Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Christmas!

So little is done to celebrate the oft-forgotten one month anniversary of Christmas and I say "Nay! It's time we shine a spotlight on this dark corner of little-known January holiday! Let's relive Christmas - with pictures"

Go ahead and file this one under "Things are Different Here"; Santa may have a workshop and an enchanted forest in America, but only here in Ireland will you find Santa's Grotto. We went with Tom and Mary and the boys to visit Santa in his cave.

We walked past the reindeer paddocks and down a long path by the river. I told Katie if she misbehaved, not only would Santa put her on the naughty list, load her stocking with coal and ban her from holiday cheer, but he would feed her to his bears.

She looked at me as if to say, "bullshit". If you can't threaten your kids with Santa, how will you ever get them to respect you?

Kissing Cousins. Oisin and Katie are great friends. We have a playdate with Oisin and baby Conor at least once a week. Mary has quickly become a good, good friend.

Boys will be boys; Oisin cozies up looking for another smooch. We Walsh Woman are known to drive the men wild...

They hitched a ride on Santa's sleigh.

The obligatory Santa photos: Never is there a happy kid in the picture. Oisin feared for his life after he watched Santa put Conor in a zombie trance with his voodoo mind tricks.

Katie immediately goes on the offensive, proving she too can stare down her enemies, swiftly reducing Santa to a quivering mass of silky fake beard and cookie crumbs.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve. Katie shows off her holiday wear as we ready ourselves for midnight mass (held at 6pm).

Katie loves her new toy - Nana and Pop win the prize with Katie's rocking horse. She has finally learned how to get up on it all by herself and sing her song, "Arse-y, arse-y"

All the family came over for Christmas brunch and Katie got to play with her cousin Esme. Esme tried to engage her in a game of ball, but Katie was busy with her new Willy Wonka plastic crack pipe.

Dinner was out at Desart. Nana made an amazing four course dinner and the table was set complete with holiday crackers and the good crystal goblets. Manus was hired on as the waiter, keeping our wine glasses overflowing, our plates always full and once, just once, as he was passing the soups, we each got a quick pinch on the rear. Anything for a good tip, I suppose.

On the 26th, we headed out to county Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. The views out there are breathtaking - as was the bone-chilling wind blowing along this stretch of beach.

See how the road hugs the edge of the cliff? I wasn't allowed to drive that day.

This was the view from the B&B we stayed in in Cloghane, county Kerry. In the morning those little puddles were frozen over. So I jumped on them and cracked them. Good times.

Katie says she can't wait for next year. She apologizes for the lack of pictures of her grandparents who traveled over sea and over dale to see her, but the only photos we captured of them were these:

Further proof that the two were made for each other.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A question for the Irish

What the hell is the story with the Bio and Non-Bio laundry detergent?

I think one of them is better for the environment and one of them kills babies, but how am I supposed to know which is which?

And, how do you measure out 130 mls of water when the measuring cup goes up in 50 ml increments? I could have ruined some perfectly good blueberry muffins by mismoisturizing my mix. Betty Crocker is a sell-out.

And Ireland should come with a user's manual.

Maybe it's s.a.d.?

I know I haven't been blogging lately and I'd love to have a good excuse for it, but I don't.
I've lost all motivation.
But I do think it will come back to me eventually, just like my old dog Skip.

Okay, so I never had a dog named Skip. But wouldn't be funny if you had a dog and you named it Skip N. Town and then it did run away? There would be absolutely no one to blame but yourself.

I think I'm going to blame the weather. Is there truth to seasonal affective disorder? I hope so because I need something external towards which to direct my angst. And Manus said his turn is up. It's not even all that bad here - today it was 5 degrees Celsius. My friend Erica is in Boston with 5 degree Fahrenheit weather. THAT is cold. We've had a flurry of snow (can you say it that way? A gaggle of geese is all I've ever been sure about) once and ice on the windshield infrequent enough that I am still completely amused by it. But the darkness. There are an unusually high number of dark hours these days and I'm not sure if you know how close Miami is the equator (I'm not all that sure either) but lets just say that "short days, long nights" is a new concept to me.

That being said, I will get back to more regular posting...sometime. I have so many pictures from Christmas and more heart-warming vomit stories, but for now... I'll leave you with some Katie.

It's all the rage these days, I'm telling you. The rosary just finishes off the look.

(Just don't tell Katie she wasn't the first to try it - her ego is a bit fragile.) This is Hailey Maupin circa July '07. Truly the fashion pioneer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Its enough to drive you crazy

Today was a comedy of errors that others may refer to as the Irish Driver's Test. This journey started a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away... But I'll fast-forward to more recent events as it is still enough to have you shaking your head and wondering if poor Malinda is going to survive another year in this G*&%! country.

