Friday, December 31, 2010

And now a word about the word YANK. People here and in the UK use this word to describe Americans. Personally, I find this term mildly offensive. But people use it constantly here! So let me break it down for you. First of all, if you're Irish, then compare "yank" to the term "mick." It's just...not nice.

The offensiveness of this term probably has its origins in the fact that people in the southern US states call us northerners "yankees" or "yanks," and trust me, it's not with affection. Now, some Americans might refer to themselves as yanks, but most of us would not.

This is my public service announcement to anyone considering using the term yank to an actual yank: Reconsider it. Is it really so hard to say "American"?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas is over! Yay!

Sorry, but I am not a big fan of Christmas, per se. I like giving presents, and I like getting presents, but every year after Christmas, I think, Thank god that's over. And that feeling is compounded here in Ireland where they also celebrate St. Stephen's day. So, all in all there was a lot of imbibing: First, on Wednesday, we had a dinner with friends at our favorite gastro-pub. Then, on Thursday we unfortunately had to attend the funeral of Mark's aunt the day after that. Funerals are, of course, followed by a get together at the local pub. Once we got back to the north side, and it being Thursday, we were obliged to go to the local pub (I skipped out on that, since I was battling a cold). Friday (Christmas eve), we wrapped presents and laid low at home. Then Saturday we headed over to Uncle Billy's in the morning with two gigantic Ikea bags full of presents. Mark went ahead of me to put the turkey in the oven, then I followed and we cooked the gravy, cranberry sauce, and brussels sprouts. We ate and drank all day long, played cards, watched all the Christmas episodes of the soap operas, pulled our Christmas crackers, and went home tired but happy. I think we overwhelmed them with the presents. I took some crappy photos with my phone, and they look a whole lot like last year's pictures, except Billy has new wallpaper (that we put up, and now neither of us ever wants to see wallpaper again.)

Normally this is where it ends, but see then at twelve thirty the next day we went back to the local pub, where half the neighborhood goes and gets their drink on for the aforementioned Stephen's Day. Actually, I was delayed, so I didn't get there until two something. Luckily, they close early. I took a snap: I never thought I would say this, but I was actually really sick of drinking alcohol! So I was happy to have a couple nights off. But now it's party season again as we gear up for New Year's Eve.

Speaking of New Year's, I'll be doing a DJ set at Seomra Spraoi for their New Year's party, so I'm pretty excited. Haven't decided what I'll play yet!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A friend of mine asked me what Christmas in Ireland is like. This is my second Christmas here, and while I can't speak for Christmas in Ireland, per se, I would like to point out some key differences in the Irish Christmas experience.

First of all, they have these things called "Christmas crackers." Contrary to the name, Christmas crackers aren't crackers that you eat. They look like this:
and two people pull on each end until it "cracks," and breaks like a wishbone. Inside the tube are various items, depending on where you've bought the cracker (I hear Marks & Spencers have the best ones). There's a little paper crown, a joke, and some little trinket. I like to tell people I've never gotten a Christmas cracker just to see the pitying looks on their faces.

Also, there's "Christmas cake," which is kind of like fruit cake but with a lot more booze in it, and I think it's generally round and often has icing.

What you cannot find: Egg Nog! I have not seen egg nog in the store. (Not that I can drink it.) I'm sure you can find it somewhere at those stores who cater to us ex-pats, and pay a million dollars for it, or you can make your own, but I am not dedicated enough for that jazz. Still, it's weird.

What I'm really missing, and I mean really missing (and have been since the fall) is apple cider. Now, for people not from New England, I'm not talking about the alcoholic fizzy beverage you get at your local pub. I'm talking about the non-alcoholic, non-carbonated, unfiltered, unsweetened apple beverage that you can mull into pure holiday perfection. There is nothing on earth like mulled cider! If you think, oh, how different can it be from apple juice, you have no idea.

What else? Kids go around Christmas caroling...for money. Some people think of it as industrious but I just think of it as extortion.

And as I mentioned last year, you don't get gift boxes with clothing. You are expected to wrap soft items in gift wrap or with a gift bag. Apparently, it's more fun that way. I think it's bogus and it will never feel ok, but this year I gave in. I just didn't have the box inventory!

It appears that the common meal is a turkey AND a ham, which is meat-tastic. Mark and I are headed over in the morning to Uncle Billy's house with a BOATLOAD of presents (seriously, this will be hands down the most presents these three elderly people have ever received for Christmas in their entire lives. basically they gave us money for Christmas and we spent all of it on gifts for them, like fools! ) and will cook the dinner. I've downloaded hours and hours of Christmas music, so I will be sure to play the Anne Murray Christmas album and the John Denver Christmas album (my mom's favorite) and think of my family back home. We got meat-free meat roasts for ourselves, but sakes alive I will miss Tofurkey. Nothing beats fake turkey like Tofurkey, in my humble opinion.

The presents are all wrapped and I can't wait to see everyone's happy faces when they open their gifts. So, all in all, Christmas is the same here in Ireland. Lots of effort, headaches, rushing around, then all you can do is hope it was all worth it. Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I don't like to make sweeping generalizations. But last night it was hard not to, as I swore and muttered to myself while biking to the IFI. Mark and I had not been on our bikes for two minutes when we turned the corner and came upon two boys, aged ten or eleven, swinging a PUPPY (it looked only a few weeks old) from it's leash. When I say swinging, I mean, swinging it around, in the air, by it's leash, and then dangling it, above the ground. This puppy didn't even look like it should be separated from its mother, let alone put on a lead in freezing cold weather. It was honestly not much smaller than my hand, and it looked terrified. Actually, it looked traumatized. It didn't make a sound, and just hung there, hopelessly.

I stopped my bike and asked the kids what the hell they were doing. They looked scared for a second because I think they thought from our lights that we were bike cops. Once they realized that we were just regular people, they just continued to hang the puppy from the leash. I told them that someone ought to do that to them to see how they liked it, and one of them replied that he would like it -- he thought it would be fun.

So here's my sweeping generalization. Sometimes it feels like the children in this country are wild animals. Boys, roaming the streets, doing whatever the hell they feel like. And you can't say anything to them, especially in your own neighborhood, where they can terrorize you, or else you're going to wish you hadn't. They throw snowballs into people's faces. They call you names. They look into your letterbox and try to spy on you in your own house. They set things on fire. They try to play chicken with you when you're cycling. I could go on and on. It fucking enrages me. When I was a child, I wouldn't have dreamed of acting that way towards strangers. But so many of the kids here have no fear, no fear at all, of adults or strangers. I just don't get it. I really don't. Back in the US, I only had an issue with one teenage kid, and he was clearly mentally ill.

