Tuesday, November 16, 2010

EU Overlords, Welcome to North Carolina!

I KNEW I made the right decision when I moved here to Ireland from North Carolina.  Now even economists are telling me I was right :-)

OK, so the economy here is in disarray and we're all (by this I mean ME) panicked that our salaries are going to get dumped in the toilet, but here is somebody saying not only that some of the basics of the economy are actually quite strong, but that Ireland is North Carolina's sister state.

I knew it all along!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Independent Faith, Civility, and Wearing the Purple

The God's Politics Blog is one of my go to reads every week.  Jim Wallis' Sojourner's organization is a voice representing Christians from all different traditions; its mission is to articulate the biblical call for social justice independent of any particular political affiliation.  Civility, not partisan politics.  Really, who can argue with that?

Wallis' most recent blog post is on a topic that's been very much in the news lately.  Christians and Bullying: Standing with Gays and Lesbians tries to take a Christ-like approach to a divisive issue.  The point is well taken... no matter how much disagreement there might be on an issue, no matter how deeply felt, there is no Christian justification for disrespect, tearing someone down or violence. 

And to go another necessary step further, "to paraphrase Christ, if you oppose bullying, what reward will you get? Isn’t everybody against it?....  The fact that any community or group of people is regularly the target of harassment and hate means Christians should be on the front line of defense against any who would attack."  We should be standing with the vulnerable in our society, whoever they are, not just looking on and shaking our heads at their plight.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Pearls

For hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life-and-death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity. I hope therefore … to counter the hostility of the regime with the best of intentions, and defuse hate with love.
- Liu Xiaobo, a literature professor, essayist, human rights activist and Chinese political prisoner, awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

Friday, October 1, 2010

The No1 Ladies' Detective Agency

I've seen all the books appear over the past few years, but have always resisted buying them.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe because I tend to avoid most anything hinting at "literature" or afrocentric or that everybody tells me I should be buying.

What a fool!

Having taken a half-day from work - complete aversion to work today combined with an overabundance of comp time/time-in-lieu not yet taken - I ended up watching the movie I'd recorded from the BBC onto my DVR a couple of weeks ago.

As you can see, this has motivated me to write a blog post for the first time in a month.  And why?  Because my experience was so fantastic, so amazing, I think everyone should know about this.  This wonderful movie was funny, engrossing, empowering, touching, and flat out beautiful.

I guess it should be no surprise really.  With a director like Anthony Minghella, of The English Patient and Cold Mountain fame, there was little chance that this film wouldn't work.  Add in a screenplay co-written by he and Richard Curtis, of Four Weddings and A Funeral (see earlier post) and Bridget Jones' Diary, and you have a wonderful script.  Round all this off with the acting chops of some fantastic actors and cinematography actually shot in the true location (!), and you have a film where everything rings true.  I laughed.  I shed real tears.  And... now I want to go to Botswana.

 But first, I need to read the books.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Different Tongues, Different Minds?

Fascinating, fascinating article here from The New York Times on whether and how our native languages shape (or don't) how we think and experience the world. 

Photo Courtesy of Horacio Salinas for The New York Times

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Barack Obama and the Voice of God

I came across this great Time Magazine article, Barack Obama and the Voice of God, while studying up on my my new, emerging passion, voice over narration.

You know voice overs, you just don't know you know.  Actually, you hear them 50 million times a day  - virtually every TV commercial, radio promo, continuity spiel between TV shows, public service announcement, documentary, telephone on-hold or interactive or voicemail system.  Every cartoon character, stuffed toy that speaks or makes a funny noise, video game character, company training video and audiobook, ALL use professional artists to voice the script.

They're like air, you never notice how ubiquitous voiceovers are until you start paying attention.  Well, I love to read and my job is already to talk, so I think this would be a natural transition for me.  Now, just to get some training and coaching so I actually know what I'm doing!

Anyway, back to my original point... this is one of those articles that points out something that you never ever realized was case, but afterward wonder how you could have missed it!  "God" is African-American.  He used to be British, but that's so last century!  So, is it so much of surprise that Barack Obama actually won the Presidency?  If "God" can be black, why not the most well-known man on the planet?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Funny... Ouch!

My favorite Laugh Out Loud moment from the Emmy's yesterday - Ricky Gervais presenting one of the awards starts naming well-known actor troublemakers.  He comes to Mel Gibson's name and catches himself... "I'm not gonna have a go at him.  He's been through a lot.... Not as much as the Jews, to be fair."

