Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Brain Bender, Ya'll

Weird weird weird. Let me tell you what happened to me today.

Some of you may know that I've been keeping a photo blog for a few weeks now. A couple of days ago, I got a comment on a photo but didn't actually find until today. It was just a general, "nice job on the photos" comment from some guy in the Netherlands. So I looked at his blog and found that he takes some really gorgeous photos and that I should get a better camera.

I found on his blog that he'd chosen a while back to give awards to some of his favorite photograph bloggers, so I started looking at who he deemed an award-worthy amateur photographer. There was this one lady from Kansas he mentioned, so as I was scrolling through her photos, I came upon a photo that those of you from Jackson, Mississippi might recognize. This slide is the exact one (or exact replica) that used to be at Riverside Park. As a kid, I loved this slide for how it made trips to the moon so easy, with lots of scary, shaking reentry into Earth's atmosphere...and not even mentioning the aliens we met while up there.

I sat there for a few moments reminiscing about that wonderful slide and then decided to post my own comment about it. Well, lo and behold, a fellow Jacksonian had beat me to it! She'd commented on the exact slide I was remembering. So I wanted to know who this person was out there in Internet-Land who knew about my beloved slide.

Now this is where the story gets really weird. I clicked on this commenter's name and found out that she has a blog herself, one of them mentioning "PDX" in the title. Why isn't that the symbol for Portland? Yes it is.

It turns out that this cool woman is from Jackson but has recently moved to Portland with her 81-year-old mother. And not only that, but she blogs about the experience and comes out with sentences like this:

"Mama's wearing my Dale Earnhardt Jr. red hat--she felt her perm was too far gone to foist her hair on the public."

I could never in a thousand years write a worthy description of how entertaining this woman's blog is. After reading it for about ten minutes, I realized how I need to get up off my hiney and go do some living. These two women are fierce, I say, fierce. I want to be just like them.

Go take a look here, and be sure to check out the pictures of her mom walking her dog, Duncan, wearing said Dale hat.

So I find out about a fellow Jacksonian living in Portland through a woman in Kansas who posted a photo of the same slide I played on as a child which won her an award from a Dutch photographer who somehow found my photo blog. Got it? And if the story couldn't get any more convoluted, it turns out that my friend Neola actually knows these two women. Lots of bewildered head-shaking going on in the Rooney house this afternoon, let me tell ya'.
Besides all the head-shaking, it's been a pretty low-key weekend, mostly boring. I got the new Ben Lee CD in the mail, and I'm not too crazy about it. Sigh.

Despite thinking they're kind of pretty and even taking pictures of them, I got bitten on the face a couple of nights ago by a spider. I woke up with a big welt on my forehead which is not a zit. Believe me, I know what zits are like and this thing refuses to pop and is like a small anthill. Gross.

Ted's currently in the basement rocking out to the Indigo Girls.

The morning after we did yoga, I woke up in severe pain. I asked Ted if his upper arms hurt as much as mine. He nodded yeah but said that was about it for him as far as soreness went. I said, "But what about your abs?" He nodded yeah. Then, "And what about your thighs?" Yeah. "And here?" pointing to my hiney. Yeah. "Oh, and your sides?" Ok, that too...

We also hosted a couple of Ukrainians last night. The formality and insisting they sit down and have tea and sharing the bar of chocolate they brought from the Ukraine and hearing them talk about trying to visit all felt so comfortable for me, like the good ole days in Slovakia. Then we got home from church this morning (we had to go really early) and found this in the kitchen:
They'd washed not just their own dishes but ours as well, despite there being a dishwasher right there. And these dishes were spotless. It reminded me of how my Slovak friends, even guys, would fight over who got to wash the dishes at my place.

It's been a weekend of spider bites, rain, worse-than mediocre Ben Lee, Ukrainian visitors, Indigo Girls, Portland-love from Jackson, hot tea, sparkly wine, and clean dishes. See? Even the most boring weekend can have its bright spots (well, excluding the spider bite that is not a zit).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Of Interest, At Random

A few things rattling around in my head the last couple of days:

1. This first thing rattling around is more in my heart--warm fuzzies of happiness at all the well wishes we've received upon being place on the official Waiting list. Thank you. Each notification of a new comment made me genuinely happy.

