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A few little thoughts, just because I want to!

P1170692 webIf you had told me five years ago that I would be holding the paws of cats while they were going to sleep forever, I would have looked at you in bewilderment. I did not sign up for that and I certainly did not believe that I would be able for it as I’ve always been a little squeamish, but then…. I have always loved animals too…

When I was a little girl, I wanted to become a farmer, like my grandad’s neighbours, but then I realised that I would have to get up early in the mornings and, even as a kid, I’ve never been one for early mornings. Then I decided that I should become a writer in a ranch. Don’t ask! In fact, I did follow the writing path for a while and set off on a studying journey involving a lot of academic essays being written, travelling to give papers in front of other academics and I even had a couple of articles published.

And then… something happened…. I’m not sure what though. I never became a writer, I never became a farmer, but I got to travel to farms every so often, to trap cats that needed to be neutered. And I got to write about those cats. Not as much as I would like to though… Just because I do not have the time… Anyway, who wants to hear about cat stories? Well, it is not just about cats, it’s also about how people deal with grief and the suffering endured by those cats. And then it makes you think about many other topics: what is our responsibility when it comes to the natural and animal world and what can we do to rectify our mistakes? Or should we just keep living on, in our egoistical little world? Mind, I am quite selfish myself, but one day I decided that I should help, and that day led to another and increasingly I began to help, so my life changed and I was never able to turn back. It just happened naturally, I did not decide it, but now that I’ve started what I am doing I cannot stop it and I need to continue…



Yes, I do realise I am ten days late doing my August post.  I also realise that I don’t have my usual landmark photo – to be honest, the weather has not been the best and I did not feel like venturing outside when I thought about it.  And, yes, I also realise I haven’t posted for a long time, nor kept up to date with my favourite blogs.  What can I say?  I have been really busy.  I know, I always say that, but it’s true and this time I am happy busy.  Moreover, I have been blogging, just not here.

So, what happened to me that has made me so busy you might ask?  Do you remember the animal rescue charity I was telling you about a little while ago, the Cork Animal Care Society?  I have been helping them.  Not only by fostering kittens – Daz and Suds are still with me and Leo has also moved in – but also by looking after our presence on the internet and coordinating fundraising activities.  I have thus created a blog and this is where I have been writing lately.  Oh, and guess what?  We are going to have a booklet of creative writing, called Furry Tales and Meowsings!  And we welcome submissions from anywhere in the world (hint, hint!)…  I should soon find a balance and might even manage to start posting here again before September comes.

Here, in Ireland, we would nearly forget what summer means if it weren’t for the cats who haven’t forgotten about the mating season and are having loads of kittens who need help.  The weather is atrocious and my garden is struggling, although the sunflowers have finally come out.  I hope your summer is a little bit sunnier than ours…

Summer?  Is it summer really?  I’m being negative, the sun actually made an apparition today.  Let’s just hope it lasts…

First of all, I’d like to wish a happy Canada Day to all Canadians stumbling on this blog.  Canada day also marks the end of the fourth Canadian Book Challenge and the beginning of the fifth edition, in which I will again take part (you can check details on John’s blog The Book Mine Set).  Like last year, I will again begin with a novel by Carol Shields.  There must be something about this time of the year that draws me to her writings!  To celebrate Canada Day, I have been posting reviews on Canadian short stories and will keep doing so during the weekend (you can find the links to all the Canadian short stories I’ve reviewed here).

June has been a strange month for me and I’ve had ups and downs.  I usually like June.  The days are long and you can chill out in the garden in the evenings; however, the weather was not too helpful.  I spent most of my time studying, although very slowly, and… looking for a job, but nothing on that front yet.  The passing away of someone special did not help to lift up my spirits.  I went to Germany for a conference, though, and that was a nice experience; I will soon write a post on this trip.

Anyhow, this is a new month, a new beginning, right?  I have decided to be positive and to make the most of it with what I have.  Hopefully, the garden will start being more productive and I might spend more time in it if the weather permits.  I also still have the two foster kittens, Daz and Suds, under my care.  I think I might have found them a forever home, but I’m considering fostering more kittens when they leave.  At least, watching them always puts a smile on my face!

