Sunday, January 29, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane - Emigration Generation at our Doorstep.

Bobby and Martin in Lismore
Yesterday middle son Martin left Dublin for Brisbane, treading a well-worn path all too familiar to most Irish people with children in their twenties and thirties - Generation Emigration as they're being called, most recently in the series run by the Irish Times over the past few weeks. So it was a day of mixed emotions for me, sad to see Martin go on his first big journey since he'd been living overseas as a child, and happy for him to see him embark on a new life adventure. He was travelling with his friend Bobby who is also a graphic designer, and they are going to spend their first days in Australia with friends whom Martin grew up with in Tanzania, and with whose family we have maintained contact over the years since we left Africa. So from the Irish Mammy perspective I have no worries as he'll be looked after and won't get lost travelling to the other side of the world as there's a pair of them in it. They are flying Etihad Airlines, one of those super-duper Mid-Eastern Airlines from the Gulf that fly directly from Dublin to Australia with stops in Abu Dhabi and Singapore but none of the misery of having to navigate Heathrow or the lesser misery of one of the European hubs like Schiphol.
Abu Dhabi first stop!
Martin with William, Shayne, Jany and the girls

Irish Mammy moment in Dublin
JP, Bobby, Martin and Ricky in Lismore
As I write they should be leaving Singapore on the last leg of the journey to Brisbane, and they will no doubt have a few days of jet lag to contend with. I remember when we lived in Laos that the journey west-east from Europe back to Laos was worst for jet lag and it took a few days to reorient to the Orient. But that's probably trying to catch up on lost hours - only 7 in the case of Laos, but 10 or so in the case of Australia I suppose. I haven't checked the detail yet, very provincial of me. In fact Martin and Bobby left on Saturday and will lose out on Sunday and arrive on Monday - almost comparable to Samoa which lost a day in its entirety when they went to the other side of the International Dateline at the end of December. That begs the Table Quiz question - what country will nobody have a birthday on December 29th 2011?  I'm sure it'll feature in Pub Quizzes of the future!
Father and son before heading to the Airport!

We have been anticipating this move for Martin since he finished college - he did his undergrad Degree in Cork and his Masters' in Dublin, both in Graphic Design.  He wasn't able to get much work other than some freelance and a stint in a local printing and design business, but from the way things were going in Ireland with the downturn in the economy it didn't look great. So he worked in the 5* Westbury Hotel in Dublin for the past 10 months, and managed to save enough to fund his Aussie adventure. The visa is a year's working holiday visa and he will have to change jobs every three months, and maybe he will get sposnsorship and be able to extend his visa - otherwise the only way to stay on is to work in rural Australia for a while.

Hope the scales isn't loaded!
Yes I packed it myself...!
The current government has got into hot water recently over tactless remarks by the shoot-from-the-lip Finance Minister Michael Noonan over emigration being a Lifestyle Choice -an unfortunate turn of phrase that resonated with what Brian Lenihan and Eamon de Valera had said back in the years of mass almost forced emigration of the 1950s and 1980s - it smacks of heedless callousness in the light of all the families whose children would prefer to find work in Ireland and make a life here. I don't know if Martin will make a new life in another country or whether the economy here will revert to some normality to allow him a feasible return.

A final coffee - delaying the goodbyes!
He spent the last couple of weeks at home and then went to Cork to say goodbye to his former college friends there and to Dublin for a final farewell. We had a small party with the family and some of his friends from Lismore last weekend - the days of the Australian or American Wake seem a bit passé and melodramatic in this age of instant messaging via Facebook, Twitter and Skype - new verbs in the vocabulary must surely be To Skype and To Facebook, while To Tweet has been totally hijacked from the birds! We had a nice evening with a curry that went down well with everyone - included were the much-requested homemade chappatis - and it turned into a Boys' Night In with somebody's X-Box produced to play football games on the big TV.

Into the future!
I had a brief Kleenex Moment at the Departure Gate yesterday - no shame in that, as I got a small sense of how my dear mother must have felt with all the farewells she had to endure over two decades of my life. It was so weird to see him off in the vast emptiness of the futuristic boom-time Terminal 2 which was built for another era and economy. Now it has the whiff of a Bertie Ahern/Paddy the Plasterer white elephant about it, somewhat vindicating Michael O'Leary's vitriolic put-down of it over the years. It reminded me of that great Stephen King novella and film The Langoliers, about time-warped air travel and deserted terminals. Martin was the only one at the departure gate, as Bobby had gone through earlier. It was strange to be saying goodbye and turning back to the car park, instead of going through to head for the heat of our destinations over the years of our lives in Africa and Asia - but now it's the turn of the younger generation and that our children are making the move should come as no surprise to us. We can only wish Martin and Bobby well and look forward to new holiday destinations in the future!
Martin on the bridge - with Jan ahead with the suitcase!