And they travel in packs as well, for extra intimidation. It's not that I'm walking around, being actively scared of the children and teenagers in my neighborhood, but at the same time, I realize that they are in total control, and cannot be reasoned with. I've lived in crappy neighborhoods all over Boston and I've never experienced anything like it. Even in Brooklyn I didn't see kids acting this way. It's annoying. Most days it's just "one of them things" but yesterday, when I watched helplessly as an animal was being tortured, I just really wanted to leave it all behind me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today Mark and I went to a discussion at the Irish Film Institute (IFI), a panel of artists, film producers, and movie makers. They were speaking in the context of a new film, The Pipe, which is about the fight to keep Shell from installing a raw gas pipeline in Rossport, County Mayo. This fight doesn't get proper media coverage, and I think that if people knew what was going on here, there would be outrage all over the world towards Shell. You can read about the movie on their website. Here's the trailer for the film:

Honestly, if you are in the Dublin area and/or have a chance to see this movie, I urge you to go see it!

The talk itself was an interesting discussion about the role art can play in activism. I can't really sum it up, but let's just say that considering how tired I was, the fact that I stayed awake was a testament to how good it was, I guess!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I've been working on this very VERY long post for ages. This happened in mid-October...

Speaking of Mary Harney and Healthcare...I have been meaning to share our recent experiences with seeking medical attention for my mother-in-law last month. It's incidents like these that remind me that Ireland is not where I will be growing old. As many friends as I've made, and for all the positive things that make my life enjoyable here, I know that I will be going back to the US for my winter years. And there's pretty much one major reason for that: the Healthcare system here is absolutely terrifying, especially if you are old, disabled, or alone.

Joyce is 80 years old. She was last in the hospital while Mark and I were away. She hadn't been well since before Christmas, but has a real reluctance to go to the doctor because the waiting time is between two to six hours. If you have an appointment, the doctor will likely not even walk into the building until two hours after your scheduled time. And then he'll see the six or seven patients ahead of you, not to mention make and receive telephone calls and take queries from the secretaries during appointments. When Mark and I first moved to Dublin, we signed up for this practice, not knowing where else to go. After each having two very bad experiences, we switched. When we suggested that his parents do the same, they responded that they'd been going there for over 40 years, and sure, they wouldn't want to make anyone feel bad by switching. So their answer to this problem is to simply go to the doctor as seldom as possible, no matter what kind of agony they are in.

In July, Joyce had been admitted to the Mater Hospital for fluid around her heart. She was in a hallway, waiting for three days for a room. At the time, I didn't think much of this, although it was disturbing, but my mental picture was of a patient in an American-style hospital, on a proper bed, and while I thought jesus, that's horrible, I didn't linger on it too long in my mind.

When she was discharged, Joyce was given a prescription for a water tablet, to be taken daily, to keep her fluid down. However no one seems to have explained to her the consequences of not taking this pill. Since going to the doctor meant a two to six hour wait, she wasn't likely to go for a follow-up appointment. I mean, logistically, if you're on a pill that makes you want to urinate all the time, are you really going to go to a place where you'll have to sit in a waiting room for several hours? No. You get frustrated, and not understanding why you're on this medication in the first place, you stop taking it. Or at least, she did.

So we noticed she wasn't well -- she seemed to have a cold, and a cough, and was not herself at all. But there's a fine line when you're caring for the elderly between taking control of them and letting them have some autonomy. We respected her wish not to see the doctor. But when we found out she was coughing up blood, Mark quickly went into action. We called the doctor, and they promised to make a house call within two hours. So far, so good. We called over to Joyce, where she complained that she had been sweating through her bedclothes during the night, and was still coughing up the blood. She said she was going to call the doctor in the evening, though we couldn't figure out why she wanted to wait. About an hour before the doctor was due, we casually let her know that we'd already set the plan in motion, and the doctor was on her way. We figured that she would examine Joyce, give her an anti-biotic, some cough syrup, and we could all sleep better that night.

The doctor sailed in, asked a couple of questions, listened to Joyce's lungs, made a phone call, then informed us that since she takes Warfarin (a blood thinner), and she was coughing up blood, she'd have to go to the A&E (Emergency Room). She asked if we wanted her to order an ambulance. We said no. But this was a big mistake, we were to learn later -- a big mistake that we will never make again.

Not wanting her to be too anxious, we assured Joyce that she'd be in and out of the hospital -- no need to pack a bag! And we called a taxi, giving her only a half hour to get some things together. She was very nervous about going, but we tried to remain upbeat.

The taxi dropped us off at the hospital at about quarter past three in the afternoon. We checked in, and had a seat in the crowded waiting room, which was filled with wooden chairs, all facing a small television perched on the wall. It played Sky news. For those who don't know, Sky news is possibly the worst news channel ever invented. It picks out the same five crappy news stories and repeats them over, and over, and over. The big story that day was about Wayne Rooney, this hotshot soccer player, who was threatening to quit. Stupidly, we didn't bring books or ipods or anything that might distract us. And even if we had, we would have felt bad using them while Joyce quietly suffered beside us. Within the first two hours, we were called into a little room, where a nurse took Joyce's vitals and asked some questions about why she was referred to the Emergency Room (A&E). He examined her, and then it was back out into the main waiting room. So far so good, we thought.

Behind us, sat a blind man, accompanied by a woman. You couldn't guess what was wrong with him -- he sat quietly in his seat, occasionally making his way to the rest room. Sometimes he would remark on how long he'd been waiting, but by that time, we were all in the same boat, so we all commiserated. At one point, a middle aged man came in with his very frail father. It choked me up a little to see someone so vulnerable in such a place. But luckily he was taken in right away.

As daylight waned and darkness descended on Dublin, the crowd in the A&E changed considerably. The zombies started to come out. Sure, there was your usual: car accident victims, a woman who looked like she was going to have a heart attack, etc. Then there was the dude who looked like he'd been in a bar brawl, and the guy who had pissed his track pants, who kept wandering around the waiting room, trying to get into other parts of the hospital. He kept grabbing at his tongue with his fingers. A guy walked in wearing a nice pinstriped suit, carrying a Dunnes Stores bag. I figured that he was there to bring provisions for a patient. So I was quite surprised when he sat down in the waiting room and began a sing-along with a drunk guy in a wheelchair. I managed to use my cell phone to record their rendition of "Leaving on a Jet Plane:" The bar brawl guy was NOT happy with them, and I thought he was going to lose it, but he managed to keep it together, more or less.