Since being approved, I'm finally allowing myself to think of this person tangibly, which means lingering over the parenting section at the bookstore and coming home with these (both cheap, used copies! Yay, Value Village!):
Any of you read either of these? The Idiot's Guide was more of a joke for Ted (the man has never once changed a diaper in his life, despite having two younger siblings and thousands of nieces and nephews). The Baby Whisperer book looked interesting and turns out a good-Momma friend from college recommended it to me too. The author is English, so I enjoy all the mums and nappies.

None of the rest of these are in any way important, or even relating to adoption, so no worries if you don't feel like bothering to read them.

2. How is it that Target can sell for one measly dollar a little sticky note pad with all the characters from The Office on it? This little thing pleases me to bits.

3. How many of you have listened to Sufjan Stevens? I just discovered him a few days ago and promptly fell in love. Then our Scottish cross-country cycling friend John who was staying with us for a few days told me that he's one of his favorites. Then our Mississippian recently married friend Rusty referred to Mr. Stevens on his blog as being post-hipster or something. Despite being so behind the times, I urge the two of you out there who've never listened to his music to go get some Sufjan Stevens. Look him up on Myspace or download "For the Widows" and be prepared to feel all warm and tingly inside from sadness and longing and joy all at once. It's beautiful, I tell you, beautiful.

4. Last night on Kid Nation, I was happy to see them all eating grits for breakfast one morning. I think one of the kids even said, "These grits are good." Well, of course they are! They're grits, what did you think they'd be? If I were a kid on that show, I'd be more motivated by a winning a star worth its weight in grits than of gold.

5. The other day on myspace, an Oregon friend sent out a bulletin listing all the great things about this state. One of the positives was "We have no accent." Tell me, why would this be a good thing? I see it as something the state lacks.

6. Today in my first yoga class in more than a year, the teacher was having us do the challenging pose of the day, Flying Dolphin. Amidst lots of huffing, scrambling, slipping of mats, I heard a loud thump. The teacher laughed and said, "Or you can just do Falling Dolphin too."

7. If you find yourself with a couple of minutes to spare, go look at the new video up on that Pippystyle blog linked on my page to see a truly remarkable cat. Your kids will love it. This is the same creature that begs for objects like staplers and bananas.

8. Why does it get under my skin so much when people refer to inanimate objects as "these guys"? In the five minutes I've seen of Rachel Ray, she referred to her mini-pizzas as "these guys" and I knew I couldn't watch anymore. In a local kitchen store a few days ago, the lady showing me their offerings of teapots kept pointing to them Vanna White-style and saying, "Now these guys are all stainless steel...." I walked out of the store without buying any of their stinkin' $50 pots, instead making my way home with this guy for $4.99 from Value Village where there were plenty of potentially crazy self-talkers walking the aisles listening to the used tupperware but no one calling anything guys :
9. What do these graffiti stencils mean and why do they entrance me so?

This one was found on Hawthorne Blvd, SE Portland:

Verona, around the corner from where we were staying:

My favorite one, closing time in Venice:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Glimmers of Excitement

We got two emails today. One subject line says, "DOSSIER COMPLETED!!!!" The next says, "You are on waitlist!" with the four exclamation points and then the one. So after all the false starts, we're now officially 100% Waiting, capital W. Weird. Happy. As I just told my sister, "It's sort of like being in the third trimester now, just without the swollen ankles and stretch marks." Time now to paint the empty bedroom and set the little onesies out?

We're putting in a request for one who laughs like this:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ted!

From who you were:
To the first time I saw you:
Even to the second and third:
I knew: Ted is someone special.

For the way you root for the underdog:

And the gillions of ways you've made my life pretty interesting:
Happy Birthday. So glad that you're the future Baby Daddy. I wubbu.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This Blogging Community

This couldn't have been a more perfect September morning. I still haven't gotten over jet-lag, but I'm actually pretty happy about that, as it means that I'm asleep most nights by 10:00 and awake at 6:00 or 7:00. For those who know about my difficulties sleeping, this sleeping such regular hours is a big deal. I'm very thankful.

This morning I woke up having slept like a normal person and saw that it's going to be one of those gorgeous, sunny, crisp days. I came down and ground my favorite "smooth and mellow" TJ's coffeebeans and ended up not long after at the computer, going through my daily check of blogs.

