Stories of Friendship, Family, Fun and Food.
All the way from the Emerald Isle!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Swan

They say that Swans mate for life. Unless of course there is a failed nesting experience which could end up in 'Swan Divorce'. I am sure it is very similar to us humans. They meet, fall in love, pledge eternal life together then plan a family. They go through some hard times trying to breed and after facing such huge fertility issues and the emotional physical pain of 'loosing what you never had' call it quits in the hopes that they still have time to find another soul mate.

It is so different for the lucky ones like Ron & I. I think we are like the Swans. We have mated for life. We never really attempted to breed, so saved ourselves from the stress, struggle & strain (financial and emotional) of dealing with infertility.
We have had our share of hardships and tough times but I am thankful every day when I look at our 2 rugrats that we chose to grow our family by way of adoption.
These beautiful birds showed up this evening when we were out feeding the ducks. It could have been their graceful presence, they way they gently ate out of the children's hands, or they way they sashayed away together in to the setting sun. Everyone is so frantic these days with this recession, the banks, the credit crises. I just felt so darn lucky - in love with my swan and 2 gorgeous cygnets.

Enough WiseWords for today,


PS - that really is the setting sun in Galway this evening :-)

I pity the fool

My younger brother Kenneth (whom most of you have met) lives in Galway also. He pays us a visit once or twice per week and the kids go nuts when they see him. Last night her came out to give Jack a much needed haircut! Kenneth is the kind of guy that one would normally NOT trust with a shears and a 3 year old boy but as he is my brother and Ron consented to the shearing, we let him at it. As you can see from the photo, he had a little fun with it and gave Jack a Mr. T haircut.

Temporary haircut that is. Soon, all hair was tidied up and Mr. Jack was handsome as ever with his little bald head.
Not to be outshon by big sister, Rorí gives us her overworked smile!

Off to the market for some produce and fish, then a stint at the playground for the kids. Still no rain...............must be 4 days in a row now! Surely that is a record in Ireland??
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beach Baby, Beach Baby

Sunrise out my bedroom window today............................How, could you not enjoy the day ahead if this is the way it begins?

To be fair, the weather here is just not as bad as everyone thinks. I have to say it does rain a lot, almost every day in fact, HOWEVER, when it is nice (or FINE as they say here) it is gorgeous. I suppose that is why people like to live here.
I have a few shots of recent walks we have went on over the last week and you will notice the skies are blue and we are not wearing snow boots or rain coats.
The Autumn skies in Ireland are probably some of the best in the world. Amazing sunrise (Really really amazing) and as there is a famous song titled 'watch the sun go down on Galway Bay' it really is worth stopping everything you are doing to do just that.

I threw in this photo of the wee ones because I thought they looked so darn cute and I can never get enough of it and hope you feel the same. Rory has perfected her little side ward glances at the camera to a fine art and we know she is a posing queen. She is teaching Jack a few things about the camera too. Pity he was distracted by something at the park and not focusing on me!!
This is a photo of Renville Bay where we walk frequently. It is a lovely and tiny little bay about 8 miles outside the city. Very quiet and full of mussels!!
Granny and the kids out shell seeking. Another sunny day on the auld sod.
Here they are standing on an old fishing boat called a 'currach'. If you look in the background you will see a glimpse of Tyrone House (the castle). A shame it is in ruins but a very cool place. Follow the link for photos of this and look for the next blog as we are going over for a visit later this week.

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Friday, September 12, 2008

Did anyone say food??

There are a few things you need to know about Ireland and Food. We have a 'meat and potatoes' reputation but I gotta tell you there is some unbelievable food on this little island. Above, the sign for Blaa Dogs is the southern part of Ireland's answer to a hot dog. The Blaa is a soft roll (round in shape) and can be soft or crunchy crust. It is only made in Waterford and we are finding it impossible to get a recipe. I think you have to live there to be allowed to make it.

Above here you will see Irish Bok Choy growing quite well. They actually label it Pax Choi here, but it is the same stuff and delicious.
There is no shortage of cheese on this farming island. At every turn we see and eat our way through another bite of sheep, goat or cows milk cheese. There is a little raw milk cheese in production in the south but not a whole lot - I think Ron is thinking about trying his hand at a batch of Irish Parmesan :-)
And of course, lets not forget the fruits of the sea. We went to a lovely oyster farm and got to see the entire production in operation. Stick with me on this one as it is quite interesting.

Irish people (in general) do not eat fish. I know, this is a disgrace and I am making it my mission in life to change this statement. To be honest, we could have avoided the deaths of almost 1,000,000 people during the Potato Famine of 1845 if we had harvested from the sea.

Back to the oyster farm. Ron and I have always been lovers of this creature. So a tour to this oyster farm was high on our list of priorities. The farm we toured was at the bottom of the country in County Waterford very close to Dungarvan.

The farmer was originally a dairy farmer but the demand for oysters in the '80s was so great he converted to oyster farming. The demand I hear you say??? Yes, from the French! They buy 'seedlings' from France, raise them for 18mths to 2 years in the Irish sea, sort, grade & sell them back to France as FRENCH Oysters.
It is like we adopt them, raise them as our own, then send them back to where they came from. Only 2% of Oysters fished in IRISH seas are eating by the Irish. To be honest, that is probably not even true, as we know one of them is an American and I am sure he is not alone!

