This long weekend is our first real time just for ourselves since our Ireland trip last year. For this trip we had no meetings or family obligations.
We had not made any plans for our trip beyond Sleep, Eat, Nap, Eat, Sleep, etc – plus two actual things to do that would require putting on our shoes.
THERE IS GOING TO BE AN ECLIPSE in this part of the world soon. I plan to skip the event. Why? Because here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “My eyes! My eyes!”) it is not going to be a Total Eclipse. The TV says that it will be 85% here. In my book 85% is a “C” – OK, maybe a “B” if you’re grading on the curve and you have a room full of Bozos. If I am going to go through the trouble of getting those special dark glasses I want the Full Monty – so to speak. I don’t think I’m asking too much.
Being of a certain age this date is a reminder of a major event during WW II.
June, 6, 1944 was also known as “D – Day.” It marked the Allied invasion of the European continent leading to the defeat and destruction of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe. That all came to a conclusion a little more than one year prior to my birth in July 1946.
I THINK IT’S TIME FOR A FEW OBSERVATIONS about Ireland. Of course, none of these are all that important and not meant to denigrate Ireland or its people. It is all just things my warped mind has noticed.
I have noticed that wherever we have stayed there are modern, state of the art appliances – except – for the microwave ovens. We have washer/dryer combos that you need to be a NASA physicist to understand and really neat convection ovens that double as Bessemer Furnaces for making steel. When it comes to microwaves it is like stepping into a time warp back to the 1990s. They work fine, but, seriously, when was the last time you used a microwave where you had to set the time and power level with dials.
This is not our first time in Ireland and the Irish are friendly, helpful, and very understanding of our American quirks and I try to do the same with their idiosyncrasies and ideas.
One of the most traumatic and history changing times in this nation’s life were the years of the Great Famine. Just before the potato blight destroyed the economic and social structure of Ireland for the first time in the 1840s the population was over 8 million people. A million people starved to death, another million fled to other countries, the U.S. taking in huge numbers. Even today, 175 years after the first famine hit, the population of Ireland has not recovered – sitting at about 6.5 million souls.
The reason for this short history lesson is that the other day my wife, the lovely and ever on top of her history, Dawn, and I visited the National Museum of The Great Famine. It is located in Strokestown on the grounds of the former British Lord who had his plantation and large numbers of sharecroppers and land lessees. When those Irish workers were unable to turn a profit for the Lord or pay their rents to him he evicted them, destroyed the shacks where they slept and left them adrift in the midst of the road. With others, he sold them (there is no other word) onto emigrant “Coffin Ships” bound for American shores.
So – today 135 years since the last total crop failure – the Famine is a sensitive issue.
And that is where My Observation enters –
We sat down with a seriously overloaded plate, filled to overflowing, with turkey with bacon, carrots and three scoops of potatoes with gravy. There was enough for at least two people on my plate alone.
I just found this lunch, and the idea of a café at all, as a part of the Great Famine Museum, to be in questionable taste (no pun intended), and ironic to the Nth degree. But who am I to argue – it is their country and their history.
The turkey was excellent, by the way.
My last observation is not nearly as important, except on an intimately personal level.
I have noticed that the Irish are really into conservation, making things have multiple uses, and recycling. I’m cool with that, but I think they may have stepped over the line when you have Irish toilet paper that can also find service in the woodworking shop as the business end of your belt sander.
“Free Wi-Fi! Enjoy your time with us.”
Well, I thought that was the most sociable thing I’d ever seen in a laundromat. Most of their signs are of the “Do this” or “Don’t do that,” variety. I remember seeing a sign in a laundromat years ago that said,
“Do not put children in the dryers!”
Always sound advice I would say.
While I was waiting for my things to finish drying I overheard a woman speaking with the young lady behind the service counter. The woman had also seen the sign on the wall and had a question.
“What is this free ‘Wee-Fee’ and how do I get some?”
