Saturday, June 30, 2007

From The Mayo News, Tuesday, June 20, 2007....
(with a few edits!)

Second Lyons Sister is Laid to Rest in Aghamore

Last Wednesday, Mary Ellen Lyons was buried alonside
her sister Agnes, who was the subject of an inquest
in August 2003, where it was discovered that Agnes
had lay dead in her bedroom fro over a year, and
had died of self-neglect.

Parish priest Fr. John Walsh said, "I visited Mary
on a number of occasions but still find it hard
to understand the situation that existed..."

Michael 'Sonny' Lyons said he had little or no
contact with his sisters for a number of years
until he found Mary sick in the bathroom
at approx. 11am on August 4, 2003. He went to
find Agnes in order to get help, but got a shock
when he opened the bedroom door.

"That wasd the first time I had been inside the
girls' room for about 20 years...."

The death of Agnes Lyons caused great sorrow, grief,
speculation, media intrusions, accusations, bewilder-
ment and profound sadness.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The countryside is in bloom --
purple thistle
purple clover
morning glory (some in pink!)
sea lavender
...and so many more I have yet to identify.
Drove out and about Achill Island today.
Picnic-lunched at the base of the ruins
of a tower where Grace O'Malley had her
stronghold. Took the Atlantic Coast Drive
along blustery cliffs where the road is
nearly wide enough for a single car
and guard rails do not exist. Glorious sun!
Water everywhere, after yesterday's
mind-numbing rain. At the Achill Golf Club
sheep roam the greens, and the clubhouse
is three job shacks side-by-side.
I walked the beach bare-footed at Keem,
and it was only sparsely touristed. Two
young boys came skipping by me in the surf,
singing, 'Silent night, holy shite.'
I love this country.

The Westport Potato Count

Date recorded: June 28, 2007
Location: Westport SuperValu, County Mayo, Ireland
Time: 2:27pm
Weather: Unrelenting rain

Chilled, Ready-to-heat: 2 varieties.

Fresh: 25 varieties, including Queens,
Roosters, Golden Wonder, Irish New Season,
Kerrs Pink, Wilson Wonder Baby Roasting Prepack,
Wonder Brushed, Wonder Washed.

Heat-n-Eat Deli: 5 varieties

Cold Deli: 4 varieties.

Frozen: 33 varieties, including Gaelic
Potato Bits, Luxury Mashed, Wicked Wedges,
Potato Waffles, Family Chunky Oven Chips,
Unislim Oven Chips, Straight Cut Homestyle Fries.

Soup: 3 varieties.

And 3 varieties of Potato Farls.

Grand total of 73 different incarnations
of potatoes, and this does not include
potato chips.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Attempted to take the ferry out the the Arans
yesterday, thwarted by inclement weather.
Ended up tooling around Conemara, and the
sun shone benevolently upon us. The beach photo's
are from Mweenish Island, a remote speck of land
at the edge of the Atlantic. Can't imagine living
out here a hundred years ago. Wind-blasted, wet.
The water was really that color! The tiny thatched
cottage is actually a miniature replica -- deceivingly
real in the photo.

I'm off to take the Westport Potato Count.
Rain today like the end of the world,
like absolution.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pony Trekking! Anya,
the eighteen-year-old neighbor
from across the cove,
took me out today on her
1/2 Clydesdale & 1/2 Cobb horse.
Anya walked as this creaky
50-year-old contorted
herself into unnatural
positions atop 'Belle.'
Amazing how the view improves just a little bit
elevated above the fuschia hedgerows and stone walls!
No trotting or cantering because the bridle fell
apart, but we plan to go out again on Thursday
if I'm not sore beyond repair. Jack the dog
accompanied us, and was pursued by every
aggressive mongrel along the way. (Jack is a lovely
passive border collie with one blue eye and one brown.
Passive, that is, when it comes to other dogs,
not sheep!) Took a detour off the narrow country
lane down a path between ancient gnarled trees,
through nettles and meadowsweet, to an abandoned
twenty-acre pasture bordered on one side
by saltwater, in search of seals. Anya told me
that recently she and a friend were swimming there
with the horses and two seals approached
to a distance of about ten feet, and just floated
close to them, quite interested in the floating

Dinner last night at the O'Neal's/Hicks, along
with Pat and Ann Fadden. We ate and ate and told
jokes and drank and drank. At one point and for
some odd reason I had two wine glasses which were
being refilled regularly by Ian and Ann. After
feasting on two desserts -- a cookie-crust/berry/
cream concoction and then peach pie, Mina brought
out a platter of Irish cheeses, butter, crackers.
They rolled us out the door well past midnight.
Luckily the walk up the driveway to our house
was short in the encompassing dark.

