Family Frailty

tonyMy son and I have a lot in common, once you get past genetic makeup, skin color, gender, sporting prowess, and taste in music. Like me, he is not entirely honest with himself or others; is not inclined to stick around and sort things out when he has messed up; and can be stubborn and imperious when shamed. Trust is not our strong suit. We are both funny and charming and risk-taking and gregarious. We often go too far with fun, hurting ourselves and others in the process. I am good with children, and he is even better.  This is helpful as he is now a single father with a 10 month old daughter.

I haven’t seen much of my son in the last two years–his choice, not mine. In the pastSAM_0798 couple of weeks we have met a couple of times and it is good to be back in touch. He is clever with words and, like me, enjoys picking just the right one. His ability is impressive because he relies on context and deduction to work out the meaning of unfamiliar words–his uncertain spelling makes dictionary diving very difficult. He stores new finds in his memory and relishes the chance to deploy them. Someone was correctly described as nonchalant this week. I know I have written the word before, but I am not sure I have ever said it out loud.

On the face of it, the middle-aged, overweight, white woman (dressed in office clothes) and the young black man (wife-beater, torn jeans, giant tennis shoes, and ever-visible boxers) eating french fries together outside an urban Checkers look like a mismatch, but our lives have turned in surprisingly similar circles.  Hansel is now raising his daughter alone. I was raised by my father alone. We both lost our mothers when we were children and have found it too hard to leave that pain behind. My dearest wish for him is that he gets to raise his child to adulthood, something our own mothers were denied.

Sitting at a hot concrete table outside a strip mall burger bar we sucked down exhaust fumes with our milkshakes. “Where are the big words coming from? ” I said. “I am reading a bit” said Hansel “and trying to write some stories. Just my thoughts about things”.

“Keep at it” I said, just as my father always said to me. “It’s comforting isn’t it? It keeps you company”

He nodded and picked up the baby’s carrier seat, hoisting her into the back of my car

“We should write a book” I said. “I can write about my father and you can write about your daughter”.

“That would be a hell of a story” he said. We both know we don’t have the staying power.

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‘Thon Fella—What’s His Name?

IMG_1317Brendan “the Dark” Hughes, must be swiveling in the grave that has cradled him since 2008. The IRA man, a 1980s hunger striker, died peacefully in a hospital bed, after a life devoted to gunning down others in the name of Irish freedom. For many people in Northern Ireland he is a hero, but it is fair to say he does not have many fans among those of Ulster Scots heritage, my own proud tradition. His was not a face I ever expected to see again, so imagine my surprise when up popped a picture of the Dark, above a caption claiming him as the Executive Producer of a new television program shown on BBC 2 Northern Ireland this week. The Dark’s picture features on an app promoting The Gaitherin. This monthly magazine show celebrates all that is unique about the Ulster Scots–their taciturn tenacity, their Presbyterian puritanism, and their love of the Lambeg Drum. Truly, Brendan “the Dark” Hughes wouldn’t be seen dead anywhere near it.

Let me explain: Ulster Scots people are the descendents of people who came to from the Scottish Lowlands in the early 1600s as part of the Tudor Plantation of Ireland. These people were early adopters of Protestantism. The English Queen was pleased to pay to move them only 13 miles across a strip of stormy sea so she could have them on Irish soil where they could help her keep the Celtic Catholic rabble at bay. Much of this population has remained fiercely loyal to the British crown ever since and, because of their trenchant opposition to the idea of an independent Ireland in the early 1900s, Northern Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdom today. The old, original Irish Republican Army fought to have Ireland liberated from English rule nearly a century ago. Fast forward sixty or seventy years and you have the likes of Brendan “the Dark” Hughes prepared to risk his own life,and take the lives of many others, in an effort to convince the British Parliment to get the hell out of North and leave the Ulster Scots to fend for themselves in the coldest corner of a United Ireland. It didn’t work out that way.


