Monday, July 11, 2016

A Visit from My American Family and Friends

The day after I arrived home from my visit to Michigan, I got up and stripped my bed, washed the bed linens and hung them on the line. I then made the bed using the second set of sheets that were clean and folded in the hot press.

I had my usual late morning with coffee with Sarah and then wandered around town waiting to hear that they were in Ireland. Their flight was a bit late, but they were expecting to get to Wexford by bus around 2 pm. I met them at the bus station here in town and escorted them the short distance to my place. They considered taking a nap, but decided they'd adjust quicker if they tried to sleep at the regular night time here. We went out to lunch at Simon's where we met Sarah. We each had some variation of soup and sandwich and then walked around a bit. We then came home and played some Farkle and ate cookies with tea for dinner.

We all had a good nights' sleep and then met John and Sarah and our driver, Greg, out front at 8 am. On the first day of the tour we went to Enniscorthy to the 1798 museum and Vinegar Hill and then stopped at Curracloe Beach and the Wildfowl Sanctuary before heading to the Wren's Nest for fish and chips and a pint. What a fabulous day. I know I took photos while we were touring, but am having trouble finding them.

Atop Vinegar Hill

On the second day of our tour we went to Johnstown Castle, Tintern Abbey and the Hook Lighthouse. Again a lovely day, except for the clutch trouble Greg had with the vehicle, but he seemed to know just how to take care of it. We had a delicious lunch at Templars Inn before heading back to Wexford.

Tintern Abbey

Walled Gardens

Hook Lighthouse

Johnstown Castle

I hate to admit it but much of the time the girls were here is a blur. We had a trip planned to London, but they went off without me when my ankle proved too much. I've been referred to a orthopaedic specialist at Beacon Hospital in Dublin and my local GP didn't think I should plan to be away. As it turns my appointment is not until 11 August, but I think it was good to give my ankle a rest.

The girls had a blast in London, which included, but was not limited to, Sue getting locked in the loo at the place where they were staying; a hop on hop off bus tour of the city; and a cruise on the Thames. They then took a train to Pembroke, Wales, where they spent a night before returning to Ireland via a ferry. They all seemed to think the ferry ride was the high spot of their trip.

For the rest of their stay we pretty much walked around Wexford (except for the day John and Sarah took Judy and Sue to Enniscorthy to see the sights and have lunch) having our main meal at lunch time at various restaurants in town followed by cookies and tea for dinner. What could be better.

I hope the girls had as good a time as I did while they were here. Looking forward to Anne coming back in a couple of years to see me and for us to explore a bit of Europe together.....  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Visit to The States

I'm way behind, but better late than never, I guess!

I flew to Detroit via Chicago on 26 May. I set my alarm for 4 am and caught the 5 am bus to Dublin Airport. It was a clear, crisp morning, so I wore a fleece jacket for the walk to the bus. I stored the fleece in my carryon bag once I was inside and checking in at the Aer Lingus desk.

The flight was uneventful, but 8 hours long and brutal for all that. We left Dublin at half eleven and arrived 8 hours and 6 time zones later in Chicago around half one. It was jam-packed and hotter than blazes there. The heat I get, but I was slow on the uptake when it came to the crowds. How could I have forgotten about Memorial Day weekend and the scramble to go on holidays.

I took a short flight to Detroit arriving around 9 pm. Adam, Payton, Katie and Zoë were waiting for me with a lovely, glittery "NANA" sign. At first they weren't sure whether or not they'd spotted me. I have a bit more hair than I had when I left. When they heard me laugh, they knew who it was, though. I got lots of hugs and kisses (Payton had tears running down her cheeks). Zoë and I almost had a catastrophe at the down escalator, but we were rescued by a couple I'd met at O'Hare.

We had a lot of conversation on the way to Adam's house where Dana and Morgan met us. After a bit of a visit, Zoë and I settled down in her loft bed and her Dad read a couple of chapters of Junie B Jones to us. He read with changes in his voice that had us howling. We then settled down to sleep.

In the morning, I kept Dana's car after dropping her off at work and drove to Leslie to have my taxes done. I actually got a chunk back, so I was thrilled. I really don't remember specifics of the first few days because I was so tired. I thought I was just adjusting to the time difference and all, but it turns out I have a Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Unusual tiredness is one of the symptoms! I am on a regimen of once a week shots for 5 weeks and then a shot every few months.

