Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday evening

Well, I've been a slacker where the blogging comes in!  I'll try to get better again.  I've been recovering from Thanksgiving and haven't done much of anything since but tomorrow I have to get started accomplishing things again. 

We had a lovely Thnaksgiving,  I delegated some this year and surprised everyone I think. It's a big meal and I cooked Wednesday and Thursday (although by Thursday there really isn't much to do)  finished the deep cleaning of the house following the bath re-do and watched the grandboys.  And I wonder why I was so tired!  Rob and Scott set up the tables and then set the tables with gold chargers and my Mother's white and platinum bone china and sterling silver.  I had bought new goblets large enough to be water glasses and used my oil lamps as a center piece so the table looked really mag.  Bri made the rolls, from my Mother (and grandmother's) recipe, they were delish.  Beth made a fruit salad, also yummy.  Eleven of us sat down to dinner at 6,  there was much talk and laughter after we took the edge off the hunger thing!  I think Thanksgiving is about traditions and family more than it is about the food-although that is a tradition.  I once tried to have ham instead of turkey for Thanksgiving and my then 3 year old son, Steven, was incensed!  I never tried that one again.  Anyway, clean up was achieved by assembly line and while things are not back to normal in the kitchen just yet it's as done as it gets until I find a place for things.  Too much stuff, too little space.

Today when I took Kelsey for a walk to the park the wind was blowing leaves across the ice skim on the creek and they looked like skaters and one big leaf like a wind surfer!  I'm easily amused, what can I say.
Most of the trees have lost all their leaves, the oaks are the last hold outs,  and you can see the squirrel nests quite plainly.  I used to have a nest in every tree but since the tree trimmers thinned my oaks I'm down to one.  Can't say I'll miss those little buggers.  I've finished with leaves for the fall, not that there aren't leaves out there I'm just not going to deal with them any more.  They still be here in the spring.  I'll have to finish dealing with acorns then as well,  I picked up a great many but I have as many as the entire inventory of a marble factory in my back yard!  It was quite dangerous to walk in places,  I will have to get them picked up early in the spring or I'll be digging a forest of oak trees again!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!  My day will be full of cooking, talking and laughing as my family gathers together.  We'll be noticing the hole left by the absence of Steve, Candice and Nora but it will still be a great and happy day (and we'll Skype with them later.)  I wish the same for all of you, a day to take stock of your blessings and enjoy those you love.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Getting ready for Turkey day!

Wow, the time has just flown this past week!  I've been cleaning like a crazy person getting the house in order from the construction-there was just dust and dirt everywhere!  Plus the tiny tornados, Brayden and Kolby have been here in the morning all week.  On Tuesday they have their annual photo shoot and they asked me to come along and take the boys while they choose and had printed their photos.  That worked out really well, about the time the boys were getting "antsy" I just took them home to play.  Their daycare has an epidemic of the stomach flu going around so Beth wanted to keep them out (the last time Kolby brought home the stomach flu he passed it around to the entire family--and I do mean the ENTIRE family--that event is still quite well remembered and NO one wants a repeat!  She is working from home but in order for her to have peace to work I've had the boys each morning-until lunch and nap time.  When she called daycare they said 5 children out in Brayden's class alone, so far neither boy has come down with it and I think we're going to do the same thing Monday and Tuesday. They were coming on Wednesday anyway as daycare is closed.  One day we raked leaves and played in them, one day we went to the park and one day we went shopping.  I'd repeat any part of that EXCEPT the shopping!  The house is mostly clean and what didn't get done isn't critical or it will be done by Thursday, I have the bird in the frig downstairs and most of the rest of the goodies in house.  I still need to make a trip to Costco and a little run to the grocery store for last minute stuff. I plan to mow leaves, pick up the china etc from my Dad's and wash some windows tomorrow as it is to be in the 60's.   Then I'll be pretty much set except for the actual cooking which I'll start on Wednesday--guess I'll see how much help the boys can be!

