Almost Summer (“Samhradh”)

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Mr Whippie in Salthill, Ireland

Summer, “Samhradh” in Irish, starts on May 1. Yesterday I was at the Salthill promenade. A chill wind was blowing and the sun was shining. I sat in the windbreak of a cement structure and enjoyed the atmosphere.

A Pied Wagtail was darting and hopping about eating flying bugs.

A young man stripped down to his swim trunks and ran into the cold water of the bay wherein he began to yell about the cold.

The salty scent of seaweed filled the air.

The cool cement sucked the warmth out of my shoulder, an effect that would have been welcomed in the hot dry desert of the American Southwest but here just made me cold.

The persistent sound of the crash of waves on the shore and the near synchronous sound of traffic on the road above intermixed with the putt-putting of the Mr. Whippie van.

The crunch of shoes on stones.

The low murmur of people talking, punctuated with the occasional call of a child.

I dozed.

— Claude

 

You know you’ve been long enough in Ireland when…

You watch Father Ted and laugh your head off because you get the jokes.

You have a conversation with Paddy down at the Saturday market and understand every word he said to you.

Someone uses a colloquialism you’ve never heard before but you still get it.

Your Irish friends quit giving you a hard time for speaking like a local.

You get used to the funeral notices the bus driver listens to on the radio.

The voices in your head are now speaking with an Irish accent.

Convoluted sentence structure doesn’t confuse you any more.

It no longer bothers you to spend half of your conversations with strangers talking about the weather.

You’re afraid the next time you go back home you’ll be talking like an Irish person and everyone will think you’re being pretentious.

This video makes you laugh (and, for me, cringe at the same time)!

— Cindy

True winter

Winter has well and truly arrived at our doorstep, here in the dawn of the new year.  The snow isn’t so much snow as it is tiny pellets of hail.  But we’ll take it just the same!  Weirdest part of this particular storm was the thunder I heard rumbling around in the clouds.  In Colorado thunder in a snowstorm means bad bad things.  Here in Galway it was simply curious.

The flamingo and the Buddha remain calm

The flamingo and the Buddha remain calm

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The water gnome remains happy

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The garden of tranquility newly decorated in white

— Cindy

Mother Nature vs. the Galway County Council

At the beginning of January this year Galway – and the entire western coast of Ireland – was hit extremely hard by a major winter storm.  High winds and heavy rains lashed the coasts for days.  We watched on the news as live webcams and camera feeds showed the ocean snatching away buildings and seawalls in a matter of moments.  Damage amounted to millions of euros, fishermen lost their living for weeks, re-building took a toll on property owners and business owners.  Leisureland, the local fitness/swimming/amusement center, is still rebuilding 10 months on.

The Prom is a seaside walking trail along the sea coast of Galway Bay, extending from near the Claddagh to the Blackrock diving tower, and is one of the main attractions in Galway.  People come from all over the world to walk the Prom.  I once met a couple from Dublin who made it a habit of catching the bus once a month from The Big Smoke out to Galway specifically to walk the Prom.  (Frankly, I count us terribly lucky indeed to live so close to such an amazing place.)  The county council extended the Prom past the diving tower some years ago, all the way out to Silver Strand.  This little path was situated only a few hundred yards up the beach and right next to the golf course.  It was mostly gravel with a bench or two along the way; it was also a marvelous walk with incredible views of Co Clare, the Burren, and on good clear days, the Aran Islands.

The trail took the brunt of the damage of the storm and was wiped out.  Folks were disappointed but the ocean does what it wants.  But there was no stopping the council.  They got right on rebuilding that trail – into a monster!  It is now paved the entire way, bordered on the golf course side by curbing (that likely contains conduit for electricity…) and on the bay side by these enormous rock walls that completely obscure the view unless you’re over 4.5 to 5 feet tall.  The gigantic rocks are held together with a slurry of concrete that looks for all the world like a rock monster got ill and sicked up everything it had eaten for years all over the place.  Honestly, it is so bleeping ugly!  There is one break in the wall about halfway between the diving tower and the strand that allows people to access the beach.  Word on the street is that they plan on lighting the entire path, but that may take a while considering it’s taken them 10 months to complete only about 75% of the trail.

