Sunny in the Shade....

It's almost 4 years since a little ball of yellow fluffy feathers, tinged with white, flew into our lives.

They were best buddies from the beginning. His cute and gentle budgie-ness matching the pending teen boy's burgeoning tenderness.

                                                  Dodgy camera - precious memories

Sunny made himself quite at home and loved his cage, especially his swing. His favourite place to tuck himself in at night.

He enjoyed being out in the garden during the summer, listening to and mimicking the tweets of his birdie brethren. 

He also liked to share my daily lunch time 'Home and Away' treat with me, and always tweeted like mad during it. He could hear the background birds, possibly including other budgerigars, tweeting away gently. His home country calling to him perhaps?!

He liked to wander around eating paper, as you do, and really enjoyed helping with homework .....

Sunny was definitely 'Tweety Bird' to our 'Sylvester' Pretty Cat  and was always on alert. He wasn't afraid to peck back at her either! He even survived the deliberate toppling of his cage. Twice! Naughty Cat...

Then there was the time I helped him get his own back!

Sunny always recognised my voice when I entered the room or collected him on return from holidays. Something that was to come to mean a lot to me....

I noticed him making a strange noise recently and eventually concluded that he was mimicking a bird on our chimney.

Eventually I was very wrong....

One morning, almost 2 weeks ago, we came downstairs to find him lying on the cage floor, breathing his last. We had cared for him so well the day before and were intending to bring him to the vet. Sadly we were too late, as is often the case with poorly budgies. Even in his distress he  recognised my voice and desperately tried to respond. It was heartbreaking. The poor little thing...

 He was cradled and petted - prompting much disinfecting afterwards!- by the caring teen before and after our attempted emergency trip to the vet, which had to be aborted half way.

Our gorgeous Budgie-Boy Sunny had breathed his last.

We were very, very sad. We will never again hear his tweets, his little utterances of 'good boy' or 'budgie boy' or even 'dirty bum'!

 We will always remember him.

Death and dying are part of living.  Most certainly part of living with pets. We must learn to deal with it in our own way, as best we can.

A suitable box was procured and a burial place selected and dug. He was lovingly placed there, buried with another favourite toy. I was merely the assistant.

A subsequent Midterm trip to the Gardening Centre resulted in the purchase of  some very pretty flowers. We couldn't get the preferred yellow for our centre piece as its a shady spot.

                                                              Night Night Sunny......

In time the berries will be replaced with flowers, tinged with white, and they will be surrounded by yellow fluffy Primroses.

And it will always be Sunny in the Shade.


Our Midterm Escape...... to Wicklow Gaol!

With not much happening midway through the Midterm school break, and in much need of an excursion away from the safety of our warm and comfortable 'home sweet home', we took ourselves back in time. Back in time to the cruelty and pain of life behind the stark walls of Wicklow Historic Gaol.

This jail was in operation from 1702 to 1924 and reflects such a cruel time in our history. You can read a quick synopsis in the link above.

 Yes, people were strung from that protrusion 
you see just above the top centre window

And yes, we did dare enter. We were met by a Gaoler in full attire and soon found ourselves locked behind the 'Gates of Hell', followed by being led down a very 'atmospheric', steep and narrow stairway . So atmospheric that I felt sick to the pit of my stomach on the descent.

The first question our Gaoler posed - to much 'he IS joking - right?!' giggles - was: 'Well, what's he in for this time then'! 

We were led into the Day Room - a misnomer if ever there was one - and he explained how up to 40 unsegregated prisoners were held here for hours at a time. Men, women and children - imprisoned for anything from murder, to prostitution, to stealing a few potatoes to feed their starving families. Sickness was rife due to this non-segregation and children fared very badly, most succumbing to Jail Fever. Truly horrific.

Eventually a very pro-active Doctor came on board and made some changes - segregation being the main one - that improved things. Then in 1857 came a new Matron, Mary Morris, who also made some helpful changes. A school room being one, so the children could receive some education. When they weren't being worked to the bone that is.

                                         A far cry from the education he's used to!

We were then left to our own devices to roam the spooky corridors and to enter the pokey cells, all alone. We were the only visitors at the start so it really was very eerie and spooky. All that history and cruelty etched into the walls and seeped into the atmosphere....

