A Proper Vacation!

Saturday, 20 June 2015
I work a lot. I’m an early riser. I don’t take naps, as a general rule, because I have so much to get done. And even when I’m on vacation, I don’t slow down much. I’m a doer, it seems. (My father was the same way.)

We’d been “doing” quite a bit already, since my arrival on Thursday morning. But it finally caught up with me: after I lay down last night, I didn’t move (in spite of the rock-hard mattress) until 6am. Got up, visited, the loo, and drifted right back to sleep.

In other words, we had a proper lie-in! (Although we did go down to breakfast a little earlier than yesterday: eight o’clock rather than nine.) Gerry hadn’t slept at all during the night, so when we came back, he lay back down and tried to sleep while I worked. (Yes, I had a manuscript with me.) But it was just stuffy enough in the room that I got sleepy, unbearably so, and couldn’t keep my eyes open. So I lay down and we both slept.

Now that’s a vacation! Sleep!

One of my goals for this visit was to do the sort of things I do at home—meet up with friends for lunch, for example. So I’d planned some things like that. Today we were meeting Gerry’s niece, Orla, and her gentleman friend, Conor, for late lunch, 3pm, at Farm, about five minutes’ walk from the hotel.

So we set off up Leeson Street.

These city townhouses don’t have much in the way of a “front yard”—but they certainly make a lot of what space they do have.

These city townhouses don’t have much in the way of a “front yard”—but they certainly make a lot of what space they do have.

One way to do that is to make an inviting front door—and you know that’s a thing with me. I was going nuts photographing lovely front doors.

How often do you see a pink door, really? And yet here are two of them!

How often do you see a pink door, really? And yet here are two of them!

The doors of Dublin are hard for me to resist. I love this yellow.

The doors of Dublin are hard for me to resist. I love this yellow.

People in Dublin aren’t afraid of a little color!

People in Dublin aren’t afraid of a little color!

Another irresistible Dublin door.

Another irresistible Dublin door.

For two days, now, we’d been looking at the spire of a church one street over from ours. And finally we were going to walk by it.

At last the church and its spire came into view.

At last the church and its spire came into view.

As I was researching this particular church building—the sign out front proclaims CHRIST CHURCH • LEESON PARK—I learned several interesting things. I’d never heard the phrase Anglo-Catholic, for example. It refers to certain congregations of the [Anglican] Church of Ireland (which arose, of course, when Henry VIII of England broke with the pope in Rome in the 1500s). Wikipedia says:

The Church of Ireland is a Christian church in Ireland and an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church is organised on an all-Ireland basis and is the second-largest Christian denomination on the island after Roman Catholicism. Like other Anglican churches, it has retained elements of pre-Reformation practice, notably its episcopal polity, while rejecting the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Nevertheless, in theological and liturgical matters, it incorporates many principles of the Reformation, in particular the English Reformation. The church identifies as both Catholic and Reformed. Within the church, differences exist between those members who are more Catholic-leaning (high church) and those who are more Protestant-leaning (low church or evangelical). For historical and cultural reasons, the Church of Ireland is generally identified as a Protestant church.

Thus the high church–leaning congregations are often called Anglo-Catholic. Wikipedia further clarifies that:

When the Church of England broke communion with the Holy See, all but two of the bishops of the church in Ireland followed the Church of England, although almost no other clergy did so. The church then became the established church of Ireland, assuming possession of most church property. … [But] In Ireland, the substantial majority of the population continued to adhere to Roman Catholicism, despite the political and economic advantages of membership in the state church.

This was like discovering a missing link for me—and all because I wanted to get a little information about this church on Leeson Street. But there’s actually more—explained again by Wikipedia:

The Church of Ireland experienced major decline during the 20th century, both in Northern Ireland, where around 65% of its members live, and in the Republic of Ireland which contains upwards of 35%. However, the Church of Ireland in the Republic has shown substantial growth in the last two national censuses; its membership is now back to the levels of sixty years ago (albeit with fewer churches as many have been closed).

