Window Cats

Updated with photos 13 May 2012!

You have to understand South Africa to understand my feelings with regard to street-front houses. Over there, space is plentiful, and it was only in the city centre of Johannesburg that I ever saw houses that weren’t separated from the street by a wide pavement and at least a small front garden. You can imagine my horror when I moved to Ireland to find houses with front doors that opened right onto the street. “Never,” I promised myself. “I will never ever live in a house like that.”

I should mention that I’m sitting here writing this in my front room, at my desk by the window. If there wasn’t glass in the way, I could spit on the pavement. I still have a kind of barrier between me and the world, consisting of happy-looking open, striped boxes on the inside windowsill. One is for needlework stuff, one for stationery, another for electric cords and plugs, one for odds and ends, and two are for cats. Continue reading

Hooking in Strange Places: Roche Castle

I really like a can-do spirit in a girl. When I say ‘girl’, I of course mean any human of the female gender. It’s a fantastic attribute in all people, but with the historic ‘you can’t’ attitude there’s been to girls and women, for us to say: “But I can!” is sometimes even today an achievement. Mind, I distance myself from the ‘If you believe in yourself, you can do anything!’ camp. That is a ridiculous thing to say. You can believe in yourself until you’re blue in the face, but you’re never going to fly without some kind of mechanical aid. You’re not going to become a commercial pilot, either, if you have to wear glasses as thick as bottle bottoms. Nor are you going to become a professional footballer if you can’t kick a ball straight.

You can get close to that, closer than anyone would have guessed you can. You can get a limited licence to fly with someone else, or practice your kicing until you can make the local team. Yet I think it’s in fact stupid to pour huge amounts of energy into learning to kick a ball so you can get into the team even though you have zero natural talent, in the process neglecting piano lessons and thus never developing your natural musical skills.

‘Can-do’ means, to me, knowing what you’re capable of and making a plan where your own skills fall short. Thus female pirates were likely not strong enough to do the most strenuous work involved in sailing and maintaining a ship, but they were good at leading people, so they did just that. I like a spot of ruthlessness as well, though those who use this quality to get what they want regardless of the cost to others will never have my unconditional admiration.

Thus it is that Roesha de Verdon is a woman I really shouldn’t like, but do. My feelings of course don’t interest her at all, because she has been dead for about eight hundred years. She lived in a time when Roman influence had, through Christianity and conquest, inflitrated and weakened the Brehon laws that had governed life in Ireland up to then. Therefore the progressive attitude to women was broken down, and the oppressive, alien, patriarchal system we still struggle to overcome today had long taken its place. I wonder, though, how much of that spirit remained. At least some of it found a home in Roesha’s heart. Continue reading

Call a spade a spade, call a chair a… shelf?

I had these old chairs I was about to throw away, and in the meantime I was in desperate need of some extra shelving space in my bedroom. When I went to stare at the darn chairs one day, inspiration struck.

That’s bolted to the wall with six very strong bolts on the chair-legs side, as I didn’t intend for much weight to go on the backrest side. I intend to put one more of these up, and may use a shelf bracket on the backrest side to support it if I think I’ll need more strength there.

You can’t really see it there, but the cat jumps onto the bed, from there onto a small shelf mounted on the cabinet you can just see the top of in the bottom left corner of the photo, then she jumps onto the green shelf, and from there onto her nest. I put a piece of white rubbery stuff that’s meant to keep rugs from slipping under the pillow so she doesn’t pull it off when jumping up there. Sometimes she leans over the side and catches the scarves for fun.