gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Mr Buttons and Naughty Lucas. Our Dogs.

Writing 101 challenge – Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.
Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

You’re sitting on my side of the couch.
no I’m not
You are too.
no, really I’m not!
And get your skinny leg off mine
why are you so grumpy anyway?
I’m older than you, can’t you give me some respect?
but you never want to play! You’re boring
You’re annoying!
Why won’t you play with me? I think you’re great
It’s been nothing but trouble since you arrived. You’re so cute and playful. I’m just old and stiff. I think they love you more than me
but mum adores you! You let her stroke you when she is sitting reading quietly. You protect her from everything. I just drop chewed toys in her lap and steal her yarn. That makes her crazy
Fair point Lucas. That’s all true. Do you remember when you chewed that first edition signed book she gave dad for Christmas?
how can I forget? No treats for days for me
Mind you, I was in the dog house – literally – when I bit dad for trying to kiss mum and he had to get a tetanus shot.
how could you do that? I love dad so much. He throws the ball for me for hours
Chasing a ball is so dull. What’s the point? I’ve never understood it. Best thing to do is lie in the sun waiting for the postman. He loves a surprise!
and squirrels.
Yes! Squirrels!!!
lets go and chase some now. Come on! You know you want to!

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Losing Something of Myself -Part 1

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
This doesn’t need to be a depressing exercise; you can write about that time you lost the three-legged race at a picnic. What’s important is reflecting on this experience and what it meant for you — how it felt, why it happened, and what changed because of it.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

We moved house with a thirteen month old son and a three week old baby boy. It was all hands on deck. Cleaning, painting, carpet laying, curtain hanging.
It was a good thing we were young and had grandparents close by armed with mops, drills, paintbrushes, and were willing to spend their tea breaks nursing fractious babies.
Furniture was delivered and allocated to rooms.
Clothes and shoes sorted into drawers and wardrobes.
Food into cupboards.
There were still plenty of boxes. Boxes and boxes. And more boxes.
How could two adults and two squirming infants own or need so much stuff?
After filling the aptly named box room, the spare room, the cloakroom and spending evenings with a colicky babe strapped to my chest sorting though the boxes I gave up and shoved some random boxes out in the coal shed.
Not checking the value of what was inside.
Not knowing that it would be many months before life would settle down and I would remember those boxes.
Not realising that with the advent of central heating, the coal shed had not been used for many years and was very damp and prone to leaking.
Not appreciating that what was being slowly destroyed by rain and mildew was in fact of some personal value to me, and me alone.

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Loved Long Ago

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Sorting through the shelf of tatty old romantic paperbacks so favoured by the old lady a faded envelope fluttered to the dusty floor.
Taking a mug of tea and sneaking a fag to the back door, she sat in the sunshine, absentmindedly scratching the cat’s ear.
Delicately removing the paper worn thin with age, it had clearly been read many times. It spoke of love and longing. Of a decision to part company. That the world was not ready for their love.
It was signed Joan.
She wondered if she had really known her grandmother at all.

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This blog post is fiction written as part of the Writing 101 course.

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Songs about a bird, a wall and a cross

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.
Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

My whole life is full of music. Our house is bursting with musical instruments of all shapes and sizes,melodies, rhythms, singing, scales. I have to check trouser pockets for stray plectrums before doing the laundry. When I go walking or running my steps are to the beat of personalised playlists on my Spotify account. My diary revolves around music lessons for both myself and my boys. A real treat is to a live concert whether classical or contemporary musicians. My children laugh at me because I frequently burst into song and they equally are astounded by my recollection of song lyrics from days of yore when Madonna ruled the charts and Sony Walkmans were The Thing. There are many childhood memories of musical shows my father sang in and countless repetitions of “a dog called Bingo” and “London’s burning” on the 114 mile car journey to visit granny. And on granny’s stereogram – Mantovani, or James Last LPs.
It’s hard to pick just three songs. But I am constantly reminding my family of the three pieces of music I would like to be played at my funeral service. Allow me to be open and honest with all of you out there in blog land, these are my choices, this is my life, my life choices, my faith, and someday my own funeral I am writing about here.
the Lark Ascending by Vaugh Williams
This is the most exquisite piece of music. Lyrical, melancholy, uplifting, soaring like the bird it was written about. When this comes on the radio I have to stay listening to the very last note, despite it being nearly 15 minutes long. I have never heard this played live however this may be a good thing as I would probably be a sobbing wreck by the end. You may not be aware that Vaughan Williams was inspired to write this music by a poem by George Meredith. How fabulous that a piece of writing led to the creation of such wonderful music. Choose your words carefully my fellow bloggers, you never know what you in turn may inspire.
Wonderwall by Oasis
I was too busy having babies to get into the whole Britpop 90’s thing but I loooove this song. I probably prefer the Ryan Adams cover of this song. I can’t really explain what the appeal is. I certainly am no fan of Oasis, and the lyrics are the usual tale of a guy appealing to his love, reminding her that he loves her more than anyone else ever could, that he is as much there for her as she is for him even when life’s journey is full of twists and turns. It has to be the guitar chords, an acoustic sound full of suspended and unresolved mostly minor chords.
in Christ Alone by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend
This is the most fantastic modern Christian hymn which takes the singer through the entire foundation of their faith in God. I particularly love the version where the words are echoed by the drama of the music, quietness describing Jesus in the tomb then quite literally bursting with sound at the resurrection.