                                              My hand may have shook taking this photo.
                                                                 Or did it.......?

Prisoners from the 1798 rebellion and from the War of Independence were incarcerated here over the years and some weapons were on display...

Erskine Childers himself was imprisoned here before he was brought to Beggars Bush to be executed in 1922.

Each cell we visited depicted some aspect of prison life and told the tales of horror held deep within these walls. There were also audio accounts in some of the cells too.

The cruelty and the minor misdeeds for which some women and children were imprisoned for was truly shocking. Children as young as 8 or 13 sent down for a month or more into these horrific conditions for nicking gooseberries or a few potatoes.

                                 * Ironically our Gaoler (played by an actor) was a Fagin type character 
                                                and used to send the children out to rob for him!

Then there was the audio tale of a mother of 2, sent off to Botany Bay for stealing potatoes to feed her starving family. She had to say a quick goodbye to her crying children through the prison bars before she departed to Australia.... and they to the workhouse. How frightful. And this was merely a typical tale.

A woman's fascinating tale that has resonated with me since I read about her a few years ago is Eliza Davies. She received an apparently dodgy conviction for 'murdering' her baby and was ultimately sent on to Van Diemens Land in 1845. She married twice had 9 children and died at the age of 62! But not after withstanding a cruel conviction and appalling sentence. Her story is in the link above plus a mention of the bonnets campaign her Great-great-granddaughter initiated in Tasmania.

The journey to Australia for prisoners was cruel and inhumane, they took forever and only paltry weekly rations were available to survive on.  There was a whole upper section of the Gaol devoted to this and it told it's own tale. A tale our Gaoler expanded on initially when we posed some questions of our own.

Women in particular, who experienced this awful regime suffered hugely. When they got to Australia to be handed on to complete their sentences in factories or farms/homesteads etc., they sometimes never made it that far. Their ships were met dock-side by many including soldiers who traded for them. A women could be bought for the price of a gallon of rum... earning the soldiers the name of the Rum Corp.

The story I liked best though was how some of the men and women ultimately went on to become entrepreneurs. Some of the men entered the Australian police force! The absolute best story was how when land was eventually handed out the men got the best farming land while the women got the mostly barren coastal lands. But the women were clever, they put on their thinking bonnets and built guest houses and ultimately hotels! All according to 'Fagin', our Gaoler!

This was an amazing tour of a fascinating place, a perfect and totally screen-free day for a teenager with an interest in history. It is a highly atmospheric and emotional place that is recognised as one of the most haunted locations in Ireland, so much so that Paranormal Tours are available here too.

I'm glad that these people and what they endured are being kept alive in this 'museum'. We need to keep this period of our history alive and it is a reminder of how easy we have it these days really.

A fact a certain Teen Boy would do well to take note of. There are a lot worse things then detention or loss of pocket money for a 14 year old boy's misdemeanors you know....

                                            Stocks, Chains and the infamous Threadwheel

A fascinating visit to a truly historic site. It is said that many people entered these Gates of Hell but not everyone left.

Thankfully we did.

Go visit ... and soak up some of that seriously spooky atmosphere!


* The ghostly figures you see at the bottom of this photo are just me and my son's reflections. 
     Or are they......??!!

Reasons to be Cheerful 14/02/2014 #R2BC

Although I really enjoyed doing my 'Reasons To Be Cheerful' last week and I did intend joining in again, I didn't expect it to be quite so soon. 

This week had such a crappy start to it that I had perfect reasons to put this blog hop to the test and to take note of the cheer all around me! 

Decadent Lounging

Having unexpected snuggles and movie time on the sofa - with popcorn and Doritos of course - on a Monday afternoon with my Teen Boy. He was home sick you see, but it still felt decadent. Like mitching school and a perfect precursor of our loungeful Mid Term Break to come next week!

Sneaky Snooze

Well what else can you do after the school run, with the pelting rain and howling wind whipping around your house? You take to the bed for a spell with cuppa and book, of course. Oh, and a Pretty Cat content to snuggle up right at your feet, thereby denying you most of the double bed! 

Comforting Food

A yummy home-cooked Beef Proven├žal Stew (with my own added ingredients) and some soda bread  - on the day that the wind and rain of earlier morphed into the nasty Storm Darwin of The Wizard of Oz proportions! 

