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.
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..
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.
Well, waking up to still having no internet was like going into full blown withdrawl. I am really hooked on my network. So what to do. Sarah who went to bed very early in the morning was finally up before noon, I woke her at 10:30 thinking she had gotten in at one time when in truth it was much later. But being a trooper she got up. We called Gerald about the internet being out and he said he would be down to work on it.
We went to the farmers market and met up with five Union/HWS students. They are such lovely young people, how lucky are we to have them with us. We got some of the wonderful yummy donuts and a few little gift items. Denis got his bagel and I got some muffins for tomorrow on the bus to Dublin.
We went back. Sarah went to the coffee shop to write and we went up to see about the internet. We finally were able to connect to the net in the apt next door and turns out our internet machine was blown. So no wonder it has not been working very well. Once that was fixed and we had a bit of a visit with Irene and then Gerald and Sarah returned. First she went out and took pictures of the Farmers Market and then the three of us went to Charlie Byrnes wonderful Book Store and then to the Christmas Market. We finally had some of the little Belgian pancakes with lemon and sugar. They were yummy, like the donuts this morning, bad for one but so good to eat.
We had trouble deciding about dinner, one place we wanted to eat in had a 40 minute wait so we decided to get a pizza and go back to the apt. So Denis went to get a pizza and Sarah and I went to get a bottle of wine to go with the dinner. Sarah was hoping to do out with a new friend but that fizzled out. We went to a concert at St. Nicholas Church and she stayed at the apt to take a nap. The group singing was the Cois Chadaigh. They were wonderful. They sang some lovely music from Spain, Ireland, Scotland, England etc. All Christmas themed music but not the normal Christmas Carols. The concert was a fund raiser for a homeless aid organization called Galway Simon.
Now here was the interesting part, aside from the very good music, acoustics and setting. At the start this woman asked everyone to shake hands with the person sitting next to them that they did not know – I turned to the fellow sitting next to me and he said his name was John and I said I was Margaret Brennan, He laughed and said well guess what? I am John Brennan. I got Denis’ attention and introduced them. Then John says he has an Uncle Denis who lived in Albany NY. Just then the concert started and he said he would tell us more afterwards. Well for those of you who know the Albany Diocese, you might know about the story of Denis Brennan. Turns out that he was the uncle of this fellow and we knew the story of Denis’ going from Denis to Denise. It was quite the coincident.
Anyway, great evening for sure. Ah the adventures of life. wonder what life will be like in three weeks when we are back home with Denis getting ready to start teaching and me getting the house back together and figuring out the next stage of my life. Back to Tai Chi, Chair Yoga, no more Trad music, Jamison and Ginger, walks by the Bay, oh my dear, what is life going to be like…. bah… hate to think about it so will stop doing it now.
Sunshine started the day. The first sun we have seen since arriving in Paris. We finished packing and cleaning up the apt and headed for the subway. That part was easy. Once we got to Gare De Lyon the problems began. It is a huge place and no one in any of the information booths. We found a place to purchase tickets out of a machine but could not find the train we were suppose to take. Something was obviously wrong. Finally I found a woman with a train jacket on that said something about assistance. She was very good, took us to a ticket machine for the train we wanted to take but it would not take our credit card since it was a US card with no chip in it. Finally she found a ticket office and a fellow who helped us out. Then she took us to where our train was leaving from which was very helpful. So we did make the second train after not making the first one.
I called Kate and she met us at the station. It was so great seeing her again. Then we went to their home stopping along the way at the Bakery to get bread and a dessert. Kate had lunch ready and Kevin called to say that he and his friend would be along shortly. So David and Kevin arrived and we had a delightful lunch and I really enjoyed the discussion about corporate life and how to make change in companies with poor leadership – always changing directions or their minds and not really knowing what they want in the end other than that something happen. LIstening to the success stories make we think of at least one person I know who should start doing some reading on this and maybe take a course.
