Saturday, March 13, 2010

St. Pat's Day

I miss my dad the most on St. Patrick's Day. Ma was the more Irish of my parents, seeing as how her parents were both born in Ballinrobe, a village in the heart of God's country, County Mayo. Dad's heritage is split between Ireland and England and we have to go back several generations to get over the pond. But Dad was the one who was proud of being Irish and installed in us the same simple love of all things Auld Sod. Dad actually looked happy on St. Patrick's Day (maybe due to the extra shots and beers at the bar on the way home from work and despite the overcooked corned beef and the stench of boiled cabbage in the house). I don't think he ever looked as alive as he did when we celebrated being Irish. He would put on a Bing Crosby record with Irish tunes, the only one I remember is McNamara's Band. Sometimes if the "spirits" allowed, he would dance a jig in the living room. (Thinking back on it, Brendan has that same disjointed gangly look about him when he tries to move fast.) He would drag Ma into it, although she preferred to polka. They would laugh and dance and even flirt a little, allowing us children one of those rare glimpses into what they must have been like when they were young. Dad also reminded us to stay home on St. Patrick's Day because of the danger on the roads. He always called it Amateur Night on the roads. As a special treat, we would get a smidgen of Old Fitzgerald whiskey as a nightcap.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Out of step with the King of Pop

Okay, am I the only person on the planet appalled by the sight of that little girl speaking at the Michael Jackson funeral? In my world, children do not speak at funerals. Their role is to sit quietly with a trusted adult at their side who will answer their questions, calm their fears and escort them out of the room when it all gets to be too much. My skin crawled watching the clip of that scene where the Jackson adults were playing with the girl's hair and crowding around her and coaching her on her performance (one of the women, I think it's Janet, can be heard telling the girl to talk louder). Ugh!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vacation Rehash

Okay, I really meant to update the blog every day during our trip. However, by the time we hit the hotel, all I could do was brush my teeth and fall into bed. Besides, Brendan was hogging the laptop.

We, well, I at least, had a great time. My friends Sheryl seems like she has the life she always wanted, minus the horse riding accident. Her son Tim was friendly and put up with us for two days, taking the boys to play paintball and touring Idaho Falls without the adults. We went hiking in several parks and sightseeing all around the area.

Sheryl still has her affinity for oddballs, like me. Her dog has a severe hip problem that causes him great difficulty walking. Her horse, Lady, threw her last November and she has great affection for her. I got the feeling her affection for the horse is not shared by the rest of the family.

It was funny, though, that while we talked a lot about us, we spent most of the time discussing us and our mothers! Sheryl always knew my mother was a bit off balance, but I never realized the full extent of her issues with her mother. It was nice to find out we had more in common in that arena than I ever knew.

We spent tons of ours in the car and did not murder each other, which I think is a good result. Jeff and I enjoyed the Crazy Horse memorial more than Mt. Rushmore, but the boys seemed less than impressed by either. Devon has had enough scenery to last a lifetime of family vacations, but it was good idea that we stopped at Mall of America. It was the perfect commercial antidote to all that natural beauty.

Still, we all couldn't wait to get back home to our little old house in the 'burbs. As Sean said, it was still standing and the police had not been called in our absence. Ah, life is good.

And, if I had a hot tub in the back yard, life would be perfect.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

At the Homestead

Since mom seems intent on not letting this blog thingy die, i might as well use it to let u all no that the house is still standing and the cops have yet to b called for any reason.

first things first: its freaking hot!! thanks for leaving me a house w/o ac during the first heat wave of the year. a few days ago i put my window ac (the older one) but bad news it didnt work. yesterday i put dev's in and it works like a charm so at least i can get a reprieve in my room.

i spent most of saturday through tuesday at cassies, and most of the rest of the time i've been watching tv, basically doing the same thing i do everyday (enter pinky and the brain music). dad would be pleased to hear that he picked a good week to be away from a tv, there r three straight days of NCIS marathons, about 30 episodes worth.

so everything sounds like its going great for u guys, heres to you guys making it home safe.

ps. this may be the only time in ur lives its actually ok for u to return with one less kid then when u started a family vacation

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some days are great days

Yesterday we went floating in the Great Salt Lake. You really can float standing up! We thought the water would be really icky because of the salt content, but it wasn't bad. It was warmer than Lake Erie on most days. The worst part was the drive over the causeway. The stagnant water and bird droppings make for a terrific stench as you enter the park. Both the smell improves with the view. We searched for buffalo but didn't find any. Hopefully we have better luck in Yellowstone. The mountains near Salt Lake City are fantastic. It is amazing how different the mountains are from area to area. The rocks colors vary, the texture changes, some are covered in foliage, some are just plain rock.

