Home again

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We’re home, safe and sound. We had a fantastic time. You can look at these greatest hits (or click on the link for it to get big) for a quick sample of what we experienced in Ireland.
Ireland Greatest Hits

OR you can go to the newly finished blog page which has some repeat information from this page, but a whole lot more pictures and more detailed description. Feel free to browse it in your leisure time and leave comments! I’m hoping to post a couple of videos soon as well. http://jenandjasongotoireland.blogspot.com

Climbing Diamond Hill

We drove through some beautiful countryside today. We stopped at the Kylemore Abbey for some pictures, and saw some beautiful mountains (called “Bens” as in Benbrack instead of Mt. Brack, etc.). In Connemara National Park there are many of these bare, high mountains. So, we climbed one. It was amazing. Jason’s watch altimeter was working hard. Apparently the “hill” is 445 meters. As we were climbing, we could see people up at the ridge and summit, and we thought: “Wow! we’re going there!” It was so cool. A great hike, great exercise, amazing weather, and a yummy soup, sandwich, scone, tea at the bottom when we finished. Perfect day.

Mountain lake

Kylemore Abbey

Jen and Jason at Kylemore Abbey

The beginning of the hike: Diamond Hill is in the background

On the climb

The view from the top

The summit

Jen at the top

the coast from the top

more scenery

Jen

Mountains

hiking

The view from above

the end

Posted in Fun

Nina and Jen’s Cliff Walk

On Tuesday, Alita had to work and Jason wasn’t feeling great, so Nina and I headed off on our own to the small town of Bray on the coast, just south of Dublin. Starting at the southern tip of Bray there is a fabulous cliff walk along the coast down to the next town, Greystones. We had a lovely time. The weather was perfect for our little adventure. When we arrived in Greystones we found a great little cafe, highly recommended by Alita, and had some dessert and coffee and a smoothie before we took the train back to Dublin. It was a gorgeous walk!

Jen and Nina on the Cliff Walk

Our Cliff: the trail is higher up in the photo, and the train track is lower

Jen takes a break in the ruins

The quaint coastal town of Bray

Bloomsday Fun

This literary post is for all you readers out there who always wanted to learn more about the Irish author James Joyce, and for all of you who decided long ago that you did NOT want to know anything about him.

James Joyce is famous for his use of the stream-of-consciousness writing technique, and he used it in many of his books and short stories. Perhaps his most famous novel is a very famous, very long, very impossible to read book entitled Ulysses, which, among other things, is about a man named Leopold Bloom and what happens during one day as he walks about Dublin. The google version of this book is over 1200 pages I believe. Anyway, the day on which the book is set is June 16, 1904, and every June 16 is a celebrated semi-holiday in Dublin called Bloomsday. So, dedicated literary sorts walk around the city and stop at all the places where Leopold stopped in the book; many of them still exist, while others have plaques on their fronts commemorating the book. Alita, Nina, Jason, and I did one of these literary walks. We also attended a reading of portions of Ulysses (in several different languages including French, Spanish, Finnish, and the Ambassador from Lesotho read in her language–don’t know the name of it) at which several different readers made the joke that they needed the book to be translated into English–haha, very funny you cornballs, but oh so true. Throughout the day we kept running into funnily dressed people who were also celebrating this Joycean holiday, wearing turn-of-the-century clothing. It was especially amusing to see these folks talking on their cell phones while in costume. See below photos.

After a delicious supper at Wagamama (Thai-inspired food) we attended a 90-minute monologue play from the character of Molly Bloom, Leopold’s wife. She was dressed in pajamas because the scene takes place at night while she is trying to fall asleep and she is thinking/talking to herself. It was a very interesting monologue, but, as you can imagine, 90 minutes is a bit long to listen to one person talk without stopping, even when her breast does come out of her pajamas for a brief, accidental moment (whoa!). The actress was simply amazing, but even so, Jason and Nina both had a hard time staying awake.

Bloomsday ended with us meeting Paul and an old friend of Paul and Alita’s at a local pub to hear some traditional Irish music: there were cool-looking flute thingies and loads of guitars. The singers had very husky, original Irish voices, and they sang many songs that Paul has grown up hearing. What came as a surprise was when they broke into “Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong . . . West Virginia, mountain mama . . .” To sum up the whole day: weird, but cool.

Alita, Jason, and Jen listen to the Ulysses readings

Man dressed as Leopold Bloom talking on phone (hiding behind shrubbery)

Walking around Dublin

Posted in Fun

Exploring the Emerald Isle…

So, today we leave Dublin for the west. Our bed & breakfast in Clifden on the west coast supposedly has internet access, so I may be able to update the blog there, we’ll see. We’ll probably be stopping to take pictures at all kinds of beautiful places along the way. Dublin has been very cool. Delicious food and super fun people. Alita calls this city gritty: a fair description. It’s full of hard-working people who like to have fun. It has a very distinctive atmosphere.