Another man came in, still with the plastic bracelet from his visit the previous day. He was trying to get admitted. Of course, I don't know what his story was but he was shouting, so the whole place knew why he was there, and it was heartbreaking: he said he'd been there every day for the past three days, apparently, but he didn't remember because he has dementia. He has dementia because, he shouted, he has "full blown AIDS." He also shouted that they could call the cops, he would be quite happy to go to Mount Joy (the prison across the street from the hospital), as he'd spent the last 30 years there and at least he'd have a roof over his head. The guy needed help, and it was difficult to see someone so sick begging for treatment. I'm not sure what happened in the end, if he was admitted or not. He was so confused, but at least knew why he was confused, and was able to try to advocate for himself, but it felt so hopeless. As he shouted in the waiting room, you couldn't help but to envisage the trajectory of this man's life.

Poor Joyce took it all in stride, even though she must have been in agony sitting in those chairs, sick as she was. It was more than TEN HOURS before she was called into the interior waiting area. When you walked through the door, it was filled with people in trolleys (hospital beds are called trolleys here) and chairs. Joyce was brought into an examining area, where she waited on an examining table for the rest of the night and into the next day. On a table. That she was too small and frail to hop on and off of (she is less than five feet tall). At one point, she set up a bed for herself on the floor, but she was ordered to get off the floor and back onto the table, but seeing as she couldn't get onto it, she sat in a chair. At some point, someone gave her a pillow, but she has such severe osteoporosis that the pillow was really no use to her. After nearly 24 hours, she was moved to a proper hospital bed, within the same waiting area. But still the bed was too high, so mostly she sat in the chair. They gave her an x-ray and determined that she had a bad case of pneumonia. But there was no bed available in the hospital. Our poor blind friend was across the way, in a trolly, waiting to be treated as well.

The real kicker was this: Joyce was standing next to her trolly, with her back to the curtain, brushing her teeth at the sink, and someone made off with her handbag. She was literally four feet away, and they nabbed it. Luckily, it had almost nothing in it but socks, underwear, and her bus pass. Still, the idea that someone would steal from a sick old lady made us all feel a bit angry and depressed. But finally, after two and a half days, she was admitted to a short term ward. This was essentially a large room with about seven or eight beds in it, and two bathrooms to share among them. Since Joyce was on a heavy dose of diuretics, this was a big problem. I won't go into the details. But in this room, women and men of all ages and circumstances were being treated. One guy across from her was vomiting and having diarrhea all night long. And I don't mean in the bathroom. A couple of nights later, an old woman with dementia thought Joyce was her daughter, and kept hovering over her bed, trying to take her shoes, and shouting at her. Basically, it was the worst conditions possible to try and recover from pneumonia in. We could see Joyce getting discouraged, wondering when she could go home. However the visiting hours were only between 2 - 4 and 6 - 8, so we couldn't hang around to make her feel better. We brought her magazines and treats, but I'm not sure how well it helped to pass the time.

Mark deserves best son of the year award for hassling the doctors and managing her care. He worked tirelessly with the doctors and nurses to make sure they knew all of his mother's conditions, and that they treated all of them. He also did an amazing job explaining it all to his parents in a way they could understand (to say they have a mistrust of medicine is an understatement). All in all, Joyce was in the hospital for *twelve* days.

When she came home, we had a bit of a surprise for her. While she was in the hospital, we had gone out and purchased (well, his dad paid) a washer/dryer unit and had it installed in their kitchen. If you can believe it, they've been hand washing their laundry for 80 years....with NO HOT WATER. They boil water in the kettle. Insanity! So we knocked out a cabinet, then went to IKEA and bought a new one to put on the other side, installed that (three trips to IKEA because they kept giving me the wrong drawer), and then cleaned the place up a bit. I'm not sure they're using it, but at least it's there if they choose to.

So October entailed a lot of running around. But it reminded us both of why we're here. Honestly I'm not sure Joyce would have made such a good recovery if we had not intervened. And it was just nice to be useful and to contribute to our family's quality of life. You know, the stuff life is all about, I suppose.

However, the experience also opened my eyes to how healthcare really works in this country. It doesn't. At times it felt as though we were in a developing country. The whole system was chaotic and, to be frank, unsafe. It made me wonder why hospitals aren't being constantly sued for malpractice here. But that's a question for another day. We were just really happy to have Joyce home, safe and sound.
I've been on a crafty bender for the past few days. Here's the latest project, the toilet paper roll wall art project from Design Sponge. I think it cost me 3.99 for a tube of sap green paint, and 1.60 for the glue, both of which were only half used. The wall it's on is a bit mold-prone (it's a front room, and believe it or not, our house is not insulated in any fashion), so I didn't want to put anything there that we are emotionally attached to, in case it got moldy. I really like the way it looks, though next time I'll paint the tp rolls before I glue them together!

I also made a paper wreath from Design Sponge. I had no idea where to get the green masking paper they used, and spray painting seemed too complicated in this weather (no basement to work in, after all!), so I went to a stationery store (Easons) and bought green paper in two shades as well as a sheet of silver gift wrap. It came out a little more stiff looking than I'd have liked -- if I did it again, I might distress the paper -- but all in all, it looks cute and can be used year after year. Not a bad deal for a cost of less than five euro!

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Christmas decorating time! Last year, we didn't really decorate so much, mostly because we'd only been living in our apartment for a couple of days. Everything was a complete mess! This year things are much more relaxed. But we don't have a lot of money to go out and spend on silly things like decorations! Uncle Billy gave us some Santa votive holders and a little snowman for our mantle, and then I made some little stockings from some old pyjamas I had laying around the house. So the festive vibe is starting to get underway!

Here's a crappy photo I took with my phone:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The snow is here for a while, and it's funny to see how a town that isn't used to snow manages to cope. It's fantastic to walk around town and see things like this:

Unfortunately, city kids are city kids. Which means that you're likely to be hit in the face with a snowball at any moment, when you least expect it. Our poor friend Damo got hit in the mouth with a rock-stuffed snowball, which is pretty infuriating. But you can't really react because those kids travel in packs!

People also have no idea how to drive in these conditions, so you hear a lot of spinning out cars of people trying to simply get their cars onto the street. Hopefully they'll figure it out before the snow melts. We're going sledding again later, and I'll be sure to bring the camera this time!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving turned out to be a very pleasant day! We ate fake turkey, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, gravy, and I even made pork loin for the meat eaters! We lit a fire and ate until we couldn't eat anymore, then we headed to the pub. Then we had leftovers for a few days, which was very tasty.

