The Air is Beautiful…

Myself and the athlete are on our usual Saturday walk. We chatter and catch up as we round a bend to the beautiful pedestrianised country road, just five minutes from the house. As this road is framed by beautiful, ancient trees and as no cars pass; the ground is deeply carpeted by a vision of orange and red leaves. We crunch through them; occasionally the chatter stops and we fall into a silent, natural rhythm. This is the pause between the clamour of Halloween and Christmas; a pocket of calm as we dip towards winter. The air is beautifully clear and fresh. A full moon beckons tonight and somehow this one is charged with calming ions and love. As it turns out, the November full moon is indeed a harbinger of clarity and calm. And how we need it. This year has been tough. Not only for me, but several of my peers and beloved friends. There has been loss this year; stress, sorrow and ill health.  Good people felled by the unexpected, the undeserved and the unwarranted.

There were times in the last year, when I could not believe my own bad luck and decline. A wise friend quoted the famous line “when in hell, keep going”. At times I was on my knees. But at every step, people reached out and this meant kept going. And this is how it must be; accepting people on their journey, walking with them, allowing them to share.

As times are bad, so things turn with the seasons. I have to say, quite honestly, this autumn has been one of the happiest of my life. Yes, it was preceded by a tough time and things are by no means perfect, but I am renewed somehow by surviving these difficulties. I feel alive and energised, clear and happy.  This autumn and the universe of course has obliged; the mild air, the vibrancy of the leaves and fruits, all of this is naturally in step with the change and the joy.

There were other pockets of happiness.  My international peers in the creative realm; writers, bloggers and artists met for brunch in Dublin in October. As well as people travelling from the States, two of our beloved members traveled from the Isle of Skye and the Netherlands. In fact one of the gang traveled over and back in one day. How is that for effort and good intention. We had an amazing reunion.

Lastly, we have a new arrival up on the mountain. A gorgeous puppy, black, tiny and lively. For a person who grew up with dogs; now I am reminded of the joy of the canine companions of my youth. To see my children so excited and engaged, every day since the little fella arrived, my heart is literally skipping.

The moral is, if anyone of the readers and the friends are struggling, know this. The old saying, “the lowest ebb is before the turn of the tide” is true. You will emerge stronger, happier, with more clarity than ever. For any of you in this dark time, also know this, you are always welcome to Zany Mountain. We’ll wait for you while you are going through it, and we will be there when you come out the other side.

And that’s a promise.

Til next time,

Kat x

 

 

 

 

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Time for Challenge and Regrowth on the Mountain…

It’s been a bit windswept up here on Zany Mountain. A little bit barren and desolate. Look we’ve had a few forest fires up here in the last few months, but see over there! The fire is clearing, the rain is falling a little more softly and there a few fresh green seedlings are starting to emerge. Ok that’s enough mountainy imagery for now. As I write I am supposed to be back in my real life hometown mountain village of Kilfinane in the Ballyhouras, attending the Hearsay International Audio Festival. But, sigh, didn’t Mr Zany Mountain get out of the car a bit fecking awkwardly the other day so I am here on the Meath border experiencing copious amounts of FOMO and playing Florence Nightingale. Note to self, I am no Florence Nightingale.

Anyway, it is Saturday morning, so to salvage some of the day, I will spend it writing and sitting in my beautiful secret corner of the garden-soon the leaves will turn and it won’t be so private-but with the willow trees still in bloom, no one can find me.

In order to kick-start things around here, I have decided to participate in a Go Sober for October Challenge. I’ll be blogging about this at the end of the month. In order to keep things interesting, I’ll be sharing some alternative drink ideas; cold brews, hot drinks and of course mocktails! I also had the honour of meeting the wonderful, warm and articulate Laura Willoughby and Jussi Tolvi  the founders of the UK-based organisation  and mindful drinking movement called Club Soda earlier in the month. Please check out this amazing organisation. There will be further Irish based meetups so watch this space. Anyway if any of my lovely readers want to join, or share drinks recipes, I’d be delighted! Please comment here or DM me or send me a message on the ole Facebook-any recipes we share will be credited to you. I am sure this will be challenging in this alcocentric, wine o’clock soaked world we live in here in Ireland, (and I have a good few  social occasions coming up) but sure, what’s life without a positive challenge now and then.

Ok my friends, that’s it for now. Got to go and water some seedlings up here.SAM_0847

Love, light and blessings,

Kat xx

 

And the Islands Whispered….