I’ll put up another post soon about James Joyce and Bloomsday.

Pet Cemetery?

Okay, so everybody who knows anything about me knows that I love animals. I love it when animals talk in commercials or movies (even though I don’t usually ACTUALLY watch those movies, because the movies themselves are dumb . . .). I love my cat, and I love other people’s animals. I totally understand when it feels like your animal is a member of your family. But, even I was a little amazed at the pet cemetery that we visited today at Powerscourt Gardens. These very wealthy people owned this estate on the southern outskirts of Dublin and included a cemetery for their pets, mostly dogs. However, there were also some horses and ponies buried there, and the most hilarious: cows. Here are two gravestones that I thought were especially funny. Make sure you read the text.

Tommy . . . Also his wife Magic

Eugenie and Princess

Posted in Fun

Welcome to Ireland

Well, after some travel difficulty (Aer Lingus canceled our flight and put us on another one: British Airways is a fabulous way to fly!), we arrived safely in Dublin, several hours later than planned. Paul met us at the airport, and we had to unfortunately miss the Phillip Gourevitch lecture because of our later flight. But we went to a delicious place called Gruel for supper where Alita and I split a pea and lemon ricotta risotto and a strawberry salad. Delicious! We then went to the Dublin Symphony Orchestra concert that Alita was performing in. She says that they aren’t as prestigious as the name implies, but they really sounded great! Jason and I had a hard time staying awake though, since our jet lag was kicking in pretty severely.

Today Alita, Nina, and I drove south to look at Powerscourt Gardens and estate. Beautiful, Versailles-type gardens and grounds. It’s rainy off and on and quite chilly and dreary, but at times the sun pokes through, and this is what we expected; we’re in Ireland after all!

Paul and Alita live in a lovely, cozy home with a beautiful back yard/garden area. We are very comfortable here, especially since they have a kitty (Phoebe) who looks like a mix between Sophie and Baby Girl. She is small and cute and very friendly. We have already spent a lot of time together.

I don’t have photo-editing software on this computer, so the Ireland posts will be kinda rough until we get back home. I hope you enjoy though!

Click on the title to see the picture . . .

Jen and Alita

Paul and Alita

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Powerscourt Gardens

Cathedral where Alita performed

Rose

Paul and Alita’s dining/sunroom

Summer Continues

Well, the summer kicked off with some bowling (see below) and sadly some goodbye parties for seniors, Alban, and Laurie Gauthier, with more to come for Robby and Meredith. It has been kind of hard for me to transition from my whirlwind of 10 months of activity (with the last 4 or so being especially crammed with senior play, Scandinavia tour, planning for graduation, class trip, actual graduation, etc.) to quite literally having nothing to do. I have been insanely busy for months; but those of you who read this blog know me well and know that I thrive in such conditions. So, my first few days of freedom were quite difficult. You can ask Jason. I just sat and wandered listlessly around this house, wondering what to do with myself. I took walks to the school for no reason, just out of habit. I watched a movie in the middle of the day and felt weird about it. But I have to admit, the last 3 days have been much better. I have allowed myself to become straight up L-A-Z-Y. I mostly sit/recline on the couch reading books all day, except for the couple of hours during which I go to the Y and run on the treadmill (since it’s 95 degrees here with unbearable humidity and I can’t run outside). Some things I am thankful for and that have helped make my laziness a success:

–Wonder Book (at which place you can buy 13 books for the price of 2 at Borders)
–NetFlix (DVDs are delivered to your door! you can catch up on movies that you’ve never even heard of!)
–air conditioning (which we finally turned on this week for the first time of the season)
–Sophie, who jumps up on me and sleeps at all hours of the day to contribute to my feeling comfortable and helping me adjust to the hours of slothfulness
–the church laptop (which I can use to my heart’s content while Jason works feverishly on the home computer in the office)
–dark chocolate raisinettes
–odwalla’s Mango Tango

We leave on Friday for Ireland and when we return I think I’ll plan some home improvement and school planning projects to keep me busy. But these last few days have been restful for my mind and body. To the above list: Thanks guys! I couldn’t have done it without you!

Summer Begins

Here are some shots from our recent bowling escapades. I have to celebrate (not gloat) because for the first time EVER, Jennifer got a better score than Jason! You can see the proof of this on the score. Jen = O and Jason = G.

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Posted in Fun