Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nice walk home

The weather has been comfortable and sunny two days in a row in Dublin! I have taken advantage of both to walk home. Yesterday it took me an hour. Today I walked from further away and walked along the coast by the sea for an hour and 20 minutes until I got to the Dart line and took the train the two stops home. My feet hurt but eventually I will walk it the whole way.

On the way out of Raheny towards the coast, I discovered a park. I think it is St. Anne's but I am not sure since it wasn't labeled. It was all nice and wooded and beautiful. I don't know if it was shorter or not but it was a much nicer way to walk to the coast. Today the tide was high so I got to walk by the water instead of the seaweed coastline. There is still a lot of seaweed but at least I could see waves. I really need to start bringing John's digital camera with me so I can take pictures as I walk.

As I was walking, I reflected on how my life has changed since I moved to Dublin a year ago (next Wed). I am a lot more active now and work less. I would never have walked an hour and 20 minutes to get home back home. It wouldn't have been a nice walk either. I would go for hour long walks but it is different when you are walking home from work. I can't really explain it, it just feels nice to be free to take the train or the the bus or walk home. I am not tied to a car. I also really like the topography here. I get to see the sea and "mountains" on a regular basis. Even though we live in the center of the city, in 30 minutes train ride, you can be out where it feels like the middle of nowhere. That was one thing I really missed about Chicago and loved about Minneapolis. In Chicago, you can be in a park but always hear the traffic. You have to drive on the freeway for at least an hour to get out of the the urban area. In Minneapolis, they have a couple parks that are along the river and have managed to be hidden away from traffic. I used to walk over to the park and spend hours by the river in the summer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Glasnevin Musical Society Concert

On Saturday John and I went to the Glasnevin Community Society Concert at the National Concert Hall after having dinner with a couple of friends. We went because Cot was singing in the choir. Ci and a couple of other friends went as well. The concert was called "30 Years of your favorite Melodies." They had a lot of opera on the program and four "soloists." These four sang most of the concert. What I would like to know is this: who has opera songs as their favorite melodies? Can opera really be considered a melody? I wouldn't think so. They are operas. Maybe songs, but catchy things are melodies. Show tunes are melodies.

Anyway, during one of the first songs, the first singer comes out. She wore a fluffy orangish red ball gown. During her song, one of the string musicians (don't know what instrument it was other than not a violin, fiddle, guitar, or bass) turned the page of his music and it fell on the floor. Right next to the lady singing, almost under her dress. So he tried to bend down and get it but of course couldn't reach the music. He ended up reading the music off the floor and turning up to the conductor periodically to make sure that he was in time. So, he kept looking down at the floor where the music was being shadowed and almost covered by the puffy dress and then up at the conductor and back down. It was quite amusing.

There was another musician who I watched a lot during the show because at the angle I was sitting at, he looked like a guy from Star Trek. All the musicians had lights for their music stands. Well, his light looked like a black rectangle and was at eye level when I looked at him. He looked like the guy who wears the funny glasses. I was amused by him also.

During the concert, I also noticed that everyone had perfect posture. They sat away from their chairs, but had perfect posture. How do they sit that perfectly for three hours? Also, when the featured singers sang, sometimes it looked like they moved planes of their bodies. For example, when one guy moved his arm, another body part moved in an apparent effort to balance his body out and maintain a perfect line. It made him look like a stick doll to me at times. The others didn't seem quite as stiff. The soprano actually looked like she was enjoying herself. The others looked like they needed a good massage, or a stiff drink.

I really enjoyed the music that was not opera. I wish that the chorus had sung more because I also liked that better. Maybe because it usually wasn't opera. Now, I don't have anything against opera. I just need the visual cues of the set and costumes and acting in order to understand what it going on. Listening to slow melodramatic music in a language that I don't understand gets a little tiresome after a while. Oh wait, I was saying what I enjoyed. I liked the more upbeat music like Gershwin and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Oh, it was also interesting that two people left during the concert. They were sitting up front even. The conductor introduced a slave song from America as a Negro spiritual. During this song, two black women left. I am not sure if it is correlated but I would suspect so.

