Bucket List #4

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These are the collection buckets we used to raise money for the Hope Foundation.  Gavin, Jerry, Esha and I have variously waved these buckets at the very many generous people of Cashel, Thurles and various Tipperary townlands.  We brought them to Rugby matches in Dublin and Limerick, and to Hurling games in Semple Stadium.  They have seen the warm days of summer and the cold dark days of winter.

They have earned a proud position in my “Bucket List” as they contain many great memories of a good year.

Four years ago my oldest son Jerry participated in the trip to Kolkata with Rockwell College.  He documented his journey on his blog:

https://jerrytocalcutta.wordpress.com/about/

This year it was all about my younger son, Gavin, who made his own trip, which he recorded on wordpress, twitter, snapchat, etc.  His fundraising exploits are on his  wordpress site:

https://gavinclancykolkata.wordpress.com/

PLEASE DO NOT SEND THEM MONEY.  They have finished their trips and made their visits to Kolkata.  But if you would like to support the fabulous work of the Hope Foundation feel free to do so at their site:

http://www.hopefoundation.ie/

What I like about the Hope Foundation is that it is a charity that strives to make itself useless.  What do I mean by that?

Some charities operate in a way that perpetuates dependency.  Their business is to “help” disadvantaged people.  But if they are “too successful” there will be no poor people left to help and they will effectively be out of business.  Self-perpetuating charities are not things I like, or appreciate.

I am very much of the mind to take people out of dependency.  This is where Hope operate.  They focus on educating kids to escape the cycle of slum living.  They help the parents to escape the cycle by supporting small enterprises, and by freeing up the parents to work by caring for the kids in crèches.  The greatest day for Hope Foundation will be when they can happily close down their facilities in Kolkata because their job is done.

That is not a pipedream.  It can happen.

As my son Jerry reminds me frequently “Give a man a Hamburger and he eats for a day.  Teach him to Hamburger, and that metaphor only works for Fish”.

The Fish:  by William Butler Yeats

Although you hide in the ebb and flow
Of the pale tide when the moon has set,
The people of coming days will know
About the casting out of my net,
And how you have leaped times out of mind
Over the little silver cords,
And think that you were hard and unkind,
And blame you with many bitter words.

Fish

 

 

 

Bucket List #3

Metal Bucket

This is a galvanized bucket.  Light and portable and fairly sturdy.  The real benefit of this bucket it its ability not to melt if you put some hot ashes into it by accident.

You can carry coal into the sitting room for your fire in this bucket, so it doubles as a coal scuttle.  In the morning you can clean out the ashes in your grate.  Sometimes when you think the ashes are cold there are a couple of hot coals hiding in there just waiting for their chance to heat up again.  The disturbance  of cleaning out the fireplace gives them air, and they heat up again.  Anyone who has used a plastic bucket to clean out fires has come across this problem.  With this metal bucket you have no such worries.

I grew up in a house without a fire.  I suppose my parents were being ultra modern, rejecting the primitive technologies of the past.  When they built our house in Pinewood in 1966 they installed a piped gas fueled hot air ventilation heating system.  This is called a ducted warm air heating system.  Underfloor ducting carries the heated air around the house and blows it out through floor ventilators.  Instead of standing in front of a fire to warm up in winter we would sit on the ventilator.

Before going to bed as kids we would hold our pajamas over the vents and the air would blow them up and warm them.

Growing up in a house with no fireplaces has advantages.  We had the use of all four walls in every room.  We did not have to set and clean fires.  We did not have the need to clean chimneys and the problem of dealing with ash.

On the down side a fire is a very powerfully comforting feature.  There is a love of the fire programmed into our human DNA.  Mastery of the fire appears to be the skill that set man apart from all other animals.

Heat:  The fire gives you warmth.  Having a fire to keep them warm enabled humans to inhabit alpine and tundra environments.  The ability to exploit a wider range of environments helped the spread of humans and protected the species from local famines and disasters.

Safety:  Most animals fear fire.  The ability to command fire gave humans an advantage over large and dangerous predators.  On a smaller scale the smoke from fires helps drive away biting insects, offering some protection from diseases such as malaria.  On a psychological level it provides a comforting illusion of safety, and sometimes that in itself is enough for people to get by.

Food:  Once you have a fire you also have the ability to cook.  Cooking food allows you to extract more energy from a given amount of raw ingredients.  In certain circumstances cooking converts something that is poisonous into an edible and nutritious food.  Boiling can make water safe to drink and has a sterilizing effect on foods.  This ability to convert food more safely and more efficiently gave man an important advantage over other animals.

Light:  As early cave art demonstrates, primitive man used the ability to command fire to explore dark caves that were inaccessible without some form of artificial light.  A torch or a camp fire extends the day and provides more time for activities that make life easier, such as sewing clothing, flint knapping, basket making etc.

Quality of life:  A fire is also a dynamic piece of furniture.  Fire is mutable, the flames dance and change.  Long before we had television families would sit and gaze into the fire, and talk and sing and recite.  Home is the hearth as the saying goes.

