The Halloween Domestic Goddess

'Twas the Halloween Bank Holiday weekend and a very busy one here at Chez Jazzy. There was lots to fit in around everyone's interests and activities and there was a birthday to celebrate....for someone who hates birthdays!

It is my belief that weekends should be a break for everyone in the family (you know what I'm sayin' here.... right?) and I'm finally finding subtle ways to achieve just that;-)

As birthday boy Mr Jazzy had a big golfing day on Friday with a meal out, WiiBoy and I treated ourselves to a takeaway! Saturday involved  more golf so myself and WiiBoy tagged along and spent 2 1/2 hours in the swimming pool (including some sauna/jacuzzi time for me!) while golf was played. We then all had lunch in the golf club, turning a golf day out into a family one;-) Sunday was the only golf-free day so we went for a family birthday meal to our favourite Indian restaurant that does a good early-bird deal.

Do you see what I've done here? Three whole days and no meals cooked!! Shush.... don't tell;-)

It's now Monday, Halloween and I'm feeling a bit guilty as my child hasn't eaten a home-cooked meal in a few days! I'm also feeling guilty as I haven't visited my mother in her nursing home all weekend either. I did try to remedy that today. We  may only be a one child family but we are also a one car one too so that does create difficulty sometimes. Heavy rain was forecast and I wanted to stay home to keep an eye on the  flooding situation so I came up with a genius plan.... get the nursing home to send her out to me in a taxi! Would have worked too, if only their damn phones were working. It's strange, they always seem to have a problem with phones on holidays.... 

Anyway, I have a confession to make..... I hate Halloween! I'm not creative at all with regards Halloween costumes or decorations and I most certainly don't make my own. I did reluctantly put up some decorations though...

 Pathetic I know, but I had to risk life and limb standing on a chair to get these up. No mean feat when you're as accident prone as me!

WiiBoy and I DID make a traditional pumpkin lantern....

 Okay....... slightly lop-sided and deformed I know, but hey, it's Halloween! Anything goes!!

Everyone always has these fab photos of lit pumpkin lanterns but no-one ever tells you that the lids burn from the inside!! Jeez... just as well I checked, or it could have been a case of escaping a flood only to get burnt out by a creepy, deformed pumpkin!

There were some leftovers after our lantern making so me, being in Domestic Goddess mode (or being Queen of Waste Not Want Not, perhaps?)  turned this...

into this.....

And my WiiBoy enjoyed the pumpkin soup SO much he asked for more, in true Oliver fashion! It was absolutely gorgeous, I must admit Ooh.... go me!

 But I wasn't finished. Oh no, not by a long shot!

Before I made the soup I made flapjacks as breakfast fodder for the faddy breakfast eater.....

And  as I knew WiiBoy would  be off eating pizza with his Trick or Treating buddies before they went trick or treating, and subsequently stuffing themselves with crap,  I made a healthy lunch for him, to follow the gorgeous pumpkin soup. I made his very favourite lunch... Indian Pizza (or Quesadilla to you and I) which is packed full of vegetables. He loves it!

My guilt somewhat assuaged I sent him off trick or treating with his 4 pals. They had pizza in one house, did the rounds on 2 roads and have now  taken themselves and  their sugar-laden booty off to another house to watch a movie!

Last I heard it was turning into an impromptu sleepover!

My sugar-filled sleepy boy will return home tomorrow to a clean house as this Domestic Goddess finishes her Halloween chores, before the clock strikes 12 midnight and her lit pumpkin turns into rat or a frog or something and all mayhem resumes as normal. Sigh....

Note: Jazzy would like to assure her readers that no-one was hurt in the making of this blog-post, she hasn't been turned into a Stepford Wife and normal service WILL resume shortly.


Saved by the ..... Bins.

Oh Dear God.... not again - was the first thought that ran through my head when I opened my hall door at around 8.15pm, on Monday 24th October 2011 and looked down at where my neighbour was pointing. Rain water,  up to the step and flowing right around to the back of the house, threatening to make another dramatic entrance into our house and into our lives from both angles, just like last time. Not on my watch.

