Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

I can't believe that my year is up! I started this blog last Jan 1st as it was the first little "project" that I had to do for the book "A girl for all Seasons". I had nooooooo idea how it was going to go or even what I was going to blog about. It was impossible to do many of the tasks mentioned in the book due to geographical reasons.
I was supposed to attend Ascot but ended up at Kilbeggan Races instead....and had a mighty fine day there.
To be honest, the book kinda got left out halfway through the year, and I found myself blogging about my day-to-day escapades with a few memories thrown in for good measure.

Now the year has come to an end. But I had so much pleasure from writing this blog that I'm going to keep going!!!!
So now I'm heading out to Mullingar (Rubberbandits, take note!) in search of my first adventure/blog material of the new year.
Bring on 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dam those New Year's Eve superstitions!

Many years ago in Abu Dhabi my friend Alexa told me about a Greek New Year's Eve superstition. There should be no washing or ironing left to be done in your house by New Year. If there was even a dirty knickers lying around then a whole year of doom, gloom and bad luck would follow.
If that's the case, then the whole of Ireland must have neglected their laundry last December. What else could possibly explain the year we've just had!
I can easily walk under ladders, spill salt and can never remember whether a black cat crossing my path is meant to bring good or bad luck. But for some inexplicable reason this superstition struck a nerve. Every New Year's Day saw my wardrobes fully loaded, my laundry bin empty....and my bedroom floor clear for once!
Then came the Big Freeze of 2010! This resulted in a frozen washing machine, lack of water and mounds of clothes forming on the floor.
Whites pile, lights pile, brights pile, dark pile.....and undies pile!
Life as we know it has only returned to normal in the past few days. Panic has set it.
I have to get all washing and ironing done!
Today I had to admit that I couldn't fully look after my offspring and reluctantly I fostered some of my little bundles of joy out to my mother's and my sister-in-law's washing machines, as I knew I was fighting a losing battle against the New Year's Eve deadline. So now my kitchen looks like a Chinese laundry with mounds of ironing waiting to be done.
The ironic thing is that come the 2nd, 3rd, 4th........Jan I don't give a fiddlers @*!? about how overflowing the laundry basket is. But just for tomorrow night it will be barren!
I figure we need all the help we can get in the "Good Luck" department for 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The thaw- The return of things that I once took for granted #1

This morning brought the mesmerising sound of water dripping from the gutters. The long awaited thaw had begun. Its amazing how the little things that you once did automatically can now bring you out in yelps of euphoria.
Today I put my rubbish outside in my bins. Halleluia!
Yes you heard me correctly.
This may not seem like a big deal. But let me assure you. When your bins have been welded shut by ice for the past week and your Christmas excess is building up in the kitchen, then you will be over the moon when that wheelie bin lid cracks slowly open.

Ice free bins YESSSSSSSS

And if you think I'm overreacting now, just wait til I get a toilet that flushes automatically rather that having to manually fill the cistern with water from a bucket circa 1930!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An apple for teacher

One of the most bizarre stories that I have encountered in the past week is that the INTO have banned the giving of Christmas presents to teachers from pupils.
Not content with landing us with a 17% paycut in the past year, pouring our pensions down the IMF black hole, they are now doing the unthinkable....taking away our yearly supply of smelly soaps and scented candles!!!
According to this article (I know I was squinting at it, trying to read it with one eye, but I'm pretty sure I got it right) parents are presenting their child's teacher with bribery gifts such as cashmere jumpers, champagne, holiday vouchers etc. I have a wide circle of teachery friends and I have yet to encounter one that was the recipient of such a gift.....we wish!!!
I am very grateful for any token that assures me I have not totally wasted my time and energy throughout the year.
I must admit that I sometimes worry, as I open my 18th box of bubble bath that maybe I have a body odour problem and my pupils are trying to subtly tell me something!

