Missing: The Irish Version
First of all, sorry for being off-line for so long. My parents came to visit for 10 days and I didn’t post because I was too busy eating the amazing food they were serving up AND too shocked at watching my usually demure mom teach Finn how to trash talk while playing ‘Go Fish’. Also, I think the rain rain rain had made my brain mossy and the writing thoughts just weren’t flowing.
Lest you think the earlier entry entitled ‘Missing’ was positioning me as one of those whingy Americans who goes overseas and then complains because she can’t get her decaf nonfat latte and a decent cell phone signal, let me dedicate this entry to some of the things that I love about Ireland and that I will miss a lot upon returning to Maine.
Let’s see . . . there’s raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Oh wait, that’s not it. No, it’s the drying rack, commercial breaks, schemes, and the kitchen window.
Our cottage has a small washing machine; it does a half load at a time. The system for drying clothes is brilliant. The ceiling in the living room/dining room is two stories high so hanging over the dining room table is a drying rack. It’s connected to a pulley and so one raises and lowers it as needed. So smart because: 1) it tends to rain just about every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, so drying clothing outside would be a frustrating clothes pin polka; 2) it places the clothes in the toastiest spot in the house; 3) the clothes are out of the way. Also, there is just something so damn satisfying about hoisting a load of clothes up to the rafters each morning to dry. Something else that’s brilliant about the system: it holds exactly one half load of clothes – no more, no less. The scale of this house is spot on.
We’ve been watching some TV over here. Sports (UEFA finals for soccer, Gaelic football, rugby), movies, US police dramas (I get a particular kick out of watching Without a Trace on the Irish language station; the show is in English but all of the ads are in Irish; and I have to out my husband right here and now re: his new found love of the show The Mentalist), and an occasional afternoon episode of Oprah (which is running several months behind, so I just got to relive Obama’s victory all over again – very nice). Shows do not run on the tidy hour and half hour schedule here. One station may have a movie starting at 9:10 pm while the next channel has the evening soap opera starting at 9:25. Nothing lines up; it’s all a hodge podge. And so commercials aren’t placed into shows in the same way. Sometimes a 42 minute show might only have two commercial breaks, each a minute long. I confess to watching American Idol for the first time ever. I started watching in back in the US this winter and Ireland has been the ideal place to watch the show. The week’s two shows (performance show and results show) are on back-to-back each Saturday and there are only a couple of commercial breaks. What would take 2 hours to watch back in the US is just over 90 minutes over here – none of the annoying drawn-out drama of suspensefully placed ads.
Over here civic projects are referred to as ‘schemes’. New school being built? It’s a school building scheme. Highway being re-routed? It’s a new roadway scheme. And, if you are lucky enough to live in Ballycastle (which we are) you are experiencing the magic of the “new sewerage scheme.” The word scheme imbues, for me, a level of excitement and intrigue to these projects. I know it’s just a plain old infrastructural improvement, but it sounds so much more cunning, doesn’t it? Hey – it’s been raining a lot here. A girl’s gotta find excitement where she can.
I love our kitchen here. Some things are less than ideal, like the drawer full of dull knives (brought back into service by my Dad, who brought his knife-sharpeners with him to Ireland; the man is magic) and the lack of appliances I use a lot back in the States. But I’m doing aok, mainly because I plan menus that don’t require a food processor or sturdy mixer or decent cooking pot. And I like the creativity that’s forced by working out of a small pantry cupboard and a small dorm-scale fridge. One thing I love about the kitchen are the tiny fridge and the window over the sink. In the US the sink is set under the cabinets and has a view of a bit of wall and a bit of cabinet. The lighting is dim and the color we’ve painted the kitchen could most accurately be described as dusty dung. I often end up in a foul mood while doing the dishes at home and I think it’s because I feel as if I am trapped in a box with only a dishpan and a scrubby brush for company. Here I look out a window while I do the dishes. Our tiny backyard is edged by a stone wall and on the other side of the wall is a grazing field for local livestock. Beyond that is more fields and at the edge of it all is the ocean. When we arrived there were two bulls in residence in the nearest field (Clarence and Louis). Three weeks ago they were moved and the field became the maternity ward for local cows. Six cows were brought in and within a week, four of the cows had given birth. The kitchen window is one part CBS Sunday Morning’s “We’ll leave you this week in this beautiful spot in nature . . .” and one part “Wild Kingdom”. I’ve joked with David about taking a photo from the window and putting it over the sink at home. Or maybe I could get him to paint something and laminate it . . .
I am reserving judgment on the Eurovision song contest. It started last week and it is the craziest thing I think I have ever seen on TV – Vegas amped up on steroids purchased in Eastern Europe and dressed up by Dita Van Teese in consultation with Cirque du Soliel and the Solid Gold Dancers. It’s taking place in Moscow this year and is mc’d by two manic Russian spokesmodels. The best part of watching is the RTE Irish commentator who talks over the show. Sadly Ireland didn’t make it past the first round (apparently not enough body paint or back up dancers on stilts) and so he’s free to just rip into the other acts. He’s snarky and often exasperated with the wacky performances, the perfect foil to the bizarre glitz of the show. My money is on the Ukraine; go to You Tube and watch their piece. Don’t do this at work unless your boss is okay with you watching nearly naked gladiators while on the clock.