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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


No, I haven't died or been in a coma

I've just been taking a break from blogging.

I had a lot more to say when we started Cinnamon Patrol... wait, I still have lots to say. I guess the difference is that now, I say it to people I know in person, or via email. And between work, travel and knitting, things have been fairly busy.

David's done a good job of keeping you up to date with the travelling part of our lives, so there's no need for me to recap.

Family-wise, it's been a bit up and down this year. I have a new niece, who is super-cute and has great big chops (just like her dad did), which is great. Less great was my maternal grandmother dying, even though she was ready to. I managed to make it for the funeral week in Florida, where I caught up with relatives I hadn't seen in a very long time, plus my parents. Oh, and I warmed up after a very cold & wet year in Ireland. (And I discovered the delight that is Wildly Cherry M&Ms... The subject of yet another post perhaps.)

On the work front, I'm working hard. The job is a juicy one, and the colleagues are generally great, as are the bosses. However, the distance & time zone issues are definitely wearing me down. I visited the office in Vancovuer in May this year, and am negotiating hard for a second trip every year. I'm a one-woman band on the marketing front for 2 companies, which is fun but also keeps me pretty busy.

On the knitting front, I've managed some baby-related items, socks for David, and a few as-yet-unfinished items for myself. I've mad a conscious effort not to buy any yarn this year unless I really love it and have a project in mind - mostly because my yarn boxes are very full already. I discovered that one of my colleagues not only knits, but also dyes yarns (check her amazing yarn out here), and have converted a friend in Dublin to knitting, thanks in part to her boyfriend living far away, and a small medical incident (hers, not mine, and she's fine).

Otherwise, I've been reading a lot - whatever I can get my hands on, including a few disappointing reads (to be discussed later), cooking a bit (we *can* survive on M&S alone, but it is not necessarily good for the planet or our budget), and hanging.

My most exciting news is that I am experimenting with some plants and have created my own little inner-city (ok, well, Smithfield-centric) very-smallholding. I bought organic cherry tomato, aubergine (eggplant) and capsicum (bell pepper) plants, and while there were some initial... teething issues (mites! whitefly! spidermites! oh my!), we seem to be on the right track now. The aubergine and capsicum, victims to the above-mentioned nasties, were doused in bug killer, and as such are no longer organic. They live outside, are largely neglected, and seem to be thriving nonetheless.

My cherry tomato plant though... Ahhh George. George was spared the mites-and-bugs, and thus remains blissfully organic. He gets a lot of love and attention - daily spritzing with water, encouraging chat about how clever and strong and tall he is - and is now over 5ft 2in as a result. (I know this because he is taller than me now.) And in spite of a decided lack of flies or bees to pollinate the flowers, yesterday I discovered six (!!!!) baby tomatoes on him. They'll be horrendously late-season, but organic cherry tomatoes nonetheless.

And last, but decidedly not least, I find myself on the cusp of turning 30. In response, I've made a concerted effort to try to eat more healthily (though there are other reasons for that too, which I'll blog about later), and started to go to the gym (several posts' worth all on their own). I've also expressed interest in expensive antique jewellery (hi, David!), which is decidedly less painful and boring than the gym and eating lots of veggies.

While David seems to have settled into 30 fairly easily after a brief panic, I haven't started panicking yet, so I suspect I'll be doing that after the fact. Cross your fingers that I'll be too lazy to bother. I still haven't figured out how I'd like to mark my 30th - any and all suggestions for appropriate ways of marking my passage into moderate-amounts-of-adult-like-behaviour are welcome - please leave a comment!

And with that - which is much longer than intended, and IMHO more than makes up for my months of not-blogging, I'll leave you to it.

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I'm sure those of you enduring winter will enjoy seeing the comely resort town of Biarritz. It's in the very SW of France, nearly at the Spanish border - that them there's Basque Country.

We had perfect weather and jolly good time: getting (me) / avoiding being (Laura) sunburnt, bobbing about in the gentle surf, eating, drinking cider and taking afternoon naps.

If you feel even the tiniest bit jealous - well don't be - because this is first time I have been truly hot in over a year, and the first time I've swum in the sea since Goa on our honeymoon. And we only had 3 days of it. And although it's warm in Dublin at this moment, the "mini-heatwave" (hur hur) is due to end any minute to be replaced by, well, rain and wind of course. (Slideshow here).

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Camera got stuck, multiple exposures were taken accidentally.

Looks kinda cool.

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Life in NZ

Oh dear, oh dear.

From: Name change ordered for 'Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii'
Child Youth and Family does not consider giving a child an out-of-the-ordinary name, such as 'Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii', a form of abuse unless a child suffers serious bullying as a result...



"Die Juden sind unser Unglück!"

I've just finished reading Saul Friedländer's The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939-1945. Interspersed with contemporaneous journal entries, it traces - in detail and in chronological order - exactly what happened during those darkest years. It's something to do with being here in Europe and travelling to those places; I'm trying to fill the big gaps in my knowledge.