A slow morning. Delivery of a coffee table
purchased at the Saturday market. Naps.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lunch today at Sol Rio, an incredible bargain
in this country where the dollar is worth shite.
I had a smoked haddock and salmon fish-bake, served
in a tomato cream sauce, gratineed; buttered & parsleyed
boiled potatoes; and pea pods, julienned carrots,
cauliflower and broccoli on the side. Paul's Irish trout
came in a large shallow bowl, veg. on the bottom
and fish stacked on top, bits of bacon, chives,
pea pods clock-worked out around the edge.
All this for under twenty euro.
For that price, at most restaurants in town
one would be lucky to get a sandwich
and the ever-present chips (French fries).

Dinner tonight at Ian and Mina's across
the cove. At eight. Very civilised.
Photo below is of downtown Westport.

Learned last night that my neighbor Pat's
running up and down the hill with the sheep
was not a training session with Jack but an
attempt to separate the lambs from the ewes
because the sheep-shearer was on his way
and lambs and ewes must be apart for this.
At one point, one of the ewes jumped the fence
along with her lamb, and set off for one
of the islands (the tide was out). A neighbor
happened to be passing by on his boat, and he
nabbed the lamb, but mama-sheep wouldn't budge,
so Pat and neighbor had to drag and lift her
into the boat. Apparently very frustrating,
but the next day all the sheep ran hide-naked
about the field.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

There is a horse show today down the road
in Louisburgh, but we shall not make it.
Opted instead (in a passionate burst of rain)
for an Irish coffee at Matt Malloys. The pub
was pleasantly crowded, some Irish pipes
and a concertina on the i-pod. We sat and read
the Herald Tribune, an editorial about our
lovely president's autocratic system of ruling.
Curses all around.

At the Westport Saturday market today there are
oh, perhaps eight booths. A cheesemaker (we love
his nettle cheese, aged only 6 weeks), a jam-maker
named Patty (American), a potter (one of whose teapots
graces the shelf of the hutch back at the house),
a plant-seller (basil, parsley, a few flowers),
a woodworker whose coffee-table-on-display we are
going to buy as soon as we finish here, and a few
others, not much to boast of. In September there is
a horse fair here. They close off the street along
the river (site of street market) and farmers bring in
their Connemara ponies and draft horses and Shetlands
and sell 'em off. When we went in 2005, there was a mild
gale blowing through, but it didn't stop any of the locals
from coming out for the event. They are no strangers
to rain and wind here.

A shopkeeper from whom Paul bought me a necklace and bracelet
used to live in Bellevue. And a couple at the tourist office
with whom he struck up a conversation were from Bellevue and Yakima.
O tiny, compressed earth!
And, of course, just about everything is made in China.
Labels on goods will say, 'Designed in Ireland.'
Local authenticity is tricky these days.
We like to patronize a local jeweler-couple
who have a shop here in town. Lovely silver pieces.

I made pizza last night. felt great
to plunge my hands into that dough. Grounding.
I'd make a pie but don't want to consume it all.

Friday, June 22, 2007

This morning, our neighbor Pat Fadden spent
about an hour in a training session with his dog
Jack, and the sheep. Pat wore knee-high green rubber
boots, and, (among other things) a blue bandanna.
Irish ninja. (I love binocs.) With a singular
hand-motion from Pat, Jack would take off at top speed
to the rear of the sheep, and they'd begin to run,
spreading out like a pitcher of cream spilled
down the hill. Then another motion from Pat, and Jack
would circle back, and the sheep (the poor confused sheep)
would turn and run the other way, up and down the hill,
again and again. Tireless, both master and dog.

The solstice yesterday, and after a dinner in town
at La Bella Vita, I took a beach walk down the driveway
from the house, the sun (at 9:30pm) still blazing
in the western sky. Croagh (Mt.) Patrick was veiled
in pink mist, and the cove all apricot and rose.
Rocky strand, no sand in sight. Periwinkles, kelp,
torn and twisted bits of fishing net, crab claw, mussels.
An otter emerged from an embankment den, sleek and wet,
chirruping, singing, praising the endless light.
No true darkness until well past 11pm, and then exhaustion
takes over, and we sleep.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My friend Cezanne says, "as for the bakery, it'll fold
like stiff egg whites into the souffle that flopped...."

All morning the lambs -- those that were spared
the spring slaughter -- race up and down the hill
across the cove, tails pinswheeling.

