Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Ireland”

How Did They Do That Without Fred And Barney?

NO MATTER HOW MUCH I TRY I have trouble relating to things that are 5000 years old. There aren’t a lot of those things around, at least not in my neighborhood. I’m as close as it comes. It was just the other day that my ability to relate to things older than Sophia Loren was put to the test.

One of those places that everyone should visit if you are coming to Ireland is Newgrange. It is a U.N. World Heritage Site and is only about an hour north of Dublin. Once there you will be greeted by something to make your jaw drop. 

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This Is No Way To Treat A Nervous System

 

IF THERE WAS ONE THING I COULD SAY ABOUT IRISH ROADS IT WOULD BE THAT ONE THING IS NOT ENOUGH. I NEED MORE.

Much like the roads back in the U.S. most roads in Ireland have a number designation, but they also have a Letter attached and that is where the story really gets told.

At the top of the bill are the “M” Roads. The “M11” or the “M7” as an example are super-duper ultra modern divided highways. In Ireland a divided highway is called a “Dual Carriageway.” These roads are in much better condition and better laid out than anything on the American Interstate System.

A slight notch below the “M” Roads are the “N” Highways. These are also excellent roads where you make good time at 120 kph or about 70 mph. They are a good way to travel about the country.

Now, it is on the “R” roads where everything starts to fall apart.

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Rolling After The Rock

MAYBE I AM GETTING OLD, BUT GETTING UP AND WALKING JUST ISN’T AS GRAND AS IT USED TO BE. I had that change pushed in my face this week.

We loaded up the car on a fine Irish morning (That means it wasn’t raining as hard as it was last night.) and headed out from Enniscorthy to play tourist. Our destination was about a 90 minute drive away. We were going to revisit “The Rock of Cashel,” an ancient Royal Castle perched high on a hilltop with a commanding view of the countryside. Anyone with plans of conquest would come around the curve in the road and see that humoungus Fortress Castle up there and think, “Perhaps we should forget this and just go to the beach. We could get a shrimp roll maybe.”

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Connecting All The Way To Disconnect

OH, SWEET JESUS, I DON’T KNOW HOW THEY DID IT. 

Our traveling companions arrived more or less on schedule, but it was a schedule that appears to have been designed by the travel agency of the Marquis de Sade…on a bad day…when his feet hurt.

The “Cousins from Alaska” were coming to Ireland for the first time trusting us and our judgment as to the best way to get from Anchorage, Alaska to Dublin, Ireland without going mad.

No matter how you slice it if you live in Alaska going anywhere takes some serious planning.

For them to get to Dublin their itinerary read something like this: Fly from Anchorage to Seattle. Just about all flights from Anchorage go through Seattle. A layover in Seattle of several hours. Then fly from Seattle to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Several hour layover in Minneapolis. The next leg was the biggie. They then boarded an Aer Lingus plane for the trip nonstop to Dublin overnight. They landed in Dublin at 8:45 AM local time. This made for an amassed time change of NINE HOURS. Their internal alarm clocks must have been screaming by this time.

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Pick Up In Aisle Seven

WE GET ON A PLANE AND FLY ACROSS THE OCEAN to another country where we expect things to be different and they are in many ways. Despite this thought there is a mountain of ways where the differences are merely cosmetic at best.

Back home in HoosierLand (AKA Indiana) when I have the need to go grocery shopping I just hop into the Toyota Stretch Limo and zip down the street to the Kroger Supermarket. In Ireland the differences are minimal. Instead of Kroger we go into the Tesco Supermarket where I can find everything I need. It might take a bit of a search, but I can find it all eventually. I go to Kroger and I leave happy. I go to Tesco and I leave happy.

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We Have Lift Off

WE ARE DOWN TO THE WIRE. We take off tomorrow for a very long day of travel…waiting…more travel and a landing in Dublin at 8:30 AM local time in Ireland. Then comes the not so much fun part of our trip – getting the rental car and relearning to drive on the left side of the road in a car with the wheel on the right side. (There will be moments of screaming for the first twenty minutes.)

Our first destination will be in the town of Enniscorthy. We will have it to ourselves for the first few days until “The Cousins” arrive from anchorage, Alaska. Then we morph into tour guides/relatives. Our first attraction to show them will probably be a Tesco Extra supermarket – a true sight to behold with the 37 different flavors of Potato Chips (Crisps) and to join us in the Applesauce Hide and Seek Treasure Hunt in the store.

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I’m Packing It In

 

WE ARE GOING TO BE HEADING OFF FOR IRELAND IN A FEW DAYS. I think it is time for me to begin deciding what to take and what to leave behind. My wife, the lovely and highly organized, Dawn, started her side of this process in 1973 give or take a day. We tend to operate at different speeds.