I don't have a hell of a lot of time to post, but I wanted to celebrate this:

For those of you that don't know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. In the month of November, you write your butt off and if you make it to fifty thousand words before Midnight on December first, you are a WINNER! There's really no prize, per se, except the satisfaction that you wrote a 50k word, 175 page novel in one month. I took on the challenge and miraculously managed to make it to my goal. I say miraculously because I wrote 20k of the 50k in the last 4 days. But I learned a LOT about writing, how I work, and now I have a really, really crappy first draft. And I'm not saying that to be modest -- it's really bad. But like any first draft, it has great potential! So hopefully between now and death I'll be able to revise it into something that doesn't make me cringe when I read it.

What else has been going on? Well, of course Ireland's economy is almost completely flushed down the toilet, and we've been taking to the streets. However most recently, we were joined by 50,000 to 100,000 other people who also took to the streets. Here I am, waiting to march, in about six layers (it was cold):

I gotta mention this lady because she had one of my favorite signs. Apparently I'm not the only one who HATES Pat Kenny:

There were so many people, it was incredible. People of all shapes and sizes and interests. I've never been on a protest of that size before, and I wonder if it did any good. But there will be more, I'm sure. There are lots of images from the day, but here's a pretty good flickr set that someone has up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The clock just struck midnight, which means that it's Thanksgiving, officially. My sisters and I have been feeling anxious about this day because it's our first Thanksgiving holiday since our father died. Like most families, we have happy memories of being together on this holiday, eating lots and lots of food, watching the Macy's parade on TV, and feeling, in general, and if only for that day, the contentment that only a loving family can bring you. Self-satisfaction, maybe even so much so that it's a little boring. A non-event that, even on such a day when you're supposed to give thanks, you forget to really commemorate it, forget to tell everyone close to you that you would be lost without them, that you are, actually and truly thankful, because you forget that there might be a time when you won't be able to. That time and place will all diverge in such a way to prevent you from having these inconsequential days that seem so obvious, it's more about the food and the ritual than it is about the sentiment. But time and place have put me on this plane of existence, floating in a world where my family is not, and now I'm standing at a sort of precipice, staring down at all the 36 Thanksgivings that came before this one and wondering how I will manage my 37th when so much has changed.

I've been thinking lately about a Thanksgiving I spent with my father at my apartment in Boston. We didn't have turkey; we had a meat fondue. We did not have pumpkin pie; we ate coconut macaroons. The wonderful thing about my father was that he was never afraid to do things differently. He hated the way old people tend to get caught in ritual, and was always up for an adventure, be it culinary or otherwise. He hated, most of all, to feel old, which was good, because we loved having an adventurous father willing to try new things, and who was not afraid to let go of old traditions in lieu of something unexpected.

This week, I went to the funeral of a friend's mother. The ceremony was a loving tribute, delivered by the most sincere and affable priests I think I've ever witnessed (and I've seen my share of priests). Personally, I am atheist, but as a formerly devout Catholic, mass soothes me in a certain kind of way, another cue to memories of family and comfort. When the priest recited the first sentence of Confiteor – “I confess to Almighty God, and you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do” – I suddenly thought back to the hundreds of times I have said that prayer and it never produced any kind of feeling in me. But today, on Thanksgiving, I think about “what I have done, and what I have failed to do” and this nagging worry eats at me. Did my father know how thankful we all were? Did he know, I mean really know, how endlessly he was loved? At the time, our comfortable complacency seemed like the best thing in the entire world. Maybe it's possible that he enjoyed the quiet happiness we experienced; he didn't need big expressions of grand emotions. Maybe it's possible that he did know. That possibility keeps me going, because I honestly don't know if I could live if I thought otherwise.

So, following in my father's footsteps, I will not be frightened of setting a new tradition, of celebrating in a different way than ever before. I will cook large amounts of food; I will eat with my new family in my new country. And I will not regret those lazy, comfortable Thanksgivings in another time and place. Perhaps today will not be the most relaxing day I've ever had, but I hope to feel and show the same quiet love and affection for my family that I have always felt, and always will. Because, despite it all, I am still blessed, and there is still so much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Day!

I've been working on this ultra-long post for ages, and I swear I WILL post it, but for now I'm going to do something easy. I never get blog accolades or nods or links of any kind in internet land (my blog is basically me writing over the sound of crickets. No one comments, hardly anyone subscribes, oh woah is me!). But Kim at Pass the Potatoes tagged me in an entry, and while I also usually shy away from internet memes, I figure what the hell.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Paste these rules on your blog post.
3. Respond to the following prompts (in bold).
4. Add a prompt of your own and answer it.
5. Tag a few other bloggers at the bottom of the post.
6. Leave "Tagged You" notices on their blog/Facebook.
7. Let the person who tagged you know when you've written the post.

1) The best investment you ever made:
My macbook. I was going to say "my education" but the ROI on that remains to be seen.

2) If you could’ve written any book, directed any movie, and composed any song, which three would you pick:
Book: I've been sitting here for three minutes, weighing the options. I'm going to have to say "Notes from Underground" even though it's somewhere between a long short story and a novella.
Movie: A Room with a View. I can't help it. Young Julian Sands.
Song: Don't Be Shy by Cat Stevens

Don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead
And don't be shy, just let your feeling roll on by on by

You know love is better than a song
Love is where all of us belong
So don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
You're there

Don't be shy just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead
And don't be shy, just let your feeling roll on by
On by, on by, on by, on by

3) Weirdest quirk:
Mark says, "If you took away your quirks, you'd have nothing left." So I'll say that I stir my coffee 30 times between spooning in the sugar and pouring in the soy milk, 15 times one way, 15 times the other way.

4) One wish immediately granted:
To have my father alive again.

5) Most expensive hobby:
Home organization/decorating. I'm always striving to make my home as nice as I can make it, with everything having its proper place. Ikea is my bff. I was going to say marrying into poverty, but that isn't nice!

6) An inexhaustible gift-card at which store:
Design Within Reach.

7) In another lifetime, you’d be:
A revered fiction and memoir author.

8) The most famous/interesting member of your family tree:
My family has had a LOT of interesting characters. Unfortunately, usually not for the right reasons. So I'll say my father, who invented crystal used in spaceship windows.

9) What would you say to your teenage self?
Don't rely on other people to make you feel good about yourself. Stop watching so much TV, stop procrastinating, and learn geography. Also, when you cheat, you are only cheating yourself!