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In the final verse acknowledges that Christ has been with us from the start of our lives to the very end, through the journey of our days, through life’s twists and turns, ups and downs.
My soul like a lark ascending. God with me to the very end of my life, my Wonderwall.

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How Did I Get Here?

For Blogging 101 class the challenge on Day 2 Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

Finally the path curves away from the sea, out of the off shore wind which buffeted my body with sea spray and sand for the past 9 km. The kindly marshall wrapped up in his high viz jacket cheers me on. Not far to go now! I start climbing the long steep hill, fired up with the thought of crossing the finish line, passing women struggling to move at faster than walking pace.
It’s damp underfoot, the grass is slippery , my legs are tired, but it’s a good tired. I’m know they will keep going to the end. The rain has stopped now, though it’s still cold and grey for a so called summer’s evening at the end of May.
My playlist shuffles to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, one of my favourites. Unbelievably I find the breath to start singing. I am happy. I am running.
I am passing other Lycra clad women of all shapes, ages and sizes. Some like myself have red boiled faces, ratty pony tails – the running mongrels; others look like they have just come from the salon, cool, sleek pedigree greyhounds with washboard stomachs.
One thing in common, we all started, and are almost at the end.
At the crest of the hill the finish line comes into view. An unimpressive inflatable black arch.
Just a few more strides. It’s squishy, from the sweat and tears of those who finished before me I wonder?
If this was a movie there would be a swelling orchestral theme, but here there is the bass thump from a poor PA system. In the movie of my life a smiling official would place an enormous medal round my neck and present me with a bouquet and champagne.
Instead I am handed a banana. I see the proud faces of husband, son, friend, dog. To be here, on this night, at this place, in this moment is reward enough. I’m smiling. I’m sweating. I hurt. But it feels good.
I’m there. I’ve done it. I cross the line. Past my self doubt. Past my shin splints. Way beyond my self conscious child bearing body. Leaving my inner voices laughing at my efforts far, far behind.
9 weeks from zero to 10km.

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Blogging 101

For the next few weeks I am taking part in a blogging 101 course hosted by the Daily Post.
Today is Day One.
Allow me to introduce myself…on this blog I refer to myself as Mrs Gillybirds, a play on my actual name, and the fact that I am an urban hen keeper.
I live in Ireland, with my husband, Mr Gillybirds, my four sons, the Gillyboys, two dogs – Mr Buttons and Naughty Lucas, and my three hens – Apollo, Darling and Colonel Saunders.
The Daily Post suggests I address you, the unsuspecting first time reader, on the matter of the following questions
Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
What topics do you think you’ll write about?
Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Those of you who have been with me from the beginning know that I have actually been blogging since April 2012. The hen keeping was a completely new interest and blogging seemed to be a good forum, as I could not only keep a diary of my efforts, and also seek on line free guidance and encouragement from more experienced chicken keepers.
Apart from that, I can be a bit of a show-off and love an audience.
Keeping a hand written diary in a beautiful moleskin book would never get “likes” on social media. It would just get chewed by Naughty Lucas.
My blogging topics started out primarily about the Hens, or the Gillybirds as I refer to them, but this blog has morphed into a more random account of our family, dogs, my heros, my new found compulsion to run, holidays, cooking, lack of eggs being laid, and life in 2014.
My other keen interests are crochet and card making, and I have blogs specifically geared towards them – Crocheticipation and Angillcards. Also in 2012 Mr Gillybirds cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats and I kept a blog of his epic journey to keep his poor worried mother up-to date with his progress.
Through all three blogs I enjoy responses from family and friends near and far, hen keepers, crocheters, card makers, crafters, anyone who stumbles upon my ramblings by accident. I have made genuine friends through my blogging.
We live busy lives and if someone gets a laugh, learns something new, is challenged to try something different, finds a new recipe or book to read, brill!
Thanks for taking the time to stay on my page. I’m honoured. Of all my followers, the crocheters are by far the most responsive. Thanks ladies!
Blogging over these past years has been a wonderful way of sitting down, taking stock, cataloguing highs and lows, good days and bad, all the changes that occur as part of life in all it’s richness and fullness. Of course, it’s very easy to self edit and paint a rosy picture (or not) and I have to bear in mind that Grandma and Grandpa Gillybirds are keen blog readers and some of our crazy family stuff is best left unwritten
Having a small soft voice in the blogosphere, writing hopefully wholesome, happy things (most of the time), bringing positivity when there is so much darkness, sadness and destruction online, on TV, beyond my front door. I’m not Pollyanna, nor am I the Great Oracle.
To misquote Julia Roberts in “Notting Hill”….I’m just a girl, writing in a blog, asking you to read me

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Kissing You, a song that makes me cry

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I don’t consider myself to be an easy person to cry. But certain situations can render me an emotional wreck in a matter of seconds.