I arrive a day or two ahead of Mr. Zany Mountain to the western edge of Kerry. Still with city dust and rush in my system.  It’s all there, the joy as we round the last bend to Ballyferriter, the excited children, the familiar tug of the heart.  The Kingdom of Kerry puts her best mantle on to welcome us-the sky is endless, cornflower blue. The sea is turquoise and silver, the Blasket Islands-the two clearly visible from the cottage are shaded in gold; so close you can see the ridges and spires.  Stand for a moment in Ceann Sibéal on such a day and the very earth, the very universe itself shimmers in magical folds around you.

Something has happened me lately, an internal shift. I didn’t go outdoors for most of spring, I couldn’t write a word. I was tired. Tired of the work, the carrying and fetching, other people, problems out of my control.  I was tired of myself, if the truth be told. I had the pallor of it-my skin as pale as a ghost.

On our first days there, there is a heat wave. We stretch outside the cottage, books, wine, sun hats, soaking all that good Vitamin D. I feel like a cat, stretching and snoozing in the heavenly still air.

And all the while as I lazily sit outside the cottage in my left ear, the islands throb with a pulse of their own. Calling, whispering, with an unexplained energy.

The two islands visible from Ceann Sibéal are Inis Tuaisceart and An Tiaracht. Sometimes they are so close that you can trace them with fingertips, sometimes they are so forbidding and cold, sometimes they are not even there, in times of evening haze or morning mist. You can only see the edge of Great Blasket (An Blascaod Mór) the largest, almost hulking island  from that particular point, as the little cove outside the cottage (known as Ferriter’s Cove) is sheltered by Clogher Head-a climb worth taking, because that is a vision of heaven where you can see all the islands together. Truly!

20170721_160138I don’t know if I have some kind of spiritual renewal or awakening here, but something gradually creaks open in my soul. I am not religious in the conventional sense, but I believe in human connection, nature, love and the universe. And in my tired, depressed and weary heart, everything flows here in this place to fill in the empty cracks. I see it in the evening murmuration of sparrows, exotic insects, the rainbow of wildflowers. I pass strangers and we stop and warmly chat. I light a candle in a stony church, praying for something to be found, I expect nothing of it, only to turn right and see a stained glass image of Naomh Antaine (St. Anthony, patron of lost things). I laugh and walk and eat  and sleep the sleep of the dead. I cry.

On my last day in Ceann Sibéal, I feel restless again. Myself and Mr. ZM take the final circuitous route from Dingle via Ventry to Ballyferriter. I need to say goodbye to the Islands, I tell him. We stop at the view with the knowing seagulls and we don’t speak, soaking it all in for one final time. I send intentions to An Bhlascaod Mór for a happier outcome to a problem. I cry warm tears behind my sunglasses as Mr ZM squeezes my hand.

It’s the last day and I pause one last time before the long journey east.. I send a final intention to the Islands. For once they answer back in the breeze and in the cries of gulls. I know what the answer is now.

It’s a message of healing.

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Til next time,

Kat x

 

 

Under a Hopeful Sky..

I haven’t been writing much lately as I haven’t been-well- feeling it. To be honest writing the blog had become a bit of a chore in the middle of stressful and overwhelming period.  I needed to stand back and not think too hard about the whole thing,  to rest my mind following a pretty tiresome spring, where just about everything  that could go  wrong, went wrong-teeth, jobs, cars. You know one of those times that seem endlessly unlucky and overwhelming. If I hadn’t stepped back, I fear I might have abandoned the mountain forever. I was afraid my creativity had drained away for good, my mind an empty husk without a story left to tell.

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However such is life that these times are not forever, a little bit of self-care and a break has restored my faith in the writing, thankfully and peace reigns in the magical days leading up to the solstice. I love our green, lush garden in June, the trees and bushes beginning to bloom with the promise of a bounty of fruit. I have had a few early starts so I love to take to the bed of an evening, curtains open while it is still light in that pink, hazy, still time before the skies darken. I read and watch the birds dip and rise and the nocturnal creatures emerge; bats and moths.  It is peaceful and soothing.

Under the open window I can hear the leaves swish, and I almost feel a painful nostalgia for my childhood home in County Limerick.  Back then, in my bedroom under the eaves of our townhouse, I could hear the mountain breeze lifting and swaying the leaves of the old sycamore tree in the grotto across the road in symphony. The tree in the grotto is sadly long gone of course, but she remains in my memory as a majestic thing, standing proud with her full summer foliage.

The summer solstice is poignant. It is the brightest of days, and at this time it never really gets totally dark in Ireland; a faint astrological glow remains until dawn. It makes me sad to think of the time folding inwards again-but yet it signifies the height of  summer, to come  Strangely I find many people very tired at this time of year, perhaps it is the end of the school term, time for upcoming  rest and freedom.

In among the green, other spring fruits and vegetables have emerged-the cheery sight of raspberries that grow wild by the willow trees, and the spring rhubarb that has a record growing season in this house from February to October.