I wish you all a good summer!

Can you see?  The first green bean is out!

The broccoli is getting bigger (there is a second one, but it is much smaller):

Not a red hot chilli pepper, but soon, I hope:

Most of the flowers in my garden are spring flowers, but there are still some clematis:

And these little blue flowers have come out:

And the sunflowers should be blooming soon.  Now, that will cheer me up!

I don’t think I’ve ever shown you the view from my garden…  These cows are my alarm clock!

The sad news came in yesterday: Anne Fitzgerald from the Cork Animal Care Society unexpectedly passed away.

You might remember my two recent posts about the CACS.  Although I had spoken a few times to Anne on the phone, I only got to meet her in person ten days ago at the volunteers’ fair in Cork and had been in touch with her since.  They say that Anne was an inspiration and she was for me.  A few days after the fair, she sent a cry for help: she needed someone to foster two kittens as she needed space for some new-born kittens.  That’s how I offered to foster for Daz and Suds

Daz and Suds, two of the many kittens rescued by Anne

I again saw her a few days later as I met her in East Cork to go to collect a mother cat with her two-day old kittens at the vet and bring them back where they belonged (read the story here).  She had to go back the following day to collect that mum’s sister, who had been neutered.  She rang me that evening, she was happy.  The mum and her new-borns were doing well, her sister had been spayed and gone back to the garden where she belonged to and the sister’s four kittens were being rehomed by the vet and had had their sore eyes sorted.  A success story as she liked them.  Anne was also happy because the woman who had rung her about these cats insisted to pay the vet bill.  It was not a question of money, it was the fact that with it more kittens would be saved, but it was also a proof that some people cared and were ready to help making this world a better place for animals.  I’d like to imagine that she went away that night peacefully thinking that the animals could rely on other people to continue her work in helping the animals.

The new-born kitten we collected at the vet. These ones were lucky, they still had their mum. How often did Anne have to be the surrogate mother for less lucky kittens? (photo from the CACS facebook page)

Saying that Anne cared is not enough.  Anne was devoted to animals, she lived with them and for them.  No matter what time of the night, what day of the week, Anne was there for them.  She was always on the go, on her way to rescue distressed animals, and even when at home, she would never stop as she had so many kittens to care for.

When she stepped into my car on Friday, Anne was carrying a big cardboard box.  She turned to me with a smile and said: “do you want to see what I have here?”  Of course I did!  She opened the box and there was a tiny ginger kitten about two weeks old.  As I was driving, she got a bottle of cat milk out and syringe-fed the kitten who then went for a long nap while we were tending to the other cats and kittens.

Yes, Anne was an inspiration for all of us.  We won’t be able to replace her, but we must continue the amazing work she was doing by putting our efforts together.

This is my small tribute to Anne (read Albert’s wonderful tribute on the CACS website).  The last couple of days have been very sad for the animal world, but we must keep going on….

RIP Anne, you are sadly missed (photo, courtesy of Anne)

Little did I know when I went to help recruit volunteers for the Cork Animal Care Society (read my post here) that I would end up fostering for them a few days later!  I already have four cats, so fostering kittens always seemed like an imposssibility. 

These last couple of days, updates from the CACS haven’t stopped, more kittens are coming in every day.  Some of them are very young and need intensive care: bottle-feeding new-born kittens is a hard job.  However, there is only so much space the current fosterers can offer.  They urgently needed a fosterer for two six-week old kittens so they could take in a new-born kitten and a two-week old kitten who needs to be bottle-fed.  A case of life or death.  What could I do? 

Of course I offered to help!  I am not working this week and the living room is unoccupied most of the time, so no excuse!  I can only look after them for a week as I’m going away to a conference next week, but at least it will leave a bit of time to find another fosterer.

Daz and Suds

Daz and Suds (named so because they love fresh laundry) arrived this afternoon and settled without any trouble.  They quickly went exploring their room and we had a lovely cuddle time together!

