Jumanji, and recently appeared as MarieAntoinette in the movie of the same name.

I like Kirsten, I'm not at all unhappy with looking 64% like her. She is a good looking gal. I'm sure she is thrilled to know she is 64% like me!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Tribute to Troy

I was watching the UTV news the other night and I saw this touching, although sad, story.

Last weekend, a family went for a walk in the country with their four Labradors. They were walking down a peaceful country lane when a pit bull type dog jumped out of the hedge and started to attack their dogs. It then turned from the dogs and latched onto the mother of the family's sleeve, knocking her to the ground. Luckily, she was well bundled up against the weather, and the dog didn't break her skin. Her husband grabbed the dog's hind legs to pull him off his wife, and they both told their children to run. The children ran towards a house at the end of the lane, with the four dogs. The pit bull (like dog) wanted to chase the children and managed to break free. He ran after the children, to the horror of the parents as they watched. The pit bull (like dog) was almost ontop of their little boy when his dog, Troy, realized what was going on and turned around to attack the dog. Troy crashed into the side of the pit bull (like dog), knocking him into the ditch. The two dogs started to fight in the ditch. The family made it to safety in the house at the end of the lane, and the police were called. The man who owned the house tried to get the pit bull (like dog) off Troy by beating him with a stick, but the dog wouldn't let go. The police came out and fired a warning shot (why? It was a dog?) but when that didn't scare the dog away, the policeman shot it three times. Unfortunately, poor Troy later died from his wounds.

This is a tribute to Troy, a brave and noble dog, who saved his young owner from certain mauling and perhaps even from death.

(maybe all labs aren't monsters, after all)

CORRECTION: Apparently Troy wasn't a lab after all, but some other kind of dog (haven't checked that out yet, but my source is reliable). So, sorry Troy for calling you the wrong breed. Labs - good reputation: 0 bad reputation:3

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Great Little Egret Hunt!

I drove down to the Loakers at about 2pm this afternoon. I saw lots of ducks swimming in the pools among the tussocks and waders sheltering on the rocks and one lone white blob in the distance. To my relief, the blob decided to fly nearer and resolved into a beautiful little egret. I ran down the road to get nearer to it and scrambled up a muddy bank to take a photo (some bin men were doing their collection as I did this, I wonder did they see the egret too?) but while I could see the egret quite clearly, it didn't come out so well in the camera and, unfortunately, the resolution is too low to zoom in. Sick of the paparazzi attention (afterall, it has come to Ireland to escape the media circus) it flew off across the reeds. On the way home I stopped by the beach to take some more photos. Winter is the most beautiful time of year in Blackrock. The sea takes on a light and a quality that it never has in any other season. It positives glows. The air is magical. The light is so soft and flattery, washing away all the hard edges and making even the ugliest stone wall attractive. The increased wildlife helps as well. Everywhere I look I see waders, ducks, geese, gulls, herons. At high tide, the rocks are teeming with animals. I took lots of beautiful pictures, but there isn't room to post them all here. Look out for the birdies on the rocks.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More up to date photo of me

Little Egrets sighted on the salt marsh

Got a phone call from Michele that she saw Little Egrets (you know the small white heron like birds?) shelter from the high tide in the Loakers. I drove past on my way home from the shopping, but I didn't see them. There were loads of white birds sheltering on the rocks, but from the way they moved, I think they were gulls. Lots of tiny waders flying in formation low over the sea as well. I wish I had binoculars to get a proper look because the egrets could have been hiding with the other birds and there could have been cormorants there as well. I will be going back tomorrow lunch time (when it is high tide) and I will bring my camera, so if I see anything, I will post it here.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Writing Courses

Two months ago I signed on to a long distance writing course which claims it will teach you how to write and be published. I considered it a win-win situation, because it promises that you will have earned the course fee before completion, or your money back. I did the first assignment straight away and emailed if off. Now, two months later, and I am still stewing over the second assignment. Feeling that I just have to knuckle down and do it, I started working on it this morning. I spent the morning in study, reading and researching. It is weird, because although I worked hard, I feel guilty for not actually writing. Maybe, when I am published, this obsession with getting words down on paper will ease. Writing is about a lot more than the actual physical work of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I have to recognise that and respect it. I can be doing just as much work on the days when I get no words written. Word count is not the measure of my success and progress. Lesson learned - I hope!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The elusive squirrel

I was sitting in my writing room, writing away (as one does) when a disturbance in the bushes outside drew my attention. Something big (well, heavier than a bird but not quite a big as a pigeon) was making its way through the trees. I stood up to have a closer look and saw the squirrel running through the branches. As I watched, it jumped out from the shrubs and landed on the wall. It was lovely, quite skinny with a grey body and a red head (it was a grey squirrel, but sometimes they can be quite reddish brown in coloration. I don't think it was a hybrid). It stood there, on the wall, sniffing the air for a few seconds. Luckily my camera was to hand, and I quickly turned it on and turned on the digital zoom. Unfortunately, squirrel nutkin had, by this stage, caught scent of Janna and Rags on the other side of the wall and fled back into the trees. I waited to see if he would return, but not cigar.

Sometimes, in the mornings, I meet the squirrel at the end of the avenue, posing on the gate post. I always regret that I don't have my camera with me (as any good investigator should. After all, I could see a sea monster or a pterosaur, and nobody would believe me if I didn't have my camera to take a snap). However, now I know that even if I had my camera with me, it doesn't mean I'll get a picture of the squirrel. Tis a pity.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The beauty of this time of year

The last few days have been cold and frosty, but this anticyclonic weather means the days are very bright and clear, with plenty of sun, and there hasn't been much wind either. As a result, the shoreline at Blackrock has been breathtaking. There is a certain quality to the water that is almost magical. It ripples like silk across the sands and is a deep, translucent blue. Where the sun hits it, it is silver. I imagine, if I touched it, it would feel smooth like glass. Dotted along the shore are hundreds of birds, mostly waders. From the road, I am too far to identify them easily, but I know the oyster catches, godwits, dunlins and gulls from their gist (or outline). There were bigger birds there today, looming over the little waders like thick, black giants. I couldn't tell what they were, but they were either geese or ducks. I think they were geese. A pair of them, padding along the incoming tide, as it filled up the valleys in the sand. I wish I had a pair of binoculars. I must get back to walking on the beach. It is so beautiful. I hope Janna won't scare away all the birds, though. I would hate to think of them wheeling into the sky as she bounded through them. Then again, I would probably be as scary to the poor creatures as she would be.