Ireland Rocks

 At first, Ireland looks a lot like northern Pennsylvania, albeit with a few more sheep. But then suddenly, smack-dab in the middle of this sheep field, sits a castle.The brain goes: Wait. Castle?

It’s huge, this thing, and it’s standing here in this sheep meadow, and I’m looking at it from the window of a tour bus with wifi.

Ireland has so much history. Which sounds stupid to say because everything has history, but this history involves Vikings for goddsakes. Vikings, and invasions, and competing god-stories, with the whole mess needing to be fortified and defended and protected.

And rocks are involved. Many rocks. From what I could see, Ireland is basically rocks. Rocks and stones and sheep.
And they’re old, these rocks. And the people of Ireland still have this smell of old on them. Even the millennials with their cigarettes and tight hipster clothes. There’s something sheepy and rocky about them. They seem shy and polite on the outside, but I always thought I could hear something a little edgy, and pointed, and don’t-mess-with-me underneath their lilt.
There’s this constant push-pull of past and present in Ireland. It’s in the road signs in Gaelic, and the narrow medieval streets with their lines of colorful chock-a-block houses, and then out of nowhere, a Tommy Hilfiger store.  Constant reminders of battles, and the urgent need to fortify and moat things, and then: Modernity.
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But there’s never getting away from the rocks.
Rocky meadows, and grassy fields defined by them, and cliffs made from them. Abrupt stone castles erupting, without warning, out of the soft grass on top of them. Green grass, soft and sheepy.
Herds of sheep sleeping together, surrounded by low, sharp borders of rocks to keep them in and protected. And maybe to keep other things out? What other things? I don’t know.
So all week, we zoomed around in a big bus with our foreheads against the glass  listening to guides tell us what we were seeing. “Coming up on the left, you will notice a field.” (That was a guide joke.) Many stories of Vikings and invasions. Many cemeteries with graves marked with those ubiquitous rock Celtic crosses.
celtic cross
Whole families buried together. And lots of those graves had new flowers, and signs of recent attention and love and tears and pain, still clinging to them.
sad grave
We toured the ruins of many things made of ancient rocks. There were places where we were asked to imagine that this was the cooking area, and that the latrine.
We went to the castle where the movie Braveheart was filmed.
trim castle

I’ve never seen Braveheart, but it wasn’t hard to imagine that this place would be a casting director’s wet dream. Old. Authentically old. No power lines or any anachronisms to fuck up the scene. You could easily imagine the tips of arrows peeking out of the little slits in the castle wall, or see a right-handed soldier beheading the enemy at the top of a spiral staircase. Blood everywhere. Fires for signals, and cooking, and pyres.

And then, back in town, battle won: whiskey. To toast the dead, to celebrate victory, to numb pain, to douse memories. Memories to be remembered in songs sentimental and dripping with pathos. Songs sung loudly, full-throatedly, drunkenly.

Ireland is old. The food is basic, the sweaters warm, the streets narrow, the vibe friendly. It was pleasant to be a tourist in a place where tourism is the cornerstone of the economy and nobody forgets it.  Tourists are not put up with, they are thanked, desired. Free shipping! Send those bulky sweaters home–on us! We realize you don’t have room in your fancy luggage–no problem!
But in the end, when I remember Ireland, I will remember the rocks most of all.
“And now we are returning to the medieval city of Galway,” announces our tour guide as we roll our ridiculously huge bus down a street that can barely contain it.
I suddenly hear the word “medieval” as if for the first time, and all the images of Ireland I’ve been collecting all week, fit into place in my mind like an ancient puzzle coming together. A puzzle like an ancient stone wall.
stone wall

Transitions are hard

A new student came to yoga tonight. Just moved here from Tucson.  Desert to  jungle.

She was really nice, but seemed to be a bit untethered.

The way I feel today. Neither here nor there. Piles of laundry litter the top of the stairway, waiting to be sorted and dragged to the basement for the laundry fairies.

There are 2 editions of the Aggravator to be gone through as quickly as possible, and mail to catch up on, and a ventilation issue at the studio to fix.

All want is to sit and stare  and give my ears a chance to stop ringing.

G came home sick. Sore throat, head, ears and sinuses cemented shut. She didn’t go to work (but mowed the front lawn) and tried to tough it out without resorting to OTC symptom relief, but finally caved.

I taught Happy Hour Yoga. It always feels new and shiny even if I’ve been away this long.

Blogging on the IPad is ok, but it was really frustrating because I don’t know how to link to things without it taking forever, and my pictures took a long time to show up in my stream.

So tonight, in honor of transition night, I will add some random pictures that I wanted to post but couldn’t get to load.

This is G backpacking Obie through the Japanese Gardens.

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This is Obie making friends with the evil arbor roses.IMG_2021

 

Yeah, that’s you, buddy.image

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And yeah, that’s me on the flight home.