Unfortunately I was the only one who really liked the meal, which means it will never again grace our dinner table. Ah well, it was worth a shot!

Ditching The Diet

When the going gets tough - the diet gets ditched! Oh, the freedom....

No doubt my high blood pressure and cholesterol will protest and I can certainly kiss my Hot Blogging Ass nomination goodbye, but I can always make amends next week!!

Shopping Delights

I was only going to the Shopping Mall to collect my weekly crochet magazine, but on the way I stumbled upon some Body Shop Beauty's ....

And I treated myself to a lovely, leisurely lunch too. It was only a hot sandwich and a cup of tea. But it was eaten alone. In peace and quiet. Bliss....

It's the little things really, isn't it?

Valentine's Treats

And so a crappy week ends very cheerfully. Very cheerfully indeed. In a day filled with a joyful time in my favourite swimming pool - where I happened upon an Aqua-Aerobics class that I just had to join and a lovely teacher with her fine brood of Special Needs Teenagers. And followed by a lovely family dinner out with my boys. 

And this early evening treat...

Well, it is my birthday, and I am SO worth it!!

It's always a good week that ends in a birthday and shuffling through the many facebook greetings made it even better! 

Happy Valentine's Day to you all ..... From your Jazzy -Valentine's -Gal!!

Cheers ;-)

Hosted by Ojo's World 


Hanky Panky and the Highway To Hell.....

One has to see the fun and laughter in any situation, whenever one can. It's the best survival technique I know. And none more necessary then when on nursing home visits.

No matter how 'nice' a home may seem, how great the level of care is and how clean and well presented the patient may appear, it is never as 'nice' as one's own sweet home. And the desire to return to ones own sweet home never diminishes, despite the continuing ill health that the patient is completely unaware of.

So the visits are always fraught with emotional roller-coaster rides, as we coast the varied emotional presentations that frequent every visit.

We look around at all the other residents and notice the many emotional states that are regularly on show with them too.

Some are upsetting for sure, but some can make you smile and give you a giggle!

I can't visit my patient without first by-passing the ever-smiling A, who sits in the entrance hall with her hand out-stretched waiting to hold yours and to have a chat. Usually to ask 'do you have a cigarette'?! Every time! I enjoy my little chats with her.

Then there's the other A who is quite funny, in her confusion, and who has a lovely singing voice. When she sings her favourite song 'Memories' - on constant repeat - sure you'd have to join in!

There's also the lovely D who calls all females 'Lady'. Incessantly, until you hear him and respond! He usually wants to offer you a sweet - from his coveted brief case.

The gentleman that is R loves to have a chat with you too, to tell you all his latest family news and to share his photos with you. He always remembers your name too.

These encounters can make visiting in the communal area, as opposed to night time visits in her room, really ....  'interesting.' When the 'conversation' gets too much there's always some background noise to tap into, once you block out the upsetting stuff that is.

The old black and white movies on the TV, like Breakfast at Tiffany's and even some Shirley Temple Movies. She of the teeny-tiny-tapping 'Good Ship Lollipop' fame who sadly passed away yesterday.

                                                    Rest peacefully Shirley Temple-Black

They also play some fabulously nostalgic music from the big-band crooners, reminiscent of the residents' era.

Songs that I enjoy too like the many Frank Sinatra's Hits and Dean Martin's That's Amore or Mambo Italiano

These are all pleasant and important memory-stirring exercises for the residents, many of whom have Dementia and Alzheimers. I too enjoy listening to them....and sometimes even sing along! Anything to help spark a memory ;-)

It's strange the thoughts that run through your head, as you sit there listening to this music, whilst trying to block or merely deal with the often confusing and distressing conversations.

Like, what music would they play for the future nursing home residents of my era?

Would it be all Andre Previn, Celtic Tenors and Katherine Jenkins?

Some Michael Bolton and George Michael perhaps?

Maybe a bit of Thriller from Michael Jackson?

Would the be cheeky and play  On The Road to Nowhere  from Talking Heads or AC/DC's  Highway to Hell ?

Or would they be daring and include some Madonna songs - 'Like a Virgin' complete with pointy-boobs.

