The Animals/The Nature/The Beauty

lame ass

I intended to update you last week as to our Nod-and-Smile session: success thereof, but life intervened in the shape of a DONKEY DRAMA. I know that sounds rather absurd, but I suspect those of you who have ever had livestock of any description (I refer, for instance, to HFF, the redoubtable farmers) will merely nod in weary fashion and say, yes, this kind of thing happens all the time with animals. There is Always Something.

In a nutshell: when my horse Smokey, the Oldest Horse in the World finally departed this life, his companion, a small, elderly black mule of uncertain temperament (not to mention parentage) called Jenny was left surprisingly forlorn and depressed. This was odd, given she never much liked him when he was alive. It appeared the Jenzer was indeed a herd animal, however anti-social, and so it was that an emergency donkey called Cromwell was delivered. He was a five-year old brash upstart and hemaphrodite, (seriously. He has udders.) now "resting" after appearing in Tudors, the BBC series, (also seriously) which was made down the road.  He played a.. donkey, I suppose. As opposed to the back half of a human!

(Oh dear. I might be getting a bit giddy. Over heated, perhaps.)
(Also, this isn't really a nutshell, as it turned out. Apologies. I will wrap up the donkey story now.)

Last week he was reported by my mother, (with whom he lives) (though in a field, you understand)(not in the living room) to be lame, which meant I spent the entire day on Friday at their house waiting for farriers, trying to contain an outright rodeo situation (he didn't much care for being poked in the abcess in his foot) and running around buying carrots, poultices and duct tape.

I think we need a picture:

(He is on the mend now, thank Heaven).

This may not be the most seamless link to our adoption meeting but we could find ourselves in the next millenium if we wait until I have time to write that post separately. It went well, I think. We nodded, tutted and smiled at all the information, as required. You know, normally I am broadly in favour of big government but I found it irksome that Mammy Ireland has some "issues" with the US's interpretation of Hague. Specifically, they raise the question of why Americans do adopt internationally but not domestically. Which..? - is that even accurate? Who do? Show me the statistics, then. And if so, how are we meant to respond to that, except by saying we don't know? We are talking about many many individuals making personal choices! I mean, really. Also, the International standards body put fostering within the country of origin above international adoption, which, also, really? The fact that we speak the same language and are immersed in American culture, visit regularly and that the JB has a US passport don't count. Though of course they do

I understand there have to be guidelines and rules - they are there to protect the vulnerable. I am not pretending to have the answer to this - I know it is not straight-forward, and potential problems have to be raised. There is, at its heart, pain inherent in adoption, but that at the same time, it can be a wonderful, positive thing, when done in the right way. We know this. This is the complicated thinking the adoptive family must grapple with and be able to resolve so that one day they can explain to the child that everything was done properly in his or her name, with due respect. We have thought of these things.

/End rant. The papers are being processed. After that, we can have them progressed by the agency.

The weather continues to be beautiful over here, warm and breezy and not excessively melty, though I hear from my trusty BBC Radio 4 that summer storms are on their way to the UK. Ooh, thunder! Hold on to your hats, friends. I hope it will be invigorating rather than frightening.

Be well.



She must be fitted with some sort of radar.

Well, my darlings.

It seems that drawing comics every day does not make for thrilling blogging content, indeed, as will become painfully apparent in a moment or two, I have absolutely no news at all. I wanted nonetheless to thank you for your (as ever) kindly and empathic comments of last week. I have cheered up quite a bit. And, Vietnam has reopened (sort of) in the interim - so you know, it can happen. All is possible. I have reverted to hopefulness as the vision of the JB's potential American children has faded. Of course they won't say "mere" and "draw"; I was just testing. No, what they'll say is "hey" when they mean "hello"; "hey" being what you say when surprised to see, say, Rock Hudson. (As well you might be.) "Hey, is that Elvis?", for instance.

They may well also say "store" when clearly what they mean is "shop". One can't know.

[Somewhat related aside: Despite 4 years of living in country stateside,  the exact meaning of certain words continued to elude me. So I'd revert to my former modern language student self, as if with little notebook at hand, just like when I lived in Italy: so is  "asshole" more the equivalent of "dickhead", or "bollocks" in this context, I'd muse to myself, and collect examples that proved it one way or the other. Isn't it strange how swear words in another language don't have the same impact on you as your own language? Funny enough, I find it's the same in US English. I could say "asshole" with total aplomb, just feeling a bit of a phoney. But the Irish "bollocks"? No. Gasp! Only in an appropriate moment of passion.]

