Saturday, October 15, 2016


The other day, I had an interesting conversation with my husband before he went to work -- which I would like to try to relay without throwing him under the bus. He'd been listening to NPR the day before, and the show had had a woman on as a guest -- who I will guess skews a bit into the realm of what I call militant feminism. She'd been talking about an experience she'd had, walking to the subway, where a man had been following her (whether that was because he was or just because he needed to go to the subway too) and the way that put her on edge.

Or at least that's my less-militant analysis of what she'd said...  My sense was that she'd used a lot more threatening language to describe the situation, and I could tell that my husband was skeptical of her experience.

But, while I wouldn't have used to same terminology that she did, I also understood her and we had an interesting conversation about what it can be like to be a woman in our culture.

That you ARE hyper-aware of your surroundings and if a man is following you -- not because you think all men are animals, but because you know that some are. And because you can't know which is which just by looking at them, you have to be a little on edge.

That I'm thinking about it as I walk to my car at night.
That I'm thinking about it if I'm running in the dark or somewhere not-well-populated.
That I'm calculating how much energy I need to save for if an extra burst of speed is necessary.
That if I pass a man going the other way, I check over my shoulder a few times to make sure he's still gone.

After he went on his way to work, I was left with my own thoughts. I began thinking of all the times I've experienced something that was unsavory but that I just accepted as an unfortunate cost of being a woman in our world.

Like the time I went to a country music concert and, in between sets, got into a seemingly friendly-but-innocent conversation with a guy about the stadium's sound quality. He asked me out... I told him I was married and kindly turned him down.  And after I'd moved my seat to somewhere in the stadium that had better sound quality, he took that conversation as carte-blanche to slap me on the ass every time he came down the stadium stairs. And how, even though it made me angry, I made myself laugh it off.  Because... I don't know...  Because it's what happens?

I began to understand in that moment why I have been so angry.

Because I have been angry. Uncharacteristically angry.

I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I believe in His love and, over time, I came to believe the value He places on ... well, on each and every one of us.

It was with mild annoyance that I viewed the Christian leaders initially come forward to push for Donald Trump's presidency. I've never been much for revering those in national Christian leadership -- I find it can be a fine line between respect and idolatry- so what they do or say doesn't often bother or thrill me either way. But I understand that they are often the face of how other people see who I say that I am.

It wasn't until the Access Hollywood tape and the ensuing/ongoing sexual harassment brouhaha that I started to get angry. I couldn't tell you how much of all that is or isn't true. Is it possible that Trump is telling the truth and every single one of those women is making it up?  Yeah. Do I believe that EVERY single one is making it up?  No... but I can admit that I could be wrong.

But what I do believe is that the attitude and beliefs he displayed in that AH video are real. And I don't think that they were in the past. I think that they are still very very much a part of his psyche and who he is.

So when, in the aftermath, I saw the same Christian leaders all giving the same general statement.... "Of course we don't condone the words he said, but Supreme Court."

But Supreme Court.
But Supreme Court
But Supreme Court.

It made me angry.  Really angry and disappointed and infuriated.

And it wasn't until I'd thought through everything after that conversation with my husband that I began to understand why.

We're worth more than a seat on the Supreme Court. I am worth more. And every woman I know is worth more. And it infuriates me that upstanding men who I should be able to trust to have my back are willing to sell me for a seat on the Bench.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


"Seven billion people in the world and you're overreacting because we killed one?"

"But --!"

"Seven. Billion. People. Quit complaining and drink your smoothie.  Geez."

Dad had always said to do whatever my brother told me. Ben knew best. Ben always knew best. I mean, didn't he?  So I closed my eyes and stepped over the corpse.

I couldn't call it a man anymore. Somehow, it made what had happened easier to accept. Stepping over a corpse was easier if you stopped thinking of it as a person.

Killing one was easier, too.

Ben stuck his hands in his pockets and whistled as he sauntered down the street. When I was younger, it would have been flooded with the yellow light of the streetlights. But, I wasn't younger and the streetlights were long gone - picked off for steel or glass or whatever anyone was buying that year. All we had was moonlight anymore.

I thought I liked it better.

Tossing my cup into a trashbin no one bothered with anymore, I ran to catch up with him. "Ben --!"

"I told you, I don't want to hear your snivelling." He'd already stopped thinking about it.

"But, Ben-- you forgot your knife."

Ben glanced at me, but his eyes were cold. "No, I didn't. You did. Go back and get it."

Do what your brother says. Do what your brother says.

There was no use in refusing. There never was.  I walked slowly back.

The man -- I shook my head -- The corpse --  still sat crumpled by the car. Of course it did. Where was it going to go? My feet felt heavier the closer I came until they felt like I could barely lift them anymore.

