If it isn’t you out there…who is it?

Authors note. Even though this is a personal blog; it has a universal themes. Sometimes it is autobiographical and sometimes not. I did this blog , however, in my own accent and voice. While I don’t like to over explain things-this is not poetry, after all- it is not subjective or has layers of meaning-but the aim of this post is the whole idea of this dialogue between the self and the other “divine being”, whatever or whoever that is and the realisation within this dialogue that the sacred is within oneself. It’s also though a little comfort on the power of meditation, talking, questioning or prayer and the eventual understanding that life is a mystery, ultimately and that there is joy and wonder in that, but the answers are sometimes in our own personal universe. I suppose in some ways it is a dialogue on loneliness too, in the end. Note also, the word Hiareth in this context refers to a deep longing for home. It’s a Welsh term and I think you’ll agree a beautiful word.

It is I suppose part of the theme of Zany Mountain-the journey and eventual hopeful arrival at the most authentic state. It was complex to write, and I’ve kicked it around for months, in fact I started it at the beginning of the new year. I ended up having a bit of craic with it in the end, sure a day isn’t a good day without a laugh, so in parts it is playful. I am publishing one more blog, after this, on my teetotal journey this year. Then Zany is taking a rest to renew the growth on the mountain and to allow me more time to concentrate on fiction writing. As ever I really appreciate people taking time to read, comment and support.

Er-hello-em God? Is that what I call you? Been a while hasn’t it, a chara. I’m not sure why I’m saying hello even. It’s 2.33 am on a Tuesday in November. Hey, if anything I am random. Guess what though-I’m as lost as lost can be these days. And you tell me out there in the inky blackness, why is this? I’m supposed to have it licked, doncha know. I’m supposed to know what I’m doing like, aren’t I? By the way that’s the way, I see you, somewhere in the centre of the night, suspended in blackest space. It’s dark though and you are only the tiniest dot. I wonder is anyone awake out there. Let me check my phone. Ah yes, people awake. There always is. I wonder are they lost too, cast adrift in that midnight blue sea. Oh there is someone messaging me now. Can’t get into a dialogue with another lost soul tonight, can I? They can wait. We can be lost in daylight. I’ll say good morning to you God-dawn breaks shortly. Thanks for listening anyway. Tuesday beckons, cold and chill, dull, rusty November. The bleak nothing month.

Hello?? We still going with God there my friend?. Such trickery is the thief of time. It’s almost the New Year. I’m weary after the festivities to tell the truth. It’s chilly and steel grey silent these days. Christ-oops, sorry-I didn’t mean to say Christ but you know what I mean- should I set some resolutions? What do you think? There’s a lot that needs addressing, but to be honest, it’s too overwhelming. What is the actual point anyway? Ah look I made one big step last year, it’s enough. Ha, I can feel you nodding, at least I’d like to imagine you are. It’s funny this morning I see you in human form, still out there in the inky night. I know what I’ll do! This year I’m going to find smudge free eyeliner. I’m going to do it, I can feel it in my bones. I’ll take it very seriously-it is one of the banes of my life you know the ole grainy eyeliner. Lookit, I’ll say good luck and giggle myself to sleep for a change. Hey you’re right. I need to live a bit more in the flow of life. Don’t I?

Oh my God, forgive the pun, how’s yerself. Spring has sprung. your design in everything; the floating cherry blossom, the soft breeze, the first dandelions. I sat on the garden bench and watched the dog sit and sniff the air, happy as a clam, eyes contentedly half closed as if in prayer. How beautiful is this time, full of optimism and newness. I had proof of your existence today. Oh yes! I was lounging in the smoking shelter, talking to a fellow culchie pal. I told her of something very upsetting that had happened in confidence. She said “Don’t worry Katie, you’re a strong warrior person, you are so you are, give all of this time and you’ll be grand. In fact, you’re like a hurler”. “What level?” I asked her. Somehow I needed specifics. “Senior” she said taking a drag on the vape to pause for effect. “County, like”. “Which hurler” I press. “You know which one!!” she says pushing me playfully. And that’s it. We’re off. Irish hysteria, dying laughing, crying and gasping . Laughing so hard some important looking fella drops his file of folders and glares at us. Skitting like we’re on a decade of the rosary during benediction. “Hey” she gasps between crying. “There is a God!” “What you mean like” I say. “Your eyeliner never ran, look!!!” she bellows. By the Lord God that was a cheap one out of Penneys. And her with the fancy smancy one out of Arnotts. For yes, us pals have been on the same quest. “thirty five bleedin’ quid” she says, pointing to her face. Existence indeed. Ran out and bought more in every colour and all.

Right, had better attempt the futility of sleep. life beckons busily as ever…..you.

Hey there it’s Easter Sunday. More of your or it’s design, everything new green and sky blue, the colour of fluffy chicks. It’s fresh and cheery. I feel at odds though. I feel sad. Grey, teary. A longing for something or place or someone. i am not sure who or what or where even. Though I did have an experience of Hiareth out of the blue yesterday , so vivid it took my breath away. I just needed the mountains. Is it a flaw in the human design to experience longing? It’s a terrible feeling to me, restless, unsettled. Unresolved somehow. the feeling of wanting more and less at the same time.

What’s the answer to this, you tiny spark of light in the navy nowhere? You know what I’ll do. I’ll do what I used to tell the children when they were small and missed someone -go and look at a bright star and think of that person or place under the same bright star. Aw, there has been quite the flashy one above the cherry tree. I’ll reflect on it and think of home home under the same star. Thank you so my friend in the ether of the Universe, that’s what I’ll do.

4.34. June bank holiday. Midsummer approaches with soaring skies. The long days shining a light on everything. No escaping this time of year. Everything threaded with gold. Pink and blue, sweet and soft. Sometimes, you, I worry I’ll lose the inner girl. She’s slipping from me you know -as if running away down a hill. And what of decisions made? Did I make the wrong call now and then-I know I did. I guess it’s all half chance anyway, isn’t it, you. Hey, do you ever answer back? I feel like my echo returning. I’m starting to see you as nothing at all-a dimming spark. You’re the colour of night air….fading to infinite blankness……….

4.35 am-a faint whisper in the sweet night air

Hello back

You are still the girl

I am the divine

You are the divine

And by they way……..

The name’s Joe.

Til next time,

Kat.

We’re all just trying to get by, aren’t we……?

When I started writing this post I started ranting. And then I stated ranting some more and now look as I type, I can feel the rant rising internally. I won’t start, but clearly this is part of the narrative of the story so therefore I will include it in the post. This also shows the escalating nature of the rant. I know for me it starts as a tightness in my chest, the heat floods to my head and suddenly I’m not seeing straight. I’ve a temper, rarely lost but when it is, it could laser a rock in two; often the damage is to myself. I had to leave this post; come back to it, send it to be edited, re edit it and this overthinking could continue ad infinitum with me so in the end, I’m trusting my heart here and going with what is written. I am admittedly more nervous publishing this post than I am normally, but am not sure if this is me watching my Ps and Qs, but again this is also part of the narrative.

I always said that this blog will never discuss politics or religion-this is because these opinions are often deeply held, divisive and frankly, it’s not that kind of blog. I am certainly not getting into the topics of misogyny, sexism, homophobia and racism-I’m not going to open that infernal gate to hell; I’ve a mountain and my own soul to protect. I am trusting my intuition on this one and my intuition, when I bother to listen to it, is on the money. But while I won’t be talking about the isms and the phobias and whatever you’re having yourself, I will be discussing the overlap point of this Venn diagram of misery and divide; hatred and cruelty. Particularly that sort of hatred and casual cruelty that can be found and seems to be flourishing apace in the online space. I do have both the opportunity and also the responsibility on Zany Mountain to explore what it does take to be an ordinary human seeking an authentic life.

I made a decision as clear as day a few weeks ago, that where ever I exist in the online space, the people around me will be authentic and positive. Now when I say positive here, I’m not talking this toxic positivity craic. I’m not interested in that. I’m not interested in the highlight reel. What I am interested in is the learning from others, seeing how people live worldwide, how they interact. I am lucky to have some amazingly interesting and creative friends. I adore the fact I can keep in touch with my sisters in Cork and see what the lads are doing in Limerick and what my friends in the US and all over the world are at. I love seeing the photos and insights into ordinary lives from Maryland to Melbourne . I love the civility of the people who say good morning and goodnight and share quotes. I love the mad, silly craic that is needed like oxygen for me with ridiculous Gif game and memes. I’ve laughed so hard every single day on social media at some mad craic and merriment-some of you will know the threads I mean! It doesn’t often have to be fun either, absolutely not. I’ve seen people struggle, cry, educate and rage. I’ve also seen the greatest of kindnesses, blazes of rows and the joy of unexpected, lasting friendships. As I said, real authentic lives in technicolour.

I have made to date, some of the greatest pals -people I would never have met if it wasn’t for social media. Well maybe I would have, who knows the path the universe lays out for people to cross. Some I’ve actually never met in real life, yet, but I know them all the years. Now before I get into the crux of the matter here, I will say I am not a woke person or an individual insulated from reality-I spent over two decades of my life working at the coal face in frontline homeless services, much of it in a recession in both inner city Birmingham and Dublin. No human sees it all but I think I’ve come across a lot of human scenarios and despair. I ended up leaving the work as I understood my capacity for exposure to human frailty and despair had become naturally limited and I transferred my skills elsewhere. I am also not against freedom of speech, provided it has good intent. Heck I don’t mind an opposing view or an alternative one. In fact through the course of what recently happened someone did pull me aside and raised something I never even thought about on this whole issue –so thank you brother, I appreciate the counsel. Actually thanks to everyone who listened and even took the time to share their stories. I am grateful to you for the support and encouragement, and love and friendship more than you’ll ever know.

A few weeks ago, I had an unfortunate incident online. I’m not going into detail, what happened, happened. In the look back space it wasn’t all that bad- more unfortunately though-it did escalate into a few more incidents with a few more men-some pretty scary messages, bullying and with horrible content. It was over something really stupid and light hearted as it turns out, which actually was the crazy bit and the puzzler. Now this is not my first rodeo with this hateful craic, but it hadn’t happened in a while; yes I do have to deescalate some online stuff on almost a weekly basis, and allow it fizzle out, but this seemed different, more out of the blue. More targeted.

I spent the entire next day in a state of dry boned shakiness, the sabre rattle of an anxious attack. In fact the day after all these messages happened, I noticed on the bus my lanyard was still on and my ID was not obscured by the travel card as normal-I duly flipped it. It was a paranoid moment but I didn’t feel like I was being rational. I didn’t eat that day and I certainly felt robbed of sleep. And a rage was building so steadily I had to actually physically pull myself together after throwing up. Now I’m a strong person;, a rant a cry, a couple of days railing against the unfairness of life, a chat with a few pals and I’m back on my feet. I am also after 8 years of this blog well versed in self-awareness and a recent journey has taught me what I need to do to heal and self-care.

But what if I wasn’t like that? What if I was more mentally fragile or vulnerable or lack “the fight” as I call it? What if I was already in such an overwhelmed space I would not know where to turn? I have been before. What if I was also without such networks of friends and supports around me? What then? It still despite my own strength and support took a toll on me. A week later my normal bubbly capacity for fun is a bit diminished, which is a shame. I’ll get it back, but it is more dulled and cautious.

I understand that there is a spectrum as to why people act how they do. Some people are so disconnected from their feelings, they will never change, continue hurting and blithely move on to the next person. These people are narcissists, sadly I’ve learned that there are more of those types of people are around than previously thought. I also understand there are people out there hurting from whatever abuse or trauma life has unfairly doled them out and it causes them to lash out and react in ways that can be hurtful. Sometimes these people are not even aware of their actions. And often these people, as life passes, grow and heal and become the best people. And let’s face it some people need a few goes around the block to get the lesson and move forward in redemption.

Then there are the people who feel too much, hear too much, see too much, and think too much. The ones who are born heartbroken either way. I most certainly am in the latter category myself-that sensitive capacity for deep feeling combined with an extrovert personality and well, I have to watch it too and temper it down. The point is we’re all hurting in some fashion. We all have our thing and our touch points, but ultimately we all want to be liked, don’t we?. Look we’ve all posted some things we should not have posted, we’ve all been passive and even active in our online transgressions. I have had disagreements online and if you are reading this, so have you. I often think that there is an emotional undercurrent to Irish people-a lot of us have natural urgency in our souls and things can get heated; just look at the hurling discussions online, alone. It does not excuse bad behaviour, ever, though. Generally speaking too people do forgive and apologise. It’s when it tips into bullying or hatred or unnecessary abuse it becomes a problem.

My worry in all of this actually is the almost casual, cold build up of hatred. The lack of care. The misogyny (as an example) inbuilt in our systems that make people think it is perfectly ok to act in a certain manner. That allow someone to message a woman and tell them do you know what you need now. Do I need to fill in the blanks? I raised the issue, and I felt a duty to call it out; I’m a writer, communication is my weapon. Weapon is the wrong word potentially but if that what it takes, then let it be so.

You should see the amount of messages I got from people outlining their experiences. Hatred and cruelty on an infinite loop. Scam artists, explicit content, hate speech. Passive and active aggression. Sometimes for absolutely nothing at all. Four, yes that’s FOUR women whose only transgression was to raise awareness of a charity they were promoting . Trolled endlessly. A writer at the top of her game receiving a takedown so harsh It took her two years to regain confidence. An actor at the pinnacle of her successful career, reduced to a heap. A young man who messaged me his story-he got into a spat over the old Gaelic football and an individual followed him around all the usual sites us Irish frequent for months. It’s still going on. He doesn’t know what to do. A refusal of an advance taken so personally that the response was vicious and threatening. More and more, on and on, example after example, it is only a drop in the ocean I have described here.

I was told by a few people after the whole thing to get over it-but this makes me raise a wry smile.” It’s a switch is it?” I say-like you’ll suddenly turn it off and all these feelings of doom will disappear? Maybe for some and good luck to them if they’ve learned how to do that. I was also told there is more going on in the world. Yes, correct. There is ALWAYS something going on in the world though isn’t there? And I’ll bet every last euro that most of what goes on has its basis in division, hatred and cruelty anyway.

It’s up to us, every last one of us to challenge this in our tiny spaces and let it ripple outwards. Love and kindness are the most important things we have. EMPATHY is the trick here. Simply put, to put yourself in the shoes, not even the shoes, even in some small way of the thinking of another. And if you don’t understand it, ask them. Learn from them-you might discover something new and beneficial. You might even make a new friend. So what if someone is different to you or was brought up differently or likes a different thing, and are having a bit of fun, craic and banter. What does it really matter if their intention is good and the heart is there and nobody is harming anyone or anything? Learning and being curious about each other is what makes the world go round.

I’ve learned a lot this last while. On how there is a value on sitting on things and giving yourself time to steady. On writing and editing. On really listening to intuition. On the caution of keeping the heart and the head in balance. On if you have an opportunity and the gift of communication to raise things in a meaningful manner.

