Month: December 2014

Day 123 – I think this is the end

Well, as we drove home from DC today we said this is the end of our big trip and I was thinking that this is probably the end of this blog for now.  Of course if we get to return or go on some other fantastic trip that might be the re-upping of this one but for now I am going to stop writing this one and start working on the new one.    is the new one. It will have a different focus since I cannot imagine that life day to day of a community volunteer would be that interesting to anyone. But some of the other things I am interested in I would like to write about. So we shall see how it goes.

Today was a tough day.  The kids were up early as usual but they knew we were leaving.  They were good and eventually I got up, my watch was stow so it was not 7:25 but 7:50 when I got up. so much for getting up at 7:30.  I got going and came down to eat etc and it was very quite where Little Bear was in the kitchen.  Turns out they had had yogurt with granola and maple syrup. LB was out pouring maple syrup into the empty bowls. She did a pretty good job of getting it into the bowls. Talented young thing that she is.  She is very coordinated for three and looks like she should become an athlete.  Anyway, I left feeling terrible. I could not even get a hug from LB or Sol.  So we left and headed for Binghamton. I think I slept part of the way since before I knew it we were up on 81 above Harrisburgh and it was my turn to drive.  It was about 2:00 when we arrived in Binghamton and it was good to see Bill and Gail.  They both looked really good and happy after their Christmas time with their little kids. Gail made me feel better when she told me her grandkids are the same – Grandpa gets all the attention and she is just along for the ride.  Guess it must be the age or something. Sometimes I get attention but this time it was all about Grandpa.

When we arrived home we found the last of the packages mailed home has arrived.  I think there is one envelope with handouts from various museums and tours in it that is coming but that would be about the end of items from Ireland.  So, I guess it is really over.  Now to get pictures, a scrapbook to organize everything into and the time to put it all together.


So hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures and the adventure will continue.

cheers, marg

Day 122 – almost the end and I am no better than chopped meat

After a very busy day yesterday today started out slowly for some of us.  Ian left early to go to the Fire Museum in Baltimore County where he is on the Board and they were having an open house.  So eventually the girls and the rest of us were fed and dressed and heading out to the Farmers Market.  We walked around a very nice market and then  walked down to the Metro and went into Union Station  in DC to see their train set up and to have some lunch.  The little girls were tired to start with and then had cookies and brownie for a morning snack and by lunch time Little Bear was hungry and usual but Sol was getting tired and ate some but not a lot. So eventually we got back on the metro and went home.  LB was falling asleep on the train and once home Grandpa read to her and she went to sleep.  Sol on the other hand melted down completely which was sad since she was so tired and yet is past that having a nap every day so giving in to having a sleep was not going to happen.

The train set up had three trains going round it. One a mountain one with logs, then a freight train with a guy sitting on the back of one of the cars waving to people and a third like a little trolley. It was a lovely set up.  At Union Station there are tons of restaurants to choose from.  I ended up getting fries with cheese and a cup of lemonade.  LB ate half the fries and Sol drank the lemonade. Quite the event really.  Then LB ate a grilled cheese sandwich, some fruit and had half a bottle of water. She has quite the appetite.

It is now about 5 pm and I will finish this later. Tomorrow is a travel day for us so hopefully the weather will cooperate.

The chopped meat refers to the fact that the two girls have little to do with me. No holding my hand when they cross the street – has to be grandpa or mommy, or stories at bedtime, has to be grandpa. One night I did get to read a story but that was it. They go in spurts. sometimes they will let me but then they revert to only wanting grandpa.

We went out to dinner tonight at Mark’s Kitchen.  It was a good meal. They have a combination of burgers, and Korean foods, salads etc.  It was pleasant. Nice to be where you can walk to get to something. Or like last night Ian and Maya took the metro down a stop or two and then walked to where they were going to eat.   The kids are getting settled down for the night, we are all tired and Ian has to work tomorrow and we have to go home.  Will stop in Binghamton to see Bill and Gail just to catch up and then we will get home in the early evening. Figure we will leave around 9. So we shall see how it all goes. Take Ians directions to get here and just reverse them. Being the week between Christmas and New Years I don’t think there should be “that” much traffic since tons of people take vacation.