Now Abu Dhabi was a different story!
There was a policy in my school that if a teacher received a gift worth more than 200 dirhams (about 50 euro), it had to be handed into the admin staff in the office. I very much doubted that the parent ever got it back from there, so I never handed anything in...oops!
At the end-of-term in my final year, the mother of one of my pupils gave a necklace to myself, the Arabic teacher, the Islamic teacher and the PE teacher. She did the same for a younger daughter's teachers.
Ms Nehaya, the Arabic teacher, came to me, quite distraught.
"Oh, Ms Noeleen. I do not think I can accept this necklace."
"Why not? I don't think its worth more than not having a clue what it was worth, but I was damed if I was going to see the secretary walking around with MY necklace next week!!
"No that's not the problem. I don't think my God will allow me to accept such a gift."
That's the great thing about being an Irish catholic...
"My God has NO problem with me accepting gifts. Maybe you should convert, if only for a day!"
After a good old giggle I realised that she didn't want me to agree with her, she just needed someone to convince her that she was doing the right thing by keeping the necklace. She came to the right woman for that job!
"Look. Ms Nehaya. If Allah didn't want you to have that necklace, then He wouldn't have put it into that mother's mind to give it to you."
"Oh Ms Noeleen. You are so right. Thank you!"
And she ran off clutching the box tightly to her chest.
The next day I passed her on the corridor as she was bringing her class for prayers to the Mosque. She casually adjusted her veil, to reveal the glitter of gold. Go girl!

The following day I was rushing through Abu Dhabi mall, getting last minute stuff before returning home. As I passed Damas Jeweller's window I espied my necklace on display. There was no price tag so I decided to go in and check. I pushed open the door and almost sank to my knees in luscious carpet.
You know that scene in "Pretty Woman" when the shop staff in the boutique on Rodeo Drive look down their noses at Julia Roberts because she is a hooker.....well I was getting a similar vibe here!
"Can I help you, Madam?"
"Yes, please. Can I see that gold necklace from the window?"
He took it from the display, and placed it lovingly on a velvet cloth on the counter.
"Emm. Very nice. How much is it?"
"It costs 10,000 dirhams Madam."
Quick arithmetic in my head.....2,500 euro!
"Well it is white gold with real diamonds."
I was out that door, into a taxi and back to my apartment like a shot. The reason apartment was full of boxes and crates as I was moving back home and I had no idea where I had put the presents I had gotten from the kids....including that necklace!!!
Phew, I found it!
Every time I wear it I think of Ms. Nehaya. I hope that where ever she is now that she is sparkling under her abaya. I never told her how much it was really worth. She is such a good and moral person she would feel obliged to give it back. Luckily I don't have that many morals!
Back to Ireland.
Last year I was teaching the phrase
"Is maith liom X ach is fearr liom Y."
Translation: I like X but I prefer Y.
So I said
"Is maith liom The X-Factor ach is fearr liom Strictly Come Dancing."
Christmas holidays came and I was opening my presents from the kids. (Ssh. Don't tell the INTO). I opened C's gift to find.... the Strictly Come Dancing annual. I was absolutely thrilled with it, not because of the book, but because it showed that at least one fella listened to me, understood what I said and remembered it!
That was the best gift ever.
Okay, let's be realistic here. Of course it wasn't! The diamond necklace was the best gift ever...but that book was a close-ish second!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Panic, panic, panic.

M50 December 2010

And so the Arctic conditions continue. My nephew Damien works in Dundrum Shopping centre. It usually takes him about 20 minutes to drive home. Last night it took him five hours due to the fact that no traffic was moving. It would be heart-warming to think that this news concerned me only because of my auntie affiliations. However I was more concerned because of how it would affect me! Sorry Damien!
Reason to panic #1
My post op visit was due today...and it was in that very area.I was stressed out, worrying that I wouldn't get back there today and so I would be left with this cursed bandage contact in my eye all over Christmas, and it'd be in so long it'd get infected and then I'd lose my eye...
Okay, so I'm a major drama queen!
Thanks to my FABULOUS sister Jacqueline for driving me there through the blinding snow. In fact we were an hour early! The fact that no one made it through the blizzard (or was mad enough to even try!) meant I was taken straight away.
My doctor told me I had fabulous healing powers
Maybe I can get a job as a psychic healer, if they keep cutting my teacher's wages!
He peeled off my contact with a tweezers (ouch) and off we set home.
You would think my worrying would be over...but no.
Reason to panic #2
Roxy has been parked outside my sister's house for the past five nights. She has never been idle for that length of time. What if she was frozen over and would never budge again???
You do realise that I am talking about my car ....and not my aforementioned FABULOUS sister!!
She purred into life with the first turn of the key. She is obviously in much better physical condition than I am!!
So off we set for home. You would think at this stage I'd be ecstatic at returning home. But no.
Reason to panic #3
I haven't been in my house for the past five nights. During that time there have been record low temperatures of -15 degrees. Even though I had my heating on a timer I began to panic that pipes had burst, water tank had come crashing from the attic and a glacier of ice would meet me on my return at the front door.
Thankfully none of these happened.
This time two weeks ago I was climbing the walls because I was stuck in my house because of the bad weather and couldn't wait to get out of my humble abode. Tonight I am sprawled on the couch inn front of a blazing fire, ever so thankful for my gorgeous, fully-functioning house. I think I deserve a Baileys-on-ice seeing as I had no birthday celebrations.