Then...lo and behold...I'm crying. Drew and Carey got their referral of the itsiest bitsiest most gorgeous 10 week old baby girl who they've named Zoe.

We had the chance to meet Drew and Carey a couple of months ago while we were both down in Southern California, so happy to have another Gladney couple relatively close by. We talked about how envious we'd been of all you Midwesterners and Texans who have lots and lots of other Gladney families in the vicinity to meet up with. We went to our requisite Ethiopian dinner and had the best time sitting around talking about the whole process and finding out that we share a lot of the same opinions about lots of things. And it'll be so fun one of these days to have our kids meet and maybe play at the beach.

So as I read their blog and looked at that pretty Zoe face, I kept getting choked up. Of course, it's because I'm so happy for them, but I also felt so thankful for this blogging community. Right after reading their wonderful news, I came upon this artwork by a fellow blogger and gasped at how beautiful and brave her work is. I can't get over how giving and generous it is that all of you bloggers are putting your lives out there for others to be encouraged and challenged by.

Yesterday while having breakfast with a friend-in-the-flesh here in Portland, I realized how often I was bringing up different bloggers whenever she'd ask me about the adoption process. On one hand, it feels a little embarrassing to know that I'm talking about you guys like we're life-long friends while in reality I've only met Drew and Carey in person. But on the other hand, this is the 21st century after all and I guess it's time to accept that the World Wide Web just might be our modern day town hall/living room.

So, thanks to all you adoption bloggers who have been such an inspiration to me and to so many others. I know that this process would be so much harder without all the insider tips, cheerleading, humor, and yes even friendship that you offer.
We got this brief email today from Kate:

I received the CIS document today and have sent it off for processing. I will let you know when it’s back and everything is ready to go to DC.

That was faster than we thought, always a nice surprise in this process. When everything goes to DC, we are officially on the waiting list. Whew. This may well be when I start to finally get excited.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Change of Season

Fall makes a lot of people introspective. It gets them thinking about how everything dies, which makes them wonder about what comes next, which makes them moody. The days for lounging about in the sun are over. No more carefree frolicking around at the beach, drinking cold daiquiris with umbrellas. The Beach Boys days are over in the fall. It's all seriousness and back to work by September, so they say.

I say good riddance. I've never liked summer, even when I was a student and it meant not having to go to school. I always liked school and sort of missed it when I wasn't there. Growing up in Mississippi, summer meant days on end spent indoors in the air conditioning as much as possible. We'd only go out after dark to play so as to avoid heat stroke.

Granted, I do have some good memories about summers, but those are all centered in some way around finally, by the grace of the Good Lord, getting a break from the g-d*mned heat. Like when my sister and I would finally arrive red-faced and sweaty to Granny's house, after walking the mile to get there, and immediately go lay face-down on the central air conditioning vents in the floor. We'd go to separate rooms and try to talk to each other through the vents while we cooled off. Or like when we'd jump into the freezing cold swimming pool of my best friend Bethany's grandparents and build forts in the water out of the thousands of floating loungers they had lying around. But then I'd have to take the abuse by Bethany's brothers about how fat I was, listening to them yell at me not to splash all the water out of the pool when we'd jump in over and over while playing 'shark'.

So even my good summer memories were never untainted by something sweaty or mean.

I guess that's why I feel the opposite of what a lot of people feel at the onset of fall, or autumn, if you're feeling fancy. Fall feels so much like a relief from the torment of heat, sweat, and ridicule about my piggy 10-year-old body squeezed into a bathing suit. It means the start of something new, like a brand spankin' new school year, complete with, oh joy of all joys, new school supplies with that delicious new paper smell.

When I became a teacher myself, I always really liked the first week of school. Where I taught in Slovakia, it meant getting to meet these new, unique, interesting people wearing funky scarves and with off-kilter dyed hair (including boys). The first week of school, they'd all stare at me dumbfounded, especially the first-years (freshmen), and I'd most times have to console one or two after class, pleading with them not to give up and move to the math class, that they will start to understand lessons taught 100% in English.

Since there was always a wacky schedule that first week of school, it also meant sitting for hours in the English 'kabinet' (office) with my colleagues, drinking instant coffee and catching up with each other, then going out after work, walking to the city center where I was constantly running into people I knew. Lovely.