It wore a green jacket... the kind of green that the military used to wear.. and his hair flopped over one eye. If I let myself think of him as man, I could imagine him constantly running his hand through his hair to push it out of the way. But... he wasn't a man. He was a corpse.

He was a corpse. Because of us.

I squatted beside him and wrapped my hand around the hilt of the knife.  It was slimy with his blood, so I used two hands to pull it free. I imagined it sounded like it did when they pulled my tooth as a kid.

"Ah, sweet Jesus." I jumped. The corpse.  It -- he -- winked at me. He winked at me? "Thanks, kid." I looked back toward my brother in panic, but the corpse - man -- put his hand on my shoulder.

"It's best he doesn't know."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Well, I realized I never finished the Ireland trip here....  so the last day! (As I can remember it!)

SATURDAY - Belfast and Cabra Castle

So, on Saturday, we woke up and enjoyed our last breakfast in Ballycastle, and then got in the car and drove down to Belfast. I hadn't originally planned on going to Belfast, to be honest. I'd never quite felt pulled to it (for what reason, I don't know), so I'd left it out of my trip planning.

But, after reading the Rebels of Ireland shortly before our trip, I wondered if maybe we could drop it into the itinerary. A friend of mine encouraged us to go and just soak it up a little -- but I wanted to be in Kingscourt by the early afternoon -- so I decided to go, but we only had a few hours.

So... mostly, the plan was to walk around and see what struck our fancy.

Honestly, I really liked Belfast -- way more than I liked Derry, and if I could do that over again, I'd spend a lot less time in Derry and a lot more in Belfast. We went to St Georges Market and walked around a bit -- sort of an indoors Pike Place. There was a guy in the middle playing music and it made me laugh because I knew EVERY SINGLE SONG from Celtic Thunder et al.

After the market, we just sort of wandered toward the middle of town. I thought maybe we might take a Black Cab tour (which we never did) so we headed in the general direction of where I knew we could pick one up.  We walked by a little bakery that had the most delicious-looking treats in the window, so we stopped in for chocolate eclairs and coffee, and took them into the park.

Where we watched the Olympics on a giant TV.

It's probably a good thing I didn't get a chocolate eclair until our last day.  Because it was the bomb and, if I'd known they were that good, I probably would have had one every single day of the trip!

After that, we wandered a bit... stopped into Avoca to do some shopping. Well, I did some shopping.  Joel.... waited patiently.  I hemmed and hawed over this pretty delicate knit scarf from an artist in Wexford.  It was sort of expensive. I didn't really NEED another scarf. But, I remembered what my friend Diana had said to me about souvenirs, and gave myself permission to buy it.  :)

I wanted to give ourselves plenty of time at Cabra Castle (and it was starting to rain) so we said Goodbye to Belfast and headed back to our car.

A couple hours on the freeway (which was an actual freeway!!), and we arrived at our final night's lodging. A night at a castle! Happy me!

This was totally different from anywhere else we stayed.... and I thought it was definitely fun! I'm pretty sure they reserve most of the rooms in the ACTUAL castle for honeymooners and their wedding parties, (plus I'd snagged a reservation pretty late notice), so we were actually in the courtyard -- in what I think used to be the stable quarters.  But it was lovely and comfy and I was happy.

I talked Joel into going on a walk with me through the woods on the grounds...

Joel's never going to go for a walk with me in Ireland ever again. Once we got halfway into the woods, it started to pour... and I do mean pour.  We were totally soaked by the time we got back, and had to sprint across the golf course and parking areas to get back to our room.

We spent our final evening in the hotel pub... We drank at the bar for awhile (took awhile to snag a table) and then had a leisurely dinner. Pizza and lots of Guinness!

And then that was it!

Sunday, we got up early and drove to the Dublin airport.... and home we went. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016



We woke up this morning and went downstairs to the basement at our B&B in the Moy and had breakfast. Watching my husband try to drink coffee out of teacups with teeny-tiny handles is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

And then we made our way out of town toward the Northern coast. We drove up through Dungannon (which I've been pronouncing wrong for nine years, btw), and stopped at Dungiven Priory. I enjoyed this little stop.  You had to walk a ways from parking your car to get to the ruins...  Unlike the ruins in the Republic, this one's graveyard was only old gravestones, and they purposely didn't keep them cleaned up, and it made the place seem more authentically ruined. lol I don't know if that makes sense.  

At the back, there was a path that you could climb down to an "environmental park." I'm not sure what this means... as it mostly led down to either, on one side, someone's farm. Or, on the other, an abandoned hydroelectric facility that appeared to be mostly used for teenage drinking parties (judging by the trash inside one of the buildings).  Behind the building, however, you could meander down to the little creek and I rather liked sitting on a rock and watching the water trickle by.

