Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Of decluttering and weed tea

I've been making some good progress on the decluttering front. I started on Saturday morning by bringing all of the folders, files, boxes and piles of paper strewn throughout my room downstairs to the sitting room. I went back up to my room and was sitting on the bed admiring the fact that there were now surfaces to be seen when I could feel myself nearly dozing off again. Fortunately my housemate (who I thought was away for the weekend but had just been away for Friday night) came in just about that time and it was just the impetus I needed. She came upstairs and, as it turned out was also about to begin a big clean up of her room so we spent a very pleasant half-hour working away and shouting back and forth between the two rooms. She has been reading a book called The Secret and says that it has really reminded her of the way she wants her life to be. It's great to be around such a positive outlook at the moment. I think that just as negativity can feed off itself and create more negativity so too can positivity and so I'm trying hard to stay on track and contribute a bit of positivity to the house as well.

While doing all of this I also finally remembered to dig out the gardening diary I started to keep early in the summer. I must say I'm impressed with how well I did with it. Well, better than most attempts at diary-keeping so far in my life. 22 April was the first day I wrote in it and I wrote regularly up to 2 July. Mostly I wrote things like "nothing is growing" or "bloody snails/slugs/aphids" or "it's raining again" but still, it's the thought that counts.

So I can see that on 17 June I started a weed tea and I have to admit I have ignored it for so long I'd completely forgotten about it. So here's a question for anyone out there with weed tea experience - do you reckon it'll be okay to just dump the whole lot onto the compost now? Bearing in mind that it hasn't rained here (apart from a short drizzle yesterday) for about a month or so so my compost is very dry anyway at the moment. Or should I siphon off the liquid (would it still be useful?) and just put the black gunk (which I assume is in there - haven't actually braved the smell to have a peek yet) onto the compost? These are the things no gardening book really mentions. They all assume that you'll go back to things as soon as you are "supposed" to!

My decluttering continues and I hope to finish sorting all the papers etc. tonight which will leave me free on Thursday and Friday evenings to file things properly. I unearthed my bag of bits and bobs as well and will recommence my 3 little things a day next week to get rid of or find a proper home for all those little annoying bits. I've done well so far in gathering photos into one place, cards and letters I've received into a box together, cards and postcards I've bought but never written into another and so on. Once the major decluttering is done then I can go back to each of these things and sort them out properly as well. For now, it's a huge step to have things all together.

This weekend then the Great Bbook Clearout (planned for, oh, last January or so) begins. At the moment I'm planning on moving the furniture around a little bit in my room which means I'll have to take the books off the shelves anyway. I'm aiming for three lots: have read more than once and will read again; have read before and thought I would read again but can't remember what it's even about (I suspect I will re-read many of this pile before finally getting rid of them); and, bought because I thought I would read it but never had (will have to try and be realistic about chances of actually ever reading any of this lot). Of those latter two groups I aim to get rid of at least 80%. I suspect it'll take me a while to get through this task though because I'll keep getting sidetracked into actually reading. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, October 19, 2007


It must be a time of year thing (can't really say it's a cold weather thing as we've been having far better weather the last few weeks than we had all summer). Howandever, I've been knitting lots recently and really enjoying it.

I finally finished the scarf I started for myself in March. It's a pattern called mistake rib, which is with 20 stiches - row 1:knit 2, purl 1 and row 2: knit all, repeating those rows to the end. Of course I didn't realise that when you purl on a line you've been knitting you're supposed to bring the yarn over and so I have a mistake-mistake rib. Or maybe a reverse mistake rib? But it's pretty I think.

I've also made a couple of hats.
The dark one is Sirdar Denim Ultra, which is what I have a pattern for. The other one is a different wool called Gedifra Charme which was left over from what I bought to make a scarf for my friend when I was Germany (that one I knit as a proper mistake rib one). It's much smaller and I don't know how to size a pattern up so will need to figure that one out or else find a new hat pattern for less chunky wool. The range of colours I can get of the Sirdar isn't great and I'm bored with dark grey and dark brown hats.

And finally I've started two new scarves. One for my sister as a birthday present - I met her the other day for brunch and dragged her into This is Knit to choose some wool. Very much a girl after my own heart she went straight for the bargain bin and chose a nice Debbie Bliss merino dk in light purple and then proceeded to look longingly at a scarf which looked complicated. Good thing she was standing beside me or I might have bottled it. I didn't though and it turns out to be not too bad. I needed a couple of starts to get it right but it's going well now. It involves a lot of "yarn over" so it's good I'd figured out how to do that properly from my own scarf mistake already. I also dug out a few balls of Taos wool from Crystal Palace Yarns which I thought were really pretty and have started a similar scarf in that. Haven't decided who it's for yet but am liking it a lot so it may just be another one for me! Have loads more wool to keep me occupied now.