I saw lots of my dance family here and there and ran into Angela, the lovely apartment rep, at the Crossing. I got lots and lots of hugs. Had lunch and shopping with my friend, Carol, and spent a bit of an evening with Divya, Manish and Prisha. Mona took me out to dinner, too, where I ran into a former sister in law who I hadn't seen in a while. There were many people I wanted to see, but wasn't able to. I hope to make up for that next visit.

On 1 June, I rented a car from Enterprise and drove up to St. Ignace to visit Mom. Anne, Mary and Kathy were also there. Brother Mike came over to visit, as did Dan's wife, Sue. Had a lovely visit with family and then met my girlfriends from high school at the Village Inn for a brew and a sandwich. Such fun!

 I was sorry to miss Mary, Jane, and Monica, but am hoping they've put 22 October on their calendars when we will be meeting at the Driftwood. I've probably forgotten someone, but it is not intentional. I hope to see my cousin, Judy, in October too.

On Monday, 6 June, I met with some of my former cohorts from SHS at Bob Evans for breakfast.

So good to see everyone; it'd been too long since I'd seen some of you. Everyone appears to be doing well and keeping busy. How did we ever have time to work??

My little girls had recitals and were exceptional! What a whirlwind! Two nights of dress rehearsal which included hair, makeup and costumes. Then the real thing on Friday evening.

Payton is on the far right.


On Saturday morning, my other little dancer had a performance at Western High School. Such a good ballerina and tapper, sweet Zoë!

A wonderful, but chaotic visit! I am planning to return for another visit in mid-October. I will go to the UP for my Mom's 92nd birthday and to see my high school friends, and hope to see my retired friends while I am in Jackson, too. My visit with my kids and grand girls will be more tranquil as there will be a normal schedule in place. Looking forward to it!

Monday, May 2, 2016

May Day - Wexford's Labour Day

May Day is on May 1st, but it includes a bank holiday on the first Monday of the month. May Day is associated with a lockout of workers in 1911 who were working to unionise. It was an awful time with lots of hardship.

I went to a celebration/remembrance yesterday in the Faythe at the site of the sculpture that commemorates this occasion. There were speeches by dignitaries and relatives of those who took an important part in the resolution of the lockout.

The band

The mayor in all his finery

Other dignitaries
There was a get-together afterward at the Talbot Hotel that myself and my new friend, Norah, attended. Afterward she had errands and I was hungry so I went to the Wren's Nest for lunch. John and Sarah joined me there to watch the football (soccer) match on tv. We had a pint and then Sarah and I walked around for a bit. We spent a bit of time wandering the quay looking at the tractors that were part of the Tractor Show.

I liked the old ones

There were also some old cars on hand

I also liked the unusual ones

More old ones

There were hundreds of them on the quay
I've been quite busy in Wexford the past couple of weeks. I made a trip to Sligo, climbed Knocknarea, dog sat, went to Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers at the National Opera Centre, attended open mic night at the Fusion Cafe, and attended a tribute to Thelonius Monk at the Art Centre. With the arrival of warmer weather and the "season" things are starting to happen around here. Next Friday there are three things I want to go to, but they conflict with each other.

Tomorrow I have Andy the Handyman coming over to install shelves in the hall closet, hang towel racks in the large bathroom, fix a fussy window, install under-cabinet lights in the kitchen, install a couple of small shelves in the bathrooms, and attach a rail that has fallen from the fence between my neighbor's patio and my back yard.

I'll close with one of my favourite photos taken shortly after I arrived in Wexford. It is amazing how when I look back at my first pix I feel so familiar with the places where they were taken. In the beginning I had to take notes so I would have a perspective for them.

I am making my first trip back to the states to see my family in late May into mid-June; then my sister and two friends are coming over to visit; I'm returning to the states in October to visit my family and help my Mother celebrate her 93rd birthday; then I am going to Malta for two weeks with John and Sarah around Christmas time. Busy year shaping up including a very busy Opera House and Art Centre schedule from now through October.

I will try to post to my blog more often. I've been lazy and opting for posting to Facebook instead, but  I have been asked by a few of you to get into blogging again. So this is for you.......

Sunday, January 10, 2016


It is a new year and I am happy to report that the awful grey and rain of December seems to have given way to loads of sun! We are still getting rain, but at least it is not all day long. The mornings are glorious and I sit with my coffee in the living room and listen to the birds' serenade. Life is good.