10) What surprises you most about your life today?
I'm happy. After spending so many miserable years wondering if I'd ever crawl my way out of depression, I never thought I'd figure out what true happiness is. It's been a few years now, and I still can't believe how great things are, even when there's no money, I miss my family, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and I've lost people I loved, I am still, deep down and fundamentally happy. The surprise reminds me to appreciate it.

My addition:
11) What way do most people find your blog?
Believe it or not, most people get to my blog by searching google images for pictures of dwarves.

I now tag My lovely sister, Charlene, whose blog you should check out, Rachel at Balanced Crafts, and I can't come up with a good third, so if you're actually reading this, tag yourself!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We don't generally read the Herald, but Mark and I happened to be in a waiting room for a long, long time, and someone left a copy, so we took a gander. One article in particular caught our eye: Threat to RTE millions over anti-FF claims. Ok, so for my non-Irish readers, FF stands for Fianna Fáil (usually pronounced Feena Fall unless you want to get fancy and Irish, then it's sort of indescribable), which is Ireland's Republican party, which lords over Irish politics like a big dome blocking out the sun. Except for a few years in the 90s, Fianna Fail has been dominating elections since 1987. Here's the party leader, Brian Cowen:

Even the look on his face says, "Maybe you shoulda gotten someone else to do this job."

RTE, for my non-Irish readers, is Ireland's National Television and Radio Station, kinda like the BBC only with pretty crappy and pedestrian programming. It's also run by the government, essentially. As such, the government makes anyone with a television in Ireland to pay a "TV licensing fee," or else go to jail. But that's a rant for another day.

Now here's the thing. Fianna Fail is up in arms because they say that RTE is trying to make them look bad. According to the article, FF TD Noel Treacy said, "As far as I am concerned RTE is a left-wing organisation that has not committed itself to promoting policies laid down by the Government or parliament."

So politicians are complaining because a media outlet is not spewing governmental propaganda. Seriously? Have they never heard of freedom of the press? I don't get it. And of course the irony is that I'm pretty sure the consensus was that RTE did almost nothing BUT promote the Irish government. Hell, they ARE the government! What. the. FF.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Can we talk about Mary Harney for a minute? I'm really torn about this:

So Mary Harney is Ireland's Minister for Health and Children. Of course, it's a nation-wide joke that our Minister for Health looks about as healthy as Jabba the Hut. Now, as a feminist, I have a natural inclination to want to support women in politics. But politicians, well, they're politicians. As far as I can tell, Mary Harney seems to be one part robot and one part Orc. I mean, just look at her face. It's stoney and heartless. And that's pretty much how she rolls. The proposed cuts on the Health Service Executive (HSE), which is how I have a medical card -- the only way I have access to any health care at all -- are between 600 million and 1 billion euro. (For American readers, 600 mil is like 834 million dollars.)

Basically what's happening here in Ireland, as far as I can see, is that in trying to make fiscal ends meet, the government is trying to skimp on services from the bottom (the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, public sector workers) instead of demanding that the country's wealthy (and I mean wealthy, not middle class) pay more in taxes, or... any taxes. Mary Harney is essentially a demon right now as hospitals either close or are over-crowded with not enough staff.

So on one hand I think YEAH! I love the sight of Mary Harney, hands covered with the (symbolic) blood of people who will die from not receiving health services as a result of these cuts. But on the other hand, I'm just sad and discouraged. It's like eating that delicious chocolate eclair -- it feels good, but is it ultimately good for us? Will Mary Harney, or anyone else for that matter, suddenly come around because she was attacked with red paint? From today's interviews on the radio and online, it only seems to have made her feel all the more that it's ok to discount her critics. And I think god, how degrading it all is.
Halloween is a little bit of a different animal here in my neck of the woods. In our last apartment, we lived in an apartment building, so obviously no kids came around trick or treating. Also, our old neighborhood was in a place called Drumcondra, which, even though it's on the north side, is relatively posh. Our new neighborhood, Stoneybatter, while technically "up and coming," is surrounded by "flats," ie what in America we'd call Tenement housing, but is really housing given to the poor that has since become dilapidated and a bit "rough and ready" as they say here.

Because of all the kids roaming around our 'hood, and the fact that there are many houses per street and the streets are tiny, we figured that we'd get a ton of trick or treaters this year. In fact, I went out and bought FOUR bags of candy (luckily Mars bars, which Mark can't eat and I don't like so much). As Halloween approached, you could hear more and more "bangers" (ie crappy fireworks), and you would often see kids of all ages dragging random pieces of wood.

Here in the grittier parts of Dublin, bonfires are a great Halloween tradition. Mark has many fond memories of hanging out with a 2-litre bottle of cider, watching the ole fire burn up in Cabra. Personally, Dublin bonfires terrify me because I've heard too many stories of animal abuse at them. (Trust me, don't look into this matter further; you don't want to know.) But our house is a stone's throw from a very large flats complex called O'Devaney Gardens, and there really was no escaping the bonfire. Even if we couldn't see it, we could sure smell it.

So a few days before Halloween, it starts to sound like a warzone around these parts, because the fireworks sound like guns going off. Then the bonfires on Halloween start going, and you do start to feel like you're maybe in some kind of war-torn Eastern European country. Halloween was on Sunday, which is a night we typically go to the pub with Mark's parents. I was a little apprehensive about leaving the house, to be honest. But we got on our bikes and ventured out.

But as luck would have it, I got a tire puncture about 30 yards from home, just as we were setting out, forcing us to walk back to the house, ditch our bikes, and walk to the pub. But this wasn't a bad thing, because I grabbed my camera on the way out and we took a little detour to see the bonfire at O'Devaney. Now, keep in mind, we were still a pretty long distance away. But I took a little video. Look at the building next to it for a greater understanding of how tall this bonfire was. I think it was about three stories high. If you click on this, it is much more impressive in a bigger window:

We didn't tarry too long, but we also passed by another bonfire in another flats project called Drumalee, where we bumped into a man and his young sons who had pestered him to take them to see the bonfire. But you could tell he was NOT into it. "It's like during the war in my country," he said. We didn't press him for which country he referred to, but it sure did seem a little post-apocalyptic in our part of town. As we approached Cabra, we didn't see any more bonfires, but we could sure smell them. Mark drank cider at the pub as a nod to his happy bonfire memories. It was one of those moments where the country girl in me couldn't fathom feeling safe as a child in a place like this, on my own running around the streets. But that's what city kids do, just like us country kids ran around in acres and acres of woods with no fear or went skiing off the trails among the trees. Being a kid is about taking chances, and being fearless, of facing the elements, nature, and human nature, and not knowing what you have to lose.
If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know that I try to be at least a little more politically active than the average person, though admittedly I am not as committed as I'd like to be. But when time and energy permits, I try to get out there and at least be a supportive body, particularly right now with Ireland's economy in the toilet and "cuts" being promised to services for the poorest people in the country. Well, there's been a timely movement here in Dublin to highlight the inequities that exist in Ireland between the very rich and, actually, everybody else. It's called The 1% Network. The name is derived from the fact that 1% of the country owns approximately 34% of the country's wealth. That's a crazy amount! And the kicker is how many of them are "tax exiles" -- in other words, they manage not to pay any taxes to Ireland, even though they have residences here.

