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Mango Madness!

I’m waiting for a call from an Indian man. No, he’s not going to ask me out – it’s far more exciting than that. He is the owner of the local Asian food shop and has assured me that he will give me a bell as soon as the boxes of mangoes arrive.

It’s been mango season for a month now and my girls and I have been dying to sample some of India’s finest. I have driven about 100 kms in that month looking for the golden pods of heaven-scented deliciousness to no avail. It looks like today may be my lucky day.

I love mangoes. I love everything about them – the heft of a ripe one in the hand; the scent of them; the colours of them; the shape of them. And, of course, the taste of them. I love their versatility – the way you can use green, unripe ones as a savoury side dish if you pop few mustard seeds and coat them in chilli powder; the way you can make drinks, pickles, desserts, ice-cream, breads, crisps and even curries out of them. Of course, nothing beats eating a perfectly ripe mango just as it is.

I know some of you may be frowning and thinking ‘But there are mangoes in the shops all year round – what’s wrong with her?’ Well, yes and no. The truth is that I’m a mango snob and I wrinkle my nose at the sight of those small, red and green bullet-hard fruits from places such as Brazil. Everyone knows that mangoes – real mangoes – are only grown on the India subcontinent. Beautiful, firm alphonsoes, for example. Or, my personal favourite, the banganapalli.

When they are perfectly ripe, the banganapalli is soft beneath the taut golden skin. Then, the only way to eat them is to squish the fruit gently with your fingers and then bite off the tip of the mango. Slurp out the pulpy, slightly-sticky contents until there is nothing left but the seed rattling around in the pod of skin. A word of caution, though; don’t do this around people you don’t know/want to impress. You will end up covered in mango nectar, but that’s half the fun. Or it can be, if you’re with the right person. 😉

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Bed Bound

A fortnight ago, I got a call from one of my cousins. Her sister was moving – the following day – to Wales. In the middle of clearing out her house, she had realised she had a spare bed. My cousin rang to see if I wanted it. I thought about it for a second and said, ‘Thanks but no Thanks.’ I knew I’d want another bed at some stage, but I didn’t think I needed one now.

About an hour later, I rang my cousin back.

‘Can I be a PITA and change my mind about that bed?’ I asked.

‘Of course!’ came the reply. It would be dropped around in an hour. Between the first and second phone calls, I had given the bed some thought. If I had a double bed, it could go in my eldest daughter’s room. I could move the bunk-beds from her room into my younger daughter’s room and, that way, when I had visitors, they could have my elder daughter’s room while the two girls shared the bunk beds in the room of the younger. Fantastic! I was doubly delighted because I am expecting a friend to come and stay with us in a month, for an extended period.

When the bed arrived, however, things did not quite pan out that way.  For a start, there was no mattress with it, which I had expected, to be honest. Upon inspection, it wasn’t really that great a piece of furniture at all, and it certainly wasn’t ‘nearly new’ as I had been told. In fact, I started to think that if it had gone in the skip, that would not have been so terrible a thing. Still, I figured that, seeing as I had it now, I’d buy a good mattress for it and it would do for a year or so.

Finally tackling the job of moving all the furniture around, I first tried to move the bunk beds out of my eldest daughter’s room. No joy. I’d forgotten that the bed had been assembled in the room. In order to move them out, I’d have to disassemble and re-assemble them. Well, that wasn’t going to happen.

So, I thought I’d put the double bed into my younger girl’s room. It would fit, but it would be a tight squeeze. There wouldn’t be room for much else. I realised that it wasn’t going to work. Things would have to revert to how they had been. The bunk beds where they were and the small single bed back in the room I’d just taken it out of.

Sigh.

Further, I’m now going to have to get a skip myself to get rid of the blasted thing. I have other bits and pieces around the house that need to be skipped, so I’m not getting it *just* for the bed. Still, I’m a bit put out because a skip bag would easily have taken care of the things I need to get rid of. So, really, it’s going to cost me €25 to get rid of a bed I never used.

I’ll stop moaning now, because I have learnt from this experience. I’ve learnt a couple of things, actually.

First of all, that if something is working, then let it keep working.

Secondly, I have learnt that I have enough stuff of my own. I don’t need other people’s.

Thirdly, people will lie – or at least stretch the truth – if it is in their own best interests to do so.

Fourthly, if I think I want something, I should make sure that the goods are ‘as described’ before accepting them.

Finally, there’s enough stuff in my house. I need to get rid of things, not take in more!

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Living MY Life

Facebook has a lot to answer for. No, I’m not going to blather on about privacy and all the other bugbears that Facebook users moan about. I’m talking about the snapshots of other people’s lives that Facebook can give us. Little insights into what they’re doing and where they are and how they’re doing. I’m on Facebook, but under an assumed name. I am happy to share what I’m doing, but only with a select few. You can only be my friend on Facebook if I invite you – look for me under my own name and you won’t find me.