Pictures of the Tacoma Park Farmers Market, Union Station and our walking to and from.

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Day 121 – Ian’s birthday and Holiday open house

Hard to believe Ian turned 40 today.. I do remember the day he was born and how traumatic it all was.  I never seem to do things the easy way in life. But believing in reincarnation tells me that there is a lot to be learned through those difficult times. My uncle was a very spiritual man and a devout Catholic and he told me once about how he knows that he had lived before and he knew how he died. It was a great relief to me when he told me his story of going to Mexico and climbing the pyramid there and turning around and seeing the site of his life long occurring dream.  He knew at that moment that he had died while being a laborer on that pyramid as it was being built. He knew he had fallen to his death there and from that day forward that dream that came to him over and over again never came back.  He also knew why he had spent his life afraid of heights.  So I don’t think that it could not be a possibility that I have been around once or twice already.  Since this is a kind of hard road we live on earth and if you believe in a god it makes sense that maybe we need to develop our souls..  When people talk about someone being an old soul, someone filled with wisdom and knowledge – how do you think they got that way? I prefer to think they have been down this road many times and have learned their lessons and I hope one day I will be an old soul.

Anyway, we had a long and fun day today.  Ian and Maya were having a holiday open house, not a birthday party, so the morning was spent getting the house and the food ready.  They were not expecting a large crowd since many of their friends were away visiting family for the holiday. So, I first folded laundry, then cleaned bathrooms and finally was charged with figuring out what bowls and plates to use and to put things on them as they were brought out from the kitchen.  So between us it all worked out and we were ready by noon.

I got to have a visit with two of my brothers today and sister in law Mary. Niece Sarah and nephew Andrew were here also so that was a treat getting to sit and actually have a long conversation with Andrew. He is quite a remarkable man. One pleasant surprise was seeing Chris Holt and his wife and meeting his two adorable little kids. Also met Ian and Maya’s neighbor who just finished her MBA and told her about Kevin Kaiser and as much of his philosophy as I understand. She is going to get his book and see how it fits into her business model for her own business she is starting.  She is a smart woman and has come up with a great consulting idea.

There were tons of little kids all of whom did not have dinner but tons of cookies, chips, fruits, etc.  Lots of 3-5 year old energy around the place. Ian and Maya’s college friend TIm has twin girls who Sol and little Bear love to hang out with and their friend across the street Kennedy and then Chris’ two kids. Endless energy for sure.

It took a bit to get the girls to sleep and in the mean time all the dishes were done, and the only place not cleaned up is the basement which Ian said not to touch until morning. Of course he is going to be out all day tomorrow so we will be there with over tired little girls but it will all happen. At the moment the mom and dad are out doing what Ian loves to do on his  birthday – he is bowling.  Every year we babysit on his birthday so they can go bowling.  It is very calm and quiet here at the moment.

I have pictures to share from the day. It was a fun time.

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Day 120 – A new adventure everyday and inspiration

Everyone was up very early and for some part of the night as well.  Seems Sol had a dream that her sister threw up in the bed and Sol woke up and ran to get help.. Only problem was it was a dream but by then most of us were at some stage of being awake.  Once they all settled down again things were okay until about 6 am.  Have to admit I could use a good nights sleep at this point.

So up we got most of us by about 8. Kids were not interested in taking the Metro to the Zoo or to Union Station or for going out for a walk initially.  Finally “little bear” decided it would be fun to go for a walk with Grandpa.  Sol did not want to go anywhere. After having a bit of a snack and helping Ian do some cleaning up for their open house tomorrow I went out on my own for a walk up to the Health Food Coop.  Had a lovely walk through the town and saw a lot.  I find that having a camera with me at all times makes me more observant of things. I have to say that is one thing I have learned from the Galway experience.  Sort of like stopping to smell the roses. Taking time to look around and actually see what there is to see opens up a lot of the world that most people just pass by.

Up the road there are the most interesting statues in a couple of front yards.  I was so surprised when I saw them that I stopped and then another lady stopped and we admired the work.  And I noticed the enhancement on the sidewalk. I don’t think it is stone, actually almost looks rubbery but that is okay, it is colorful and fun to see. The colors changed as I walked along.