Hahahaha!  Classic delivery.  That got my donkey laugh going, the one I have to cover my mouth for because it startles me just a little :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday Pearls

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To Be Loved That Way

I'm watching Four Weddings and a Funeral for what must be the seventh or eighth time and I'm still in love with it, for so many reasons.
  1. Hugh Grant in the early 90's was the ultimate leading man.  What was there not to like?  Cute British guy, slightly bumbling like we all (American girls) imagined cute British boys to be.  And that accent!  This was before the "incident" of course.
  2. Romance, romance, romance.
  3. With English accents!
  4. Even though I can't stand her now (she's the worst part of the movie for me), Andie McDowell was one of my first role models for the whole American girl living abroad idea.
  5. I love the idea of such a disparate but fun group of friends.  
  6. Gorgeous wedding locations - village churches, Scottish castles... loved them all.
  7. Weddings.  Like so many other girls, I still wish it would happen for me.
  8. It's actually been awhile since I last watched it and doing it for the first time while living in Ireland gives it a whole other resonance.  There's actually a sense of familiarity now for the landscapes, the city locations, the characterizations.  And, yes, the accents!  Less exotic, but fun in a different way.
  9. Great soundtrack.  I especially like Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet.  Mostly because of it's fantastic cover and co-starring role in another of my favorite movies, Love Actually.  Again with the Hugh Grant!
  10. Finally, what for me is one of the most poignant scenes of any movie I've seen.  Matthew's reading of W.H. Auden's poem, Funeral Blues, at Gareth's funeral.  Isn't that what we all want, to be loved like that?
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

"Stop All The Clocks"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Pearls

Nothing is so strong as gentleness
And nothing is so gentle as real strength
- Ralph W. Southland (Criminal Minds, Series 5: Exit Wounds)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Differing Mindsets

Ever received that email forward giving a list of cultural references for incoming college students?  The one that immediately makes you feel old and decrepit because it shows just how different these young 'uns are?  How different their lives have been.  They have drastically different assumptions, worries, obsessions, shock levels and jokes.

Well, apparently the original list has a pedigree; it's based in academia.  Who knew?  The Beloit College Mindset List has been put out by two officials there for the past twelve years, designed to alert faculty there to their students' cultural touchstones and help them avoid dated references.  We've all been there.  You make a joke, reference somebody famous, give a funny tagline and... the silence has crickets, it's so loud!

Anyway, the new list has just been put out for the incoming class of 2014.  !!!  It's certainly interesting, but actually the points it makes are so far beyond my own cultural touchstones that it loses some of it's impact.  So I checked back on the list, to the very first list for the class of 2002.  Now THAT made an impact! 

Read on and let me know if it's as disorienting for you as it was for me. 
  1. The people starting college this fall [1998] across the nation were born in 1980.
  2. They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era, and did not know he had ever been shot.
  3. They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.
  4. Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.
  5. There has only been one Pope. They can only remember one other president.
  6. They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart, and do not remember the Cold War.
  7. They have never feared a nuclear war. "The Day After" is a pill to them, not a movie.
  8. They are too young to remember the Space Shuttle Challenger blowing up.
  9. Their lifetime has always included AIDS.
  10. They never had a polio shot, and likely, do not know what it is.
  11. Bottle caps have not always been screw off, but have always been plastic. They have no idea what a pull top can looks like.
  12. Atari pre-dates them, as do vinyl albums.
  13. The expression "you sound like a broken record" means nothing to them.
  14. They have never owned a record player.
  15. They have likely never played Pac Man, and have never heard of "Pong."
  16. Star Wars looks very fake to them, and the special effects are pathetic.
  17. There have always been red M&Ms, and blue ones are not new. What do you mean there used to be beige ones?
  18. They may never have heard of an 8-track, and chances are they've never heard or seen one.
  19. The compact disc was introduced when they were one year old.
  20. As far as they know, stamps have always cost about 32 cents.
  21. They have always had an answering machine.
  22. Most have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels, nor have they seen a black & white TV.
  23. They have always had cable.
  24. There have always been VCRs, but they have no idea what Beta is.
  25. They cannot fathom what it was like not having a remote control.
  26. They were born the year Walkmen were introduced by Sony.
  27. Roller-skating has always meant in-line for them.
  28. "The Tonight Show" has always been with Jay Leno.
  29. They have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool.
  30. Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.
  31. They have never seen Larry Bird play, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a football player.
  32. They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.
  33. The Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as WWI and WWII or even the Civil War.
  34. They have no idea that Americans were ever held hostage in Iran.
  35. They can't imagine what hard contact lenses are.
  36. They don't know who Mork was, or where he was from.
  37. They never heard the terms "Where's the Beef?", "I'd walk a mile for a Camel" or "De plane, de plane!"
  38. They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who J.R. is.
  39. The Titanic was found? I thought we always knew where it was.
  40. Michael Jackson has always been white.
  41. Kansas, Boston, Chicago, America, and Alabama are all places, not music groups.
  42. McDonald's never came in Styrofoam containers.
  43. There has always been MTV, and it has always included non-musical shows.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Reason To Miss Target

I'm attending a potluck meet up of Americans tomorrow with the theme of Mexican food.  We're all so excited because, Mexican food here?  Not good. 