See, I do have no news.

Time is moving along at a fierce clip, is it not? It's nearly October, and the back-to-school golden sun is giving way to a autumnal chill. Time for chimney sweepering and car servicing and other evidence of being an funtioning adult. So it is, I put on socks, draw, I run, I go to choir, eat, sleep, making life up one day at a time, like we all do.

All's quiet on the edge of the world.



first world problems

I'm in that dopey, la-la, mood, where I keep half-doing things and getting distracted and half-doing something else. I have loads to do, I am sure of it. But you know when you don't quite know what to do first, and you think: I know, I'll write a post? And then I'll feel better, having given myself the illusion that I have achieved something.

  • My laptop gave up the ghost last week. When you try to turn it on, it starts patting its pockets and saying: Oh, ssshit. Now, where did I put my hard drive? Hang on, I am sure it's here somewhere. It must be... oh, how embarrassing, maybe it's... no...
    Then it makes some unreasonably loud electronic pings at you, while presumably it searches around its flat frantically, throwing stuff around, looking for its vital bits.
    Nothing, according to the young man in the laptop clinic, can be saved from it. It is officially banjaxed. I am trying to take this in cavalier fashion. After all, I did back up sometimes and what the hell, it's just a sort of forced de-clutter of all the detritus I collected over the years. Onward, and less encumbered by crappy freeware programmes!
  • Likewise banjaxed is my car. Battery is defunct.
  • Teaching is making me feel a bit lonely. I want to be on the other side of the desk, where you have friends to complain to - it's so much funner, more collegial. Boo. But, oh, fellow teachers! Oh! It's all (almost) worth it for that wondrous moment of squeeeee! freedom when you escape from the classroom until the next time! OH THAT BIT IS MARVELLOUS, isn't it?
  • PKitty, though, now, the kitty, has been doing her best to cheer me up with little gifts. True, had I been in a position to choose, I might have preferred a pink Moleskine sketchbook, or perhaps some lavendar soap rather than - say - a half-dead fieldmouse, but, you know how it is, it's the thought that counts. So far I have not witnessed the delivery of the afore-mentioned rodents into the kitchen for bragging purposes but the JB has reported that she even went to the trouble of putting on a mini Christians and Lions type show for his entertainment. Mousey, mousey, I release you! Ha! No, I don't! Yes, I do! NO, don't be silly, OF COURSE I DON'T! CRUNCH.
    And so on. Anything to offer on this, anyone? I understand Nature is all red and rude, and so forth, but I feel sorry for the mice. She's so mean.

Here she is, the murderer herself:
I fear she is about that fat. She might have lost a few ounces recently. My human friend R, to the cat, when she came to visit:
Ooh, you're enoooormous!
BODY FASCISM, that is.

Anyway. How goes the mood with you?



Breaking news:

  • My poor, forlorn, lonelyheart socks have progressed as far as a detention centre on the top of a bench, where they await their fate. Shall their One True Partner come and bail them out, miraculously? Shall they? Or shall they be imprisoned in a plastic bag in the middle of the spare room, to be thrown out into the actual bin, in as soon as - oh! - anytime in the next year or two.

    Edge-of-your-seat stuff, I am sure you'll agree.
  • In other news, and speaking of The Spare Room: we did finally get our declaration from the Adoption Authority. It came on paper headed solemnly with the harp symbol that signifies officialdom in Ireland. (If it's got a harp on it, it's serious and may be even worth something. DON'TFECKINGLOSEITYOUBIGEEJIT, MammyIreland might be presumed to be telling us with it. ) Some people have described this as an empowering moment, akin to being pregnant, but I just thought: Oh, there you go when the JB opened it. Since then, though, there has been a general glow of satisfaction, interpersed with the odd chilly moment of GAAHJAYSTHISISREALLYREALLYREAL.

  • Since that day, we have been up to our elbows in paperwork. EVERYTHING has to be negotiated for, awaited, copied, scanned, signed, notarised, apostilled. It's like the Bureaucracy Olympics. We are getting more and more friendly with our solicitor, a floppy-haired, good-hearted fusspot of a young fellow who hangs out in Dublin 1.

