Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

An Earlier Move – Many Years Ago December 30, 2010

Filed under: Family,Family history,Memories,Moving house,Parenting,Travel — Janet @ 8:25 pm

In getting on with our unpacking and trying to get things in order, I have been stopped in my tracks by some old photos.  The following are photos from 1972 when we made our first move as a family of 5.  We departed Dublin in October 1972, headed for St. Lucia in the Caribbean, a 2 year contract with the British Government and the Government of St. Lucia.   James was 3, Andrew 2, and David 4 months.  It was a long trip.  In fact, I think it was the longest flight that what is now British Airways did.  It was a time of heightened airport security and we were each searched thoroughly, even David.

 September, 1972 – James, David and Andrew

Boxes piled up in our porchway, all packed for sending to St. Lucia.  James and Andrew thinking it all great fun.

Boxes being loaded onto the lorry outside our house, note the pram wheels – those wheels never did turn up in St. Lucia.  Happily though the rest of the things did.

October 1972, checking in at Dublin Airport, Ian at the counter, Andrew ready to assist

  many hours later – yes we survived the journey, even the harrowing thunderstorm as we flew in a small plane  from Hewonarra Airport in the south of the island around to Vigie in Castries.  No one there to greet us but Leo St. Helen turned up eventually and we were taken to the nearby Malabar Hotel and flopped into our beds.  This photo was taken the next morning, x hours after we had left Dublin the day before or was it 2 days before.  I’ll have to work it out.  Anyhow, it was lovely to be there!  And having breakfast on our terrace there at the hotel.

  And here we are in January 1973, enjoying the tropical life

Following is an account of the trip.  I wrote this a few years ago – we’ll see how my memory serves me – and I am trying to move it from my Mac computer where I had it stored in Dublin to the PC where I am writing this blog – I am technically challenged here.



In 1972 Ian accepted a 2 year appointment as Town Planning Adviser in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.  This was to be our first overseas assignment as a family and our outbound trip to that idyllic island was one of many memorable journeys.  This departure set the pattern for many to be undertaken in the future.  Given that any pre-departure time spent in a hotel would not be paid for by our employer we usually stayed in our house until the day of departure.  I always underestimated the number of last minute things that had to be done.  When I think back on it I’m not sure how I did it at all with the boys so small and having to leave the house clear for an unidentified but hoped for in-coming tenant.  Although we left the house furnished, we still had to leave the house bare of our more personal belongings and any food.  So of course there was always the problem of the last meal, the sheets used for the last night, etc. 

For the St. Lucia departure in early October, David was 4 months old, Andrew 2 yrs. 4 months, and James 3 yrs. 5 months.  James and Andrew were at a particularly lively stage.  David was a good sleeper.  Andrew was still in nappies and still liked to drink from a bottle.  James was more independent – a good easy child but he could be quite headstrong.  And Andrew could be just plain ornery.  I can remember the anticipation of the night before turning to sheer fatigue as the evening hours moved on and there were still tins of  food in the cupboards and the number of last minute boxes we were taking over to our neighbours (Agnes and Phil) and the boxes we were putting in our carport store seemed endless.  This first time we went overseas we stored our things with the Shaffreys who lived in Monkstown, a 15 minute drive from Dundrum.  For other assignments in subsequent years as our storage requirements grew, we used C.I.E. who stored our belongings at Broadstone Station. 

The items we selected to send to St. Lucia had been packed and sent  several weeks earlier.  The shipment included favorite toys, books, items for operating a household there – sheets, blankets, towels.  We also sent our blue Volkswagon to St. Lucia – I can’t remember at what point we relinquished the car for shipment from Dublin, but I certainly remember getting an unexpected sighting of it in the dock area in St. Lucia.

                What with needing things for the last minute in our house in Dublin and also wanting to provide as much as possible for our new house in whatever country we were going to, we somehow always seemed to end up with too much (or too little) of various items. 

                On the eve of the departure itself I don’t think we got to bed before midnight  and then we were up at about 5 a.m. to get ready to go to the airport for our early flight over to London.  I had to have many many bottles packed for feeding Andrew and David.  James and Andrew were excited.  David was good as gold and slept most of the time for the whole trip.  We had a bit of time before our flight to St. Lucia which was scheduled to leave London around 2 in the afternoon.  But then our flight was delayed and also we were very slow going through security.  It was at a time when hijacking was a real threat and security procedures were slow and laborious – I remember they even searched David’s nappy.

