Monthly Archives: November 2011

…And So It Begins (Nov. 21)

Books and notes piled around the computer on the table.  “Got to get a head start if I want to travel and survive,” I tell myself as I look at a blank Word document.  “Right, if you finish this one then you can put one out of five classes to rest.  That will make the last week less stressful.”  Maybe I should start after I make and eat dinner.  After looking through what the kitchen has in store, I am disappointed that I will need to wait for the pork to thaw.  “Well, I don’t want to start writing and then interrupt myself to begin cooking, so I guess I need to wait a bit longer to start the paper.”

A few hours and a pork and egg sandwich later, I find myself back at the table, still staring at a blank word document.  “This isn’t actually due for over a week, I could put it off.” No!  This needs to happen now or else the last week in Ireland will be nothing but sitting at a computer typing.  So I start in the upper left hand corner “Dennis Walsh, Celtic Myth and Legend, 21 November, 2011.”

This is the start.  The beginning of the end.

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Fairies (Nov. 20)

What do you think about fairies?  Do they sprinkle us with dust so we can fly like Peter Pan, are they born out of flowers like in Fantasia.  Perhaps they are godmothers that make pumpkin carriages or pay good money for teeth.  Is that what they do, or do they like their mischief?  Do they like switching changelings for babies and tricking you into dancing for hundreds of years?  Good? Bad? Both?

I’ve decided that whatever their actions or intentions, it can’t be a bad idea to respect the “good folk.”  Either good or bad, they are highly misrepresented.  Solitary fairy or Social fairy, fallen angel or forgotten immortal.  No matter what, there’s a lot about fairies we ignore, and I don’t know that I would like to be on the bad side of one of the wee folk.

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Jameson (Nov. 19)

It took me nearly a month to go to the Guinness Storehouse, and now, with about three weeks left in Ireland, I have finally made it to the Old Jameson Distillery.  No longer a working distillery, this nearly two hundred year old establishment is now more a whiskey museum than anything else, but they do still have the best mouse-catching cat in Jameson history stuffed and on display.  I let the aroma of honey and vanilla wash float around me as I allow information to wash over me.  I hold the cardboard tube that will soon hold my Jameson Whiskey Taster diploma as I am told about the “angel’s share.”  Surprisingly, the people at Jameson differ greatly with the people of Bushmills on their opinion of the “angel’s share.”  Jameson sees it as a problem and Bushmills sees it as a fair price for success.

“Are there any Americans in this group? Two? OK, this is a tasting, not a shot taking competition.”  (It’s probably not a shot taking competition because we would win).  Irish whiskey, Scotch whiskey, and American whiskey. The first tasting I’ve ever participated in.    I have tasted the differences while they are side by side, the smokey of scotch, the oaky of Jack, and the clean of Jameson.  If you decide to taste your whiskey, there is a difference.

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No Leashes (Nov. 18)

If you see a dog in a park in Ireland with a leash, it is a bit of an anomaly.  Most roam free, chasing tennis balls, sticks, and each other.  This makes every park a dog park, and it works because they all respond to whistles and calls.  The playground and the tennis courts are fenced in and across the street, and the lawn bowling arena is surrounded by hedges that the dogs have no interest in.  The only thing is that the dogs run around on the soccer fields, but only one or two of them is used at at time, and the dogs have no interest in a ball that won’t fit in their mouth.  It’s a wonderful feeling to see all of the canines running around without restraint, but staying attentive to the ones that feed them.  If those are the kind of dogs the Irish like, then it is no wonder I haven’t seen any Corgis about.

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Small Schedule Change (Nov. 17)

“Sorry I had to change our usual meeting day from Tuesday to Thursday this week, I had to get some stuff ready for a job and things like that.”  No worries Mairead, it makes sense that you have to do stuff for your real job.

Mairead’s weekly visit to our apartment was changed from Tuesday to Thursday this week, which is no problem, but it is a little weird.  We had no school today, and we have no school tomorrow, but we still need to check in.  But it is fine because all we really do with Mairead is talk about what is going on, where we’re going, what we’re doing this weekend, and how preparations for Thanksgiving are going.  Her visit is short because she has a Thursday night to get on with, same as us.

“I know it’s only a few days, but I’ll be by on Tuesday again next week to be back on schedule.”  Sounds good to me, see you next week Mairead.