While shopping for ingredients to the cucumber salad and the avocado and goat cheese dip I'm making, I had a brainstorm... margaritas!  Woohoo!!  What would make Mexican food even better?  Tequilaaaah. 

Unfortunately, I quickly came up on another roadblock placed by Rip-Off Ireland.  One pint-sized bottle of tequila = 35 euro!  What??? 

I soooo miss the Margarita Bucket mix from Tar-gay!  Add a bottle, freeze to slushiness in the (full-sized) freezer, and voila!  Good times.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Pearls

This week's quotes are given in honour of Jamaica's Independence Day today.  Happy 48th Birthday Jamaica!

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Freedom is the oxygen of the soul.
- Moshe Dayan

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Trust on Fire

In another one of those incidents fitting the category "It Would Never Happen In America", we just had a fire drill at work this morning.

Now, forget the fact that this is the first one we've had in the THREE years I've been here (!); something even more shocking happened.

Of everyone in the building, almost all of whom are female, only one other woman brought out her handbag!!  Am I the only one who thinks that is just weird?

I've gotten used to the whole not locking my car door thing while I'm driving, but this... this is just crazy!  Or... is it me still stuck in the American suspicious mindset?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Pearls

He that speaketh against his own reason, speaks against his own conscience, and therefore it is certain that no man serves God with a good conscience who serves him against his reason.
- Bishop Jeremy Taylor, 16th Century

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I can't believe this country has yet to discover the joy that is fake orange cheese.  For a nation built on the back of agriculture and with such a strong dairy background, you'd think they'd have made the wonder-filled leap to virtual cheesiness by now.

Boxes of Cheez-Its and tubs of Utz cheese balls?  Nope, not a bit.  True Vermont sharp cheddar cheese?  Nowhere to be found and, to be frank, "mature" cheddar is just not the same.  And my most immediate frustration at the grocery store today....Why, oh why can I not find any cheddar-flavored rice cakes??  Caramel, triple berry yoghurt flavor, organic hazelnut and chocolate, it's all there.  But no cheesey goodness.

Really Irish people, there's no reason to fear the fake cheese.  Embrace the chemically formulated goodness!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day One

The theme for today is Family and (locally sourced) Food.

Happily spent a couple of hours letting my dad name and give the back story for virtually every tree and flowering stake in his yard.  In the process have eaten a not quite ripe cherry, and a young guava and orange, picked limes and ackees, and helped cut a banana bunch from on of the many trees with my dad's trusty machete.  Who knew you had to let the "hands" drain after you cut them from the bunch? 

The trip to the outdoor farm market was only slightly less adventurous.  It would have made a fantastic picture.  Too bad I stupidly forgot my camera.  I'll have to try to make it back there again. before I leave.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Pearls

Marriage hath in it less of beauty but more of safety than the single life.  It hath more care, but less danger.  It is more merry and more sad.  It is fuller of sorrows and fuller of joys.  It lies under more burdens, but it is supported by all the strengths of love and charity, and those burdens are delightful.
- Bishop Jeremy Taylor, 16th Century

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's A Wonderful Life

April 21 - flights booked to Jamaica for family reunion.  Looking forward to hanging out with my dad for a couple of weeks and seeing my 93 year old grandmother.

June 29 - pull an allnighter to pack, all the while ranting back and forth with sister and a duo of cousins re crazy, last minute family drama.  Thank God for the chance to vent or my head might just have blown off.

June 30 12:45 p.m. - British Airways flight delayed 90 minutes due to minor technical difficulties.  On the plus side, find out that crowding has bumped me to Business Class.  Nice!

June 30 1:45 p.m. - board flight that leaves less late than expected.

June 30 1:50 p.m. - am offered champagne by nice waiter steward.  Am good and take juice instead. 

June 30 2:15 p.m. - because my Business Class seat cubicle just isn't perfect enough, I switch from aisle seat next to someone else to empty middle double seat.  Now that's the ticket!

June 30 2:25 p.m. - first round of alcohol cart makes it's pass.  It order a Kir Royale 'cause I'm smooth like that.

June 30 2:30 p.m. - already am stretched out on reclining seat with free socks, puffy blanket, and movie previews playing out on my private video screen.