We continued on our way into Derry. I really enjoyed driving through Co Tyrone... I thought it was lovely. I think Joel enjoyed it because the roads were better.  Thanks, United Kingdom!  Derry was interesting... I think Joel liked it more than I did. For some reason, I found it a little suffocating - I don't really know why.

Derry is a walled city -- you can climb the stairs to the top of the wall and walk the entire perimeter -- which we did, stopping to read all the informational signs along the way.  It took me almost the entire perimeter to figure out what seemed weird about it... and I finally realized that, after a week in Ireland, it was that the English weren't depicted as the Bad Guys.

After walking the walls, we dropped down and walked through the Tower Museum -- Joel was really interested in the Siege of 16-something.  But they had creepy mannequins!  I'm always afraid those things are going to come to life. (I know. I have issues.)  After the museum, we found our way across the Peace Bridge and went to lunch at the Walled City Brewery, which was really good!!

By the time we made it back to our car, it was getting later in the day than I had anticipated -- so we dropped the rest of our plan and just drove to Ballycastle to check into our B&B. I liked our room there -- though I couldn't figure out the shower!  We walked into town and had dinner at the Diamond Lounge.  By this point, I was starting to wear out a little -- so we called it a somewhat-early night and went to bed!

FRIDAY - Northern Coast

We had to cut short some of our plan the day before, so this morning began with me sitting on the bed with the two days' outlines and pulling out a new plan for the day that would make sense. So after breakfast, we headed out on the  Glenshesk Scenic Drive.  This takes you out of Ballycastle into the surrounding farmland and eventually makes its way to Armoy.

From there, it's a hop and a jump to the Dark Hedges. This little road has been featured in the Game of Thrones series (which I have no interest in), and can get pretty busy -- but we were there fairly early in the morning, so it wasn't completely overrun yet. It's apparently ranked in the Top 5 of the World's Tree Tunnels -- which I did not realize was a thing -- but yay? It was pretty though... we walked a bit further along the road (which, in Ireland, is always a bit death-inducing) and came across a tree tunnel that we liked just as much (but nobody else cared about).  And then walked a bit on the grounds of an imposing old house that was now a golf course.

Well, the house wasn't a golf course. 

After making our way back up toward Ballycastle on another twisty road through farmland (Joel may not let me plan the driving routes anymore!), we headed out onto the Torr Road -- which is supposed to be a lovely (if narrow and turn-y) drive along the northern headland -- with gorgeous views of the coastline.

I'm sure it's lovely.

Unfortunately, it was rainy and foggy and we couldn't even see the edge of the cliff, much less the ocean.  Which I thought was funny.  Best laid plans...  At one point, Joel pulled over so he could drink his coffee before it got too cold. But, there was a gate into someone's sheep pasture across the way -- so I decided I was just going to go explore!  I left Joel in the car and trudged my way down the hill to get a better view of the coastline -- and the fog cleared just enough that I could make it out - and I found a little collection of old stone cottages along the way.  My shoes and clothes took hours to dry out, but I thought it was totally fun and worth it!

After that, we headed back west a bit to pick up a couple of the things we'd missed the day before. First, we went to Bushmills and took a tour of the Old Bushmills Distillery - which I thought was kind of interesting.  And you got whiskey at the end -- Too strong for my cup of tea, so I had a hot toddy instead. I just got comfortable with beer!!  We walked further into town for a bit of lunch at a cafe, which was a cute little place on the center square.

The sun was finally starting to clear by that point and it was getting later into the afternoon, so next was a stop at the Giants Causeway. Our B&B host had told us that we could save a bit of money by parking at the 6-pound train station, instead of the Causeway parking lot.  There ended up being no one at the train station to pay, so we just left our car there for free.

After a rainy morning, it really turned out to be quite a lovely day -- so after making our way to a perch on the Causeway, we just sat there for a good long while, enjoying the sun and the breeze and the water. It was quite beautiful!

When we'd had our fill, we made our way back to Ballycastle and walked into town for dinner and our last night at a town pub.  Neither of us were really starving and it was proving a bit difficult to find a place to eat anyway (nobody serves food there after 9)... so we just stopped into a chip shop for a bit of fish n chips.