I have actually been doing some sewing this week.  I covered a double thickness of 1 inch rigid insulation with quilt batting and fabric to make a "plug" for the fireplace in the basement.  We have never had a fire in it as it doesn't have either glass doors or the heat vents out the front so all the hot air goes up the chimney as does the heat from the house.  I didn't feel any air seeping in around the edges, here's hoping the basement is just a bit warmer!  I've sewn all the panels together for my dust ruffle,  seems to be miles of the stuff!  Have to get the iron out and press before going any further.  My sewing room is a disaster though so major cleanup has to be done before I have space to do much.  I think I dumped everything in there that I had no idea what to do with, sigh.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

An almost finished bathroom

For the last ten days, my hall bathroom has been under construction.  Well, first destruction then re-construction. A very 60's room with ceramic tile halfway up all the walls in beige, a flecked formica counter top on plain pine cabinets, it seriously needed an upgrade.  So my brother, Bobby, did some work.  Took out the old cabinet, toilet, and all the tile along with the dry wall behind it, then put in new dry wall,  new cabinets, a new toilet, new trim, a new exhaust fan and a light over the tub.  I put in new floor tile, new subway style ceramic tile and painted (not quite finished there.) Bobby finished up today with the new faucets and a curved shower rod.  I still have to hang a towel bar and accessorize the room but I really like it.  I especially like that it's done!  The three of us no longer have to share my little tiny bath.  Now, I have to really bust the cleaning bunnies to get everything in order before Thanksgiving!

I also marked another little thing off the list:  Made and hung little white linen curtains on the glass doors of the tv cabinet in my room.  They hide a multitude of things having nothing to do with the TV, like extra linens and wine glasses.  Had to adjust the shelf brackets a bit but that only took a few minutes.  It was such and easy project I don't know why it wasn't done long ago.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Catch up with the doings here.

For those of you that don't know I was actually on the Ireland trip from October 1 to 17th.  The laptop I have is Larry's old one and has a ten-key pad on the side making it too long for my backpack (and it's so heavy), because of that and knowing I would have to lug it everywhere for two weeks I decided to leave it at home.  Hearing several moans and groans due to that decision I came up with the following plan:  I would take a journal and write the blog every day, then when I got home I would send out one blog a day on the trip.  It was a rough draft only and I didn't get the last four days written but it was a good guide when I began the blog entries. 

Back at home I spent most of the first week getting my body back in the correct time zone!  That 6 hour time difference just killed me on both ends.

The next week I had four trees taken out and four trees trimmed, meaning I listened to the sound of chain saws for two days, unable to go anywhere due to the 4,000 pound weight attached to my truck, the travel trailer. I had set this up in July and had to wait for them to get to me as they are quite busy. The yard looks great, much more open and spacious.  I'm glad it's done, one of the maples had borers in the stump and it would have taken out the power lines had it fallen.  I'll miss the woodpeckers though.

The day after the tree people finished my brother began a remodel of my hall bath, a project long on the "To do" list.  I'll try it post a photo but it's such a small room that it's difficult. Every room in the house has either the stuff out of the bathroom or the new stuff stored in it making any other work impossible and useless, so when it's finished I have to deep clean everything to be ready for Thanksgiving.

I nearly have the yard, house and truck ready for cold weather.  I should finish that today as well as painting the bath.  I have a little painting to finish outside which I should get to tomorrow as it's to be fairly warm.  Then I will only need tube sand in the truck bed.  I like to get everything ready early for a couple of reasons:  Missouri weather is highly unpredictable (to say the least) and the stores often sell out of things if we have a big storm, ice melt in particular.

No sewing to report, I've been kind of lazy, I've had the time just haven't gotten the desire.  Coming back off vacation I find it hard to get back in the grove!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ireland Wrap up

Okay it's been two days, I was busy.

I had a terrific time in Ireland, I got tired and homesick for my kids and there were places I would have stayed longer (Galway and Donegal), things that weren't really my bag but I learned from anyway but overall the experience was amazing.  Road Scholar puts on a great tour in Ireland and I got to do things outside the norm and things I would never have known to do on my own.

I will never see another rainbow without thinking of Ireland.  I saw so many, so perfectly clear (one even followed alongside our bus for miles) that it brings tears to my eyes just thinking of it. 

