Saturday, October 30, 2004

More photos of Ireland

Irish happy cows. I like cows.
Photo by Me

In the Gap of Dunloe, Killarney, County Kerry... this was one of those cases where wearing layers paid off. Within 10 minutes there were so many changes of the weather that I ranged from wearing my t-shirt plus two sweaters and my leather jacket, to just a t-shirt, then back to all the layers again. I also switched from sunglasses to umbrella and back again. The weather is VERY changeable in Ireland!
Photo by Me

Another of the Hill of Slane. Notice how the huge monkey puzzle tree is growing out of one grave.
Photo by Me

Glendalough, in the Wicklow Mountains, where St. Kevin set up house in the 6th century. Beautiful valley with ancient religious sites. I guess I like taking pictures of graveyards. My Goth side is showing.....

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A sunset over Ballinskelligs Monastery ruins.

One of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. Grey rock, green earth, pink sky, blue water. It was exquisite.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Queen of the Castle

OK, so it's a fixer-upper. Some nice curtains, and um, a roof, good as new in no time.

This is Ballycarberry Castle ruins, in County Kerry. It's on private property and obviously being used as a sheep or cattle shed, but there was enough of it left for climbing around on. Great views over a small bay and beach, with ring forts and mountains in the distance. It was destroyed by Cromwell. He pretty much destroyed everything in Ireland, it seems.

Russell was worried that the old ruins we were seeing everywhere would fall down upon his head. I teased him that he was not special enough for that to happen...why would the castle choose him to fall upon, right now, after hundreds, some cases thousands, of years of existence? (Why not fall on the sheep that keep crapping on it instead?) I figure, if you are special enough to win the lottery, or get hit by lightning, then maybe the universe revolves around you in such a way that you will be killed in freak castle-collapsing-on-tourist accidents. Otherwise, I would think that God had other, less "news of the wierd" ways for you to die.

Or is that just me thinking that?

Monday, October 25, 2004

This is a dolmen (ancient burial site) in the Burren, an odd and wild place in the west of Ireland. It's called Poulnabrone Dolmen, and is very well known and very old. We went there on a very cold and wet day, so did not stay long, but it is a fascinating site.

The thing that interested me most, actually, was the ground. To quote from the Burren website I linked to above: It is composed of limestone pavements, which are eroded in a distinctive pattern known as karren. This pavement is crisscrossed by cracks known as grykes and underneath the pavement there are huge caves and rivers that suddenly flood when it rains. What it looked like to me was as if giant blobs of heated rock had been thrown upon the ground by some sky god and left to cool where they splatted, which made this really wierd landscape of shapes broken up by bits of earth and sod. We had to pick our way carefully across it, as it was a bit slippery and treacherous and you could easily fall into the cracks. The rocks were rounded and melty looking, though. It was nifty.

The Burren had been heavily populated thousands of years ago, but too many years of over-planting and grazing eroded the thin topsoil and left the rocks exposed. Interesting, isn't it, that damage to the landscape done thousands of years ago still remains and is revered as a heritage site? I wonder what they will think of us in 5000 years......

The ubiquitous Irish rainbow, this time over mid town Cahirciveen, Ireland. I did not find the pot of gold, but I sort of think the rainbow itself is reward enough. This one was particularly bright and glowing.

I will be posting random photos from the trip over the next few keep you interested and coming back!

In other news, I am going to London for a few days on November 5th. Colleen is moving from there November 10, embarking on a round the world trip starting in China. This will be my last chance to hang out with her before she goes. I'm bummed she's going, it has been fun having her so near! I'll be back the 9th.

The next week I will be doing a small jewelry sale, so I guess I better get into my "studio" (ok, so it's the sofa in front of the TV) and make some stuff so I have something to show!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Hill of Slane, Mystical Place

The Hill of Slane. Ireland.
The sun was shining through the rain when I took this photo. The Hill of Tara is in the distance. The tree is a monkey puzzle tree. To my back were the ruins of an old church/monastery. This is the legendary place where St. Patrick lit the fire of Christianity that supplanted the pagan religions of old.
Photo by Me

Friday, October 22, 2004

Travel Advice for Ireland

Here are a few words of advice for you, if ever you get to Ireland in October.

Never eat eggs before your boat trip to Skellig Michael. It's a rough trip and you will revisit them. (More about that in a later posting. No pictures, I am afraid, I was too sick to move. Ever seen "The Perfect Storm"? Uh huh, yeah. )

The coldest interior space on Earth is an Irish bathroom. You will see your breathe when you come out of the shower. Irish people are very hardy.

The coldest single documented surface on record is an Irish toilet seat. Girls, one word of advice: hover.

Always stay at a B&B above a bar, and do your damndest to stay at one that is family owned and has a nun in the family.

Hike the Gap of Dunloe. Do it twice if you have the energy. Prepare for every kind of weather...rain, sun, heat, wind, cold and sheep.

Whenever you see a sign to a place that's called "The Hill of...", just go there. Climb that hill and make the most of it. The Hill of Slane and the Hill of Tara will always be in my head as two of the most magical places that exist.