  • I admit the JB has done A Large Part of This Mental Power-lifting/Bureaucratising. Good husband! He is coming up in the polls, as I regularly tell him.

  • It does seem wrong that we are required to survive this long battle of wits, which seems more like the psychological equivalent of an IronMan competition, and less like anything remotely to do with parenting, and must surely mean less bloody-minded people - who none the less might be really good parents - fall by the wayside and give up?

  • Life continues to be packed to bursting. Whywhywhy is that, tell me? Don't you remember the hours and hours in your youth, where there was nothing to do, only loll around and watch The Multicoloured Swapshop? And it was good? Why is life so franticfranticfrantic? I am that harrassed state of mind where you miss your stop on the Luas, and only raise your head when the name Fortunestown is called out. Fortunestown? You've never even heard of such a place. Or where you say to yourself: Ooh, look, if the knife slips now, it could easily (but keep cutting) - OW! Or narrowly avoid being run over by another bus not the one you really wanted to catch, or sundry other unforced errors, as they say in tennis. The poor kitty nearly got an iron in the head this morning. I could have killed the kitty! With a flying iron! That fell as I was foolishly moving the board without removing it first!

I need to take a sabbatical from my own life. How about you? Tell me the secret of calmness. Kittalo will thank you for it.




Things are like this:

  • The rain, it raineth, in perpetuity.
  • Two weeks remain before A Biggish Show In Which I'd Prefer Not to Embarrass Myself Unduly opens. My Smokey film is in it. However, the Smokey film is not exactly what you could call made and therefore frantically I am working on it, if by working on it you mean, hissing through gritted teeth at my computer screen "Thississshit, thisisshit."
  • I haven't been Out much recently. I plan to take the bus to the library to hang a poster later, in the rain. A high point, if you will.
  • Blah. I am bored of myself. It's not so much I am in a fit of self-loathing, not at all, it's just I've been me for so long, I'd like to be someone else for a bit. Someone normal, who has a proper job.
  • I apologise in advance for going on All the Fecking Time about the cat. (But I am going to anyway. Sorry about that.) Being new to this, I didn't realise cats could be so funny. I thought they were just elegant and strangely satisfying to behold. Until we got adopted by P-kit, aka Honorblackman, I thought all they did was play charmingly with a ball of wool, stare at you with their inscrutable glass eyes, and be aloof. Not so, I can now inform you.

    For a black and white feline interloper set foot in the garden last weekend, on the lookout for adventure. And P-Kit, (I swear this is true), sat on the doorstep and howled menacingly at the newcomer:


    It's more of a patch of grass, but that's pretty good for a cat, don't you think? Unfortunately I have no proof of the above, because if I did, I'd be Really Big on Touyube. I'd have a million hits, with my talking cat, (rubbing hands together, like a modern day Silas Marner). However, for your listening pleasure, and because it is more fun than doing my work, I asked the JB to reenact P-kit's statement. He has the gift:


    Honestly, now. It was like that.


Last Thursday's meeting with the social worker went well. I was a bit worried that we'd be given some delay to "deal with the grief", whatever that piece of socialworkerese means, but no, this doesn't seem to be the policy. The detective was sweet, ultra-sympathetic. We will forge ahead.

Life has been getting back on track. If by getting back on track you mean waking up in the morning thinking oh jaysos, I have to do x and do do x, and survive it, surprisingly.

On Monday night I found myself, as I occasionally do, in front of some people. A class of people. Teaching, imparting knowledge, illuminating hoi polloi, sort of thing. As if I knew something. [Titter!]
I did run through my slides at home with the cat as my audience, but I still had that horrible drymouth why did I ever think I could do this feeling, this is awful, I hate this, I have aphasia, I feel like I am having a mini-stroke, like my father, I am, IT'S THE ONLY LOGICAL EXPLANATION, and, gawdgawd, please, make it be over? But that only lasted a few minutes. I remembered to breathe before I pegged out purple-faced on the carpet from oxygen starvation, and soon enough, the panic gave way to the adrenaline exhaustion and who cares anyway vibe born of this month's events. Not so far off,  O'bama (as we like to call him) was giving a speech in College Green. It was historic. Hurray for dignitaries visiting, and giving us the chance to give them a hundred thousand welcomes. This has been Good For All Concerned, especially as they both escaped unscathed, just the way we (sane, vast vast majority of) Irish people wanted. Thanks be, for reason won.