The Knitting and Stitching Show is back in Dublin on November 1 - 4 and I've just booked tickets. If I don't book ahead of time I never make it to these things so not only have I booked a ticket for the Saturday and Sunday, I've also signed up for workshops on Crochet, Continental Knitting (not actually sure what it is but was told it's knitting for left-handers and being a citeog that'll suit me alright) and Felt & Beaded Flowers. I meant to book on to the Knitting Flowers one but got all mixed up so decided to just leave it. Felting and beading will be interesting too and I can always see if there's a free space on the day for the other. I remember last year that I didn't really buy anything as I found nothing that I couldn't get any time from my normal suppliers at the same price (or less) so this year decided to use my budget for attending workshops instead. Anyone else in the area going to be there on the Saturday or Sunday?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Potato harvest

Yes, there were actually some potatoes in there - can't really believe it because the plants were only in a couple of weeks before I had to chop them down. I got three potatoes from the two plants which were planted in a tyre stack in the back garden. Two were very squishy and one, which was a big potato, had a baby slug and lots of slime on it and also felt a bit squishy - they all went straight in the bin.

From the plants I put out in the front garden later in the year though (thinking they'd give me some potatoes for Christmas), I got this lot:
That's just over 1.2 kilos although I admit I did also weigh the teeny tiny ones. I also picked the last of the scallions.

It was all very exciting and with yesterday being such a lovely sunny day it reminded me of something I'd forgotten over the course of our miserable, wet summer -it's all worth it when you get to pick stuff and then eat it!

I'm wondering now if I need to wait a year or two before planting anything in the same space - do blight spores live a long time?

I got a lot done yesterday. I made a trip to my sister's storage unit and brought back all the spare duvets and bed clothes which I'd taken out in July for my other sister (visiting from France) to use. That has cleared a hugh space on my bedroom floor which is a big incentive to finish tidying up the rest of it too. I also brought over three small vacuum pack bags of clothes in sizes too small for me to wear at the moment, which has cleared a bit more space (both physcial and psycholoigal) in my room. She's decided to stay on in Australia for a while longer so renewed her storage contract for another year. It's handy for me as I can make use of the small amount of space left in it without falling into the trap of just shifting all my clutter somewhere else without properly dealing with it.

I also made it to Spring Wools to pick up a couple of balls to make hats with. I need something simple to knit and I did a good few of these last year so it'll keep my hands busy without needing a huge amount of concentration.

And finally I managed to get to the library with my overdue books. I finished Awarenes by Anthony Mello and thought it was good but not necessarily one I'd bother reading again. Barely got a few chapters into Gestalt Therapy Verbatim but a large part of the reason for that is that someone had underlined huge parts of the book and made notes in the margin and I find that really distracting. Particularly as it was a library book I was adding annoyance at how inconsiderate people are to that distraction.

I did enjoy the book on preserving I got but it's not the "one". I think I'll have to spend a bit of time in a good bookshop to find one which suits me better. And finally, there was the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I still haven't actually finished this book but have bought my own copy because I really like what part of it I have read. It's funny really because a lot of the ideas are very similar to Awareness but that didn't resonate with me half as much. I'm looking forward to reading further in it but think this is a book I'll probably come back to again and again.

And then I ended the day by heading in to Christchurch Cathedral which was hosting Voices for Hospice. People from lots of different choirs gathered at 5 or so to rehearse excerpts from Messiah, which we then performed at 7.30. I was on time (for once) for the rehearsal and we had a half-hour break between rehearsal and performance, which was just enough to get out to get a drink of water and introduce myself to the people sitting near me. The evening flew by and I was wondering why I was starting to feel tired towards the end of the performance when I realised that it was after nine and we'd been there (and singing) for almost four hours. What a great way to spend a Saturday evening.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I've decided I want to move back to Germany. Lots of different reasons which I've been finding difficult to put into words. When I was over there recently and said this to friends they asked why I'd want to leave Ireland especially since I'm settled here, have a good job, friends and family, choir, nice place to live etc. I was finding it hard to explain properly until last week my therapist asked me a different question. He asked why I would stay in Ireland, what would hold me here. I couldn't think of anything to say apart from my brother, but that's not really a reason to stay because I know he'd come to visit often (and potentially move over some time in the future if he liked it as well), it's more the one thing that would give me pause. Otherwise I couldn't think of one single reason that I might stay here rather than live there. I've decided to wait until after Christmas to really set things in motion but there are a lot of things I would like to achieve before then which would be a big help:

1. Get decent German CV put together (including organising decent photos)- have already asked friends over there to send me theirs to get an idea of current standards. Have also found and joined a German discussion forum for secretaries.
2. Declutter bedroom, especially books and notes etc. from school and college which I still have. Sell as much of that as I can and freecycle the rest.
3. Finish proofreading correspondence course I started years ago and never got around to completing.
4. Start a German conversation group in work/find and join a German conversation class to keep my language level fluent.
5. Lose weight/increase fitness - always a goal but especially important from a point of view of increasing confidence when going for interview.
6. No. 5 would also help with decluttering wardrobe.
7. Get things in work well organised and finally start writing down procedures etc. so that someone coming in after me has a good starting point.
8. Finally get around to submitting tax relief claim forms for medical expenses.