I generally get up, take my prescription (remember when I reported that it was $355 in the states for a month and it is only €29 here? Something I failed to notice at the time makes my meds here even more amazing. In the states, the charge was for 30 days; here the charge is for 56 days, almost two months, which actually brings the monthly cost closer to €15. I am so happy with the medical costs here.

I turn on the heat; I make my coffee - I am buying an Italian brand called LaVazza, it is very good - and check the weather. This morning I could see it was a beautiful, sunny morning and the app on my phone showed 6ºC with sunny skies all day with a good chance of rain overnight. The Yahoo weather app on my iPad showed 42ºF, which is equivalent to 6ºC, but showed rain mixed with snow. What??? I have some photos for you which might explain the misinformation.

These are the Wicklow Mountains, which are only about 65 miles from here. Usually when I take photos from the bridge, the mountains are just visible and usually misty and dark. The snow really makes a difference.

Depending on the day, I usually take a shower after my coffee because by then the bathroom is nice and warm. But today I just had to get outdoors. I put on my sleeveless thermal undershirt and a waffle weave long sleeved shirt with a pair of jeans and then just needed by mid-weight hooded jacket. I wore my fingerless gloves instead of regular gloves so that taking pictures would be easier. 

Hopefully, you are not yet totally bored with these photos from around Wexford. I thought I should head away from the water for a change of pace, but the pull of the sea was just too strong.

Can you see the beads of dew on the lines?

I think I have to fill the bird feeder today!

You can see my parking spot (17) as well as part of the Abbey.

This is such a typical European chimney.

This is the view up the hill from my place.

More of those chimneys.

I love the juxtaposition of the ruin and the tropical looking tree.

Wexford has a St. Vincent's as well as several other charity shops.

The train/bus station

The name of the station in Gaeilge (ge:l'g'ә) Irish

Road signs across from the station.

I really don't see any rain or snow showers.

But I do see lovely clouds
I had a very nice day on Friday. I took the bus to Dublin (two and a half hours). I am not a big fan of riding a bus, but I left at 9:30 in the morning and the scenery was lovely and the towns we stopped in were very picturesque. I went to the National Museum where I met two new friends Shevaun Doherty and Róisín Curé (on my iPad it is easy to get the fadas over the vowels in her name, but not so obvious on the MacBook Air. Found it - it is Option e and then type the letter you want under the fada) We spent hours in the cafe getting to know each other a bit - they shared a couple of their sketchbooks - and then wandered around to look, take pix and do a bit of sketching. In Ireland  there is no charge to visit museums - imagine! Here are a few photos from that lovely day. The building is so fantastic, the elements rival the exhibits.

The two women (mna) I met are both very accomplished artists. Their sketchbooks were fabulous. I wish I had asked to take photos of some of their work. I put the Irish word for women in parentheses because I love it. When I talk to the girls on FaceTime we frequently get into singing mna, mna, doo doo doo doo du, - you know.

Here are a couple of their sketches:

Róisín's Museum sketch with watercolor

 (Róisín, Shevaun, The Tara Brooch, and myself)

Shevaun's museum sketch with watercolor.

And here are my two sketches. I should have brought watercolor, but didn't. I may add a bit of color later to see how I like it.


You can see the disparity in our skill levels. Maybe if I get back to sketching every day, I will see improvement in mine. I really got a creative charge from spending time with these two and hope we can manage to meet up again. Would love to go to Galway in the Spring and spend some time walking that beautiful town again - and of course would love to meet up with Róisín again. Maybe Shevaun would like to go with me.

Spent some time with Catríona on Wednesday - we visited for a bit and I had a lovely lunch with her of tuna and spelt pasta with tomatoes. Then we walked the dogs at the race track and met up with David Ward to buy organic veggies. It is really good to have her back from her Christmas trip to her family in Sligo.

Sarah and John got back from their vacation in Sicily and it is great to have them around again. We had lunch together at the Wren's Nest on Friday.

Well, I see it is after 1 pm and I am still in my walking clothes, need a shower and have not eaten yet. I made some lamb stew yesterday which may become my brunch, or I could still stir fry some courgette (zucchini) with onion and egg with a toasted bagel that I was planning on for breakfast. At any rate, it is time for me to get on with my day.

Hope you are having a great day wherever you are....