Westport -- population 4500 -- has its own
radio station, which I've been enjoying immensely
because of all the invaluable information
it broadcasts, such as the obituaries:
"The death has occured of Mary Margaret O'Sullivan.
Reposing at her residence until 2pm today.....
remains arriving.......removal at eight, etc.
The death has occured of..... etc.
The death has occured of.......etc.
May their souls rest in peace.
The time now is nine minutes after ten."

And then there was the Lost Animal Report,
(two black dogs, medium sized, last seen in Castlebar)
and the Happy Birthday Report.

At noon:
"We're pausing for the angels."
(Followed by a dozen bell peals.)

The following is a list of items one may lose:
(feel free to add your own)
1. head
2. keys
3. mind
4. patience
5. train of thought
6. track of time
7. sanity
8. all semblance of order
9. heart
10. hope
11. faith
12. money
13. ones fortune
14. a competition
15. weight
16. ones way
17. the will to live
18. power
19. sheep ie., Bo Peep
20. marbles
21. hearing
22. sense of smell
23. sight
24. sight
25. touch
26. hair
27. youth
28. good looks
29. virginity
30. wits
31. innocence
32. place in a book
33. the war
34. one's lunch
35. homework
36. sense of humor
37. sense of direction
38. virtue
39. everything

If the plural of octopus if octopi,
is then the singular of apple pie applepus?
Pecanpus? Chocolate Creampus?
(This from Paul, upon waking, after his recounting
of his dream of octopi growing in the earth, only
the legs emerging from fertile soil....)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ireland. Time for a stiff drink. Just found out
that the man who sued me is dead of heart failure.
Ahhhh, irony. Now just waiting for a certain
G'town bakery to fold.....

Emerging from jetlag haze. A thick curtain of rain
here in Westport. Brain is sludgy. Countryside
more lush than ever. The cove outside our front door
trickles the tide in and out, in and out. No drama;
all is soft, all hushed.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Early today the adolescent crows began their cawcawcawcaw
A pair of them in the apple tree, all wing-flutter and open-beak.
The parent about fifteen feet away on an outdated tv antenna.
Abandonment training. Empty nest practice. And where were
my very own post-adolescent crows aka human-grown-children?
Slumbering before mama-crow winged off to another continent.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Why this pulling in so many directions, the desire
to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Cinderella pumpkins broke through the soil today,
the seed-hulls still attached: delicate, fragile, vulnerable.


My fabulous red-headed-Irish-painter-friend Andrea
lives in an old Georgetown building, and she received
a note this week from her landlord, stating that
the Ghost Society was going to stop by the building
Saturday night at 2am and check for ghosts.....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another restaurant recommendation:
Sichuanese (sp?)Cuisine, also on the northwest corner of 12th and Jackson. Hole in the wall, perhaps ten tables. The kitchen tends to spill out into the seating area; tonight there was a table -- seemingly abandoned -- of Chinese long beans in the process of being chopped up. Prices are low, service is very friendly but the order of serving is sometimes mixed up -- tonight our soup was served last. But the food is consistently marvelous. Try the Dried Fried Chicken or the Kung Pao Fish. The potstickers are made in-house, and come twenty to the platter for $4.50. My brave sister Mary tried to order one of the specials (written in Chinese, which none of us know) and the waitress wouldn't let her! Told her that she wouldn't like it. Last time I was there, Reilly ordered an item off the specials list, and the same waitress tried the same stunt on him, but he insisted. When they brought the dish out, several other employees gathered round our table to see our reaction -- and were stunned when we liked it! (I wish I recalled what it was; all I remember is something pickled, served hot in a spicy sauce.) No alcohol except for beer. The bill tonight for the three of us -- we were stuffed to the gills,
and there were lots of leftovers -- was $28 before tip.

Monday, June 11, 2007

1. My friend and co-worker Drew said today that his dog
is part squirrel, part fruit-bat, part chihuahua, part rotweiller.