I will miss the Irish people.  So open, so friendly, so interested.  Everywhere we went we met with wonderful people, willing at a moments notice to open a conversation with the Yanks.  Children in Dublin waved to the old people from their bus or as they walked by us on the street with huge smiles on their faces.  Strangers on the street would offer to take our photo.  I can not imagine a warmer, more welcoming people and I will miss them.  One more thing, Mark's family has extended an open invitation to all 24 of us, if we ever return to Ireland we can stay with them or on their boat, how cool is that?

Things I learned about traveling:
1.  Always make my own travel arrangements!  Go a couple of days before the tour begins to let my body begin to acclimate to the time change-it's a real beast.  Try to book a 767 aircraft.
2.  Pay the up-charge to have my own room, then if I can't sleep I won't disturb anyone else.
3.  Never travel without my laptop or a netbook,  and possibly an internet card,  Internet was available everywhere I went but there was not always a computer available.
4.  Never travel without an international phone plan!  That way I can talk to the kids when I need to, and they can talk to me.
5.  Pack less.  I wore nearly everything I took and did laundry once, but the suitcase was almost to heavy to begin with. But take spare tips for the Trekking pole!
6.  Learn a bit more about the places I'm going and what I'm going to see before I go.

My goodies!
First, a  lovey wool and alpaca scarf.  So very warm and soft, I'm sure to enjoy it this winter and for many winters to come.
 Next, patches for my memory quilt and a couple for the boys quilts.  A lovely and very delicate tree ornament, snowflake like in design.  I doesn't show very well in this photo, sorry, but I don't want to take it out of the box yet.
 This is my lace and linen tablecloth, it is already on my bedside table although it will eventually have a colored cloth under it and glass on the top.
 I looked and looked at sweaters, Ireland is famous for Aran knit sweaters and I really wanted one.  It wasn't until I saw this cardigan with it's collar that I found one I liked, it has the added benefit of having arms that are not too long!  I'm short, the Irish are short, yippee!  Made of 100% wool (very hard to find in the States) it is wonderfully warm.

Last, but maybe my favorite is this knit wrap also made of wool.  I found it in the same shop as the sweater and for about 2 minutes I tried to decide between them then I thought "Well, just buy them both!"  so I did.  I keep it on the back of the rocking chair in my bedroom and can slip it on when I get chilly.  It also looks great when I wear it out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ireland Trip Days 15 and 16-Home