The sign on the wall made the fish look about the size of a KFC chicken strip -- so that seemed perfect for the amount of hunger I was feeling. However.... it was actually the size of an entire fish. I always thought it was just Americans that served super-huge amounts of food at restaurants. But no. Everywhere we went in Ireland, I almost never was able to eat it all!  A few drinks at a pub, and then we made our way back to our bed. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Tomney's Bar is an adorable place. It's like what you would imagine an Irish pub to look like... except better. You walk in to the first room, and it's all dark and wood-y.... but then there are more rooms beyond. So many of these little gathering rooms... plush leather-y couches to relax in, stuff all over the walls (but in a good way). I should have taken pictures, but I forgot... You would love it.

So we ordered a couple pints and made our way into the only room that had people it, a group of guys gathered around the TV watching a soccer match. Joel's been liking watching the different sports on TV while we've been here, so I thought that would be an okay place to start.

But then, I wasn't so sure. It sort of felt like intruding on their little place and I spent the next 15 minutes of the soccer match, wondering what the graceful way was to remove yourself from a room you just entered without being just as rude to walk out of it as you were to walk into it.

A touch miserable. (In hindsight, I was literally the only person who felt this way. Joel was just happy watching the game.)

Eventually, one of the guys started some small talk with Joel, and it was much more comfortable after that. Thank you, Mr Guy from Uruguay, whatever your name is. Not long after, we all started to warm up to each other and it was a pleasant evening. Seattle-ites are kind of like that, too. We'll like you... but we're going to hold you at arm's length for awhile until we've decided if you're okay.

I've discovered that I really love the small town pubs... but not so much the big ones. And this one went into the small town pub category. I thought the bartender was a sweet guy...  Another guy there, who I think was connected with running the pub somehow, was fun as well. He told this story (about Scotland Yard or something?) that I think was 10% true and 90% embellishment, but it was funny nonetheless. An older gentleman joined us at one point, and he struck me as someone who would be quite kind, and I enjoyed talking travel and politics and sports with him... until...

"Well, the next obvious question," he asked... "What brought you to this little village?"

I cringed inside... it was the one question I sort of hoped I wouldn't have to answer. "Oh... This is fun. I really don't want to tell you." I wrinkled my nose a bit and looked up.

The guy sitting across from me started laughing. "It's Ryan Kelly, isn't it?"

I sighed with embarrassment.  "Yes... but! Oh, I have no excuse. Yes."

I hoped that wouldn't ruin the good vibe... and I was glad that it didn't. The conversation fell away from that subject soon enough... and except for being introduced as "Ryan's biggest fan" *SIGH!!!*  -- This was not a moniker I claimed!! --to every new person that walking in the room, it was alright. I brought it on myself.

All in all, it was a fun night with a bunch of nice people, and I'm glad we did it. I felt very apprehensive about visiting the Moy, though I had doublechecked 97 times that it was alright...  but I'm glad I went. It was fun and my friend Diana was right. I would have regretted it if I hadn't gone to see it for myself.


WEDNESDAY -- Belleek and the Moy

We got up this morning and had a pleasant chat with our B&B hostess. Serious, you guys. I have eaten more sausage and bacon in the last week than I have ever had in my entire life.

Today, we were off to Belleek so I could do a little requested shopping for my mom at the pottery place -- and I'll be honest, a little for me, too. We walked into town, intending to have lunch at the Thatch Coffee Shop which I'd read good thing about.  I walked in and promptly walked back out. Too busy and too dark for me.  But we wandered back down to the cafe on the corner, whose name i can't remember but might have Lemon in it. I liked it much better... light and airy... probably too girly to take your husband to, but the food was good, light, and simple.

Over lunch.... I said... "So....  about this place we're going to tonight.... ok, it's the only weird thing I've done the whole trip..."

Joel raised an eyebrow at me. "Only? You've stopped to say Hi to every single cow and sheep we've encountered."

"Ok, I didn't know I was going to like Irish livestock so much. That doesn't count. I meant, the only PLANNED weird thing. So... this town....  it's Ryan's hometown." Ryan is a musician I met who, over the years, has become my friend. "He's not even there. I just wanted to see the place he talks about."

I got a "I will humor you but you totally owe me" look in return.  And I'll own that -- I so do.

It was interesting to drive across County Tyrone to the Moy. We'd just spent several days in the Wicklow Mountains and the West of Ireland -- both landscapes that seemed fairly rugged and hardy. They were the kind of places that you understood the people who lived there were made of tough stuff... that they endured hardships that they didn't really speak of because it was just something that came with the place.  I'm sure I'm romanticizing that... but that was the impression it gave off.

Co Tyrone was a completely different landscape altogether... rolling hills of green farmland, big full trees, nary a stone wall to be found... It feels peaceful, like a place that you can draw a deep breath and relax. Maybe it just felt a little bit like the Willamette Valley, actually.

We drove into town and checked into our B&B, which had this adorable Victorian vibe going on.  Different from anywhere else that we stayed.. so I liked it just for that. The lady who checked us in was super nice, and I liked her a lot.