June 30 2:40 p.m. - have just given my 4-course meal order and am contemplating the extensive wine list. 

June 30 3:00 p.m. - I give the salad a 3/10, but the smoked sea trout with horseradish creme fraiche is definitely an 8.

June 30 3:10 p.m. - apparently I do not drink anywhere near the rate of the Brits either.  I'm still only halfway through my Kir Royale AND my Bordeaux, and the stewards have come by to ask me if I need a refill twice already!

June 30 3:35 p.m. - grilled beef is slightly tough but the ragout with buttered leeks and wilted spinach make it still quite tasty.

June 30 3:50 p.m. - these stewards are the most efficient ever!  Let me digest a bit before you bring the next course, why don't you?  I'll have to save the Baileys till later. 

June 30 5:00 p.m. - 2 glasses of wine, a Kir Royale and a Baileys have me quite mellow.  The movie's pretty good too.  How To Train Your Dragon: 4.5/5 stars.  Time for my nap now.

June 30 6:40 p.m. - am wide awake again.  Weird.  Is this all the sleep I'm going to get?  Maybe I should get back to the drinking.

June 30 8:45 p.m. - Up In The Air was both poignant and sad.  Does it say I'm cynical that I guessed George Clooney's love interest was married the whole time?

June 30 10:00 p.m. - "afternoon tea" on board involves finger sandwiches and scones with jam and clotted cream.  If only I could travel this way all the time!

June 30 10:30 p.m. - am ready to disembark.  What are the odds of a similar glimpse of the high life on my way back?  Sadly, probably not that high.  But hey, no time to dwell.  Jamaica here I come!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Pearls

"Many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose."
- Helen Keller (via Criminal Minds, series 5: A Rite of Passage)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday Pearls

Men do not differ much about what things they call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.
- G. K. Chesterton

I've been thinking a lot about repentance and forgiveness lately with the final report of the Bloody Sunday Commission, 28 years after the events of that horrible day, and David Cameron's unflinching apology on behalf of his government and country.  Remarkable.

The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity.
- Lord Byron

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Actual Summer

Sunglasses on the drive on into work.  A persistent house fly.  Car windows that need to be left cracked open. 

It's almost like being back home in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill/Carrboro) again.  Now all we need are some dogwood petals, violent yellow pollen staining everything, and debilitating heat and humidity :-)  Ahh, good times!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Shouldn't Have!

Here's another unexpected, sweet but sometimes confusing difference in how things work over here.  "Work" pun intended!  I've never been to so many goodbye lunches or contributed to so many birthday/baby/goodbye gifts.  I'm attributing this to a strong cultural value placed on generosity, one that sometimes seems overboard to me coming as I do from an Americanized background.

Some examples:  a short-term contract worker ("locum") comes to the expected end of her time and everyone assumes there will be a lunch, flowers and gift.  An intern approaches the conclusion of his year-long rotation and lunch out with the whole team is a must, as is another collection around the whole building for a nice gift..  Milestone birthdays as well are marked by contributions, good food and expensive baubles.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Please don't.  I'm not stingy.  Nor do I have a heart the size of a shriveled peach.  I care about people. I really do!  I'm just not used to all this celebration and gift-giving for what I'd see as normal comings and goings.  In my previous life, work was work except for the special things (e.g., new babies on a close team, etc).  Interns come and go.  So do contract workers.  There's nothing really special about that.  Except... I must be wrong because here there is.

Case in point, a coworker and I just concluded running a group for parents as part of our overall service to our clients.  At the final session, we each received a card.  Very nice of you.  Thanks, but you really didn't have to.  I so wasn't expecting it!  Nor was I expecting... this:

Really?  Isn't this a little above and beyond?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rock That Anthem

Ok, yes, OF COURSE I'm stoked about USA tying England in the World Cup soccer/football game tonight! [cue cheesy grin and fist pumping]  But, I'm actually struck by something else very telling in how the teams, and the fans in the stadium, responded tonight.

God Save The Queen vs. The Star Spangled Banner.  The Americans ROCKED it!  Did you see?  The American players with their hands over their heart, most singing along, the American fans shouting out the words with glee.

I'm not sure how much of the difference was culturally based emotional expression (stiff upper lip vs. brash enthusiasm), knowledge-based (I assume most Brits actually know the words to their anthem, right?), emotional investment in the anthem per se as representative of patriotic pride, and/or the anxious energy of the underdog team going against the big gun.  A little bit of all?  But, the difference was palpable.

Of course, I was singing "The rocket's red glare..." as loud as anybody else in the stadium as well.

Friday Pearls

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Friday Pearls

You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.
- Desmond Tutu

Family is a haven in a heartless world.
- Christopher Lasch

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What was I saying?