I love how the air feels so clean in the fall, and as my friend Melissa said yesterday, there's even a different smell to the fires that people burn. It's not like the fire-pit smoky smell of summer, but more of a crisper and warmer smell with fall fires. And pretty soon, we're going to start getting the crunchy sidewalk leaves and the rain, which lets us bring out our cozy sweaters and hats.

Then Halloween comes, and with all the pumpkins, scarecrows, and tiny bags of skittles, I could nearly puke of giddy eupthoria.

So I guess it makes sense cosmically that with this turning of the season, we finish our adoption paperwork. This morning, we gathered up the papers from Immigration (the 171 form), took them to the bank and got them notarized. Here we are with our favorite notary, who notarized countless documents for us, never once asking if we're actually bank customers (we are). He's been really sweet through the whole thing, and even played along as we commemorated the event:

He's one of the special agents who, in his way, is helping us get through this adoption. I look forward to taking the kiddo in there one of these days to say hi. And I hope his bosses read this blog and give him a big, hefty raise, or at the least, a chunky Christmas bonus, just for being a good guy.

Now, go get thee all with pumpkin.

Monday, September 17, 2007


When we landed in New York, I turned on my phone and listened to a message from a neighbor I'd never met calling to ask if we own a cat named Buddy. My heart sank, fearing the worst. What with the traumatic life that cat has had, I couldn't help wondering what was coming next.

It turns out that from the day we left, he'd started hanging out at this neighbor's house nonstop. A year ago when we moved in, he discovered her yard, but as she has cats of her own (all indoor), she'd glare at him from the window, hoping to scare him away. At first, it worked, and he'd skitter away back home to us.

But when we left for this last trip, I guess he started to think (yes, I believe cats can think) that we weren't coming home, and he started going there for affection, coming home to our basement for food. Our neighbor said that he'd even started sleeping on their back porch at night and that he was letting them pick him up and snuggle. He rarely does this with new people, so he must have been especially starved for affection. Our neighbor kept commenting on how sweet and cute he is and how sad they felt that he wasn't getting proper love at home.

It made me sad to think that he'd given up on us ever coming home, but as Ted said, "At least we know that at least one of our cats actually misses us."

So when I got home around midnight, I went around the corner to his neighbor's house, poked my head over their wooden fence and said his name once. He came running, fussily meeowing at me nonstop. He'll normally go days without meeowing even once, so hearing this barrage of complaints was pretty funny and cute. He was trying to figure out a way over the high fence, which he usually doesn't do since he manages to get their yard some mysterious cat-way via our backyard.

He finally made the big jump up and let me carry him home, purring like a madman the whole time. He then slept by my side, on my chest, or next to my head all night, several times putting his nose right on mine. So very cute. There's the proof for all you non-cat people out there who don't think cats are affectionate or loyal. Here's the view I'd find every time I'd open my eyes that first night home:

Adoption news: I saw the infamous Immigration letter with my own eyes, but alas, we can't do anything with it until Ted gets home. He's down in Southern California for a few days finishing up that house project, so as soon as he gets back, we'll finally get to notarize the thing and fedex it to Kate. This is the last paper needed for our dossier to be finished. We hope to send it Wednesday, at which point we can officially sit back and wait. Weird to think that this one notarization will be the absolute last paper to complete...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Coming Home

I'm happy now because I'm sitting in the Shannon airport restaurant with a pot of tea ready to spend my 10 euro lunch voucher and excited to be tucking into my Hughes & Hughes Booksellers bag full of Irish newspapers, which give things away for FREE every single day (like today, a book by Edna O'Brien...a complete book! no words missing or anything!).

I'm also happy because we're out of Italy. Italy is gorgeous, the food amazing, and the people are so beautiful it hurts to look at them...but from now on, Southern Italy or Central Italy is where it's at for us. We had a fantastic boy-scout host and ate some good food, but after getting lost several times in the labyrinthal (is that a word?) Verona, feeling my age when my joints started aching from walking for hours on stone Roman roads (yoga is now top of the agenda), and almost being mowed over by crazy drivers on narrow city backstreets, I was ready to get the hell out of dodge. By our last day there, I was so mad at the drivers who'd graze by me, barely avoiding a death-by-Vespa, that I was ready to pull out the big guns, both middle fingers at once, complete with ugly facial expression (no, I never did it, but was sorely tempted).