brendanMost of the population of Northern Ireland–Ulster Scots Protestant or Celtic Roman Catholic –did not take the terror trail followed by The Dark. They stayed out of trouble and out of each other’s way. In a largely segregated society, no-one needed to meet anyone who wasn’t from their own tribe. Education and a Euro grant or two are changing all that. Prosperous, professional Protestants and Catholics now live and work together in a way that just didn’t happen when I was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s. It is possible still for people from each tradition to choose to keep themselves to themselves, never venturing past their own partisan-painted gable end but for the most part everyone is mixing and mingling; practicing playing nicely.  So it is that The Gaitherin  is  produced by one Brendan Hughes. Actually by my friend Brendan “Spud” Hughes and not the the moustachioed IRA member.  Same name: two very different people. As you can see, the most sinister thing about Spud are the dark frames on his glasses. He is more ganch than guerilla freedom fighter. Although far from where he was reared (by the Christian Brothers in Newry, Co. Down, right on the Northern Ireland Border) he is completely comfortable talking to red-haired people who have oxters where others have armpits. He is terrible fand of them forbye.  No-one needs to fear for his life when Spud shows up at the door carrying a camera, not a Kalashnikov. He makes wee fillums about flute fingering, and shares recipes for tray bakes on TV. He knows the importance of a Sunday hat bought from Logans of Cloughmills. While not a dulse eater himself, he has a tolerance for those who do indulge. He roams the roads of Armoy, Lisnagat, Liscolman and Mosside in Co.Antrim  speaking to old men whose first names are Campbell and Armstrong and Nelson.  They are almost certainly relatives of mine and they speak as my maternal grandparents did: They “canny call the polis” even if they “had a quare gunk” from a hard chaw, a drouth, or a sleekit wee skitter. (Translation available here). Spud seems remarkably unfazed to have been mistaken for the Hunger Striker Hard Man by Google Images. He thinks its a laugh. It is a testament to how things have changed in Northern Ireland, that no one else is up in arms over an error that might once have cost millions in a libel suit–or, worse, cost people their lives.

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My childhood bedroom

My parents decided not to replace our bedroom carpet until my sister and I had stopped spitting up and pissing in corners.

The carpet was an ugly grey and black, not the kind of thing you usually see in a nursery. It was still there, rubbed down to its ropes, when I left Belfast to go to university. It was still there when we cleared the house out after my dad died. I was 51 that year and I want to you know that I haven’t thrown up or wet myself for ages.

Our bedroom was under the eaves of the 1950s bungalow, a room with walls and floors constructed from chipboard and masking tape by my father in the early 1960s. This description doesn’t do credit to the artistry of the design. The room was an ingenious use of space and managed to be sound and safe while still being light, architectural and original, as though rendered in origami. My father also built the stairs, all open-plan and wood and steel, like something from a mid-century design bible. In 45 years though, my father never quite got to the punch list items on this project. Although he was an electrical engineer, the power supply was ramshackle to say the least.

At the time we sold the house in 2011, all the lights in our bedroom were still powered by a plug in the hall on the main floor of the house, a flight of stairs below our eyrie. At first my parents kept it that way because of the power it gave them. If we didn’t settle, or refused to stay in bed with the lights off, they wrenched the downstairs plug from its socket and heard us squeal in the sudden darkness. Swift and terrible punishment and they didn’t even have to climb the stairs.

The room in the roof space became stifling hot in summer. I, plagued by allergies, used to lie on my single bed and sweat while my brother and sister spent the long holiday outside playing in the grass. Even without the excuse of itchy eyes and a streaming nose I would have chosen to stay inside and read. My bedside bookshelf was home to Heidi and the Railway Children, Five Children and It, and of course Anne of Green Gables, the girl who made it ok to be redheaded and to like long words.

The door to the bedroom was never equipped with a handle, much less a lock. Ours was the only room on this level and so at first it mattered little that we couldn’t close the door that led to the small landing at the top of the stairs. It mattered the day I brought a boyfriend home.  I was back from university for the summer and my love  and I had gone out for lunch in Belfast and came home tasting of  heat and white wine and strawberries. We went to bed and he, unfamiliar with the eccentricities of our upstairs arrangements, closed the door behind him. Our only exertion that hot and steamy afternoon was to try to wrench the door back open before my father came home from work at 5:15pm and before our air supply ran out. There was only one small window in the bedroom, and the  door needed to be open to allow air to circulate from the rest of the house.  We made it, just, before he died of dehydration and I died of shame.