I am really glad that I went to the concert. I got to see C the OT in a pretty dress and had a night of higher culture than the drinking and pub music I am used to. Ci only texted her Andy once during the concert. She hadn't seen him since the weekend that we all went out but she assured me that the date went well and there has been lots of texting and emailing happening. What happened to phone calls? Seeing each other? Is this real or virtual dating?

Ahh, the Porterhouse

On Friday, J rang me and asked if I wanted to go to dinner with her sister's in-laws since they were back in town and insisting on taking the three of us to dinner. John was out drinking with his coworkers because he had a tough week and I wanted to go out drinking so I suggested the Porterhouse. So, the Porterhouse it was.

I arrived there earlier than the others to get a table. Unfortunately, there weren't any tables so I managed to get three stools by the bar. I ended up sitting next to a lady from Canada who was there on her own also. She was in Dublin for the weekend because she was studying biology in various places in Europe. We chatted a bit and I gave her suggestions about what to do while she was in town. Finally, J and the in-laws arrive and we happened to get a table. Well, sort of stole a table from some guys who kept leaving for 30 minutes or more to go have cigarettes but didn't leave drinks or the universal sign of a coaster over the beer to reserve the table. They did leave their coats. We moved them.

So, we had our dinner and were chatting. About 9:30 John finally arrived from drinking with his coworkers. As soon as he arrived, the others got up and left! The in-laws were basically falling asleep and looked ready for bed about 8:00! Oh well.

On Sunday, J send me a text message asking if we fancied an afternoon pint at the Local. Of course we did and made it dinner too. We sat and drank for a while until J decided it was time for her to go home. Well, really to our place to book a cruise for herself and her boyfriend and then go home.

On her way home, she got distracted by live music at O'Sullivans. She phoned us and of course we went over. The musician had a guitar plugged into an amp and played audience requests. It was a lot of fun. The music was in a tiny area up in the front of the pub. There is a huge area downstairs that is pretty nice. I think we will definately go back since the guy plays every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There was also a nice local feel to it since some of the regulars knew the bartenders' names and vice versa. That is probably pretty rare in city centre. One of the bartenders recognizes J and myself, though, at the Porterhouse.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


As I have posted about before, I am walking in the mini marathon the 5th of June. I hate asking people for money so I have put a sponsor sheet in a couple staff rooms. So far, I have raised about 200 Euro! I am pretty impressed with the generosity of people here. Everyone that I have approached has donated something.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

friend's sister's in-laws

Last night, John and I went to the airport to pick up J's sister's in-laws. She couldn't do it because she got to go home to see her boyfriend's master's degree graduation ceremony. The "in-laws" were staying with her for a day or two and then traveling in different parts of Ireland.

The plane arrived a little before 10:00 PM. They got their baggage and out of customs a little past 10:30. Since they had rented a car for the whole time that they were in in Ireland, we made our way to the rental place and got the car. That is when the fun began. The "father-in-law" was driving and hadn't asked for an automatic transmission. He had very limited experience with a manual transmission. Anyway, we got out of the airport and were on our way with minimal stress. We just had to give the occasional reminders to stay on the correct side of the road, that the stop lights were for them, to stay on the road, etc. Since we don't drive ourselves, we figured out a route that seemed reasonable.

However, we forgot about the Bon Jovi concert in Croake Park. Oops. That was traffic diversion one. We managed to find our way after the diversion and kept heading into city centre. Then we got diversion number two. This diversion meant that we couldn't take the way John planned to get to Rathgar once in city centre. Instead, we went a round about way and got stuck going around St. Stephan's Green. Since we don't drive, we didn't realize that there are lots of places that you aren't allowed to make turns. Oops.