I hope I’ve done this here in some small way on the mountain. I may  write more on this, I often feel I am really only starting here; dipping my toe in the water, as it were… My original draft of this post was angrier, tell the truth I am shocked by some of the online behaviour I and others have been subjected to over the last while. But, but, but…….I’ll only be perpetuating the hatred. The aim of Zany Mountain is a hopeful look at humanity. I have a responsibility to create positives from bad experiences, and so in this space, I will.

To end I was struck by the lines from a Mary Oliver poem about us all and life.

“And anyway it’s the same old story-

A few people just trying,

One way or another,

to survive

Mostly, I want to be kind”

That’s it isn’t it, all we are really doing is trying to get by…….aren’t we?

Til next time,

All my love and more

Kat

How to Stay in the Light.

I don’t think there is one soul on this earth that does not contain shades of the spectrum of both light and darkness. What I have found to be true lately, on a little, or should I say major, journey of self discovery is that there is a ladder between both ends of this spectrum. Or maybe it’s more like a gate as it were, slightly bockety of course, but crucially there. For the opening like.

It was my belief until recently that you existed in one space or the other at any one time, and that was it , your lot as it were, that in a dark spell, the light was somewhat out of reach or over there.

Now I am not suggesting for one moment that one has a choice all the time about where you sit on this spectrum. I know this to be truly out of one’s control, sometimes . But this post is more about, when you are able, the work it takes to get to the light. In fact it is about the reality that it is not an easy ascent at all.

And it is my personal experience, that in lonely times and tough times, it is very hard to ascend even out of bed sometimes. And sometimes for me anyway, staying around in the dark feels a kinda good if you get me. Sometimes it feels like the only self care we can give ourselves. I am reminded often of that quote from Elizabeth Gilbert on darkness and sadness ” It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won’t let go of because it hurts too good” It takes energy not to wallow around in it.

In 2021, I made a life changing decision to embrace a teetotal life. There were a few tiny dips, wine at a communion party, a couple of pints on a night out, but in January 2022, I decided this was the life for me. no more alcohol at all, no odd glasses of wine, or pints out, nothing. Now this is not an easy decision in Ireland and I’ll talk more later about that particular sweet journey in future posts. But I have found to be the case lately, the sunlight is much more sparkling and warm and inviting,. The shadows are still there , but they are softer and they recede more quickly. I have realised that a lot of the darkness of my making is actually sadness.

The sadness is ok because it is bound up in softness-I am an emotional person, a people person. When heartbreak arrives in whatever form, it really arrives and can take up residence in my heart for a long time. This is often not what you present to the world of course, but I suppose that is the first thing I would say is those sides of you-once you start to accept them and throw light on them, seem to be a gentler experience. A sensitive soul is a sensitive soul. You can’t change your core self.

I guess my point is, whatever your thing is that makes you unhappy, or steals your light -in my case alcohol and certain people, doesn’t it make sense to try and change and remove them from your life?

As the converse, personally I also have a really well developed inner child-I love fun and craic, no situation, however bad, cannot be alleviated or improved by a good laugh. Find an Irish person to friend, there is no doubt we are the world champions at craic. If not, spend some time with someone funny, your energy will be changed and maybe you’ll shake your head and smile and giggle later. Some of my greatest friends are the ones who absolutely banter to me to the death, and even writing about them makes me laugh out loud. I give it back of course with a flash of the wit, and everyone goes away feeling better and planning the next prank.

I’m not going to overthink this post. I’m just going to write it from my heart . I am also not going to think too much on the construct and reach of this writing. It is ironic that I started this on a day I was feeling the lightness a few weeks ago. Since then a few things happened out of my control that started to tug me down-I could feel that ungainly descent underwater,. Not again I thought, Jesus here we go. Again, like. And I realised, isn’t that the point of this post in the end? How, no matter how hard it is, the light wins out? How sometimes we simply have to grab ourselves by the scruff of our neck and drag ouselves back under it?

A few weeks ago someone offended me. A twist of a knife flashed and teeth bared. I spent a whole week in heat of white hot rage. What did I achieve though at the end of this week? A thumping heart, a black consuming hatred, wasted tears, distraction from my journey. Over nothing really. One night in my meditation I sent that person light and kindness and somehow it lifted and I hope it lifted them too. I kind of know it did actually. A reminder to constantly review and protect boundaries and how we are responsible sometimes for allowing people to steal our precious sunlight.

It’s Easter Monday here in Clonee. It’s a miracle, everything is suddenly new green and lush and pink and and yellow. The air is soft, a neighbour’s cat is dozing lazily in a sun trap. The dogs are snuffling and tumbling playfully in the long grass. I cradle my coffee cup and laugh at their puppy antics. And then I pause and turn to the sun and a little tear rises. And I send a few people light after everything that has passed.

I hope they felt it.

Stay in the light folks. It’s hard but it’s a damn sight warmer and brighter over here . That’s a promise.

Til next time

All my love and more

Kat x

Stones and Stories

The Irish have been invited in the Census of 2021 to complete a note for a time capsule, to be opened in 2121. Here is mine, a letter to a woman of my ilk in 100 years time. It’s a very simple and almost timeless wish for the future. The version I will write will be slightly abridged as it has to be handwritten. I urge you all to do the same, anything at all, it can be a hope for the future or a little insight to your life.

Dear friend of the future

I am a woman in midlife living in Dublin. As I approach a milestone birthday, I wish to share with you a snippet of my life and a wish for the future. Before I start; If I was to guide you to read something which gives understanding of the forty something Irish woman of 2021, I would suggest Marian Keye’s Rachel’s Holiday and Again Rachel. And maybe the Oh My God What a complete Aisling series. There is a bit of Aisling and Rachel in every Irish woman of every age, but the protagonist Rachel is my true and personal peer.

I wish for the future that that the progress we have made in equality continues to build and indeed there is equality for all. As a woman and mother, my supreme struggle, particularly in the early years was managing work and childcare. There have been several improvements in this area , it is my wish also that men get adequate paternity care and all have a choice to build the life they want.

I do not only want to refer to equality among the sexes, I believe there should be equality in all areas. I was struck by what another contemporary Irish figure, John Kiely (Limerick hurling manager and quiet and humble leader) said forcefully at a fundraiser for a homeless services recently. It refers to Limerick but is universal-he said there must be social inclusion, everyone deserves a sporting chance; there cannot be two Limericks, there must be one Limerick. Insert Ireland for Limerick. If there is one thing we have learned as we emerge blinking into the light after a global pandemic, it is that we are nothing without each other and our communities. I hope the people of the future politically engage for the greater good of all, rather than the good of the individual, which has sadly been a facet of some areas of Irish political and social life.

Speaking of homelessness, having worked in the area for most of my career; my hope is in the future that it is not a concept. I suspect it may still be; life is not bricks and mortar but a series of chances and choices; some people will slip through the cracks . We must protect our vulnerable, we must give them an ear and allow them to tell their stories. I believe in redemption and second chances, not one of us is perfect or without flaws. To this end we must ensure above all else that people have access to mental health and addiction services, without any barriers, such as finances or lack of services.

Person of the future; please preserve the history and culture of this wonderful country. We have the potential to grow even more, we are a young nation with an ancient past. Revere the past; preserve it. Once a year make a pilgrimage to an ancient place. I can suggest the Hill of Tara, Ardpatrick Hill, Poulnabrone Dolmen, An Grianáin of Aileach, a holy well somewhere. Touch the stones, take a breath and pay homage to your ancestors and yourself. There are so many places in this staggering landscape; go where you are guided. Tell stories and keep them, write them down. Pass the stories to the young. Mind your story tellers and understand the gift that is Irish folklore. There is surprising wisdom and guidance in it. Befriend and respect your elders, who knows they might have answers to your mid life dilemmas, which are more universal than you might think.

Dear person of the future, I shed a little tear writing this because I felt emotional thinking someone might read this in 100 years time. We are an emotional people, our souls are as important as our hearts and minds.

I do hope the craic is a feature of the future Ireland. I suspect it will never die -our ability to lighten all that is a heavy burden with our unique humour is an absolute joy and the envy of the globe.

And one last thing…..I hope Limerick, current All Ireland holders are the All Ireland hurling champions in 2121.

(Sorry, I just could not resist and I hope that makes you smile)

All my love and more

Kathryn O’Sullivan

Co.Dublin.

The Drowning House

Cracked red formica table. Faded old Aer Lingus bag, the contents are faded too, but precious. Monthly letters from the brother you never met, he emigrated before you were even born. Now he has passed but the letters remain, tales of work and friends and bright blue American skies. I wonder what Paddy was really like she often thought. He taught her to write, with the monthly letters, only for him she never would have really learned. A citogue the nuns said. She shakes her head at the silliness of it all. They never met but she knew Paddy, what a curious thing to know someone so well you’ve never seen.

Last night’s fried potatoes and onions. Doorstop bread with a blackened crust. Half it gone, that bloody labrador up the road has learned to open the bread bin. Blast him, he is too stupid and lovable to chastise.

20 Carrolls , smoked in front of the sooty fire , the occasional one on the back step, to watch the carnival of permanently thrilled wild birds. Snow on the Galtees, ravines seen from here. Sighing in that crisp edge of mountain air. Snow on the Galtees, snow on the Ballyhouras on the way they say.

Neighbouring children, really your village children visit with their own babies. A thrill to see the next generation. Some humans are born in balance and ease, others are already born with broken hearts. It’s in the eyes. Nothing for it but to accept the way you arrive. Wishing all the love in the world to pour into these little hearts that are always open and ready for breaking, she thinks.

A robin hops to the back door. That will be Tommy, saying hello. Not long until the hawthorn Tommy, she thinks. Once the Galtees clear. Already the papery flowers of gorse are blooming, the sweet scent catching with the scent of evergreen. Mountain smells.

Cans of Beamish at home and Guinness from dusty bottles in the evening pub. A gallery of rogues and friends, curious stories of the weary and wise in front of the fire. A bottle of poteen from the fella at the corner. Medicinal purposes but tell the truth you wouldn’t rub it on a hurler’s knee.

No need for Sunday Mass, sure why would you need it with the divine surrounding you in the ditches, clouds and in the faces of bright and cheery gladioli in the summer time?

Superstitions galore; a knife on the floor, a man at the door. Have some fear around fairy trees and Holy wells for they know all our promises and secrets. A voice from the sky when you were 12, never answered, you knew better than to give cheek to the mysterious. The protestant church, with its ghostly spire and haunted choir. Never go three times clockwise at midnight or the divil himself will appear.

Love and loss and redemption, all of it learned and earned. But the time is near, you feel it. It’s in the lungs and the lessons. It’s not to be fought but welcomed. Time to find that inner girl that never left you for your last giddy, joyful roam on earth.

Your last thought in this mortal earthly place. Time will pass and this place will be leaves. Climbing tendrils and brambles reaching into window panes. Doors sagging under moss and damp.

The Drowning House they will call it. But you know it won’t be drowning at all; but reclaimed by the very earth and nature itself.

And if that isn’t the work of the Divine, what is?

Til next time friends

Kat x

Dark Horse

When I was a free range country girl back in the day, I spent the majority of my waking hours outdoors.We all did, we were mountain people, acres of fields and ditches and rivers at our disposal, the purest of air and the wildest of views. Why wouldn’t we, we also had a huge interest in sport-the hurling of course being the main one there. But we also loved other sports, we were a horsey people and there was an abundance of horses and people who could handle horses about the place. It’s literally in my blood, my grandmother was born on a stud farm where her father was the groomsman, my great grandfather was a renowned saddle maker in Limerick.

Cross country racing was a very popular winter sport, and even if you did not have a horse, if you could handle one and was brave enough or frankly looking back, crazy enough -you’d get people asking to you enter races with their own horses. Normally these events carry on over a few miles and in deep country the fences would be marked but they would be natural obstacles; tree trunks and ditches. It would be won on timings so you wouldn’t have a gang of horses on a field together. It’s also a winter sport, and of course winter in Ireland is charecterised by damp, freezing cold and muck. Yep it wasn’t for the faint hearted on many levels but I’ll tell ya if you ever want to feel alive….

When I was a teen, one weekend, one of the local farmers had a young horse he wanted run out so I obliged by entering the horse in a race in Co. Limerick . Gorgeous mare she was, horses, like dogs have incredibly distinct personalities. This beauty with her chestnut coat and dark mane was a lovely, reliable, quiet horse and was a very plucky jumper. The day in question dawned an absolutely bitter cold mountain mucky January Saturday.

The course was tracked for miles over fields and the slope of the mountain. I can’t remember the name of the horse as there were so many about the place, but I remember exactly what she looked like. We had a fantastic start but half way across the course in honestly the middle of God’s absolute nowhere, there was a really scary ditch, with not a human to be seen. I knew approaching it at speed that the mare’s stride was off and when that happens-it’s like seeing yourself slowly crashing against a wall, tell the truth there was nothing for it to brace for impact- I knew I was a goner before we even hit the ditch. Plucky herself made a valiant effort but the worst happened- she fell backwards on top of me.

So imagine the scenario ; you’ve 900 lbs of horseflesh on you , the ditch is like a quagmire. You are underneath and sinking fast and starting to lose your breath, the poor horse is simply stuck in the muck, not a hope of her getting up. Now I haven’t been in too many meet your maker scenarios but I was not quite ready at 16 to meet mine. I quickly realised that the struggling was not working, we were stuck badly With a superhuman effort I calmed myself and her and somehow with whatever angel was minding us we gently unstuck ourselves. Some sight me crying and puking in the middle of the field and the poor faithful horse by my side when we got free. I limped home and I remember it was the first time ever that any of the lads did not say “get back on the horse straight away” and my Dad was really nice to me except of course when it was time to go to mass. Half dead, but you are still going to mass. You’ve to laugh looking back. In the end none of neither of us had a scratch thankfully.

It was a brilliant sport though, the adrenaline, the buzz, being outdoors and it was at every level savagely competitive-some of the lads I knew went on to be successful professional jockeys. Household names even. The friendship and camraderie was brilliant. Nothing like the ice breaker of crashing into another rider’s horse, flying through the air, landing in a tangle beside them in a neighbouring county, and having to limp bloodied to the finish line with them for 3 miles. Tis not really the place for small talk, like. High Five, Padraig!!

As wild as it sounds it wasn’t all thrills and spills, there were honestly wonderful morning hacks through mountain woods with snow so pure and white it had a violescent hue, chats on country roads , gentle sunsets where you truly felt alive and at one with the world and nature and lucky frankly. Sometimes I look back at this young girl version of me and I marvel at how brave, plucky and foolhardy she was; I can scarce believe it was me.