Wine and tapas-fueled conversational topics at Cafe Gusto tonight, egged on by Sabrina Dent and her friends Grace and Catherine (did I mention the excellent wine?):
  • The validity (or lack of) of ethnic self-identification by non-immigrant (e.g., 2nd or 3rd generation, etc) Caucasians in the U.S. (don't blame me for this one!)
  • Obama's chances of winning re-election in 2012 (Ok, yeah, this one was mine)
  • The beauty of the neti pot (see my previous post here)
  • Differences between the use of the family doctor and specialist gynecologist by women in the U.S. vs. Ireland
  • Childbirth
  • Liking or not liking your progeny
  • Mental health status of old flames
  • Why is it that my friends and family STILL haven't found me a cute guy
  • Why parents of my patients piss me off so often
  • The deficits in Ireland's foster care system
  • Similarities between Ireland and Jamaica (see one of my blog's most read posts here)
  • Different world views between Jamaicans (West Indians in general) and AA's
  • How the attached found/met their spouses and (have I mentioned?) the need for my friends to get on the ball and introduce me to their single male friends!
  • How my standards/requirements for men have changed (e.g., drastically reduced) as I've gotten older
I wasn't bored :-)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

This is the day we remember our fallen soldiers, those who have given their time, energy and, ultimately, their lives to protect and serve their nation and the democratic principles on which it is based.

No matter your political leanings or feelings about the various administrations that come and go, this is something we can all agree on. These are people who deserve our respect.

I'm proud to say I have a (retired) member of the military in my family and, despite our loving political "discussions" :-), I have nothing for respect for him and those like him who volunteered to serve. Politics dictate where they're sent and why, but honor, courage and loyalty keep them there doing their job.

We salute you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Brainwashed by Eurovision

There's no other explanation - it must be Stockholm Syndrome. Oh no, even the name taunts me!

The first year I was here to hear about it, 2008, I was confused. What the heck? Why? What's the point? And why a turkey?!

The second year, I remember turning my nose up in disdain at the silly Europeans and their weird song contest with the silly costumes and the bizarre dances and the totally unnecessary hoopla.

This year, bring on the Eurovision Song Contest! I actually set the DVR to tape it, found myself twittering about it, and was insulted (insulted I tell you!) that we in Ireland weren't allowed to vote tonight.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Pearls

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tunes without words
and never stops - at all.
- Emily Dickinson (via Criminal Minds, Series 5: Mosley Lane)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ode to the Neti Pot

Yes folks, this post is about... wait for it!... my nose. Nostrils, honker, beak, face flusher... you name it, it's been the bane of my life since I first got my cat 13 years ago. (Mwahh, love you sweetie!)

I hate being stuffed up all the time! Hate it, hate it, HATE IT!! But, there's only so much I've been able to do about it. Despite the years of allergy injections, purchases of hypoallergenic bedding and trials of various medications, the core problem has never gone away. Really, I'm just not willing to kill off my cat, no matter if my sinuses would sing hallelujah and throw me a party :-) Evil and object of cursing by my friends and family she may be, but she's MINE darn it!

My latest attempt to fix the darn thing is to try out a Neti Pot I bought online on eBay. It's actually not a pot per se, more of a plastic jug with a nozzle on the bottom, but it fits the general definition I guess - implement for nasal/sinus irrigation. I've been using it for a full week now.

It's sort of an odd sensation, usually people try to keep water out of their nose, but it actually doesn't feel bad once you try it the first time and it's dead easy to do. The process happens almost completely on its own without much work on my part. Gravity and pressure does it all. All you have to do is bend over the sink a bit and tilt your head, and voila!

The good news is it works. Ok, it's slightly gross, especially the first few days with all your old crustiness is getting flushed out, but it's certainly no worse than have to blow your nose multiple times a day. Ugh. Since I've bought it, I've cut my use of nasal spray/medication almost two-thirds, my savings in tissues is immense and, need I say it?, I can breathe!

I actually received my new best friend in the mail the day after I started having the early symptoms of a cold/flu. By that morning, it had moved into my chest and I was doing the wet cough, low grade fever, general crappy feeling thing. I was not a happy camper. The last time this happened, just 2 months ago, I ended up in the A&E (ER) in the middle of the night because I just couldn't breathe! Lucky me got told I don't "technically" have asthma, which is kind of good to know, but didn't help when I thought I was going to die because my chest was so tight. I did get my very first Nebulizer treatment and a brand new inhaler. Yeah for new experiences, right?

Thankfully, this time turned out differently. After I started using the Neti last Monday, the cold symptoms retreated rapidly from my chest and, in fact, were almost gone the next day. My fever and fatigue symptoms abandoned ship as well. I still have a cough hanging around from nasal drip, but it's episodic and never lasts long.