Wow! New toys!

Don’t they look like they already own the place?


This cushion has always been a favourite with kittens…



Doesn’t this look like a summery view of my stretch of road to you?  I agree, it is not that bright, but the sun was setting down at the time…  In fact, today was the sunniest and warmest day of the year.  It was lovely after so much rain and wind during the month of May…

As you might have guessed, May was as busy as June for me.  There are many things I’d like to post, but I haven’t had a minute; no worries, it will eventually happen.  Meanwhile, you can have a look at the conference blog in which I was involved:

June looks a bit quieter, but I was saying that about May, so who knows…  I have a trip planned to Marburg in Germany.  I have never been to Germany and I look forward to it.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a word of German.  I bought a phrase book, but I have no idea how to pronounce the words!  At least I know how to say thank you, so I can be polite…

I used to love the way June used to be synonymous with longer days (still is) and the arrival of the summer.  Nowadays, you just don’t know if you will actually get a summer!  The summer solstice is also the occasion for celebrations and, when living in France, I used to go to see “les feux de la St Jean”, which were parties of pagan inspiration involving dancing around a fire, eating earthy food and fireworks.  Apparently, such celebrations are still taking place and, next year, if everything goes according to plans, I should go back to where I spent many a 21st of June in Brittany.  This year, I will have to contend myself with looking after the garden so I can enjoy eating lovely veg during the summer (I’ll post photos soon).

I wish you all a great month, enjoy the long and, hopefully, warm evenings!

“En Mai fait ce qu’il te plait!”

This is another French idiom, which means that in May one should do whatever one likes!  I might not be able to take this idiom too literally as I must get back to my thesis after a month spent travelling, going to conferences, catching up with family and friends and doing some work in the garden.

As you can see, my stretch of road is becoming quite green.  The weather has been lovely here and the flowers are blossoming.  The air offers so many fresh smells of flowers; it’s delightful.

The clematis in my garden

As today is the 1st of May, I offer you all a stem of Lily of the Valley from my garden, a traditional lucky charm given in France on this date.  I brought back the offsprings from my grandfather’s garden two years ago and this year I am glad to have got three stems.

Enjoy the sunny days of May!

“En Avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil.”

This is a French saying meaning that in April one should remain wrapped up.  By the look of my monthly pic, which looks very wintery, it seems true.  The sunshine is there, but evenings are still chilly and I still have to turn on the heating at times.

I can’t believe that the month of March has already come and gone.  The beginning of the month was really busy, with World Book Night and then my trip to Spain, and I haven’t yet managed to catch up on… on everything.  I haven’t even finished writing one of my papers for the next two conferences and I’m going away on Sunday.

Yes, April should be another busy month, but I think I will be able to slow down a little towards the second half of the month.  I must say that life has been quite exciting, so I am not complaining! 

Have a wonderful month!

This is what I feel like doing: take a coffee break with an eclair and a book…

Although it has officially been spring for a whole month here, in Ireland, it does not look like much has changed on my little stretch of road.  The light is pretty bad on this picture I must admit.  The days are getting longer though and plants are starting to blossom.  We have had some beautiful days, but it is still a bit chilly, about 5°C (ahah! I’m thinking of you Canadian readers!).  February went by so fast I did not even get a chance to plant any seeds.  I’d better get that done fairly quickly if I want some veg in the summer.

As my landmark picture does not really reflect the season, I have also taken some photos of the daffodils that are growing next to my house.  I love daffodils, they always make me so happy, probably because they signify the beginning of the spring.

March is bound to be another busy month for me.  What with World Book Night, the Earth Hour, Saint Patrick’s day, my trip to Madrid and all the papers I have to write for conferences?  It should be an entertaining and exciting month to say the least!

I leave you with this video.  I was trying to find a quotation or poem I know that would illustrate spring and the only thing that came to my mind is a song by Charles Trenet, ” Boum”.  I have never been a fan, but I remember when my Dad used to play his tape in the car. 

And this is the same song, but live.  He certainly seemed to be a character!

Happy month of March to all of you!