Here's the description of the 1% Network from their facebook page: "We have all heard of the ‘golden circle’. We all know that there is one law for the rich and another law for the rest of us.

The 1% network is a coalition of socialist groups which has come together to oppose the cutback agenda of the government and to promote a socialist alternative to the current socio-economic system. The name of the coalition was chosen to highlight the fact that just 1% of the population control in excess of 34% of the wealth of the nation. Organisations within the coalition include éirígí, Irish Socialist Network, Revolutionary Anarcha-Feminist Group, Seomra Spraoi and the Workers Solidarity Movement.

We are planning a number of events including a walking tour of the houses, secret meeting places and private banks where the 1% are to be found."

So a couple weeks back I went to the first tour. It was mostly depressing, to be honest, but it was also very educational. You can view videos of the tour on the facebook page also. It was kind of like a little bit walking tour, a little bit protest. We walked in the streets and had police along, like a protest, but it was a proper walking tour. Here are some photos I took:
This guy is a great speaker. But something (the old New Englander in me) wishes dammit man, can you not shave your beard and cut your hair so you don't look like some hippie wacko? His message is on point, I just wish he looked a little less wackadoo. But then the hippie wacko in me says, who the frig cares?

View walking down the street.

with the wind in our hair...

At this point in the tour, some yah dude holding a puppy stopped to listen. He stood there for about three to five minutes. When that stop on the tour was finished and we'd all clapped, the guy yelled out, "Why don't you people get a job?" Someone said, "We do have jobs, man." And he just kept saying, "You people need to get a job!" I made me really frustrated and angry because while many of the group were working folks, a number of us, like myself, would LOVE to have a job and can't find one. To be summarily dismissed as some kind of idiot is hard to take. I'm an educated person with work experience and plenty of willingness to work. But there just hasn't been a job that's come my way. So people heckled the guy and he walked away with laughter at his back, but I felt sad over it.

Check out this crazy statue of Queen Maeve:

Like, ok, I get the warrior thing, and the crow and the bull head or whatever, but did she HAVE to be naked with huge fake looking tits? Ugh.

Anyhoo, the Irish Times did a little writeup about the event and who happened to be featured in the photo but yours truly. I'm looking very attentive, aren't I? With the huge sunglasses, I'm all incognito.

I just missed the most recent 1% event, but I look forward to attending more of them, and I think you should too. It helps give a real look at what's going on in the mess of Irish politics and rhetoric. You may be dismayed and depressed afterwards, but at least you'll be informed.
In other news, we gave Galway another shot. See, the first time I went to Galway, I had only been living in Ireland for oh, 24 hours or so. I also got an annoying cold as soon as I got off the train, and it was New Year's Eve. So I didn't get a great impression of Galway because I was jet lagged, sick, cold, and half the town was still shut down for the holidays. We only stayed for the weekend and then hightailed it outta there back to Dublin, and I wondered what all the hype about Galway was over.

So when our friend Eve graciously invited us to stay in her new place in Galway, we couldn't turn it down. And you know what? I thought it was a cute little town this time around! Having all the shops and restaurants open, the sun shining, and being healthy and alert gave me a new perspective on Galway. Plus, it's hard to be unhappy when you are so close to the ocean. We walked around town, perused some stores, walked along the shore, and went to this really funny (and admittedly touristy) pub that reminded me SO MUCH of Maine, I insisted we go there twice.

My camera doesn't take good indoor photos, so I had to swipe these off their website.

But here are some photos I took walking along the shore:

Now, the Irish are a hearty people. And swimming in cold water is just one of the common sights all around the country. Maybe it's good for the soul, who knows. But while we walked around in our scarves (ok, I was in a scarf, the others threw caution to the wind), these ladies went for a dip:

This was taken from a diving platform. I'm sure it looks much different in high tide (ie it's covered in water). But this is where people get their swim on:

I decided to take a little ten second video of the view from our little diving platform, for posterity.
So much for posting more regularly. Of course I haven't stopped living, I have just stopped blogging so much about it. But I swear that things have calmed down now so I should be able to keep up! Now, I guess I'm a just gonna have to do a bit of a recap of the month...

Well, first of all, the Rag Issue 5 came back from the printer's! We are all very excited about this year's issue, and I can't wait for our launch party, to which all are invited, on November 20th. Here's the poster for it:

So please come on up to Seomra Spraoi, have a little food, be immensely entertained, dance, and then go home with a copy of The Rag#5 for your very own. It will be a ball!

The first couple of weeks of October were pretty intense, putting together the magazine, dotting our Is and crossing our Ts and making sure everything was more or less kosher. I think we have a great range of articles, two of which were written by yours truly! So look out for it, and if you can't make it to the launch party, never fear, the magazine will be in book shops around Dublin and will be available through Distros around the world. I'll keep you posted on that after the 20th!

Friday, October 1, 2010

I have been a blog neglecter. Well, it's been busy times for me lately! For the past couple of months, I was doing a little mini-internship twice a week for the very talented and very nice Dublin fashion designer, Sinead Doyle. It really got me thinking about fashion and what I'd like to work on next, and she also inspired me to do more hand work like beading and embroidery. So we'll see what I come up with! I still have some nice fabrics from my trip to Florida last year. I have been staring at them longingly for over a year, so I'd like to get through my stash.

It's also RAG season again! So we're making the final push to get the magazine out. Things aren't moving as swiftly as they should be, so I foresee a few sleepless nights ahead.

I think I may have written in February about going to Dublin Community Television to do a show called "Looking Left." We were featured as a comparison to the 1970s Dublin feminist magazine "Banshee." The show has finally been released. Admittedly, I don't say a whole lot. But Clare does an amazing job, and I excel at nodding and smiling.

Looking Left - Banshee Journal of Irish Women United from DCTV on Vimeo.

The other day, I felt like making brunch. So I made a ton of food, and was lucky enough to have a few friends come over and help me eat it. It was one of those days where you feel content and loved and all those nice things. But did I take a photo of us eating the yummy food? No. I took a photo of the plate though! Now, it doesn't look very appetizing, but I assure you, it was. Here is home made corn bread, tofu scramble, corned bean hash, and home made soyrizo. Yum!

