Sunday, August 26, 2012

Walking On the Rine....Ireland, Day Two

It's Sunday in Florida, dull and gray and ominous. Hurricane Isaac is lurking out there, making everyone skittish. There are places I'd rather be at this moment. An early walk along the Rine for instance. That's a "church" I'd like to attend regularly! One foot in front of the other, the vast dome of sky above, no sounds but the wheeling of gulls, the buzz of bees, the occasional lowing of cattle [watch out for the cow pies!] the soundless bobbing of sailboats far out on the water........

Given the restorative powers of pints of Guinness and a good night's sleep, the cyclists were good as new the day after the "Tour," so off we went to walk on the Rine.

 I shouldn't even be telling you about it as it is the best kept secret in Ballyvaughan, part of the pleasure of walking there being that you often have it almost entirely to yourself! But I'd hate for you to go to north Clare and not know about it!  It's a little peninsula a few miles west from the village, that runs parallel to the shore. At high tide there's only a tiny bit of it visible, but at low tide you can walk all the way out to the end. Access is by climbing over a nondescript gate on the road to Black Head, easily missed, and walking down this little lane to the shore. 

   On your left is the bay, with  the Atlantic beyond, 

and on your right,
 more water between you and the coast.

I kept falling behind the main gaggle, who were busy anyway with cycling postmortems, because I was busy being a "Yank," with my camera!

 We passed a few cows, placidly chewing, completely unconcerned by our presence. The Blister once had a particularly interesting outing to the Rine with a niece of hers who was studying zoology and had enlisted the Blister's help to collect seal poop for some research she was doing! We didn't collect any seal poop and, unfortunately, we didn't see any seals. But there were rocks and cows and birds and clouds and all kinds of beautiful wild flowers. Nothing large and showy, but a profusion of exquisite tiny ones.

Utter contentment.

The Rine feeds a hunger of the soul, but the stomach is unimpressed with flowers and clouds and rocks, so, with the tide coming in, and bellies growling, we headed back to the house.


And now the sun's come out in Florida and Isaac seems like an improbable nightmare.
Miss Oriss has sold her father's house as she has no interest in living here, being a cold weather girl. She  hands over the keys at month's end. I never realized how much work one person's death [may the Prince rest in peace] made for those left behind! Even though everything was organized and pristine, sorting out where everything goes, and to whom, has been a mammoth task. So....back to the mines! 

 But in my head today, I'll be walking on the Rine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Forty Two Years Later....and Holding!

Yesterday, lying in the dentist's chair, white knuckled as always, the Mamas and Papas came on the music system.

 "Stars shining bright above you,
Night breezes seem to whisper- I love you-
Birds singing in the sycamore tree,
Dream a little dream of me......."

coaxing me to relax, recalling the summer I first heard it, the summer I met the OC, the summer that sent my life off in a totally unexpected direction, and perhaps, his too.

The Prince disapproved vociferously, though he had introduced us; his wife disapproved because we "were too young" which we were; my parents, in their diffident way asked "Are you sure?" Who's ever sure? We certainly thought we were! We were younger in this picture [that's a sixteen year old Blister beside us!] than even our youngest child is now....and I  would certainly disapprove if he announced he was getting married next week!

But here we are, against all the odds, forty two years later, still dreamin'! "Love" is almost too trite a word, the way it's bandied about these days. We survived it all, together.

 Here's to you J and at least a few more!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ireland, Day One

Above---the Blister, her friend and her sister-in-law, all of them quite mad, went off cycling ridiculous distances in the Tour de Burren, along with their assorted, equally mad, menfolk. Being somewhat saner, I elected to mind the house, staying warm and dry, curled up in the cozy kitchen with "Major Pettigrew." As the cyclists disappeared into the early morning mist I settled in with my book and my cup of tea.

By mid-morning the drizzle lifted, so off I ventured, up the lane,

 across the fields,

 past curious cows,

 past the castle,

and finally, not finding the path that would take me upward to the rocky landscape for which The Burren is famous, I climbed over a farmer's gate, pretending not to see the No Trespassing sign, and legged it, fast as I could, up and up and up. 

The higher I climbed, the rockier it became. I think it was Oliver Cromwell, whom the Irish have no reason to love, who said of this area that there was "Not enough soil to bury a man, not enough wood to hang a man and not enough water to drown a man." I think he was wrong about the water. There's plenty of it but much of it flows underground. As I sat, with my back to a rock, I could hear the trickle behind and below me!

People come to this area from all around the world, geologists and botanists especially, to study the limestone terrain and the unusual flowers that grow in the crevices, protected from elements that would normally mean they would not thrive at such a northern latitude

 In no time at all I was up high enough to see all of Co.Clare, and Galway Bay to boot---quite a spectacular view and well worth the huffing and puffing!.

