Monday, January 30, 2006

Picasso museum

On Friday we slept in late and went to the Picasso museum. It was really interesting. However, they wouldn't allow you to carry your backpack around. Since I had my camera with me, we didn't want to check it in the coat check so we took it out with the little backpack we carry it around in. The guy at the coat check tried to tell me that I had to wear something in front of me but I didn't understand what. When we approached the guy checking to make sure that you had purchased a ticket, he told us that I had to wear the backpack on my front, not as a backpack. I put in on that way to go up the flight of stairs and then carried it by its handle. Later John took it and wore it as a backpack. We never figured out why we were supposed to wear it backwards. I am not sure if they were afraid of pickpockets or people knocking into pictures because they weren't paying attention.

The museum was very interesting. We were able to see a lot of Picasso's early work and it was neat to see his progression into cubism. They didn't have a lot of the transition pieces, though. In one piece, Picasso had painted a person using some sharp lines but not quite cubist. He then seemed to go back to more "realistic" pieces. While looking at some of the cubist pieces, I couldn't help wonder how someone "decides" to paint using hard lines/shapes instead of the curves of reality. At one point, I asked John if Picasso had some break with reality. He said he was a genius and the first person to paint that way. I still think that it is a fine line between genius and detached from reality.

After the museum we went to the gift shop (of course). While walking in, I set off the alarms! The guard stopped me to inspect everything I had with me even though he knew that I was walking into the gift shop, not out. After he looked at everything, he noticed something in my coat. Apparently, clothes makers have stated putting little alarm things into clothing that you are supposed to remove when you buy them. I didn't know this and my coat had one of these. He then got scissors and cut it out for me while reprimanding me in Spanish (and probably saying how dumb I was). I didn't know and was quite embarrassed. Since it was my new Columbia jacket that has a zip out lining and I wore the outer shell, I will have to check the lining also (it may explain why I set off an alarm going into a store in Dublin).

We didn't see anything we wanted at the gift shop except for a couple postcards.

Warm and Sunny Barcelona

Was not warm or sunny this weekend. The weather forcast said it was supposed to be in the mid to upper 50s this past weekend but rainy. It was definately rainy. The only day that the sun came out at all was on Sunday. We stayed on the top floor of the hotel and could hear the rain hitting the ceiling. John also said it stormed one night, with thunder and lightening. It didn't wake me up, though. When we got up most days, the soccer pitch by the hotel was flooded! I had only rained 0.9 inches in all of January before we got there. While we were there, I would bet that it rained a couple inches. At times it was lashing.

Barcelona was in the low/mid 30s on Saturday and minimally warmer the other days. We were so cold that John bought a warm sweater for me and a fleece vest for himself later in the day!

We did to do some nice shopping and see quite a few sights. Even with the cold and rain, it was an excellent weekend and we didn't want to leave. Now we have to go back to work and John goes back to London early tomorrow morning...

Monday, January 23, 2006


Last night I made lasagna and garlic bread. They were quite tasty. There were two pieces of lasagna and one piece of garlic bread left over so I took some for lunch today. Everyone in the staff room was very interested in my lasagna. They all asked how I made it, what cheeses I put in it, why, and why the noodles were so wide. I explained that that is how lasagna is made. They didn't seem to understand. I finally explained that the noodles are wide so that they can form a layer for the fillings. They seemed happy with this answer. They were also amazed that I made my own sauce for it and confused as to how I would do this. I tried to explain that it was actually quite simple. They didn't believe me.

I guess my lunch was just much better than the sandwiches they all ate. I just felt a bit like an anomaly since it seemed like none of them had seen lasagna made this way before. Granted it is different than they make it in the restaurants but not that different.

Changes in my social life

Since I moved here, there have been many changes to my social life, which some of you who know me have probably figured out. First, I go out A LOT more. I also go to the pub more and drink more often than I have since I was 22! OK, I also go out with people younger than myself, like 22-25 who are still drinking a lot. But seriously, there really is more of a culture of going out drinking here. Like many smaller towns, the social centers here are the pubs. People don't seem to go hang out at other people's houses. I wonder if part of the reason is that we all rent and most of my mates don't like their roommates that much. I like to have people over and want to start having dinner parties and game nights but that seems out of place here. People don't have parties at their houses here, or at least not my mates. People do like my cooking, though. :) Overall, I like the changes in my social patterns but it does get tiring and expensive. I am remembering why I become more of a home body back home.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

good weekend

I had a good weekend. I don't really want to go to work tomorrow, I'd like my weekend to continue. On Friday, J and I went out to dinner at Toscana. It was yummy as usual and I had part of my meal boxed up to take home. I had ordered cheesy garlic bread and only ate one of the two pieces and asked them to wrap the other one. When I unwrapped my garlic bread on Sat to eat it, there were two pieces. :) The waiter gave me a fresh order!