Or how about some 'Hanky Panky'?!

Who knows what memories that one might evoke - from my on-stage dancing days of course!

I do of course hope it never comes to this and it is a long, long way down the line.

The 'Road to Nowhere' and the 'Highway to Hell' are long and winding and stretch far ahead. They are paved with all the fun and living that's yet to be had.

And long may that be so :-)


Reasons To Be Cheerful 6/02/14

It is always good to take time out from our busy days and hectic lives, to look around and take note. To recognise and acknowledge the special things that can make us feel good. It can be the simplest sight, the smallest gesture or the greatest of views. Anything really, that just puts a smile on your face or even makes you belly-laugh!

This is a weekly blog hop that my friend takes part in most weeks and every week I swear I am going to join her. This is the week I'm finally going to share the things that have recently made me smile or given me a giggle.

Early Risings

Arising at 6.30 am and bustling the teen out the door, into the car and to the bus stop by 7.45 am, or to the school by 8.20 am. No, don't panic, it's not quite the early morning risings that bring such a smile to my face - I've not completely lost my marbles. It's the beautiful skies and the stunning sunrises I sometimes see that I wouldn't otherwise. I am so glad that I didn't miss the glorious hint of the sunrise that lit up the road ahead of me, on my return journey from a recent Monday morning school drop....

Heralding the beauty that awaited as I drove down my road, glancing to my left ....

It would have been such a shame to miss this glorious start to my day!

Pretty Cat and Budgie Boy

Oh these two never fail to bring a smile to my face, on any day of any week! Never more than the other day when the hilarious irony of the cat bird-hunting just outside the door, while the budgie played freely out of his cage just inside, really made me laugh!

Crushing Moments

Now, before I share this with you you really need to understand me a bit more. The other day I shared this photo that was doing the rounds on facebook and I wholeheratedly concur with it. I repeat - wholeheartedly!

Right, now that we've got that straight I'll tell you. However if you're a total non-Candy Crushing grown up you may skim to the next cheerful moment!

Here goes- My name is Jazzygal and I'm a Candy Crushing addict. In my defense it's my brain gym, albeit a brain gym that's been testing my patience for the past 2 months. That is the length of time that I've been stuck on level 245. A better, more mature person would have realised that life is far too short and would have gracefully walked away, head held high, without giving it another thought. But not me, oh no - not me. I, the stubborn and determined non-grown-up that I am would not give in. I just couldn't. I am the Candy Crusher, Candy Crush will not crush me. Ever. So I stuck with it, through thick and thin, through frustratingly close, tantrum-throwing moments with accompanying wails of  'that is sooooo not fair'. worthy of any wilful teenager!

And today it happened. Today I finally crushed level 245!!! I expected a massive fanfare on this earth shattering, momentous occasion, but all Candy Crush had to offer me was it's usual congratulatory salutations.

Never mind, I'll celebrate in my own, grown up style ;-) Whooopppp..... Yahoooo..... cheers!!

A Surprise Nomination.

Now this not only cheered me up but me laugh, out load! In fact you could say it made me laugh my (hot??!) ass off!! Let me explain. Blogging Awards are a wonderful thing to us bloggers but they can be a tad serious.

Enter Tattooed Mummy and her hilarious Alternative Blogging Awards, astutely picked up by my pal
Looking For Blue Sky who, being such a pal, thought she'd include me in her nominations. For - wait for it - Blogger With The Hottest Arse!!

How hilarious is that?!! Personally I think she must have been having a glass of wine at the time but who am I to argue!! I thank her for the nomination, but more importantly I thank her for the laugh!! I'm still laughing!

And no, I'm not posting a photo of my nominated (and fully clothed, I might add) ass here. For that you'll have to visit Blue Sky's blog!!  (If you like you can vote for us both at Tattooed Mummy's link above!)


I had cause to listen to this song a lot this week, aside from the regular airplay on radio and TV, and it's feel-good factor is infectious. So in order to share the Happy-ness I will leave you with this video ....



The Perfect Family?

If there is such a thing as the perfect family it would surely be headed by the perfect 'Yummy Mummy' type, right?

