Thursday, April 25, 2013

Other perspectives...

PamALot on the way to school!

She shows you all her wonderful food... but narry a picture of her beautiful self.  This is my happy wife on her way to her second day of school.  Too early for her to take over the place... but she's soaking it all in... in love with the people and their spirit and the amazing organization.  So far, every night she comes home to a home cooked meal... Yeah, I cook it.  She says she'll take over soon.  I'm planning my menus.

I just stoke the fire place, hand her a glass of wine and some cheese, and ask her what vegetable she wants with the main course this evening.  Right now, the dishes are done, the laundry is finishing, and the bed is made with clean sheets.  Wheeeeeeeee...

  The view from across the little bay looking at Ballycotton, our home.

From Garryvoe beach, home of the Garryvoe Hotel, we see the peninsula ending with the town of Ballycotton.  Known for its commercial and sport fishing, there is even a well known 'Ballycotton Fish Market.'  It's currently ten o'clock at night and the last of the sport fisherman have left the pier.  The commercial folk will be along early tomorrow morning, weather permitting, to try their luck.

Weather is still cool and cloudy most of the time.  Residents say it has been a cold, cloudy spring and the farmers are worried.  Crops should be further along by now. Fishing, of course, also depends on the weather.  It's been foggy early but the boats are still getting out and it tends to clear up by midday.  Temperatures remain cool for now.

View from the dock at Ballycotton looking up to the Rocket House

The above view is from the end of the pier here in Ballycotton.  Our home, 'the Rocket House' is just above the mast of the middle boat in the picture. (house is yellow with white window)  Pamela and her friend, Pauline, figured out the name rocket house must come not from its aerospace origins, but from a type of arugula named, naturally, Rocket.

The orange boat in the middle of the picture is the rescue boat.  Ballycotton's volunteer rescue crew have a long and fairly famous history of rescues to their credit.  Every day or so, the crew comes down, cleans up the boat and roars out of our little bay for a practice run.  Fun to watch, critical to a way of life here.

All three daughters arrive within 4 days along with son-in-law and grandson.  Where 'O where will we put them all.  We'll all be together for a week of fun, frolic and sibling mayhem.  I'm frantically seeking diversionary scenarios.  No lack of castles, blarney stones, wildlife museums, distilleries (hey, my grandson has to learn the finer things in life, sometime)  and anything I can find thats Irish.  Duh!!!!!

Between now and then I remain, OMOTIC.

Monday, April 22, 2013

"First day of school...."

                                              "View from the Rocket House - early evening"
Dropped off the Swedish Tiger at her school this morning.  Didn't have to fix her breakfast or pack her a lunch... It's a cooking school after all ('cookery school' in Ireland).  She will eat very well for the next three months.  I had a fried egg and tea with milk back at the Rocket House.  I know... poor OMOTIC.

Didn't get to the book of Kells or the Guiness complex in Dublin this time.  Instead spent a wonderful two days with Pauline and David.... gracious, caring informative hosts.  Did get to see the some of the sights South of Dublin including Glendalough, Sugar loaf mountain, Dalkeny and the Enya's castle home.

                                         "The Coastline south of Dublin along the Irish Sea"

It's official folks.  We were walking a steep trail up to a vista point overlooking Dublin and the Irish Sea.  I had my walking sticks and was huffing and puffing up the hill at my own pace.  A young family passed me up and the little boy looked at me, looked at his dad, and said "Look at that Old Man, daddy."  His dad tried to hush him up... but the truth was out.... I really did look the part.

Made it to the top, though.  Saw a panoramic view of the city, the bay and the south coast.  The Irish seem to do a fascinating dance of living in the past and the present simultaneously.  References to historical events six, eight or twelve hundred years ago seem as fresh as the current economic doldrums of the Celtic Tiger, which is what they call their economic boom in the early 2000's.

Drove south along the coast past Wexford and Waterford on Sunday.  Made it to Ballymaloe about 2 p.m.  Checked Pam in, had tea and scones and arrived at the Rocket House in Ballycotton about 4 km. from the school.

Would love to say I'm going out to explore the countryside... may yet do that... but Pamela charged me with learning how to operate the all-in-one clothes washer and dryer.  Have tentatively located resources for fishing gear and painting supplies... so, all is not lost.  In all things great and small, I am OMOTIC.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Three close calls and one "near death experience" later.