"So." Basically, anything I say after that word is going to be weird. "When we drove in...  Okay, a super long time ago, Ryan wrote a song about this town.... and I noticed one of the streets he sings about when we drove in. Do you mind if we go out and hike it?....Just to say I've been there?"

So much owing, you guys.

It ended up being a five mile walk. In the rain.

With a mile on a highway that had no shoulder, sidewalk, bikepath, anything.

Basically, it was like "Here! Come to Ireland! Die on the highway!"

But I ended up walking through three lines of the song! That's worth it, right?  Okay, I know. So much owing. (There were also baby goats and cows to talk to. So awesome!)

Takin' a stroll over Drumgrannon's Hills

And back by The Major's Lane.
I walk the fields of Listamlet,

Eventually, we made it back and changed out of our soaking wet clothes and went to dinner at the hotel down the street, which was really good. I ordered an "8 oz" steak. I looked at it so quizzically when it was delivered that Joel asked me what was wrong.. "Nothing... I just... How is that 8 oz???"  It was huge.  But totally yum. It didn't need a thing but the steak.

And then it was off to the pub...


Monday -- Tour through the Connemara region

Today, we left our little home in Galway and continued along our way.  After stopping to find an ATM machine and a gas station, we made our way out along the coast road into the Connemara.  I fear that I probably had a better experience than Joel.  He drove... I got to just sit and take it all in.

Connemara is beautiful... it's open and rugged...  We managed to drive through it on one of the only two days of Irish summer with beautiful blue skies and pretty white clouds. It kind of reminded us of driving through Montana on our way to Glacier National Park. I'm not sure I took many pictures... just drank it all in.

We drove up and down valleys through the mountains until we got to Clifden, where we stopped to walk around a bit and pick up some lunch... oh, and some shortbread. We started back to the Sky Road (which is amazing pretty) until we got to a castle gate. A short hike down a road through someone's farm (with cows and horses for me to say Hello to!) took us to Clifden Castle, which I thought was completely fun.

It's not a terribly old castle, comparatively, but falling apart and open, so it was fun to wander around inside the floor of the place.. peering up the tower, finding a little alcove with the prettiest of views -- imagining what it would have been like to be the lady of the house and whatnot.

Back to the car, we continued our way along the Sky Road with such beautiful views of the ocean and then continued our way up the freeway.  By then, it was getting fairly warm, Joel needed to change into shorts, and I needed to pee (again) -- so we stopped into Connemara National Park to use their bathroom and make some choices.  The day was getting in so we could either hike at the park or go to Kylemore Abbey but not both.

In the end, we chose the hike so up the mountain we went.  Climbing, climbing, climbing.... until we got to the top of the little mountain.  Again, gorgeous views.. you honestly can't do justice to the place with pictures, so I didn't much.  Just enjoyed the landscape,

On to Westport which was our home for the next couple days.  We had a lovely room... lots of space, and the B&B was a little bit in the country. With a cow and calf living across the road, which I loved. Poor cow... every time a car drove by, it had to moo at it.  We walked into the Wesport Quay for some dinner and then on to the pub on the corner, where they had a bit of traditional music played that evening,  Very nice day!

TUESDAY -- Day in Westport

Today, we had a little bit of a quieter day with a full day just in Westport. (If we come back, I would plan more of these days... and less days driving helter-skelter around the country. I sort of knew that coming in... but this is a good "skim the top" trip for our first time.)

After breakfast, we drove into town and walked to the bus station where we picked up a Tour of Westsport bus. It drove us all through town, giving a bit of history along the way, through the Westport House lands, and then down the highway to a pub at the foot of Croagh Patrick.  Here, we stopped for about 20 minutes for refreshments and chats.  I learned that the boy who served us, about 14 years old, climbs the mountain nearly every morning (a 2 hour climb) to open the church at the top, before coming back down.

We met a lady who was absolutely thrilled to meet us... she had a sister who lived in Dallas, Oregon and was absolutely tickled that someone actually knew where she was talking about.  And then we sat and chatted with a lovely couple from Wicklow and the bus driver before coming back to town.

A bit of lunch and then we came back to the B&B to rest a bit.  Joel took a nap in our room, while I spent much of the afternoon in the den (because the sun room was way too hot!) to catch up on our first few days.

We returned to Westport that night by way of a 2 mile walk on a bike path for a quick bite of dinner and on to a pub that I'd heard good reviews for the pub and their nightly trad session.

I'd told Joel the day before that I would be really happy if I had one experience that fit the stereotypical Irish pub experience... but truthfully, I didn't know if it really existed or if it was just a nice story of a place that once did... but had perhaps moved on.

We walked in and made our way to the bar -- where we made the acquaintance of Philip White. I'm fairly certain that Philip White was an insane leprechaun in another lifetime.  I was rather delighted to observe him all night... though I'm not sure he was entirely stable.  He actually sort of reminded me of one of the drunk characters in the town of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.  But he was sort of the inebriated greeter of the place... like at Walmart.

A short time later, we met an older gentleman whose name I never got... but who we spent the better part of the night talking with and who I thoroughly enjoyed. Opinionated and feisty... but I think lonely and happy to have someone to talk to. He had lost his wife of 33 years to cancer four years earlier -- and still missed her very very much Anyway.. we talked for about 3 hours or so... buying drinks, laughing, telling stories, and the like -- and I came home very happy. And very very drunk.

Also, I peed in the bushes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Saturday -- Wicklow Mountains and Galway

Breakfast was another lovely affair... the same Table of Cereals and Cakes was fully laden.  I was about to order one thing from the Menu of Hot Delights when a waiter walked by with a stack of pancakes for another table and I said, "Oooo, I want that!"  And they were DELISH. The pancakes had a slightly different feel to them, a touch crispy on the outside, perhaps like they had been cooked in a bit of butter? They were topped with cream fraiche and fresh berries. Simple but decadent.

After repacking, the lady at the front desk called a "cab" for us... which ended up being a swanky personal car driven by a lovely Irishman. (They're all so nice!) I had no idea where in the airport we were supposed to be dropped off and suggested we could probably figure it out once we got there, but he called the car rental place to figure it out for us.

After checking in at the rental office, it was time to actually pick up our car and head out on the road. In Ireland. Where the cars AND the roads are backwards.

Our first plan was to drive through the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough.

I should rephrase that.

MY first plan was to have JOEL drive through the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough. If JOEL had known this road was roughly the size of a bike lane, he probably would have made other plans.

It really was beautiful... It's a hardy landscape, all windblown and covered in heather.. and gorgeous. We stopped at the top of a hill to get out and take in the view of a lough down in a valley, and chatted a moment with a local bicyclist who was stopping to catch her breath.

"You can get down there, you know...." she told us. "There's a path that way....  Go on, you'll love it."

So we did.  It was a bit muddy in places, but it was fun, and probably one of the highlights of my day.  Really beautiful and quiet once we got down there.  Later, I looked it up and we were at Lough Bray.

Eventually, we returned to the car and went the rest of the way to Glendalough, where we meandered a bit through the Monastic village there, and then continued along the path up to the Upper Lake. A bit to eat at the cafe, and then circled back to the visitor's center.

From here, we took the 3 hourish journey on to Galway.... At one point, Joel decided he needed a break. SO I DROVE THE CAR. And I didn't crash it, so yay!  Driving on the left hand side of the road isn't so bad. It's driving on the right side of the car.

So eventually, we made it to Galway and checked into our new B&B.  It was run by an older couple, Mary and Patrick. I never did meet Mary, though I can attest to the tastiness of the breakfast she cooks! Patrick was adorable (Older Irishman. I'm not hard to please.).

We walked into Galway and meandered through town. I really liked the vibe of Galway a lot. There was something about the whole busker scene that I just really loved the feel. I would happily spend more time there, just out in the streets.  We stopped and listened to a few different acts... Joel got roped into participating in one. There is video... but I'm not sure it's appropriate for Facebook.  Funny, though!

I popped into a pie shop that I'd heard good things about, ordered a Guinness steak pie, and ate it on the streets... Yum!

SUNDAY -- Co Clare and the Burren

Sunday was our day to drive out to County Clare and do some exploring. We started after breakfast with a trip just a touch north to Claregalway, which I'd read about on a fluke, and the old abbey that's located out there. It was a lovely place...  and it was cool to wander inside. I am mesmerized by these old places that are still standing.

After that, we drove to Kilcolgan and another ruin called Drumacoo... in which I planned badly.  My directions took us out to the middle of nowhere, where you parked in half an alcove and trompled across someone's cow pasture.

Actually, I thought this part was totally fun.

Once we got there (and walked 3/4 of the way around the building to find the door), I discovered there was a parking lot if we'd come at it from the other side. Oops!

After that, I decided Joel could probably use a driving break and we pulled in to Ballyvaughan to visit the craft fair, and then walked down the road to the pier where I met Irish cows in a field. They would not be the first cows I tried to befriend.  For some reason, I feel the need to greet all the livestock I come across..

Next, we drove out to the Poulnabrone Dolmen, which was pretty cool.  It was interesting enough just to see the site of the Dolmen... but it's up there on top of the Burren, which is just the coolest landscape.  I loved hopping around up there on the limestone rocks. What a gorgeous place.

Then, it was off to the Burren Smokehouse where I intended to pick up some smoked salmon... but during the informational video that they played for us, we discovered that they were associated with the pub two doors down. So we helped ourselves to lunch.

The day was getting a bit long by that point, so we drove to Hag's Head and planned to hike up the Cliff path to the Cliffs of Moher, about 3 miles away.  It was a calm day and looked beautiful....  what we didn't realize is that the usual wind keeps the bugs away!  Which were pretty darn awful with no wind...  so we didn't make it all the way to the Cliffs of Moher site.  But the views of the cliffs along the path were just as lovely, so I wasn't disappointed.

We took a long scenic drive along the coast back to Galway and then had a few drinks at a pub on the Salthill Prom before heading back for bed.


Well, that plan to update you all on my trip fell right through from the get-go, didn't it? We've been so busy that uploading a collection of snapshots from my phone is the best I could before my eyes couldn't stay open anymore!

We have been here in Ireland for several days now, but are taking today as a bit of a rest day - so I thought I'd try and recap the trip so far.


We began the trip in Eugene with an hour's delay -- which, of course, made me a little antsy about getting to our conneting flight. But we made it to San Francisco with plenty of time to spare and were on our way to Dublin.

Joel broke his TV about 3 minutes after sitting in the chair, and despite the flight attendant resetting it, it was out of commission for the rest of the trip. They started our Irish trip early by fee
ding us shepherds pie for dinner. It was weird to be fed on the airplane -- I never go on flights where they do that anymore!

I really didn't sleep much... I took a 2 hour nap, but the melatonin and muscle relaxers I brought were in my bag in the overhead bins -- and it seemed too difficult/obstructive to get them out. so I just didn't go back to sleep after that.  But I was too excited to sleep anyway.. Instead, I spent most of the night flight waiting for the sun to come up.

As it did, I watched the bed of clouds beneath us...  They looked like a never-ending horizon of marshmallows.  And I thought about how this was a "Someday" trip.  The thing that you say, "Someday, I'm going to..."  And how my Someday had surprisingly become a Today.  And maybe how many things are there that I think of as Somedays that could actually be Todays with a little work and creativity.

Thursday-- Arrive and walk about Dublin

We arrived about noon in Dublin (which was 4am Seattle time), sped through Customs, and made our way into town to check into our hotel, the Ariel House. It's located in the Ballsbridge neighborhood -- in the shadow of the Aviva Soccer/Rugby stadium.  I loved both the area and the hotel itself...  It was originally 3 Georgian townhomes all side by side, built in the 1800s -- and the neighborhood was quiet, away from the city center -- but near the DART station and within a 20 minute walk to Merrion Square.

We enjoyed tea and scones in the downstairs drawing room before taking a stroll into the city.  Much of this day, we just sort of walked around and took everything in.  We wandered a bit up the canal, and through Merrion Square before stopping for lunch at a pub just south of Trinity College where I had my first fish n chips and first Irish Guinness of the trip.

We wandered over to the grounds of Dublin Castle, through the Chester Beatty museum... strolled up Grafton Street, and into Christ Church Cathedral.  After that, we meandered our way up to Old Jameson Distillery, which was just about to close, so we found our way over to the Black Sheep pub for a couple beers before we wandered back home for a somewhat early sleep.

Friday - Dublin Day

Today, we woke up and got dressed, and then made our way downstairs for breakfast. The dining room was set into this lovely sun room at the back of the house and felt so elegant. I'd heard good things about the breakfast at Ariel House and wasn't disappointed at all for our first experience of Irish breakfast (on crack). When you walk in, there is a table laden with all kinds of stuff... cereals, milk, natural yogurt, chopped fresh fruit, scones, cakes, fresh banana bread.  You name it. It's there.  On top of that, they had a menu at every table that you could also order off of...  We both started our first day with the "traditional Irish breakfast."  I hope they don't have this for breakfast every day... I feel like i'm eating Thanksgiving dinner every morning!

And yes, I did try the black pudding.  It's not awful...  but I do like the white one better. Also, Irish bacon is 50 times better than American bacon. Why doesn't our bacon look like that??

After breakfast, we wandered over to the soccer stadium and took a tour. Our tour guide was this dear older man who used to play rugby there, and I liked him lots. Okay, really, I just love old men. But now they're Irish. So... adorable old men with accents.

We took the train into town and visited Trinity College for general wandering, a gander at the Book of Kells (which was generally "eh", but the exhibits before you got there were quite interesting), and a trip through the Long Room. Oh, if only I had a library that looked like that!  After a turn through St Patricks Cathedral, we got on one of the Hop On/Hop Off buses out to Kilmainham Gaol.