                At last we were on the plane ready for departure – the longest of British Airways flights.  I don’t know how many hours it was before we landed in Antigua – David had been so good sleeping most of the time – no trouble at all.  James had been grand but did require entertaining.  And Andrew had never stopped moving, squirming, wriggling, etc.  He only fell asleep just as we were about to touch down in Antigua.  At one point he spilled butter on Ian’s brand new shoe.  Ian was cross.  James had slept part of the way so he was ready to get off the plane with me in Antigua.  Ian stayed on the plane with Andrew and David.  I was weary.  James wanted some airport trinket, I didn’t have the energy to figure out how to pay for it and James howled for a long time in protest.  Back on to the plane for the further 2 hour (?) flight to St. Lucia. 

Finally we landed in Hewonara in St. Lucia at the southern end of the island.  It was nighttime, hot and steamy.  James said to Andrew, “come on Dandu, let’s have a look around” and those two little boys  tried to set off into the tropical night. 

                We still had the final leg of our journey to complete – a short flight in a small plane around the north end of the island to reach the capital Castries.  The flight was delayed, there was a thunderstorm, Andrew and James were throwing up.  The carry cot hadn’t appeared from the hold of the big aircraft so I had to hold David while we were waiting in the airport.  We were pretty weary!!!  Finally the flight was called.  Some kind woman offered to hold David but I declined her offer because the plane was so small that she would have been in the back and I would have been up front.  The flight was very scary as thunder rumbled and lightening flashed around us.  Finally, finally – I can’t tell you how tired we were – we arrived at Vigie Airport in Castries.  We were supposed to be met but the designated person was no where in sight.  Somehow we made our way to the Miramar Hotel which was only a mile or so away but it seemed like 100 miles.  After the usual check-in formalities we reached our room and flopped into our beds, absolutely exhausted.   What a lovely view awaited us when we opened our curtains in the morning – the ocean, palm trees, green grass, tropical flowers  – magical to the revived weary travellers.        













I Can’t Believe It December 28, 2010

Filed under: Move to Seattle,Moving house — Janet @ 7:55 pm

Yes, our 2nd, and final, shipment was unloaded this morning. 

  more boxes to come but here are the first few.

Now, let the unpacking begin.


A Private Rant Goes Public December 10, 2010

Filed under: Family,Move to Seattle,Moving house,Travel — Janet @ 5:58 am

People keep asking us how we are doing, settling in to life in America, and more specifically life in Seattle.  Various impressions are swirling around in my head.  And my head is different from Ian’s, obviously.   So here we go – a few thoughts and impressions.

I/we have been particularly struck by the wide disparity of incomes here in the Ballard area (approx. 5 miles from the downtown part of Seattle), hence a close suburb.  I grew up in Belmont Mass., approximately the same distance from the center of Boston, and our home in Dundrum was approximately the same distance from the centre of Dublin.  One of the charms of Ballard is the great variety of housing and the owners or renters approach to gardening.  But what we can’t get used to is the amount of vagrancy, particularly along Market Street.  There are people who are decidedly disreputable looking.  Some either very mentally disturbed, or high on drugs, or the worse for wear from alcohol – this during daylight hours when there are young mothers and children and older people going about their normal business.  Sometimes these people gather near the library and get verbally violent with each other, for all to hear.  There are homeless people on many of the street corners – but they at least are participating in a self-help programme by selling a newspaper called Real Choice.  They get the newspaper for 35 cents, sell it for a dollar, and keep the balance. 

It seems as if everywhere I turn, there is mention of a Food Bank.  The Ballard Food Bank, the Greenwood Food Bank, and on, representing different parts of Seattle.  At the many concerts at this time of year, donations are requested for the Food Bank.  I have been to church a few times – that church (Ballard Methodist) has quite an outreach program – again the Food Bank, aid to people in prison, aid to those in need within the parish, maybe a few other causes.   In general I have been very pleased with the services in that church….. but last Sunday the minister gave a sermon which I felt was quite political.  He got quite carried away and was preaching as if everything in the U.S. had gone to the dogs – millions of homeless, corruption everywhere – the bankers, the major political parties, the government, you name it.  He was practically preaching revolution.  That wasn’t for me.  I’m going to try the Lutherans next week.