'Oh My God, we're flooding again' - I half screamed and cried simultaneously both into the phone, as I hung up on my friend, and at my husband who was busy in another room. I could feel my panic and my tears rising as fast as the murky floodwater gathering outside. Oh God... Oh God.. We can't go through this again..I thought, as memories of months of upheaval flooded back to me. You'll pardon the pun, I'm sure. However, I quickly pulled myself together as I gathered my thoughts, rolled up my sleeves and pulled on my wellies. This water will NOT invade our house, I silently  promised myself. Like I say..... NOT on my watch.

We knew how serious this situation was and exactly how little time we had before our homes would flood. The last time this happened, 16th August 2008 to be precise (yeah, that's right.. 'summer') we had about 10 minutes from the point of water being at the step to it flowing over the threshold. It was still pelting down out there and we had approximately 10 minutes to save our homes. 10 minutes.... and counting.

                Ths is from 2008 and is how big the flood would have been with another 10 minutes of rain

Now, we've not been complacent since the last flood, I'll have you know. We're always on floodwatch any time there's heavy rain and anyone who follows me on twitter and Facebook will attest to that fact by virtue of my tweets/updates. Last Sunday/Monday was no different. We watched that rain and the road outside for build up for two days running and all seemed well. I put my hands down our shores and pulled out soggy leaves and grimy gunk at 3pm on Monday. Mr Jazzy did the same on Sunday. All was fine the last time we checked, which was at 7.15pm as we returned home in the torrential downpour after collecting Mr Jazzy from the bus stop and our WiiBoy from trampolining class.  It was very heavy rain, apparently a month's rain fell in a 24 hour period in Dublin causing absolute mayhem everywhere. To us though, it was exactly the same as on 16th August 2008. We were assured by our local council after the last flood that the problem was fixed  and that it would never, ever happen again. After all,  we live on a cliff. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yup, we're approximately 20ft up over-looking the sea and not a river bank in sight. Ironic, huh?

So, as hubby and I quickly dressed for  flood battle,  which took all of two minutes,  we all tried to recall what it was we did last time and endeavoured to do it quicker this time. I spotted the two green and purple sentinels standing guard next door and remembered... 'WHEELIE BINS' I shouted out the door, struggling to get at my wellies ..... 'we used wheelie bins last time,' Well, eventually we did. This time we kicked straight in with them.  But first I moved our car to the nearest dry spot. You see, our driveway houses two shores, into which the sewerage and waste water flows from 6 houses.  Our neighbours  had recently unblocked them but best to keep clear... just in case.

Then I went for our wheelie bins, but as I couldn't push them from back to front garden against the pull of the flood water, I abandoned all social niceties and simply grabbed our neighbours two proud, guarding receptacles out front. I found another dry spot and unceremoniously dumped the contents and we went to work. We were also conscious of the large lake which was growing ever bigger on the road outside, just like last time

At some stage, in the middle of all  this mayhem, Mr Jazzy remembered that we'd also called the emergency services the last time. Yes, the fire brigade were there for 3 hours pumping out our floodwater, I recalled.

Good idea, let's call them. So I dialled 999.....and was put on interminable hold. While only silently panicking to that point I could feel it all slipping away as I half screamed and cried, yet again, to anyone within earshot.... 'I'm on hold...for the EMERGENCY services? How the flipping hell can that be?'.... Ok,  admittedly I was a little more ... colourful.... than that in my choice of language. I simultaneously  phoned the local Gardai from another phone and they eventually answered. They explained that a state of emergency had been declared in our Capital city and that they themselves, even with their secret contact numbers, couldn't get hold of them. God help any seriously ill person needing an ambulance, that rainy Monday night in Dublin.

So, we were completely on our own this time, it seemed. It was totally down to us to save our homes. And that's precisely what we did. NOT on our watch....

Back to rely on our good ole ever faithful friends, the lowly, and utterly under-estimated wheelie bins.....and our real-life human friends too, in the form of our fantastic neighbours who once again came to our assistance. Community spirit is alive and kicking in our village.

We quickly got a system going whereby using pots, pans, buckets and anything we could lay our hands on, we (adults and children alike) frantically filled one wheelie bin which one of the men would drag about 100 yards down the road to the nearest unblocked shore, while we started filling another wheelie bin. This system was in place in a number of homes. The primary aim was to keep the water from getting above the front step of our homes and gaining access. Clearing the water from the front also lowered the water level at the back of the house. Please....please flood water, don't destroy our lovely 3 year old extension.  Anything else was a bonus.