I’m not saying that my way is right or hers wrong. No. No. No. I think it is just a difference in the basic structure of our genders.

I have spoken to a number of men and women about this topic of packing for a trip and the answers have been running consistently along gender lines.

The Question is: How and what do you pack for a week-long trip?

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Ch – Ch – Ch – Ch – Changes

 

BRACE YOURSELF – A CHANGE IS ON THE WAY! It is a temporary change to be sure, but a change nonetheless.

Starting in about a week or two…or three you will notice that the Monday through Friday (Excluding Thursday) postings will be coming from Ireland. We are heading off for another excursion to the Land with Forty Shades of Green.

This will be our fifth trip to Ireland since 2006. We will be there for five weeks returning to the States in early November. By that time I will be completely exhausted, chilled to the bone, and not at all in any kind of “Holiday Mood.”

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Is That Too Much ?

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN. After two weeks in Texas I’m back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “There is nothing in the fridge.”) and trying to sleep through the night again after being in a strange bed.

The luggage hasn’t had the chance to cool off and plans are underway for the next test of my ability to digest the food and water of another part of the globe. This time the passports are aimed at Ireland for a five to six week stay.

Do I enjoy Ireland? Very much. Do I enjoy being away from comfortable and familiar surroundings? Not so much anymore. Somehow I have suddenly become an old man and my adventuresome spirit has dimmed. There was a time when I would go anywhere at any time with less than a moment’s notice. Now I have a need to sit in a chair that knows my shape and sleep in a bed where I can be warm and where I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark.

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Throwback Thursday from June 2016 – “The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death”

The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death

Lag 2QUESTION OF THE DAY – What is the difference between Jet Lag and death?

I’m going to have to think about that for a while – as soon as I am able to think again.

(Musical Interlude while brain cells attempt to realign themselves. This could take awhile.)

OK – let’s try to answer the question before the assembly – “What is the difference between JetLag 4 Lag and Death?

It is said about Death that “You can’t take it with you.” The same thing can be said about Jet Lag – in particular if you are flying with United Airlines. You may check two pieces of luggage, but you can’t take them both to your destination. Two bags checked in Dublin with Aer Lingus, the Irish national air carrier, sent to Washington DC along with our bodies. In Washington, however, is where United enters the picture – they get one bag, but for some reason the second bag, that looks just like the first one, mystified them to the point that they left it in the bowels of Dulles Airport while putting the bag number one neatly in the cargo hold of our flight to Indianapolis.

It took us two and a half hours to get through security in Dublin. They even photographed our bags and got them to the correct plane. I suppose that the one hour layover in Washington and the task of taking both bags from one plane to another was too vexing for them. Oh well, after luggage_large_1xfiling the proper missing luggage report with “Untied” Airlines we received an email from them celebrating the fact that they have found our bag – in the bowels of Dulles Airport – and that they will be delivering it to our home today. They are going to have someone drive to Terre Haute (That’s French for, “We don’t need no stinking baggages.”) to deliver our wayward suitcase. And Wall Street wonders why airlines suck as investments.

Still trying to find the differences between Jet Lag and Death.

Well, how do I feel today after 8 hours of flying and a five time zone shift? I feel disembodied. It is as if I am seeing the world from about three inches to my left and nothing seems to fit into the frame.

Never having died I cannot truly compare the two on this aspect. Death is the ultimate in being “disembodied,” of that there can be no doubt. Yet here I am feeling the way I do in addition to the fact that my feet hurt today. I’ve never heard of that being a side effect of Death, but who knows? Not me. Maybe the late Dr. Scholl knows, but he’s not talking.

We arrived home from our trip at about 10 PM. It had already been a 22 hour day. I went to bed. My eyes popped open (something else that rarely happens in Death) at about 5:45 AM and I knew that attempting to roll over and go back to sleep would be futile. So, I did the perfectly normal thing – I got up, dressed, made out a shopping list and went off to the Kroger store. After Lag 3seven weeks there was nothing left in the fridge that anyone wanted to eat.

There I was tooling around Kroger’s at a little past six in the morning detouring around clerks who were trying to stock the shelves. Shopping at that time of day is surreal – or at least it was for me in my altered state. While looking over the “Jams and Jellies” selections I wondered if this was what Purgatory was like – looking for Peach Jam, but finding nothing but Apricot. Eternal browsing and perpetual frustration.