Oh Damien,by the way I hope you got less than five hours

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy eye!

Friday saw me in The Wellington Eye clinic for my "procedure"! The plan was that I would have it done two weeks ago and all would be healed up in time for major birthday and Christmas celebrations.
How do you make God laugh?
Tell him your plans!
Because of the Arctic conditions, I couldn't get to Dublin on the appointed date and the only other available date before the crimbo was the 17th....just before my birthday. But somethings have to be done as soon as possible and it went ahead.

I won't go into the gorey details. My doctor and the nurses were FABULOUS! But no amount of fabulousness can eradicate the feeling of someone scraping your eye with a hook while you are fully conscience. ENOUGH SAID.

I then got a list of all the things that I can't do.
Boxing 6 weeks
Bungee jumping 6 weeks
Parachute jumping 4 weeks
Scuaba diving 3 months
Ski-diving 2 weeks
Dam, so all the things I had planned for my birthday have to be scraped!
But even more worrying were things like
Driving after 1st post-up
Face make-up 1 week
Hairwash 2 days
Pub 2 days (who would want to go to the pub with no make-up and greasy hair )

Well there was no mention of sex on that list!

So I am here in my mum's house on my birthday, with a thumping headache and looking like I've done three rounds with Mike Tyson . I was feeling very sorry for myself...until I got lots of birthday wishes by phone and on facebook, So I feel very loved.......despite looking like crap!! Thanks to everyone.
Roll on the New Year celebrations!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The best opening line of The Nativity Story.....EVER

My class were doing a creative writing lesson based on the story of the Nativity.
How "creative" of me!
The story had to be written from the viewpoint of one of the animals in the stable. I tried to stress that as an animal you would not understand what was going an. Also, if you were a smaller creature you would be looking at things from a completely different angle. So to help us, we took a moment to place ourselves in our animal's body and imagine the sights, sounds and smells that we would experience.
R took his assignment very seriously. He imagined that he was a little mouse, peering out from under the straw.
His opening line was
"Push, Mary, Push!"
Classic. I didn't have to read any further to award him an A+ for his work!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!

The thaw has set in!!! THANK GOD.
I got out and about without taking my life in my hands. I headed up to my sister-in-law's house. She was busy making the Christmas pudding. Tradition meant that I just had to make a wish while giving it a stir!

Mmm, let me think, what shall I wish for??? A handsome man that won't answer back or run away!

Later that night we had our traditional Christmas night out. As I said before, out family is very loaded towards the female side. So my mum and her three sisters, their daughters and now it includes the next generation of daughters, all meet up for a good old night out. Unfortunately this year because of the appalling weather conditions, not everyone could make it. The stalwarts braved the elements.

We met up in The Greville Arms. It being X-Factor final night, there was a great buzz around the place, seeing as Niall Horan from One Direction is a Mullingar boy! It's incredible that this time last year he was taking part in Mullingar's Stars in their Eyes, but this year he is in the final of the largest TV show on the planet, under Simon Cowell's influential wings.

And that was when I met my perfect man.....

1. Handsome.....check!
2. Won't run away....Check. Well, he doesn't appear to have legs!
3. Won't talk back.....check. Someone seems to have gagged him. Wasn't me, honest!