I have to say, for a homeopathic remedy - albeit one that's been used regularly by Indian devotees for centuries - this thing is working wonders! My goal is to eventually get off medication completely and to NOT be asked almost daily "do you have a cold?" That would be nice. So would not having to think about how my nose is working at all.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday Pearls

Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.
- C.S. Lewis (via Criminal Minds, Series 5: Risky Business)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Pearls

Anything you can not relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you.
- Mildred Lesett Norman

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Resistance is Futile

The assimilation continues... sorta. Today I spontaneously and unselfconsciously asked my (office) Team mates, "Shall we have a spot of tea?"

Now, I'm no longer surprised by my capitulation to the dominance of the tea break. Or to the gentle, questioning mode for making a suggestion. But, where the heck did "a spot" come from? That's the British style, not Irish.

Maybe, it's too much U.K. TV. Or maybe I'm just resisting the humiliation of actually hearing myself suggest we get "a cuppa". All I know is it's a battle zone inside my head and the U.S. ain't winning!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Pearls

I laugh, I love, I hope, I try, I hurt, I need, I fear, I cry. And I know you do the same things too. So we're really not that different, me and you.
- Colin Raye (country music singer)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wait... what?

Common sights here that still make me do a double take or go "huh", even after 2-1/2 years:

Shoppers walking away from the grocery store with 1, 2, even a stack of items in their hands. Likely they either forgot their reusable bags and didn't want to pay the 21 cents for a cheap plastic one, or didn't have anymore space in their backpack/shoulder bag/etc.

Dogs being walked without being on the leash. Small dogs, big ones, scary ones, multiple ones. And forget pooper scooping. I think I've seen a couple of people with the telltale plastic bags in their hands since I've been living here. Keeping an eye on the sidewalk when you're walking is always a smart idea. You never know what doggy "gift" you might run into.

Men and boys pushing prams/strollers while out for their walk or strolling around the neighborhood.

Color-dotted sheep roaming the fields. What's the meaning of the pink and blue markings?

Tiny little cars everywhere. So cute!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Pearls

I have 10 hearts and 100 arms. I feel too strong to battle mere mortals. Bring me giants!
- Cyrano de Bergerac

I love great quotes, don't you? My problem is that there are just so many of them, and I never seem to remember them for very long.

So, I thought I'd do something about my leaky memory and preserve some of my favorites for posterity. Since I'm such a TV addict, that's where I'll be getting most of these. And my best source? Weirdly enough, it's Criminal Minds. Great drama, even if it is about catching serial killers. Sorry if the source offends your sensibilities, but that's what makes me such an enigma - my eclectic interests :-)

I thought I'd try and make this a recurring series, so I'll be posting them on Fridays as pearls of wisdom to finish off each week. As a first outing bonus, you get two for the price of one.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.
- Washington Irving (by way of Criminal Minds, Series 5: Retaliation)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Great Things Go Together

... like amazing food made by great friends. And I'm not just talking about your run of the mill good meal appreciated by a friend's not-so-amazing palate.

My good friend, Sheila Dalton Neal and her husband, Matt, started Neal's Deli in Carrboro, NC (The Paris of the Piedmont!) a couple of years ago. They make tasty seasonal and locally sourced food that anyone would love. Including, it seems, the food critic from the The New York Times. Yes, THAT New York Times!

So, the article seems to conflate Durham, the headlining Southern town, with it's neighbor (and my old stomping grounds) Carrboro - two very different locales - but it's still plugging gourmet Southern/homestyle food so I can't complain too much.

I just love it when my amazing - and deserving - friends get what they deserve!

Oh, and this isn't Neal's Deli's first literary mention. Take a look at their previous mentions in Gourmet Magazineand Bon Appetit as well.

Now, if only I could get me some of dat right now!

Photos courtesy of New York Times

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


You know those people who are just too funny for their own good? The ones who make you cackle like a witch with laughter because their snarkiness makes you forget there might be people listening?!

I have a friend like that. LoRay, you know who you are!!

If she wrote a blog - after deciding to chuck the Orange County country life and go live in Sudan of all places(!) - she would be Facts Are Strictly Optional.

Stop making me laugh, damnit, I have a stitch!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

Sexy open-toed sandals, a pretty patterned top and my new "boyfriend" jeans were the wardrobe of the day today as I lounged on the river balcony of the French wine bar with a friend enjoying a lovely dessert and a sparkling drink under a cloudless blue sky.

17 gorgeous degrees Celsius (63 F) after our bitter winter made this just a gorgeous day. I even had to take off my light jacket because it was too warm.