On a less aggressive note, here's Andrea, our Italian host, with his sister. We love them and hope they come to Oregon sometime, though neither have plans for that so far. Andrea just likes hosting people from all over. We were his first American guests.

We got to Shannon in one piece and this morning volunteered to fly later since our flight was overbooked and too heavy (who'd want to fly on a plane that's teetering on being overweight anyway?). The airline thanked us with this free lunch and vouchers for future tickets. We immediately looked to see if this airline flies to Addis Ababa (not sure yet). And now we both get in just a couple of hours later.

I'll leave you with this video of what you can find if willing to stray from the beaten path while traveling. Ignore Rick Steves, make him talk to the hand when you travel (thanks to the $2 Venice guide by him I found at Goodwill, we stayed lost and run down by other tourists. Sometimes you get what you pay for, I guess). Otherwise, you'll miss things like this:

Thanks to all those words of congratulations about our approval. It's great to know we're so supported!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thoughts on our approval

Nothing to re-do, all fingerprints okay, capital "W" waiting, here we come. We're officially approved. Thanks for opening that letter, N!

Whenever I'm getting ready to leave for a trip somewhere and people ask me how excited I must be, I'm never sure how to answer. I never get excited about going somewhere until I'm walking out the door. Only then do I genuinely start looking forward to what's to come. So I'm realizing that I feel the same way about this adoption.

My thought upon first hearing about our approval was not, "Whoopee!" but "Alright then, that's done, great, thanks God, what's next?"

Maybe it's the pessimist in me, that half-empty girl who won't let me believe that it's really going to happen. That girl seems to be always telling me not to get hopes up until the deal is sealed. I remember in high school being asked what my least favorite emotion was, and I immediately said, "Disappointment."

So I'm not sure what's the healthiest thing. This guarded way I have towards the possibility of good things coming has most definitely saved me some heart-ache (i.e. disappointment), but sometimes I wonder if I'm not letting myself experience the full realm of emotion at my disposal with this process.

It's like my friend in Slovakia who's mother freaked out when she bought a baby stroller before her baby was born: you don't want to jinx anything by preparing too much. I don't go that far into superstition, that's for sure, but at the same time, I've done zilch to get the room ready for our arriving kid(s). The most I've done is to buy a couple of interesting baby t-shirts, which I've promptly stuffed into a dresser drawer so I don't have to look at them.

(And by preparing for baby, I mean *buying* for baby--I've done an insane amount of reading and talking to friends about the stuff we'll be facing from sleep issues to attachment parenting to issues of race and adoption--my head swims sometimes from all the expert voices I surround myself with).

They say that the adoption process is an emotional roller-coaster, and that's true for sure. I've been frustrated, exhausted, inspired, frazzled, spit-fire angry, and often relieved when various steps get completed. I guess what I wonder is when that deep sense of anticipation will kick in.

So far, it feels like I've just been packing the suitcase and cleaning the house in preparation for the Big Trip to Parenthood-land. I'm wondering when that feeling of walking out the door, passport in hand, now-I-can-get-excited is going to take over.
Will it be when we get our referral? Will it be when I see the new Rooney face for the first time? Will it be when we literally walk out the door to the airport for Addis Ababa?

I'm curious what other parents in the process have experienced, from those just starting out to those raising their kids already.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Could it be?

I'm sitting in the hallway now smelling the dinners of the neighbors, just in from a walk around this section of Verona and waiting for our boy-scout host Andrea to come home so we can go to dinner. While walking, I was thinking about our cats, wondering how they are and deciding to write Neola, our friend who's house-sitting for us, to ask for a story or two about how adorable our cats are. Yes, I know it's pathetic. Shut it, as I've heard Neola says.

Lo and behold, we get into the flat and discover that Neola has written me first, to say nothing about the cats but everything about a certain letter arriving in the mail from Immigration. This is the reason for two postings in one day. Just to say...something has arrived in the mail back in Portland. We're not sure yet what it is but we've asked Neola to open it up for us, at her earliest convenience. I'm telling myself to expect that it's something bad, like last time, something we need to re-do. As they say, always expect delays and you'll never be disappointed or impatient.'s most likely a notice to do our homestudy again or that Ted's fingerprints weren't good enough because of his broken finger.

This is how we looked earlier today, possibly at exactly the same time as the mail was being pushed through the slot into our house.