The lack of a functioning door meant Anne and I could hear everything that happened down below. I’d turn up in the living room with a sore tummy or needing a glass of water when I heard the theme tune for Dr. Finlay’s Casebook on the living room TV. Sometimes my mother would let me join her on the sofa to see it. I sat curled in her arm with my toes tucked up in the hem of my brushed nylon nightie. She might have made my father tea and toast for supper and I’d get some too, dipping the buttered barmbrack in my own milky cup.

One January night when I was 10  I heard my father take the early morning call from the hospital telling him my mother had died. I remember he thanked the person on the other end of the line for letting him know. How could he? He went back to bed and I went back to sleep. We didn’t know what else to do.

Other nights, perhaps at 10pm, I would hear my father wind the clock that hung above the telephone table in the hall. The rasp of the key and the steady tock was reassurance that life would go on. I have that clock now but it’s banjaxed. I must get it fixed.

The curtains in our room were orange and our built-in furniture olive green. The walls were white. We slept in an interior design version of the Irish flag.

Posted in About the Blarney Crone, Blarney Family, Books, interior design, Tales of a Belfast girlhood, You can take the Crone out of Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seven Days of Bliss

IMG_1296This was a great week. I got to see my son and hold his baby girl. My daughter won a job interview with one of the world’s biggest and best known companies. I began to work on a project that will be all-consuming and completely fulfilling. In the garden, the rhododendron has flowered for the first time and the plant-wall I created with an old wine rack and some annuals gives every indication it will flourish. Betsy Fisher  ordered in some clothes just for me. I bought a hand printed shirt with giant black flowers on a white background, a light weight cardigan in inky blue, and an olive skirt that may very well be the most beautiful item of clothing I have ever owned. In the company of good friends, I heard the fabulous Brene Brown tell her stories about the value 2014-06-01 17.27.19of vulnerability, and the power to be found in how we handle shame. She manages to make this very funny. On Saturday, I took part in a writing workshop where women of talent and well-chosen words told funny, poignant and universal stories of loss, injustice and trauma, and reported how writing had helped to heal their anger and pain. It was much more jolly than it sounds. Last night I watched the Belmont and ate delicious Mediterranean food in the company of good friends. Tonight they will come to my deck for cheese and crackers, wine and beer in what has become a Sunday night tradition in Itchy Ankle. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

Read the books of Amy Abrams, Jennifer Handford and Brene Brown.

Watch Brene Brown’s TED talk.

Posted in Culture with the Crone, food, friendship, Gangsta Hansel & Ghetto Gretel, garden, great ideas for books, Home, Humor, Shopping, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seeing things: Shocker for a Sunday morning

2014-06-01 06.27.59I opened the kitchen cabinet to be confronted by the image of John Major, one-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, looming in front of the cereal bowls.  I reeled in shock. I barely considered Mr Major when he was in power in the 1990s and certainly haven’t thought of him since. It was unnerving to come across him this morning. Had this happened to you, you might have looked around for Mrs Thatcher hovering by the toaster, or strained your ear for the ghastly chuckle of Edward Heath as you opened the fridge. It would be reasonable to assume that you were being haunted by Tory leaders and to return to bed, trembling, before William Hague put in an appearance.

Once I regained my balance and my wits I was able to work out what had happened. Mr Major’s mug was on a coffee mug given to me in April 1997 by political commentator Vincent Hanna. Vincent had acquired it at a minor Major rally in the run-up to the British general election of that year. “Hold on to this,” Vincent had told me conspiratorially ” they haven’t made many. They know he can’t win.”  The mug, in addition to featuring Major’s face and the Union Jack, bears the legend “Fighting for the 5th Term. The Winner”.  Major himself had won only one term, but was attempting to build on Mrs Thatcher’s legacy, delivering a fifth consecutive victory for the Conservatives. Vincent was right. It wasn’t to be. I held on to the mug and brought it with me to the United States in 2000, three years after Major resigned the Tory leadership, and three years after Vincent died in July 1997, just weeks after the May election.

Usually, the mug is at the back of a high cupboard, kept alongside the Christmas plates, occasional vases, and saucers for which there are no cups. It is not the sort of thing you want to look at everyday.

An unusual number of visitors this week must have meant a deep rummage for breakfast ware, causing Mr Major to make an appearance. Whoever emptied the dishwasher could not have known that his face does not fit in my crockery cupboard. He is now back in scullery Siberia, his face turned to the wall.