At airports when families, lovers, friends are reunited. That intensity of joy. I may not know these people, or their stories, but my eyes fill in response to their meeting.
Watching One Born Every Minute on TV. Every birth. Every single baby born. I’m crying like the proverbial baby.
An early scene in the “a time Traveller’s Wife”- a favourite novel by Audrey Niffeneger when Claire meets Henry for the first time. The poignancy of their encounter touched me deeply.
What is it at these times that causes a lachrymal response? Why do I have to reach for the tissues as a wave of something very intense hits me where it really hurts?
Do I cry at airports because I remember all the sad partings and happy reunions in my own life?
Do I wail when babies are born recalling the births of my own children?
Does the first meeting of Claire and Henry remind me of seeing my husband for the very first time, looking at him and thinking what a very special person he was, only a few seconds into our meeting?
Who knows.

What I do know is that there are many pieces of music that move my soul, a real favourite is “Kissing You” by Des’ree. This slow ballad was written for Baz Luhrmann’s movie of the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, starring a very young Leo Di Caprio and Claire Danes.
The song lilts through the ballroom scene where they first meet. You can actually see Des’ree herself singing the song in this scene at the home of the Capulets.
Des’ree has a very beautiful voice, her emotions seem very genuine. There is something very intimate and intense in her tone, in the way the music is scored with just piano and strings in a minor key.
Yet a quick perusal of the lyrics, written by the artist herself and Timothy Atack, are no Shakespeare!

Pride can stand
A thousand Trials
The strong will never fall
But watching stars without You
My soul cried
Heaving heart is full of pain
Oh, oh, the aching

‘Cos I’m kissing you, oh
I’m kissing you

Touch me deep
Pure and true
Gift to me forever

‘Cos I’m kissing you, oh
I’m kissing you

Yeah hey
Yeah

Where are you now?
Where are you now?

‘Cos I’m kissing you
I’m kissing you, ohh

And yet, it gets me every time.
What wonderful power music has over us, to cause a physical and emotional reaction to a collection of sounds and silences!

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Today’s post is prompted by The a Daily Post “Moved to Tears”

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Inspiration

Today’s blog post is a challenge from The Daily Post to write a story on what inspires you to write, in just 50 words.
This won’t take long.Enjoy!

Years ago, before committing words to paper, she chewed pencils, made shapes from clouds, tidied her room, paired socks.
Now the screen is wiped of prints, wiped again, battery checked. Clouds roll on by.
A feather drifts gently through the open window and lands beside her.
So it begins.

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read more about this challenge here

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Antique Antics

this blog post is written in response to The Daily Post’s blog challenge on writing about the oldest object in your house, from its point of view link to daily prompt on WordPress

Where once I was carried and cuddled, cherished and beloved, I was almost consigned to a bag in the far corner of the attic, banished, cast out, a creature of shame.
Back in 1969 I was stitched with love, red, blue, black, a jaunty bow tie, tail coat and a cheery smile; a gift for a four year old girl, made by her mother, the gentle click of knitting needles soothing the child growing within her, a longed for second child, a brother to the freckled, pig tailed, eager future big sister.
I was to become her companion, firstly as her mother disappeared quickly in the night as the pains of birth grew strong. Proudly brought to hospital to meet the wrinkled brother, I became more of a playmate than this useless squealing boy, my long knitted limbs climbing trees, tied to scooters, always off on adventures and picnics.
I had a second exciting trip to hospital, bringing comfort as the ache of tonsillectomy went undiminished by ice cream and jelly.
As she grew my smiling face and jolly clothes always brought a smile. Stabilisers came off and my soft stuffed limbs shook in the bicycle basket. I was a friend. I was loved. I belonged.
When my seams spilt my creator quickly sewed me up for my absence was noted. I was refilled and once my happy smile underwent a speedy repair.
The brother grew, and another came along. There were other toys, teddies, dolls, space hoppers, etch a sketch, Mastermind, Rubik’s Cubes, but my girl remained faithful to me.
Over time though, something changed. Not her, but those around her. The world turned and suddenly almost overnight I was banished from the street, hidden upstairs, out of sight, no longer welcome. People began to talk. My smiling jolly face was racist, reviled, contentious.
But her love remained. I sat quietly upstairs, where other toys were dispatched, thrown away, replaced by posters of pop idols, make up and white stilettos, I watched and waited as she met a boy, fell in love, got married.
As she packed to leave home she shook the dust from my curly black hair and gently placed me with her most precious things. She remembered my arrival, the curve of her mother’s full belly, my reassuring smile and soft hugs. And all the years in between.
And so I found a new home. And discovered that this new smiling man in her life also had a lifelong special companion who looked just like me. His stuffing may have long since disappeared but we are a match made in heaven it seems.
24 years, four sons, two dogs and three hens later, we are together, still smiling.

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