October 2007

Happy Halloween.

Halloween 1979.
My sister and I making Halloween candy bags, October 1979

So today is Halloween. I’m really not feeling the need to be someone else today so I don’t have a costume ready. Some will ask what I will wear if trick or treaters come knocking at the door. Earl and I have been together for 12 years. We’ve had one trick or treater in that entire time and it was the kid of one of Earl’s employees that was sucking up. The kid was imported from another town.

I was looking through old photos and found this picture of my sister and I stuffing Halloween candy bags. It’s from 1979. Notice I’m wearing Army fatigues back then as well. The quasi Dorothy Hammel haircut was so within regs. I don’t know why my sister is somewhat snarling. Perhaps she was trying to be spooky.

If I’m so inspired tonight perhaps Blue Marvel will make an appearance before November arrives.


I have always been fascinated by the countless variants of the English language. I don’t know if it’s a latent actor hidden in my psyche somewhere or what, but whenever we travel I purposely focus on listening for differences in the speech patterns of the native and try to file that information away for future use.

That being said, I love the Irish accent, especially the speech patterns and sounds found in Dublin. Since our visit to Ireland I shall always enjoy a tomato (tah-mah-toe) instead of a toe-may-toe.

When I was in college the first time around I took a speech and theatre class in preparation for becoming a music teacher. I think it may have been one of the only classes I never missed because I was fascinated with the way my professor spoke. She was from Toronto and sounded a lot like the CBC’s Barbara Budd. It was fascinating that while Toronto was only a few hours away, her accent and turn of phrase was considerably different from my own, which was somewhat different from my native Western New York classmates. I think I picked up a few of that professor’s speech patterns and they’ve stuck with me over the years.

When Earl first introduced me to his family it was then that I realized that he spoke nothing like the rest of them. Since he’s a Philadelphia boy through and through it took me by surprise that he didn’t sound the part. He doesn’t drink “wooder” like his brothers and sisters did. Apparently he purposely shook off the accent when he left home. I think that’s cool.

There are many accents that sound somewhat offensive to me. I’ll reserve the list for myself so I don’t offend anyone that may be reading this, but there are some places in the United States that in my mind downright mangle our language. As I’ve met fellow bloggers face to face over the years, I’ve noticed that many of them don’t sound like the region they live in. Perhaps I’m not the only one that is conscious of my accent and always trying to improve upon it.

I do find some phrasing quite delightful, for example, there was a sweet cashier at a Chick-Fil-A in central Georgia who responded with “My pleasure” instead of the pedestrian “You’re Welcome” when I said thank you for the meal she had just handed me. I don’t know why I found that charming but it was nonetheless. When Earl and I were having our photos taken with tourists last week (when we were in our kilts), I asked one woman where in the midwest she was from and I was guessing Wisconsin. The “o”s and the “don’t you knows” gave it away. The northern midwest accent is another that I find cute. And I always enjoy speaking with Canadians regardless of the region they call home, since they seem to approach the English language in a less-lazy fashion that we do here in the States.

As I look over this blog entry, I realize that regardless of the accent I’m using I tend to babble a lot.

Thoughts At 37,000 Feet.

Aer Lingus.
I’m writing this blog entry on my iPhone. We are currently en route from Dublin to New York on Aer Lingus flight EI105. We’ve just finished lunch, the latest Harry Potter movie is showing. The headphone jacks in our row don’t work. The fasten seat belt sign is on, many passengers are ignoring it and this irks me to no end. I can’t tolerate people who think they are better than the most mundane rules. If you’re going to protest against rules, protest against something important like the Patriot Act or something. Don’t waste your energy on protesting little things like the Fasten Seat Belt sign. There is a reason that it’s on.

As I look out the window I see little aside from the wing of the airplane, a few fluffy clouds and a hint of the Atlantic. Since I am quite bored, I’m finding myself lost in my thoughts.

I feel like that with this trip some sort of page has been turned in my life. Before leaving Dublin I checked my midterm grades and I’m doing better than I expected, so I feel a renewed excitement about school. I’m also eager to learn more about Ireland and it’s people. My soul resonated with the Irish in a way that’s hard for me to describe. Perhaps there is a reason for my being the only redhead in the family in my generation after all.