Instead it is Vincent’s face that floats in front of me, making my day.

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Posted in Crone as political commentator, Culture with the Crone, friendship, Life's vexations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lick me all over

The late Sir David Frost chaired a television panel game called “Through the Keyhole”. The format still airs on TV in the UK. The show involved cameras cruising a celeb’s house, much as on MTV’s Cribs, and other celebs then had to guess whose house was featured. (In both the case of the homeowner and the panel, I am using the term celeb very loosely.)

I mention Through the Keyhole because this week,I, like many of the homeowners who took part in that show, found a home overhaul imperative in advance of stranger scrutiny.

I accepted a booking to host an overnight party through AirBnB. I have booked accommodations before through this site, but have never rented out my own house. Eight people, four couples, wanted the house for one night. I warned them about the one bathroom, the dodgy extractor fan, and the lack of bedroom doors in my open plan abode, but still they persisted.  I began to look at my house through the eyes of a paying guest, and found it wanting: scuffed paint and a awful lot of terrible old tat. I had a yard sale, employed the Hottie to clear out some drawers, persuaded Captain Kirk to do a double cleaning shift, and commissioned the Chesapeake Boys to repaint the kitchen. Really, it was no trouble at at all…

The group of young professionals stayed here on Thursday night. I had left a key for them, and so there was no need to be around for their check-in. I arrived home on Friday night to a sparkling clean house and a lovely note from my guests who assured me that a good time had been had by all. I know this to be true because in my bedroom, I found the only evidence of their stay: a spray bottle of what looks like hummingbird feed marked Lick Me All Over. The bottle is not full. The house, broken in by my own kids during their teenage years, is saying nothing, but I fancy that my bed looks pathetically glad to have finally seen some action.

Should you want to stay in the Blarney Abode, you can make your reservation here. Bring your own unguents.

If you prefer a nice panel game to fooling about with lickables, then plan to be part of The Perfect Liar’s Club which takes place in Washington DC on the first Monday evening of most months. Alternatively, stay home and out of trouble by catching up with old episodes of What’s My Line? on You Tube. The excerpt below features Salvador Dali. Now that’s what I call a celeb.

You can see pictures of my home improvements here.



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Biggin’ It Up on Bourbon Street

2014-05-09 10.32.05In New Orleans on a Friday, Galatoire’s is THE place to go for lunch. The restaurant doesn’t take bookings and so those in the know hire a dissolute to stand in line for them from 6am. Only this way can they be sure to secure a table. Usually we have our own dissolute and so we haven’t cultivated the necessary relationship with Bourbon Street’s down and outs. Until now, the following plan has worked for us: one of our party turns up around 10am and buys a Bloody Mary from a nearby bar. This provides nourishment and succour while standing in the street. Eventually a man with a clipboard will make his way down the line, taking names that will be matched with tables when the restaurant opens at 11am. I was there at 9:36 this morning, well in advance of the two married couples with whom I am traveling. Imagine my dismay when the maitre d’ emerged to tell me he couldn’t seat five, only four. Martyrdom flows through my blood like a breakfast Bloody Mary and so I nobly added Tom’s name to the list.

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I joined the party in the bar for a milk punch but felt it wise to slip away before they were seated and I was thrown out. At the door I turned to give them a wistful wave. This was a mistake. Nobody saw.

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So where does a girl go when she needs to talk and her gay friends are busy with something hot and Cajun? Why, to the hairdresser of course. Muriel works in a salon on Iberville Street in the Quarter. She is peri menopausal and has two grown sons. She had gestational diabetes and her first was very ill when he was born. They didn’t think he would make it but he did and he now works alongside Muriel in the salon. She had the second one by C section.

2014-05-09 12.47.03I had time to find out all of this as Muriel curled and teased and pinned my hair into a style she swore would suit me and could withstand a damp and humid day in New Orleans. After about an hour she swung my chair around so I could see myself in the salon mirror. “I look like a drag queen,” I gasped. “Honey, this is New Orleans.”Muriel replied.

I left the salon in a cloud of hairspray. “That hair ain’t moving, it ain’t going nowhere” Muriel called after me. Au contraire, I and my beehive tottered to the Bourbon House for a frozen Bourbon punch–they add icecream to the milk.

