Red Squirrel

What joy! This morning as we drove down the hill what crossed the road in front of us but a beautiful red squirrel! What a lovely sight.

For a moment we could not make out exactly what we were looking at as this strange little creature ran across the road, he didn’t seem to be aware of us at all. As he scampered away from us all we could see was his blonde tail perched up over his back so that we could not see his little body at all until he turned into the far hedge and revealed his beautiful self to us.

There are not very many hazel trees around us and the hazel is one tree that I have lately been thinking I want to concentrate on planting more of this year so now I certainly have the motivation. I do know some lovely hazel woodlands and have often found nut stashes but over the years that I have walked in those woodlands I had never seen a squirrel, red or grey.

The only time I saw a red squirrel was years ago in Co. Clare so I was thrilled to see one this morning so close to home. The last time I saw one was when I was out for a drive one day in the early eighties. I was heading toward the Ailliwee Caves, driving along a very quiet and small back road, as I slowed almost to a stop to take a turn to the left I glanced to the right to look into a field that I knew contained a fairy ring and a lovely red squirrel hoped over the wall – perhaps a fairy in disguise…

Solstice Wolf

We were watching an episode of “Northern Exposure” the other night on dvd (great entertainment courtesy of eBay). Do you remember Northern Exposure? It’s a 90’s drama set in Alaska, great story lines and fantastic scenery, it certainly beats most tv these days, in fact we watch dvds of favourite tv shows more than current tv.

The main story-line was about two of the characters, Maurice and Hawling,  taking a tough trip on horseback through the snowy wilderness to fulfil a promise and bury an old friend in a very remote place. Needless to say the journey was not an easy one, the trials and tribulations were due as much to the interactions with people met along the way as to the harsh weather and environment. The parallel story featured “Chris in the morning” doing his radio show where he read aloud each day from some old Jack London stories.

It reminded me that when I was young I loved reading those sort of stories, Buck, White Fang, Jock etc. I loved all adventure stories – sailing, mountains etc but the wilderness stories were my favourites.

It is so cool that I now live in a hilly quiet rural area where it snows a little in winter even when snow doesn’t stay on the ground elsewhere. There is very little traffic up our way, no-one wanders up here unless they work in forestry or have animals grazing on the hill. Last month we have even had a wolf wandering around, we saw her a few times as she wandered around our property, beautiful creature.

I feel very lucky to live in such a lovely place. I used to have to get into a car and travel some distance to walk in beautiful quiet countryside, now I just have to put on my boots and pull the door closed behind me. Still I don’t do that as often as I feel that I should but when I do — I really appreciate it — the peace, lovely birdsong, crickets and grasshoppers chirping, I have lost count of the different grasses, all looking their best now with their beautiful seed heads blowing in the wind.

I never get tired of looking at the views from up here and everyday there is something different to notice. Some days the clouds are low in the sky and the valleys below us disappear in a sea of grey, the tops of the tallest trees standing up like islands.

Do I Have To?

Do I have to? How often were those words uttered in childhood and still they go through my head today? There were a few things I “have to” this week – dreaded paperwork and menu planning. Paperwork – need I say more? Never my favourite occupation – it’s not that I can’t, it’s more that I just don’t like to… Know what I mean?

In fact I dislike it so much that I even got around to doing the second task, the menu planning. It’s something that we have been thinking about for awhile now. The benefits are many – your shopping list makes more sense (hopefully) and you will (hopefully) have the makings of some interesting meals at the end of the shopping trip. Most likely you will also save money at the grocery shops and be less confused, more focused as you wander from aisle to aisle. Another benefit is that you don’t end up looking in the presses (cupboards) in hungry desperation wondering “what’s for dinner?”

How did I solve this menu planning dilema – by reading lost of blogs of course! Aren’t I a good little procrastinator? I wandered over to Small Notebook for a look, knowing that organising skills abound there and guess what was going on over there? You got it- menu planning troubles! So I am not the only one pondering this wonder of old-fashionedness.

I had a good read and then followed the yellow brick hyper-road over to Simple Mom’s blog for a read and wow – she has this whole thing nailed down! Many of the commentators also had good ideas so now here I was armed with solid plans.

I had recently gone through a few magazines, preparing for the trip to the recycling centre and I had torn out quite a few good recipes that I thought would suit us and put them into a folder. I also have a gmail calendar on the go so I went through the recipes and slotted them into various days on the calendar, adding the ingredients needed to the event description so that I don’t have to go through the recipes to get a shopping list organised.

I really like the fact that I can so easily repeat each recipe at odd intervals – every five weeks or every seven weeks so that our eating pattern does not become too repetitive. As I was entering the information I was also writing put a shopping list so it all seemed so easy all of a sudden.

Isn’t that often the way with things that we have been putting off for ages, dreading to do or simply feeling “do I have to?” When we actually get down to it the task does not seem so bad…

Now for that paperwork…