I shopped, at the check out told the woman there that they really need more gluten or wheat free foods.  I could not find a decent bread in the entire store. I hate the frozen rice breads, they have no flavor and they did not have the kinds of breads that they have in Albany or Galway.   On the way back sitting in the window of the Bistro were Maya, her mom and Sol out for some lunch.  They had finished decorating all the cookies and thought the deserved a reward for their good work. They looked so cute out there together.

Ian, Denis and LIttle Bear had gone out to the doctors to have LB’s glued together rather than stitched hand looked at and re-bandaged. Seems the glue they stuck her together with was not staying the way it should. Then they went to the market for food for tomorrow.  So I was home first and it was so lovely and warm out I sat outside knitting for a while and when Sol got back she and I sat out there doing a puzzle and chatting. She was in a silly mood so it was a fun time.

Later in the afternoon Maya’s sister and family arrived to pick up Mor-Mor to take to their home in Virginia over night before returning her to Baltimore.  I don’t think they plan to come to the open house tomorrow. The new baby was cute, just about three weeks old so very tiny.  The other two kids were cute and seemed excited to see their cousins and get presents.

As soon as the family left we told Ian and Maya to pack up and go out for the evening as they had wanted to for his birthday so off they went and we got a pizza for the girls and ate very late for them.  I gave them some ice cream bites for dessert and then we did a quick kid clean up and had videos and stories and then bedtime.  I read two  Fancy Nancy books. They are really fun to read and I love the use of “big” words in them.  And including names of famous artists and their work. Very nice way to slip in educational material when kids least expect it – or maybe parents and grandparents don’t expect it.

Soon it will be time for sleep. Don’t know how late the kids will be out. Hard to believe Ian is turning 40. I sure remember 40 years ago. What a traumatic couple of weeks those were! But I won’t go into that now.

Here are some pictures from today..

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Day 119 – Butterfly kisses, Roller skating and hitting the wall.

Merry Christmas or as they say in Ireland “Happy Christmas”.  Up at 6:30.but I think for Asta it was more about getting something to eat but for Sol it was about wanting to get her stockings down from the door where they were hung.  She was gung ho to get going with presents.  Grandpa and Daddy slowed her down a bit with a plate of Christmas cookies.  I mean who wouldn’t eat cookies at 7 am in the morning on Christmas.

Once they got into the swing of things it turned out to be Asta who was the present opener champion, at least for awhile.  Once she  came upon her butterfly wings it was all over. We had two butterflies running from one end of the house to the other and it was wonderful and funny.  By about 10:30 they had finally opened or at least skimmed over their presents and had had a little real food in their tummies.

We all got dressed and then went for a walk around Tacoma Park MD to see the stores and various sites as Sol tried to roller skate and fly at the same time.  Hard to do really but it was an adventure for all.  What a beautiful day with family and such fun to share a Christmas morning with little kids. Been a long time since we had little kids and a Christmas tree and this kind of a day.  Quite fun. We also skyped with Norah so she could see the girls open their presents from Norah and Andrew which were a collection of wonderful books and then Dan so he could watch them open his gift which Grandpa had to supervise their play with later since it was mouldable sand.

At noonish we had “brunch” of pancakes, waffles, sausages and the last of the maple bacon we had been snacking on all morning. It was all very good.

Asta and I took a couple of hours nap. First we read the book I brought the girls about Paris and showed her the places we had visited and then a book of her choice. Then we both conked out until 3:20  when her dad came up and said if I was going to church I better get up.

I took Mor-Mor over to the place she is going to be living in which is about 10 minutes from the kids house.  A lovely facility which will make it easier for visiting her and having her over for sunday dinner etc.  There were only about 12 people at the Mass so it was very nice.  The Priest was a Benedictine Monk who comes there to help out.  We also made it back without getting lost.

Christmas dinner was wonderful. Salmon, Pork, veggies and mashed. Then more play.  Asta was playing teacher and was taking the roll.  She was very firm about people speaking up and telling her they were present. It was cute to watch and to answer properly.