We expect an outcry if the lighting goes up – but here in Ireland the government rarely listens to the people, much less follows their mandate.  Maybe we’ll get lucky… Who knows, it could happen.

But whether the lights go up or not, in our opinion the trail has already been ruined.  To be perfectly honest, we’re kind of hoping for another storm like January’s, localized onto this horrid Sasquatch of a trail, just enough to take the damned thing out and give us back our lovely walking path.  Ah well, one can hope…

Claude trying to enjoy the view

Claude trying to enjoy the view

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The horror of the concrete

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The horror continues forever

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Life and beauty attempt to prevail

— Cindy

Comfortable birds

great-titWe have a sweet little garden at the front of our apartment – technically a ground floor town home – that we have decorated with our one lonely pink flamingo, a statue of the Buddha, two gnomes, and two bird feeders.  One feeder has seed and the other has nuts, plus we have put out a bowl with fresh water.  The birds have become very comfortable in the garden.  The finches, robins and dunnocks like the seeds while the tits and finches like the nuts.  All the while the blackbirds enjoy the makeshift bird bath. When the weather is nice, as it has been all summer long and now into the autumn, they provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment.

There are a number of them who like to ‘hang out’ in the bush, and when we open the door or step outside they either start scolding us or fly out of the bush explosively.  We also have a few pigeons in the area which we have named Martha, after Martha Stewart, because like her they are both helpful and a pain in the ass at the same time.  They hover under the seed feeder awaiting stray seeds flying down to the ground.  They sometimes try to jump up into the rosemary bush to get closer to the feeder but that is verboten in Cindy’s rules.  We use that plant for food and I’m not about to have dirty birds polluting that bush!  They have actually learned the rule and only the new Marthas break it.  When one Martha is in the garden she tends to shoo away the other Marthas; they’re so funny!  It’s almost like a Benny Hill skit with one chasing the others around!

So the birds are quite comfy with us.  But we don’t mind, they provide a great deal of enjoyment.  However…  The other day I had the doors to the garden open while sitting at my desk working on my computer when for a moment I heard a small clicking sound.  I listened but the noise stopped.  I then heard the sound again.  Something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.  I looked up and realized there was a robin in my kitchen, sitting on the floor just looking around!  Quelling the panic in my chest I just sat still.  The bird thankfully hopped back toward the door and I shooed him the rest of the way outdoors.  Amazingly enough, the next day one of the Marthas came inside as well!  She didn’t get very far in before I got her back outdoors too.  I have decided that if the door stays open I have to be sitting in the front room in plain sight so the birdies can see me and know they’re not welcome indoors.

This morning I was sitting watching the birdies and I saw a pretty little great tit on the nut feeder.  I was contemplating how lovely it is to attract so many wonderful birds and how nice a day it was while watching him eat.  All these thoughts were swirling in my head when I looked over at Claude and said, “The tits really like the nuts.”  It took about one-half of one second before I realized what I had said aloud – and burst into laughter!  Couldn’t believe I’d said that!

— Cindy

Crunchy leaves

I can’t believe the leaves are still crunchy this late in the season. It has been unusually dry and warm lately. But the more the merrier, as the return of late summer makes people very happy.

We are off to a play with an American friend this afternoon, the final part of the Oscar Wilde Festival weekend. It is called “Kicking Oscar’s Corpse” and was written by a Galway poet and playwright, Brendan Murphy. Afterward we are having lunch with our companion, then over to the university for an exhibition of motorized boats. Talk about diversity of entertainment!

The garden is full of happy birds and plants. The house is full of happy people. Termination of trajectory going as planned!

–Cindy

 

 

 

 

After the end of Summer

I looked out the window the other day and discovered the tree had broken out in red.

The last of the glass is in the recycling.

The morning commute has been windy and level 2 wet.

The seaweed scented wind has been blowing from the east.

After the end of Summer is Autumn — and a fine start to Autumn it is.

— Claude