Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Home Again - No Jig

It’s over. It’s really over. It has been nearly a month since I arrived back in the hamlet of Mankato, Minnesota. Don’t ask me why it has taken me so long to update the website. It has something to do with not wanting to admit that I’m home. But admitting it is the first step to recovery right? So…..I’m home.

Transitioning back in to school went smoothly - mostly. There were a few tearful nights when eighth grade math seemed an insurmountable challenge; when the tantrums and wailing, and the stomping around got to be very unpleasant. But my kids told me to I needed to snap out of it, and that if I just stopped the crying and complaining, did the reading and applied myself I would again be able to help with homework….just like before…..which is to say, not very well.

Mike was home for only one week and then had to jet off to Melbourne for the month of November to finish his MBA. I know that he is stressed and truly hard at work. But it is hard for me too. Hard not to dress up in his tie and jacket, look in the mirror and talk to my reflection, my voice a high, squeaky, sniveling-mockery. “Oooooohh, look at meeee! My name is Mike Nolan and I an in Melbourne… in the spring… going to dinners…and concerts…and parties…I don’t have to do eighth grade math.”

It has been fun to catch up with friends. I am astounded at the number of people who followed my blog and seemed to enjoy it. Thank you everyone who read it, enjoyed it, and commented. It inspired me.

I have many more stories to tell. Some were too “blue” for the blog – my kid’s teachers read it for goodness sake. Some are about the people we met on our journey, some are a little embarassing for us or others, and some are bourne out of not knowing enough about the history or customs of a place. I need to do some more research before I tell these stories. But they'll all be in the book - whose working title is "Big Family on a Small Planet"

I am going to continue to post as I believe that so much of the learning that travel stimulates, occurs after you return home. So keep on checking, and comment when you can.

I have to go brine a turkey, chop some onions, do some laundry and clean all of the bathrooms in this house. I wonder what Mike is doing…..

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lovin' Dublin

I was prepared to love Ireland - just not how thoroughly I would love Ireland. First the people are wonderful. The women are warm, welcoming, lovely. And Irish men (grrrrroooowwwwllll) are the cutest, most charming loveliest on the planet (and as of late, I’ve visited LOTS of the planet.)

Of course, you have to consider that I am married to an Irishman, so I might possess that recessive gene that is susceptible to their charms.

Secondly, we have recently come from Germany, and although it was beautiful, we didn’t have many episodes of the clever, the witty, and the funny. And let’s face it. I’m unabashedly a sucker for the funny.

So when our taxi driver in Dublin took us on an impromptu tour of the city, offered his best recommendations for dining, shopping and drinking; he charmed my socks off.

The best moment was when Mike asked “Could we walk this way to get to a descent pub?” Our witty, green-eyed, black haired, Irish cab driver answered.

“Yah…..a course. Yer could walk down that way, but yell die a turst”.

That became the battle cry of the rest of the trip “I’m dying a turst over here”.

In short, we stayed in Dublin for 5 nights. We went to several Irish Pubs. We sang and played with the band.

We took the train to a costal city called Bray and hiked the 7 km to Grey Stones. The scenery was lovely, picturesque, and not at all what I expected so close to Dublin.

We ate at a restaurant in Grey Stones, recommended by a woman we met on the street. Her name is Bernedette and she is the mother of Johnathan – the young man who won the trophy (from pictures in the last entry).

Beautiful Italian food (yep, right here in Ireland). Beautiful people. Beautiful service.

We took a bus tour of the city of Dublin which was hilarious thanks to the Irish wit of the driver. He told us the the residents from North Dublin are considered a little "rough around the edges" when compared to the sophisticated folks from South Dublin. He said that a girl from South Dublin would never date a boy from North Dublin - "Except to ge her handbag back"

We visited the Guinness factory and the Jameson Distillery, and my friend Ado and I were chosen for the taste testing. Not a huge fan of whisky or scotch, I summoned my courage to participate. Turns out I prefer an Irish variety called Paddys. And so does the homeless man perched on the curb just outside the distillery.

I got to sing in a pub with a wonderful Irish trio. Mike got to play harmonica. We both got to embrace the concept that between us we don’t have enough musical talent to fill a thimble when compare to the musicians who showed up later. Violinists, guitarists, drummers and accordion players just walk around the city toting their instruments and looking for a jam session. The jam session that ensued was ridiculously good. Humbled, we went home.

We visited Dublinea, the underground museum-esque facility that re-created the history of Dublin, complete with the sights, sound, and smells of the 1200-1600’s.
I loved it. Every minute. Charlie said, upon landing in Dublin, “This is it mom, these are my people.”

“Mine too baby…mine too”