So that was that, another few days sucked down the drain of time.

P-kit, now referred to by the JB as Honorblackman, (poor Señor Gato has been ousted, Andie) is still here. In fact, every day that passes Honorblackman is a little more here, as Honorblackman expands her territory throughout the garden into the house, up the stairs and onto the furniture. First Honorblackman's favourite perch was on top of the garden chest, then outside my shed, then inside, then inside on a cushion, which I had been somehow brainwashed into providing, now, inconveniently, on my drawing tablet.  I have to bend my arms around Honorblackman to type, while she puts her paws on the touchpad, making the pointer jump, purring and letting out an occasional potent fart.

Don't ask me how this happened, let us merely accept that I now dedicate my time to appeasing a feline. It is what it is. I am a cat lady.

cat people

Ah, at last, a little bit of calm. We spent last weekend as planned in the South West to visit KDiddy. He was feeling fairly mouldy, poor man, staring at the ceiling, absorbing IV antibiotics drip by drip.  I hope our standing over him and plying him with drinks and papers helped, and maybe it did, because over the week he got a lot better, and regained his appetite -  a Good Sign, don't you think? Always a sobering experience, visiting a Medical Ward, all those poor old men, but we had a couple of tragicomic moments:

KDiddy: GO! And.. [lengthy pause]
JB: ..yes? Where are we to go?
KDiddy: I don't KNOW where! Get me..
[Further dramatic pause.]
KDiddy:  TWO..
JB and TPtheEG: ...
KDiddy: Heineken!

Bear in mind that KDiddy has been all but teetotal all his life, but if his attitude that day was anything to go by, is regretting the lack of drink in his life up to now. Such a sweet man. You couldn't mind when he curses extravagantly, he's that dotey and totally without guile.

So! On with the show, or Part The First thereof, the Setting of the Scene. It came down to a choice of rough and ready, or not at all, so I went with at-least-I-did-it. I also gave up the idea of editing it down to a page. That is not going to happen. Not with PSYCHOKitty - (rumble of thunder):

me vs reality

I'd like to post more, you know. I don't know how it happens that I don't. This week seems to have been both extraordinarily long and event-packed, and yet, a moment, gone in a flash. I am juggling madly, trying to organise courses and work, meeting people and applying for things. (I already got an offer for an interview for the MSc. Blimey, that was unnervingly fast. Well, it can't actually hurt to be interviewed, I suppose. [I wonder how many disastrous employment experiences started with those words.] I met a current course participant this week for the low-down and really, it sounded like bootcamp for the psyche. Eek. Maybe I should leave myself all nice and repressed.)
Still, despite the potential for dropped balls, the form, as they say round here, is good. Even if I did miss my chance to meet my thus far disembodied friend in the flesh. I suspect I did something dingy. This is often the case. When I am making arrangements with people, it seems so soft-focus-dreamy and easy. I can visualise exactly how it's going to go. Oh yes! The pub is on the corner, a mile after the tree, beside the brown cow. Of course I'll find it! How hard could it be! (Answer: quite a bit harder than that.) Likewise, I saw myself meeting Irretrievably Broken (in moniker only), in debonair fashion, as if in my own Mastercard commercial, at Terminal Two, so we could talk and I could show her and her feller (not to mention myself) that I am maybe a bit mystical after all. In reality, however, I failed to account for the fact that they left Rome hours before, and could not therefore have got my arranging email, and that they'd be herded onto the next flight like lemmings modern travellers, added to which, in other failures to use the little grey cells, I got all confused by the new Terminal Two and tried to park in the rental car reserved parking, and narrowly avoided a clamping. It was all regrettably unlike My Vision.