After being up for 24 hours and traveling for 15 of them, I hopped into a new rental car at the Dublin airport, killed it twice just getting out of the parking space, asked Pamela to keep yelling at me 'keep left!!!!', hit the first round-about out of the airport and tried to go the wrong way.  'Keep left... Keep left'

Pamela sat on the left side yelling 'your too close... your too close' while all the time I'm facing an onslaught of double decker buses coming from the other direction half way into my lane.  Thus began our journey through rush hour Dublin in search of our B&B for the evening.

By dead reckoning we got within about 4 blocks before taking a wrong turn into a bus only lane... 'keep left.... keep left!!!'  An hour later we finally found a street on the map... reconnoitered and arrived at Number 31 Leeson Close five minutes later.  Yes, GPS would have helped, but our old GPS buggered out and we didn't have time to order a new one before leaving home.  Amazon UK has already received the order.

Having survived the present, we decided today to visit the past.  Mary Gibbon's Tours took us in one of those huge buses along perilously narrow country lanes to Newgrange and Tara north of Dublin in the Boyne Valley.

Newgrange is a burial mound/chamber 80 meters across, 10 meters high constructed approximately 3000 B.C.E. at least a thousand years before the pyramids of Egypt were built.  It was constructed as a burial chamber with an entrance tunnel accepting the sun's light for only five days surrounding the winter equinox around December 21st of each year.  Be clear this is a stone age structure, astronomically accurate, predating Celtic culture, Mayan pyramids, bronze and iron ages.

It is the most intact, undisturbed structure of its nature in the world.  After squeezing through a 30 meter long tunnel (I do mean squeeze... these people were not fat old OMOTICs... there were several spots I had to inhale to get past the rock walls....)  we arrived in a twenty foot wide circle of rock with niches where mostly ashes and some bones of people were stored.  Glad I'm not claustrophobic because they then turned out the lights and allowed a simulated sun to shine weakly into the room from the direction of the entrance. Upon leaving we passed the site of the Battle of Boyne ( more about that later.)

Next came a visit to the hill of kings, Tara.  This is the place of coronation and residence of the High Kings of Ireland.  For centuries the most prominent structure on top was a large stone phallus.  The High King was expected to guarantee fecundity of the people and the land from this spot.  If he didn't he was usually beheaded and a new more 'fertile' king installed.  More often than not the High Kingship was established by a constant running battle between the many, many lesser kings of Ireland throughout the centuries.

A somewhat smaller cross now sits next to the phallus, reminding us how the church co-opted much of ancient Irish history and religion in a brilliant move to bring the people into the faith... St. Patrick had a real knack for this.  Tara, by the way may sound familiar as it was the name given the estate in "Gone With the Wind" by Scarlett's Irish father.

More history tomorrow... the Book of Kells and the Guinness Brewery.  Hey, who says beer isn't history?


Tuesday, April 2, 2013


"In late antiquity and through the Middle Ages, the Irish were called Scotti or Scoti in Latin, and Scotus at the end of a name denoted Irish ancestry.  Ireland was called Hibernia, sometimes Scotia in Latin.  Scotia Minor, the name applied to the Irish colony in northern Britain, was eventually shortened to Scotia or Scotland."  (Thomas Cahill)

Ahh what trivia we learn when we at first attempt to educate ourselves about the places we hope to visit.  When we came to Ashland two and one-half years ago we knew there was a Shakespearean festival and a United Methodist Church and little else.

After so little time we appreciate the amazing people, the Rogue Valley culture, wineries, breweries, and more cultural events and festivals and artistic energy than we could have imagined. We had no idea.

I'm thinking our short slice of time in Ireland will feel like a whirlwind, especially for a people and a place with so much history.  One of their best preserved ancient places predates the pyramids.  The Irish are famous for 'battling with such joy and singing with such sadness.'  

I'm just beginning to understand the Celtic influence (hard C) which was not the first in Ireland.  And I had no idea who St. Patrick really was, or the immensity and consequences of his work not only in Ireland but in throughout all of Europe.  See Cahill's "How the Irish Saved Civilization" for a wonderfully romantic historical overview.

So I plug along.  I hope to fish, to paint, to pub crawl and learn a little Gaelic... make some friends and maybe even try my hand at the Irish bagpipes. (they don't blow into them.  They have a bellows that is worked by the left arm that pushes air through the pipes... who knew?)

Well, of course, some of you people did.  But remember, I'm OMOTIC... slow, patient, and full of surprises.