Tuesday 13 December 2016

Not Now, Kato!

Kittens with a 'thing' about shoulders
All my readers except one will probably be familiar with the Pink Panther films with Peter Sellers playing the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (and don't worry, Mum, I will explain all!). You will also then, recall the character 'Kato' (now 'Cato' for some reason) played by Warrington born, Singapore raised 'Burt' Kwouk, Clouseau's manservant.

The 365 project is going a bit Christmas as lit up trees and
house fronts start to appear in the 'patch'
The running gag through all the films was that Kato was ordered to attack Clouseau when he least expected it to keep him alert, usually resulting in Clouseau's flat being wrecked. Amid the chaos, the phone would ring and Kato would calmly answer it with "Inspector/Chief Inspector Clouseau's residence", before dutifully handing the phone to his employer and being thumped by Clouseau. (Wikipedia)

All good fun but we now have 2 little 'Kato's of our own. The kittens seem to have a thing about shoulders and getting up onto them and they do this at unexpected moments, creeping up on you from behind with cat-like (yeah, well) stealth and leaping up as far as they can before scrambling the rest of the way up by gripping with their claws. They do this whether you are seated or standing, whether you are empty-handed, or using a sharp knife or holding a boiling kettle and, more importantly, whether you are clothed in nice thick coat and hat or just a spaghetti-strap 'vest' top.

Blue doesn't give a fig for Christmas but he does like a
'shopping' box.
I have even been leapt at from a window-sill after seeing what was about to happen and retreating backwards across 6 feet of kitchen thinking (you fool!) that that kitten would 'bottle' jumping across to land on my polo-shirted chest. Ouch. Right on the 'farmer's tan. Both of us have multiple lacerations about the shoulders, Liz probably worse than me, but then, I don't do the 'spaghetti strap vests' quite as often as she does. They are no longer little feather-weight kittens, but adolescent, half grown lumps of cats, so they pack quite a punch. This is a habit we need to break them of.

Nice local gin and Irish chocs, but will they last till the 25th?
As for most people by now, Christmas has started happening for us - lights, shopping, planning and lists. For the 365 project this has meant a bit of light relief and inspiration in the long run of 'nothing happening' Autumn days. I can nip out of an evening and 'get' a few nicely lit house fronts and trees. It's not easy because the twinkly new LED lights are as likely to be in their 'off' phase when you fire the shutter, as 'on' and the automatic mode on the camera reacts to all the black surrounding night by washing out the colour from lights, but we chug along and always seem to have something to submit to the project.

Mrs Blackbird will be a 'Collie Bird' for the 4th day of Christmas
Today was one of those days where we were both free and we needed to do some shopping but for Christmassy reasons this needed to be separate and a bit covert, so I took the car south in the morning and Liz took it north in the afternoon. When ever we leave the normal 'patch' we latch on all sorts of extra jobs and purchases which we can not do in the two local towns. Don't get me wrong - 'local' is best and we always support local small businesses and traders if we can but there are things you need to go to the 'big town' and the bigger shops for.

2 cats just can not get comfy in a Spanish lemon box
For example, Liz had heard of  a new brand of gin made in Ireland (in Co. Waterford) which was winning awards, and thought to be the best Irish made gin at a reasonable price (€25). This is Boyle's and only available locally in Aldi supermarket, the nearest one to us being Roscommon Town. One of my friends from archery had latched onto a conversation we'd had at a meet where I had told him that we managed to get poitín locally (no names, no pack drill, obviously!). He asked me to get a couple of bottles for his Mum (I kid you not!), so that became an add-on mission. We met, 2 cars in the car park outside Aldi, him dressed in a hoodie, passing anonymous wrapped parcels over in exchange for cash. I wonder what their CCTV crew made of us.

Liz and a kitten enjoy the 'new' reclining settee.
Liz is dreaming up a rather nice add-on project for the '365' thing around the 12 days of Christmas, No details yet as I don't want to spoil the surprise but we are trying to 'translate' the 12 gifts (pear trees, calling birds, drummers drumming etc) into the village 'patch' and the 18 townlands that make it up. There are some lovely ideas there and I have been sent off to try to photograph certain things in time for the 12 days. The plan is to put the 'gifts' up on their correct days (the 'pear tree one' on day 1, turtle doves on day 2 etc). More on this when it has all happened.

Marans Rooster
On the Dec 26th week I am having another turn at 'curator' of the @SmallHolderIRL Twitter account. I was the 2nd ever curator almost a year ago and the Twitter account, led by Margaret Griffin (@FoodBorn) has gone from strength to strength with now 2500 followers and a regular supply of new volunteers willing to tweet for a week from their holdings. We have had all manner of Irish smallholders as well as some from the UK and all have had their own distinct slant on the activity - organic growers who run veg-box schemes, bee keepers, Dexter beef growers, potager veg growers, shepherds, you name it.

A big chunk of 'hang' comes out of the freezer and into sweet
cure for 'bacon and cabbage' on St Stephen's Day
I am quite excited about this as I love doing it and I have picked up the post-Christmas "turkey sandwiches" shift plus, I am delighted to realise, St Stephen's Day (Boxing day to you Brexitters) which is, of course, the day for the 'Wren Boys'. There is a lovely Irish tradition of which more on the day. We are especially excited that we will have Steak Lady here over Christmas and she will just be blown away if (as last year) some real costumed 'Wren Boys' do show up on the 26th.

The 2 well known local edible seaweeds, Carrageen and Dillisk.
Now we just need recipes!
Well, that's enough for this one - I'll just post a few more pictures in the 'tail' as I have them. Have a good run in to the Festive Season, all, and don't go anywhere near Sligo where Liz texted me today from her shopping trip that she didn't realise "It is National Drive Like a Gobshite Day".

My little cubby hole where I write this blog under the stairs
can get a bit gloomy. Not any more. Liz found this little string
of fairy lights at €2.50. Now I can see the keyboard.
Hope I don't need to explain that one.

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