About midnight, we finally got to J's apartment in Rathgar. The "father-in-law" had only almost hit a bus, pissed off a cop, and almost hit a couple other people in the process. We then took a taxi home.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why am I here?

Periodically, I ask myself why I moved to Dublin. I know that I moved here to try to make a difference. My reason for becoming a speech therapist was also to make my little corner of the world better. Every now and then, I ask myself if I have helped make my clients' lives better and if I am helping to better the field. Today I got to answer yes. I see progress and change. And that is why I am here.

Will my child talk?

When I assess children, I like to meet with the parents to go over my report. Hopefully the results aren't shocking. However, it is extremely difficult to tell parents that their child is functioning at such and such level. I usually don't say what age the child is functioning like in my reports unless I think a) the parent needs to see the results in that way, b) the report is being sent to another agency and they need numbers, c) the numbers are "good enough" that I don't think it will negatively affect the parents.

There is one question that is always hard to answer: "will my child talk?" I hate that question. I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know if or when the child will talk. I can tell statistics and all that but sometimes I feel like I am popping or inflating the balloon of hope when I do that. I am not a miracle worker even though some parents are looking for a miracle.

I think the question "will my child talk?" is another question: will my child be OK? When children can't communicate, people judge them a certain way and make assumptions about how "smart" they are. Children who are very socially competent are judged to be "smarter" than those who have social skill difficulties. It is really unfortunate. I suppose, what else do people have to judge on?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Great Sugarloaf

Last Sunday, M, John and I hiked up the Great Sugarloaf Mountain. The "Hiking in Ireland" book that we have said it should take 2 1/2 hours to hike. It took us 3 1/2 hours. We hiked up the difficult side, though. When we got to the top, we saw a much easier trail going up the mountain than we had taken. Since M's car was parked on the difficult side, we hiked down this side also and had to make our own trails for part of the way.

After hiking, we were hungry so we drove over to Johnnie Fox's. It is really nice there but since the wait was over half an hour for food we went to the Porterhouse North instead. Yummy!

The hike was intense but we stopped frequently to admire the view. It really is a beautiful walk and surroundings.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

More of Madrid

This has been a crazy week so I haven't been able to post more pictures of Madrid. So, here are some of around the city. The eagle was taken in the Prado Museum.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Prado Decorative Arts

In the basement near the cafe of the Prado, there is a room with decorative arts. John and C teased me about wanting to see this stuff as a break from the art. Howeve, we were all impressed with the room and really liked the exhibit.

Prado tables

At the Prado, there were many beautiful inlaid tables throughout the museum. John's sister C teased me that I was more interested in the tables and spent more time looking at them than the art on the walls even though the art was far more famous, possibly more "important."

In general, I appreciate three dimensional art more than two dimensional, other than photographs. I am not really sure why except that there is more to look at. When we look at sculptures that are hundreds or even thousands of years old, I am in awe of the techniques used and wonder how the artists got such detail. I wonder the same thing about paintings but the three dimensional stuff just resonates more with me. I also take a lot of pictures of wood work and stained glass because my father is interested in them and appreciates the pictures that I send him.

Prado Part one

While in Madrid we visited the Prado art museum. It houses many famous works by Goya and others. The museum itself is beautiful. In many of the rooms, there are marble "baseboards" and marble frames around the doors. In the newer parts of the museum, the marble was lighter. One of the works we saw was Velasquez’ 'Las Meninas'. This was particularly interesting to see because while we were in Barcelona in January we viewed several works by Pablo Picasso's reinterpretation and study of this painting. We got the feeling that if we could just travel all of Europe eventually everything would tie together.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Paint your wagon

My friend Cot invited John and me to go to a pub quiz last night. Since John likes pub quizes and Cot is a lot of fun, we thought that we would go. It was a fundraiser for the Musical Society held in the Tennis Club in Glasnevin. The prize for winning was 200 Euro and there was a draw for 1000 Euro!