It was niiiice and, as a result, I'm feeling pretty full of myself as you can tell :-) Watch out, the sap it is arising!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Goodness

I did it. I ate the chocolate bunny.

He had to go. Better to be consumed as a baby than to hide in the depths of my kitchen cupboard taunting me.

I know I'm weak. Fine, I accept my fallen nature. But you, you were empty inside. Mwahaha!! I mock you for your lack of substance and character!

An empty shell you were, but sweet and tasty!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Keep Your Distance

Death could be closer than you think

Sign on the back of fuel truck I passed on the commute home*. Needless to say, I drove very, vewwy carefully as I went past and for the rest of the drive.

Nothing like a warning about imminent death to raise your alert levels!

*The picture wasn't actually on the truck but it adds a nice touch don't you think?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Girl Alone in the Dark

So I get a call from a friend saying "hey, wanna catch a movie?" Well, in somewhat less American terminology. I'm leaving the gym feeling virtuous and tomorrow's a holiday, so I release my spontaneous side and jump on board.

Of course, since this is my life, she got irrevocably delayed (reasons very valid), so I end of watching Shutter Island by myself. In the dark.

Now, this is NOT a movie you really want to see by yourself. I felt kind of silly doing the fingers across my eyes thing with no one else familiar beside me to get the joke... and share the fear.

Suffice it to say... freaky movie. Really good and not at all horror, which I was afraid it was going to be, but freaky. I won't tell you what other freaky but good movie it reminds me of - I hate spoilers - but once you see it yourself you'll know exactly which movie I mean.

Just don't see it alone.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dark Places

I still find myself being blindsided at times with grief over my Aunt Pearl's recent death from cancer. It's been just over a month and I'll go long stretches without consciously thinking about it. But then something happens to let my usual walls down - a certain song at church, watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (always a tear-fest), it could be anything really - and it washes over me again.

Christine Sine's post, "Nouwen on Lent: Strength In Dark Places" on the God's Politics blog just really spoke to me today. Especially this quote which reminds me that grief is as much a part of life as anything else:
the hard dark places strengthen and give shape and form to the soft and vulnerable places of light and laughter
This is only the second major bereavement I've had in my life that I can really remember. I know, I've been very lucky. Still, I think I'd prefer to avoid any more "hard, dark places" for another good long while.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baby Love

Babies is a documentary film that followed four babies from across the globe for the first two years of their lives.

Just saw the trailer and all the oxytocin in my brain stood up and sang "hallelujah!"

I have GOT to see this movie! Why, oh why do we have to wait till May?

Pretty, Pretty

Sun. Blue Skies. Palm trees. So much to love about Miami. Fantastic jewelry? Hmmm, that wouldn't have been the first thing to come to mind, but now I'm convinced.

While hanging out with my sister on my recent trip, we had to do a quick drop-in at a jewelry party for a friend of a friend. "Five minutes" we thought. Two hours later....

I am so in love with my new Silpadajewelry. Definitely worth the pain in my wallet :-) Beautiful, top quality, and a lifetime guarantee. Give me more!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Brain Fart

Mea Culpa! I can't believe this, but while doing some housecleaning on the blog today I found this post from October that I never posted.

Sorry Niamh, I promise I didn't mean to be rude or ignore you!

Original text of post below:

Niamh is so cool! She nominated me as a Kreativ Blogger because she likes my take on expat life in Ireland and she thinks I'm funny. Boy, do I have her fooled! :-)

As with everything though, there's a catch. As in rules. But definitely ones I can live with: Link back to Niamh at Writer on the Way Home (now Irish Wanderings) because I think her blog is really thoughtful... and funny; List 7 things I love.

7 Things I Love:
  1. Spending the day in my pajamas reading a book or catching up on my DVR
  2. My cat lying on my chest and kneading my collarbone with her paw. Kitty love!
  3. Belazu Balsamic Vinegar. When was the last time I actively researched a food item on the net and tracked it down because I couldn't live without it? I'd do it again for this lovely item!
  4. Hugs from my niece and nephew. Any contact with my niece and nephew :-)
  5. E-books. Having gone through the trauma of packing up (most) and selling (too many) of my books for the big move, I'm never putting myself in that position again! A portable harddrive is sooo much easier to move :-)
  6. Speaking of which... my portable harddrive. Almost as small as my Palm Pilot PDA, but can hold 300 Mb.
  7. And, as always... fried, ripe plantains.

Old Spice - The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

This is one of the best commercials I've seen in... heck, forever! Does it trump the Cadbury gorilla commercial? I don't know. That's just how good it is!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sunshine and Flowers

My new blogfriend, Imperfect Stepford Wife, just gave me a great award!