Of course we were all also teens so there was stand up rows in fields, shifting, fighting, mad nights out, dirty work and crying. Drama, like. Winners and losers and fallers. There was dogs, so very many dogs of every breed, stubborn ponies, mad horses, horses we loved and raised like babies when their mothers died, pet horses who never did a thing but be a comfort and a companion, winners and champs. And oh if anyone can bottle adrenaline-by God they should -that stuff is a little addictive. I’ll tell you, If I had a chance to go back and fiddle with time I would not change a single second of those days and for that I have incredible gratitude.

In the end, my mother put a stop to my gallop as it were, and banned me from horses for the duration of my leaving cert year. To my regret I never got on a horse again, but to this day it’s virtually impossible for me to walk past a field with horses in it. I simply love them.

Anyway, the reason for this trip down memory lane was inspired by believe it or not a writing struggle. I got stuck you see, like our poor mare in a ditch. And then it got a bit problematic -I started to overthink it. and as soon as that happened Voices of Doubt as I call them crept in and I was in a right pickle altogether. Nothing was moving, nothing was happening, no inspiration to be found because I had made all of this into a struggle . In the end a writer I admire said just write fecking something, and fling it out for once. So I stopped the struggle and fight with this blog, and here you are folks, this is the first of posts I’m going to write in this vein, and believe it or not it got me really flowing again.

There you have it . I’m also writing some characters for a rural based Irish story at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s going to take shape but I am loving breathing life into characters and most importantly I am writing something again and I am very content and happy. Girls, I’ve the dotiest shy clubman character you’ve ever seen called Ritchie-he doesn’t know it yet but he is going to get a lover. I’d better get back to him and pay him attention.

Til next time lovelies

Keep her lit and Happy 22

Kat x

Mountain Conversations

Hello dear friends and greetings from Zany Mountain. I apologise for my absence, for once it was not due to my usual blogging affliction; procrastination, but rather back surgery and little mishap where I took a nasty fall and sprained my wrist. Hey ho, never do things by half on the mountain. Anyway, all better now, appreciating the return of mobility and of course the reminder from the Universe that at times in life, things are out of one’s control.

Today’s blog is a little question and answers post I did with a small, informal creative gathering for Culture Night 2021, which was back in September. It was actually a great thing to do because many of the questions are the ones I am asked anyway and also it made me think a little of the “whys” and “wherefores” of Zany Mountain. Special shout out to TJ for recording and to the lovely relaxed participants I met on the night, it was a great auld chat. I was going to make a few additions to underline the salient points, but in the end decided it against it, so it’s straight from the horses mouth as it were. Let’s keep it real on the Mountain!

So, tell us where the name of the blog comes from?

Funnily, the original working title of the blog was Earth meets Water, but I don’t think it reflected my personality or was distinctive enough. The name came to me quite suddenly one evening. I grew up on the mountains-the Ballyhouras-in as you know one of Ireland’s highest towns. I lived there until I was 18 but go back frequently for my dose of air. I suppose it’s a bit like growing up in coastal areas, where the sea remains always part of your soul,-the mountain never ever leaves you. Even now I have to get up to height sometimes; it can never be underestimated the power of gazing at the horizon. Of course you never realise that until you leave. I particularly love Sliabh Riabh one of the three mountain peaks that frame the village of Kilfinane, It has magical, calming properties for me and is actually the featured image on the blog. The Zany bit ….well I suppose the blog has an Irish focus and I wanted to capture one of our most amazing qualities-the craic, ya know that madcap flying sense of humour we have when we are not melancholic or giving out! Ha, I don’t think craic would have worked in the title. I suppose to be Zany is also to be maybe a bit unconventional too; to see things in a slightly different way.

You put thought into that title…..

Yeah and funnily one big part of the work is writing the titles and headings for the posts, I often spend more time on coming up with a fitting title than on the post itself-I guess it’s the sentence that summarises and draws in!. Sometimes it can even be one word, which can be more difficult than a sentence.

What is the theme of the blog?

In the “About” blurb in the blog, I state that it is about nature, the community, the self and Ireland. That sums it up pretty neatly but to tell the truth, aside from that it has led me to other areas-like I’ve spoken about mental health, motherhood, spirituality, friendship among many other themes. I’ve often heard people say that there is a seasonality to the posts and certainly in the earlier days I wrote in the seasons as it were. I’ve written about places too-Ireland is very rich in that it provides such diversity and inspiration in the landscape. I think as well because I live one place and am from another, and also have strong ties with Cork, Clare and Kerry of course, I am very open to describing and getting a sense of places. Sometimes I’ll write for a request or a specific theme; I wrote a lot of posts about the pandemic and the lockdowns, as I felt it was something that I wanted to record for maybe the next generation or as a way of processing the feelings about all of that. I also say in the “About” section that I was going to see where the creative journey would take me and you know honestly, it took me to places and people I never expected, which is wondrous to me. I don’t really write about politics and religion-I often think convictions and opinions around these areas are often deeply held and therefore personal and sometimes that can be divisive-there are loads of blogs with a focus on those topics, though.

So, where does the inspiration come from-this question is of particular interest to the group here, many of whom are starting their creative journey

You know that’s really fantastic that people are, just to say! Nature is a big inspiration, I mean how can it not be in a way-when you grow up on the mountains, it is natural for you to observe , to feel part of nature in your blood. You don’t even realise it but you understand instinctively the rhythm of the seasons and you have respect for the thing that is bigger than us all, nature. On my daily meanderings I snap away on my phone-even a small thing like a leaf or a tree or a colour even will lead to inspiration. It must be a bit like mood boards -I think they call them in maybe the likes of the interior design world. I’m also inspired by snippets or conversations, words, experiences, maybe even by things going on in Ireland. The word thing is interesting-I’m obsessed by them. A friend of mine had a word on their FB feed and it was so colourful, I thought I am definitely going to work that into a post, somehow.

Other times words or inspiration will strike from absolutely nowhere or a place I can’t explain. A few years ago the word loneliness sort of stalked me, I kept seeing it, hearing about it, both from friends and on the internet. I wrote the word in my journal where I sketch out the blogs and ended up building a post around it. I truly love when this happens as I think that is true, unstoppable creative flow.

Thanks for that-a few questions now about specific posts out of interest-what is the most widely read one?

A quick check of my Word Press App tells me it is one called A Prayer to the Universe -I’m so glad it is this one.It is based on a loving kindness meditation I wrote during Lockdown-it was a pretty bleak, grey, isolating time-I’m a firm believer in intentions and I actually wrote it to feel some hope. Personally it is one I know by heart as it forms part of my own meditations, particularly before sleep. Just a quick point though which is interesting too about the posts-I never know which ones will resonate or will be swinging doors ha, some seem to connect very well with people and others no one will read, this is part of the creative or writing challenge for sure, but is often inexplicable, i actually think that is curious and sort of amazing though.

What are you favourite of all the published posts?

I’m glad you said published as only a quarter of them make publication. I was sent these questions yesterday and I thought -oh no I’m going to have to scroll back and see-but instead I just let my mind settle and saw what floated to the top! Funnily the posts I have most affection for, for want of a better word, were both written in the early days in 2015, for two different reasons. I think at the time I was really excited and energised by the creating. The first of these was The God of Small Irritations and really it was about mindfulness but also ridding ourselves of the small things that make us feel uncomfortable or irritated-they can be the small niggles as such. At the time I had very young children and a madly stressful job and there was all sorts of other pressures going on-one of those overwhelming phases of life and I honestly had lost my sense of self -Kathryn was someone over there or someone in the future I was trying to constantly catch up with. It’s a common experience that we can all relate to. It was a useful post for me and even now-years later when things become stressful I think of it and remind myself. From a purely writing perspective it flowed just really nicely, which trust me rarely happens!

The second one is Of mountains and roots. -this was a post I wrote about my roots growing up in the mountains and how it gave me a foundation for life. It was shared on a local FB page at home, and even now I get emotional thinking about it-I got messages from people from that tiny little community in Limerick from all over the world-I remember a man in his late 70s, living in the US sending me just the nicest message about how he had such vivid memories of the place and describing just this longing homesickness at times. You know I have both cried and laughed writing some posts-you are really pouring yourself into some of them and that was one that made me emotional even writing it-not to mind the unexpected things that happened afterwards. I loved it because the post had connectivity, real emotional resonance.

Have you any posts you dislike or found difficult to write?

I cannot say I dislike one single post, some of them are not great, but to me personally every one is something I put an effort into creating and I’m proud of all the posts for better or worse. There was a two part post-The Past is a Foreign Country and Everything Ordinary is Blue -and yes they were tricky and difficult. This was about I suppose my experience of depression-a particularly tough episode. I just got so many messages from people which was very generous of so many of them, describing their own experiences. And I got overwhelmed to the point I thought of shutting up shop-closing the blog. I thought if you are going to write about matters or difficult issues like this, you have a responsibilty as such to others. I hope I am describing it properly. Funnily from a writing perspective, it flowed so easily, once I started. In the aftermath of this I spoke to a few writing mentors and peers and realised this overwhelm of -funnily- successful posts was surprisingly common-maybe one gently suggested, there was a fear of never writing as effecting a post again. It was so interesting and immersive as a total writing experience. Some other posts are a nightmare, I literally wrestle with them-off the top of my head I cannot think of an example-because there are too many wrestlers as I call them!

I know you laughed at this when we sent you the questions yesterday-but why do you write?

I laughed for sure , ha! It’s such a deceptively simple question but it is actually complex and multi layered. the truth is there is no definitive answer and I am still working that out, but I will provide you with some reasons as to why I do.

Firstly-my own background -my mother was an English teacher who really loved the subject, we were always surrounded by books and stories and literature so it was pretty natural for us to be exposed to words from a tiny age. Not only that though-we lived at the back of the shop my family ran and it was a madly busy house, there were always neighbours and friends coming and going and with them their stories; I have several fond memories of loads of gathered around the “last supper” table in our chaotic kitchen and just talking and sharing tales. I particularly remember the folklore stories, Ireland is really rich in story telling and we love to talk.
In myself I do have a vivid imagination -I did even as a small child love to write little plays and stories and poetry and that. That hasn’t changed, I’m constantly writing stories and posts in my head and I’m a natural storyteller in my soul and daily life.

I suppose personally the real reason I set up the blog was to give myself a little courage or to be braver in a sense . At the time it was a really turbulent and pressurised time in my life and I think in Ireland in general. I felt like I wasn’t living really, more existing at the time. And in a sense when you are in this space for a while your confidence can take a dent-my latent shy streak was very pronounced at the time, and I felt a little voiceless. I suppose writing the blog and actually publishing something was terrifying (still is at times) but it’s a good barrier to push through. And it has definitely brought myself back and improved my confidence entirely.

There are also more reasons for writing that are mysterious. I sometimes feel that the creative person has -I don’t know how to describe it other than an interior voice-a nagging. It’s a bit like remember when they used to say nuns and priests had vocations, a calling. A calling to create in this case. My inner voice totally nagged me for years, decades even. I know I’m also very drawn to other creative people too-no matter what their calling, whether that’s poets, artists, musicians, jewellery makers whatever. I’m just drawn to that ability to almost manifest something out of the inner workings of the mind or the heart. They are my people.

I’m an extrovert person who thrives on connection and social interaction with others and certainly I’ve loved the connectivity of the writing when it happens. That has been hugely important aspect for me personally.I will say the writing has become more difficult rather than easy -but that is a good thing because it shows there is development, change and learning in the work -I spend more time crafting blogs for want of a better word these days

And finally and this is the simple thing, I just love words!

A little bit about you now-you mentioned you don’t live where you are from in Limerick?

I live on the county line between Dublin and Meath. On one side is the city-I love Dublin, the people, the banter, the culture and history. It’s a place I feel utterly comfortable in my skin in. I do think of the Jocyean quote often, “When I die Dublin will be written on my heart” I’ve written a lot about the Dublin experience.

Meath is somewhere I am spiritually drawn to. Much of it reminds me of Limerick with the rich green landscape and rolling hills. I love the meadow lands, ancient sites, trees and the way things grow in a tangled hurry. There is something in the air in Meath; a connection to our past like an ancient thread, something that cannot be defined. Maybe it’s a thin place. My very, very first public post was written after spending a winter solstice morning, welcoming the sun on the Hill of Tara in 2014-it’s a place that draws me, and resets me endlessly. Renewed by the Solstice is the post. However my heart is Limerick, there is only one jersey I wear like, ha.

What’s the day job?

I’m in change management in the public sector in Dublin-simply put I work on a team of people that help staff and departments manage change to improve services. It’s varied.

Kathryn,thanks so much for coming here today and giving up your time. A few people have remarked there is great generosity of spirit in the posts and also love the posts that describe a sense of place. Also thank you for giving an insight to your own creative thoughts and journey- finally what is next on this journey for Zany Mountain?

Thanks so much, that is a wonderful thing to hear. I think when doing a personal blog you are conscious of you know, it not being self absorbed -so it is wonderful to hear about of a universal human connection. That has been really the message from this experience of writing it for me. I would say to anyone who wants to start a creative journey-just start, like it will not be easy at times, sometimes it is very hard, emotional even but it’s ultimately worth it and can be really joyous and fulfilling. Zany has brought wonderful places and people to me and even experiences, I don’t regret a second of the work.

As to the future; I’d like to think there are a lot more places to explore on Zany Mountain. I also write a small bit of fiction and I’d love to develop that further-but it is I am finding, different again!

Thank you all-I am happy for anyone here to give me a shout anytime about the creating-there’s also quite a few posts about the process of creating if you want to read them. Part of own early journey here : The Process and the draw to other creative people I talked about here: Other Creative People are my Oxygen.

(Ends)

Contacts:

IG @Kateanne101

Blog FB- View from Zany Mountain

FB-Kathryn O’Sullivan

Til next time

Kat

Madrugada

Don’t you just love that word? It’s so musical. It’s actually not an English word at all but Spanish slang for the early hours between midnight and dawn. The original title was actually completely different but it didn’t fit. To tell the absolute truth, nothing fit about the writing this summer. I went through my usual cyclical phase of Will I shut down this blog? Can I write? What’s the point? Who am in all of this? Is it time to leave Zany Mountain forever? But in the middle of all of these questions and fogginess and let’s face it, a crisis of confidence, one thing continued to happen. The stories kept coming, the lines kept forming, my poor battered journal still had the scribblings of some might call a mad woman-words would come and I would jot them-little ideas, notations, doodles, snippets of conversations. At this juncture I would like to seriously thank my writing pals who kept encouraging-“keep writing Kat, doesn’t need to be published, just KEEP writing!” -so I did, not matter how little it was -actually when stuck for paper and a phone one day I jotted down a lovely new word on the back of my hand-which I have actually tried to incorporate into this blog. Anyway, I usually write in the season as it were but not this time as while this piece of writing would not let me go, I also struggled with the post-so it is retrospectively set against the backdrop of what I call the Great Irish July Heatwave of 2021.