Large parts of the book are difficult reading. Virulent (and it would seem, quite mindless) anti-Semitism from the top brass found a natural home amongst traditional Christian anti-Semitism and the long standing the-Jews-are-outsiders-living-among-us-and-hoarding-all-the-money-style anti-Semitism that was liberally peppered all over the continent. The fascist regime encouraged, no demanded, lawlessness and vigilantism, which saw many truly gruesome grassroots massacres. And the Wehrmacht, under the collective spell of Nazi propaganda, seem to have lost all respect whatsoever for human life.

This attempted summary is a bit pointless, as everyone knows the story. So I thought I'd paste an except from the book, and this particular passage has stuck with me:

In early July 1942 Henry Montor, the president of the United Palestine Appeal in the United States, asked Lichtheim [the delegate of the Jewish Agency in Geneva] to send him a 1,500-word article reviewing “the position of Jews in Europe.” “I feel at present quite unable to write a ‘report’,” Lichtheim answered Montor on August 13, “a survey, something cool and clear and reasonable… So I wrote not a survey but something more personal—an article, if you like—or an essay, not of 1,500 words but of 4,000 giving more of my own feelings than of the ‘facts.’” The letter concluded with “all good wishes for the New Year to you and the happier Jews of ‘God’s own country’”. Lichtheim titled his essay “What is Happening to the Jews of Europe”:

“A letter has reached me from the United States, asking me to ‘review the position of Jews in Europe.’ This I cannot do because the Jews are today no more in a ‘position’ than the water of a rapid rushing down into some canyon, or the dust of the desert lifted by a tornado and blown in all the directions.

“I cannot even tell you how many Jews there are at present in this or that town, in this or that country, because at the very moment of writing thousands of them are fleeing hither and thither, from Belgium and Holland to France (hoping to escape to Switzerland), from Germany—because deportation to Poland was imminent—to France and Belgium, where the same orders for deportation have just been issued. Trapped mice running in circles. They are fleeing from Slovakia to Hungary, from Croatia to Italy. At the same time, thousands are being shifted under Nazi supervision to forced labor camps in the country further east, while other thousands just arrived from Germany or Austria are thrown into the ghettos of Riga or Lublin.”

As Lichtheim was writing his “essay,” information was reaching Allied and neutral countries from increasingly reliable sources about what was really happening to European Jews… And yet, even without indications about the extermination, Lichtheim’s letter conveyed his anguish in sentences that, decades later, can sear the reader’s mind: “I am bursting with facts,” he went on, “but I cannot tell them in an article of a few thousand words. I would have to write for years and years… That means I really cannot tell you what has happened and is happening to five million persecuted Jews in Hitler’s Europe. Nobody will ever tell the story – a story of five million personal tragedies every one of which would fill a volume.”




Prague & Portmagee

Last weekend saw us (us + Molly & Bryan) on a whistle-stop tour of Prague, made even more whistle stopped by the on-going radar problems at Dublin airport. Without wanting to sound jaded, Prague was pretty much how I expected it to be: river with bridges, central square with church and cafes, fairy-tale castle and hordes of tourists.

It was once home to a thriving Jewish population and the Jewish area - the Josefov - is very close to the main square. It has 8 synagogues, the oldest of which, the Old New Synagogue is Europe's oldest active synagogue - we took a quick tour inside. Legend has it that the Golem, in its deactivated state, is hidden in the attic there.

Some photos here, or slideshow here.

Also I put up my photos (slideshow) of Portmagee. This is the very small town where we stayed for two nights in Kerry. It's cute no?

The weekend after this one we are taking a 3-day holiday in Biarritz (thanks be to Ryanair for flying direct from Dublin to this somewhat famous old-school beach resort in the South of France). The very extended forecast isn't looking good but I'm hoping for some clear and sunny weather - summer in Ireland so far has been a bit ... flat.

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Midnight's Children

I can count the number of serious novels I've read on one hand, so to find that Rushdie's Midnight Children has been named "Best of the Booker" is excellent, as that is the only serious novel I've read more than once (the last time while on honeymoon in India).

I found this on the BBC. Apparently the book is "not the easiest of reads" and this article asks readers to give a summary of the novel in 67 words or less.

This one has to be the best so far:
Quasi religious/magical/political exploration of a society through the
condensed experience of one Anglo-Indian drip-nosed telepathic narrator.
I think it's a great novel by the way; easy to read, entertaining and a real page turner with a good twist at end. This in comparison to Tolstoy's Anna Karenina which I bought in NZ and picked up several times - but to no avail, and also the Harry Potter series which I don't care for.



Interpretive dance?

"Interpretive dance is a family of dance styles that seeks to interpret the
meaning inherent in music rather than by performing specific preformatted moves."