I sat a while and breathed it all in. Such a beautiful place. Easy for me to say. It's beauty meant that land owners here had a hard life, trying to eke a living from the rocky soil. Many had to leave and seek a better life in America when the potato famine meant there was nothing to eat. You cannot feed your children on rocks and pretty, exotic plants.  Thank God for tourism.

Sitting on a rock, looking out at this sweep of Irish countryside and letting my mind wander, I wondered at life, the places it takes you, the twists in the plot....When I'm here I feel I belong to this place, Ireland, and it to me, but among the people [except those closest to me] I feel like a stranger, an outsider---maybe even a traitor.  Somebody , I don't know who, said you can never go home again. And someone else I read recently said---once you live away from Ireland you'll never belong there again.

I  just know that this place stirs something deep in my soul, maybe subconscious memories of past generations, and no matter what anybody says, I know that when I'm here I'm home.

Note: click on the photos for a larger view. Also, notice the castle to the right in the last picture, the same one I passed on my upward climb. It is now a college of art.

Another note: I just realized this is a bit repetitive----and I had the nerve to make fun of the Prince for retelling, ad nauseum, the Threadbare Tales. Looks like I'm working on my own set of Tales. Mea culpa.
But at least, with this [re]telling, you get photographs.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

To EveryThing There Is A Season.....Last Rant on The Prince

Note: Found this, half done, in my drafts. Now that I know the ending, I decided to finish it. It might help to explain the prolonged silence from this little corner of  Blogland.

I know, I know! I promised there'd be no more "Prince" rants here. I didn't mean to, but I lied. So here's your chance....Turn back now before I get started!

Having been here, dancing attendance for more than a month, Miss Oriss returned north in mid-May, to take care of some business, say hello to her life and her garden, celebrate her daughter's birthday, and, last but not least, to maintain her sanity. The Prince seemed like he'd manage fine without her for a while. Not only did he rebuff all her efforts to manage his medications for him --- "My body may be veak, but my brain is still sharp!"   Right. He is certainly entitled to his opinion. It also seemed that she was putting a crimp in his social life. Overheard snippets of telephone conversations ---

 "We can meet for dinner after my daughter goes home...."  or

 "I'll call you when my daughter goes back to The North."  And to her----

"So, when are you going home?" Wanting to know the date and the hour. So she did what any angry, frustrated person, who does not like Florida much anyway, would do. She went home.

Fast forward a week.

 Ring, ring.

"Molly, I'm not doing so good."

He pauses for the gravity of this announcement to sink in. I roll my eyes but don't let it reach my voice.

"What's wrong now?" I ask, trying not to emphasize the "now."

"I think I may have to go to hospital." Dramatic pause while he catches his breath ...."I'm very veak....."

When I get to his house he has summoned a nurse's aide he met at his breakfast joint. She tells me his pulse rate is very high.

She's new to his games. I don't tell her that Sir Laurence would look like an amateur here...

So what to do? He likes to get as many people weighing in on the debate as possible.

His new friend is anxious for him to go to the ER. I tell him if he goes he has to stay long enough for them to do something for his problem. No checking himself out when the memories come flooding back--of the less than five star service; of the regular disturbances [imagine! In a hospital!] for blood pressure checks; of the inedible food; of the nerve of the roommate who keeps the TV on at maximum decibels....all day[!!]; of the doctors/nurses/cleaning ladies' lack of interest in the Threadbare Tales. Fascinating as they may be....they have work to do.  He starts to waver. Maybe he should wait and see.?

And so it goes.

Back and forth throughout the day.. Finally, he decides he should go. Miraculously, there is no waiting. They take him right in. And the man whose heart was racing, who could hardly catch his breath earlier, regales the nurses, who are only looking for short answers, with the epic version of everything; the version that starts way back in World War Two.

Two days later, dripped full of vitality inducing fluids, armed with a new prescription, he's back on the street, but "very veak."

So Nellie the elephant packed her trunk and off she went to the circus.....And Miss Oriss, dutiful daughter, who had just unpacked her trunk up north, packed it again, put away her trowel, kissed her garden goodbye, winged her way back to Florida and danced attendance for another month.

Meanwhile, I left for Ireland. The Fourth of July approached. The Bean winged it north to play golf with the OC. Miss Oriss, having satisfied herself that the Prince was well enough to be left alone for a week, accompanied him to the airport, and also winged her way north.

Three days later, with all of us out of his way, the Prince of Carpathia died.

 At home.

 No poking or prodding.

 No loud TV.

 No inedible hospital food

No one to comfort him either,or hold his hand as he exited this world.

We were always at loggerheads, but I never would have wished for him to be alone at the end.

May he rest in peace.

Postscript: The devil in me wishes I could have been a little spider, sitting in my web, in a corner of the Pearly Gates when he arrived. Imagine St. Peter hesitating to let him in.....? The outrage.....

 "Young man, do you know who I am?"

"Yes sir...."

"Let me speak to your supervisor!"

He's probably got his lawyer handling the whole affair.

I hope the lawyer can cut him a deal.