2.40 am. It’s a fitful night in mid July on the Meath border. There is not a breath or a rustle of a leaf-the heat is powerful. I’m not a heatwave person-I’m a mountain woman-more suited to mist and cold hewn rocks. Without any hope of sleep I decide to do what the experts tell you, get up. I grab a bottle of water and slip out the back. For a minute I sit and pause. It is a truly wondrous night. A golden, ionic calming full moon suspended over the suburban fences. Fairy lights twinkling across gardens and sheds. An inky, yet glowing night sky. Could you capture that particular shade of blue I muse ? Surely not, it’s designed by heaven itself. The air is thick and soupy- so dense you could nearly grab handfuls of it. Even in this moment of peace my heart faintly throbs with human anxiety. Do you learn to eventually live with anxiety I wonder or is it just the case for some people, it hums even at a low frequency always in the background?

The door creaks open and out softly pads Minnie. The small dog. Unlike her companion Harley who is bumbling and hapless in his eternal puppy affections, Minnie is more intuitive and considered in her love. She hops up on my lap, I stroke her fluffy head and run my hand down the length of her back. She looks at me, eyes half closed, content, sighing. I wonder about the geneaology of this breed of dog-the Shih Tzu. An ancient breed, bred by Tibetan monks for Emperors and royalty. I consider the nobility in Minnie’s line-it’s the elegant way she sits, walks, watches. A true little lion.

Our silent reverie is broken by a rustling on the lawn. I know by the speed and bumbling pace it is a hedgehog. I wonder how it got into our completely enclosed back garden -what little secret little tunnels and thriving kingdoms must exist between all our gardens for it to land at this spot? Is it the same hedgehog as the one out the front, who we have imaginatively christened Hedge? Minnie, normally becoming a true and very loud fierce lion at the hint of enemy outsider invasion, uncharecteristically is silent and watchful.

Then something extraordinary happens. The hedgehog joins us at my feet and stops and watches calmly. Suddenly it is just the three of us beings, looking at each other, human, canine and hedgehog. The earth stops spinning, the air thins, the anxiety stops throbbing-everything just feels as it should be on this earth right now in this gentle minute. And in a strange way, every thing and every feeling in the background disappears to nothing.

I shake my head and the momentary spell is broken. The hedgehog turns and coddiwomples off, MInnie gives a low growl, the smell of cigarette smoke wafts from a doorway nearby, the fairy lights burn bright again. A little over come, a tear slips down my cheek and I brush it away-“you’re so silly sometimes Kat” I admonish myself

I was thinking of this moment the following day. My knowledge of twentieth century psychologists is scant. I searched in my mind-was that momentary suspension what Freud called a nodal moment? No that as it turns out is something different. And then I came across Maslow in my quest to explain my experience. I think what happened was what he refers to as a moment of perfection, a peak experience as it were, where everything inexplicably falls into place or dissolves into the moment, where the Universe, all of it, seems truly in harmony, it’s hidden meanings revealed. Rare as these moments are, they do happen, and when they do they need not be understood, but cherished, to remain tucked in away in your soul forever.

I wonder why I cried after it happened. And then I thought to myself, “you’re not silly at all Kat”. For in this time of longing, loss, love and loneliness, in that Madrugada, I know what I felt.

It was peace.

Til next time mo chairde,

All my love and more

Kat

So now, what’s next?

Left, right and centre I see my international friends being vaccinated. To see every last friend no matter where they roam with this little piece of armour, makes me happy to see them protected. It means we are all closer to meeting in person, again soon.

I’ve given out at length at the slow roll out of vaccinations here in Ireland. It is very slow-but somehow it struck me-has it given us time to think about how will we emerge back into society? Everyone else in the world seems to have suddenly been thrown in.

I’ve had an incredibly mixed experience through this-I was one of those out and about people in the world. A person for whom a chat with a stranger and an interest in people was my life basically. A working woman, balancing kids and work-with an ease that now seems extraordinary.

People confuse extroversion as being loud and totally out there. I’m actually quiet and shy (yes really; the reason I set up the blog was to improve my confidence)

But I get my energy from others-discourse, craic, the bus, the shop, the fellow dog walkers-basically. My interactions have been so limited because of all of this-I have noticed-I have slumped into a a different version of myself. I’ve become a lot more timid and sort of lost and almost afraid of the outside world-14 months of Lockdown has definitely done a number.

My point in all of this-is this has been more humanly hard that we can even admit. It’s probably the hardest thing some of us have done. And it’s ok to not dive back head first. I feel a degree of agrophobia-the Covid thing has not gone away.

My feeling is take time to reorient yourself, it’s not going to be at all easy-at all, I just know it.

We might need to learn to be Irish again-

We will

Til next time

Kat

The Bookshelf

I confess I’ve gone a bit -as the Dubs say-“aul wan” lately. I can’t read an actual book -I love a physical book but my recent eyesight -well it just does not allow for such flipparies (did I invent a new word-anything is possible, here on the mountain)

Anyway since I don’t own a castle and books take up space-I did a massive clear out and now I’m on Kindle and Kindle App-it’s great craic -I can magnify words at will. Seriously my millennial friends-if ye haven’t arrived here-it’s all ahead of ye…

In my abandonment of physical books-something happened me- it was almost mystical -there were some I just could not let go of. I felt so guilty about abandoning books, I could not look at the bookshelf for years. But last week I looked at the bookshelf, really looked at it and here is what I found…..and here’s the thing I saw the jigsaw pieces of my life. and my instinctive need to keep not only books but memories..

So here we go….there are 200 books on the Blasket Islands-literally every last book written on the place, I have it-well with a surname like O’Sullivan-where would you be going. I have an original copy of Twenty Years a Growing with it’s beautiful hard cover and it’s map of Great Blasket-Kerry and Limerick forever-my soul places. A strange yet very grounding feeling to know your soul places..

An ancient and yellowed copy of Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel-could a story ever give much happiness and love-pagan and catholic Ireland wrapped up in a simple and joyous story.

Cookbooks-tomes of them -my tendency to worry has been tempered by love of cooking-the chop of vegetables soothes my ever racing mind -ole faves- Darina Allen, Hugh Fearney Whittingstall, Jamie Oliver, thumbed and stained, the mark of a good recipes

A Daphne Du Maurier fine and sturdy glossy and green hardback called The Parasites-this is the book I grabbed in a fire-when my parents moved home I wanted to keep something of my Mam who is an english teacher-it’s not my fave Daphne story -(that would be The Birds) but there is something solid and reassuring about that book with it’s beautiful green hardback and gold lettering.

Every last book written by Marian Keyes and all signed -you know I want to be the next Marian Keyes!

A travel book from every place I ever visited and I did see the world.

A few whimisical stories for my whimsical, romantic, flighty self-The Food of Love and Remembering Light and Stone.

Art books about Rembrandt, Michaelangelo and Van Gogh-purchased by my mother on her trips as a young girl around Europe.

An animated version of Animal Farm-well thumbed-my very first introduction to questioning and wondering about how the world works.

Lord of the Rings- and Harry Potter-books that change and expand the mind….with wonderful story telling.

In the middle of it all I found a little photo album from 30 years ago-there was I and my sisters-glowing and smooth of skin

I’m so glad I kept them every one of those books-they are the pieces of my life-and I marvel at how instinctively I knew what to keep.

We think we don’t know ourselves at all but really we do in the end.

Til next time

Kat

Spring Edit

Oh my God since they day I set up the blog-all of hitting for seven years now-I’ve wanted to use the word edit, in a seasonal post. It seems so cool, fasionable, so vogueish and then you remember…..you’re not one bit cool at all (actually is cool still a term?)

I don’t know kids if it is-so here is, at the risk of creating fads around the world is the 2021 Spring-oh joy- Zany Mountain -edit.

The highlight of my day has become replacing the bird feeder. I’ve started to become mithered if it empties down. Are they ok I wonder? it’s got to the point whereby there are no wild birds in the garden anymore. They used to scatter. Now they don’t give a feck- they just wait and look and give an odd weary side eye -even they are bored. They don’t even flap away-no siree-can’t be arsed. (It’s surprisingly nice-we’re all getting along, nature, human, birds dogs) Minnie still feels protection is needed against the magpies. Wood Pigeons are fine. For now.

I ordered a pair of leopard skin slippers on the internet. I repeat. I ordered a pair of leopard skin slippers off the net. I’m turning into an aul wan. The order was in before I realised what I was doing.

I’m starting to refer to the entire Limerick hurling team as young fellas. Therein lies ruin.

I get down on the floor and tickle the three year old dog who looks like the auldest fella in dog form of all times and realise that-oops not as easy to get off the floor as it used to be

And then it happens-“hey girlfriend-you have the most beautiful skin” And we’re off, talking about skin products like we are on fire.

And don’t you just love that-in our ups and downs we find ways to self deprecate, to worry, to mither and yet in all of this in, our spring days there is someone who goes-Jesus girl-those legs! That hair! that skin!

I am lucky to have female friends who just no matter what, no matter who-no matter how, pick out the positives-even in a pandemic

So let’s be honest here-in the presence of ungainly ankles and too tall for my own skin gracelessness-yes I do have good skin-and my 2021 secret is…

Nivea-I’ve used nothing else for years-I know this is a thing because people ask me all the time about my skin-(but not about the rest of me lol)

So my tip for the spring Edit 2021-is you know what, cling onto the good bits. Accept the bad bits. Hauld onto the pals and the ones you can say to -“do you know what-I feel fecking terrible or not great”

Those who listen to that refrain; hold onto them for they who are the ones who will stay with you forever.

And that’s a promise

Til next time Kat x

The Hope.

My Lockdown mornings are the bleakest of the bleak. I wake at 4 am -and twist and turn until 7 am. In these early Irish February days -the dawn or even the light of day does not rise easily. I lie and twist and think. Will the girls be ok? What about that mess of a utility room? Am I eating properly? Did I make that work deadline? Am I ok? The ennui and overwhelm threatens to descend like a cloud-a grey and threatening thing. The birds are not singing yet and we can’t hear the normal hum of trains and traffic. The rain pours interminably and everything seems washed of colour and joy. The colour of air; of nothingness. The silence reverberates-no children play on the green-traffic does not move, neighbours do not socialise as we did so easily.

“What’s wrong with you” my fellow county neighbour friend of old asks as we put out the bins. He’s the only other person outside my own household I’ve met since before Christmas. He stands back- a little hesitant-I have to force myself to not say to one of my oldest and most faithful friends -“have you mixed with anyone lately ?” No he says-no one but me and the wee dog. Maybe we can form a bubble-does the dog count?” he looks sad- for a normally cheery, upbeat persona -his face is clouded. I just want to put my hand on his shoulder and say “it’s ok lad, the hurling will be back before long” But I can’t. It’s not back.

I don’t know what counts anymore-does putting out the bins count? Does a sad friend count? Do I count?. I’m eternally confused by guidelines and quarantines and isolation and mixed messages. There are days when I can’t take another online meeting-they are a poor substitute for the nuances of the the real thing.

It’s a Thursday and I go to the Supermarket-I am masked and hatted. I feel a tiny bit faint-the heat is incredible. I don’t feel right-I’m off balance, I feel it in my head and feet. I see a young mother with two young daughters-they giggle and laugh and point out things in the way of small children. I smile behind my mask and their mother smiles back-“I miss those days, when they were that age” I say . We bump into each other a few times around the aisles and smile again. I miss that-that tiny interaction with a stranger. I miss it more than I know.

The next morning I take the dogs for a walk. We go by Phibblestown House-the remains of a big estate by here. Passing the old walled garden-and having not met one person on this grey day, low lit day. I have to sit down. I trace the frozen black earth with my boot . I feel my own grey grief rise-slowly, I try and supress it-never works. The dogs snuffle and smell-pleased and oblivious in their innocent freedom

I sit and think of it all. And suddenly I look to the left from my perch on this old ruined wall of this once grand old estate, I imagine all who walked and lived here, and who planted the old apple trees and wild rhubarb. And who tended that old pond-someone had to. And the tears spill up for all we had and all we are and all we will be.

I wipe my eyes and straighten myself up after my indulgent moment of melancholy. I look to my right and there it is.

A crop of tiny snowdrops

And suddenly in this sheltered and ruined place and in our bleak world, I felt hope.

Til next time

Love to you all

Kat

Yes, You Over There

Yes, you over there-I see you

I see you working mother worried about homeschooling

I see you wondering about your anxious first year child

And anxious you-I see your heart beat out of your chest at the thought of another day of this

I see you who throws up before a work Zoom call as you can’t handle the tech and wonder why does every one else seem to know what they are doing

I see you who hasn’t hugged your eighty something Dad in a different county for a year

I see you lonely remote worker whose only social outlet was the office

I see you who wishes they had any job, even a remote one

I see you, who hasn’t experienced a hug or kiss in the longest time

I see you with your racing mind and heartbeat at 3 am on what was it again -a Tuesday morning -or was it Wednesday, who knows these days

I see you-former social butterfly who won’t even leave the front door for fear of catching this invisible thing

I see you- the best friends who fell out over whether or not to take the vaccine-you know I miss you more than you know-you know that, yes I see you

I don’t really see myself anymore in these crazy days

But I see you

And this is enough

Til next time

Kat

Endings and Beginnings

Up here on the mountain-I thought I’d write an end of year post about the lessons 2020 have taught us-and then I shook my head. How mawkish, almost sentimental, I thought. And then I thought again -stop being a fecking eejit. And then I thought even again- actually, do we ever stop learning? Ever like?? Does a human ever relax-I can tell you a human writer never does.

This year taught us none of us have it sussed out. And even if you think you do-you don’t. That’s a promise.

We thought we knew everything, and we had everything and we were grand.

But the thing is -pandemic or not-we don’t have it sussed out. We don’t know what the next day brings or really what the choices of our ancestors have brought us to this point in time -because that’s the point-life is random. We have no idea really where we will turn up or where we will end up or who will saunter in and make you question everything. How even the very essence of love and human interaction can change and evolve and adapt.

Life is random-it always was and will continue to be and for this 2020 gives us a lesson. There are many things beyond our control.

And in a strange way- this is liberating. Here. Now. Us.

Til next time

Kat x

County Lines

Hurling. hurling, hurling, bloody uplifting, heart attack inducing, ancient hurling.

The hurling was off this year. Covid turned everything upside down. The championship-played from May to August, was gone. Now if anyone does not know what hurling is-it’s one of three national sports in Ireland. This one (ok all of them) are riven with passion and heat. Hurling requires warriors at all levels, be it club or county. We have 32 counties on the Island-each with it’s own strength and beauty and to be an Irish person, truly to be an Irish person- is to identify with your county. The one by birth usually is first, (home, home as we refer it to) . You can of course feel the love for your adopted county or the love for your partner’s county or for where your Gran came from.