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Then it was time to rejoin the others at Galatoire’s for a Cafe Brulot. They were seated by the ladies loo and, tongues well lubricated, were providing a commentary on the attire and accessories of every Southern Belle going to and fro. I am pleased to say my hairstyle rendered them speechless.

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Posted in Blarney Beauty tips, Crone in America, Culture with the Crone, friendship, Humor, The Traveling Crone | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogging for Ireland on the World Blog Tour

I am part of an Olympic blogging event. Yvonne Watterson has passed the baton and I will not fumble. When it comes to blogging, I have stamina, form and flow–it is truly my sport. Yvonne and I are blogging for Ireland on the World Blog Tour (also know as the Blog Hop, and the Writing Process Tour) and for all I know the Grand Départ began there. In Ireland, words are relished. Writers and storytellers are trained to craft first lines that could kick off at Landsdowne Road. Creative key strokes can win the applause of McIlroy golf strokes (although the purse size doesn’t compare). A short story’s finish will leave its reader spent, questioning and wanting more, the same way a fan might have felt when Norman Whiteside left United.

Anyhow, inspired by Michelle Smith, Sonia O’Sullivan and Mary Peters I am completing my leg of the World Blog Tour from Shady Side, Maryland, USA. My decision to train in America has schooled me in the business of blogging. It seems to me that this sporting challenge is a missed opportunity for both exposure and potential income.  At the moment, the marathon journey meanders without record. I read the posts Yvonne referred to in her blog and so have four new writers to follow, but then the trail went cold. I did a Google search to see if I could find where the tour idea started. Writers, inevitably, have changed the title and continuously reinvented the purpose of the tour and so only by googling the questions themselves could I work out that the #WBT (World Blogging Tour–not Will Be There) has been in progress since at least January 2014 and that many hundreds of writers have contributed their words on the process of writing. Clicking through the uncurated list is frustrating and so I am hoping that the initiator of the event will create a blog site and invite us to paste our posts on the official tour site as well as our own.  Imagine: a WritingWiki, one place for every blogger to post. I am sure not all the posts are worth perusing–but there’s a book in there somewhere.

What am I working on? Myself, of course. Writing is an outlet, a comfort, a pleasure, and a work out. A blog is an escape, a friend, and a mirror. Readers are welcome but the real reward lies in learning to see yourself. When I started in October 2008 I could only write in the torturous third person, so scared was I of revealing myself or owning my observations. I have come some way in more than 700 posts since then. Having my archives allows me not only to remember where I’ve been, but who I am becoming. I have begun to take classes at the Writers Center and will invite my teachers Dave Singleton  and Amy Abrams to continue the Blog Tour, sharing their wordpower with the world.  For me, writing is not about an end product but a process. I want to do it more and better. I want to do it truthfully, meaningfully and memorably. I have a way to go.

How does my work differ from others in its genre? 

Oh dear. I work in marketing and know the value of differentiators, unique selling propositions and brand definition but when it comes to my own writing I don’t have a niche. Well I do, but there aren’t many people searching for insights from Overweight Irish American Women with Bad Knees, Sharp Tongues and Quick Wits. I’d like to be considered a humorist, so that’s what I’ll call myself. Unfortunately this is a bit like describing yourself as funny on a dating site: if you have to say it, it isn’t so.

Why do I write what I do? 

I don’t know how not to. For me, blogging provides the relief and stimulation and centring that running or yoga seems to give to others. I notice something and I can’t wait to get home and write about it. I right myself by writing in my head. I record the essence of my life so I can remember it and for those who are part of it. I am delighted when I delight strangers who find my posts by chance. I love it when themes emerge from my fingertips when I didn’t know my brain had spotted them. I am glad I am good at this.

How does my writing process work?

I get an urge or I notice something and the itch to write about it begins.  I can’t do it if I am at work or somewhere where my time is meant to be devoted to something else. I will contrive to get away so I can get started. When I am writing, I don’t like to be disturbed–my sister hates the time it takes. My kids used to take the opportunity to disappear, knowing it could be hours before I spotted they were gone. My dad used to encourage it–a productive kind of sitting around, he felt, not like watching TV or loafing on the sofa.