The fishermen, some Irish and some from Poland, work 6 days a week for 3 or 4 weeks in a row then get a week off. They work with the tides and the tides work with the moon. Each day, there are two tides but they only work with the morning tides - they can drive the tractors almost 3 miles out on the bay. 3 miles!!! They gather up the bags the oysters are growing in, bring them back to the plant to sort & grade them, and then put them right back on the bed of the ocean before the tide rolls back in. Here is the really interesting part - France cannot do this. It would take them 3 times as long to grow the quality of oysters we have here in Eiré because they have short tides (like 30 minutes) and have lost several tractors and lives due to this. If one of the Irish tractors went down with a load of oysters the loss would be in the range of 100,000 euros or more (Load of oysters costing upwards of 20,000 euros plus the fancy tractor).

I am getting to the end of the story which I found so interesting. During the 4th or 5th week depending on the moon there are NO TIDES, so they all get a week off. With that, we sampled the harvest of the day only to be delighted with tasting the best oyster we have ever tasted. It was undoubtedly the creamiest oyster that has ever passed these lips (and that of Ron's too) and we are still craving our trip back to the farm for another.

To finish up with, we stopped at an orchard later that day only to find it is the farm where Bulmers buys its apples. This was a pretty cool experience too and we had some apples and of course a spot of cider for the road. Thank goodness we had a bus driver to take our sleeping selves back home.

All in all, the Irish food scene is alive and kicking. People are truly into food. I do not see a whole lot of spice being thrown around but you can't have it all!

That's all the WiseWords I have for today,

Monday, September 08, 2008

Good, Clean & Fair

Terra Madre...........................Mother Earth. This was the first Terra Madre event in Ireland. I believe it will return to Ireland in 2010 in case anyone is thinking of a green holiday .........??
Ron & I were lucky enough that we got to spend a lovely long weekend in Waterford at the Slow Food festival. We packed our bags, kissed the babies goodbye and headed to the sunny south east. We spent Day 1 at the Bord Bia National Organics Food Conference. This was quite an interesting day and we were quickly caught up to speed on the future of organics not only in Ireland but in the EU. There were presenters from all over (Walmart included) sharing statistics with us regarding the strength at which Organics is growing. This is not a phase. People are getting tired of eating food that has been grown with the use of chemicals and growth hormones. The English & the German were BEGGING Irish farmers to grow Organically as they cannot meet the demands in their stores.

We met some really amazing people whilst in Waterford. We met farmers, scientists, chefs, cheese makers, you name it and they were there - all food lovers.

We listened to a scientist from Germany sharing his findings on a 5 years study of Organic Milk - is it just a hype or is it actually better for you. Here is the findings - not only is it better for you, the low fat/skim organic milk has such a higher nutritional value that it tastes like full fat. Try it. You will be shocked. We switched to Organic milk (as much as possible).
The founder of SlowFood - Mr. Carlo Petrini. He spoke to us (via his lovely interpreter) of how important it is ti take care of our planet. I know this is a little tree hugger for a lot of you, but this man moved (almost) everyone in the room to tears. He is so passionate in a revolutionary kind of way and it is all for love of the earth we live on and the food we eat. Their mantra is 'Good, Clean, Fair' , Good Food (tasting), Clean (from all harmful chemicals) and Fair (the farmers get paid a fair amount for their product). He encouraged us to teach the younger people in our lives the value of good food and dinner with your family. Needless to say Ron and I were so happy that we had the opportunity to be there.
Also in attendance at the Food festival was the Martha Stewart of Ireland herself - Darina Allen. She is a really cool lady. Extremely down to earth and very approachable. We are organising a SlowFood Thanksgiving Feast in Galway (November) and I think she may be joining us for dinner!
Of course, to bring you all back to reality, although touted as the sunny south east, it rained cats and dogs for 3 of the 4 days.........................
But, that did not stop us eating the pig.... Yumba!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Monday, September 01, 2008

Cry me a river..............where did the last 5 years go?

Most of you have to be feeling my pain.
I know this happens to everyone. I expect that these tears will stop falling. I know that she will be around for the next 13 years at least before she goes to college. When I look at this photo above of little Rory Belle in her gorgeous uniform I cry. I cannot believe that this time we have had with her is gone and now she turns her back on us and is racing at breakneck speed out the door to join her brand new friends in her brand new school.

Aunt Cathyann came up from Limerick on Friday to take both children shopping for their last minute necessary school items. Rory still needed a backpack for her schoolbooks and Jack needed a SECOND pair of wellies to leave at his pre-school.
He himself is quite annoyed that he does not get an ever so cute uniform and has stressed this only a thousand times. Patience dear lad, Patience. In less than a year, you too will be backpacking out the door, wrenching yourself away from your mothers arms with glee as you join your fellow classmates.
That is all the (tearful) WiseWords for today,


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