Tuesday fortunately dawned on a more rational, functional Twangy. Well, I say functional. There may have occurred a bit of a nervous spat between me and the JB on the tram trip out - just as if to contrast with the calm, jocular front we presented to the social worker, our detective friend. She was very sympathetic and friendly, wore killer heels, and smiled broadly the whole time as if for a bet. She was young, though. Young, young. One doesn't want to be ageist, and probably at 28 I was exceptionally lacking in imagination and indeed sorely in experience, but what do you think? Can a young one understand the weird chemistry of rituals, shared jokes, habit and dandruff that hold together a marriage? (Ed note: And love, nearly forgot that.) Can anyone, come to think of it? I know I don't, but maybe that's not the point.

We left feeling better about it all, in any case. One down, 5 to go. At the next smile-athon in ten days time, we are to talk individually to her about our families. How were we disciplined, and so on? (Silent treatment of course, that's why I'm so dessssperate to be loved. Ooops. Did I say that out loud?)

And it's Spring. The plants are growing like weeds, which is not surprising, because some of them are. There are also peas, potatoes, rhubarb leaves like elephant ears. The neighbours' talk radio noise filters soothingly over the fence, little children squeak in back gardens, car alarms wail in the distance, as the sun slips away, closing the work-week. All is well. Neighbourhood

[Thank you for the petition. I have The Eyre Affair on my list. Can't wait.]


Ah coffee, it is coursing about my veins like a March hare. And I'm off!

  • KDiddy, as we are wont to refer affectionately to the JB's Dad, has made another leap in his recovery. I felt like doing a jig when I heard he was sitting up, complaining in a loud voice about the food, cursing Quite A Bit about the horrible thickened water and generally being much more like Himself. A new lease of life is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

    He is likely to be released (is that the word? No. surely not. Too like prison.) next week, so some interim arrangements will have to be made - he may go and stay in a convalescent home in Valentia (Yes! Rising, slowly, that Valentia. (It's a place with a Weather station that gets mentioned in the Shipping Forecast, for people not of these Isles)).

  • (Blimey I like brackets.)
  • (YAY, brackets).
  • Oh dear, I am a bit over-excited. Calmness, calmness.
  • On Monday I sorted out all our pre-assessment/post-course work/who-knows-anymore-it's-like-a-fecking-university-degree, and transported it as carefully as I would a 15th Century Ming Vase over to the office of the social workers, venue of our meetings, aka the Centre of the Universe, the Vortex itself.
  • And today, the social worker, who has the same name as a very famous fictional detective, yes, that one, the first one you thought of, unless he has moustaches and little grey cells, not that one, the other obvious one, rang to make an appointment to see us next week for the first of six grillathons/chats/scientific measurements of our combined KRAY-zee-NESS.
  • She sounded really nice and friendly. A ruse? Elementary, my dear readers? How am I going to avoid all these trap-for-heffalump joke opportunities?
  • To my own surprise, I seem to have applied for an MSc in Child Art Psychotherapy. It's part-time, and yet, looks quite arduous, and the timing is not perfect, but, I dunno! I just did it, without giving it too much thought. If I get it, I can always decline. Like all psychotherapy courses, you have to undertake your own therapy for the duration. 100 hours I think it is. Shudder?
  • I have been doing some research on the idea of remorse, for a story idea I have, and discovered all sorts of peculiarly modern forms of that emotion [which is from the Latin rimordere, to bite back, in case you were interested. It comes back to bite you in the arse, sort of thing.] Social media remorse, when you comment on bacefook in a moment of rage and/or poor restraint and regret it horribly, tattoo remorse, speaks for itself, drunk texting remorse. Fascinating as that is to me, I am stuck on the image part of the story. What should it look like? I need to work out a style, that's it. I feel like I am reinventing the wheel every time.
  • Ag, ag. I don't understand why comics are so hard to make. Why?
  • Also, do you feel like signing a petition? The Irish Government had the Stupidest Idea in History and want to sell our public forests. I don't think it matters if you are not living here. The forests belong to all of us.

I, Twangy, say so.

based on real events

Here I am! Sorry for the week of silence. The last few days got a tad frantic - I must bore you all rigid with my confused musings about that soon. And my childhood nemesis, sinusitis, struck me once more. [Ow.] But for now, this.

I took to the  bed early on Friday night, tired from the excitement of seeing Kinshasa Symphony.

And then, this happened. Do you remember Señor Gato, the cat that patrols our garden - that I have been trying to tame with pieces of pink meat and milk?Cat_strip_s