Awoke at 6:15am Dublin time (that's 12:15am Independence time) in order to dress, finish packing in time for the bell hops and have breakfast.  Part of our group left really early, like when I got up, but most of us took the bus together for one last time to the airport.  At the airport we collected our luggage and said goodbye to our driver, Darius, who had been with us since we left Galway.  Then the lines began.  First came check-in, here to discover my bag was too heavy and I had to take out all my newly purchased goodies (luckily I had packed the shopping bag the shop packed it in.)  Next came goodbyes to Mark our cute little "make sure they are all here and where they need to be at the proper time fella."  Then it was SECURITY which wasn't too bad as they didn't make us take our shoes off!  They did open all the umbrellas though, I'd never seen that.  Once inside our terminal I had to hit the House of Ireland to leave the paper work for my value-added tax refund, done.  I had some Euros left and having fallen in love with Jameson's and gingerale I stopped at the duty free shop for a bottle of Jameson's, managed to fit that in my backpack but was instructed to put it in my checked luggage in New York.  Then it was get organized again, get the passport out and fill out the paperwork for customs before getting in that line.  Once through there it was wait in line for US customs officers.  There was a sign out front saying how they would be courteous etc as the first face of America - hogwash.  No hello, welcome home, nothing, granted I didn't have everything as she wanted it but really I'd never done it before!  Finally, making it through there I bought a drink(non-alcoholic darn it) and found a seat at the gate for my flight home.  The flight left Dublin right on time, a 767 this time and much more comfortable (note to self:  book this next time.)  Arrived at JFK one hour early.  Earlier in the week I had asked  a lot of questions and  had discovered that my "very tight" layover of 55 minutes was not going to let me clear customs etc.  Road Scholar's travel service had booked it to Chicago and I had booked my flight home from  Chicago based on that, they booked me on a later flight to Chicago which meant that I'd miss my flight to KC.  Once I had gathered up my luggage and cleared customs,  a snap, I headed for a Delta ticket person to try and change back to the original flight since we'd arrived early (or to any flight that would get me home on time.)  She insisted that I would make the connection in Chicago-I was skeptical-and while I could make the earlier flight my luggage didn't have the required 1 hour to make the flight and US federal regs now require your luggage to be on the flight with you, urgh.  (Flying used to be so much easier.)  Basically, I had no choice but check my luggage and hope for the best (oh yeah, I put the Jameson's in the suitcase.)  Left the terminal I was in, finally found the right terminal and had to clear SECURITY again, sigh.  This time they did make me take my shoes off.  There were three other ladies heading to Chicago so we took a deep breath, I got a cafe mocca, and tried to figure out where our gate was.  We had a long walk to the gate where we waited.  Boarding went okay, and the flight wasn't full but we sat and sat and sat at the gate.  Turns out we were waiting for the luggage guys to load our stuff (which they only got partly right as two of the ladies got there without their luggage!  So much for Federal Regs!) After the door was closed, we sat some more and with every minute my chances of making that flight were lessening.  Finally, we took off and two hours or so later we landed in Chicago at 10:00 Chicago time (4:00am the next day in Dublin.)  I had to find the charging station to call Expedia to get another flight as my phone was dead, of course.  Once I had a little charge I started walking towards baggage claim, remember it's a long walk from the gate at O'Hare.  Got there to find my luggage in security and had to dig out the actual claim check (how often does that happen?)  All while listening to the Expedia guy find me another flight--tomorrow.  I had to buy a new ticket, but I had travel insurance so I should recover some of the extra.  Having finished all that I pulled my suitcase over to the Hilton and got a room.  A room I would have to leave at 4:00am Chicago time the next morning to catch a flight that boarded at 5:30am.  Called Rob with the new flight info only to find them almost to KCI, darn it.  I fell into bed having been up and traveling about 22 hours!  I was so tired I could hardly see.

My 3:30am wake up call came and I packed up and headed back to O'Hare,  at least it was only walking.  The ticket people finally opened and I checked in, only to find my luggage over weight, again (that bottle of Jameson's) when it was finally light enough it was on to clear SECURITY, which I did with no problem.  Once I found my gate I then found a Starbucks, coffee was required!  Flight loaded and landed no problem. I was finally home.  I was so glad to see KCI I seriously considered kissing the ground.  No Joke.

Tomorrow, will be a wrap up entry and photos of my goodies.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ireland trip Day 14 Dublin

Having the whole day free after breakfast I was off to Glasnevins Cemetery.  Scott and Bri having told me all about it after their trip last year I had been looking forward to visiting there.  This was a true adventure as my map did not go as far north as Glasnevins!  Mark had looked up the bus I would need to take (the 13A) as it was too far to walk.  First, I had to find a news agent to buy a day pass for the bus.  The one the hotel directed me to no longer sold them, hum what to do?  After consulting the map I decided to walk to O'Connell Street which wasn't all that far, just over the River Liffey!  I found a news agent selling passes before I got there, then found the proper sign to wait by for the 13A.  It seems that all the buses come to O'Connell street, there a lot of possible signs to look at.  When the 13A arrived I sat down next to a young lady and asked for her help for where I was to get off,  had no idea about that.  She was unsure but helpful.  Riding north for a while on the left side of the road (after two weeks I'm still not used to that!) she thought we had gone past it, maybe.  I thought we had as well as I saw a sign for the Botanical Gardens and I knew the two were fairly close together.  Across the aisle another lady (who was about my age) was helping another gentleman so I asked her how to get there.  "Well," she said, "you've gone past.  So what you'll have to do is get off this bus, cross over the street and catch the 13 back towards the city.  The 13 mind you, not the 13A. Ask the driver where to get off."  After thanking her, feeling about 10 years old after the Mind you thing, I did as she said.  The driver put me off about two blocks away so I got to walk by this sign and the tower it speaks off.

