Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Porch Pansies

 There is nothing at all ordinary about ordinary life.
        ~Elizabeth Berg in Make Someone Happy

I planted the porch pansies today. Oh, I looked at more exotic plants at the garden center, but in the end I stayed with my tried-and-true and much beloved pansies. 

When they are first transplanted, they lie down for a day or two, and then they perk right up and get on with business. I understand, because when we moved to the desert from New Hampshire it took me a while to feel at home.

They will bloom on the porch all during this, my 80th winter. They will show their colors right where I can see them from my knitting and reading chair. Even when the mountains in the distance are dusted with snow, they will bloom. 

I love their colors and their little faces. 

Saturday, November 4, 2023

What Happened in Blarney

 In the previous post, Sharon and I had just finished our lunch in the little town of Blarney, Ireland. On the way back we wanted to take time to do some people watching in the little park that we had passed earlier, where there had been plenty of empty picnic tables. To our disappointment, all the tables were now occupied. After dithering about for a bit, we approached one where a young man was working on his laptop, and asked if we might opposite him. He kindly welcomed us, and we gratefully sat down, fully intending to be quiet and not bother him. 

However, the young man closed his laptop, smiled, and asked where we were from. We were soon deep in conversation, and he told us that he had been born in the next town over, and now lived in Blarney, where his wife had been born. Just then, a young woman approached and smiling, said (in the loveliest Irish accent you can imagine) something like: "Ah, I can't leave you for even a wee moment and ye're off chatting up the ladies!" We all laughed, and she joined in the conversation. She introduced herself as Sharon (pronounced very differently from my friend Sharon's name, more like this:, and her husband was Peter (pronounced Pee-tah). 

Peter said that he worked at Johnson & Johnson (the prescription drug industry is very big in Ireland). They had never wanted to leave the place where they had grown up, and we wondered why anyone would ever want to. The village and surrounding countryside were so lovely and we were lucky enough to and  have yet another sunny day, possibly not the usual kind of weather there. 

When I asked if they were bothered by all the busloads of tourists descending on their town, they laughed and said they enjoyed coming into town and meeting people from all over the world, who added to the culture of the place.

I can't tell you how thrilled we were to meet "real" Irish people. Cruising is fun and relaxing, and the onshore bus tours are always interesting, but we might have done the whole trip surrounded only by Americans and Canadians. We felt so lucky to be able to spend some relaxing time just chatting about life in general with the people who actually lived in the places we had traveled to see. 

We reluctantly said goodbye because we had to board the bus back to the ship. I am sorry I didn't ask them for a photo, but we will always remember these kind people who took the time to talk with two elderly ladies from far away. 

Sunday, September 24, 2023


When our cruise ship anchored at Cobh in the Republic of Ireland, we were looking forward to seeing some of the Irish countryside. Because my friend, Sharon, was walking with a cane and sometimes a walker, and because I was with her, we were always given a reserved front seat on every tour bus. We were treated so tenderly and often felt a little like frauds because we didn't really feel like delicate old ladies inside of ourselves. However, we accepted all kindnesses and especially the superb view. 

Here is what Google has to say about our destination, Blarney Village:

Blarney is a village just outside the city of Cork, in southwestern Ireland. Its 15th-century Blarney Castle is home to the legendary Blarney Stone, said to give the "gift of the gab" to those who kiss it. Extensive parkland surrounding the castle features a network of trails, themed gardens and the large, turreted Blarney House. A 19th-century building in the village centre houses the former Blarney Woollen Mills. ― Google

We were headed to the village, but passed by the castle on the way. Most of our fellow tourists went straight to the Blarney Woolen Mills for shopping and souvenir hunting, but we were on a quest for a nice glass of Guinness. Along the way, our driver, who was out for a walk, strongly recommended that instead of Guinness we ask for a half pint of the local brew. We weren't sure exactly what the name was (that lovely Irish accent, you know), but we did our best approximation and the barman at Christy's Bar knew exactly what we meant. 

Here is the lunch we feasted on: Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas and Tartar Sauce (kid's size, as recommended for us by the barman), with that delicious mystery ale. Which was cold, by the way, and I had expected that all drinks there would be served at room temperature. 

The pub itself was modern and not the ancient dark and smoky beamed village pub I had in mind. However, it was a lovely, friendly place and we greatly enjoyed our delicious Irish pub fare. 


After lunch, we made our slow way back to a little park near where the buses were parked. And there, a very magical thing happened....   (to be continued).

Monday, September 18, 2023


I have always wanted to visit Stonehenge. I just never expected to do it as part of a cruise/bus tour when I was 78, but though the trip was not the one I would have made in my younger days, I am so glad to have seen this strange and mysterious place. 

The stones were smaller than I expected, but as amazing as I'd hoped they be. Built 4500 years ago, before the wheel was discovered, they are now a World Heritage Site

This bird was enjoying the view of the tourists

Neighbors to the stones

The reality of visiting the stones on a rare sunny day--lots and lots of other people
were also fulfilling their lifelong dream

And this was the line to get back on the shuttle
that took us back to the line to get onto the bus
that took us back to the line to get back on the ship

While standing in the various lines under that gorgeous blue sky, we had time to admire the lovely native shrubs that grew between fields and along pathways. The birds and insects loved them and so did we
Maybe a highbush cranberry?


Sunday, August 27, 2023

Visiting Central Portugal

Here are some photos from my recent trip to Portugal, where I stayed with friends. The property originally contained two stone ruins, and they had to build on those foundations. These pictures are from the main house. 

The view from the kitchen/dining room on a foggy morning

The windows wrapped around the corner of the room

The view from the same room later in the day

Thursday, April 6, 2023

So Many Socks!

 Why knit so many socks? What is the appeal? 

For a knitter, there are great long bits of mindless knitting down the leg (unless you do fancy cables, which I do not do), then a fiddly bit that you have to concentrate on to make the heel and gusset, then some more mindless knitting in the round until you reach the toe. For me, that's a perfect combination of easy and more difficult.

For the recipient, handknit wool socks are a way to have warm feet and fun colors that can show or not. 

As you can see, I have a lot of orange shades to use up.

Gift socks (two pairs)

Two more pairs, both for me

More gift socks

Another orange pair for me...

...and another pair for me