Saturday, December 30, 2006

FELICE NAVIDAD!

Just back after a fabulous Christmas in Spain which included a thick snowfall in the mountains of Murcia. I built a mujer de nieve, like the true Canadian I can be at times. Pics to follow when my friend Annie sends them. We were at her and her husband's casa grande outside the lovely little town of Onil (pronounced "O'Neill" and there is even an Irish bar called O'Connell's!) just north of Alicante. On Christmas day, after Mass in Spanish, I joined the rest of the townsfolk in the queue to kiss the feet of the statue of the infant Jesus held out by the priest in front of the altar. We had already had a big dinner on Christmas Eve with other guests from Wales and Italy, but on the Day itself we sat down to a second feast with more guests from Ireland and Romania. The meals included vegetable soups, turkey with stuffing, big shrimps, freshly made pizza, pasta with shellfish, and various salads, followed by desserts that included ice cream, flaming puddings, and a huge Christmas cake with almond icing. Yum. The trip ended with a few days site-seeing in Barcelona. More about that anon.

Monday, December 18, 2006

An Post

Oh, I love An Post, the Irish postal service. They are sweet. I was checking with their Customer Service department via email to see if a parcel I sent to Canada had arrived and they reported back to me that indeed it had. So then I sent them a thank you and Beannactaí na Nollag (Blessings of Christmas) and here's what someone wrote back: Na habair é - fáilte. Which is the Irish version of "Don't mention it - you're welcome." It is truly wonderful when people use Irish here because, alas, the language was nearly wiped out by English colonization; but though the number of native speakers is declining, happily the number using Irish as a second language is steadily increasing. PS Here's the Christmas card they sent me. Speaking of English colonization, that's the central post office in Dublin, the last hold-out of the doomed Easter Rising or Irish Revolution of 1916. You can still see the bullet holes in the columns. Also there is the famous statue of Cuchulainn inside.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Listening

Couldn't go dancing tonight. Too much to do! Last of the Christmas cards gone, but a ton of gifts to wrap, especially the ones for family dinner tomorrow. There are still decorations to go up in the house and my desk is a mess. Sigh. But here is the music that is keeping up my spirits as I work away:
Prairie Ceilidh Christmas - western Canadian band called Prairie Ceilidh singing English, Irish, French, and Scottish carols, plus a cowboy carol for the lads out on the range, the Huron carol, and a wonderful song by Tim Janz (in the band) called A Winter Wish (for Sarah). He's got a beautiful voice, bit like Stan Rogers.
Celtic Christmas Moods - gorgeous instrumentals by Ceol Cú Chulainn, playing uilleann pipes, whistles, flutes, accordian, keyboard, bodhran, fiddle.
Songs for a Celtic Christmas - Anúna, who really don't need an introduction. Yes, they were the ones singing for the first Riverdance extravaganza. Beautiful voices.
A Guitar For Christmas -Liona Boyd looking like an angel on the cover, swathed in white.
Carols From A Cathedral - From the choirs of Bath and Winchester Cathedrals (you can't beat a bit of serious tradition) - my fave is "The Holly and the Ivy."
Christmas with the Rat Pack - I was in love with Dean Martin when I was a kid. Jaze.
The Best Christmas Album in the World ... Ever! - and indeed it is pretty good. It's got two CDS, one with trad stuff like Bing Crosby's White Christmas and Steeleye Span's Gaudete, and one with pop stuff like John & Yoko's Happy Xmas.
Must go. More to do. Christmas is coming!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Punch

Still going like the clappers! Last of the cards tonight plus gift-wrapping, a few more presents to buy tomorrow, some more decorations to put up in the house, then on Sunday a lovely Christmas dinner and exchange of gifts with Finn's grandparents and her Dad down in Naas. Here's my recipe for mulled punch:
organic pressed apple juice
slices of ginger
powdered ginger
cinnamon powder
grated nutmeg
mixed spice if you wish or mulled spice sachet
slices of lemon with peel
slices of orange/mandarin/satsuma with peel
whole apple peeled with whole cloves stuck into it like a sputnik
Simmer it all nicely on the stove and serve in glasses with a whole cinnamon stick.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nollaig ag Teacht!

Yes, Christmas is coming! And with the galleys just done, I am throwing myself into it, like a rock star hurling himself into the crowd. So far, still up. Load of cards written but still more to do and all those heading for Canada, America, India, and Japan are, of course, dead late. Still in time for Ireland and Europe, however. Meanwhile, the lights are up in the window plus the little Crib and silver candlestick with white candle. The box of decorations is out from under the stairs and all over the kitchen table. Tree will be bought today. Decorated tomorrow. Tonight is the Christmas party at my set-dancing class. Yahoo. I love this time of year, the Silly Season as a dear friend calls it. Must fly. Presents to buy!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Free Hugs

Omigod, one of my seven sisters sent me the most amazing video on Youtube. Search for: Free Hugs Campaign. Inspiring Story! (music by sick puppies). He looks like John Lennon. Yeah, I cried. Check out www.freehugscampaign.org afterwards. I'm trying to decide if I'll start this myself in Dublin. But we are now in the dark and lashing wet season. Hmm, would make for interesting filming. All those sodden Irish people hugging each other. (And, of course, someone would try to pick your pocket while they are at it.) Meanwhile, I'm still pissed at Amnesty UK forcing the best videos of David Armand doing Torn off the air and leaving their own crummy version which is shot from too far away. Scroll down and you'll find better. Look for the image of the big stage. Every time Amnesty forces the video off someone else puts another one on. Even the anti-fascists can be fascist, eh?