When we got back from Toscana, my landlord and a handyman were in my (very messy) apartment trying to figure out what was wrong with my water heater which I had told her wasn't working properly earlier in the day. She is very effecient. A plumber is supposed to come out tomorrow to work on it!

Ok, back to Friday. My friend Cot got a different job so she had a little drinking night out at the Porterhouse North. This is a different Porterhouse than I go to. It is about a 10 minute bus ride but 40 minute walk away. Anyway, a few people showed up and we had a lot of fun. We even got a free drink because Cot knew someone who was there for a company party and got free drinks he wasn't using so he gave us some! Happy days! E and I also decided that Cot should do a shot. I don't know where we got this idea from. I think it was her idea and because she is only 22. :) So we drank a lot, talked a lot and danced a little. It was an excellent night.

On Saturday, John and I slept in and relaxed. I got my hair cut Saturday morning. That will be a different post. :) I like my haircut, though. So we relaxed most of the day and then J sent a text asking if we wanted to go to the local later. Of course we did so we went for dinner and left about 11:00. We then came back home and the three of us chatted and played a game of Fluxx. It is a brilliant game but confusing at times since the rules change constantly.

On Sunday, we slept in again. Not too late today, though. I vacuumed the floor, mopped, and cleaned the bathroom. Then we went grocery shopping. Just after we got home and I was about to start making the lasagna, J buzzed and I invited her to stay for dinner. She did and we had lasagna and garlic bread. Then instead of walking the dog, I offered to make dessert. John agreed and I made very rich chocolate brownies.

So, it was a good weekend. Good food, friends, good conversation. No exercise, which would have probably made it perfect. 4 days until we go to Barcelona. Oh, and John is taking this week off work so I get to see him every day for over a week!


My friend J is reading my blog and wants me to recant that she is "fiercely loyal" to America. She just doesn't like it when people drill her on the "mistakes" in American history or foreign policy. Basically, people here like to ask why the U.S. has done all this stuff like support a dictator and then try to remove him from power. John says there is a name for the phenomena that someone defends positions that you may or may not agree with but the person is so persistent that you have to defend the position. The other part that makes her REALLY mad is that people here keep pushing political discussions after she asks not to talk politics and she has just met them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

not PC here

Recently I went into a staff room. While in there, I noticed the usual types of postings and a calendar. This wasn't just any calendar. This was a calendar of half naked men! I was shocked and couldn't believe my eyes so I got a better look. Yep, the men were wearing half naked. Some pages had a description of a featured guy, birthdate, interests, etc. Guess they aren't worried about being politically correct or offending anyone...

Monday, January 16, 2006

parent concerns

I continue to be struck by parents responses to me as a Speech-Language Therapist. Most parents are concerned about getting what is needed for their children. Over the years, parents have told me that their only concerned about getting what their children need. Sometimes parents seem to see only their child. I would probably be the same if I had a child. However, as a therapist, I have to look at the bigger picture. I have a number of students/clients on my caseload and have to balance trying to give them the therapy they need along with the other demands of the job.

In college, I took a class on counselling in Speech-Language Pathology. At the time, I thought it was a hokey class. We had to read a self help book and do other "touchy feely" things. We also learned about the grief process that parents of children with disabilities tend to go through. Throughout my career, this class has been invaluable. When I encounter a parent I have difficulty interacting with, I remind myself of the grief cycle. It gives me a different lens to try to understand their perspective. Some parents are angry and stay angry for a long time. Other parents accept the child fairly quickly. Other parents spring into action mode. However, at any time, how parents cope can change. It is my job to try to understand that all people have a different way of living and accept them where ever they are.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


John and I are going to Barcelona for a long weekend in a couple weeks. When looking up the weather forcast for the month and averages, I noticed that also posted the length of the day for Dublin and Barcelona. John did more searching for me for Chicago. Anyway, here is the weather information for tomorrow for the three cities:

hours of sunlight: 9 1/2
Forecast high: 40 F
Forecast low: 30 F

hours of sunlight: 8 hours, 3 minutes
Forecast high: 48 F
Forecast low: 38 F

Hours of sunlight: 9 hours, 32 minutes
Forecast high: 53 F
Forecast low: 42 F

This hour and a half difference in sunlight between Chicago and Dublin could explain why I am having trouble adjusting back to the earlier darkness. I got used to an extra 1 1/2 hours of sunlight while I was home and I want it back.