After rereading the above I am beginning to arrive at the rather sketchy conclusion that there just might not be any substantial difference between Jet Lag and Death. Maybe Jet Lag is like a Temporary Death and Death is like a state of Neverending Jet Lag. And behind it all is United Airlines playing Hide and Seek with our luggage. I’m going back to bed.

Lag 1

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

Spending a week or two in a foreign land is one thing, but going for seven weeks changes the way you see and do things.

Being in Ireland brings to mind an old quote from, I forget whom – Maybe Mark Twain, maybe Winston Churchill, maybe the Spice Girls,- that noted that, “The U.S. and the U.K. (forgive me if I lump Ireland into that mix) are two great nations separated by a common language.” I say this because, just as at home, there is more than one accent in play. It all depends on what part of the country you are in and your social status.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Don’t Take Me Wrong Folks”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Don’t Take Me Wrong Folks”

 

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.

Very Sherman and Peabody.2

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A Decision Has Been Made

I THINK I SHOULD START SHOPPING. We are going back to Ireland this Fall and I don’t have a thing to wear. I don’t want to arrive in Dublin looking like the poor American relative who is showing up hoping for a handout.

We are planning on being in Ireland for about a month. If you are going to go that far you might as well stay awhile. This is not just a weekend jaunt to pick strawberries – this is an ocean-crossing, ancient ruin exploring, pub crawling, trip to the Old Country. Pack an extra pair of socks.

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016 – “A Soft Irish Morning – It Comes With Chips”

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016 – “A Soft Irish Morning – It Comes With Chips”

THIS MORNING IS ONE OF THOSE MORNINGS that the Irish call “A Soft Irish Morning.” That means that it is chilly, a bit rainy, along with some fog.

I’m not complaining mind you, but looking out through the window and seeing all that, the word “Soft” is not one that pops immediately into my thought. But you know the old saying, “When in Belturbet do like the Belturbeters do.” It’s only polite. Read more…

Throwback Thursday from April 2016 – “I’d Like To Propose A Toast”

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SOME DAYS THERE IS NOTHING BETTER than keeping things

simple and uncomplicated. Today is one of those days. Yesterday was too and I don’t see any changes coming in the next few days.

I wake up – a simple, uncomplicated and most grateful beginning to my day. If I don’t wake up I know (or will know) immediately that something is seriously wrong. Complications will be abundant.

But, let’s assume that I have survived to another day. Now what?

Something to eat!

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Drive On The Left

IRELAND FEVER HAS STRUCK AGAIN! Pack your bag, update your passport, and practice driving on the wrong side of the road. Well…maybe you can skip that last one until you get to Ireland.

What has triggered this relapse into the need for tea and Pub life? Let me tell you.

Last night my wife, the lovely and a daughter of the Old Sod, Dawn, received an email message from one of her brothers down in Texas. It seems that he and his lovely wife are contemplating a trip to Ireland next April. That alone is enough to start the engines up here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “I won’t eat Black Pudding.”).

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We Need The Real Thing

IN AN ACT OF SELF-PRESERVATION I have decided to start thinking about where, when, and how Dawn and I might squeeze out some vacation time this Summer.

It has been a while since our last true vacation. Our last vacation was a real doozy to be sure – seven weeks in Ireland, but that was then and this is now.

I know – it seems like we have been going to and from Texas every other day, but those trips don’t qualify as vacations. Those are family visits. I’m not complaining. They are all wonderful people, but visiting with Family is no vacation. We need the real thing.

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Throwback Thursday From 2015 “One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib”

Throwback Thursday From 2015

“One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib”

SOMETIMES THERE IS A BENEFIT when the conversation takes a turn to something boring. This morning over coffee one of the Usual Suspects started to talk politics. My brain glazed over and my eyes began to wander. It was then that I saw a teeny-tiny online mention of no import.

“McDonald’s opens restaurant in 120th country.”

Sonovagun. I never would have guessed it was that many.

While voices muffled by politics faded in the background I read on.

The newest nation to allow Ronald the Clown to cross their borders is – (Fanfare!)

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Throwback Thursday -June 2015 “The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death”

Throwback Thursday – From June 2015

 

QUESTION OF THE DAY – What is the difference between Jet Lag and death?

Lag 2I’m going to have to think about that for a while – as soon as I am able to think again.

(Musical Interlude while brain cells attempt to realign themselves. This could take awhile.)

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Looking Back 

Throwback Thursday

1I 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.

Very Sherman and Peabody.2

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.

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Famine Museum and Cafe

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 –

There we were at The Nation Great Famine Museum and taking all of this in about starvation and cruelty, and what did we do?4

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.

5I 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.

Belt_sander

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