And we did indeed get a bonus. The Gods themselves shone on us that night and decided, in their infinite wisdom that being flooded once was more than enough - especially since we live on a cliff and decided to turn off that giant tap in the sky, with minutes to spare.  NOT on their watch...

To put it in perspective and to give you a fuller picture of our predicament that night: if the rain hadn't stopped when it did then using wheelie bins to remove the flood water would have been the equivalent of using thimbles. Yet, we would have continued bailing out that floodwater as, in our minds, to use thimbles was better than doing nothing.

Even though the rain had stopped we carried on working feverishly to clear all water threatening our homes and those of our infirm neighbours. However,  we also wisely used the breathing space this god given bonus afforded us and deployed teams to clear the on-road shore blockages and to assess the real problem that brought this to our doorways again.

Three people headed to that  real source of the flood..... the visible  over ground ever-growing river  flowing down Quinns Road with speed and with nowhere to go. Finding the lowest point of gravity it diverted into our estate. But the real problem was, just like last time, the one none of us could see, but knew was there. The deluge of water, draining from the many estates leading onto the Quinns Road, that was thundering underground at a ferocious rate and couldn't, for whatever reason, 'turn the corner' to  gain access to the famous 5ft diameter drainage pipe that takes all of our water out to sea. That underground deluge also found the same lowest point of gravity to divert to.... the under ground pipe from our estate which joins that system just at that 'corner'.

Note: Last time it was that 5ft diameter pipe that was found to be 40% blocked by huge tree roots and builders debris from a recent extension at the tennis club. That was deemed, by the council, to be the primary cause of our  previous flood. That drain hadn't been examined or cleaned in years.

Soon our homes were out of danger so we all joined in in manually clearing the leaf and debris blocked roadside shores, that had  not been recently cleaned by the Council. Our husbands, under the dark cover of night and  with no protective gear had to stick their hands, through a foot or two of  filthy flood water, down the shores to remove blockages to allow the water flow freely. The Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) of our country was spotted poking his head from behind a nearby bush then promptly disappearing. Presumably to phone the man he knew was right for the job...our local very hard working Councillor who appeared on the scene just as we finished up, at around 10.30 that  night. We thank them both.

We were exhausted after our 2 hour frantic dash to save 18 homes from being flooded again and know that we have a long, hard battle ahead to ensure that the Council solve this problem once and for all this time. We are clear that we need constant, regular drain maintenance and road sweeping. We need an urgent engineer's report on that large drainage pipe to see what the blockage was this time and we need them to separate our drainage system from the current connection point and lay a new pipe to join in further down. We are blessed to have an active Councillor and Residents Association to support us in our endeavours.

NEVER again should the waste and sewerage water from a large portion of our  village be allowed to flood our much smaller housing estate.

We have no doubt that our prompt, yet frantic actions on Monday night saved the Insurance companies a fortune.. Our claims the last time round must have amounted to about a million Euro. All down to the Council's inaction.The council no longer employs road sweepers to clear drains. Cutbacks, to save money. Yet another false economy in this era of Austerity. It costs more to clean up after these events and to lay costly pipes then it does to provide regular maintenance. House Insurance premiums increase for everyone when more and more flood claims are made, but those making the claims are at risk of not getting further flood coverage.

We are reliably informed that had we flooded on Monday night we would have been covered but thereafter our Insurance companies would have refused flood cover. Even though...... we live on a cliff !! For cryng out loud... how ridiculous is that?

We are so relieved that  we didn't flood on Monday and know how close we came. Those shores in our garden? Just as the rain stopped Mr Jazzy checked and saw  that the level of waste water in one shore was right to the top. He didn't dare open the sewage one.The next stage was those shores to pop....letting God knows what spew everywhere.

We were saved by 10 minutes,  the rain-gods turning off the tap,  fabulous neighbours........ and very deep wheelie bins!

We're safe for now but there's more rain due on Saturday and tons more leaves to fall from the trees, so floodwatch will begin anew then and we'll be ready to go into action at short notice if needed.

We are thankful to be safe and that no-one was injured or lost their lives. we know others weren't so lucky and our hearts go out to them and to their families.

Stay safe....