In fact, the Anglican congregation here at Leeson Park has merged into St. Batholomew’s (on Wellington Road in Ballsbridge), and in 2013 was only offering a Wednesday service. According to the sign out front (I photographed it), the main church offers Sunday services for both the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Methodist Centenary Church.

The trouble with photographing large buildings, of course, is you have to hike away from it in order to take it all in (not always easy in a city). Then you lose details—and those are the very things that interest me. For example, I loved the play of afternoon light on this lime-green tree, and the way it popped against the gray stone, both color and texture.

Tree and stone.

Tree and stone.

The church building is right across the street from the restaurant, and while I was busy zooming in and out, here came Orla and Conor. Gerry had met Conor already, but it was a first for me, and I was delighted to discover he is warm, welcoming, and friendly—I like that in a man—as well as smart, aware of current events and their meaning in the broader scope of the world, and a good conversationalist.

Gerry took this one of Conor, me, and Orla.

Gerry took this one of Conor, me, and Orla.

After our leisurely lunch, Gerry and I walked back to the hotel so I could work a little.

It had also become apparent that I was having a foot problem—swelling ankles and feet, with lots of pain. I’d had a similar reaction when I was here in May 2013; it lasted for most of the trip. Frankly, it was beginning to worry me: foot pain can suck the joy right out of a vacation. So … research. And as it turns out, it’s the flying that’s bringing it on, though age, with its attendant problems of lack of muscle tone and slowly falling arches, doesn’t help. (I know all this now, though not soon enough. I’ve got some exercises I’m working on.) My in-the-moment solution was to look for a massage therapist in the Portmarnock area, where we’d be headed on Monday. But first, we had a very easy Sunday in store. 🙂

 

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I’m Tripping!

That’s it, I’m off … so it’ll be hit or miss here for the next three weeks or so. Here’s what’s on the agenda:

Dublin City
We’ll be here the first five nights, sans car. Getting together for brunches and lunches and dinners with friends and family. In between, I have a few things I’d like to do and see (too much to mention here, but you’ll get a full report later), a few books I’d like to buy (and some more of my Moulton Brown hair product, oh yeah). I like Dublin, and I plan to enjoy this.

Portmarnock/Malahide, Co. Dublin
We’ll be three nights here, and we’ll have a car. We plan to finalize things with the hotel for our party later this year, including sampling and finalizing the menu. I want to check out their afternoon tea service (see how it stacks up to afternoon tea at the Shelbourne) and their spa services. I want to drive around the area and see if there’s anything to add to the sample itineraries I’ve created for our guests who will come from America for the party; for many of them, it will be a first trip to Ireland. Also I want to walk on the beach.

A Wedding!
The real reason I’m here is the first of the nieces is getting married (here).

Save the Date

We’ll move into the wedding hotel in Dublin for one night, then to an airport hotel for the next night, and I’ll fly away home. Possibly the last time I will fly home from Dublin alone. Fingers crossed. 🙂

Your Trip Is, Well, Your Trip

My vendors at the farmers market know me and know I’m about to travel. One of them pointed out the vendor next to him: “She’s going to Ireland too!” Her eyes lit up and we talked some. It was a nice chat.

I always ask, first, “Which airport are you flying into?” Shannon. Ah.

She’s on a golfing vacation, eight courses over a couple weeks. She mentioned Lahinch (one of my favorite places), so I suspect they’ll be golfing at the Lahinch Golf Club. She mentioned Killarney too. I suspect all the courses and thus their sightseeing will be in the west, which is as it should be.

I tried to talk her out of Blarney Castle and Bunratty Castle because they are so, so touristy. “But what other castles are there?” she said. So I gave her the address to this blog. 🙂

When she started talking about the Giant’s Causeway, I blinked. “That’s a long way,” I said. “Not that far,” she said. “And I have four extra days before my golfing friends arrive.”

I gave her the everything-will-take-longer-than-you-think speech, but I’m not sure she believed me. You look at a map and think, Oh, it’s only 300 miles … but I’m tellin’ ya, if you’re an American, they are not the kind of miles you are used to.