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Christmas

Just got back from a walk to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, known hereabouts as the Rowe Street Church. I was planning to go to midnight mass at 10 pm. Local stories agree that the mass was changed some time ago due to the fact that bars close at midnight on Christmas and some inebriated persons became disruptive during services (they were described as pi**ed though, not inebriated). You'll never guess, this year the service was changed to 9 pm. So I arrived just as the service was about to end. I missed the choir which was the main reason I was going to attend. So I swallowed my disappointment (it apparently wasn't meant to be) and walked back here and into my snugglies and decided it was time to update the blog.

We have had a bit of sunshine lately and I have tried to remember to take my camera so I could get pix. One morning I took pix of the outside of my apartment complex.

This is the door I enter to get into the building.

This is the entrance to the courtyard. My post box is on the left.

My parking spot is two over from the one you see parked here.

These are abbey ruins seen from the parking lot.

The bushes are still in flower.

This is the view from the sidewalk. I am in the right hand three story building.

On Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I went with the Ramblers to Curracloe Beach again and took some pix. It was a drizzly day, but still a fabulous walk.

The beach from the trail.

The beach from the beach (LOL).

More beach

My walking buddies.

Bit of erosion and exposed roots.

Hard to quit taking pix when at the beach.

Some perspective.

A starfish. He was still soft and perhaps alive, so Lionel picked him up with the tip of his umbrella and returned him to the water.

Here are some pix from my walk along the quay. I hope you aren't tired of these views - I'm not.

The steps from the quay to the bridge.

Da Bridge (A little Yooper influence)

A fishing boat

Wreaths left in memory of suicides.

A selfie on the quay. Must have been late in the day. Look how tall I am!

The quayside businesses from the quay.

This is actually on Main Street.

I brought my camera with me the last sunny day that I walked around town to get a variety of shots for you.

Thought these doors were rather Christmasy in color.

I like the red brick with the light shutters on this building

The Santa Train

Santa posed for me here in his booth.

This is the equivalent of our dollar stores, but the prices are varied.

A hamper is apparently a gift bag or basket.

A nice view down to the quay from Main Street

Fresh produce all the time.

Nice cafe and I love the name.

These last two are from the inside of the Wren's Nest where I frequently eat lunch.

I talked to the bank this week about a car loan and am in the process of pre approval. I am hoping to find something through a dealership that is a year or two old with low mileage. I find I really don't mind traveling by bus, but there are some places I want to go that are not easily accessible.  I will keep you posted. I've been looking at Cirtoens and Skodas. They are small and affordable.

I went to Richie Doyle's today to get some food for the next two days as everything is closed on Christmas day. I love this butcher shop. I chose a pork fillet and had him trim the fat and butterfly it. He then put dressing on it and rolled and tied it. I brought it home and baked it in the over for about 45 minutes. I also made garlic mashed potatoes and mashed root veggies. It was a delicious meal and I have plenty for tomorrow.

It would only have been better with company. I love to share a meal.

I've been FaceTiming my family watching the opening of gifts and the making of Christmas cookies and just visiting. I do miss my family at this particular time, but am not truly homesick. With as fast as time passes I feel it will be no time before I am snuggling with them and enjoying their dance recitals and field days. Looking forward to FTing again in the morning to see what kinds of loot they received from Santa. Such fun!!

I've been spending lots of time with Catriona this past week or so and have learned tons about Irish custom and cooking. She makes the best Christmas cake (fruit cake, but nothing like that awful stuff in the can that I was used to seeing in the States) and fabulous mincemeat pies (again, nothing like the canned stuff). She makes everything from scratch with the best ingredients and has multiple pans and recipes going at once. I think she must have been a juggler in a previous life. She and her husband and the two dogs have gone to Sligo to have Christmas with their families. I look forward to their return. Sarah and John are in Sicily for the holidays and I am missing them. They are experiencing lovely weather and delicious food. Looking forward to their return after the new year.

I've been invited to a New Years' Eve Party by a California couple, Richard and Heather Burns, I met at the Fusion Cafe last week. They are artists. I am planning to go unless it is pouring rain as I walk everywhere. Hoping to meet more people, but hope they aren't all Americans. I am so enjoying the Irish culture and am planning to try to learn a bit of Irish (not Gaelic - that is Scottish).

I've been seeing some very good fares for round trip nonstop flights Chicago to Dublin, which is what I will fly in the future. It will be worth the train trip and bus ride to get back and forth to Ohare if I can forego the 6 to 10 hour layover in Boston. Looking forward to some visitors, just let me know when you are coming.....