There are tons of presents under the tree. So I think everyone had a good day.  I was glad to get to Mass as this Christmas has not been feeling alot like Christmas since we were not with our home community and the house was not decorated and it was like watching other people celebrate the holiday and just being on the fringe of it.

I also realized today that I do have some jet lag.  Life has been so busy since we got off the plane that even with good nights sleeps I am beat. I hope by the 28th. I will be in better shape.  Just tired of being tired.

A few pictures from Christmas festivities.

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Day 118 – rain, rain, rain and smiles and hugs & Nollaig Shona Duit’

Well, today started out very interesting.   I woke up first at 4:30. wow it was early.  Was not feeling great but tried to sleep again and we both were up by 7 and getting ready to leave.  So we were very pleased that we got going before 9 am. Went to the bank, and Stewarts for coffee then as we drove down Rt. 7 my check engine light came on.  So we turned around and went back to the house and changed cars.  Just another adventure in life.

It rained most of the day  and there was some pretty dense fog from time to time. But the treat was that the traffic was not as bad as we expected and we got to Washington DC in 7 hours. That was fabulous.   Big hugs were waiting for us when we arrrived. Nothing like it.  I got a tour of the house from Sol and got to see their little attic play area which is not tall enough for a five year old to stand up in. Definitely kids stuff.

Had a good dinner = norwegian first recipt with almonds, onions, lemon, asparagus, and cole slaw.  INteresting combination and quite good.  Maya is busy wrapping, her mom was wrapping some things as well. Ian just grabbed stockings and went in the wrapping room and closed the door so I guess some Santa magic is happening.

The girls were thrilled to have grandpa here to jump all over and dance and sing songs with.  They are pretty cute little things. I think they are going to try and sleep in the big bed with us which will be interesting… who will get thrown out first. Grandpa or Grandma…. They tend to roll around a lot.  Little Bear got a cut on her hand today and at the hospital they glued her hand rather than stitching it.

Have some pictures to add of the cuteness.  I think a good nights sleep is called for as tomorrow should be a wild day between Santa, family gifts and just general chaos.  Some time we might take a walk around Tacoma Park to see what it is like there.  NIce they are in a walkable town…

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Day 117 – Funny and Fun times

Getting back into this culture and just plain living is so interesting.  Last night in the middle of the night at some time both Denis and I woke up and got up to go to the bathroom with one problem.  Where is the door and which way to I go? It was the strangest feeling in the pitch dark not being sure where I was.  Over breakfast we discovered we both had the same experience. It was good for a laugh.

I went off the the pharmacy to get scripts refilled and to drive the car at least once before we head out tomorrow for DC.  Strange feeling driving after four months.  It was not a problem but initially was concerned that I might be.

Stopped at the homes of our neighbors who watched the house and picked up our mail for us while we were gone. Had  brought them back a little thank you gift. It was good to see them all again.  We are so lucky to have the neighbors we have.  Tonight we are going to Tim and Dianes for dinner and will be joined by Norah and Dan.  Andrew has to stay home and babysit for the puppies.  OH well, having two little ones is a handful.

Could not believe I was there packing a suitcase again today. Thought I was done with that for a while.  But it will be exciting to go and see the little girls tomorrow. Hard to believe it is Christmas eve already.  It is as if we missed the entire Christmas season this year.  Galway was well decorated but our apt wasn’t and the house isn’t.  I promise next year I will go all out and go back to having a party which gets me in the mood for this season.

We heard from Maya that the girls were practicing kissing Grandpa today.  Sol wrapped a fuzzy scarve around her head to simulate the big bearded one.  It must have been a hoot.  Cannot wait to see them.

Will finish this after the party tonight.

Had a great time this evening with the Brennan’s.  Great meal, conversation and gift exchange.  The fun gift was a case of Keogh’s potato chips from Ireland compliments of the lovely Norah.  She gave them to Denis but knew I was very happy to have them in the house. Yummy, best crisps ever!!!!  Tim and Diane gave us a new mailbox…. If we are lucky the town plows will leave a decent looking mail box alone. They have destroyed the ones we had.  Have some pictures of the beautiful Christmas tree and the beautiful people we spent the evening with… So now the holiday has truly begun.