I’m from deep hurling country. The tiny squiggly bit in Limerick surrounded by Tipp and Cork. I live in Dublin. Dublin is football country. When my girls were small they used to know distinctively they were in Limerick-why? because they would see lads walking down the street cradling the hurley sticks like a third arm. Natural, like. I’m also from an Island community-what I mean by that is I am from a place that does not have a Dublin Road-a place, that’s a destination. This dear readers is a very good place to come from-why? We were a proper community and what did we bond over? Hurling.

This year-the GAA decided to hold the hurling championship, behind closed doors in winter. Winter, like-and winter in Ireland can be savage. Rain, wind and muck-this is what Ireland gives and heaves up in winter. Tough conditions. Many of us Irish people are so grateful for this decision. There weren’t the passionate crowds-and the roads around the stadiums was eerily empty. But around our TV sets we gathered and we shouted and roared and lost out minds and hearts.

I left Limerick 30 years ago. I’m in Dublin now and this place-well it gets to me how much I love my adopted town, because it is an actual love affair. But my heart beats for Limerick and I’m sure if you tapped my veins-the blood would run green and white. It’s hard when you don’t live where you are from-it takes a certain embrace to love where you end up living, not to mention the challenge of building up a network of friends and a community around you. . And that fecking homesickness-a sickness for which there is no cure. I love my Dublin people. My heart sings with a memory in 2018-when in work for the City-a few Dublin folk told me they were raising the Limerick flag on the Quays and come out and see it. It was a moment of shining pride when I had to work very hard to be not overcome by the emotion of it all.

In the the year of 2020; my heart is in Limerick-it always will be

Thank you GAA, Thank you Limerick. Thank you Dublin

Thank you every single county who lined out in 2020.

Til next time

Kat

This post is dedicated to the Limerick and Waterford hurlers, All Ireland finalists 2020.

How Technology, Science and Creativity need to work in Harmony for the Future of Humanity

Fierce mouthful isn’t it, but bear with me.

I’ve a burning confession to make. In January 2020, I first heard of Zoom meetings. I nodded along and pretended to know what my more esteemed and informed (ok, more techie) colleagues seemed to know. Yayy I thought to myself, finally we have discovered a way of having of having speedy meetings! As per usual when it comes to technological advancements, when I heard what it actually meant I was like- in the back of the head. “If we must, for Feck Sake……”

You all know I’m joking-of course we do need technology and as I pretend to be a bit Jen (IT Crowd-if you haven’t seen it- your Netflix binge is sorted for four days) about the whole thing-I do have a six year old blog with fancy features and all. Let’s face it. like, now for ya, as they say in Limerick.

How could I have been more wrong about the whole Zoom/Teams thing though. Holy Jaysus. One year later, we are talking, meeting and indeed solving problems in online meetings like we are actually in the same room. In fact they actually work. I’ve even, proudly have had some Zoom fails. Harley accidentally stood in for me at an online meeting. Christ that dog is worth every last dog treat. Way to go Harl-you might earn your keep yet.

I digress of course-I do have belief in the merit of robust and strong IT systems. I do also have a belief in science and logic. However-I am a a feeler and an intuitive person . This leads to my first point in my summary of 2020; we need both approaches. I love people similar to me, the poets, the feelers, the artists, the dreamy creatives. I do also realise at the end of 2020 that -I also love people the very opposite to me. The rational, the logical, the scientific. You have taught me more than I could ever thank you for-the ability to see outside of myself and see other views. No more has this been magnified in 2020. If you are curious of mind-find those opposite, but compatible with you and truly you will learn so much and how to take a collaborative view. I believe going forward the merging of creativity, feeling, logic and science are the way forward for innovation and indeed humanity.

Sounds deep? You bet it is. But it is also curious, creative, engaging, inspiring, challenging and not one bit easy. What, you expected easy?

Let’s work together in our curious ability to learn and progress in all our view points and talents.

Til next time

Kat

A Prayer to the Universe

I said a prayer the other night

I’m not sure to who or what

All I know is

I said a prayer

for you and me

and us and them

And the City Girlfriends

And the Country Boyfriends

And the lads down South

And the gang up North

And the Dublin 15 witches.

I said a prayer for the Limerick Hurlers

And the Dublin footballers; Mayo too

I said a prayer for the work from home crew;

The colleagues old and new

And for the security guards

The facilities lads

The Tribe

The writing mentors

I said a prayer for the deer in the Phoenix Park

The burst of starlings of an October evening

I prayed for the robin in the back garden

I prayed for the dragonflies

The tiny insects no one sees

I prayed for the seagulls and swans

On the River Liffey

I prayed for them and watched my prayer spread like St Bridget’s cloak on a February day

I saw the rusty leaves flow down the River

I even prayed for them

I watched them flow out to Dublin Bay

To meet the horizon

I prayed for the moment the sky meets the horizon

And I followed my prayer into the sky

Beyond the clouds

Above the atmosphere

Past the moon

And Venus

And Mars in opposition, burning

I prayed until I reached the black outer reaches of existence

Until I reached nothing

And in that inky darkness

I held myself and my own breath

Suspended for hours

In that vast and empty silence

There was nothing; absolutely nothing

Until

The Universe whispered back. ever so softly…….

I said a prayer for you.

Til next time

Kat

Derry and the Zoom Call.

Derry wakes at 5 am. You’d know it was near the height of Summer-those fecking birds and the racket. He hasn’t seen that little robin mind you that used to hop in the back door and look at him from the back step expectedly. Where is she gone he thinks—Sometimes he wonders was she a sign from Mary.  They say that about robins around here. He lumbers downstairs-and puts on the tea.-3 sugars. She used to give out to him for that.  

As he sups he wonders where will I go today? Maybe I’ll collect my auld neighbour  Ritchie and bring him on a spin to the Glen of Aherlow for a pint-we could even swing by Kilfinane and visit that beautiful church.-light a candle and say a prayer. Revel in the silence of the mountains and a holy still echoing place. You’ll always meet someone in that place.  They’ll all chat to you up there. 

Then he remembers. Cocooning. Ah well he sighs; sure Richie will be on in the morning and maybe Judy at the bottom of the road will swing up and talk to him through the window-she’s a great young girl-always asking if she can get the messages or the prescription. Mary was very fond of her altogether. 

The mist lifts and the day reveals itself as sunny and bright. He settles down-he’s after recording the Sunday Game. They are showing the re- runs of old matches-yes; he thinks the Limerick/Cork Munster final from 2019-might as well pretend he doesn’t know the result.  

The phone rings-that will be Richie he thinks. The conversation follows the same pathway as it has for months now. “Any news?” “No news Derry-the hurling is off” “Teresa is driving me mad” Richie says. Derry chuckles-if Mary was here now she’d be driving him insane with the cocooning too. “C’mere” says Ritchie- “I’ve learned about this fantastic thing called Zoom” Ritchie says “listen Derry  we’ve been on to the kids and all- Angela above in Dublin and the grandkids in Sydney and Liam over in London” Jaysus that sounds great Derry thinks-he’ll ask Judy when she lands up.  

They end the phone call with a wave out the window  and the usual “Maybe we’ll get to see Cork play again” he says “God you’d miss the hurling alright” says Ritchie.  

Christie rings-she has that good job in Dublin. Good jobs in Dublin, he thinks-all you’d want for your kids. “Have you used Zoom yet” she asks.  “Maybe we can have a chat on it Dad-it would be great, you could see me and the girls and Thomas and all. “Of course I have” he says, lying.  He tells her that Clare rascal, Mattie across the road-he sent one of those An Post cards they were giving out for free with a dig about the Cork hurling team. He hates to say it-but he loved the day it dropped in the post. He wouldn’t have sent it if he had to pay for the stamp. That tight fecker Mattie.

Ah the lads, Mattie, him and Richie, they used to have the craic and the banter up at O’Malleys or even down here in the sitting room watching the Sunday games. Sometimes that mad Limerick blow in Mary would join them. Jesus the arguments they used to have.  You couldn’t make a cup of tea or anything in case you got a puck in the arm  in the middle of the match and it went everywhere. Hmm he thinks watching out the window. Would there be anything you want more at our age than fun and craic and a hurling match.  He shakes his head-the sadness and loneliness –that grey aching thing-threatens to rise. He gulps it down-he’s too old to let it rise, not now, not anytime. Especially while cocooning alone. 

 Judy pulls up in the silver Fiesta-that gracious friendly girl. She demonstrates Zoom through the window.  It takes ages and it mightn’t work. He listens intently. He writes it all down.  He hasn’t one fecking clue what he is doing but sure might as well chance it.  She’s good pals with that Mikey-the Limerick hurler. Jesus he’d  love a chat with him. He tells Judy when she asks “who would you like to talk to Derry?” ” Mikey Foley” he says without hesitation

 He takes out his medals, Under 16, Minor Cork. He waits.    

He lines up the laptop and the medals. He presses the Zoom app, almost shaking. And suddenly he is there-Mikey –long of limb, pale of skin, athletic-a true Limerick hurler. He almost glows. Derry says, almost shyly “hiya Mikey-Judy just set us up there on this Zoom yoke of a thing. I’ve always admired you even though you play for Limerick” Mikey laughs-hurling is nothing in Munster without a bit of banter. “It’s lovely to speak to you Derry-since I’ve moved over the border, I hear you were a hurling legend in your day” they die laughing-at the irony of it-him a North Cork champ; Mikey a limerick  All Ireland finalist.   

Derry shows him the medals and Mikey goes “well done Derry-sure none of us would have picked up a hurley stick without the likes of you keeping it going”. Derry feels not the grey  ache of loneliness  but the warm rise of affection. 

They sign off after a long chat and Derry, former King of North Cork club hurling says on Zoom of all places-”Thank you Limerick”-and Limerick whispers back ever so softly. “Thank you Cork” 

No borders now.

PS. Mikey and Derry continued their Zoom calls and managed to meet in real life down the town and even had a pint in O’Malleys.   Their unlikely friendship may not last through the 2020 championship…..well we’ll see… 

Thoughts on Dragonflies.

I actually am trying to write a post on robins-I’ve so many stories about them; I’ll get it out yet-like a lot of things at the moment-things are delayed, frustrated. Not flowing. Sometimes I think it’s me; but from chatting to all of my good friends from all walks of life; it’s us. Globally, we are suffering. We are tired. People who never snapped at each other in a million years have snapped at each other.

Here’s the thing-if you are snapping at someone who is in your life and you are still friends-even by a thread-the reason why they are your friends is because they made it safe for you to be yourself; even if they want to bury you and frankly shove a hurley up your arse.

So we need to evolve-and start thinking outside ourselves. I’ve become a bit self absorbed when I’m stressed-I’ll admit that. And folks-I am stressed.

If at the moment you are going in and out of work as an essential worker-you are taking things into your own hands. It’s grand for a while and if you have a sense of duty, you’ll do it. BUT you are taking things into your own hands. Life is bleedin’ hard enough without this. I know-we all fecking know. The other day I was so tired-I had to grip the desk, haul myself up and plaster on a smile. Every cough and sniffle-makes you scared. Anxiety anyone?

What has this do with dragonflies? Everything. I was on the famous 39 A after a tough day-in a daze. I was so, so tired. I’ve a sort of a childish angle to myself, where I have to sit on the front seat-and there it was. A dragonfly-dipping, diving, following the bus, free as anything. It followed me to my bus stop. I got off and did my twenty minute walk. And then again-one zipped by me by the time I got to the house.

I’m not sure if it’s the same one. I’m not sure if I’m cracking up. It’s possible. I’m not sure if there is anything going on in the breeding world of dragonflies.

And here’s the thing-I’ve a fear of flying creatures.

Let’s face our fears gang-and mind ourselves. Ok?

Until next time

K

Mossie.

Mossie slopes to the door-he’s slowed down now. The auld hip is hurting him. 82, now, getting on. But at 5 am every morning he opens the cottage door. The sea air rushes in-constant; no matter what the season. He looks at the sea washing over the bay. He thinks as he has always done, tide ever changing.

Every morning, he feels the same regret. He thinks of Mairead. She’s down in Dooradoyle in Limerick -in the nursing home. He hears of her now and then. He pulls the regret into his lungs and breathes it out again. 62 years of of failed chances. Sure they were told they were never good enough for each other.

He puts on the tea and looks at the broken trailers at the front of the house. There is a bit of streaming green damp down the gable end. He thinks to himself-he was always a great man for mending things, he still is. The young fellas come to him from around the county. “Fix the tractor Mossie if you don’t mind” they’d ask. He was always delighted to see them. “Will you have a can of Guinness before you’d go-he’d shout back” “Thanks Mossie, but no” they’d yell back.

Sometimes he’d wander down the pier to to talk to Eamonn. Eamonn is a busy man in fairness-he’ll say hello but you can’t be bothering him-he runs the boat trips under the cliffs.

There’s a fancy seafood restaurant next door-it’s a pub though really; at least it once was. The locals congregate there at the counter. He wanders up-canvas trousers; Massey Ferguson cap. At least you can share your regrets into a pint of Guinness with the lads who never left. Only three of them remain-Mikey and Paddy and himself, having the craic on the surface. Supping silently into their pints with sadness in their eyes, but still remaining constant.

Lockdown has fecked things up for this seaside village. Where are the distractions Mossie thinks. The braying privileged golfers. The fragrant pretty Limerick women with their white wine in blue and white linen. He wandered up to the fancy seafood restaurant that was once a pub. It’s closed. He tell’s himself it’s the virus-he can see the glaring yellow sign.

Mossie wanders back-there might be a can of Guinness in the fridge. He looks at the broken down furniture and the yellowing pile of newspapers. The 14 year old Jack Russel-Mahon wanders in and nuzzles him. Even he looks faded and old.

His day brightens up when one of the young fellas from Kilfenora rocks in. It’s that good looking young fella, Shay. Kind. Time for others outside himself. “I’m heading to Aldi in Ennistymon-I’ll get your messages for you Mossie” he says. Mossie asks-“Can I come with you”. “Ah no” Shay says-“social distancing rules”.

Mossie stands at the cottage door the following morning. He watches the horizon and boats. A car pulls up. “I’ve your messages Mossie” says the young Polish girl from Lidl. She’s with Shay. Mossie doesn’t know what to say, but his face beams. “Come in lads, I’ve made tea”. And they both say something beautiful but powerful. “We will, Mossie”

Just for One Day

Wakes up at 6.11 am Every damn morning. Actually woke up at 1.11am and 3.41 am and 5 goddamn 51 am, but that’s another story. Knows one has to pull oneself together to face the day. Never works, these days. Somehow has to pull something out of somewhere, any where, deep down to get up, face commute and day. Prays he won’t mention Covid stats. Actually says a prayer to the Universe. Doesn’t work. Gets blow by blow account of Covid stats and daily unblessed Trump update. Dublin, Limerick and Kildare. Home counties you could nearly say. Good to know. Turns on shower. Shower not working. immersion is fecked, Forgot to turn on heat. Still cold water is better than no water. Coconut shampoo- love that particular smell, reminds one of not tropical isles but of that yellow sweet gorsey smell from the Ballyhoura mountains. Realises no coconut shampoo left and that it has been actually super hard to procure these days. Wonders is this another supply issue because of Covid-who the feck, as they say, knows.

