I see dead people

Our second day we headed to Galway; that’s where some of our family originated from. While on our walk from parking the car by the harbor to the main hub of the city there was an incident with seagulls but fortunately the missiles didn’t fully hit their targets. Accidental bombings? I think not. I don’t believe for a minute that it’s random or innocent. I heard what sounded like screeching laughter after the attack. Terrorists!

The downtown area is amazing with all the *quaint streets and fun buildings lining them. The Irish really like using color when painting their buildings and decorating. The area is filled with shops, restaurants, pubs & street performers. I window shopped while the girls bought souvenirs. If we go back I know exactly what shop I’m heading to; they have some pretty sweet deals there.

While looking around my new favorite store I stepped aside in the aisle for a man passing through that was a dead ringer for my uncle who passed away 2 years ago. He looked so much like him that I made a comment about it to him. He and his wife joked with me about how good looking my uncle must be. I laughed and agreed with them.

Despite the fact that the streets are overflowing with people, about five minutes later, I saw a woman that looked just like my aunt who died the same year as her brother. To say it was freaky is an understatement. I told my niece that if I see my deceased dad next I might have a bit of a breakdown.

My main objective was to find a pub with traditional music. Our treks up and down the old-world streets brought us to a couple pubs with music blaring out but most were too crowded for semi-claustrophobic Rabid Tigress. We finally found a pub that we stayed at a while and I had a second sighting of a different woman who looked like my aunt. We eventually moved on and I was drawn into another pub by the feisty traditional music dancing out the doorway. I was being mesmerized by music I love and can’t seem to get enough of when my niece leaned over to me and said, “Look down the bar.” I stared into the pub and there in the dim light, standing by the bar, was my dad.

My first reaction was, “Oh my god.” My second reaction was, “Oh my god.” And then my eyes filled up with tears. My niece and daughter went into the pub and talked to him while I waited for my eyes to stop leaking. I’m glad I eventually talked to him because the resemblance was less obvious when we were face to face and he was also a nice old man. Before we left downtown Galway that night I saw a third woman who somewhat resembled my aunt.

The whole evening was a profoundly bittersweet experience. I don’t know if my dead family members were trying to send me a message of sorts but I definitely see our family features in the faces over here. Obviously Galway is home base to incredibly good looking people! I was also reminded of how much I miss the people I love who are gone now. On a pleasant note: the pooping seagulls were all asleep when we headed back to the harbor…I mean harbour.

*Rabid Tigress (niece) decided we were going to use the word quaint instead of cute while in Ireland. We expanded that into saying the Irish word instead of the American for anything we talked about (future post). I presently like saying the describing word ‘fooking.’ It doesn’t sound naughty at all with that cute accent.

Road Trip!

There are all sorts of road trips. My standard road trip is usually just me cruising down the highway, alone, with my favorite music cranked loud; preferably with windows rolled down and breathing in the smell of alfalfa fields or sweet grass or even the unmistakable odor of cow manure. It almost always relaxes me.

My ultimate fantasy road trip, on the other hand, required a large plane and comes with a lot of zany exploits courtesy of Ireland. And so it begins…

We flew out at 8 PM and arrived in Dublin at 9 AM (3 AM our time). My niece, Rabid Tigress, was our ballsy first driver. The ‘backwards’ driving that the U.K. has embraced is scary, thrilling & treacherous all rolled up into one. Our job as the passengers was to keep saying, “Stay to the left!” Once we were safely in our hotel, we lied down just to rest and promptly fell asleep for four hours.

Dublin has so many tourists that we heard more foreign accents than Irish. We got lost for 2 hours looking for the Temple Bar area and finally said to hell with it and headed to the next Irish bar we found that served traditional food and had music. The two young guys performing there played more American songs than anything else but it seems that’s relatively common here (even the car radio plays American songs). The guys obliged by playing a few traditional songs but they definitely prefer American songs.

We decided that instead of touring Dublin the next day we were going to head out of the city and find Ireland; the real Ireland. During check-out we were confronted by a giant spud named Tayto in the lobby. We found out later that (s)he is one hot potato over here. We wished then that we had gotten our picture taken with him (her?). There was a big football match going on at the stadium across the street and Tayto was a big supporter.

Driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the street, going the wrong way in the roundabouts is an incredibly mind-bending, hair-raising, life-threatening experience that involves numerous conversations with God…along with the out-breath of all the air in your body. Once we made it out of the city alive we headed out onto the open road only to discover that the scene from the highway looked much like the Midwest landscape. It was a bit disheartening that we still didn’t feel like we were really in Ireland. We decided to get off the main road and travel the back roads.

10:30 AM on the narrow back roads we saw a herd of sheep in fields marked off with stone fences and a thatched roof cottage and we all yelled, “We’re in Ireland!” Finally! We started seeing the rural scenes that the world is shown in postcards and picture books. We also got a taste of the craziness of locals driving fast on incredibly narrow roads where two cars passing each other come inches from each other because the vine covered stone wall on your left side is just waiting to take your side mirrors off given the chance and there’s never-ending death staring you in the face, that’s always a fun time!

Not only do you have to have keen peripheral vision to keep you 2” from the stone wall/cliff on your left and 2” from the car passing on your right but you also have to watch out for the walker/biker around every twist and turn. The wee duckling that crossed in front of me didn’t have a chance in hell.

Thank god for ‘Gertie’ our GPS voice because we would never make it to where we need to be on any given day without her. I will miss her when we give up the car although sometimes we think she’s had a nip of Guinness…that, or she’s just a crafty, twisted, filthy whore. She told me to turn on a one way street and of course I did before I realized what it was. There was no death involved but I fell out of love with her in that moment. It’s no longer unconditional love.