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Day 116 – Back Home and Broke – well Maybe!

This morning was a very early one. Alarm went off before 5:45 and then the hotel wake up call came shortly after. We reorganized and headed off to the airport which in Shannon means walking across the parking lot.   It was very smooth going getting through security and then customs.  Some one I know, as usual, complained about taking off shoes especially when the woman in the wheel chair did not have to take hers off.  That is right of course if one were being logical. If we are talking safety then why wouldn’t the person in the wheel chair have to take off theirs as well.  I wonder if she had not been a little old Irish lady but a middle eastern person would they have made that other person take the shoes off for screening???

Anyway, it all went smoothly and they accepted our declaration of our purchases.  Good thing we did not have to list everything we had purchased and mailed home as well.  The plane left on time and United did a good job except for the food.  We had a morning flight so it was weird getting a chicken meal as our first meal on board.  And it tasted terrible. But the TV on the seat in front of me provided me with two decent movies.  I had time for two little rests and we got sandwiches shortly before landing.

In Newark it also went smoothly.  Got off in Terminal C and took a shuttle bus to Terminal A and went to our gate and waited for the plane which was late arriving.  We left almost 40 minutes late but arrived only 15 minutes late so they made up a bunch of time.  Dan was waiting for us at the exit so it was very nice to see him again.  The bags arrived shortly and we were off for home.  A little bit of snow on the ground and the house was all clean and fresh. I do believe someone came over and did some dusting and mopped the floors since there is no dust anywhere.  I am so grateful..

We chatted with Dan for a long while, got a pizza since our time is all messed up.  At the moment it is 7 pm which would be midnight Irish time. No wonder I am beat.  Both my suitcases are unpacked, almost everything put away and tomorrow I will start sorting the various bags I mailed home.  Thank goodness we did all the laundry before we left so I have no dirty cloths.

Skyping with the totally wired little girls was fun this evening. They had just returned home from a day with their friends and their nanny.  I think they said they went some where but they also made Christmas ornaments which they brought home with them.  They just might be a little excited about Christmas and their special visitors –  Denis had a chat with Norah and a short one with Tim so we now know about dinner plans for tomorrow night.

I took some pictures today from the plane and airport. Dan was not expecting me to take his picture so he was not thrilled but was a good sport.  The green  and rainy ones are Ireland and the more populated, brown grass ones are NY State. And the one with snow is our front yard.  Yes, we are home.  Still not sure how I feel about it but I guess it is the beginning of another adventure.  Emails about three meetings already and one outing with the Red Hats to learn about hypnotism. So January won’t be boring.

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Day 115 – no days and counting or was that crying?????

So here we sit at Shannon Airport in the Radison Inn waiting for 6am to go across to the airport to check in.  It was a good and a sad day.  Our first outting was to the Claddagh Church for Mass at 10 am. Then to Arabica for Breakfast. French toast was very good. One little girl wanted to say hi to Santa. She was quite shy but really thought she was seeing the real guy.

We went back and tried to finish packing, clean up the kitchen and get ready to leave.  We thought once we were ready we might go out for a walk, but then what happened…. The rains came.  We did go up to Meteor after a very frustrating phone call to them by Denis.  He ended up finding out he has to call in the morning or tuesday to cancel his phone service so they won’t be charging him automatically.   Mine was fine since it is a monthly one and you have to go on line and use your credit card to add minutes. It will just die off and then the next person can use it.

We had some cheese and crackers – nothing in the house to drink but water. I had thrown everything out. We heard a knock on the door and lo and behold it was a happy surprise – Irene had come on her way to lunch to say good bye again.  I hope they come to visit us some time. I know we will be back to see them.

Frank Fahey called and confirmed he would be picking us up so we were ready by 3:15. He came at 3:30 as arranged and we headed out.  We went first to near Gort to see the Castle that WB Yeats had renovated for his wife George. It is fabulous and in a lovely location.  Then he took us to an ancient monastic site which is so great. There is a huge leaning tower there, an active cemetery and lots of additional buildings. Looks like a smaller version of Clonmachnoise.  Was happy to see it. I asked him if they would consider doing a tour around easter County Galway which would include Athenry.  He had a list of places that could go on such a tour and he said they would name it after me.  We had a drink at the hotel and then said farewell to Frank.