Waits at 39 a bus stop. Chat with the commuting buds. No talk of anything but Covid. Still, good natured and full of chat. Gets on 39 a. Not one bit of social distance in evidence. Tells commuting bud of 10 years standing am getting off at next stop as much as I like their company; I’m not standing within an inch of them in these times. Two metres would be no problem. In a supreme risky manouever for a D15 commuter, gets off the 39a on the 39, the slow coach to China (don’t mention China!!!)-sorry Innes Quay.

Arrives at Innes Quay. Takes off stupid purple mask with annoying elastic with abandon-needs to gasp in some air from the sea. Caffeine urge. Pours coffee from automated machine in corner shop and slight reddening, heated panic rises- checks pockets-where the fuck is the mask. Approaches Sunni at counter, protected behind glass so thick no diamond could ever scratch the surface. Relies on smile; points to face-sorry , bud-forgot. As gracious and polite, pandemic or not, he gives back his winning smile and says, no worries Zany-you always wear one. Notices out of corner of eye, annoying mask on Ormond quay, being tossed around with abandon by that bloody grey resident gull. Wonders to self as a person who animals and children usually like what fecking went wrong with seagulls? Maybe one was a gull egg robber in a previous life.

Crosses O’Donovan Rossa Bridge. Salutes O’Donovan Rossa and all who have Dublin bridges named after them. Dawn to the east and sparkling water. No time for reprieve, hurry, hurry. Says hello to security guard, always smiling. A bit of a banter about the new face shields-not too much mind you-we know there were days of freedom before this. Pumps the sanitiser. Notes to self, one prefers the foamy as opposed to the watery sanitiser. Dries more quickly. Wonders how one has become the kind of person who discerns about, let’s face it, sanitiser.

Day passes-busy out. Some workplaces are still open, even public sector ones. Lunchtime arrives. No one to have lunch with. Goes to neatly socially distant canteen. Feels a tiny bit exposed so returns to temporary desk to eat joyless sandwich, alone. There are only a few in. It’s lonely.

Takes the slow coach home, all smiles, dogs going mental, Behind the bedroom door, lets out silent scream, for a few minutes. Goes down stairs and makes an announcement, Tonight, just for tonight there will be no talk of Covid. No numbers. No NPHET. No nasty comments on newspaper articles. No reading of articles, no Mehole or Varadkar or bleedin Ronan. No Facebook debate. No country versus city. No effing Six One news. No talk of Lockdown. In celebration of this announcement, eats 3 twirl sticks dipped in hot chocolate, followed by half a pack of strawberry sherberts and buffallo Hunky Dorys for dinner. It feels great. We watch the stupid but most lovable dogs play with a bath towel. The kids laugh and giggle. Autumn shafts of evening sunlight bathe the wooden floor, dust particles suspended in glitter. For a minute all is golden and forgotten. Harley peeks out from under towel and looks like a cloistered nun or Yoda or a Franciscan Monk by turns. Both dogs get the zoomies hearing their humans laugh-it has been a while after all.

Wakes up the next day. Feels curiously refreshed. Before it all starts again.

It was good to bury the head in the sand. Just for a few hours.

This is hard folks. Bury your head in the sand now and then. We need to preserve our sanity, in even the smallest ways.

Dedicated to all on the frontline.

My love as always,

Kat

The God of Tiny Joys.

In 2015, I wrote this post The God of Small Irritations. It’s actually one of my most popular posts. Oh God how innocent it seems, when small irritations were the bane of life.

Before I start and as a digression, I’ve been back at work as an essential worker on top of other usual job, since the 30th of June, in Dublin City Centre, in the middle of a pandemic, like. As you do. In bleedin’ 2020, the year when anything can happen. We don’t do anything by halves on Zany Mountain, oh no. I’ll talk a little bit more about what working in Dublin looks like in a pandemic in a later post, but I hope it goes in some partial way of explaining my absence from the writing.

Ah what am I saying. Tell the truth lads, ye’ve seen through it already, haven’t ye. It wasn’t the pandemic. It wasn’t the back pain. I lost my confidence with the writing. I’d proclaim with great enthusiasm and abandon-I’ve just had a great idea for a post for the blog, lads!!!!. I’d put it on the FB page. I ‘d think it was a great theme altogether. I’d start formulating it and then…..nothing. I couldn’t physically move the pen to the page. My ideas were half formed; disappearing into ether and frankly the colourless flow of nothingness. The colour of blank, decaying air. And all around me my beautiful creative friends were creating and writing and doing amazing things and me? looking at a blank page. Immobile. Deadened, almost.

Was it no wonder I thought to myself -sure Zany, you’re back in the thick of it in a pandemic. You’ve had an injury. You’re an essential worker.

But really- they were just excuses my friends, excuses. Really, the doubts crept in and I started to think I wasn’t good enough for even Zany Mountain itself. That tiny voice. Think you can write Limerick? You haven’t a hope, prayer or clue-ya silly auld eejit.

But in all of this in the tiny part of my creative spirit left-subconciously, I was creating. I started taking photographs. Now I have no bloody idea about the technicalities about photography and I have a reconditioned Iphone 6, the height of technology in my eyes, but laughable to others. I did realise something. I do have an eye for a subject and colour and a story and I love sharing with the world, via words and imagery.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Thanks for sticking this far folks-pints of black on me once the pubs have opened (Think am joking-think again!)

While I spoke of the small, yet first world irritations in 2015, in 2020, I want to speak of the tiny joys. Yes, we are in a pandemic. Yes we are terrified. But when I scroll back through my photos which I shared on FB-I spot the most beautiful things. The green copper domes on redbrick buildings in Dublin. Have you ever looked up and noticed them? Penney’s on Henry Street; start there. Top of the Four Courts too with their statues of liberty and justice-have you seen them silhouetted against a Dublin dawn? The way the Liffey, muddy and silted and wild but still some days looks like a glass mirror? The markings on a seagull on the wall of a river-if you look closely enough there are wild variations on their feathers. Dublin bridges. My favourite being Grattan, with it’s lilac planters. Whoever planted them, I assume a colleague, took such care to make them so beautiful, a splash against the grey.

And there are other things-each smaller but more beautiful than the next. The faded, slightly scruffy door on Manor Street, with the trace of the most beautiful remnants of turquoise paint-that colour, in itself, that you resolve to trace down. The colleague who brings you a cappucino or a bar of chocolate as they know you’ve been flat out and you have that particular caffeine want. The peculiar skin of a russet apple, accidentally growing in the garden in Meath; the coo and subtle soft blue grey colour of the wood pigeon at dawn. The scent of hops on the wind and lavender dying back on an August evening.

You see this is what I’ve learned. These are tough times. But in it there are the most amazing tiny signs of joy and beauty. If you look for negativity and ugliness and fear-you will find it. It has a habit of breeding. No matter what era we are in. But thus, by this formula, so does beauty, love, colour, joy and creativity. I know which one I need to choose and so do you.

Til next time,

Solidarity to you all

Kat.

My world Suddenly Shrunk to the Size of a Pea

My good friend and neighbour posts a status update. His back is gone. Out of action. More locked down than you could possibly believe. I exclaim back-me too! We are the exact same age and demographic.

Lockdown was always going to be problematic for the likes of me. My job relies on human interaction, social nuances, networking and reading people. Very little of this can be achieved in a makeshift home office in Clonee. Psychologically of course- I’m a free spirited extrovert-valuing my family but also my independence. I never signed up for at home working-it was never what I wanted. But of course needs must and we do what we have to do.

That was bad enough in itself-until about 6 weeks ago I developed a nagging pain. A few days later I awoke in agony. A deep shivery kind of pain. But of course believing I had a high pain threshold, labour anyone?-I kept going for another week. Until Mr Zany Mountain suggested-we might have to go to the GP as I couldn’t actually drive or lift an actual cup without wincing. I knew it wasn’t muscular-this was too deep. My first visit to GP was actually horrendous. I couldn’t drive myself. I was in so much pain in the waiting room I couldn’t start a chat with anyone, which is my usual way-I just remember trying to focus on not crying in public on one of those socially distanced chairs.
An efficiently organised (and terrifying-for me) MRI revealed very bad wear and tear on my shoulder and neck area. The result probably of teenage years being spent flung of horses, stress and several years sitting at a desk. A tall person’s affliction also mentioned.

My world, so expansive and free and active- suddenly shrunk to the size of a pea on the double.  Lockdown on the double. My two meter distance confined to my height and personal bubble. My circuit of life reduced to the sofa, bed,  bathroom and oh the GP’s surgery.

I coped by exercising my imagination -writing fiction with one hand. I coped with social media and messages with friends from all walks of life and all over the world. I coped with watching the birds in the garden. There are a few characters there for sure-the hopeful blackbird, the cheeky starlings, the peaceful pair of wood pigeons and that damn bully magpie who the robins just ignore. Good for them.

Things are improving and I know there are people much worse off than me. I have tried to remind myself that sitting still is not such a bad thing in this crazy world after all

So over the next few weeks-I will publish on the blog-the short stories one by one. I hope you love my characters as much as I did.

Very many thanks to all who sent good wishes and kept in touch . Zany Mountain sends every good wish and healing vibe back 100 fold.

But you all know that-

Til next time

Kat

The Wonderful Joy of Poetry

Before I start-I’m not really a poet. I struggle enough to keep up with the blogging-and my recent foray into fiction. My first writings were poems though. I am the daughter of an english teacher-my mum Bridget-gave us a love of poetry and language and meaning . I’m the only one of my siblings without an english degree. Lucky us-gifted with the joy of words and poetry. I even love poems in other languages-Irish poetry has this beautiful romanticism that is almost other worldy.

One of the joys of Zany Mountain? The creative chain-I write something-someone shares-another person pings back and shares their work. It is of endless joy to me to see new work; we often become friends.

Lately-poetry has poured in-from all over the world. I’m possibly biased-I’ve actually got to admit I read and collect poetry as a hobby.

My favourite poet of all times-Patrick Kavanagh-my favourite poem? Epic. That line “God’s make their own importance” Nobody captures rural Ireland like Paddy Kavanagh. And then there is dreamy but realistic Yeates. “Tread softly as you tread on my Dreams” I mean is there not a more perfect line.

And how can anyone resist the Kubhla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge -what a fantastical piece of imaginative, twisted work.

Everything I refer to is of times past.
But how the poetry has rushed back and in to fill the empty cracks of our modern deflation and anger. The true poets capture loss, joy, love, agony, nostalgia, romance, rage and place.
It captures it simply -the words are few. The impact is mighty and often global.

How I am loving the rush of poetry.

My oldest daughter is named Dervla. Irish translation “Daughter of the Poet”.

I rest my case. Please keep sending me your poems-I am delighted to promote this simple, beautiful writing. Happy to be friends of many talented poets.

PS Pictured-a pencil sketch present from an artist friend Maura-with a line from Seamus Heaneys’s poem-Postscript.

My Very First Week of Writing Fiction and How it Looks.

Hello-Mossie, Judy, Derry, Christie, Padraig, Mikey, Paddy, Meath Man-Patrick. I salute you Jimmy, Jackie, Richie. You might not be part of my life but I am part of yours.

Have I left anyone out- I have conceived you out of thin air. Except I didn’t really.

All week I’ve been weaving your stories out of nothing. I’m locked down and in severe pain-absolute double disaster. So on one hand I have tried to keep myself sane by writing short character based stories. Just to forget myself and this fecking pain. I find to write a character you need to love them and feel sympathy and go backwards from there. They might be different and nothing to do with you-or so opposite you have no idea how to take them. It doesn’t matter-feel love or empathy and they will jump off the page into a story.

The aforementioned are all here and I’ve adored writing them all up and making them real.

It’s Irish based for now but will expand.I need to practice in my own familiar environment.

Blogging is easier but to create characters- that’s a lot of work but worth it. I felt them-every last one. And going forward-to my next stage fiction-which I’m still afraid of-I’ll treat each character with respect and individuality.

Til we meet again

Kat

A Discourse on Physical Pain

I don’t know where I am-I’m on so many pain meds. I’m not your cranky woman who feels pain. I’m from the mountains-we play hurling there-like it’s one of the most isolated places in Ireland. There is no Dublin road-but still, still we play hurling. We are tough as a breed like. I’m tough.

But physical pain-now that’s a whole new story to this book of chapters. I’ve had two children-I understand what physical incredible pain feels like. Let’s not dive around and keep it a secret-labour is painful and hard. But you as a woman knew there was an answer-a reprieve-it was not going to be chronic-but acute-a few hours or days long-and then over with a beautiful result.

The problem with pain is when you don’t get an answer as to it’s end. I had a dry socket infection in 2010 following a tooth extraction -three weeks out of work. Three weeks of dulling, darkening painkillers and wondering if jumping out the window is an option. It was very severe. No idea when it would end-but it did.

Fast forward to now. I type with one hand. I’ve damaged a nerve in my shoulder. Fabulous timing-locked down in lock down. The pain is severe. I’m used to being an independent woman-free out. You all know this. And here I am double locked down -unable to move. Helped in and out of shower like an invalid. It’s so tough I want to cry and shake my hands at that cursed God in the sky. But I can’t-it is too fecking painful.

I’m not sure when this pain is going to end-and therein lies the rub.

If I could be given a date I’d be grand.

But I will defeat it and come back from this-and that’s a promise-I’ve come back from worse. Like a Limerick hurler.

Wishing none of my readers will ever go through this

X Kat.

The Zany Mountain Guide to Ireland.

A little bit of a kick happened on Zany Mountain-normally the blog is solid Irish and American. Well over all it’s very Irish. but lately the place has developed a few fans from the Southern Hemisphere.

I’m always delighted to welcome each and every reader-sure ye all know this.

So hello the house from wherever you are-our curiosity of our different cultures can only be good for us all world wide. Especially now.

If these questions seem patronising-they are absolutely and resolutely not-these are genuine questions asked via the blog.

So here we go

“What is the weather like in Ireland”

Well the weather is incredible lately-as in it is dry and sunny. It never gets too bad here-neither too cold or too hot. Our average temp is 16 degrees celcius. That’s over the year. There are many, many rainy, stormy and breezy days and sometimes we can’t see ourselves for the fecking rain. When we get snow or heatwave-it’s known as a weather event. In other words-we have a temperate, mild climate. It can feel freezing in winter as it is damp. Equally the dampness can make it feel humid in Summer. Overall-it’s bearable

“Why Do Western People Marry so Late”
We don’t have arranged marriages. Women are encouraged to have degrees and careers, we also like to have fun in our twenties-people are marrying even later now. Housing is expensive-and this is an issue.

“Is Ireland Progressive?”
Yes it is-but we do have an oppressed history, via attempted colonisation and the Catholic church. We had to fight through this for human rights-and we did. Same Sex marriage is recognised as an example. Irish people are genuinely accepting but questioning.