Disclaimer: Don’t come to Ireland if you absolutely have to have Internet! We had WiFi the first day in our hotel room and haven’t been able to connect anywhere until now…five days later.

You are a wet rag…and I love you

Joe, a young salesman at Sam’s Club, was trying to sell me his ‘wares’ yesterday. A lint roller set that you wash off and the sticky never goes away (that’s unnatural; Mother Nature is shaking her head). It had extensions & different sizes and it did everything other than make french fries.

Once those sales people grab your attention they don’t stop talking so you’d have to be rude to turn and walk away (I was amused so I didn’t).

He explained all of the fine virtues of all its wonderful attributes and the rocket steal I would receive if I purchased it now instead of its pricey retail value. And I wouldn’t get just one. No, they’ll throw in another one! Why the hell would I need two of those sets? Date night with Gary?

I chuckled a bit and said, “But wouldn’t that mean that I’d have to use it to clean stuff?
He just stared at me; probably never heard that line before. “Wouldn’t that give Gary reason to say, ‘Hey! How come you’re not using that new-fangled contraption you bought to clean up the house?'”

He was speechless but only for a second before he remembered what part of his script could answer that one. Besides, the kids gave me a little version of one of those over a year ago for the animal hair on the furniture. It’s still brand new. I found out a damp rag works slicker than shit…and it washes the fabric a little as it goes. Win-win!

I thanked him for the enjoyable presentation of his product and walked away. Our society (and my house) has too much junk as it is. My wet rag just beat out his gizmo. I possibly just saved my marriage as well as the planet…you’re welcome Gary…and Mother Nature!

I knew there was a song out there in my vast brain jukebox that had the word ‘rag’ in it. It took me five hours but I finally remembered it; “Country Joe & The Fish – I feel like I’m fixin’ to die rag.” As much as I like that song, my wet rags would prefer something a little cheerier. So here’s a song from my Junior High chorus days…

Holey Underwear Batman!

I’m pretty sure the idea of planning & packing for an oversea adventure is supposed to be fun & exciting all by itself. In a perfect world I would be freaking ecstatic by now. Unfortunately, I like to use things to the point of falling apart before I replace them…which is the condition some of my needed essentials are in right now. The trip itself is pricey enough without having to fork over cash for it before I even leave the country. And yet…

Shoes~comfortable ones are necessary for all the walking we will be doing. A LOT of walking! I’ve let mine go past the point of comfort (by about a year); the squishy comfortableness of them is long gone. With how misty Ireland tends to be (not to mention the daily rain), two pair are essential for the frolicking we’ll be doing in the dewy meadows…Ch-ching $$

Hooded Rainjacket~I don’t own one. I use an umbrella and if I don’t want to get wet I have a quirky habit of staying indoors. Ireland is too windy for umbrella’s; the wind eats them for lunch. We plan on being outside during the day, rain or shine, and I’d kind of like to stay moderately dry…Ch-ching $

Clothes~somehow, over winter, my summer clothes have all shrunk. WTH?! I am in a quandary about how this happened. I’ve been getting by with just basic pieces of clothing but of course what I essentially need is packed away in the “Maybe Next Year” bag. So I went outside my comfort zone and bought a BRAND NEW (Ch-ching $$$) shirt & two pair of pants that are lightweight & will dry fast (I plan on banging our laundry on rocks in the streams along the countryside…or maybe just use a sink). One pair unzips into shorts (which are usually not worn there unless you’re visiting during the years’ four days of unusually warm weather…we’ll see). Then I paid a visit to Goodwill. I now have enough appropriately sized clothes to get me through Ireland and beyond…Ch-ching $$$$$

Cold Hard Cash~I was aware that our dollar isn’t as strong as the euro (if a meal is 10 euros in that quaint jovial pub in Ireland, we will actually be paying $13; typical meals are 12+ eu) but it was a rude awakening when we got the visual. We handed over a large sum of cash at the local bank and they handed us back a very small, very thin stack of euros…a mere pittance of what we presented to them. Very saddening! Hostels, camping in the car & bringing 5 jars of peanut butter are starting to look doable…and affordable! I’m saving my euros for the pubs.

Underwear and Bras~I seem to have iron-clad underwear. If it weren’t for the holes that our quirky washing machine feels necessary to slash randomly in them they wouldn’t be all that bad (only does it to my dainties & t-shirts). But if I soil my underwear in an accident over there, I want them to at least start out looking nice. The first thing I want to hear from the emergency personnel is, “Cute underwear…did you know you shit in them?” (they talk in that sexy Irish accent and make it sound like it’s something everyone wants to do).
My bras on the other hand were treacherous when two weeks apart from each other, they broke their underwire. That’s dangerous; you could take out a lung if you bent the wrong way! Besides, if we do pay to get our laundry done, I don’t want the Irish washerwoman looking at me with pity when I come to pick up the finished laundry, (imagine her speaking with that cool brogue of theirs) “That poor, sad American. Look at her dingy bras. She can’t get her whites truly white.” I’m sorry but I have a patriotic image to uphold…Ch-ching $$

Andre Rieu and John Sheahan (The Dubliners) play Irish Washerwoman

You can bet I got the best possible deal on everything I bought. Some were virtually cheap inexpensive. At least this trip has forced me to replace things I’ve been procrastinating about. So I’ve finally got my packing list fine-tuned and my extra purchases made. My new mantra regarding luggage is that less is more…Pack Light…Pack Light…Pack Light…!