After lunch we started decorating their huge Christmas tree. Have never seen one that big in a house. Always living in a small house guess it would not be our normal. Looked great in their lovely big room. I liked that they had so many ornaments like we have that the kids made or were gifts from friends etc. It was fun looking at them as they were hung.
Kate and Alexandre left early to get prepared for their concert this evening. Kevin, David, Denis, Andreas and I went out to dinner at a crepe place. It was lovely and I wish I had taken some pictures when we arrived as it was very busy when we left and I really could not take pictures There was wonderful atmosphere in the lovely old building.
Then we went up to this very old Church where Kate and Alexandres concert was taking place. Kevin dropped us off and we went in and got seats. It was a lovely concert, Benjamin Briton music and nice to see a community group with adult and youth singers. They did a great job. AFterwards we took a little ride around Fontainebleau. Saw the chateau, the main streets etc. It is lovely and I know I want to return there when I come to France the next time. We dropped David off at the Insead as he is returning to the US in the morning. We came back and sat in the Christmas room and enjoyed the wine, conversation and just being with family. Lovely evening.
Kevin went on line and got us our boarding passes so we just have to get ourselves to the air port tomorrow. They are driving up to Paris and will drop us off at the train station to take the air France Shuttle bus to the airport. Then it will be back to Dublin and the 2 hour bus trip to Galway and walk home and to bed. But this week in Paris will be a very happy memory of our time here. We both really enjoyed being here together and seeing as much as we did was really perfect. And getting to see Kevin and Kate was a perk.
Pictures giving me a hard time uploading so will add more tomorrow. sorry.
Getting up this morning was really difficult since we did not get to bed until after midnight due to skyping with Asta to sing her Happy Birthday. Important for three year olds. Have not heard how she made out with the presents yet. She was not in a chatty mood anyway.
So, we dragged ourselves up and ate breakfast here. We had shopped last night for some goodies so we made out okay. We walked up to the Eiffel Tower and caught the subway there and got off at Notre Dame. We walked over and lo and behold they had a lovely Christmas tree in front and an advent Wreath set up outside too.
Before we toured the Cathedral we went and toured the Catacombs. I thought that was what it was going to be but no, it was a museum about the original buildings on the Ille de Cite. They have uncovered the moat, the baths, and many other remains of pre-christian parts of the city. It was very interesting.
Then we went inside. There was a Mass just starting so I thought I would participate in that and Denis went off touring. It was interesting to hear the Mass in French and realize how lost one gets when out of your own language. But it was nice to be there with a group of people celebrating. Then I toured around and met up with Denis. We sat for a bit then decided there was no way I was going to climb over 422 steps up to the towers of Notre Dame. He could if he wanted to but no way was I going to do that climb. my feet already hurt and I had a lot of paintings I wanted to see.
To say Notre Dame is gorgeous is an understatement. It was truly beautiful and considering there were four architects designed it over 200 years it is pretty amazing.
So after than adventure we headed over to the Louvre. We first had coffee and a roll which was nice but I really should have had more since later it really showed that I was hungry and had low blood sugar.. but what the heck. We decided to get the audio tours and to split up for a few hours and meet again at 4:30. I saw so much. Saw some of the biggies like the Mona LIsa, Venus de Milo, but I was really looking forward to seeing the French painters but it seems that section just kept avoiding me. I did see lots of Rubins, Van Goghs, Rembrants, many greek and roman statues, french ones as well and then I found the Royal Rooms, wow, was all I could say and whistle a bit. Such opulence. I mean really. No wonder there was a revolution with people living like that while others were starving to death. So impressed with it all. You could spend a week there and not see it all. By 6:30 I had had it so we took off towards the apartment. We found a place to eat and again the meal was so so but the Creme Brule was very good so who cares about chicken that appeared reheated. Well actually since I was very hungry it was kind of frustrating. Then we walked back until we found a subway station and took the train back. So here we are, 10 pm and very tired. Still have not decided on what we will do tomorrow. Want to make sure we accomplish our top list of things. Having the pass for the transportation and admission to each venue is making this easier even if they make out on our purchase.
So here are more pictures from the Louvre… dream and then make your dreams come true.