Well, it’s five hours in a car from Shannon to the Giant’s Causeway. And you know my position on this: do you want to spend your precious vacation time driving or doing? There’s so much spectacular scenery and things to see and do just in a one-hour radius from Shannon, I can’t imagine going all that way just to see one thing, then coming back.

But that’s just me. In retrospect, I feel bad about the conversation. I should have just said, “Have fun!” The touristy places are just fine for some folks. Not everyone wants my kind of vacation, and that’s as it should be too.

I should have said, “What do you want to do that your traveling companions aren’t interested in? Go do that with your four days!” But, you know, maybe the Giant’s Causeway is that one special thing that the traveling companions aren’t interested in.

I should have said, “Yes, you’re right to wander. Do it, friend.” Who am I to make a pronouncement on her vacation?

It was crowded at the farmers market, and her regulars were coming and buying while we were talking. I am getting ready to depart in just a few days, fewer than a week, so I’m stressing about a variety of things. (Work; it’s always work.) So I should have said much better things than what I did say, but at least I have had some time to reflect and repent. 🙂 Again:

1  Different vacation strokes for different folks.
2  I’m only an expert on my kind of vacation, not hers.
3  It’s your vacation! I hope you have a great time!

Lesson learned!

Rethinking the Departure Madness

I have a lot of things to do before I leave on this trip. Sure, it’s still two weeks out, but I know, I know how quickly it goes by. It’s this whole self-employment thing: I’d like to have a vacation with no work (hasn’t happened yet), so I try to finish as many projects as possible, as early as possible.

I was so frantic before my Phoenix trip last December that I was packing at 10pm (a first for me) when I had to get up at 4am, and still went off leaving the crucial piece of two separate outfits hanging next to the suitcase. I was a wreck.

Something has to give, right?

And when a friend I need to catch up with before I leave asked if I’d be too busy the day before departure, I remembered this article of travel tips from Rick Steves. (I’ve featured it before.) Steves is all about planning and practicality, and generally I am too. But I remember being absolutely convicted by this one:

Leave well-rested to start your trip healthy.
Jet lag is stressful, and if you’re just on the edge of a cold, the flight will likely kick it into high gear. Many travelers are in a chaotic frenzy the night before they fly. Avoid this by putting a fake departure date on your calendar long in advance. Everything related to your trip must be taken care of 48 hours before you fly—even if it means staying up all night. Then you’ll leave healthy and rested.

That chaotic frenzy thing got me.

So I said to my friend, “No, I won’t be too busy at all. I’d like to ease into this trip. Let’s do it.”

In point of fact, I depart on a Wednesday—and I have a massage scheduled on the Monday of that week, and now lunch with my friend on the Tuesday. I’m going to work very, very hard through Sunday night, including packing. And then I’m going to make a point of calling loved ones, catching up on email, and not worrying (too much) about work.

This is my Departure Madness Manifesto. 🙂

Travel Essentials

I get a big kick out of Catherine Howard, the delightful Irish gal who writes (and presents workshops) about the publishing industry at her blog Catherine, Caffeinated.

“For the next two weeks I’ll be out of the country on Proper Holidays,” she announced recently.

Proper Holidays, if you’re not familiar with this term I just made up, is when you take a holiday (vacation, American friends) and while you’re there, you actually take a holiday. You don’t read your blog comments. You let the e-mails build up. You avoid any work-related social media. And as a consequence of this, you actually manage to relax.

I knew immediately what she was talking about, because I haven’t taken a Proper Holiday in years, although I do dream about it on occasion. And I’m not talking about checking email; I’m talking about taking actual work—editing—that needs to be done.

But I want to draw your attention to this post, because it’s fun and has some very useful travel advice. That is, the five things Catherine is sure to pack when she gets ready to travel:

1. A Kindle (and some books)
2. One-cup coffee filter
3. The bag within a bag
4. Zip-lock bags
5. Bubble wrap
6. Laptop

More than one friend of mine has watched me tell a waiter I’ll do without rather than make a cup of tea with their cheap, off-brand (or worse: herbal) teabags, so the only thing I would add to this list is a few teabags. Don’t, as they say, leave home without them.