After getting rid of our coats we went down to dinner and are now in our room watching TV and contemplating sleep even thought it is only 7:30.  So tired and know tomorrow will be a very long day.

Will write some tomorrow about our return and our feelings about being back home.  It has to happen so I guess that withdrawl will be normal.  We were laughing over dinner about where we could go for a drink.  No place compares to any place in Galway. Never did go out to drink so I guess that phase of life is over for a while.

My camera battery seems to have died after 5 months on the job. I realize I took a ton of pictures so the question will be if I have to store it in my big bag since all electronics have to be in working order to go on carry on. Hope no one steels it.

Wish I had some pictures from today but sadly the camera was not working. Frank is going to send me some pictures he took and I will add them later.

Be well all and see you on the other side of the pond. And I am still waiting for additional comments about whether to continue to blog or not?

Day 114 – One day and counting – tears and sadness and fond goodbyes

Denis was up and out by 4:45 am to go to see the students off.  There were lots of tears and no one wanted to get on the bus. They each sat alone on the bus probably to hide their tears and to go back to sleep on the ride to Dublin.  A few of them were not leaving with the rest and some of their Irish roommates came to see them off. Very nice at that hour of the morning although it could be that none of them had been to bed yet.  Denis returned and went back to sleep.

Arabica for breakfast was our first stop of the day.. Denis wanted to eat a full Irish Breakfast before we left.  It was way more than he would normally eat and he could not finish it all.  Looked good but was way too much for me.  Even the bowl of granola and yougurt was too much for me.  But it was nice to be there and we will probably be there again tomorrow.

We got up to another day of packing, sorting and going to the post office to mail what we thought were just too heavy to put in the suitcases.  The books we bought for ourselves are going via ship so we won’t see them for several weeks. The other items will be at the house in about 7 days.  Wow, what a life.. We also went to the Farmers Market to replace Eleana’s gift and get it right this time. Spelt her name wrong the first time. We were not shopping for food and the temptation to purchase other items was so strong.  We enjoyed that walk and felt better once we had sent off that box of books.

I set up a date to meet Irene for coffee at 2 pm.  Denis went off to the post office again with one more package and then he met us at Arabica.  It was a lovely visit and I am so sad to be losing this new friend.  Irene is so warm and friendly and has helped me so much during our stay.  She is a Kerry girl and so proud of it.  Her sister also came along and we got to meet her as well.  I gave Irene some little gifts and she answered our final questions – things like where to put the keys to the apt, where to store the items we are leaving for the next professor etc.

We then took a walk out on the Promenade, will try to go again tomorrow but if it is raining too much at least we walked a bit there today.  Denis plans to run the distance and kick the wall tomorrow – that is running all the way to Salt Hill and there is a wall there that they say they kicked which signifies that they did it.  We walked back up Shop Street. There are so many people there this weekend shopping. Wall to wall people.  We stopped in a couple of shops and said farewell to some of the folks we have gotten to know a bit.

At 6 we are going to the Spanish Arch for dinner so will finish this when we return.  Just wanted to start now.

We went to the Spanish Arch for dinner. Fish and Chips for our last meal in Galway.  It was very good and we had a lovely dessert which was called something else but certainly tasted like “Death by Chocolate’. It was sooooo good.  We stayed an hour longer to listen to the music and talked about what we liked about our stay here.  One thing for sure was that the time we spent together in evenings was actually more like dating. We shared wonderful walks along the water, and in town and stopping to shop or to have a drink in a pub.  As we left the Spanish Arch we got hugs goodbye which was nice.  We have enjoyed listening to Feedback and are bringing back their cd.

The Irish people have been so kind and welcoming to us and it has been nice as we walked around the town having people say goodbye and wishing us well..  They remember when we were leaving and have been so good to us and helpful all the time.

Well, going to try and post some pictures of Galway I took today of some of our favorite places and sites.

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