It has also been rainy and dreary here. It was grey while home but not nearly as dark as here. I guess spring really is starting. When it is gray and raining, I remind myself that the actual amount of rainfall per year is higher in Chicago. It may rain more days here (not sure but guessing), but Chicago gets more quantity of precipitation. I don't know which is better...

Closing the Porterhouse

After a tough week, J and I decided that we needed to go to the Porterhouse. Ok, it is common for us to go there. One day this week I had a migraine and couldn't sleep at night for a few days. I got some good ideas and work done when I couldn't sleep, though. I figured out a budget and planned some lessons.

Anyway, that threw my week off as did having to take Caineal to the vet. She passed out late Wed. night and was out for probably about a minute. It took a few minutes for her to get her strength back. The vet thinks that her heart murmur has gotten worse and she has some fluid around her heart. She is now on two medicines, a heart med and one that keeps fluid from building up. I think that she is already starting to feel better and has a bit more energy than she has had for a couple weeks.

So, J and I went to the Porterhouse for dinner and drinking. We got there about 7:30 and it was already pretty full. There was a guy sitting alone at a table with a couple stools by it so we asked if we can share his table. He says sure as long as we don't talk to him. He was reading the paper and doing the crossword puzzle. Or so we thought. So J and I are chatting. J goes to the bathroom and a guy at another table starts talking to me by asking where I am from. He asks a couple questions and then my friend comes back and we stop talking. Later, the guy at our table "reading" the paper asks what time it is and then I go to the loo. When I get back, J is at the table next to the one we were sitting at and a bunch of guys are at the table we were at. Apparently while I was in the bathroom, the guy "reading" the paper asked J a bunch of questions she didn't want to answer. He also was waiting for friends who happened to show up while I was in the loo.

So, now we were at a table with three guys. I ended up sitting next to the guy who had talked to me while my friend was in the bathroom. We start talking about politics because a lot of people like to ask what I think about Bush and American foreign policy. J hates these conversations so she starts having her own with the other two guys. It was an intersting conversation and the guy I am talking to knows a lot about American history and foreign policy. He was almost like an encyclopedia and had an intersting prosody (little flat/monotone ish). So, the night goes on and we seem to be having fun and OK conversation. Then one guy leaves. I go to the loo again and a few minutes after I come back and we had a new round, my friend suddenly says she has to leave now. I had no idea what happened. She was just really angry and she NEVER wastes any beer. She gets mad if the waiters/waitresses take her glass with a sip left. The other guy calmed her down. What I found out later was that the guy talking to me had asked her a politcal question about the Iraq war. I had specifically told him not to ask her political questions becuase she doesn't talk politics. J is fiercely loyal to America and doesn't like it when people diss the country or policies, even if she disagrees with them.

So, we get her calmed down and later the band starts and J and I go downstairs because it is too loud where we were. It was also a bit uncomfortable because only the guy talking to me and antagonizing her, J and I were there (and he was trying to hit on me which made me uncomfortable). So, J finds different seats and I go and join her. Then John comes and we order more rounds. Then my friend C and her friend come after getting done watching "Brokeback Mountain." They start flirting with a few guys and gets a German guy to ask John a question in German to test John's German. We also wonder why a different guy at the bar was cranky (he had left his seat near us to go to a different part after one of the barentders was tapping on the taps). The bar closed at 2:30. That's when we left since they asked us to.

After leaving the Porterhouse, we see the pizza place across the street is open. We go there and have pizza with chips. I missed the late night diners because I think pancakes make much better drunk food than pizza. It soaks up the alcohol better.