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There Must Be Something (Nov. 16)

There must be something about today.  Something happened at some point that is worth reflecting over, but right now, as the mind wonders and wanders through the day all that is available to memory is the routine of a Wednesday.  Time spent walking down the road to class, and time spent in each room.  Plenty of laughs and smiles abounding and digressing from the topic at hand, the call for tea and the presentation of biscuits.  Two and a half hours of fiction and story telling followed shortly by a well told story of cold, hard non-fiction.  Then, retire to the apartment and find something to cook.  Nothing very exciting, just the story of a Wednesday, and soon this Wednesday will be replaced by a different Wednesday.

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A Day of Presentations (Nov. 15)

Well, today I talk.  That is what my job is today.   I have two slideshows, which gives my classes more to look at than just me talking at them, whether it is pictures or the words of other people.  I sit by the computer and click through slides while my speaking voice expounds upon information that I have had for no more than a couple days.  One moment I am talking about turning horrific events into a readable novel and showing mugshots of members of the psychopathic Shankill Butchers gang, and an hour and a half later I am talking about the American man that helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.  It’s too bad that when most Americans hear the name of Sen. George Mitchell they’ll think of steroids in the MLB instead of the decommissioning of paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland.  It’s also too bad that the Troubles couldn’t have been like today: horrific killings for fifteen or twenty minutes, and an hour and half later both sides shaking hands and making peace.  Yes, talking is good.

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A Taste of Home (Nov. 14)

All the issues with credit cards has been cleared up today!  This calls for celebration.  I throw some ground beef into a pot of boiling water and let the water get started on the meat while I dice onions and mince garlic.  I grab spices from the shelf and as the meat tenderizes and breaks up I begin to dashes of this, and shakes of that into the pot.  Don’t forget the cinnamon, that is most important.  The powder comes out of the container faster than everything else…oops, a little more cinnamon than intended.  That’s alright.

As the water begins to disappear from the pot, and that semi-familiar smell begins to fill the small kitchen, another pot is put on to boil.  Once the water is heated and salted, the stiff, dry stalks of spaghetti are place in so that they can be loosened by the punches of the simmering water’s molecules.

Eventually the noodles finish, and I have grown too hungry to allow myself to be patient.  I had no intention of cooking for four hours and letting it sit overnight anyway.  It doesn’t really look like it; it doesn’t taste exactly like it either, but it smells similar to Skyline.  The smell combined with a full stomach will have to do while I am in Ireland.

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Another Burrito (Nov. 13)

It is Sunday, and I don’t feel like cooking, so I let my feet take me to The Little Ass Burrito Bar.  This is probably the third or fourth time I’ve come in here, and it has probably become my most frequented eatery.  It really does live up to its name.  The room is so small that the two people behind the counter are constantly raising their arms, ducking, squeezing, and spinning out of each others’ way.  There is a little bar set up against the windows that look out on the street, and there are enough stools to seat four or five, but only enough flat surface for one or two because of all the magazines and newspapers piled up on it.  Most of the seating is outside.

I walk in and approach the counter, careful not to bump into the two customers that crowd the shop, waiting for their orders to come out.  The small woman behind the looks up when I ask for the El Zorro Burrito, and she smiles at me.  I think I’ve gotten this three out of the four times I’ve been here, and she seems aware of it.  “Which salsa?” “Smokey, please” I reply; she nods knowingly, then smiles and turns to begin filling orders.

After the other two customers have left, my burrito finally gets plopped into that plain brown bag with the blue stamp of a funny little donkey.  “Sorry about the wait” she says as she hands me tonight’s dinner.  “No worries” I smile back.

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The Waiting Game (Nov. 12)

After calling the Credit Union, and both credit card companies, I have found out that all I can do is play the waiting game right now.  I need to wait until Monday to unlock the only two means of getting money that I have while I am in Europe.  Even though I told the bank that I would be in Europe for 3-4 months, I have been shut down due to “suspicious” activity (train tickets in France, flight to Switzerland).  So I must make the bill that is in the folds of my wallet last for the weekend, and hopefully I will have access to my money again on Monday…I need to go grocery shopping, Damn it.  So I buy some things that I can use in different ways to feed myself without feeling like all I am eating is ham sandwiches, and I take a break from the usual weekend revelry.  I wait for Monday.

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