We made it to Sheryl's house around 10 pm and stayed up talking for quite awhile. Even though we have been out of touch for some time it seemed like we just picked up a conversation from last week.

Today we toured Idaho Falls, including the falls. It was very picturesque. I watched Sheryl school two of her younger horses. It was fun to see how the horses responded to her verbal commands and body language. She is practicing natural horsemanship, which is something along the lines of The Horse Whisperer. I could actually see how the horse would interact with her, including when they paying attention and when their minds wandered. The two she worked together are sisters, but like sisters everywhere, they were very different in personality/horsonality and respoonded in very different ways. Even Devon learned something from watching the lesson.

The boys played paintball and they just returned. They are showing off the various bruises they received. Must be a guy thing.

Tonight Jeff and I are hiking two miles up the road to go star gazing. It promises to be a cloudless evening and we have a star chart, so I hope to really see tons of stars and recognize at least a few.

Monday, June 22, 2009


The deal today was that if we got up early we could drive to Cheyenne in time to get a really great fresh steak dinner. What could be better than fresh beef? So we left Davenport early and got on the road with a good foot under us, as the Irish saying goes. Okay, there were a few snippy comments between Mom and Dad regarding sunglasses and newspapers. Devon listened to us and kept repeating that he was glad we hired out the bathroom project because it is obvious we can't work together for long periods. So I went to the back of the van and went to sleep. Seinfeld comments were also frequent. It is frightening to think that a show about nothing so closely resembles our life no matter what we are doing.

We saw a lot of windmills today. Iowa is dotted with them. They look big when we were driving by them, but we couldn't get the full impact until we saw individual pieces being transported on the roads. They are huge! We even saw a train pulling dozens of windmnill arms.

We can finally see mountains off in the distance. The terrain has moved from flat corn fields to rolling hills and buttes.

We got to the hotel around 9 pm. As we neared Cheyenne, we called the hotel to find out if there was a good steak restaurant that would be open late on a Sunday. The hotel staffer, Michelle, said yeah, there was an Outback Steakhouse just across the street! We explained that we had an Outback a mile or two fromo our home in Michigan, and was there anything with local flavor. There was, she said. So we got set for a nice dinner.However, when we checked in later Michelle said that another family had just been there and the place was not open at all on SUnday. She suggested another place, The Capitol Grille. It was open and the food was great. Devon and Brendan both had buffalo and loved it.

After dinner I hit the hot tub. There was nice young man using the hot tub to take the aches and pains out of his bum knee. We got to talking and it turns out he was in Cheyenne for the week on business. Turns out he installs windmills. And they are big. Each arm is 135 ft long and each windmill takes one full day to install. He says there is no recession in his line of work; he's busy all summer.

So now we are all tucked into bed, the boys are catching up on all the news they care about on ESPN. Tomorrow it is on to Salt Lake City.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wagons, Ho!

We are on our way on our next adventure. Jeff, Brendan, Devon and I are driving in the minivan to Idaho Falls to visit my best friend from high school, Sheryl. We only had to turn around once to get something we forgot to pack. Devon thought he had left his sunglasses in the house, but they were hidden in the car. So far the worst traffic delays were in Southfield on I696. We arrived in Davenport, IA, at 11:30 pm, 10:30 pm local time. We crossed the Mississippi at night, so the boys didn't really get to go "ooh" and "ahh" at the sight. I am sure they will do that tomorrow, though. Brendan was a little under the weather on the trip so far because he received more immunizations this week for his trip to India. He said it was the meningitis shot that did him in. A little Dayquil, though, and he perked right up. Tomorrow we plan to drive through Iowa and Nebraska and part of Wyoming. That's a lot of time quality time in the car. Good thing we have plenty of electronic gadgets to keep people occupied. I wonder how the pioneers did this without laptops, cell phones, and MP3 players.