Need to have this list here as a reminder and will add to it as things occur to me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Finally reclaimed camera and recharged it so can let you see some photos of the place I was in Germany.

These are the steps leading from the stone house I was staying in up to the hut they lived in. Steep enough, one of these steps was more than halfway up to my knee.

This is the path from the top of those steps over to their hut (red building)

Okay, bear with me, not so good with this whole photo thing. This one is the view from outside the stone house - the town looks serene enough from there but the sound really was something else.

Here we have part of the path up to the toilet - this is the part which steps were built into the day I was there. When I arrived, it was just steep - if you look at the plants beside where the steps are you can get an idea of the gradient.

This is the most of the rest of the path taken from up at the toilet. I thought I was getting a good shot of how the path sloped from left to right as well as up/down but it hasn't really come out that well and just looks like a crooked photo. The tree trunk on the left, I assume is probably fairly upright so that gives an idea.

At left the toilet.
At right, the view from said toilet.

And not forgetting the pile of wood which I carried a lot of down from the entrance to the hut and then spent a few hours pulling nails out of. It looks like such a small pile but it didn't feel like it.

And finally, the shower, for those of you interested in how that worked. The sun is shining right through so you can't really see the hose and nozzle but I think you can see the bag okay.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Apple Day

Yesterday I left a very wet, dreary Dublin behind and set off with my brother (got my camera back too, yippee!) to attend the Irish Seed Savers Association's Apple Day. They're based in Scariff, Co. Clare and it's just about a three-hour drive which was worth every second of it. Gorgeous scenery driving around Lough Derg and it was a fabulously sunny day down there. I even got a bit of colour on my face and that's making me feel slightly better about the cold I'm starting.

I've been to wine tastings before but have never thought I have a particularly refined palate as I could never really see where they were coming from with their descriptions "hint of blackcurrants and strawberries" etc. But boy, could I taste the difference between different varieties of apple. It was amazing. We had a little booklet and I think I managed to mark down all of the ones I tasted and there were a few which I really, really loved. It was interesting to hear other people talking about their reactions too. At one stage I had just tasted an apple and all I could say was "mmmmm, that's fantastic", and the guy standing beside me tasted it and said, "hmm, well now, that's an interesting taste". My brother and I have very different tastes as well (I like sweet and for him the more sour the better) and it was great fun tasting the different types of apple and seeing which ones we both liked. Even just reading through the names is fun.

I tried:
Bloody Butcher aka Bloodhound or Winesap
Ecklinville Seedling aka Glory of the West
Eight Square aka Kill Apple
Golden Spire
Kerry Pippin
Lough Key Crab
Mrs. Perry
Peach Melba
Sam Young
Widow's Friend
Yellow Pitcher

And I really like yellow pitcher, Mrs. Perry and golden spire apples - I even bought a bag of dried golden spire rings but unfortunately they weren't selling any fresh apples. I also liked the Lough Key Crab purely because it was so pretty - it's a lovely pink/purple colour even inside. A couple of those listed above are cooking apples but were still okay to taste raw.

There was also a short talk by Aoife Ni Giollacoda (leader of the regional Slow Food group and keeper of native black bees) and another on growing apples by a local commercial apple grower, Con Traas of Karmine Juice. It was very interesting and although I'm not in a position to be growing any apple trees myself I figure it wouldn't hurt to pick up any tips I can. Obviously I should have brought a notebook though because apart from the fact that planting trees on a slope is good because they don't like to have wet roots I don't remember many details. Following those talks we went on a guided tour of the heritage orchards and were also free to wander around the gardens and polytunnels. Our tour guide was a guy called Will Softly who seems to be very passionate about local food and was certainly very enthusiastic about the orchard and his work. Everything they do is not just organic but also biodynamic and it certainly seems to be working for them.

We were also able to take a look at a cob house currently under construction and I got some seeds for greens which should grow over winter and some garlic to plant out soon. I bought the biodynamic calendar for 2008 and am glad to have bought it now as a quick glance through makes me feel that I'm going to need the next few months to try and figure it out!