The Cemetery was founded by Daniel O'Connell (remember him from the Ring of Kerry?) and it is neither a Catholic nor a Protestant cemetery.  The Glasnevins Trust is attempting to conserve the thousands of headstones by pulling them up out of the ground (without footings they sink at least several feet and some completely), repairing as necessary and re-paving 9 miles of footpaths.  It is a long and expensive proposition.
This is the inside of the tower which is over the O'Connell family vault, the tower walls are 8 feet thick and there was once a stairway inside but someone set a bomb off in there and destroyed them, didn't hurt the tower itself though.  I'm told the view from the top is fabulous!  There are many famous and infamous folks buried there; Michael Collins (whose grave is never without fresh flowers left by the people-not the cemetery), and Eamon de Valera whose grave is the most often vandalized.  He was arrested by the Brits with a number of others but not executed with them due to the fact that he held an U.S. passport!  He went on to be President of the Republic of Ireland-but not a very popular one!  This cemetery also allows the burial of infants who have not been baptized,  Irish Catholic cemeteries will not allow these infants to be buried on hallowed ground.  I think they said there are over 9,000 babies buried there.  The trust is also re-habbing one of the gate-keepers houses to be used as a school for graveyard conservation,  a much needed skill throughout the world.

After an interesting tour through the cemetery and the museum associated with it I caught the bus back to O'Connell street without all the excitement of the ride out.  Once there I caught the bus for the Guiness Storehouse.  It's hard to tell when to get off the bus, sigh.  This time I got off too soon and walked a lot farther than I needed to, ah well.

I took the tour of the museum which is several stories high.  It tells the story of how the ale is made from the choice of ingredients on.  You can taste roasted hops, even, tasted like burnt nuts.  There are exhibits of all kinds- history, advertising etc.  One which took my interest was around this sign
I actually took this photo in Sneem, remember the tidy village on the Ring of Kerry?  At some point in time this was their slogan and people actually believed it.  I don't know why I find that surprising-Americans believed the advertising around soap. OOPS off subject!  Anyway, the storehouse was interesting but had a clear glass escalator between each floor out in open space (kind of don't look down space) and I have vertigo.  I took it for about 7 escalators then I'd had enough!  Found an elevator and got out of there.  Went back to the city center on the bus again with much less excitement and went shopping again.  I looked at  lots of stuff but nothing reached up and said "Buy Me" so I left empty handed.

For our last night in Ireland we had a farewell dinner at the Brazen Head pub.
The food was good, the conversation better.  Back at the hotel we gathered one last time for a group photo, that some crazy Irishmen crashed--too funny!

Then it was off to pack for home.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ireland Trip Day 13, Dublin

Our second day in Dublin Mark took us on a couple of walks.  The first was through Trinity College on our way elsewhere,  Mark is a recent grad of Trinity College so he told us a few interesting stories about the school.  One was that and early Dean said that the only way women would enter Trinity was over his dead body.  He died in 1904, women entered Trinity in 1905, they reburied the dean under the floor behind the main entrance to the college so the women where actually passing over his dead body.  I don't know if that's true but it sure makes a great story!  After passing through the college we walked to No.29 Lower Fitzwilliam St, a Georgian row house that has been restored as a museum.  I think there were 4 flights of stairs in that house!  The servants truly got a work out!  Life for them, the servants, was incredibly difficult.  I was intrigued by the small things, glove stretchers, boxes to store peat logs by the fireplaces, a piece of furniture designed to hold dirty plates, etc.  Also by the doll houses.  They had a visiting exhibit of bonnets made by women and girls who had migrated to Australia, some by choice, some by force.

After that it was on to the National Museum of Ireland for a look at the Bronze Age gold work and a look at the "Bog people."  The gold was interesting, the earliest was very thing and frail looking and it got heavier over time.

Then we had free time.  I first visited the Hugenot Cemetery as it was close by.

While my Hugenot ancestors did not come through Ireland it was interesting to see that some had gone there as I had not read that.