There’s some good information here! (And, if you really want a definitive packing list, check out this one from the folks at Evernote.)

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Happy Christmas 2014

Thursday, 25 December 2014, Christmas Day / Day 8
Jesse and Kaci and I had celebrated our Christmas a few days earlier, so this was a low-impact Christmas Day for Jesse and me. To avoid cooking, we went out for Chinese food for lunch (so-so), then to the theater downtown …

I was drawn by the pattern in these palm trees, seen from the parking garage.

I was drawn by the pattern and color in these palm trees, seen from the parking garage.

… to see The Theory of Everything, which was moving and sweet. And spectacularly acted. (And I even wrote that before Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for it.)

After the movie, we drove around—and then walked around—the historic neighborhood where Jesse and Kaci live.

IMG_6245I love looking at houses, don’t you? I particularly love colorful front doors and the tableau a homeowner can create with door, porch, and landscaping. Here are a couple.

There is nothing I don't love about this—the shady front porch, that aqua front door, the way the palo verde tree both frames the entrance and mimics the curving lines of the side wall, the way the apple green pots echo the bark on the green tree, the way the marigolds pop. Gosh, this is just gorgeous.

There is nothing I don’t love about this—the shady front porch, that aqua front door, the way the palo verde tree both frames the entrance and mimics the curving lines of the side wall, the way the apple green pots echo the bark on the green tree, the way the marigolds pop. Gosh, this is just gorgeous.

There were several homes that had given their yards over to desertscape. This one was particularly spectacular … although I also think it sort of screams “STAY OUT!” or “KEEP AWAY!”

There were several homes that had given their yards over to desertscape. This one was particularly spectacular … although I also think it sort of screams “STAY OUT!” or “KEEP AWAY!”

Same house. Perhaps this yard is really saying “Leave your toddlers at home, friends!” or “Don’t approach if you’re tipsy!” Use caution.

Same house. Perhaps this yard is really saying “Leave your toddlers at home, friends!” or “Don’t approach if you’re tipsy!” Use caution walkin’ down that sidewalk, y’all.

Jesse was dogsitting for a friend, and we gave Jack a walk. What a lovely street!

Jesse was dogsitting for a friend, and we gave Jack a walk. What a lovely street!

Stay tuned—there’s more to come!

I’m Going on a Trip and I’m Taking …

My friend, author Laura L. Smith, likes to travel as much as I do, and when I saw this piece she wrote on packing for an international trip, I knew I wanted to share it with you. Laura has a whole alphabet of things you shouldn’t forget to pack. I particularly loved these:

N You’ll see smell and experience so many amazing things on your travels. You’ll want a place to jot them down. It also comes in handy to play tic tac toe if your flight/train/bus is delayed.

Open mind. Things will be different. You might have your meal served to you on a leaf instead of a plate. You may order chips and get fries. There may not be air-conditioning. You might not be able to drink the water. But life is an adventure. Be open to the people, culture and experience God has in store for you.

Yes. Yes, you would like to try the fried plantains. Yes, you would like to try jumping in the lake. Yes, you would like to hear the local’s explanation of the plants growing at the side of the road or why there’s a parade on a random Tuesday. You will learn so much if you’re willing to try. Never agree to something that makes you feel uncomfortable like going off with strangers, taking a ride somewhere you hadn’t prearranged or drinking the water in Central America, but be ready to say yes to something new.

Laura’s attitude and mine are the same—I tell people all the time they must be prepared to be out of their comfort zone when they travel to another country. It always astonishes me when people whine about some little thing that is “different.” I say so what? I’ll be home soon enough. 🙂

(If you’d like a for-real packing checklist, here’s Mike Hyatt’s, another friend of mine. I’m especially impressed that he includes a corkscrew for opening wine.)