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 – 2018

Archive for the category “Irish”

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.

3

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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Throwback Thursday from Ireland May 2016 – “I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens, But…”

Throwback Thursday

1THERE MAY BE AN INVESTIGATION. For the last two days we have been blessed with clear blue skies and warmer temperatures. In Ireland? Two days in a row. I think it must be Aliens.

For the first week here it was like living inside a really bad carwash. Now, all of a sudden it feels like a day at the beach might be in order.

 

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Yearning To Return

LAST YEAR WAS A TIME OF TRAVEL FOR US. Our seven weeks in Ireland was followed by about 10 days in Detroit, then a week in Texas. That was all squeezed into the period from early April to early July.

This year promises to be more sedate, but hardly comatose. We’ve already done one trip to Texas with another booked for Mid-July. In between there will be another 10 day sojourn, this time to Georgia near Atlanta. After that the calendar looks empty as far as travel is concerned – until the Holidays late in the year.

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Adjusting The Focus

Food5NOW THAT WE ARE HOME, after almost two months in Ireland, there are some things that are obvious only now. We were perfectly comfortable there and had no “When do we go home?” moments. The one exception might be when it comes to food. It was a case of “Close, but no cigar.” It’s just a case of liking the things I’m familiar with.

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Returning

luggage_large_1xAs you read this we should, and I emphasize “Should,” be home in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “You have a ton of junk mail waiting for you.”) and dealing with the stresses and strains of jet-lag and culture shock. Hopefully our luggage has arrived with us, but I always feel a bit cynical about that.

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From The North

4I’M SITTING HERE AT A LARGE WOODEN DINING TABLE in our home for this next week. As I look out the windows what I see are waves crashing on the rocky shoreline near the village of Glencolumcille in County Donegal in the northern rural reaches of Ireland.

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Do I Hear Bells?

typewriter gifAS YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED by now I am not a fan of either cold or rainy weather – or cold and rainy – and we’ve had a lot of both.

“SO WHAT’RE YOU DOING IN IRELAND YA FECKIN’ EEJIT?”

Well, since you asked…

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I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens, But…

1THERE MAY BE AN INVESTIGATION. For the last two days we have been blessed with clear blue skies and warmer temperatures. In Ireland? Two days in a row. I think it must be Aliens.

For the first week here it was like living inside a really bad carwash. Now, all of a sudden it feels like a day at the beach might be in order.

Read more…

A Tasty Dream

ASHE HAD A GREAT IDEA LAST NIGHT.

We were having dinner, polishing off some leftover roast as “Pork Manhattan.”

For the first fifteen minutes there was complete silence as we stuffed our faces – then my wife, the lovely and entrepreneurially minded, Dawn, unleashed a thunderbolt of an idea.

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A Wee Bit Farther

1IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU CAN SAY ABOUT IRELAND it’s that it is an island. No matter how lost you may become it is undeniable that if you come to the ocean it is time to turn around. Trying to go further can only have bad consequences or the need to learn another language on short notice.

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No Matter Where You go, There You Are

1NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO – THERE YOU ARE.

And things are different wherever you go. Not “better” or “worse,” just different. That is true wherever you are. Everything “at home” is what you are used to, and whether you go to spend the day with your next door neighbor, or cross the ocean to…let’s say, Ireland, for example.

Different.

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Little Things Mean A Lot

1Spending 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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Cinco de Mayo in Ireland

5I WAS EXPECTING A PIÑATA shaped like a shamrock. Or maybe a sheep – or even a potato, but the perfect image for Cinco de Mayo in Ireland seems to be this.

While St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world, including Mexico, with parades and festivals, Cinco de Mayo doesn’t get much play in Ireland. While the Diaspora planted Irish souls in almost every country on earth, the cross pollination of Mexicans into Ireland has never reached major numbers.

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Don’t Take Me Wrong Folks

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

Read more…

Looking For Ourselves

2

(being written on April 21st)

 

TO QUOTE MADELYN KAHN IN ‘BLAZING SADDLES,’ “I’m tired.”

While travel is wonderful and inspiring it can also be flat out exhausting – and I’m not the one doing all the driving. We will be in our next location for two weeks in the town of Carrick-on-Shannon. Two weeks will be most conducive for both I and my wife, the lovely and sabbaticalizing, Dawn.

Time for reading, writing, contemplating one’s place in the universe, looking to both the past and the future, and taking things at a slower and more restorative pace. This applies to both of us.

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Cruisin’ For A Fair Irish Bruisin’

3ONE PROBLEM THAT I HAVE, among the multitude I must admit, is one that can be both embarrassing, along with the potential for getting my head kicked in.

I have the habit, unconscious though it may be, of slipping into whatever accent I hear around me. It’s a sort of a Zelig thing (Old Woody Allen movie, look it up). If I am conversing with someone from Louisiana it will take me just a few minutes before I find myself starting to talk like someone straight out of the bayou.

If I was on the other end of that conversation I would think that this fool (me) was either making fun of me or just plain nuts. I am not trying to make fun of anyone and, well – let’s not go there, OK?

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Feed Me. I Don’t Care What

4AFTER A FULL DAY of visiting historic Neolithic sites and the 13th century ruins of a Cistercian Abbey we were tired, a bit overwhelmed, and hungry.

The entire trip back to our “Base Camp” in Belturbet was consumed with trying to decide what to eat for dinner. We were exhausted, so preparing a meal for ourselves was quickly ruled out. We needed someone else to do the work and set the food in front of us.

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A Soft Irish Morning – It Comes With Chips

1THIS 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…

A Five Hour Time Change

1

Dingle

BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS my wife, the lovely and trans-atlantically adept, Dawn, and I will be in Ireland. If we aren’t in Ireland we will be in the Twilight Zone sitting next to William Shatner.

 After a short hop from Indianapolis to Chicago we took the tall hop nonstop to Dublin. We’ve been in this airport before and I think it’s one of the better airports I’ve seen. Yes, it’s busy and crowded, but it works and you can get in and out with a minimum of hassle.

We will be in Ireland for the next seven weeks.

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I Need To Expand My Menu

1I DID NOT EAT CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I did not do that for several reasons – Number one – It is as authentic an Irish dish as Couscous and Lumpia. That meal is an American invention. How it came to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day I have no idea, but there will be no foisting it off on the fine folks of Ireland.

Reason number two – I think it is a terrible, foul smelling way to destroy my appetite 2as well as the corned beef that, by all rights, should belong, thinly sliced, on a slab of a nice dark rye bread with mustard and a “glass tea.”

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