Now I live in an old house, built in the 1840’s.  Originally there would have been a fireplace in every room, including the bedrooms.  It was the only way to heat a home in those days.  Over the years the fires have been replaced by central heating, and there are radiators in every room.  The only fireplace that remains is in the sitting room.

The kitchen is the beating heart of our house.  It is a place of fun and energy, noise and bustle, where all the action happens.  At a certain stage in the evening you want to begin the process of winding down, cooling down mental energy, preparing for sleep.  This transition involves the family focus moving from the kitchen to the sitting room.  Like primitive hominids we retreat to our cave and light the fire.

prehistoric-513919

 

 

 

Bucket List #2

Brewing Bucket

So again, I have one of these.  My bucket list is a list of stories about buckets and their place in my life (in case you haven’t guessed yet).

So roll back to the year 1977.  I feel sure that was the year, but I am open to correction.  My oldest brother Jerry got married.  I wore a kind of safari style jacket that my mother made, and a pair of brown flares.  Flares were not just “in fashion” in 1977, they were all you could buy.  I hated flares, but there seemed to be no alternative.

The jacket was god-awful too.  I have my own self to blame for that I guess.  My mother asked what I would like to wear for the wedding.  I was very into things african, safaris, Daktari, Born Free and all that guff.  I had ambitions to become a game park ranger when I grew up.  So I asked for a Safari jacket.  I knew the moment that she bought the cloth for it that she was way off the mark.  But I didn’t have the heart to upset my mother by pointing out that she hadn’t a clue.  She wanted me to look neat and well dressed.  I wanted to look beat, worn, creased, just off a dusty landrover.

Looking back I see now that I was in the early stages of my love affair with punk.  I was rejecting the glamour and sparkle of the disco era.  I wanted to disrupt, to break out, to smash convention.  I was just that little bit too young.  This was the year punk erupted on the scene in Ireland.  The Boomtown Rats released “Looking After Number 1” and the music world changed completely.

So what has all this to do with large white plastic buckets?  Anyone who grew up in a large family has experienced the joy of what happens when someone gets married.  There were nine of us sharing four bedrooms.  The departure of Jerry opened up a bed, and for the first time in my life I did not have to share one with my younger brother.  My own bed.  And only two of us in the room.  I felt like Hitler expanding into Poland.

And since I was taking over Jerry’s bed I was not going to stop there.  Jerry had a beer and wine making operation up and running.  When he moved out I moved in.  I had a ready made inventory of demi-jons, a pressure barrel, wine and beer bottles, crown corks, barley, hops, malt, hydrometer, thermometer and …….you guessed it…..fermentation vessels.  I had a large jerry can for lager, and a big coloured plastic bin for fermentation.

I learned more about chemistry from brewing and wine making than I learned in school.  I learned about enzyme reactions, the importance of temperature control, the importance of controlling the environment, sterilization.  I was the 1970’s version of Walter White.  I kept my family in country wines and beers for many years.  I deviated into mead and it’s derivatives, and developed a taste for Metheglin.  I made cordials and in turn used them to create cocktails.  It was a marvelous education.

Over the years what with kids and career, my brewing activities declined.  Dust gathered on the kit.  Then, when we converted our garage in Clontarf into a den for the kids the brewing gear was just in the way.  I sold it off.

Last Christmas my Daughter pulled me for her Kris Kindle.  To my surprise she had picked up on my love of home brew from hints over the years.  She bought me a kit online.  So now once again I am brewing.  It was a fabulous present, because it unlocked all those memories of times past.  Good times, if somewhat crowded.

I almost pity my kids that they will never realize the joy of getting your very own bed.  Almost…..

 

 

 

 

Bucket List #1

Heavy duty black plastic

I already have one of these buckets at home.  They are tough black plastic, very durable, very strong.  The reason this one is on my bucket list is because of the one I lost back in about 1988.  Summer of ’87 I learned how to sail and took to it like a duck to water.  The following year I jumped on any boat that would have me.

I think this bucket was on Tom Colliers boat, a steel 50 foot sloop.  We sailed her from Kinsale to Baltimore and arrived for the Baltimore Regatta.  So that gives me an exact weekend, the August Bank Holiday.

There was a rope tied to the bucket handle, finished off with a beautiful monkeys paw.  Not the hand of a tree dwelling simian.  The rope one (see below).

So I, in my naivety, thought I could dip for a bucket of water from a cruising yacht simply by slinging over the bucket and holding onto the rope.  The bucket hit the sea, the bucket filled.  Bye bye bucket.

When we got to Baltimore I toddled up to the chandlers and purchased a replacement for the boat.  The damage to my wallet was minor in comparison to the damage done to my ego.  Lesson learned.  When you throw things into the sea off a yacht you must tie them on if you ever want them back.

So this bucket is on my bucket list, not as something i want to do, but as a memory of a good lesson learned.

Monkeys Paw