So, in celebration of the solstice, and summer and the bounty of this hopeful and beautiful time, here is a bright little summer cordial recipe with ingredients from the garden, including our fresh rosemary. This can be added to sparkling water (or gin or vodka in a cocktail, if this is your thing!).

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Ingredients:

Approx 4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped

A handful of raspberries (optional)

Zest and juice or two citrus fruits (I used orange)

Sprig of rosemary (basil is also nice)

Cup of sugar (or adjust for sweetness or tartness)

100 ml water.

Method:

Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to boil, once boiling, simmer down on low for about 20-30 mins. Once all the ingredients have combined, place a strainer over a jug, add the mixture and allow to strain into the jug, this should take about 20 mins. Add to a sterilized glass bottle-in this case I used an old cordial one, and store in the fridge-it will last about 10 days.

Til next time folks, as the wheels of the earth turn again, may the next 6 months, bring hope and happiness to you.

 

Kat x

 

 

Space and Time..

Hi all,

Taking a bit of space and time here on the mountain. Lots of good things happening and new journeys unfolding. That’s not to say there haven’t been any obstacles or hard times, either. So while I would like to stick up an idyllic “Gone fishing” sign, unfortunately that is not the case. Life is not that easy! Working on a few writing projects here, but I need to arm and steel myself, before launching myself back on the world. Before we know it, it will be summer and I will be back again. Many thanks to all who continue to read and support the blog. I have lots in store for Zany Mountain, including the design and layout of the blog and new  exciting collaborations. For now, taking a small break, while I work it all out. See you all soon., my loves,

Kat x

Loss and Love.

I am conscious that this is the second post in row, featuring the word, love. Honestly, you really must think I am a soppy auld cow. Except I am not, really. I am hewn from clear and clean mountain air, worry and sweet isolation.

I may travel, but Limerick is my blood; the very essence of my being. I fight it lads, I fight the Stab City tag, the prejudice, comments and the constant slagging. Secretly I relish it, really. Here is a bit of a secret; those urban, inner city Dublin folks love Limerick, I am met constantly by Dubs going “I would never have thought that I would have been friendly with a Limerick person” Yes the Dubs and the Limericks- born for each other. Natural companions-who’d have thought? It is all in the wit and the fun.

When I think of Limerick, I often think of magnificent women. Limerick women are famed for their beauty-so they say. They also  have the skill of softness, toughness and reality, a love of family and friends. A very real combination.

A great Limerick woman departed our shores today. A true woman, born of kindness and inner beauty and love of family and fun. Safe travels Helen. We don’t want to hear it but life delivers us lessons. Thank you .

The Art of Worry……

I’m a worrier. I was born to ruminate, to ponder and to plan. My worry gene is rooted deeply-you might say it is generational. My Granny, who lived with us growing up was an amazing woman, but she was known as fussy woman-in other words; a worrier. Granny was the woman who fed and watered and mithered over us. She was the woman, who on my first day of secondary school, rose at the crack of dawn and made sure I  had eaten for breakfast and had the right socks, of all things. She was the woman who made sure I had a spare pen for my exams, the passport when I decided to take off to live afar and she always drilled into me the idea of pin money. Always have a few quid stashed away for a taxi, or the “way home”.  One day she told me that all this worry over small things would mean I wouldn’t worry about the big things.

Now being my Granny’s granddaughter, I naturally worry about the small things, endlessly.  I have literally  years of experience clocked up fretting  about car parking spaces, timetables, work schedules, paperwork, even, for the love of God, fecking socks. And since having children, well not only do I have to worry about myself-but about the small things that bother other living, breathing  humans too. Yahoo, such joy, multiplying all  that worry, yes?

Look, it’s not going to change anytime soon, the small worries of this world. I have accepted that this is my inherent nature to fret a little.

But, Granny was right. I’ve had BIG worries lately. Worries without an end in sight, or so it seemed in the early days. And folks, I will admit, I nearly went under that old ton of bricks.

Until last Tuesday at about 4.55 pm. Yes, I know, dear readers, I like to have my revelations at the most mundane of times. (Feel free to step off the roller-coaster of this blog, anytime, if you feel the excitement is getting too much!) . What happened that day? Firstly, I  simply realised that my worse fears had been recognised in the last 6 months. Secondly, I realised that we had survived these fears, not only survived them, but managed them. And in that ordinary moment, in my ordinary car, driving to my ordinary suburb, I felt a sense of peace and calm that I can only describe as  pure and utter freedom of being, a rare sense of almost floating….

That was until the petrol gauge beeped yellow and my  small worry meter shot up again, of course…….

Food for thought folks

Kat xx