Life is good, there is no denying that. I guess I just continue to strive to make it better.

Dublin, Ireland.

Dublin, Ireland.

Rosie O’Donnell has been asked in interviews why she has a home in Miami. After all, she was raised on Long Island and for most of her adult life she has lived in the New York area. Rosie simply responds that the first time she landed in Miami, something inside clicked, she felt something magical and she felt like she was “home”.

I felt like that the moment I arrived in the City Centre of Dublin. I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to many cities in the United States and Canada. I’ve loved many of these cities. Albuquerque is beautiful. Phoenix is stunning. Denver in breathtaking.

None of these cities have stirred me the way Dublin has.

I realise that I’m looking at this beautiful city through the eyes of a tourist. However, I’ve loved everything I’ve seen and what little I’ve experienced in the past 48 hours.

I’m looking forward to visiting Dublin again soon.

Today we took a bus tour that pointed out many of the landmarks sprinkled throughout the city. It was a double-decker bus and naturally we rode on the top bunk. The sites were beautiful and the history is impressive. We spent the rest of the day walking the busy, pedestrian only Dawson Street shopping district. We looked at a lot of things and bought a few. Earl and Rick & Helen were ready to take a nap in the mid-afternoon, I secured them at the hotel and went back out and explored more of the city at my own pace. I wanted to drink in the energy, the friendly nature and the beautiful accent of the natives. So I walked and walked at a brisk pace for more than two hours, walking down cobblestone streets and looking down narrow alleys. I sat on a bench for a bit and just watched the passerbys. I made observations and comparisons to their counterparts in the States.

I have to say it, I loved what I saw.

Tomorrow we head home on a jet plane. Through pictures, blog entries and vivid memories, I hope to take a little bit of Ireland with me.

And I look forward to coming back soon.

Dublin Pub.

Dublin Pub.

Originally uploaded by iMachias.

Earl & I and Rick & Helen spent the evening enjoying some of the nightlife here in the fine city of Dublin. After doing some shopping and grabbing a bite to eat (let’s hear it for restaurants that have vinegar for my chips without asking!), we headed across the River Liffey and over to Temple Bar.

After watching some street musicians for a bit and doing some walking around, we settled in for a while at one of the many local pubs (pubs in Ireland, who knew!) and chatted for a bit. Every pub was quite crowded, but we found a little nook to sit in for a bit and enjoy a few Guinnesses. I used the timer on the camera to take this shot, the camera was balancing on top of Helen’s 7up bottle.

From the very little I’ve seen of Dublin thus far I must say that I like this city. It’s very pedestrian friendly, it’s quite scenic and it has a lot to offer.

Today we are going to go out and explore.

The Giant’s Causeway.

Earl and I, along with Rick and Helen, ventured up to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland this morning. The weather didn’t really lend itself to a scenic venture, it was raining and it was quite windy, but we didn’t let that keep us from enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer in Northern Ireland.

The Giant’s Causeway is a scenic beauty unparalleled by anything that I have seen before. For more pictures, click on the picture to venture off to my Flickr account.

For the next two nights we’re in Dublin. It’s a beautiful city and we’ve already started the partying. Guinness + J.P. = blurry vision. I guess I’ll comment more on Dublin tomorrow.

Passing Faith.

Irish Road Sign.

Originally uploaded by iMachias.

Today has been about riding in the car. We were up relatively early this morning and headed to Limerick to return the tuxes/kilts. Limerick is a cool city with the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Its good to see a city without excessive suburban sprawl. And there’s been nary a Wal*Mart in sight.

Driving in Ireland is a considerably different experience than driving in the states. Of course there’s the whole drive on the left thing going on, which I felt very comfortable with the moment we left the rental lot and have relatively little difficulty with. The drivers here are very courteous. There are mostly narrow “country” roads that are flanked by stone fences and/or trees. There are also wide two lane roads that connect many towns. These are fun to drive because passing works like this. If the person in front if you realizes you want to pass, they pull somewhat into the shoulder and you just pass them. You just have to have faith that the vehicle coming at you in the other direction will also give you room to pass.