The other day I talked with a woman who was knitting a scarf and hoping to finish it in time to give it to the Queen Anne Helpline – a nice warm handknit scarf for someone in time for Christmas.  She explained that through that particular helpline the scarf should end up in the hands of a person who really needed it and would value it.  They have a screening programme for their applicants/recipients.  Well…..What is the state of this country, this part of the country, we have moved to?  Is this really America in the year 2010?  A recession yes, but is this 1930?  Why are Americans serving in the Peace Corps overseas when there is so much distress right here at home.

In church, a man announced that he was sleeping in a doorway of a bank.  It was getting colder and colder at night.  He was praying for a van where he could get warm at night.  Now he is selling Christmas trees and hopes we’ll buy from him.  I wonder where?  If we were going to get a tree, I would enquire.

Today in the University District we were among the busy throng walking along University Avenue.  Well, many is the time I have seen homeless people in the U District and nearly tripped over people sleeping in doorways.  But today, a perfectly ordinary young man approached us and asked for money, anything for a little help.  I felt so so sad at this.

Ian went downtown a couple of days ago – not a happy experience – and it was because of all the panhandlers.  And not improved by encountering big burly armed policemen standing in pairs at each street corner.  Sounded to me like 1984.

I am almost finished reading Richard Bachman’s (aka Stephen King’s) book The Running Man, published in 1982.  It many ways it seems prophetic for the year 2010 where we find ourselves today.

I guess what I”m trying to say is that here in Ballard the needy seem to right here among us, in fact all around us.  In Bangladesh, I expect people to be begging, I don’t expect that to be happening so blatantly here.   All the above and then the seemingly constant phone calls soliciting money for worthy causes – the Police, the Firemen, Breast Cancer research, etc. etc.  And on Public Television they have 10 or 15 minute slots where they ask for support.  It’s this constant asking for money that is getting a bit annoying.

Now I’ll turn to lighting the candles and tell you about all the things we love about Seattle – but I’ll save that for another post.

  these 2 photos were taken in mid-afternoon along Market Street, 2 police cars parked in the middle of the road and red lights flashing, and 3 policemen surrounding a man on the far side

  The Running Man – Richard Bachman, aka Stephen King

  Woman With a Red Cloak, watercolour painting by Peter Le Lievre (1812-98) in the Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery.  I celebrated my 74th birthday earlier this week.  Has my birthday made me feel grumpy??


The Cat Is Still Here August 24, 2010

Well, the packers have come and gone and Slinki the cat is still here.  She very wisely went out while all was happening.  Those packers worked fast.  Too fast in fact – they packed a box of gardening tools that they weren’t supposed to.  Alas.  The packers came early and I hadn’t finished all my last minute sorting to be ready for them so it was a bit of a scramble.  Thankfully we found a few items in the freshly run dishwasher in time to include them in the packing but there wasn’t enough time for some wet clothes to dry and be included.  We’ll just have to squeeze some last minute things into the suitcases.

Now we can just sit back and relax until we depart as well.

A couple of days ago I was browsing in the crime section of Hughes & Hughes Bookstore.  I was looking for more Scandinavian crime fiction, given my current spate of reading Henning Mankell, Sjowall & Wahloo, and Jarkko Sipila.

first, the author’s name caught my eye – Sebastian Junger, the author of The Perfect Storm

secondly, the title, A Death in Belmont – my hometown!

This was compulsive reading – and true.  Wow!  I was fascinated.  The book is away now in one of the cardboard boxes.  I tell you, reading it certainly delayed me in getting ready for the packers.

this black blob is the cat, resting peacefully after the flurry of the packing – I must say that I was relieved to see her walk past the window after all the boxes had been sealed.  There was a snippet on the radio this morning about a woman dropping a cat into a dustbin and walking away.  15 hours later the cat was rescued, apparently no worse for the time spent.  Probably had a nice sleep in there.  But, I’m curious – if this woman was seen fondly saying goodbye to the cat and then dropping said animal into the bin, why didn’t the observer rescue the cat then and there.  Maybe the observer was a security camera of some sort and then when the cat was found, the film was reviewed.  Or did I just dream all this instead of getting up earlier this morning in anticipation of the packers arrival at 9.