Confession Time:

Many, many years ago when we were teenagers, I had a crush on.......Niall's dad! I swear! Same cheeky grin.

This is SO wrong on SO many levels. I guess it's back to the pudding bowl for another wish!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Back when it all began.....

People have been asking me when I began to write. I've always loved reading and writing. I remember that I used to do extra essays when I was in sixth class and get my teacher to correct them!
Being a teacher now, I realise that he probably said "What a nerd!"
Seeing as I have nothing to do these days only clean and tidy my house, I have made lots of interesting discoveries. I found this piece of writing that I did back in 1977 when I was thirteen. I used to write about things that happened to me during a normal day and then send them to the local paper where they were published.
Something is beginning to sound very familiar!
For my 40th birthday my nephew Damien went to the library archives to look up "my work". This is one of those pieces.
What has amazed me is that my style of writing has not changed one whit since then. It reads like something I could have written yesterday.


One night, or should I say early morning, I was awakened by the sound of my two elder sisters talking.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Sshh there's a mouse in the room," whispered Jacqueline.
"A MOUSE!" I screamed.
"Oh Jacqueline, get out and turn on the light",pleaded Geraldine.
"I'm not getting out in the dark,"said Jacqueline in disgust. "I might hit him in the dark."
Jacqueline then decided to throw her shoes in the direction from where the noise came, but the mouse still kept on scraping. Finally Jacqueline decided to get out and turn on the light. After stumbling over shoes she managed to reach the light switch. No mouse could be seen. Jacqueline raced back into bed. The noise stopped and we all stayed quiet.
"I'm thirsty. I'm going to the kitchen," said Jacqueline at last.
"Hey wait for me," said Geraldine.
"I'm going too," I said and we all jumped out of bed.
When we were all back in bed, the light off and me nearly asleep, the mouse started scratching again. Jacqueline lost her temper (I should know as she often does with me - and as she is four years older, guess who wins?)
Well as I was saying, she lost her temper, grabbed a shoe, walked over to the skirting board, banged on it as hard as she could until the noise stopped.
Methinks the mouse was stunned!
We at last managed to get some sleep.
P.S. it's lucky you received this at all as Geraldine, when she read it was going to tear it up. I suppose a woman twenty years old does have her pride to think about!!!
By Noeleen Lynam
Topic Newspaper
1st September 1977

Monday, December 6, 2010

Couch potato

Just entered Week 2 of house internment.
I have gotten worried about myself and my mental/physical health. This is because I have spent the weekend plonked in front of the telly watching "Strictly I'm a Celebrity with the X-Factor Dancing on Ice All-Ireland Talent Show Get Me Out of Here". I suddenly had a flashback to an episode of Nip/Tuck, where an obese woman couldn't move from her couch. She spent her time watching tv and being fed by her family.
Ringing any bells yet?

Eventually her skin actually merged with the cloth of her couch and she effectively GREW into it.
They had to knock down a wall, use a forklift to bring herself and her couch to the hospital and surgically separate them.
I was really worried until I realised
Hey, my couch is leather. I'm safe!!!
It did give me a bit of a kick. I haven't been able to go for a swim or walk in the past week. So I resurrected a fitness DVD that I got free in a newspaper eons ago. I managed the warm-up section before collapsing......on the couch.
This time last year I was spending two and a half hours a night dancing about on stage in panto. Once this snow clears it's Operation Fitness.
But in the meantime..............

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cats and Dogs

I had the weirdest dream last night. I dreamt I had eventually made it out in the snow. When I returned I discovered my back door open and my dog Patch was missing! I was really worried because Patch is used to the creature comforts and would not be able to cope in the Arctic conditions outside.
I got a bowl of his food ready. Suddenly I saw something white with two black patches over his eyes, running across the snow in the back lawn.
I know, I know, his name is not very original, but what was I going to call him........Tiger????
I chased him, snow ploughing up behind me. When I eventually caught up with him I discovered that it wasn't actually Patch. Dejectedly I returned to my discover seven cats crowded around his bowl, eating his food.
I woke up in a panic, thinking that I'd never see my dog again.
There was a moment of intense relief when I thought
Phew, he's not really missing, it was only a dream.
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

What are you talking about? Patch died over 35 years ago!