To be a licenced driver here, you have to start from scratch, no matter how many years foreign driving experience or how clean record is (already one can see this is very different from Miami and Pepe's Licence and Taco Stand over on Calle Ocho). So, when we got here to Ireland we had to pass a test to get our Learner's permit and had to hold the Learner's for a time period of no less than 6 months before sitting for our full licence exam. All fair and good. We have been renting cars from one mister Dan Dooley since our arrival in April and driving legally and expensively under our American driver's licences.

One month ago, we received in the mail our Full Licence test date. 13th January 2009 at 9:15am. Along with this form was a list (double sided) of the requirements for your car as you take the test in your own vehicle. Most of it is obvious; car must be in good working order, insured, taxes paid, etc. One bulleted point spoke to us directly, indicating that drivers wishing to use a hired (rented) car must provide a letter indicating that they are insured to do so. The procurement of this document became MY domain. Quickly and without hesitation, I called to my man, D.D. and spoke to Mary, who promptly acquiesced. She sent an email stating that Mrs. Malinda Walsh with Amer Lic. # blah, blah, blah was insured to drive car No. blah, blah, blah. (start to keep track - this is email #1) Upon receipt and review, I realized she only indicated me and called Mary back to remind her that I'd asked for both myself and my husband. A second email arrived shortly thereafter (#2). To prove the adage that no good (or timely) deed goes unpunished, as I presented the documents to Manus for his approval and praise, he reminded me that by the time we took the test, we would have a different rental car, thus different car number. ((another funny joke - one can only rent a car for a max period of 28 consecutive days, this means that every month we have been driving to Dublin airport to trade out one Ford Focus for another))

When my parents left on Jan. 2nd, I drove them to the airport and myself to the rental agency to pick up our next, and presumably last, car. Manus asked me to make sure I checked the car over; that everything worked, that all dues were paid and current, etc. as THIS would be the car we used for the test. I rolled my eyes to heaven and said, "What? You think they would give us a car with expired tags or a broken taillight? ...foreshadowing....They are a respectable company and we, VIP clients!!"

I returned home from Dublin and gave a shout to my main gal Mary. So sorry to inconvenience but would she send another letter referencing this new car. She did. (email #3)

Now its yesterday and Manus takes the car for a final practice drive. Upon exiting the car, he glances at the tax and tag stickers clearly evident on the front windscreen, and BOTH are grossly expired. 01/2008 no less. Gulp. I readied myself for a tongue lashing and an impromptu round-trip to Dublin, but mercifully, neither materialized. Apologetic Dan Dooley actually sent someone out to Kilkenny with another car. And, as you know, another car means another car number and another request to Mary (#4). I couldn't help but laugh to see her email come through with, again, only MY driver's information on it. C'mon! (email #5)

We arrived to the testing center this morning to see an earlier applicant returning from her test and shaking her head "no" to her waiting mother. Another bad sign, we said... Manus' appointment was first and he went in with his paperwork. His rapid return to the waiting area was not a good indication of success. Our blessed letter from Mary was insufficient as it did not indicate that we were insured "specifically for the purposes of a driving test." I don't recall them ever asking us what we were going to do with the car when we were approved for the insurance. Seems to me, they didn't care. And of all times, a driving test should be the obvious time one would be insured- you know we are going to actually be driving the speed limit and obeying traffic laws! 15 minutes pass as the instructor is on the phone with his supervisors. Meanwhile we get Mary on the line (she hates us by now) and she prepares to draft yet another letter tailored to the asinine specifics of the Irish Road Safety Authority. She will email it to us. The instructor comes out and when we ask him for a computer so as we can print out our new letter, he admits sheepishly, "We haven't actually got any computers here - We are a bit backwards"
No. Fucking. Kidding.
So we race home, ignoring all posted speed limits and narrowly avoiding collision to print out the letter from our home computer.

I return and take my test, only a minute late for my 10:05 appointment time. And this is a serious test. We drove around town for 40 minutes. I was tested on all sorts of things: three-point turn, reversing around a corner, hand signals and typing out your address in morse code with your brake lights. I honked out Yankee Doodle Dandy for extra credit. must have worked because.... I passed.

(Manus was fortunate to be rescheduled for 2pm this afternoon and he is on his way there now. Wish him luck.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Traitor in our Midst

Tonight is the big game: The Masters of the Universe, a.k.a. University of Florida's Gators take on Oklahoma for all the marbles in the BCS Championship Bowl.

For those of us here in Timbuktoo, the game doesn't air until one a.m. We will be taping it and watching it first thing in the morning. So don't call here between 8 a.m. and noon GMT tomorrow.

For all my efforts to turn Ireland into another great Gator Nation, sometimes its those closest to you that will break your heart.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year