We saw the Hill of Tara just before my flight back to Oslo, it was less than an hour away from the airport. It was incredibly windy, winds were about 40mph or so. It was so windy that you could lean into it and it would hold you up. Backwards or forwards! I hollered and screamed and "woohoo'ed" and played bird because it was so wild and exhilarating. 360 degree views, feels like you are on top of the world, you climb up and over and down the remnants of the hill fort and BAM there is the view. There is a small church on the hill, just down beneath the top, with trees and a small graveyard, and the wind just roared thru the trees, blowing the leaves perpendicular. Such a sound, such power and uplift and song. That, coupled with the history of the place and the views, well, you can see why it is a holy place, why thousands of years of ceremony and myth are attached to the place.


To have that perfect Irish experience, wild, pagan, windswept and awe inspiring, and then be at the airport in less than an hour, well, that's sort of the crux of Ireland. Wilder than any place you've ever been, but civilization (if that's a good thing or not, you decide) is always a step away.

So, my last bit of advice when traveling in Ireland:

Put your schedule aside, let the travel take you where it may, don't be in a hurry, and let serendipity be your guide.

Go ahead, climb that hill!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

short post

Ireland Rocks.

That is all for now.....but daaaamn I love this place.

Between Neolithic ruins, pre-Christian burial sites, 6th century monastic ruins, fens, bracken, Macgillicuddy's Reeks and happy yummy beer, I think I have landed in (a slightly cold but manageably so) heaven.

Guinnessly yours,

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


A pilgrimage to the Guinness factory will happen today. I am in the midst of preparations as I write this, practicing pint hoisting, the raising of the glass to the lips and the slurping of the foam. It's all about precision, training and having the proper mix of awe and respect to the brew.

Yes, I am about to check off Number 45 on Karla's List of LifeLong Goals*. Let no one say I do not succeed at what I want to achieve!

Oh, in case you did not know, I am in Ireland. This place RULES! The people are so friendly and they will literally break into song at the drop of a hat (or in my case, the shift of a gear, as it was the bus driver who did the singing!).

I will hoist a pint to the four winds at c@ 5pm Ireland time, which is about what, 11 am Texas time? Sniff and ye shall smell the brew!!!! My benediction upon thee, brethren!

Ex-Officio, on Sabbatical,
Brother Galore of the Monks of Ann Arbor

*List to be posted on a future blog.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Of course I would not....

....tell you to type naughty phrases into this "text to speech conversion demo".

That would not be at all polite.


Though I do like the fact that the male voice is called "Charles". That's my brother's name. Teehee!

Thursday, October 07, 2004


I just paid $32.00 for five gallons of gas.

Yes, I got less than half a tank for $32.00.

Those of you complaining about gas being at almost $2.00 a gallon, excuse me if I do not weep for you...


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

It's Official.

I am not a hipster.

You are not a hipster, either.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Ultimate Big Head Picture.

What don't I love about this picture? The camel herder took it, he has a future as a photographer. (Of course he demanded baksheesh after snapping some shots, pretty much saying we would not go any further until I did, but hell, if I'd known he was this good I woulda given him more!) I love the way the camel and I kind of share a similar smile, kind of bemused and tolerant.....her name, by the way, is Lulu. Posted by Hello

London, July '04.

Welcome to my humble abode.....dinner's at 7. Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Back in Norway

So here I am, back in Norway. Can't say I am totally thrilled to be here, but it was nice to get back and see Rich and sleep in my own bed again. Rich was happy with the goodies I brought back after having pounced on my luggage pretty much the second I brought it in the house. I was so tired when I got into Oslo that if I stopped moving I fell asleep, so I crashed around 7pm last night and was up this morning at 9.

The flights both to the US and back were bang on time, and Continental has plenty of legroom, so that was all fine. Anyone coming to Oslo, do yourself a favor and do the flight that goes from Houston thru Amsterdam to 46 and 47 I think. It's a good flight schedule, not too early in the morning, which I freaking hate, new planes, and no hassles with customs when you get into the US.

And I am very happy to report that we surprised the ever-loving SHIT out of my mom when Kit and I showed up on her birthday. (I can write about it now, but the reason I went to the US was a surprise for my Mom's "hmm-hmm" birthday (a lady never tells her age, and a daughter who values her life never tells her mom's age)). Dad, Kit and I planned it, and I flew into Houston on the 14th, then Kit and I drove 12 hours to Missouri on the 15th, where we walked in and just watched Mom's jaw drop to the floor. It was classic, and so worth all the travelling we did. She was completely clueless, and so thrilled. Kit's best friend Duy was there as well, with his girlfriend Vicki.

The next day Duy made his famous fajitas for the birthday celebration, and we had to force Mom not to cook or clean or fuss in any way. I gave her a little gift almost every hour, and she just beamed. Surprising how nice it was to spoil Mom for a change, and to actually have her allow us to do it! Dad did good keeping quiet on this surprise, though he said it was the hardest thing he ever did not to blab. Dad is not much of a secret-keeping kinda guy, whatever he thinks is right there on his face or getting told to everyone around, so he had a really hard time shuttin' up.


I have LOTS more Egypt and other pictures to post. I will tackle that maybe tomorrow, including some classic big head shots, and other goodies. Today, however, I am vegging.

I miss y'all!!!!!