The thing about Facebook, however, is that it’s so easy to find people you knew years ago and have lost contact with. Of course, that was part of the raison d’etre for the thing in the first place, but it can be dreadfully envy-inducing; kind of like a school-reunion where you compare and contrast your life with the lives of your peers.

This morning was a classic example. I clicked on my friend’s friends list and found a mutual friend. So I clicked on her. This woman was a woman I knew – and was very friendly with – about 9 years ago. Our eldest daughters were due within a few weeks of each other,  we held very similar views on parenting, and generally got along grand.  I also really liked her husband, a genuine, warm guy with a fabulous job for a large MNC. We lost touch when I moved back to Europe, though I sometimes heard of her from our mutual friend.

Anyway, this morning, I learnt that she is living my life. That is to say, she has what I always wanted. She is still married to the same wonderful man, she now has not one, not two, but FOUR gorgeous children and she’s living in India.

This information sent me into a comparison overdrive. This woman is just a few months older than I am. Yet there she is, having the life I always wanted: A loving husband, loads of kids, no financial worries and living in my favourite country. And here I am, never having had a loving husband, with just two children, plenty of financial worries and living in my least favourite country.  Poor me.

Thankfully, I have a reality stick, and I keep it fairly close to hand. I picked it up and gave myself a little whack over the head with it.

Who says that all is rosy in my old friend’s garden? Don’t I know well that things are rarely what they seem to outsiders? Don’t I know well that people have plenty of troubles that they don’t broadcast? Who am I to decide that her life is ‘better’ than mine? I may not ever have had a loving husband – but I have lots of friends who bring much joy, support and love into my life. I may ‘just’ have two kids; but they are amazing children and I am truly, wonderfully blessed to have them.  My children are safe and healthy – not every parent has that luxury. I may have financial worries, but I also have the capability to rid myself of them – and while I may not be the wealthiest woman on my street, what I have is mine and I’m not dependent on any man (or woman!).  While I am living in a country where I’d rather not be, it’s where I am and I can choose to be annoyed about that, or I can choose to bloom where I’m planted.

If I am to remind myself of one of my core beliefs – that everything is as it should be – then I have no reason to be upset, envious or worried. I may not have access to the amount of money my friend has, but am I any less happy? I shouldn’t be. I have the life I have. I can choose to moan about it or I can choose to live it.

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OLOL Back in The News

Yet again, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is in the news for all the wrong reasons. According to Fiach Kelly in today’s Irish Independent, when Melissa Redmond presented for an early pregnancy scan, the doctor who performed the scan told her and her husband that their baby was dead. Arrangements were made for Melissa to undergo a D&C operation to remove the foetus from her womb.

Melissa, however, who already had two children and had also suffered four miscarriages, felt that this was a misdiagnosis. Relying on her own instinct and previous experiences, she made an appointment with her GP, who confirmed that her foetus was still very much alive.

Melissa gave birth to a healthy boy in March of this year.  As her husband,  Michael,  says in the Indo’s report today, there is every possibility that other women could have had viable foetuses removed from their wombs. Unfortunately – in a culture where doctors are still treated as gods – it is not just possible, it is highly likely. As there will be no investigation by the hospital, just how many babies – if any – have been killed by negligent doctors at OLOL in Drogheda will never be known.

A number of things struck me about this case.

Firstly, I was shocked that one doctor – without a second opinion or reference to a single colleague – declared a baby dead and set about organising the removal of said baby from his mother’s womb. Surely, a second opinion should have been sought?

Secondly, it brings glaringly into focus that midwifery skills are sorely lacking in Irish hospitals. A competent midwife with a functioning pinard would have been able to tell Melissa the happy news that her baby was fine.  No piece of equipment can take the place of an experienced midwife.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in the newspaper article, I have to wonder if the doctor asked Melissa Redmond such obvious, common-sense questions as ‘Do you still feel pregnant?’ or any question relating to how she felt at the time of the scan and how she felt on previous occasions when she lost a baby. Contrary to what so many members of the medical profession seem to think, women are not thick – not even when they are pregnant – and asking relevant questions can uncover relevant answers.

Once again, I was struck by how badly women and children are treated in Irish society. I was struck by how little we matter – and how disempowered we are (even though I sometimes wonder if women are their own worst enemy and actively collude in their own suppression – but that’s a blog entry for another day).

The bottom line, I think, is that women need to take more responsibility for their own health and well-being – whether that’s taking responsibility by choosing the safer option of a home birth (homebirth is safer than hospital birth for over 80% of women) or by simply trusting her own instinct and asking for a second opinion.

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