Bop Street Records, Seattle June 26, 2010

Filed under: Moving house,Music — Janet @ 6:19 pm

When I was in Seattle last, I found a source for used sound recordings – tapes, cd’s, and vinyl records.  It was like browsing in a second hand book store only this was the music scene.  It was in old Ballard, a more interesting area, I feel, than Market Street, the main street in Ballard.  To compare with Dublin, it’s a bit like Temple Bar.

After much browsing on a number of occasions, I bought a few cd’s and they turned out to be good recordings.  So I could listen to something new to me, but an old recording, while I pursued the unpacking in our new to me house.  What a surprise to find now that Bop Street Records is moving – but not closing down the way Epilogue Books did in Ballard.  More like the epic move of the Elliot Bay Book Company.  I chatted a bit with some of the staff at Bop Street, including the owner.  He asked the pointed question of when did I graduate from high school – that’s all you need to know in the U.S. to figure out someone’s approximate age.  I’m a bit older than him but not by all that much.  I digress.

Bop Street Records is due to open in its new location in early July.  Thousands and thousands of items were boxed up and moved.

  Dave Voorhees and his staff at Bop Street Records – photo from My Ballard

  boxes and boxes from Bop Street – photo from My Ballard

In addition to all the recordings that have been moved as stock for the new location, Bop Street has also donated thousands to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

I particularly take note of all this because this past week I had a most interesting visit to the Sound Archives of RTE.  Again thousands and thousands of recordings, commercial and those generated by RTE itself.  That visit was a treat.  One tidbit – the first purchase by RTE of a vinyl recording was made in November 1936.  The year I was born.  Am I an antique??  We certainly had a big vinyl collection in our house as I was growing up – my sisters and brothers had  numerous recordings – Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Glenn Miller, all those swing bands of the early 1940’s.  I can still hear them and picture my siblings enjoying them.


Iconic Bookstore Relocates April 2, 2010

Filed under: Books,Move to Seattle,Moving house — Janet @ 4:32 pm

Iconic bookstore relocates – no, I’m not writing about Janet’s Books relocating from Dublin to Seattle.  Rather, a long established bookstore in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.  The Elliott Bay Book Company is in the process of relocating to Capitol Hill. Yesterday the front page picture was of the interior of the book store in its old location and today on the front page is a smaller picture of workmen shifting one of the big bookcases.  What a wonderful city where such items take the front page.

This coincides with the assembling of Ikea bookcases in our new home.  I looked after the children last night while my son and daughter-in-law toiled away at the assembling.  What a joy for me to tour the house this morning and admire all their work.  Now to get various piles of books off the floor and onto the shelves.  Oh joy of joys.

The photo above and the photos below are all from the Seattle Times:



Believe It Or Not March 9, 2010

Believe it or not – I think the repairs have been completed – at 12:47 p.m Pacific Standard Time March 8.  I have been unpacking since I arrived here 2 months ago but as you know, my unpacking has been very restricted.  Now I can really spread out and all those things I carried upstairs are now being shifted downstairs and vice versa – well, that is a bit of an exaggeration but I think you get the picture.  I’ve made sketches of each of the rooms and allocated areas for book cases or whatever.  All my yarn supplies are lining the upstairs hallway.  Textile and art books go to one of the bedrooms.  Archival photos to another.  Ian’s books get prime of place in the living room etc.  All you readers are saying “eek” but it really is quite enjoyable to feel that some degree of order is beginning to emerge.  Pity that my shoulders are aching so much but maybe that’s from the knitting and  crocheting I do during my breaks.  Hunching over the computer doesn’t help either.  Not to mention carrying a backpack with my knitting and a hardback Henning Mankell book and various notebooks, etc.  Why do I feel compelled to carry so much stuff??

  the bin men came today and yet again they took all the cardboard boxes – I was so pleased.  There are only a few left for next week.

  Blanket no. 9, work in progress

  crochet blanket, a stash project – it doesn’t look great at the moment but I think it will be fine

  the new dishwasher was installed today – the black is quite a contrast.  I’m not sure I like it but I’m sure I will get used to it.  And so long as there are NO LEAKS, it will be fine.

  the kitchen table and chairs are in place.  That kitchen table is a gift and there are 2 leaves so we can expand it for family gatherings etc.

  and this was absolutely riveting.  I kept retreating to quiet corners to read it over the weekend.