In that case there I am, the 'Stay-At-Home-Yummy-Mummy' perfectly coiffed and highly polished; floating around all day long, drinking copious cups of tea or 'doing lunch' with all my yummy mummy friends. Before we head off in our super-shiny vehicles to go collect the 'brats' from school. I would then just leave my 'brat' to his own devices until dinner time. If he wants a snack he knows where the fridge is, I have better things to do. Like to sit down with another cup of tea and watch the 'Today' afternoon chat show on Irish TV.

Of course, that would be in an alternative universe - similar to the one depicted by 'she-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned' and who appeared on another Irish chat show last night i.e. The Late Late Show.

Meanwhile in the real world I run around all day long in my tracksuit, doing only the necessary housework I will admit along with some grocery shopping, gym-going, patient visiting, pet minding, phone-call making, prescription collection, shirt ironing..... and all the other jobs that the SAHM (or dad) only can do as no-one else has the time. Yes there is the odd coffee morning or lunch date (thank GOD!) Yes I drop my son the short distance to the bus stop at 7.40 am in my pyjamas - over which I throw on my longest coat and never get out of the car. If I drive him all the way to school I dress appropriately.... and so what if I didn't! And yes, I do watch the Today chat show..... after I've made my son his snack and while I'm also simultaneously preparing dinner, ironing and relentlessly shouting 'do your homework' up the stairs! Plus also trying to stop the cat from eating the budgie or from getting her paws into the fish tank!

Yvonne Hogan was on one of the Today shows I was recently viewing discussing 'only children' and the opinions some people have on one-child families. She talked about a book 'One And Only' by Lauren Sandler who came across some disturbing judgments based on small case studies in her research. Yvonne was non-judgmental herself and pointed out that she could find no definitive negative research on the effects of being an only child. In fact she came across one study that showed that only children - and the eldest child in a family - can fare better academically, presumably as the parents (or the SAHM!!) has more time to give to them (her words). Of course children with siblings benefit in ways that the only child may not. She chatted to some random people on the street and I was a little taken aback that only two of them pointed out that it may not be through choice that a child is an only child.

Having only one child myself I have to admit to not giving any thought to what others think of our status until watching that programme. I really shouldn't be but I am dumbfounded that there are people out there judging me for that. Just as they are judging me for being an SAHM.

Frankly it's nobody's business why my boy or any other child is an only child, just as it's none of my business how many children other mums have or whether or not they work outside the home.

Personally speaking I don't think being an only child is the end of the world. The concerns mainly centre around sharing and sibling companionship. And they have concerned me too but as his parent it is incumbent on me to find ways to compensate. That's what the endless toddler groups, play dates and rounds of extra curricular activities were all about. He has learned how to share, how to make friends, how to ensure his friends actually want to play what he wants to play and (most importantly - I'm not a bank!) how to save his pocket money to buy his own console games.

There is no guarantee, or written law, that siblings will be compatible you know! I was an only child too, well for 6 years until my baby brother arrived.  Luckily I loved having a sibling and age gap aside we got on well as kids and I am very glad for his companionship now as adults. Especially with an ailing, elderly parent.

And that is one thing that worries me for my only child. But things can be put in place for the future too.

Now, I am not judging 'she-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned' above but I do wonder what it is she does for a living - I refuse to give her the google hits to find out. She must do something as she can't possibly be a 'full time mummy'. If, as I suspect, her 'Celebrity- Seeking Gobbyness' is her 'job' then I much prefer mine,even though it pays considerably less :-) I will agree with her on one thing though. I too don't like the term 'full time mummy' for it implies that mums that work outside the home are 'part-time mummys' and that is just not fair and is divisive.

You know, us women have enough to contend with without criticising each others decisions, sometimes made out of necessity rather than by choice.

There was another guest on after her on last night's Late Late Show. A person with a real life story to tell. A person who was thought to have been born a man but found out much later in life (because he just couldn't deal with the changes in his/her body) that he was actually born a woman. It was an incredible tale, bravely told.

His ex-wife and daughter sat in the audience along with his parents.

If how loving and supportive their daughter appeared is anything to go by then they did a terrific job as parents.

There is no such a thing as 'The Perfect Family'.

The love and support of the family you have, no matter how apparently imperfect it's composition is all that matters.

After all.....