PS: Photo credits to ShankillFalls Photostream

The Boat

I sit atop the perilous cliff edge

As the evening light fades in the local park.

I'm drawn to this spot when I noticed the boat on the soft sea waves

 mere moments ago. 

The big white boat with it's salubrious red markings is sitting silently in the bay..  

Just sitting. 

The night is closing in and it feels wonderfully calm.

I hear the gentle rippling waves softly lap the stoney shore below where I sit. 

The night air clothes me in it's late summer warmth and magical embrace. 

I am now rooted to this spot...

Entrapped by the stillness of my surroundings

And the beauty of the view on the calm sea ahead. 

And still the boat just sits there. 

Watching me 

As I watch it 

The light house and buoys blink at us both with regular insistence, 

As if to draw us closer  still, in this magical moment. 

Why is the boat just sitting in the bay?

Why am I sitting here? 

The light fades further and the night sky slowly darkens

With a twinkling  promise of the starry night to come.

I can barely see the boat, just sitting on the bay. 

It cannot see me atop my perilous cliff- seat.  

The light fades further still and all around is eerily quiet 

The walkers have long since departed.

And now, so must I.


Note: Image credit:

Meeting With Friends..... New and Old

With all signs of illness banished from the house, I managed to shake myself  free from the 5 day old shackles that had bound me and escaped to go meet some other adults this week, not once but twice!

My first outing was to the Dublin twitter social event of the month on Wednesday night. Well it certainly received a lot of twitter promotion in the past few weeks and you'd want to have been living on a far distant planet not to have known it was on! It was fabulously organised by a wonderful group of tweeters, a couple of whom I've only been recently following. They went to a lot of bother on twitter and in reality. There was a blog set up, an Oct12tweetup hashtag, a venue booked and platters of food organised. We even had very posh Oct12tweetup name badges!

Although I've been to a many a facebook meet-up at this stage this was my first ever tweetup. I didn't have to brave it alone though, I dragged bribed courteously invited two of my very good blogging and real-life pals  Blue Sky and Nan P to accompany me on this auspicious occasion. None of us had been to a tweetup before and we wondered what a tweetup was, really. I thought it might be like a facebook coffee morning.... but at night, with wine? We also wondered what the term for us first-time tweetup attendees might be..... tweetup virgins perhaps? Twirgins? twirginups? Oh hell, have another glass of something while we figure it out!

We arrived not truly knowing what to expect. What would the people (or tweeple) be like in real life? Would they be like their twitter persona's or do we all hide behind the sometimes anonymous feel of twitter and our avatars? In my head if I can't see them, they can't see me so I feel ridiculously anonymous on twitter.... which is truly ridiculous! What did the bar manager think when his pub was booked for this thing called  a 'tweetup'? One thing I knew for sure though, despite what my family may think of these things called twitter and facebook there would be no axe-wielding 'individuals' or Libyan Generals and the like in attendance!!

And I was right, there wasn't. Just a bunch of really nice, welcoming people is all. Hugs were offered and accepted from tweeters we've been regularly in contact with and new introductions were gladly made. Friendships made online were cemented in reality and new twitter connections forged. It was a lovely night enjoyed by all who attended. It was lovely to see #oct12tweetup light up on twitter in the aftermath and to receive so many warm follow friday mentions today also.

When you follow and engage with some good people, twitter is an amazing place. I'm lucky, I have tons of good people on my follow list. I know that for real now.

My second outing was the very next night when I met up with some friends of old. Some super-mums from my son's first (special) school. Although none (or very, very few) of our children attend the school any longer we nonetheless meet a couple of times a year. It is really great to catch up on how the children are doing and on our lives too. Over a lovely meal and a glass or two of wine, of course! It was a very enjoyable night also.

I value the friends I have. I truly value those I have made in reality as I've traveled through my life to date and now I put equal value on the friends I've made through social media.

Friends are important in life. It doesn't matter how these friendships are forged, whether it's online or in real life situations: friendships are friendships. They all count. They all mean something.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion on online communication via these social sites but people who don't partake shouldn't be so quick to judge those of us who do;-)

And those of us who do enjoy spending time online to engage with our online friends shouldn't forget our real life friends in the process!

We remember and treasure all of our friends.


PS Image credit to