After that I headed back to Trinity College and The Book of Kells.  I purchased an audio tape of the exhibit and enjoyed it very much, illustrated manuscripts are amazing!  At the end of the Book of Kells exhibit you enter the long hall which is filled with early printed books and manuscripts from floor to ceiling on both sides of a center isle.  The shelves are open for two floors.  They had books and manuscripts important to Ireland's history on display there.  The University library is like our Library of Congress in that it holds copies of all books published in Ireland.

After that, I went shopping!  I had a mental list of things I would like to buy while there when I left home-I didn't get them all :(  I did buy a small linen and lace tablecloth in the west of Ireland but had not found any of the other things.  So I went to the House of Ireland store and finally found some woolen things I liked:  an Aran knit cardigan sweater, a shawl and a scarf (everyone wears scarves there.)   I didn't get any more crystal as Waterford is in receivership and so has become a collector's item (the price has gone UP) I just couldn't justify spending a couple of hundred dollars on a bowl I would never use!  There was other crystal but nothing I liked.  I was happy with what I bought so I hauled by loot back to the hotel!

It was only about 4pm so I thought I'd take a walk to the River Liffy and look at the bridges.  Dublin has some amazing bridges and I'd only seen them as we passed the day we came to Dublin.  I was walking down Moss St, next to the hotel (and the garda headquarters!) when I saw an amazing thing.  There was quite a lot of traffic and it was stopped at a light, I wasn't really paying any attention to the cars but a man came round in front of a panel truck (think mid-size U-Haul) lifted a blue and yellow bat and banged it against the drivers window!  Just shattered the glass.  He shouted something at the driver then walked back to his little red car threw the bat in, closed the hatch and got in.  The truck started to push into the car, trying to get him to pull over, then the light changed and they roared off down the street that way!  It happened so fast I was still picking my jaw up off the ground and it was over, otherwise I might have taken photos!  Of course, there wasn't a cop around.  After that I just went back to the hotel!

Ireland Trip Day 12, Dublin

So first thing after breakfast we met in the lobby of the hotel and started out on a walking tour of sites associated with the book Ulysses by James Joyce.  Our guide was a professor who had obviously spent a great deal of time studying the man and his works.  He was fairly interesting but I came away thinking as another tour member said-"If I have to study it that hard, keep a map of early 1900's Dublin to understand what he's talking about I'm not reading him."  I had been reading another of his books Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, it wasn't too bad but I don't think Joyce wrote for history if he intended for all his readers to work as hard to get his meaning.  Maybe it's the same feeling I have about poetry:  Why can't the author just mean what he said?  English teachers seem to want to tear everything into little bits and take all the enjoyment out of it, I don't know maybe that is their enjoyment.  (They'd probably wonder the same about me and my interest in early KC.  To each his own.  I like poetry, I just don't want to pick it apart. I think liking Joyce may be beyond me now.)  Anyway, we ended up at Bewley's Cafe on Grafton Street for lunch (a terrible mushroom soup) and a short theatrical work about life changes and the confusion they create which I liked very much.  Mark had given us maps of Dublin and we had free time after that so I started off walking to the Medieval part of Dublin.  I got a little turned around so I walked farther than necessary but I ended up at the fabulous Christ Church.
After walking all around it, I crossed the street and went to the Viking museum.  Dublin was a Viking city, set up at first as a place to tie up their boats it was eventually a permanent town with walls and a castle.  The Northmen became part of the Irish people by intermarrying over time.  It was called Dvblinia.  I enjoyed the museum very much, at the end you walk over the street and into Christ Church, very unique.  Then I walked over to Dublin Castle, just a short ways off.

The tower looked older than the rest of the building.  The part in front is the Chapel Royal and it was gorgeous inside (but they didn't allow photos!) It seemed like there where a lot of offices in all the buildings of the chapel.  It was pretty late in the afternoon so I didn't take a long tour.  I did buy a patch for the memories quilt and a dainty Christmas ornament there.  Then I hiked back to the hotel, a lot shorter than the way I came!

I'm getting tired and I miss talking to my children, closing in on time to go home and I think I'll be ready.