A friend of ours was in town between traveling, and he put on a little fundraiser in Seomra Spraoi for a social center in Malaysia. I was supposed to DJ, but there wasn't really enough people. So we just put my ipod playlist on the stereo and had a nice relaxed time. But then, someone asked to turn the music off because some musicians wanted to play. It was magical, and such a pleasant surprise. I took two videos. The second one is haunting and maybe even other worldly. Sometimes I get these reminders at how different Ireland is than America, in a good way. You know those moments where you think, "This would *never* happen back home!" And I feel so lucky to have these moments, particularly when I am missing friends and family back in New England.

September 24th was Culture Night, "a night of entertainment, discovery and adventure in Dublin and across 20 towns, cities and counties in Ireland. Arts and cultural organisations open their doors until late with hundreds of free events, tours, talks and performances." I cycled over to IMMA to meet some friends. I wanted to take photos, but my camera is fairly useless at night. Here's one of Clare and her friend, looking festive!

As we were not so excited by the happenings there, a group of us continued on to some other galleries on Franklin Street. And I had a celebrity sighting! Tommy O'Neill, aka Detective John Deegan from Fair City! I was pretty pleased, but I didn't go up to him or anything.

It's hard to convey just how many times you see horses in Dublin. I don't mean the kind of horses like you see in downtown Boston that have fancy carriages that will take you around the Common. I mean just kids on horses, guys in little mini-carriages going down the road by horse. It's no strange sight to see horses used as regular transportation, and they usually go down the roads like cars. But the other morning, I caught a horsedrawn hearse in traffic, and I just had to take a photo. The horses in front of the bus really creates a contrast!

Well hopefully it won't be so long before my next update!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Yesterday we biked along to quays, then through Irishtown and Ringsend to the water. We walked through these trails, eating blackberries and dandelion leaves along the way, until we hit a beach and a long jetty that led to a light house. We walked all the way out to the lighthouse and back, and then sat on some rocks on the beach and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then we biked home. The weather is just too good to stay inside!
The little beach:

Mark taking photos that will kick my photos' butts

The water in the wind:

Some kind of industrial building

Light house:

View from the Light house:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

As I was on my futile quest to find a free writing course/workshop/group, I came upon an event that interested me, a reading put on by Some Blind Alleys, "a literary entity that supports new Irish writing through publication, readings, and events, as well as creative writing courses for aspiring and established writers." Unfortunately, their courses are profoundly out of my price range (they are reasonably priced; I am unreasonably poor), but the event was only 5 bucks in, so I figured I should check it out. Of course, I literally only had that much in my pocket, so buying a drink once I got inside was out of the question.

Earlier in the day, I received an unexpected request to DJ at that night's Seomra Spraoi gig, since the scheduled DJ backed out. I said, sure, what the hell, and then realized that it would take a certain amount of prep since my itunes files were all a mess, and not only that all my music is now on an external hard drive, so I'd have to decide on the playlist in advance and burn the songs onto a CD-R in order to bring them with me. And I'd started a sewing project as well that I wanted to finish. AND I wanted to go running. So I sewed for a bit, went for my 5k, came back, showered, then started in on my playlist. But of course that took much, much longer than I wanted it to. So I reached a point where I thought gee, maybe I shouldn't go to this reading after all. But I'd planned it in my mind for weeks, and so at the last second, I ran out the door, not bothering to change out of my scuzzy jeans and t-shirt or put any makeup on. "It's a reading, not a fashion show," I thought. So I hopped on my bike and walked in the door of the Cobalt Cafe only a few minutes late. But when I walked in, I was sort of surprised at how posh everyone looked! I mean, in my mind, I guess I just expected to find grubby people like myself, but I walked into this strange scene of women tottering around on high heeled shoes holding full glasses of red wine, dressed to the nines. My only hope is that they had after-reading plans, to be dressed like that. The men were more mixed, but also looked intimidatingly well dressed. I stood there, reminding myself, "You *do* own nice clothing at home, Angela. It's not as if you put any effort in." But as I stood there, being all grubbed out, and too broke to at least wallow my wardrobe sorrows in a glass of wine, my initial feelings of awkwardness and inadequacy turned to a strange sort of anger. I started to wonder about the gritty process of creating a piece of writing, and how opposite it was of this (apparently) glitzy world of presenting it. The only thing to do, since the event was late in starting, was to inspect everyone else in the room with slight scorn, wondering if I'd want to be the sort of person who got dressed up for a literary event. I think I am, actually. But maybe only if I were the one reading.

So there I was, standing behind the doorway, leaning against the wall like a true wall flower, looking on, wondering if I should leave and finish picking out my DJ set. But then I thought, well, that would be 5 euro wasted, so I'd better stay and at least see something. My obvious bad vibes must have been picked up by the organizer of the event, Greg, who very graciously introduced himself to me. He wanted to know how I'd found out about the event, saying, "We don't get a lot of stragglers to these events." I definitely qualified as a straggler, and I laughed at being outed for my lack of fitting in. My pride prevented me from accepting a drink (or rather the fact that I knew I couldn't buy one back), but it was nice to be reminded that I was actually out amongst fellow human beings.

Now, here's where I am going to be brutally honest, because it's my blog and I see no reason to blow smoke up anyone's ass. Carlo Gébler is a highly accomplished author, obviously, and I'm a nobody. But if he himself asked me what I thought about the piece he read last night, I would have told him that it was a very good first draft. Usually when you see writers read their own work, it goes one of two ways. Either their reading makes you fall in love with the writing, and see something in it you'd never have seen, or it makes you feel uncomfortable and put off. I actually felt that the way he read the piece did the work a disservice, and I had to look down at the floor while he read, because his mannerisms and gesticulations distracted me from listening to the words. It felt a little like when you go to a small hole in the wall comedy club, and well known comedian comes in to test out new jokes. But I'm glad I went. Sometimes it helps to realize that we're all in the same boat, and that just because I haven't been published doesn't mean I'm not talented. I have faith that I have something to say, and I can say it compellingly.