There were four of us at the table: John, me, Cot and her friend Ci. Ci has recently broken up with her boyfriend of seven years. Cot is dating a guy who lives in Oxford and was coming over to Dublin today. Both of them had dates today. Ci had a first date with a guy that she met last week in a pub. She has been texting A all week and read all the text messages to John and myself so that we could over analyze what each of them meant, if A was into her, and if she was playing it cool enough but also interested. She also wanted to make sure that she was being coy enough. Then Cot read some of her texts to us from Oxford A.

So, the pub quiz began while we were still over analyzing the texts from A to Ci. We were given a bunch of pictures of people and a painting of "Taking of Christ." We got one of six of the questions correct. That didn't bode well for us and certainly set the tone for the quiz. It continued to be the most difficult quiz that John has attended (he went to them weekly for a couple months when he worked in the UK). We decided pretty early into the quiz that our average age was too low to know answers to this quiz. They asked questions like what a digitalis plant was, to identify different classical and show tunes music, and a question about the movie "Paint your wagon" with Clint Eastwood. Now, John has seen a Simpsons episode where they make fun of this movie but he thought that the writers of the Simpsons made up this movie. He was quite surprised to find out that it was a real movie and the answer to the question.

Since we didn't have a hope in hell of winning the pub quiz (and they didn't tell us we couldn't "phone a friend"), Ci and Cot both texted their A's to ask them answers to a couple questions (and got us one more point). Ci also continued "text flirting" with her A during the whole quiz. I knew we could be boring at times, but are we really less company than texting someone? :)

So, after the quiz was the draw for loads of prizes. After the draw for the grand prize (which was first instead of last), Ci tore up her ticket, not realizing there were other prizes. She won the second prize of a large tv and DVD player! That was quite exciting since she didn't have a TV or DVD player since she just moved back home after moving out of her apartment with her boyfriend.

After all the draws, we kept drinking and then went to the Porterhouse North. We had a couple drinks there until they closed. We then walked to Eddie Rockets to have drunk food. They have really good onion rings and OK milkshakes. We ate our drunk food and went our separate ways, as it was 3:30 AM! I haven't been out that late in ages, probably since undergraduate university!

As we walked out of Eddie Rockets, a Nite Link bus passed. Doh! So we had to hail a taxi to take us home. I knew the taxi driver! I was slightly embarrassed that this person was seeing me drunk at 3:30 AM. Oh well. He took us to the Ha'Penny Bridge and didn't charge us! I thought that was very nice of him. Upon getting out of the taxi, we said thanks and goodnight to the taxi driver and some drunk people got in. They wanted to go to Castleknock and heard our American accents. They said a few obnoxious things about Iraq and Americans. They kept shouting at us as we walked away. I wonder how the taxi driver handles the drunk guys. My guess is that he was probably annoyed with these passengers since they were being rude to me and he likes me. :) It must have been a good fare, though.

This morning, we slept in. Well, until afternoon. It took a while to recover.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Study of light

Madrid was warm and sunny. It stayed light late and the sun slowly set. This created some interesting light and pictures that I really like. So, here they are.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Warm and Sunny Madrid

Spain was warm and sunny this time that we went. We arrived Saturday evening and left Monday afternoon. It was a beautiful weekend and we really enjoyed our visit, especially seeing John's sister C. Of course I took loads of pictures which I will start posting soon.

While in Madrid, we went to the Prado Museum which has works by Goya, Greco, Ruben, and lots of other famous artists that I had never heard of. There were also a lot of gorgeous inlaid tables throughout the museum that I took lots of pictures of. John and C teased me that I admired the tables more than the artwork. We also looked at some sculpture and "decorative arts."

A lot of the stores and museums were closed because May 1st and 2nd are bank holidays in Spain. That made me feel less guilty about sleeping in and relaxing before heading out for the day.