Get weaving, get knitting, get crocheting March 7, 2010

I have spent part of today gathering my yarn stash into one place, albeit temporary.  The amount I have is embarrassing.  Bags of yarn are lining the hallway while I figure out which room to put all that yarn in.  Also I’m thinking about what type of furniture to get as storage units and dividers.  There is a lot of rug weaving yarn which I also use for crocheting afghans.  Then there is also my knitting yarn.

  this photo is not great but it is meant to show the line of bags of wool – it means something to me at least, if not to the casual observer.  Today I feel as if one third of our shipment was made up of yarn.  When I turn around and look at the books stacked up in the living room and elsewhere, I think another third was made up of books. 

  this afghan was crocheted with rug yarn over 20 years ago when we were in Bhutan  –  I shipped a huge stash of weaving yarn which I put to good use while we were there for 2 years.

  this  is the start of another crocheted afghan – single blanket width and I’ve done about 12 inches so far

  knitted blanket no. 8.  Blanket no. 9 is work in progress.  Today was beautifully sunny – I sat in the sun on my back porch and worked on blanket no. 9 and read Henning Mankell’s book Sidetracked.  I am  rather obsessed with reading his books.  My previous knitting/reading adventure was The Soloist by Steve Lopez.  Another gripping book.

The workmen have almost finished and I now have more room to shift items around in the house.  What I originally put upstairs I’m shifting downstairs and vice versa.  Isn’t that the way!  Access to the kitchen is still barred but apart from that I’m ready to roll, so to speak.

Today was


Update on the House March 5, 2010

Filed under: Move to Seattle,Moving house — Janet @ 2:24 am

Just a few pictures to show progress on the repairs to the house and the state of my unpacking.

   I came back to the house this afternoon and found that access to my kitchen was cordoned off and the refrigerator was in the hallway (on the left) – not only could I not get to the kitchen but this meant I also couldn’t get to the back bedroom upstairs.  The flooring people worked on the kitchen floor this morning and I think the last step was to varnish it so it had to dry.  They are scheduled to be back tomorrow morning to finish the job and move the appliances back in place.  I hope this means they will also bring the dishwasher upstairs. 

   the kitchen table had to be moved to the living room – it was hard to find room for it among all the books

  I’ve tried to place various ornaments safely out of harm’s way on the mantelpiece

  one of my goals for today was to clear the way to our mattress so that it could be moved to the bedroom

  I succeeded so hopefully tomorrow the 2 strong men doing the kitchen floor will move the mattress – it will be easier if they shift the new dishwasher from the hallway

  doesn’t that new bedroom floor look great!  I am so pleased.


Am I A Collector? February 19, 2010

In all this unpacking I am reminded of another collection of objects that I had kind of forgotten.  I keep unpacking coasters and tiles ad infinitum it seems.  Very nice souvenirs of different countries and places and different circumstances through the years.  Colourful bead mats from East Africa, an art tile from the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., souvenir drinks mats advertising Guinness, Fiji Bitter mats, etc.

I am also a collector of postcards and I occasionally blog about my deltiology interests.  I haven’t been very systematic with this collection and now I’m reminded of how much sorting and reorganizing I have to do to catalogue these and put them in better order.

I am realizing that the list of things I collect could be rather long.  Here are a few sample pictures.

  from my collection of photos of dogs – 2 Great Danes waiting patiently while their owners are having a drink in the friendly Irish-American bar on Market Street in Ballard

  I also collect pictures of cats – I’ve named this one Fluffy and I often see her as I walk over to my house

  this cat lives 2 doors away

  and this cat lives closer by – I’ve put this picture up to show the length of the shadows at this time of year – the photo was taken today Feb. 18, at about 3 p.m., Seattle time

  another cat photo

   part of my collection of fridge magnets

Now for a few other random photos

  waiting for the flooring

  now I can listen to CD’s as I unpack

   readers of this blog know how much I like the Larry McMurtry books.  Well, his son James is a song writer and singer and he is performing here in Seattle next week.  I found one of his CD’s at the BOP Record Shop in old Ballard.

  a dog waiting outside a shop in old Ballard – another photographer was getting closer

   broom grass along our street in Seattle in February

  yesterday’s panic – I accidentally spilled a can of paint on our garage floor – can this be the first work of art executed in our new art studio?  Happily I was able to prevent the paint from spreading to any of our belongings and also the paint dried very quickly.  The smell was very strong.  Just after it happened I decided it was time to go off for lunch.  When I returned about an hour later the area had dried but the smell was still strong.  I continued unpacking but went upstairs to do so.