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If the weather is supposed to do what they predict, we’ll all be sitting here working cerebrally.

Over and out.

Last Full Day in Portland

Japanese Gardens and Ice Cream were the featured activities of the day.

I want the Japanese Garden all to myself for just an hour every day.

I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.

I want to sit meditation in either the raked gravel garden or on the hidden bench in the moss with the view of a small stream, or in the Tea House.

People in the Japanese Gardens are very reverential. They get it about this place.  Japanese Garden people act very differently from Rose Garden people. Rose Garden people are lovely, too, but they are more distracted and chatty and take lots of pictures. Japanese Garden people are focused. And slow. And silent. They take pictures too, but in a different way.

imageThey move slowly and quietly. They stand and watch.  They are not tourists. Yet they are.

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We are both Rose Garden and Japanese Garden people at different times. The baby was a Japanese Garden person in the Japanese Garden and a Rose person in the Rose Garden. After the Japanese Garden we went back to the Rose Garden for lunch where he reached a detente with those evil, spitting Arbor roses,too. Which is good. No sense carrying that grudge around your whole life.

After lunch we went to Salt and Straw which serves quirky ice cream flavors like Tahini and Cardamom, Honey Lavendar, and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle. G got a flight to taste a bit of 5 different ones. I got a float made with Stumptown Coldbrew and  Double Fold Vanilla. My god. That’s all I have to say.

Then it was back home for some cocktails and a Uke lesson from Scott and a strumming lesson from Obie.

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We ended the evening with a walk around their neighborhood. This is the view of Mt Hood taken a few streets over.

(All the photos the past few days were taken by G, who did me a total solid by taking and sending me pics throughout the day so I would have someting to post here other than words, which refuse to cooperate after long days of Portland happiness..and Gimlets.)imageTomorrow we go into Airport world and fly back.

 

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Pacific City to Portland

We left our great VRBO in Pacific City this morning, but last night we watched the sun set into the ocean (which is unusual for us East Coasters who only see the sun rise over the ocean.)

It was cold out there, at least for me who has the blood of a snake. But well worth it, especially going back home to Cooper Mountain Pinot and a fire in the firepit, and s’mores.

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And this morning we strolled Obie to the coffee shop and stopped to say goodbye to the sand on the way home.

 

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Back in Portland we went to the Food Trucks for lunch. G and I had Nasi Goreng which we haven’t had since Bali  and it was delicious and the people watching was even better. I love Portland.image

 

 

 

 

 

After a shower and a napitation, it was back to Em’s for coctails, Corn Hole and cuddling with this one:

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The plan for tomorow is to go the the Japanese Gardens, and then to Salt and Straw for ice cream. It is hot here in Portland, and this weekend is supposed to set records here.

Okay. Another great day here in Portand. More tomorrow.

 

 

 

Kiwanda and Kites: Pacific City: Day 2

On the beach this morning a man was making bubbles:

  
Obie had never been on sand. He is not a fan:

  
Save me, Dad:

  
G stayed with Obie while Scott, Emily and I climbed the dune. We are the 3 little dots on the left at the top:

  
We flew the kite, which actually flew itself.

   
 

And G had the mandatory “Outlaw tequila.”

 

We think the baby has pink eye. No picture of this. I read him a magazine. There were pictures of cats in it. I am a good meower:

 

Now it is time to watch the sun set over the Pacific and have a bonfire and eat s’mores. Those pics tomorrow, when we leave here and return to Portland. 

  

Pacific City. Day 2

Pacific City is soft sand dunes and dogs and surfers in full hypothermia gear.

Pacific City is icy water and cold beer and hot coffee.

Pacific City is horsehoes and ice cream and Farmers Markets and fire pits.

Pacific City is the US Open and gimlets and burgers on the grill.

This is me practicing my  interpretive dance moves in the horsehoe pit.

 

Getting stimulated.

  He ain’t heavy, he’s my grandson.
  

We are family.  (G is taking the picture.) G has taken all the pictures. I am just learning the “law of thirds.”

  

Boring scenery picture.

  

  

Pacific City, OR Day 1

Our VRBO here in Pacific is what Emily calls “fancy.” Scott says that’s just because the cabinets hang straight.

This is Obie’s first time sleeping  away from home. And Dude’s, too. (Dude is the chihuahua.) This is the “fire drill” trip for their Alaskan cruise in a few weeks.

After we settled in, we went to the Pelican Brewery here in Pacific City, hoping to sample some good brewskis and have a little dinner, but it was packed and the wait was too long. So,we’ll do that another day.

This was Obie’s first look at the ocean. He liked the sand.

imageI almost got Haystack Rock to grow right out of G’s head.

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After dinner Obie contemplated the fire.

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Was read to by Ira

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Was hugged a lot

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And eventually went to bed and after just a bit of crying, konked out.

Then G and Scott played horseshoes

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And Em and I watched

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  AND THIS