I usually write a first draft quickly and then go back and refine it. Simple things like shortening a sentence or replacing an over-used word. Then I will think about the structure and how to surprise a reader or illuminate an idea. I write the title last. I usually add my own photos but I don’t have any that fit today. I tag like a madwoman. I do want people to find what I’ve written. If I didn’t I would keep a locked diary under my lonely pillow.

When I am tired or down I shrug off writing, even though I know it will make me feel better. The more I write, the more alive I feel. I have developed a near-lifelong habit of writing to amuse. There is a great thrill in making others laugh or smile, and huge satisfaction in word play and in observations both original and wry. I am trying to get past the easy wins though, and to push myself to work out and express what I really think and what really matters. I dream of writing more and better.

It has taken me three hours to write this. Thanks for reading and good luck with your own work.

I am passing the baton to Andrew Lowrey in the hope it will get him back to blogging and to Jessica Lipnack who encouraged me to start the Blarney Crone. Katherine Buchholz, you need to do this too.  I also plan to share it with all who write for DC Blogs. Don’t forget to tag your posts with #WBT.  If you are the person who started the World Blog Tour please follow through on your great idea–let me know if I can help.

Posted in Culture with the Crone, Entrepreneurial Flair, great ideas for books, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spouting on at Vesuvius

20140423_134805 - Copy86 kinds of apricot grow in Calabria. For a moment we feared that Alberio might talk us through each one. Alberio, in addition to being passionate about volcanos, is a food and wine expert. He invented a half day tour of Vesuvius followed by lunch and wine tasting at a vineyard growing Tears of Christ grapes. Sounds good doesn’t it? It is actually an excuse for Alberio to hold tourists captive for 8 hours while he tells them all he knows.

On the hour-long journey from Sorrento to Vesuvius, Alberio detailed all the fruits andanne camera download easter 2014 199 - Copy vegetables that grow in the plain created by the volcano’s mighty blow-out in AD 79. He supplemented his guide to greengrocery with occasional recipes and effusive amounts of geological information. For sheer volume of words, Alberio gives great value for money.

Mountain climbing is not really my thing, but I was curious to see a crater close up and pretty sure that a tourist outing wouldn’t be too demanding. We were to travel by coach to the vineyard and then pick up a military 4 x 4 to take us to the top of Vesuvius. I was assured there would be only a 200m walk at the end of the ride. I figured that if a 17,000 year old volcano could still be active then I had to make the effort aged only 53.

Alberio promised 4 pit stops along the path to the crater. “If you are slow it will give you a chance to catch up,” he said “and I have lots to tell you along the way.”

20140421_110200“Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth” advised the octagenerian walking ahead of me through pumice the size of peas. “That’s what my cardiologist says.” I was being beaten to the rim by a little old lady with heart problems. It wasn’t all that steep so huffing and puffing wasn’t really my problem. The path was shale several inches deep and I sank a little at every step. My jelly knees don’t lock and so I couldn’t stand steady, much less move on without holding on to something to pull myself forward. There was a rope handrail but it wasn’t taut in places and in some instances the posts securing it had slipped off the shoulder of the volcano, causing the rope to dangle like an ill-fitting bra strap.

Alberio talked the Cackler and the rest through 300,000 years of rock history (the stone20140421_114614 dates from that time although Vesuvius as we know it today is only a sprightly 17,000 years old) and allowed a photo or two of the Bay of Naples while I lurched and cursed my way up the path. I arrived just in time for the admonitions not to wander off from the group or to stop for photos unless permitted. Alberio has control issues in addition to a volcanic verbosity. Then it was onward and upward once again.

I was thrilled to make it to the top. We stood just steps from the rim and marveled at the 20140421_114421layers of different colored rock signalling lava flow at different times across the centuries. Steam rose from cracks in the crater and lichen led the way for other forms of life. I made it down by sinking my heels into the shale at every step. (arthritis makes it worse to go down hills than up–the decline pushes the patella forward in a very painful way. I like to keep my legs straight and fight the drop.) Two honeymooners and the Cackler corraled me on the corners.

20140421_133157Five wines and an almond liquer were served at lunch time. On the way home we slept, Alberio’s words blanketing us like volcanic ash.




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Two middle aged women leaning against rails and sitting on walls

More pictures than anyone could possibly want of the Crone and the Cackler. We had a great time. Thanks to Italy for providing the backdrops.

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