Thank you so much. I love to feel the love! :-)

Now onto the rules and, since this is one of my most conservative traits (rules are good for you!), I'll be following them (almost) to the letter.
  • Put the logo on your blog in your post.
  • Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
  • Link the nominees within your post.
  • Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blogs.
  • Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.
Dum, dum-te-dum!! And the nominees are:

She's Not From Yorkshire
Dixie Peach
Irish Wanderings
I Married An Irish Farmer
Not From Around Here
I'm Leaving On A Jetplane
Black Girl in Prague

Clearly I need to get online more. Some of my fave blogs are no more, some are haven't posted for awhile. So I'm stopping at 8 not 12.

Maybe I'll add some more once I've gone through this year's list of Irish Blog Award nominees. That's always a great source of new reads.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On A Good Week

il mondo è fatto a scale [stairs in lecce, sal...Image by Paolo Màrgari via Flickr

  • Aero Tone on Monday
  • Spin and Tone on Tuesday
  • Total Tone on Wednesday
  • Spinning and salsa class on Thursday
With this schedule, you'd think I'd feel in better shape. So why does climbing that second set of stairs at the gym kill me every. single. time?!
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Airport Pick-Up

This is why I like Irish men. Many of my Irish female friends may dispute their value, but there's something unique in the blend of shyness, humor, and lager-induced bravado that can be quite appealing at times.

Last week was a perfect example. Somehow, I got picked up on my flight to the states, without even realizing it! It was like a dating "Sixth Sense" - the ball didn't drop for me until almost the very end :-)

This guy was smooth, patient, non-threatening, but not afraid to move in for the kill at the end of the silent chase. From sitting across the aisle from he and his buddies on the plane, to the final walk and wait at Baggage Claim, it was an exercise in patient hunting. And, by the time the prey copped on, she was already hip deep in conversation, admitting that no she wasn't married, and willingly passing on her mobile number.

Now, I like to think I'm pretty self-aware, but, in this case, cluelessness probably served to keep me calm, unflustered, and distant enough at the start to ensure that the chase kept going. Rather than anxious and self-conscious, I ended up feeling pretty pleased with both myself and him, and smiling a bit as well. The smile had to get bigger when, as we caught up with each other in the snakey Customs line, he sent a smiling wink and his friends chorused out "Hi Sirmelja!" :-)

All in all, an interesting flight.

Reluctant Truth

Those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed an update I just made on the side-bar. Sadly, it had to be done. As much as I'd like to pretend, I'm just not a 30-somethinger anymore :-(

But, hey, I may have just turned 41, but I still feel 31! And as long as people keep telling me I look it, I'm going to keep on smiling :-)

Reflections in an Airport

I recently flew to Miami for a sad occasion - the death of a very much loved aunt. I'm actually still there, writing in a spare moment while spending time with family. Thankfully, I hadn't had to attend a funeral of a loved one in years before this, so I'm trying to focus on the positives rather than dreading the inevitable outcome of my certain age where this will start happening more and more :-(

But, that actually wasn't the point of why I started to write this. While waiting for my next connection, on one of the layovers of the flight here, a few thoughts hit me:
  • That first few hours on U.S. soil always brings a welter of mixed emotions. I feel blessedly normal (it's so much easier to blend in) but jarringly anonymous at the same time (there's nothing that special about me here... weird). In Ireland, I'm kind of exotic (not that many other Americans/black Americans/Jamaican-Americans running around). Here, I'm a dime a dozen. I'm literally of two minds about it.
  • When did the whole world switch from laptops to netbooks? (All of a sudden, laptops look big and clunky). And, how can I get one??
  • Being surrounded by rushing, semi-panicked strangers, tight spaces, bright lights and loud, clashing noises is NOT the best place to be when the worst sinus headache in the world comes crashing down on you! Don't. Do. That. Again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Party Diversity... Irish Style

Four French, two Polish, one Russian and a Jamaican-American go into a bar... Ok, it was an apartment, but it still sounds like a great beginning to a joke. And, happily, there was lots of laughter.

An evening out at a friend's place in Cork is definitely more international than ones I would be used to. And not just the guests, the menu too! Lots and lots of crepes, handmade by the authentic French husband of my Polish friend. Washed down with wine, juice and, most intriguingly, a lychee liqueur that I have just got to try again! Not often though - 21% alcohol. Eeek!

The entertainment was just as new to me (though probably not to anyone else on the planet). Besides the fantastic accents and lots of French flowing in the background; we ended up playing Rock Band on the XBox. As a XBox virgin, let's just say 62% to 77% in 3 songs ain't too bad!