MY CELL PHONE WAS ACTING UP THIS MORNING. Nothing serious. It just appeared to be possessed by demons and wasn’t cooperating at all. Who knows why? So, I did what any sane person would do – I rebooted the darned thing.
Voila! It was all better – obedient, colorful, and utilitarian with no backtalk.
Don’t you wish life was like that? Your day is just not working right – the car wouldn’t start, your Boss is having another psychotic rampage, and when you get home the power is out and the cat has trashed the bathroom.
Time for a Reboot!
The cab was festooned with bobble-head dolls of Elvis, The Beatles, and Ricky Martin. The Virgin Mary held the place of honor in the center of the dashboard. Red and gold dingleballs circled every window and lying on the rear window deck was a three-foot-long crucifix.
The cab driver, dressed in a crisp yellow shirt, was doing his standard sales pitch to yet another pair of Yanqui tourists.
“Buenas dias. Let Tomás be your guide for the day. Only two hundred dollars—well worth the price. Tomás knows all the best restaurants and shops. And I can get you the best seats for the bullfights. My cousin is a matador. Deal, okay? Best price in Tijuana.” His accent made him sound like a parody of Cheech and Chong.
Davis looked at Laura, who was still holding the brochure outlining the benefits of membership in the San Diego Skyscrapers. She shook her head. This was a business trip.
“No, not today,” said Laura. “Just drop us up on the main drag. Maybe next time we’ll get the tour. Okay?”
“Okay, you the boss, but, I can show you where to get genuine Armani suits for three hundred dollars, with free alterations. Best price in Tijuana.”
“Another time, my friend,” said Davis.
Laura pulled a piece of paper from her pocket.
“Say, do you know any good photographers?” asked Laura.
FAMILIES ARE AMAZING INSTITUTIONS. Some people can trace their “tree” back centuries into the shadowy mists of time while others seem to have popped up with the most recent rainfall. I think it all depends on how much research you want to do and how much fertilizer you are willing to spread.
Today’s world is one where our lives are very fluidic. People move from one place to another as easily as a mountain stream. Town to Town, City to City, Continent to Continent. Immigration and Emigration are words we hear every day.
Even in a world with very few Monarchs who are anything more than figureheads being a King still sounds like a good job. The days have passed when mobs of peasants used to storm the Palace with torches and pitchforks. Very few people have pitchforks anymore and I don’t recall ever seeing anyone carrying a real, honest to goodness torch. Yes, I think that might be the job for me – “King Krafty.” That has a nice ring to it.
There are only a couple of obstacles in my way.
Right! Today is definitely the last day of February which means very little unless you were born on February 29th. But it is still winter.
I know. I know, but you’re wrong. This is not going to be another of my diatribes against snow and cold. No. This is going to be a scholarly discourse on why the Calendar needs adjustment and realignment.
Throwback Thursday from February 2016
A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO my wife, the lovely and thought provoking, Dawn, posted a question on Facebook that made a lot of people stop and think.
She asked for, “Songs / musical pieces that bring you to tears or grab you and won’t let go.”
That was not as easy a request as I first thought.
I am a music lover. My tastes range through just about every genre that you can think of. What I have playing in the car could make you scratch your head. I have Hard Rock, Opera, Country, Oldies, Jimmy Buffett, Broadway, Blues, Pop, Classical, Jazz, and even a Folk number or two. I usually have it going in a Random Mode, but if one song or artist hits a nerve I slide into Repeat Mode.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday dedicated to Love, Candy, and Greeting Cards. There is nothing else like it. Christmas may dominate when it comes to the cards and Halloween has a lock on the candy thing, but no other day – not even Opening Day of Baseball Season – can do Love like Valentine’s Day.
Twice in the past week there have been unusual events on America’s highways .
That may be a bit overdramatic. How about, “In the last week a couple of weird things have happened involving trucks.”
Better? Then let’s proceed.