2. Paul and I leave for Ireland Saturday morning.

3. My ancient cat Alice likes to sleep on my piles
of poetry. She guards them. Keeps the other cats
from editing them.

4. It's Monday. Blah.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Restaurant recommendation: The Tamarind Tree, northwest corner
of 12th and Jackson, (tucked away in a corner) in Seattle. Kind of
junky looking from the outside, sleek and elegant inside, ridiculously
affordable prices, outrageously generous servings and impeccable
service. Yum yum yum. Prepare to stand in line.
My laptop screen went black this morning....
couldn't get my morning computer fix, although
I did manage to make an Americano,
but there wasn't enough milk to sufficiently
whiten and soften it, so I rummaged
in the merry-go-round shelf in the cupboard
and discovered a can of evaporated milk....
ah, memories of cafe au lait.
I turned on the monstrously immense old computer
downstairs, which, alas, was not hooked up
to the internet, and which, alas, I could not remedy,
what with the snake-pit of cords beneath it.
(Unintelligible words like ether and linksys and portswitch
and booster and d-link.) I began to get really antsy. No e'mail!
No blog! No Paris Hilton update! Then I remembered
that there were at least three more computers
in my house (one per boy), and possibly more.
Which slumbering lump of testosterone-riddled flesh
should I choose to rouse? Nelson, ever-ready
to assist his technology-barren mother, was the winner!
Yay Nelson! Hip hip! Now it's type-o-rama while the sparkle
of my newly-sized engagement ring (thank-you, Paul!)
lights the gloom of this storm-impending June morning.
It looks like November out there.
A good day for a cake, or perhaps a pie. Or scones.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Into gardening again, finally, after a four year hiatus.
Anxious about the sunflowers and the Cinderella pumpkins
I planted, certain that the family of five thieving squirrels
that inhabit my yard will sniff them out. Barely a square inch
of space for pumpkins, so I intend to let them tumble out
over the cracked concrete patio. The grapes are in bloom,
in multitudes. The kiwi that succumbed to some kind of
inner-stem rot last summer is now more vigorous than ever
with its red-furred branches and tendrils. And the useless apples
with their apple maggots. I refuse poison. Ornamental apples,
I guess. Perhaps not entirely useless. Beautiful Apples.
Four years ago I would have known the latin name
of almost every plant in the garden, but so much has
exited my brain and feels lost forever. The brain-haze
which for a long time seemed would never clear
has finally burned off. Clarity of thought is an extraordinary gift,
one which I shall never again take for granted.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


(Image: Untitled, by Helen O'Toole)

I am thankful for drizzle.
I am thankful for Italian parsley.
I am thankful for Cedar Grove Compost

I am thankful for punctuation, especially the semi-colon.
I am thankful for the dependant clause.
I am thankful for riffraff, zigzag, rickrack.

For yeast, especially when proofed.
For butter, when cut-in.
For sugar, on the tongue.
For vanilla, in excess.

With gratitude to the parsnip, the rosebud geranium,
the nuthatch. The silkworm. The poem.

Monday, June 4, 2007


What would happen if a group of people just started laughing spontaneously? The three of us at work today tried this, and within less than a minute there were honest-to-god tears flowing. So now there is a rule that we must do this every day. (I give full credit to Melinda for the moniker.) Ha! Ha! Ha!
We paint glass and we peel "resist" from glass and we dremel glass and we file glass and we scrape glass and we dot glass and we bake glass and we polish glass and we pack glass and finally, we ship glass out. We do not blow glass or carve glass or knit glass or knead glass or hunt glass or read glass or embroider glass or untangle glass or spin glass. Occaisionally we break glass (and gas!) with regret. Always we praise glass. Is there a patron saint of glass?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dinner outside tonight on the deck, ending with a Baked Alaska. Reilly flamed it with Cognac, cursing all the while as the tablecloth, briefly, caught on fire. He believes that his demi-century mother is irresponsible.....oops! Before we set fire to the 49th state, we had Baked Wyoming, in the form of moose, and Baked Alaska a la poisson aka king salmon. All this before the rain let loose,before thunder rumored the skies in the distance, and one flash of lightning illuminated our eighty-nine degree skies. Now my garden rejoices with the sprinkling of water, and my kitchen is stacked high with a 5-7-5 haiku pattern: balance.
What would a Baked Oregon taste like? A Baked Alabama? How about a Baked Utah?

The Baguette King

I awoke this morning at 3am to the tantalizing scent of bread baking. Spencer, my boarder and a good friend of both my sons, has, in the past two weeks, discovered the joy (and passion) of making bread. Nelson has been his teacher, and Reilly the professional consultant. And most mornings, (but not all!) I am greeted with a tidy kitchen. I love living with these three delightful young men!

Friday, June 1, 2007

7:25am. My neighbor across the street, Candy, sits on a green wooden chair on her front porch, playing her banjo. She's wearing a long pink nightgown. (The birds are in full chorus.) Reilly just left for school wearing his black-and-white-checked pants and white chef's jacket with his name embroidered across the chest. Left in his racy little red car. Vroom. The cats are pacing, waiting for that moment when I stand up so they can race down the stairs before me and position themselves for their morning tablespoon of canned food. Not yet, not yet. I can hear the morning traffic on Wilson Avenue, car after car, nearly all headed north, into the city. The sun this morning is barely muted, a thin veil of clouds, not as hot as yesterday. Another day, its details setting themselves out one by one for my observance.