Patch was the family's very first.....and last, dog. We were so upset when he died we never got another one.
When I realised this morning that he actually was dead, I got the same wrenching feeling in my stomach as I did when I heard the first time.
As a result today, despite it being 35 years later, I am missing Patch.
This snow better thaw soon before I lose it completely!

Friday, December 3, 2010

And there was light......

It's amazing how one's priorities change according to one's circumstances.
This time last week my main concerns were (in no particular order) the economic bailout, my pending eye surgery and who would be kicked off the X-Factor.
Now that I am on Day 4 of snow-induced imprisonment my outlook on life has changed.
1. No point worrying about the IMF. Hey, there's a budget next week. Then its time to panic!
2. My reality TV viewing now consists of watching people eat vile things like eyeballs and kangaroo penis.
How many times have I felt like screaming "I'm not a Celebrity, but get me out of here anyway!"
3. My eye will have to wait for two weeks to be fixed. Another casualty of the snow.

Today I couldn't take it anymore so Roxy and I ventured out on the ice. We made it as far as my Mum who lives on the other side of the village. It was great to have face-to-face contact with another human being, as opposed to Facebook contact.
Seeing as we made it that far, we ventured as far as Tesco's in Kinnegad.
You would think that food would be my main priority but as I said, things have changed.
The main concern in my life has become Christmas tree lights. Sitting looking at my naked tree was driving me mad.
God, I definitely need to get out more often!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Lights.

I got my love of reading and indeed writing from Enid Blyton's books, in particular The Famous Five series. I was hooked on their adventures involving underground tunnels, smugglers and deserted islands. Of course poor old Enid has fallen out of favour, as she was not exactly politically correct. One of her girls, Anne, was an absolute wimp and had to depend on the boys to rescue her at every turn. The other girl, George (hello!) only got things done because she insisited on being treated as a boy.
Not good role models for todays girls.
Also her choice of names would raise more than a snigger in a modern day classroom. There was Dick (whose surname should have been Head!) and if I recall correctly, there was an Aunt Fanny in there somewhere! I certainly wouldn't attempt to read that aloud in class.
I was faced with my own mystery today and could have done with their help.
I am on Day 3 of being snowbound in my house and slowly going mad due to cabin fever. What does one do when there is nothing left to clean?
Ah ha! Christmas tree decorating time!
I braved the elements and went up to the attic. When I opened the door, the artic conditions nearly took my breath away.
First down were Santa and Rudolf.

It only seems like last month I was blogging about them disappearing up into my attic for another year.......and here they are again.
That is scary!
Next I set about decorating my tree. I was almost finished, when I realised that something vital was missing....the lights. I went back up in the attic, searched all the boxes. Nowhere to be found! I'm flumoxed. I didn't throw them out last year. I keep all the christmas gear together (Primary School Teacher Syndrome) No one else could have moved them. So where the hell are they???
A mystery!

When I was finished decorating the sitting room, I put on a CD of Josh Groban singing Christmas carols, poured myself a Baileys and ice, sat back and gazed at my (lightless) Christmas tree.
I sipped slowly, contemplated deeply and came to the realisation that
If this fecking snow doesn't disappear soon, I'll go mad.
I can't help it if I'm not a Christmas person!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dancing on Ice- the Irish version

I am on day 2 of being snowed in. Roxy and I tried to make it to school yesterday. I knew it was a lost cause when we took three attempts to even get out the gate, as you can see from the tyre tracks.
We got as far as Raharney where we tried to negotiate the hill. We got so far and slid down again. Enough was enough. We cautiously turned around and skated off home again. Luckily the school was closed today so neither of us has moved.

So what to do when snowed in? My house is now gleaming from top to bottom. The only problem is there is no-one to see it in its pristine state. By the time another person can make it through the blizzard conditions to my humble abode it'll probably be back to its usual state of disarray. I've just gotten the text to say we have another snow day tomorrow. Nothing left to clean.....I even washed my make-up brushes today. I now know the significance of this saying