Ireland has motorways as well (they’re like interstates) and that’s what we took from Dublin into Northern Island. We drove through Belfast and now we’re in Coleraine and poised to visit the Giant’s Causeway tomorrow.

Magical Day.

Today was the reason we came to Ireland for this little trip. Today Earl and I were witnesses to Rick and Helen getting married.

We started out the day by heading to Limerick, where Rick and Helen exchanged their vows in a very brief civil ceremony. The ceremony lasted no more than 10 minutes. While quite nice, I felt like I was watching a wedding at high speed. i don’t think Las Vegas wedding ceremonies are even this brief.

After Limerick, we headed to Gregan’s Castle Hotel, located near Ballyvaughan. This hotel is a beautiful spot tucked away in the Irish countryside. While it has amenities found in your normal four-star hotel, it’s a quaint little place with a decidedly bed and breakfast feel. It is quite comfortable.

We readied ourselves and dressed in kilts of the county colours and headed to the Cliffs of Moher for the blessing. We were joined by Dara, a local monk who performed a pagan wedding ceremony.

Here’s Earl and I waiting for the bride to arrive. Rick was kind enough to snap the photo.

Library - 2556

The ceremony was held at O’Brien Tower at the Cliffs of Moher.

O'Brien's Tower.

The cliffs had a mystical shroud of fog. It added to the ambience.

Cliffs of Moher.

The crew at the Cliffs were kind enough to provide buggy service for the bride and groom. Earl and I walked the 800 m from the car to the site of the ceremony. We were the subject of numerous tourist photos and had to stop several times as requests were made in several languages.

Rick and Helen.

After the service, we headed back to Gregan’s Castle Hotel. Along the way we stopped along the coast for more photos. I think this snapshot captures the magic that was in the air. I loved Helen’s dress and pagan-esque cape.

Rick and Helen.

After we got settled back into the suite, Earl was kind enough to snap a photo of me in my wedding-witness attire.


Afterwards we all settled in to the hotel for the night, we had a delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant and a nightcap before calling it a night.

Today has been a truly blessed, magical day.

Not Baloney.

Earl and I and Rick and Helen took the day and headed south toward Cork, as we went to tour Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone. The weather was beautiful today, with sunny skies and the temperature around 17 degrees (62 fahrenheit).

The drive was only two hours or so and was quite enjoyable. Only a short section was along dual carriageway (freeway/expressway), the rest was along two lane roads through the countryside. I really like the way Ireland marks the roadways; the signs are simple to follow and you always know where you’re headed. I hope it’s a trend that continues throughout the entire country. We also stopped at a fast food restaurant much like McDonalds for a quick bite to eat, it’s called SuperMac’s.

Blarney Castle is about a five minute walk from the entrance to the grounds.

Blarney Castle.

We found the castle to be quite impressive. The grounds are beautiful and the castle itself is beautiful. Unlike Runbatty Castle we were in yesterday, there’s no furnishings at all in Blarney Castle. This gives the touring experience a more “raw” feel.

Here’s Earl standing next to the watch tower, found along the walk to the castle.

Blarney Castle Watch Tower.

After a climb up a very narrow, very steep spiral staircase, we made it to the top of the castle, where the Blarney Stone is found. Here we are on the roof.

Blarney Castle.

The line for the honour of kissing the Blarney Stone was short. There was little debate amongst the four of us. I ended up being the only one in the group to actually kiss the Blarney Stone. Make a tick mark next to one more thing accomplished in my life. I have a souvenir photo of my actual kiss, Earl snapped this photo after I was being brought back up to the surface.

Kissing The Blarney Stone.

For those unaware, you just don’t lean over and give this stone a kiss. A man sits there as you lie on your back and spidey your way a little bit down the wall, where the ground is a distant site many stories away, and then you give this stone in the wall a peck. Another older gentleman snaps your photo and you’re given a ticket with your file number. Grand things are to happen as you’re bestowed the gift of gab from kissing the stone. Earl said I was gabby enough. Apparently I now have extra gab.

After Blarney Castle we did some touring around the City of Cork a bit, which is a very nice city, before heading back to Ennis for supper and hanging out before calling it a night.

There are more pictures on my flickr page, just click one of the photos about to get there.