“What is your culture like?”
We have a strong indigenous culture-we have our own sports-hurling and gaelic football. We have an incredible ability to write, storytell, dance and sing. Basically we have a strong cultural identity that’s all our own.

“Why do you have pets?”
Basically we were once originally agricultural people-so feel an affinity with animals-our pets provide us with comfort and companionship.

“What’s the craic?”
It’s when you are out with good friends and the fun, banter and slagging starts to flow easily. How do you know you are friends with an Irish person? They will gently rib and insult you.

I’m sure there is more-ask away and will attempt to answer.

Best of love in whatever time zone you are in

XXXXX K

How Zany Mountain Expanded my Universe

Six years of talking and dreaming and quoting. Six years of spouting about nature and seasons and bringing people along on the wild ride that is not really wild at all but very conventional in some ways.

How has it been so long?

I marvel at the people who have come into the orbit of Zany Mountain-it’s named by the way from the mountain -Sliabh Riadh-behind my parent’s house. You want magic-no problem-it’s there. And the Zany bit is my own unconventional spirit.

I want to write fiction some day-it’s escaping me this far. Zany Mountain is a labour of love-tough to write but somehow internal and loved and about community.

So let me tell you what it has brought to me. Endless new and creative friendships and a lot of love-the proper caring kind. Natural friendships that cross geographical, socialogical and political divides.Postcards, letters, endless conversations. Introverts and extroverts. Limerick and Cork. America, Ireland and Australia-Northern and Southern Ireland.

You are all there-and I am here-and you’ll never move Zany Mountain.

Dedicated to my kind friends-dotted everywhere on the planet x

Normal.

I’m typing this with one hand as the left side of my body has stopped working. Yayyyy-on top of everything else.I’ve slipped a neck disc-as you do. My normal, energetic athletic side is out of action.

I’ve just finished Normal People. The series. Yes it’s an epic love story-but the big thing for me was the description of depression at Episode 10. Connell-his pain and shame and bloody blaming himself for what he was not responsible for.

I’ve never seen it more accurately described. The bleak. The blaming .The shame. The dearth of joy, sadness -grief-that bloody lowering.

I’ve written about my depression-thought it was defeated -but here in Lockdown-as am back-out of my routine for so long-wrestling the black dog yet again.

I’m here for you if anyone feels same.

And I mean that

Kat x

Feelers and thinkers

Oh er-doesn’t that sound a wee bit saucy-thought it was just me. I’ve a lot of very incredibly smart logical friends. I’m married to one.I love them as they sort of anchor me-they are reasonable, smart, not blinded by emotion. But yet kind and loving-how the feck do ye do it?

Me? I’m a smart chick in a different way-I’ll weave a story out of the bog and the sky and Zany Mountain. I’m the woman who walk into the room and go “whoa-bit of tension here” I can read the temperature of a room or a group in absolute seconds.

I am sharply naturally attuned to mood and conflict and team dynamics. And my logical friends will constantly ask me -where is the proof, eh? And while my logical side wants to burst out-I’ll be going-I don’t know it’s an instinct, can’t explain it in your terms, it’s a feeling.

But at times I need to be pulled back into the world and accept detail and process-just like some of you need to be pulled outwards into trusting the instincts and a little bit of providence and faith.

Trust me-we are beautiful together or at least a lesson or two will be learned.
No harm on either side. We always continue pushing forward and learning from each other. I hope.

Til next time

K

What’s Helping During a Pandemic

To be honest nothing is-but here is a little shout out-to the ones who are helping in a small way!
Army guys-Ollie Ollerton and Foxy
Minnie and Harley-dogs like and sweet creatures.
Old friends-the friends from way back when -special place-reserved for you.
Ex colleagues-I love you guys the most -we went through it.
Claudia and Dervla for keeping it together.
Stephen for putting up with me on a loop!.
D15 crew- fine women.
Niall Horan
Niall Horan
Did I mention the Nialler
Work Spouse Julie.
Mad Mary and Maria.
Me auld faithful Jude Law.
Crazy neighbours-Sinead, Sam and Limerick Dave
Mark Burn’s radio show
Old Tribe
Anne McDonald’s humour
David’s songs.
My nerd friends.
Padraig from Cork for that bit of banter.
And the Limerick gang-they never dial it down (plus hunky men!)
Oh yeah and Parks and Recreation, specifically the philosophical Ron Swanson.

You know what-thanks gang x

Other Creative People are my Oxygen

I’ve been a bit panicked by the pandemic. You like that turn of phrase? I like it myself. I’m only kidding around. Trying to lighten the day for myself as much as you dear reader.

One thing I have noticed is that I have a lot of practical, logical friends. My best friend of all times is a professor of chemistry. I went to an engineering university (hey that was some fun being one of the few humanities types by there-great in fact). I like these types-because they are opposite to me. I love their minds and attention to detail-they tend to love my fun, emotional, deep side. It works. And there is a great curious learning  and a sort of grounding in being around those so different from you.  And I seriously respect my nerd, tech, engineering, science friends. But you know this as I keep telling you all! By the way it’s not mutually exclusive -some of my funniest, warmest, kindest and most imaginative and long term friends are these types.

And then there are the incidental friends-the ones you collect along the way and you stay with them as they are just there when you need them. The true ones stay no matter what and there is no agenda-just friendship and you can’t explain-they are just there. 

But a whole new level of friendship are the creative friends. What amazed me is that earlier in this Lockdown-they all went quiet. I was like “where are you guys?” You are quiet-these days”. I mean these are the bohemian, chance anything, fling yourselves under the car crowd. The magical thinkers. The ones that slip their skin and show the world. The crowd that lived. The crowd that wear their heart on their sleeves and throw their thoughts out there.  Adaptive, you might call it . Surely this is the space for us to breathe and create the world? I was puzzled.

There wasn’t  a sign of life . And then I realised-the old free creative  spirit- was locked down. Muted. And it took a few weeks to adjust.

But adjusting  is what us curious creative types do-when we stop reeling from the shock.

And now we’ve adapted and the creativity is rushing back in-like a river. We are sharing songs, blogs, poems and essays like no tomorrow. The last few day-no words. I’ve been sent some amazing stuff. I’ve edited a friends essay at 2 am in the morning. I’ve blogged and written like a fiend. I’ve listened to amazing  radio, audio and visual. I’m pretty staggered to be honest.

And why? The creative world is a different one to the ordinary world -it’s a world of bravery, imagination, emotion, rich human experience  (and yes at times- flights of fancy). And to be perfectly honest-I got a little bit real world there for a few weeks.  And in my normal life in normal times-I struggle to bridge that gap-the gap between the logical and the creative world. I know some of you will identify. It has been worse the last few weeks.

But the creative world in the end is a terrifically free and inspirational and curious world.  A world of acceptance/ of being a bit different.  

I’ll be honest-I was a bit in the real world there for a while-it was grand and all-but now I need to spend time in the creative world-just for a bit.  So-creative friends-continue to send me your essays, poems, songs, blogs. I’m incredibly always delighted to share, review, edit, chat. It’s part of  the mission of Zany Mountain to encourage creativity. It’s where I am happiest.

And logical/real world friends- don’t you go disappearing either-I need you too. But ye know that right?

This post is dedicated to my creative friends-sure ye all know who ye are.

Love to all my friends-not matter what world you inhabit.

 

Kat x

 

 

 

It’s Complicated

I’ll have to be honest. I’m freaking the feck out of it here. The majority of my friends are appearing to manage this thing very dandy. It’s all-I’m managing this well/ actually it’s grand/yeah no bother,cooking-yay !-the kids are great!!!!!  My social media feed is filled with baking and art and let’s go through it together. That’s  great. Why am I not feeling this though ? Why am I -sensible soul just not getting the message.? I have been told on an endless loop that everyone is OK -say Kat why are you not OK?

I’m not talking about masks and that-I’m talking about managing. Not walking up to a day of existential dread. I’ve come to hate the space of walking up and going-yayy-everything is fine-to ugh-yet another dystopian day -the space between those moments is magical-but the reality is a killer.

There are very many people out there who are coping very well with this-so they say.

I applaud them- I’m not one of you.

I realise I’ve to take it for the team-it’s my way of being…..but false positivity on how you are coping?

No thanks.

Kat

On Resiliance….

It’s become a bit of joke, me messing around about fancying army guys-caveat- I’m one for joking and messing. It’s hardly going to change now at this hour of my life, is it.

Actually if you do one thing-check out the army guys-Jason Fox and Ollie Ollerton-because amazingly-they are tough but have worked the line and describe a process that is both honest and healing.

Yet, here on Zany Moutain the sunshine, laughs and craic-prevails. Until the shadow darkens on the side of  the mountain and it  doesn’t prevail any more. I’m struck by the images of people working on the frontline and I can’t bear to look. An ER doctor in New York commits suicide as does a paramedic. My heart stops for them.

I can’t bear to look at them twice- or even think of them. I worked the frontline for several years in a totally different capacity-homeless services in Dublin-in a difficult working situation.  I was able until I wasn’t able anymore. At first enthusiastic, firing all the guns at it-until one day I woke up so dead and empty I knew I  could never ever work in this manner again. To this day I suffer, haunted,  I’ve recovered but quite honestly I don’t think I will ever unsee the pain or the trauma. It stalks me, silently, behind my smile.   That’s the trouble with a game like this. I realise it’s no way as difficult as what  frontline workers are going through now- my story was more psychological -much milder than those  confronted by a deadly virus that can kill.

In our frontline workers I can  see it in their faces and their  fallen comerades. That burn. The haunt. The way they look intensely and emerge so wrecked.  We are the types to set ourselves on fire until to keep others warm. Please I beg-don’t follow my example- if you are on the line-use those beautiful, human, kind, warm skills-you are born with-but remember mind your own precious souls and hearts and your body.

Before it is too late and that deadly coldness and restlessness  settles in.

I’m with you guys. I remember.

Dedicated to those working in crisis (and the Capel St crew)

K

 

The Difference Between Us.

Oh you know this funny old Lockdown-forcing some of us to examine who we are. Like we’ve never had to do this before. Before anyone starts -I’m a person who analyses things. But you  knew that-(I mean Zany Fecking Mountain Like).

And here is the another step that is fascinating and almost a gift in this Lockdown-I personally as an extrovert was so busy hustling and chatting and chasing shiny things-that I forgot about how people with different perspectives could teach me so much.

So here is a little tribute to the people so different from me who are teaching me to open up and think in different ways. I salute you for engaging my curious mind.

To the American friend who in the middle of this virus thing- happened to have a tornado (literally) happen on their front porch. I can only imagine. On top of everything. America is different to Ireland.  But yet, yet to see your culture is amazing and your  stoicism-no matter what is happening-it rises and curves around your hardship. No words.

To the lads who’ve lost their dads, I don’t know such bereavement-I haven’t been there-it will become a thing at some point in my life-yes thank you for describing it and making it so human.

To my introvert friends who are managing this way better than my extrovert self- thank you for your tips and continued calm friendship-you are a fecking deadly bunch and like a balm. I’ll get you back for your greatest nightmare- few pints and a laugh. You’ll have to indulge me.

To my Northern Irish buddies- you know what-up until all of this I thought you were all very different to us down South-and now I realise-there is the same ironic sense of humour- a bit of spice and spike. The craic basically.

To Cork people-sorry can’t find anything in common-but surely we can learn to coexist (joking)

To the Dubs-well thank you for accepting the token Limerick person in the room.  And flying the auld flag on the Quays and cheering when we won the All Ireland. And for just being Dubs-I can’t wait to be back in town again with you all.

Actually-hey-thanks for humanity and my wonderful friends and family. And in the words of Dermot Kennedy-“Some summer night-I hope I see you again”.

Us humans are really not that different after all, eh?

Til next time-all my love and more

Kat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Learned to rediscover Humanism in a Pandemic

You write a blog. It’s a small one, carved out of the mountain. Carved out of Sliabh Riaidh and Kilfinane  and even Dublin in fact. A source of magical, yet practical thinking. You get an idle text from a friend -and a fun message from another. They contain undercurrents  of despair.  And you remember-that strange, beautiful yet philosophical side that comes with growing up on a mountain….

And the memory stirs  -with the snap of the  fingers-the philosophy that made sense to you. comes to mind.  You’ve flirted with catholicism, buddhism and even paganism (I’m not quite done with paganism yet-country people never are)

Humanism though -has a secret trick. It believes in the agency of humans.  A thing we have forgotten. It believes in the human  capacity  to solve problems. It believes in the ability to take risks, to innovate and create. It believes in the ability to invent, fail, try again and fail again. It believes in the potential of humans to get the fuck off the floor and just find a way through it all.

We need that very philosophy now

Watch Leo Igwe on Ted Talk and tell me differently

Kat

 

There is a Sadness in You.

A friend  tells me there is a sadness behind my bright smile. We have a row and fall out. I’m sick of matters-tetchy. Yes I am sad.. I try to big it up. Truth is though-it’s impossible.

There is no hurling-the life blood. No Eurovision, I’d even trade a hurling match day for gaelic football day -more fool me.-those Kerry lads…might even have a chance after all.

We are doing the right thing-we do know it comes against our nature-we understand this.

And underneath every bright  smile and Tik Tok dance and gif and skit-there is a sadness-and it’s a hard thing to shake-it is literally a shadow

And it is tough out as we say in Limerick.

We keep going-what else is there.

Keep going lads

 

kat x

 

 

 

We need to Talk About Why It is Difficult to be a Creative Person…

Not easy is it? Not easy to craft something from your own mind and throw it out there. Some people think it as a dice carelessly thrown…… except it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Imagine squeezing your eyes as you hit publish. Imagine that fear and anxiety-that leap in you chest-so violent it feels like a heart attack.

But you do it as nothing feels more urgent or aligned.

I’ve given up trying to explain things. There is no explaining but the stir of the blood and the heart.

When you create something new and different-it takes scale on a precedence unknown. I struggle with it daily my friends-every time I write -something leaps into my throat and chokes me and wrestles me to the ground. That voice always says “Are you sure buttoned up, Middle Class Limerick Girl?” “You really wan’t to write?” ” Know your place!”

And the thing is I don’t know my place-but I know one thing-I’m born to write and as tough and as ugly this will get-my certainty is immobile and unchanging about this gig

And here is creativity-roughly hewn out of jagged  and uncertain rocks.

Never question. Just write

You’ve all got this

All my love and more-Kat x

 

Can you Write Your Way out of Anything?

A friend of mine said to me the other day-I bet you could write your way out of anything. I was in that pandemic, confused, where am I phase. Oh wait-am still in that confused ,  pandemic where am I phase. You too reader? I  have spent the last two weeks,what am I saying- four weeks  not knowing if I am coming or going. So can I write my way out of this-well let’s see and hopefully you will relate too as I narrate.