I didn't get to stay to see the other readers, since I had to rush back home and finish preparing my DJ set, then jet over to Seomra Spraoi. The rest of the night was spent playing music, dancing, being plied with wine, and chatting until the wee hours. These days, it's been very difficult navigating the ups and downs of grieving for the loss of my father, so these full days remind me that there are lovely things in life to celebrate.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This week has been Heritage Week here in Ireland. Basically, all week long there are events all over the country in Tourist Offices, Libraries, Office of Public Works Sites, Heritage Centres & Historical Societies, Museums, Bus Eireann Stations, and Various Hotels, plus a bunch of other places. These events celebrate Ireland's history and educate people about the country. Actually, it's pretty awesome. So far, we've gone to three events. The first was at the Cabra Library, and a woman from the Dublin City Library and Archive on Pearse St to talk about genealogical research. Boy do they have a lot of resources I never even thought of! So it was definitely an hour well spent, particularly for Mark, whose family is from Dublin.

Yesterday we biked over to the National Museum on Kildare Street for a lecture on the Sheela Na Gigs of Ireland: "Mr Eamonn P. Kelly, Keeper of Irish Antiquities, NMI, will discuss the origins and functions of the mysterious sheela-na-gigs." The lecturer relied maybe a bit too heavily on his powerpoint presentation, so it was a bit more dry than I was expecting, but then when the audience started asking questions, his answers were a bit more off the cuff and more interesting.

Then we hopped on our bikes, and stopped for a quick bite to eat. I now have a dilemma! Remember my post a few months ago about Pablo Picante and their fantastic burritos? Well, I have to admit that Boojum gives it a run for its money. Now, the bean burrito at Boojum is like 2 euro more than the one at Pablo Picante, but it's a hair bigger. It was a really satisfying burrito though, and I am overjoyed that there are now THREE good burrito options (the third is Cafe Azteca, on Lord Edward St. which also have nice burritos) in Dublin. Hooray!

Due to a small wardrobe malfunction (note to self: don't bike around on a men's style bike with a pencil skirt), we stopped home for five minutes, then scooted back to the Cabra Library for Joe Lee's documentary film, "Bananas on the Breadboard," about the women traders of Dublin. It was a great movie! If you're into local Dublin history, I highly recommend this film, which is available from all the city Libraries. He covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, but the women traders that are interviewed really steal the show. Tough broads with great senses of humor, for sure.

Anyhoo - I'm really looking forward to having a bit of a "me" day today -- I'm going to do some creative work, clean up my work space, go for a run, and then tonight I'm going to a literary event, followed by a gig at Seomra Spraoi, which I've just been asked to DJ (after the bands). So it'll be a late night for me, but a fun one I'm sure.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This past weekend Mark, his parents, his uncle, and I went to Arklow, which is in County Wicklow. Our journey started with a taxi, which made three stops to pick us all up, and then brought us to Connolly Station. We managed to get everyone and the bags up the escalator. Of course, we were massively early, so we had some coffee in the station bar/restaurant while we waited. Traveling with three elderly is a little bit like traveling with three small children. They move slowly, they get easily confused, and they wander off. Mark's parents nearly got on the first train that pulled up, but we managed to grab them in time! The train ride was only an hour and a half, which I spent listening to my ipod and nodding off.

Being in charge of booking the hotel, I realized quickly that there aren't a whole lot of options for hotels in Arklow, and reading the online reviews, I was sort of horrified. But I chose the nicest looking one that wasn't massively expensive, the Arklow Bay hotel, mostly for the pool and jacuzzi. We hopped a cab to the hotel, and checked in. I had to show Mark's parents how to use the card key -- it was like something from Encino man. One dinner was included with our room, so after having a couple of drinks in the hotel's outdoor seating, we stayed put in the hotel and had a really very nice three course meal.

Then on Saturday, we hired a guy to take us around the outlying areas of Arklow. We passed through the town of Gorey, which reminded me of Dun Laoghaire a bit -- if I'd had any spending money whatsoever, I'd have liked to stop in Gorey. But as it happened, we drove through onto Ferns, which is in County Wexford. We stopped at St. Edan's Cathedral, and walked around the cemetery. Everyone but Billy was pretty bored with this stop, but I managed to get a couple of photos with (unfortunately) my phone. I will have to update this blog entry once Mark gets his photos developed!

We went on to Vinegar Hill, which (for those who don't know) is where the Irish rebelled against the British in 1798, but they lost miserably, sadly. It's strange to be on the spot and think of what occurred, since it's such a scenic spot.

There's sort of a fort/tower at the top:

Here's Bill and Billy, pondering Irish history:

Joyce, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air:

We drove through Enniscorthy, and then it was onto the Meeting of the Waters in Avoca.

There was a monument with song lyrics, and Billy, who has fond memories of his mother on this spot, sang the song for us:

Here, the driver went into the back of his van and pulled out five champagne glasses with strawberries and a bottle of champagne. He also had orange juice for us to make mimosas. It was lovely! We sat and enjoyed our champagne, which Joyce admitted she had never drank before. I'm not sure she was very fond of it, anyways. We stopped in a pub in Avoca and had a couple of drinks, then it was back to Arklow for us. We stopped into a favorite pub/restaurant of Billy's and who did we bump into but his second cousin and her husband! So it was a happy family reunion, and they plied us with drinks and food, and it was a happy night indeed.

On Sunday, after breakfast at the hotel, we stopped back into Arklow for some lunch and a stroll. I took a photo of this stencil graffiti:

The train ride back was like something out of a bad sitcom, but we managed to get home all in one piece. Then, on my way to the store, I came upon our neighborhood mini horse that I could never seem to get a photo of. But I was able to follow him and pretend to be using my phone and catch a snapshot of him. He's so tiny!!! Lately there seem to be a lot more horses around the neighborhood than usual. It's pretty surreal to be biking around the city and nearly crash into a horse as you turn a corner. When I try to tell people back home about the horses around here, they don't believe me! But when we were out driving around the countryside, I said, "Hey look! They have horses out in the country too!" har har har. Anyways, here's the little guy:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On Sunday I had a very active day! I got up in the morning, ate my breakfast, and then I went for my customary 5k run, which truth be told was a little more difficult than usual for some reason. However, I still made decent time. Then I spent another 45 minutes or so doing my "Power 90 sculpt" DVD. Then Mark had the good idea of biking over to Dollymount, which is the beach on Bull Island, pretty much right next to where we were the day before at St. Anne's park. So we biked the 6 or so miles, then had a nice little hangout sesh on the beach for a couple of hours.
I think I've posted photos of this place before, but who doesn't want a crappy cell phone pic of it? Not you!

Ships sailed by:

Mark went swimming but I preferred to stay dry and warm. Here's a photo of his sunglasses before he lost them in the waves. Good ol' Bono!

And because you are so curious, here's the view of the beach to the right:

And since it was a pretty nice day, I decided to take a happy feet photo: