Archive | February, 2014

An Illustrated Journey

24 Feb

I drew this picture of our modes of transportation for you somewhere over Quebec. (Someone was bored and a little stir crazy six hours into an eight hour flight.)


I’m on the bus from O’Hare now, soon to be home at my mom’s, going to pick Mabel up from my aunt and uncle’s house where she enjoyed her own mini vacation of sorts. (One day, she got to eat an entire loaf of bread that someone forgot to put away. *cough, Sam, cough* What a treat!)

Seeing as though my body thinks it is six hours later than it is, bed will soon in order. I anticipate an early morning rising to Dublin time and thus an early start back to Austin. Back to reality. Big sigh. Okay.

A County Wicklow journey.

22 Feb

Today was probably our last day of grand adventure in Ireland. Right now, we are all cuddled up on the couch (by all I mean Emma, Mama Leanne, and I – Matt is now in a hotel a few blocks away with a friend who arrived a few days ago) with Miss Congeniality on the tiny television. (The apartment owners have a very limited DVD collection.) Emma is researching for her school break trip next week to Italy and Spain; Mum is reading; I am blogging. Happy Saturday night to us. Tomorrow there isn’t much on our schedule but to pack, tidy up, and eat at one last pub. We check out and leave for the airport at 9 on Monday morning.

So today’s adventures. We took another day trip, this time to the remnants of a monastic community at Glendalough and the streets of Kilkenny in County Wicklow. It was neat. See evidence below. Then we cooked a pizza in our oven and drank this super delicious Swedish cider we found at Aldi. And that is that.

Thursday adventures.

21 Feb

Yesterday, we toured Christ Church Cathedral and the Guinness Storehouse. I learned how to drink a Guinness properly. (And I dare say I made it through nearly the entire pint included in the tour price while at the Gravity Bar atop the storehouse. It appears one must be very precise in the inhaling/exhaling something-something. We went through a whole sensory experience tasting tour to learn that. I kid not.) Today so far, Mama Leanne and I have gone to Penny’s (a department store with scarves!) and Aldi for some goodies to bring back to the states. Now we wait for Emma to arrive before beginning an afternoon of more adventure.

Enough of me talking. How about some photos?

To the UK and back again.

20 Feb

We are taking an easy morning at the apartment this morning so while I sip my (surprisingly super delicious) instant caramel latte (10 packets for € .85), I thought I would share with you yesterday’s adventures to the United Kingdom, aka Northern Ireland.

I’ve said since we have planned this trip that seeing the Giant’s Causeway was my one must do. It’s in Northern Ireland, about an hour and a half outside of Belfast. Turns out there is no good way for one to get there short of renting a car (and none of us are sure we could do the driving-on-the-opposite-side deal) or taking a day tour from Dublin. Day tour it is.

We met our bus and guide early in the morn and made for Belfast. The tour included two main stops – one in Belfast and one at the Giant’s Causeway. In Belfast, we had two options for our time. Spend it at the newly constructed and opened Titanic Museum (The Titanic was built in Belfast.) or take a black taxi tour, which was a guided tour of the struggles between Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. We opted for the taxi tour and, as our guide, Paul, told us, we didn’t miss much at the museum. (Imagine a strong Irish accent: “Let me tell you what you missed. The boat was built here and then it sank. It was a fuckin’ disaster.”)

And so we rode around in a taxi, Paul telling us all we needed to know about the protests, the struggles, and the physical wall that still stands to separate the Catholic and Protestant sides of town. A lot of what he told us was indeed terrifying- what a scary place it was to live and raise families. It’s beginning to shift … but there still is a long way to go. The wall still stands and houses still need to have gates on their windows to prevent rocks thrown over the wall from breaking them.

Paul dropped us back off so we could meet up with the bus once again and we headed for the causeway. The drive to get there was the picturesque Ireland you see in movies and postcards. Sheep grazing, proper estates, fields marked by neat and tidy hedgerows. It was beautiful. We arrived at the causeway and had two hours to explore. I say no more about that; the photos will do the talking about the wonders we saw and climbed. I’m glad we went.

It was a long bus ride ride back before we were dropped off. We grabbed some Turkish chicken doner for take away and settled into the apartment, a tired bunch of travelers. Today? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe a little Christ Cathedral touring; some Guinness Storehouse learning. It’s hard to believe that it is Thursday and already we seem to be making plans for our return.

Today in Dublin:

18 Feb

How about I let the photos do the talking today? (Check out the captions for a little info about who/what/why.)

I drank half a Guinness.

18 Feb

That counts for something, right?

We have this great pub just down the block from our apartment and we are becoming regulars. (Two nights in a row = regulars, right?) The lovely lad who bartends with his attractive Irish accent is becoming our friend. Last night, after a long day of walking and shopping and the very hard work of drinking strong European coffee at a table outside a cafe, we popped down. I really wanted an Irish coffee. Alas, they were out of cream. Did I want a Guinness?

Err, did I? Me drinking beer of the light, wheat, fruit variety has only happened in the last few years. A Guinness? That is not light or fruity. Mr. Bartender had mixed Emma’s with some black currant syrup; he said lots of the ladies like it that way because it takes away the bitterness. Sure, I’ll try it.

And it wasn’t half bad. But I couldn’t quite stomach it all. I will still claim that I drank a Guinness at a pub in Ireland. Check.

Like I mentioned, the rest of the day was quite a bit of walking. We walked south of the river to where Emma lives/has class. We bummed around a notable park and Grafton Street (shopping district) while she attended class. We walked to her apartment and then back to ours. Today is another day of exploring Dublin on foot. Tomorrow? Northern Ireland by bus.


16 Feb

G’day, gnomepreacher friends.

It was a good day in Ireland. We woke up (after a good 12 hours of sleep – take that, jet lag!) to the sun shining. We ate breakfast in our apartment, Emma came over from her apartment, and then we booked it for the train station. We headed on the DART train twenty five minutes to the seaside village of Howth. From what we have heard, Howth is the place where Dubliners go to escape the city. Today, we were those people.

Howth had this great little market – this super yummy little market – where we spent a bit of time and euros. We bought delicious fresh bread (oh, how I love that Europeans love bread!), scones (for only one euro a piece!), and lunch. (Lamb burgers with cheese, bacon, and pear/date chutney? Quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve had in a while. That is what Emma and I had; Matt and Mama Leanne opted for the fish and chips food truck option.) I also bought a polka dotted bowl. (Bowls are my thing that I buy when I travel. Check.)

We walked along the break water, soaking in the accordion player, the darling children with Irish accents, and began to freeze as the wind picked up. We also posed for senior photos, the Howth marina in the background. After a train ride back to Dublin, we spent a little siesta time in the apartment. Emma and I just walked to the grocery store for cheese, wine, and grapes. (All very necessary. I know you agree.) It’s dinner time now; Matt is on grilled cheese duty with the fresh, delicious bread we bought at the market and the cheese we picked up at the store. After that? Maybe a pub for a drink. Or maybe bed. That sounds good too.

You are welcome to Dublin.

15 Feb

That’s what the pilot on the plane kept saying. Not ‘welcome’ but ‘you are welcome!’ Thanks, Mr. Pilot. I feel welcome.

And tired. We are six hours ahead of you in central standard time and after a pretty solid night of non-sleep on the plane, we are trying our best to stay awake just a bit longer to help kick the time difference.

We made it here without any big delays or troubles of any kind. We arrived and met my sister at the apartment we are renting while here. We waited for Matt to arrive and then went out and about. Lunch, a little shopping, and groceries at Aldis. I must say – that’s one of my favorite things about traveling to other countries. Checking out their grocery stores! We plan on at least eating breakfast in our apartment, if not more meals, so we stocked up on a few things. (Including ready made pancakes?! What?! We just had to try them!)

I must say that it wasn’t until we were taxiing to the runway to take off from Chicago that I fully realized that I was going to Ireland. I got really,super excited as I hadn’t allowed myself before with so much to do. All behind me now, I’m in Ireland. Crazy.

Coffee & apples.

13 Feb

I read once that if you’re sleepy and need to stay awake, you should eat an apple.  Fair enough.  But sometimes I still like coffee.

Tonight, just to be sure, I did both.  I ate an apple and drank a cup of coffee.

At 12:30am.

And there is still a long night ahead of me.  Somehow, before the sun comes up, I need to write a few things for work, do a little necessary quilting, and pack to leave for ten days in Ireland.  And then I need to be well enough and awake enough to endure four hours of interstate driving home tomorrow.  [My mom and I fly out of O’Hare on Friday.]  Did I also mention I have a sore throat?  [I will not get sick.  I will not get sick.  I will not get sick.]

Normally I would blame my own procrastination but it really hasn’t even been all that.  It has simply been a doozy of a week.  One in which things kept coming up [Ministry is in the interruptions.] that needed attending to.  Things that were not me prepping bulletins and newsletters for while I’m away.  Things that were not me getting ready to leave for two weeks or the yearly congregational report to the synod [aka a yearly thorn in my side].  And so after a long day of many emotional visits, a care center worship service, and confirmation, that’s what I’m left to do in the middle of the night.  Oye.

One of those ministry interruptions was a dear, dear member [the one I mentioned in the last post] dying.  I spent time with her and her family many, many times in the past week, and again today as they began the funeral planning process.  A funeral that I actually won’t be here to lead.  And I am so sad about it.  As I shared with the family how I wished I could be there to preside, I started to cry myself.  I loved Doris.  I love her family.  She was such a neat woman; her husband too.  Multiple times over the past couple days, her husband would lament aloud, I wish I could say I love you to her one more time.  

Yeah.  I’m serious.  tears streaming down face  They should win cutest couple for eternity.

Alas, back to work I go.  Most likely my next post will be from the airport or Ireland itself.  I look forward to sharing photos and stories and leprechauns with you!  Until then …

A love/hate relationship.

7 Feb

It’s been a week where I love my job and I hate my job.  One of those weeks.

[Please note: When I say I hate my job, I don’t hate my job.  Tongue in cheek, people.  It’s like when Jaime says, “I mean, I work at The Maple but I don’t work at The Maple.”  Name that movie.]

Love my job:

  • My job allows me to substitute teach on Fridays.  Who had her first, full-on classroom sub job today?  This girl.  Third grade.  Thank goodness for the other third grade teachers who reassured me the class is always challenging; it wasn’t just me.  Challenging it was but fun too.  [Plus, a little extra money in my pocket before Ireland won’t hurt.]
  • My job took me to the hospital bedside of a beloved woman twice this week.  Tonight, I gathered with her and her family in her ICU room.  We laid hands on her and prayed.  Then, as I stood to the side, I watched as her dear husband of 65 years stroked her cheek with his hand, trying to lend any sort of relief from the pain she is feeling.  Cutest, holiest, most precious moment ever.  I almost cried.  Almost.
  • The confirmation kids wrote devotions for the church’s lenten devotional booklet on Wednesday.  Let’s just say that what they wrote, how seriously they took the task, and their support of one another blew me away.  Reason #375 why my confirmation kiddos are the best.

Umm, kinda don’t like my job:

  • Sometimes I think it would be lovely to have a job that I can just leave and someone else could easily take over.  This week I remembered that preparing to leave for two weeks is loads of work.  [I know, tiny violin.  I am preparing to go on vacation.  To Ireland.  Poor me.]
  • Remember that way awesome modern quilting workshop I signed up for in the Cities?  It’s tomorrow.  But now I’m not going.  There is a funeral to be led.  [Let’s be clear that I’m not hating that I have to preside at a funeral.  That’s part of why I do what I do.  What is frustrating is that practically anything I plan in life is up for disruption.  Sigh.  That’s what I was reminded of this week.]
  • On a related note: What’s Lindsay doing on Friday night?  Writing a sermon.  What will Lindsay be doing on Saturday night?  Writing a sermon.  I will drink coffee and eat popcorn while doing so.  That will ease the burden.

So there we are.  My week in a job-related pro/con list of sorts.  If we wanted to add to the pro/con list on the personal level, it would mostly be pro.  Overall, it was a good week.  We could add in a taco fundraiser dinner with my Owatonna gnome friends [pro], a delicious chicken soup in the fridge [pro], learning that my ipad cover can allow my ipad to be at optimum treadmilll viewing level [pro], a very busy/non-introvert weekend [con], a second date [pro], quilting – hexies and baby [pro], finding the cutest chunky paper straws at Target [pro], and much more.

What about you?  I hope your week had more pros than cons!



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