A mere what is it-3 weeks or 4 weeks ago- I was crossing O’Donovan Rossa Bridge-of a Monday-thick as you like with the prospect of a working week ahead-tired, yet as I looked left the sun sparkled. Spring was coming-the light danced off my beloved Liffey. and somehow in that Monday, weary heart, I felt the normal hope of a new season. A slight skip of step and a loosening of the scarf.  A tiny ease off that savage winter East river breeze.My only worry reaching that clock in time. Normal time. Before Covid.

Four weeks later, in my south facing garden, everything is  seemingly perfect-blue skies, willow trees, blooming, the heat is rising. How perfect is the month of April. But I haven’t crossed that O’Donovan Rossa in weeks and it doesn’t seem right. Everything jars, the masks in the supermarket, the Gardai checkpoints, those damn blue ugly gloves – us culchies with culchie  registrations-we joke about  plates-and what county  is  likely to be waved through. I must have a bold face because I’ve been stopped so many times, at this point. I actually said “how are you today” to the same Guard who stopped me on Sunday. He was as calm and reassuring as the other day.

My neighbour of 20 years (at a safe social distance) says to me-stop  pacing the garden  Kat. In an unusually abrupt and sharp  fashion I turn on him and say I’m not pacing-I’m only walking.  He shrinks back a tiny step.  A few minutes later I shout at beloved dog Harley to stop following me. He looks at me-confused, liquid brown eyes, practically shimmering. Tail down, he retreats- into the corner-unfamiliar with this new tense version of me. I instantly feel guilty for snapping at both.  What’s wrong with me.

This is tension. Now tension is a different animal in the zoo to anxiety. Anxiety is uncontrollable racing fear. Tension is more of a rigid, simmering anger. I can feel tension in the grit of my teeth, the furrow of the brow and my caged in gait. I feel like I can stretch my finger tips until they snap. And I do, I flex my fingers on my right hand against the  blue sky of the willow tree until they can stretch no more.

Something releases  before this moment and it makes me stop and I fall back, slowly into anything resembling the moment. And for seconds-the release is immense. Until I remember.

And  then I realise there is no writing your way out of this one.

Wishing safety and health to all from the mountain.

 

Kat

 

Tiny Devastating Memories

Remember this. Remember the parents dropping you to college-trying to stop the tears. They knew it was over-you were gone. Only 18-so young and excited for a taste of freedom. It was only the county city-but you came from a place that it took a commitment to get back to in the 90’s.  Remember the sunlight shafting through the windows of the Stables Bar -was there sawdust on the floor? Maybe not but there was a cranky bar man and the Cranberries on Thursdays- if you were lucky.

Remember the County Limerick boys-they were the athletic ones, obsessed with hurling and the Limerick City girls who you were slightly intimidated by as they seemed to know everyone. They always knew where the best bands were. Sometimes they were in the best bands. The Limerick city fellas were all about the rugby-still a puzzle to me. The Cork Crew-quick as flash with the joke and wit. The Kerry lads were always the most assured-but that’s the way of Kerry folk.

Remember the cute funny guy at the back of your class who caught your eye in that stupid elective you had to take. Remember the discussions with the county crew about where the best town was late into the morning. Was it the one up in the mountains or the one at the foothills. We never reached agreement on that-oh wait we did-it was the one up in the mountains!

Remember Friar Tucks and the Lobster Pot-who had the best chips again? It’s a little foggy. Remember Silk Cut fags and pints of Carling. And the bloody way you were the person nominated to schlep up to the Hurlers  by the housemates to get the morning after the night before hangover cure. Taytos and full fat Coca Cola. Sometimes you had to schlep up to the corner shop where the proprieter ripped you off with a smile so they said.

Remember Eldorado and Heidleberg where you stayed in rented houses with funny street names. Were you ever as freezing in your life-I doubt it-it was new depths of winter cold. The Limerick City crowd loved to stay over-because we all had the best house parties.

Remember having the biggest laughs of your life and the friends you kept for decades.

Tiny devastating memories-braided together in your heart forever. Except they weren’t devastating times at all.

We’re just never going to get them back. And that’s devastating.

To the college crew

Love

Kat

View from Zombie City

It’s a beautifully soft, sunny Friday afternoon. Myself and the Malshis are out for walk. We pause for a mindful moment. Innocently they snuffle among the dazzling white crocuses tails wagging. As happy and free as any living creature can be. For a moment I feel bathed in a warming sunshine, the first I’ve felt since November last. For a minute things feel normal. and light. Remember normal?

Remember a few short weeks ago complaining of packed buses and trains?

Remember hopping off the 39 A on Inns Quay- only carried along with the tide of humanity, feeling happy to be part of the hustle of the world?

Remember tripping down the steps of the office with abandon, for a coffee grab-at break time, circling the quays, pausing for a little moment on the Ha’Penny Bridge to watch the swans and pools of light?

Remember casually without a second thought organising coffee dates and lunch dates, nights out with the girls at the Market Bar and afternoon pints with the mates in rain slicked Dublin?

Remember bumping into old friends, hugging and kissing-remember for the love of God-handshakes.

All it took was a few short weeks for it all to change.

I shouldn’t have started playing with words or allowed a word in, yet again. Back a few weeks ago I was joking with a few friends about the word discombobulation. Somebody said I should try and work it into a blog post. You know that word? Almost musical isn’t it? It perfectly describes a feeling of being off balance. Sometimes happens me and I suspect you too. Often for inexplicable reasons. But how now dear readers, we live in very discombobulating times. And what is striking how very global the reach of this thing is. A shared human experience, for better or worse.

There has been a lot of discussion about how to manage mental health during this crisis. And I can hear a lot of people describing something which is new to them-the feelings of anxiety. I suffer from anxiety anyway on and off-which I’ve spoken about in other posts-so a feeling of an episodic sense of impending doom is pretty normal to me. I’ve accepted it as part of the way my mind works-so strangely I am adapting well to the crisis apart from one or two choking heart jumpers as I call them.

If these feelings are new to you-I can tell you what works for me if it helps. For me the number one strategy is to be out in nature -it can be as simple as a walk. Like a Mayo man who will never refuse a cup of tea, my dogs Harley and Minnie will never refuse a walk. And as these are strange times I’ve been practising on said walks a loving kindness meditation-this is a principle of Buddhism and it works. Simple as smiling at people you pass-you won’t meet many, and virtually all smiled or waved back, this morning. I’ve noticed that strangers are talking to each other more too.

Write stuff out if it is your thing. Get your hobbies and interests on track again. Read. I’m occupying the worried part of my brain by learning Spanish-it really helps distract me and to focus.

I wrote this post https://viewfromzanymountain.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/the-ache-and-the-void-of-loneliness/ a few weeks ago and in a way it frightens me. Loneliness was the word that stalked me back then. How very prescient, because this could severely become an issue for many people. And also I sort of talked about the fact that social media can be occupied by lonely people. How we need our social media communities and online friends now!

But yet out of all of this, good things have happened. Feeds and neighbourhood chat groups are filled with offers of help, to pick up food, clear gardens, check in with a phone call. Office workers, many working from home for the first time in their lives (including me) are checking in with encouragement, Spotify suggestions and tips. I’ve even got a new  dedicated writing corner as result-it usually was the corner of the battered leather sofa. People are having great craic online-some of you are mad wild you know, it’s great!

On Patrick’s Day , the Irish not known to ever let an opportunity to use their imagination or to have the craic, came up with ingenious ways to celebrate. There was the emotional one piper man parade in Limerick, the Dubs (mad as ever) doing a socially distant skit parade with St. Patrick banishing the virus; the neighbours out in their front gardens having a beer and playing their trad instruments and laughing raucously

You know I spent an eerie day in Dublin City Centre earlier in the week as I had to collect some work. I went in on an empty bus, wandered a deserted Temple Bar. I felt curious void  and hollowness  all day. On my return home I picked up a fluttering piece of paper in the garden. And then I noticed it-a simple flowering bud on the Golden Gage tree. A marvel of nature. And a thought struck me. Humanity, we’re going to be alright. Eventually.

Til next time dear readers.

Stay safe and do check in on the View from Zany Mountain FB page from time to time-where I post little snippets on day to day living and creating. Link to the right of the front page of blog.

Love as ever, Kat xx

Sunshine and Shade on Zany Mountain

Sometimes I hate this blog with all my heart. It has sent me so many people and thoughts and ideas, not to mention beautiful art, writing and songs. I almost feel I can never express enough gratitude for it all; I feel guilty- it’s overwhelming. So for anyone who has ever sent me anything-from the one word to the stories and essay and songs, I love and hate you in equal measure- I wonder am I too thin skinned, aware, emotional for it all. Some of you are so very talented it sends me diving for the corner-trying to catch my breath. How is there so much untapped talent out there? How????

Sometimes I love this blog with all my heart. I love it’s expansive skies, twists and turns, it’s open heart. The people and places. Sometimes I marvel as to where it has brought me and how it has brought me here. I love the fact there is a space called Zany Mountain that is mine and yours too dear readers. I’m certainly never going to stop writing here, and that’s a promise.

So what is all this whataboutery about you may ask? I blame Tommy Tiernan. Firmly. I love Tommy-I have always considered him a peer. And I’m very interested in what my ole Generation X peers have to say. He sizes up people, and crucially listens -he is super talented in fact.-both as a comic, writer and interviewer. Last weekend he interviewed uber confident singer Roisin Murphy, He announced in the middle of this interview as a performer, he has doubts. I sat bolt upright in the chair, spilled my wine. What??????? Tommy has doubts? It’s not possible in this world!

And then I remembered some messages I got on the mountain. How they ask can you write so confidently and openly about topics like you do? How can you write with all that heart, yet doubt yourself?

I need to be honest with you here readers. Sometimes I write and share stuff and instantly regret pressing send. Sometimes my heart beats out of my chest, wondering who is going to read the posts and what are they going to think of me. Sometimes I want to run for cover and cower in the corner after publishing-with nobody talking to me. Ever again.

And other times it feels light, and right and golden. You see in every creative journey there is this dichotomy. The balance between honesty and pretence because to create properly, it takes damn courage. Half the time it feels like stepping off a cliff. Sorry, let’s revise that most of the time it feels like you are jumping off a cliff. You are opening yourself up. Exposing yourself to the world. And it’s bloody hard. Under my sometimes apparent shining surface there is a shadow-look closely at my posts and you will see.

But-if it’s what you are meant to do, it’s what you are meant to do. And here is my advice-understand and accept your duality. Embrace it-let the tension simmer in your blood. It will make everything you create even better. I am as a person, both introvert and extrovert-both light and shade. So are all of you. Forget what others say -it’s your heart beating and your journey. Don’t expect it to be easy-but do expect it to be one of the most meaningful paths you’ll ever take

And as I’m about to publish I am now diving into the corner, changing my identity, covering my ears, running for the hills.

Wishing you courage dear friends

All my love as always.

Kat

 

Everything Ordinary is Blue

I couldn’t remember where it really began, but that’s not strictly true. I didn’t want to remember where it all began. Until I wrote this post here – The Past is a Foreign Country.  After writing this post I realised there is a part two or perhaps maybe the prequel to this story.  So I need to honour it further, here.

It started when somebody-a friend I like to have a laugh with-casually passed a remark that I seemed to be carrying a weight on my shoulders. My face burned-I thought I had become adept at hiding the heaviness I had been feeling. And curiously it was like that. I had been feeling an exhaustion, so deep I couldn’t name it. The only thing I knew is that it had become normal. My head felt strangely blocked  as if my thoughts were seized. Sometimes I would shake my head and the thoughts would fall like confetti, only to lodge below my eyes in a painful throb.

Saturday mornings were the worst -I couldn’t move out of bed. until way past noon. Not only was I recovering from the week, but I felt a strange overwhelm at the thought of the day ahead. It was a curious  day of the week to feel such a thing. But I suspect a lot of that was rooted in my dead heaviness and knowledge that I wasn’t living my best life . I was living life, but not my best life. And the resting did me no good anyway, I used to experience waves of adrenaline so vivid it catches my lungs to even think of them now. I’d cling to my pillow like a life raft to make them stop. I now understand those to be anxiety surges and I was fighting for my life, my very breath  every time one struck.

And then things took a further step and I can pinpoint exactly where. I was in Ceann Sibeal in Dingle on holidays. The weather was beautiful, stunning but  I was driven cowed indoors into the shadows.  A curious shakiness had descended. I rattled all over. One day I couldn’t put on my pendent, my hands shook so badly. I looked in the mirror and begged myself to tell me what was happening. I could find no answer. Food had also started to taste like cardboard.  How was it in my beautiful place, my safe place, my soul  place, was I feeling like this?  How was I unable to engage with my puzzled child who only wanted to play a game of catch in the sunshine with her toy dolphin? In Ceann Sibeal where the air is light and  golden-it seemed heavy and oppressive. The very rocks, coves and islands-forbidding and sinister.

But then it got even worse. I got numb. Me, an empath, a sensitive person, an open person.  I experienced a numb joylessness  that I might as well have been smothered. I experienced no feelings at all. The colour of everything became flat blue.

I isolated myself when I could. And the worry of it all is I existed as many people do. It’s a dangerous space to find yourself in. I painted on a smile. I clocked in. Nodded at all the right words, mopped the floors, filled the washing machine. I couldn’t write a word though.

And one day a friend took me aside and whispered to me me-“you’re not right, I’m begging you to do something, anything to get back to yourself, you used  to laugh, like” And finally the floodgates opened and  I cried and cried  for days’ week.

But I straightened myself up and took a few steps. I went to talk it out with a therapist. I took the meds. I went on a mindfulness course and  learned to look around at everything again. I started to write-everything and anything. And slowly my thoughts lightened and unclicked. I started  to go on long walks by myself-listening to classical music as I had started to find it so exquisite. Eventually one day some said to me you can’t unsee what you have seen in a coffee shop in Dublin and I surrendered to all of that.

One day I was walking and somebody sent me a really stupid joke. And I stopped in my tracks and roared laughing. Suddenly I went oh-there it is the -joy, the lightening was back.

I don’t  know why the descent happened but I was under very severe pressure at the time. The reasons really don’t matter. And I know that a lot of you will understand  this because you’ve told me your story. I’ve met you . And you’ve been open and generous in that space, so here is my story as a thank you back.

If any of this resonates with you. Take heart. Take steps. And I promise if you do you’ll get up off the floor. You’ll be pushing forward.  You’ll start to see again, dappled hearts in the Liffey and the crystal full moon. You’ll  have the craic and giggles over afternoon pints in some old man’s pub in Dublin in the rain. You’ll chase your silly old dog who still thinks he is a puppy to your favourite hip hop tunes  and there will be nothing there but that singular moment.

Finally I’d like to thank the people who encouraged resistant  me to write this post. I’ve tucked you all into my heart forever in my gratitude. Even the one who told me in an exasperated fashion  to “just write the fucking, blog post” Especially you.

Joy to all

Kat x