We finally headed home about 3:30 AM! I haven't stayed out that late since I was in college. It was a good night. We had fun and definately let off the stress. I wonder if J made it hiking like she wanted to today. John and I had a pretty lazy day. We are planning on going back to the Porterhouse for dinner tonight with our friend M and her boyfriend

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

spring is coming

Today as I was leaving work about 5:45, I heard at least two birds chirping. It was dark out and felt like winter, but the birds were chirping. I also heard some birds last week. Surely that is a sign of spring, right? The weather today was coldish. I think the high was about 40 Degrees F and the low about 30. When I looked at the weather this evening, said that it felt like 32 degrees. The highs this week are in the middle 40s. That is warmer, I think. Spring officially starts Feb. 1st I am told. The seasons aren't based on the soltices here. I still think that is strange but I guess it is just different. Actually, since the weather is getting better, I think I like it. But more importantly, it is getting lighter longer. It isn't as dark at 8:30 when I am walking the dog/going to work and it isn't totally dark until 4:45ish (was 4:00 in Dec.).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Pictures from Christmas

I am finally posting a few of my favorite pictures from Christmas. These are pictures from my family's gift opening. It was nice to have the family together.

I may be eligible for a U.S. green card

Since I moved here, I have seen a variety of banner ads on my personal mail account. Many of them are just the usual inane ones wanting you to buy something or telling you have won something, blah blah. However, there are also frequently ones saying that my country is eligible for U.S. Green cards. I didn't realize that the U.S. recruited foreigners for Green Cards. I thought that we were trying to curb immigration. Maybe that is just from counties that the U.S. government is concerned about... But then, 50,000 people isn't that many, unless it is just the number of Irish getting green cards...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Early bird special

Today I got home, walked the dog, and was settling in for the evening when my friend J buzzed and asked if I wanted to get dinner. Since we were both were in the mood for Italian, we went to Toscana. They have an early bird special that ends at 6:30. We decided to try to share one of the early bird three course meals for 20 Euro even though it was 6:40. The waiter lets us do it and I think brought us bigger portions of the bruscetta and pasta. The bruscetta had so much garlic that I can still feel it in my mouth! I haven't had that much garlic in a long time. I hope that the taste in my mouth goes away by tomorrow morning. The food was excellent, though and we each got 3 courses for 12 Euro including tip (we tipped well since the waiter let us share and have the early bird)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

reflections on Chicago

While I was home in Chicago/MN/WI, I noticed some things that I really hadn't before. First, I actually heard people's accents in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Before, I knew people had accents (everyone does) but hadn't really heard the Minnesota accent. I guess where I grew up in Wisconsin was too close to it to notice. I didn't notice much of an accent in Chicago.

Another big thing that I noticed was the friendliness of strangers. Maybe it was just the holidays or I gave off different vibes, but lots of people in stores talked to me. Before, no one really talked to me. The clerks at the stores, costumers, the cashiers. It was nice but a little strange. It wasn't just the usual, hi, how are you perfunctory conversation when checking out in line. The cashiers made comments about my purchases and said more than I am used to. Even in Chicago.

Another thing I noticed was the pace of dining out. When I arrived in Dublin, I got frustrated with the lack of service in restaurants and how long meals took. It is hard to get in and out of a restaurant in an hour and a half, even when you are seated right away. You also have to ask for the check and can sit as long as you want before leaving. When in Chicago, it often took effort to stay in a restaurant for and hour. The service was often what would be called prompt. However, I frequently felt rushed. At one place, we got the check before they brought dessert even though the place didn't have that many people in it. At another, they asked us if we wanted dessert as soon as they took the dinner plates away. I think my ideal would be somewhere in the middle. I like being given time to eat but it would be nice not to have to try to get a waiter/waitress's attention whenever I wanted service. I do like not really having to tip, though, because wait staff here make a living wage without tips, unlike in the States.

Overall, I have adjusted well to the slower pace of life I think. I still work a lot but not nearly as much as I used to. I am usually home by 6:00 at night, walk the dog and make dinner. I don't eat much earlier but get a bit more exercise. I also get to take a lot more long weekends and vacations. :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

back in Dublin

Today I arrived back in Dublin. The flight was pretty uneventful. There was some turbulence off and on. They showed three movies instead of the usual two. Two of them were OK. The third was the Dukes of Hazard, again (they showed it on the way over, too). I slept during that part. Unfortunately, they didn't turn all the lights off in the cabin to encourage us to sleep like they usually do so I didn't really get to sleep.

When I got to Dublin, it was about 9:00 AM and the fog from last night was just lifting over the river. There was this surreal looking haze above the river and bridges. It looked magical. It is good to be home.

The trip home was nice, though. I am glad that I got to see a lot of my friends and family. I will post some pictures another day. I have to download them off the camera first. :)