Terminal 2 - the deserted airport!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Knitting and Related Craftiness - and an Intro to Knitmas

My Secret Santa gift for Knitmas!
I'm way late telling you about Knitmas as the name suggests it's a Christmas Knitting Project with the totally terrific premise of a selective Secret Santa/KristKindle for the Knitting Online Community! I came across it back in October or November, on Twitter or Facebook, not exactly sure now, but the next thing I knew I'd signed up to take part in an Irish exchange programme via Elfster - a new (to me) website facilitating exchanges and gift-giving and sharing. It took a bit of getting used to, as I have been frustrated by a dinosaur laptop that keeps crashing and needs constant frequent CPR (Computer Processor Resuscitation) - so I'd been using my phone to stay online and in touch with the wider world. It has its limitations though - screen size does matter and there are some tasks the mobile apps don't do like the full version, so I let things lie for a few weeks after I was told who my partner in Knitmas crime was - Cathy who tweets as @cathyqtpi - (confusing until you say it, geddit?)

The sincerest form of flattery - my cowl copy!
Anyway I had been assigned to another Knitmas member so I had no idea what approach to take, getting a mild panic attack over whether I'd end up getting fab stuff and not sending my beneficiary anything she'd like, and quickly getting over it when I realised we were able to grill our partners and be grilled in turn by ours on preferences, likes, fave colours and so on. So I ascertained from my inquisition that Cathy liked purple and ladybirds. Sorted. I promptly hit our local craft dealer - Angela at her eponymous Lismore Design Workshop where she has a marvellous treasure trove of everything knitty and crafty. She had lovely haberdashery and I got delightful ladybird buttons, and then she had a soft toy kit for - yes, you guessed it - a ladybird! On the purple front I had some frilly scarf yarn from Lidl last year called Sanibel which I hadn't a clue what to do with, until one night at our Knitting Circle at the self-same Design Workshop Angela was making this wonderful frilly scarf with Tivoli Whirl and had other brands of scarf yarn on sale which looked just like my Lidl shoelace yarn. Finally I knew what to do with it - and I made the most beautiful scarf which I earmarked for Knitmas. It is a quick and easy yarn to knit as you only cast on 8-10 stitches and the scarf can be done in a couple of hours. I have one myself too as I had enough yarn to make two. So I got some colourful wool for my Knitmas package - Ocean I think it was, a lovely wool blend - and finished off the package with a Hope Charity Chocolate bar and there might have been something else I can't recall. I was a few days late for the 1st Dec. deadline but was forgiven as I emailed to say I'd been late. I got such a buzz when Cathy posted her gifts on Twitter and shared them with the Knitmas community. I think she posted a photo on her Tweets.

Assorted iPhone covers  from Monika's pattern.
As for my pressies - I got a lovely packet from Caroline (@Scattyhats) who made me a beautiful Silk and Alpaca Cowl in Debbie Bliss Andes, done in a lovely Feather and Fan stitch. She also sent some lovely stitch markers, chocolate, teabags, and best of all - wool! Well to be more precise, a Noro very fine yarn, and Araucania from Chile 100% cotton 4-ply which might be perfect for cotton socks!  I have yet to wind the cotton skein as I don't  have a winder so am a bit nervous about getting caught up in knots but then my mother used to wind hanks of Aran wool back in the home-knitting days of the 60s and 70s and that was a lot of winding with no winders - back of a kitchen chair or else my aching arms were the best she could manage!

I copied the Andes Cowl in Cotton blend Nadine from Lidl in Teal and it is lovely - soft and smooth (60% Cotton). I made a lovely Dora the Explorer jumper for my granddaughter Sofia for Christmas and she looks sweet in it; it was also made in the Nadine teal. Ive also made some funky cable iPhone covers from Monika on Ravelry - she's made a PDF of her pattern.

So altogether I am enjoying the creativity of this crafty world and I will tell you about  my Christmas knitting books next post. I think you'll enjoy and head straight for Amazon!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Belated Happy New Year - and a Resolution to return to Blogging

Happy 2012 rom Lismore!
This is mid-January and I have been very bad at blogging in the last few months - so I am just opening the year with a short post to say to my loyal followers that I will try to be a more diligent poster girl in 2012 than I was last year! I don't know why I slackened off late last year only that my laptop has become very temperamental and slow, prone to frequent collapses and Austenesque fainting bouts calling for liberal application of techie smelling salts in vain attempts to recovery - restarting, rebooting, rekicking, defragging, debunking, deleting file after folder, and other spurious attempts at reviving an exhausted C-Drive. I guess an 80GB Hard Drive wasn't the best but it was one of the biggest back in the day when we got this little Toshiba. Now it's got the computer equivalent of high cholesterol  and all the statins in Big Pharma aren't going to cut the mustard. More like a heart transplant or at the very least a triple bypass! Nah, the easiest option is a trip to PC World and a nice new 500GB or 1TB Hard Drive laptop which will probably cost half what this baby did 4 years ago!

So I promise fluency and frequency in the blogosphere in the coming months - goodness knows I have been doing enough in my life to warrant a few trivial blogposts - I've been knitting madly and have some great projects that I am very proud of and lots more in the pipeline - I want to tell you about Knitmas, the wonderful Secret Santa for the Irish Knitting Community, and share my new knitting books with you crafty types out there. I want to share the books I've read, and try to resume the online Book Clubs and real world ones. And I can share about my new workplace which happens to be my home town! There'll be recipes and cooking and baking to share and I will enjoy reading and catching up on all your blogs that I've been remiss on responding to lately.

Thanks for hanging in there with me friends - enough Mea Culpa talk and have a great 2012 - we'll have plenty to catch up on during the year!