Now Andrea is home, so time for dinner and vino vino vino.

On the Road Again

We got our dads on their planes home--my dad forgoing the Italy portion of the trip thanks to a bad back. This is what they both looked like leaving. We like to wear hats:

Now we're in Verona, where you can rub Juliet's shiny boob and eat lots of gnocchi. There's a lot of pigeons around, and I got a couple of cats to come running when I called them from the third floor balcony where we're staying. I also met a friendly priest this morning, and tonight we're taking an Italian boy-scout troop leader out for pizza. I've also decided that, when in Italy, wear lipstick and that, in general, Audrey Hepburn is my hero.

Thanks to Pat and Rusty for participating in the last caption contest. I guess that one was harder than the last, but both captions were pretty funny. You both win prizes. Pat, though, I'm not sure if you're relative-Pat or some other Pat. Send me your email in a comment so I can send you your prize.

Now we're going for a pre-dinner walk, so no pictures of Italy here yet. But do check out my photo blog, where I've put a couple.

More coherent postings to come (hopefully).

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Death-march in Doolin

Lots has happened since my last post (nothing at all adoption-related), so much that capturing it all here feels impossible. Suffice it to say, I had to do a full load of laundry upon getting back to the country house, we used up our memory card on the camera, and there's a new rhubarb pie in the kitchen.

While Ted golfed and Ed napped, I got to spend a good chunk of time yesterday hiking with my dad, which brought back more than a few memories of our Yellowstone and Smoky Mountain death-marches on our yearly camping trips growing up. Daddy is half German and inherited their propensity to walk very long distances. When I was a kid, I often heard, "C'mon girls, let's just see what's around that next bend." Yesterday though, I kept hearing, "C'mon Lori, let's see what's above that next crest."

Daddy also said a few times, "Oh, don't you worry about that wire. Yeah, it's a live one, but the shock ain't that bad. It won't do permanent damage. Just creep right under it like this...."

We hiked from the town of Doolin, through cow field after cow field, over and under live wires, across rocky streams, and through cow pie minefields, all the way to the Cliffs of Moher. We did our share of scrambling up rocks and right up close to the edge along stretches like here:
Over at the actual Cliffs of Moher (which has become so touristy since the last time we were there three years ago), they've made it all pretty tidy with big walls and fences and warning signs like this, just in case you're thinking of getting too close to the edge:

Not on our hike though. No warning signs or walls for us. The only gate around us was the kind that could rip your flesh with rusty barbs or shock the crap out of you. At one point, I had a sharp drop to the ocean on my right and a live wire on my left, nowhere to go but straight ahead.

But through all this, I wasn't really scared until we met the bull. I love most every animal, but bulls freak me out, especially when I've unknowingly found myself on their turf. Daddy said that he's a lot like Doc, his border collie, needing to be run every day. So from now on, Ted made the point that every afternoon, we should make sure that Ed gets his nap, Daddy gets his walk, and we get our sit-down on a comfy couch with coffee.

Later that night, we ended up back at our favorite pub in Doolin where we go to listen to some pretty amazing traditional music and eat bowls of beef stew. Ed liked his:
We got a lot of video of the music, most of which is too dark and has poor sound quality, but maybe you can sort of get the idea with this:

Here's a glimpse into how gorgeous the Aran Islands are. We went to the smallest of the three today, Inisheer, where we hiked around more and made a doggie friend.

I also picked up some Irish chotchkies for another caption contest. Thanks to all those who submitted entries last time. It's a lot of fun for us to read these (btw, send me your email in a comment Stephanie, and you've got a surprise coming your way).

Caption Contest 2:

Now I'm pooped and am going to bed.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Caption Contest Winner

Runner up in the caption contest 1:

Stephanie from Florida wrote:
"Does this buggy make my book look big?"

Nice job, nice use of buggy.

The winner of Caption Contest 1 though is Jim with:

"The book said there was a grocery store here??"

As promised, we offer you something like, but not necessarily, one of these:

Stephanie, if you want your runner-up award, leave me a comment and we'll work something out.

