I really wish I had a dryer to go along with my washing machine. It took my towels a good 3 to 4 days to air dry last time I washed them. I think that's partly because I have a ground-floor apartment and it's always a little cool. But I would want a vented American dryer, and not one of those ventless French dryers that just steams your clothes to death. I'm dreaming, I know.
2. When he was in his 30s, before I was born, my dad almost died from appendicitis. He had no money, so my mom’s dad paid for his surgery.
3. I knew that my dad’s thyroid tumor had wrapped itself around the windpipe, but I didn’t know it had also grown around the aorta.
4. Evidently, Catholics aren’t Christians. I learned this from my brother, who went to a Christian supply store to buy rosaries, but they didn't have any.
5. Don’t go rosary shopping on the day of a rosary.
6. I used to have a hard time understanding why people have to die. I know it’s childish. Now I think I’ve figured it out – people have to die so that we can value life. My stepmother used to send updates about my dad’s health by e-mail. I wanted to know, but at the same time I dreaded getting those e-mails. Every day without an e-mail about his radiation or chemotherapy treatments was a good day. When you go through something like this, you learn to appreciate the little things. I learned that when my mom died, but in the 20 years since then, I had forgotten. I guess it was time to learn that lesson all over again.
I love coffee, and always wanted to be one of those people who can drink it all day. But I can only have one cup in the morning or early afternoon, or else I'm counting sheep all night.
I used to be jealous of people who can drink it like water, but now I appreciate my caffeine sensitivity. I had to pull an all-nighter recently to finish a translation job (remind me not to accept jobs that are mainly French legalese! English legalese is bad enough), and this time, I didn't want to crash the next morning. So I just drank a few cups of java and was able to stay awake until bedtime. Ta-da!
It still took me a few days to recover. My tendency to procrastinate is as bad as it was in college, but my ability to recover from an all-nighter sure isn't.
On the first full day of our trip to Ireland, we visited Glendalough, the ruins of a monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin. I went there about 20 years ago on my first trip to Ireland. I had never heard of St. Kevin before, and the main thing I remember about that day was all the snickering I did when I realized my older brother Kevin was named after a saint. This time I was a bit more mature.
Clockwise from top left: view of the cemetery, detail from the Cathedral, St. Kevin's Kitchen in the background, The Round Tower, view of the Tower from the Cathedral, St. Kevin's Cross, flowers, intact rooves of St. Kevin's Kitchen, center: another view of St. Kevin's Kitchen.
The night before our visit, a woman sitting near me in a Dublin restaurant said it was the scariest cemetery she had ever seen.I didn’t remember it that way, but it had been so long I was curious to see it now. The first change I noticed was the newish visitor center, where you can get an overview of the site’s history and watch a multilingual audiovisual show.
The settlement, dating from the 6th century, features churches and dwellings and is dominated by The Round Tower. The tower is about 98 feet high and was built as a bell tower and lookout point, and was probably used as a place of refuge during attacks. The roof was rebuilt in 1876. The Cathedral is the largest building in the settlement. Because it no longer has a roof, it affords some interesting views of the rest of the site.Just south of the Cathedral stands St. Kevin's Cross, the oldest Celtic cross at Glendalough. Still further south is St. Kevin's Kitchen, which is remarkably preserved and even has its original roof.
Maybe it was all the flowers, sunshine and green vegetation, but those tumbling tombstones didn't scare me at all. And seeing the brightly-colored “St. Kevin’s Kitchen” and “Kevin’s Cones” food stands just outside the entrance cracked me up. OK, maybe I’m not so mature after all.
My friend Anne was visiting Paris from Oxfordshire in early May (I know, I'm a bad blogger), and we met up at the beautiful Parc de Sceaux in Sceaux. I had been there before for a picnic surrounded by blossoming cherry trees, organized by Leesa. Although this was just a couple of weeks later, most of the cherry blossoms were already gone. It was great to see Anne again, and to have lunch in the parc café with her and Leesa, Dawn and Barbara.
After salads we walked around, and saw bunches of mistletoe growing high in the trees, some sheep who were kind enough to pose just for me, and beehives that I called "bee chalets" because they looked like upscale Swiss chalets. Lucky bees. I also got a shot of Anne looking very chic.
Today's Bastille Day, one of the biggest holidays in France. I was invited to a fun-sounding picnic near Leesa's apartment, where they were going to serve homemade Mexican food (my absolute FAVORITE) and margaritas. In case you're wondering, Mexican food is traditionally served in French households on Bastille Day. Just kidding.
Anyway, everybody's outdoor holiday plans were ruined because someone decided it should rain today. It had been nice and sunny leading up to this but today there were pouring thunderstorms. Bummer. The picnic has been rescheduled for Sunday and darned if I'm not going to show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
I still make the rookie expat mistake of referring to the holiday as "Bastille Day" when the French actually usually say "le quatorze juillet" (the fourteenth of July). It's very much like how many Americans say "the 4th of July" instead of "Independence Day." I'm learning.