I was glad that I had read that book on Irish history -- though I'm sure it's simplified a lot of things (and left me with my own questions yet unanswered), I feel like it's given me a good base so that I've been able to understand the historical significance of the things we'e seen.

The tour at Kilmainham was quite interesting... and I appreciated the emphasis they put on the role of women in Ireland's history.  Afterwards, we made our way over to Guinness Storehouse. I'd purchases tickets for their swanky "Connoisseur Experience"... and I was glad that I did.  Before the meeting time, we went through the self-guided tour and stopped off at the Gravity Bar for our included pint -- as they told us that the building's last call was about 10 minutes before our session would be over.  The Gravity Bar was cool... but it was SO crowded with tourists that it was difficult to enjoy it.

The Connoisseur Experience was the complete opposite.  You  are in a group of 16 people, max, and they take you back into a dark private bar for an in-depth Guinness tasting session.  It feels like a "gentlemen's experience".... very serious, very classy. Honestly, I loved it.  We tried samples of five different beers, learned a lot about the history of the Guinness company and their beers, and all got to pull our own pints -- which was fun, but made more difficult by the fact that I hadn't had lunch and HAD just drink two pint of beer.

Afterwards, we had a whole pint to drink yet, so made our way back up to the Gravity Bar. Nearly all the tourists had cleared out by that point, so we were able to find a seat at the windows and enjoy the gorgeous views until they kicked us out.

Then, I made Joel feed me.  We found a pub and I ordered a bowl of Lamb stew -- which is probably my favorite thing to eat here. Sorry, Lambs. You are cute, but you are tasty.

On the way home, we walked through Temple Bar... but it was Friday night in the summer.... and really too party-y and busy for my taste.  So I enjoyed the experience of walking through, but didn't feel like stopping anywhere.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Several years ago, I was in a friendship that was not doing well. I didn't really have much hope for its future, but was walking that line where you're trying to decide whether you should let go or hold on one more day.

During that time, I journalled a letter to myself in which I cruelly laid out every reason I had to walk away.  It wasn't a kind piece - to myself.

In the end, the relationship healed, but I always kept that piece that I wrote. I told myself that it was simply a part of our history, and was worth keeping simply for that.  But, I eventually realized that I kept it as a sort of insurance policy.  I kept it so if there ever came a time where it all blew up in my face, there was something there to say "I told you so." (I know that sounds warped.)

A while ago, I decided that I didn't need an insurance policy anymore. I decided that I could let that go, and move forward in trust. So, as a symbolic gesture, I dug the letter out of the box I kept it in, clamped it in a pair of kitchen tongs, and set it on fire.

When the flames blew out, I dropped the ashes in a bowl.  But, there was one scrap that had survived the flame.  I picked it up, opened it, and read the surviving words:

"Believe in the truth."

There was a poetic romanticism in that which I liked.

Since then, those words have returned to me often. I am a girl that thinks too much. I can circle a question for days, analyzing every moment, every word, every nuance - trying to figure out what things mean.  "Believe in the truth" is a reminder to relax, to let things be, to simply enjoy.

I am a girl who has doubts about herself -- about who I am, about what other people think of me, about what I should be.  "Believe in the truth" takes the wind out of those doubts' sails. It allows me to believe in both the truth and in me.

"Believe in the truth" has become a sort of relaxing mantra... words that I repeat to myself when I feel that I'm starting to cave in to questions and doubts, gossip and criticism. It has become a reminder to let the swirling world go on doing its swirling, but for me to step back from it, to remember what I know, and to move forward confidently in that knowledge.

Believe in the truth.

Friday, January 8, 2016


2015 didn't end easily.

Really, most of 2015 wasn't easy. My world unraveled a bit when my husband was injured in May, and even after the crisis was over, I don't think I ever quite got myself back together. So I have ended the year, reeling from a return of my depression and just trying to keep my head above water and all the balls in the air.

So. Many. Balls.

So... 2016 sort of started without me, almost.

I haven't really taken time to reflect on last year.
I didn't pick a Word.
I haven't thought about all the areas of my life and analyzed the crap out of them, like I normally do.

I have no resolutions.

Instead, I have this message for myself.

"Be kinder."

That's all.

To myself...
To the people around me...
To the people I love...
To the people I can't stand...
To the people who make me want to stick a fork in my eye.
Or theirs.
And twice to myself.

For, I promise, no one expects more from me than I do, and I disappoint no one as much as I disappoint myself.

So, this year, all I ask of myself is this...

Be kinder.

In every meaning of that word...  just be kinder.