The last few days have been full. We listened to the weekly music session down at the pub two nights ago, where we unknowingly took some regulars' seats but they were nice to us anyway.
Yesterday a couple of positives stand out for me. The first was noticing how my dad buys, not just a cookie or bit of chocolate every day, but an entire pie. Wherever we are, he mozies away from us at some point to find a local bakery and walks out with a boxed pie.
Another stand-out yesterday was our Czech server at dinner finding out I am/was an ESL teacher and asking me lots of questions about grammar every time she passed by. She had this cute, very Slavic, way of asking things like "How do you separate the word sightseeing and why isn't there some general rule?" Talking to her brought back to mind what I like so much about that part of the world and also how much I miss teaching. It was fun to have a "light bulb moment" with a 'student' right there in a restaurant with Richard Marx and Journey playing in the background.

The last moment from yesterday was getting to hop the fence to view a national archeological monument. We'd driven all around Sligo Town to find the Carrowmore Graves (at least six thousand years old, and we Americans really dig poking about old stuff...well, not literally poking, but getting up close).

Our guidebook said it was open until 6:00 pm but when we arrived at 5:30, we weren't let in. The %&#@-er who was sitting at the door would barely give us a glance, not even when I went on my own, putting on my best sad face and sounding very pitiful, asking for "just five minutes" to see it closer (we could sort of see it across a fence).

As I was Charlie-Brown shuffling across the parking lot, head down dejectedly, a staff member meandered up to me and said quietly, "Don't mind him. I know why you're disappointed. No one's gonna stop you from jumping that fence right there in about twenty minutes when the door's locked and there's no cars in the carpark. But I didn't tell ya that, ok?"

As a result, we ended up having a really nice walk, with a couple of scrambles over the fence, and got some pictures, like here, where Ted truly gets born-again, Irish-style:

Lastly, we spent a good hour at Drumcliffe Abbey, the burial site of Yeats. Earlier in the day, we'd looked around the Sligo Town Museum, which has a lot of Yeats stuff (the technical term), including his Nobel Prize for literature. This is the best free museum I've ever been to. Plus, the lady working there was extremely friendly and knowledgeable and ended up giving me a really gorgeous poster about the Sligo area, all for free.

There I am in the Yeats graveyard, showing one of my hidden talents: a pensive, moody stare (which I have come to understand can be off-putting in social situations, making some think I am wallowing in I'm doing my best to work on improving my "American smile #5").
Good thing I'm married to someone with a wider range of facial expressions.

Until next time...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Caption Contest 1

Winner will receive a chintzy Irish gift from a road-side stop. Magnet or tea towel, your choice.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A few hours in Dublin.

When you're living in a concrete-walled country house in the Irish countryside, it's a good thing to remember to keep the windows open as much as possible during the day to let the place air out. If not, you come home to quite a mildewy funk. But then be sure to shut all the windows at night because the millions of buggies will come in and you'll have a hard time sleeping imagining what all is climbing on the walls.

We're taking a day of rest today, or at least Ed and I are. Ted and Tom are off to Galway to pick up my dad who flew in this morning. They should be getting back any minute now.

We spent hours and hours in the car yesterday, driving back from Dublin. We were led by a friendly, chocolate-eating B&B owner who does not like Californians (calling Oregonians a lot more level-headed) to another beautiful little B&B in the Gowth neighborhood of east Dublin, which is a little peninsula. We got one of the last rooms in the area, ours being a family room with room for four. Perfect. Then we got up and had breakfast with four German forestry workers. Ted got the chance to practice his German with them.

We wrangled Ed into going into the city, despite his many protests. He just wanted to get back to the country house, but we knew he would enjoy at least a couple of hours of the city if we could get him there. So it started with Ted just saying that we would drive through it, and then...oh! look! there's a perfect parking spot right here on this bridge! And look, Grafton street is just two blocks away!

He had a good time, even saying a few times how glad he was that we came. He especially enjoyed the Irish literature themed bookstore and finding music by the artists from his favorite movie Once in a record shop.

I'll leave you with this video of some Grafton Street musicians. This video really reveals the inner workings of all three Rooney men featured in it, as briefly as those appearances may be. Keep an eye out for all three. Ed is the hardest to miss. Ted's two appearances may be the easiest to miss, but it's worth the effort to find him. And I'm not sure why the video link below looks different, but it does work if you click it.

By the way, not that it matters, but I'm doing very little editing of these posts from Ireland, as well as no links. So please excuse any typos and general sloppiness. I'm letting go of my perfectionism and figuring now that something is better than nothing.