Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Dad Singing To Jackson Toby

I had a wonderful birthday party today! I will tell the whole story in a different post but for now I wanted to share a video I took today.

The video is my dad, who is 96 years old, singing to Jackson Toby at my party. My dad used to sing this song to me when I was little. He just changed one little word is all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Heading Home From Ireland

We are heading home tomorrow. The last few days have been so nice and relaxing. And, when I get home and get some time, I will have lots to post about.

For now I can say that we saw many new things in Ireland and in London, but for me this trip was so much about the people......seeing Joe's children and grandchildren, his sisters and Neil again and for the first time meeting Joe's sister, Peggie and her family, who live in London. And, always, always, always, it is wonderful to see Pat and Greta. We have also met two more of Joe's friends, Dick and Betty, who have already made it a point to say we must come to dinner during our next visit!

My heart is full and I am going to take so many memories home with me. Joe was a wonderful host and gave us the run of the house. We felt so at home and we can't wait until he visits us in June. The three weeks went by in a flash. This was the longest vacation Tom and I have ever taken and it was wonderful!

This will be my last post for a few days now. There is a day of travel tomorrow and I will see how the jet lag treats me at home.

Thanks everyone for enjoying this trip with us and Joe, thank you for everything. We love you!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

From My Heart

(Lean On Me)

I was getting ready for church this morning and, as is customary for me, I started to think. It seems I do some of my best thinking as I am getting ready for the day. I have wanted to say some words about why I have not yet posted about our trip to London.

We were in London from March 12 – March 17. It was a time filled with wonderful site seeing, my 66th birthday walking along the Thames River and crossing the Tower Bridge along with Tom, Joe, Maria and Louise, meeting Joe’s sister, Peggie, and being so graciously hosted in her home, and meeting Peggie’s extended family, who so warmly helped me celebrate my birthday.

While we did not have internet access during that time, I know that was not the only reason I have not posted about London. My original plan and goal was to compose posts in Word so I would be able to capture the excitement and beauty of each day as it happened. Then I would just have to copy and paste them into my blog and add pictures and videos.

But, on the first day of site seeing, just outside Westminster Abby, I fell and hurt my left arm (I was run over by a pram/buggy and ended up in the street) and as I thought about it this morning, I knew I wanted to say that it, regretfully, defined the remainder of the time in London.

Tom, Joe, Peggie and Maria all thought it was a good idea for me to go to the ER. I knew I should and I didn’t want to. They ended up taking x-rays and while a break did not show up, there were indications that the tip of a bone had chipped and I left ER with a sling. There was nothing else to do.

While my arm hurt, the hardest part was losing my independence. I had no strength in my arm, I couldn’t turn or twist my arm, couldn’t get dressed alone, open a jar, cut my meat, and the things I could do made my arm hurt. I wanted to hold onto someone to walk because the thought of stumbling or falling again was frightening and unacceptable.

Absolutely everyone accommodated me. They were kind and helpful, compassionate and caring. I was a brave and good girl. I said my mother’s line when faced with adversity, “It’s just another role to play,” and I wanted that to take care of how I felt too. But, it didn’t.

I felt bad. I hurt. I didn’t like needing help. I didn’t like having my energy taken from me as I accommodated the pain. I didn’t want to worry about falling again. I wanted to be me. I wanted to be the me I know. I don’t have pain as a rule. I always say “I don’t do pain.”

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that when I look back on London and all the places I saw and visited, it has been through the eyes of a me I don’t know very well. And, I expected myself to be able to be the me I am usually able to be.

My hope is that writing this will take away some of what is in the way of being able to feel the beauty and excitement of London and be able to do my posts with the good feelings that were under the pain.

I asked God this morning, “What is it I am supposed to learn from this?” I know there is always something I am to learn when I experience something that is hard for me. I may not know for a long time what that is, but I know there is something.

So, that is it! A short story made long perhaps. But, that is how I do it. I have talked out loud to anyone who reads this, and you got the long version……… got the paragraphs and not just the headline or abbreviated version…..

Because that is how I do it!

Thanks for reading words from my heart. I feel better and I wanted you to know why I hadn’t written about London. It really was spectacular and now I think I can write about it from the “inside” and not the “outside.” And, as they do in London……..x x…...

I really do love that…….kiss…………..kiss!

Thanks Tom, Joe, Peggie, Maria and Louise for letting me lean on you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

First In A Series Of Three Posts....I Hope You Enjoy Them!

Joe, Tom and I had a day at home yesterday that included a trip to the grocery store known as Tesco's. We went specifically for what Joe calls minced meat, which is hamburger to us. But, Joe tends to shop like I do, which means I go to the store for one or two items, and come out of the store an hour later about $100.oo or more poorer.

Poor Joe! Poor, poor Joe!!

Not only was Joe in the store, but both Judy and Tom were in the store.......and, I think we were all hungry which is never a good idea. Tesco's has great stuff!

It has a great selection of everything and I love the layout of the produce. I took some pictures to show you some of the shelves and also our purchases as we checked out.

In the following post you can see our shopping trip to Tesco's in a slideshow. And, in the post after that you can see five......yes five........videos of Joe making his now famous Shepherd's Pie!

Our Shopping Trip At Tesco

Joe Cooks Shepherd's Pie

Here are five videos of Joe cooking his now famous Shepherd's Pie for dinner on Thursday night. Joe is a good cook and only had to have one humungous glass of Diet Coke to calm his nerves!

He was also a really good sport to let me video him! Thanks, Joe!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Nice Story From Our Night At Bunratty Castle

Joe, Tom and I were the guests of Pat and Greta Whelan last night at the Bunratty Castle for a medieval dinner and evening of entertainment. It was a spectacular evening that was preceded by a visit to King John's Castle. This is only one post of the few I will do on this evening.

King John's Castle was wonderful. The dinner and entertainment were superb and the experience of eating with our fingers and one sharp steak knife was fun. I have pictures of the food that I will post, but tonight I will just tell a story.

Below is a picture of a little girl, who is 11 years old, and her father. They are from Nashville, Tennessee. They were our table partners. As we got to talking, we learned that the little girl had done a unit on Ireland in her Geography class at school. She had to learn the distance ,I think, from her capital to the capital of Ireland. I am so sorry if I don't have this right. I think I am remembering part of the story but not all of the story.

The little girl decided to look up how much it would cost to fly to Ireland and said to her father, "Look how cheap it is, Dad!" And, before you knew it, the dad and daughter had come to Ireland where the little girl got to have her 11th birthday. How special is that!

The evening was filled with fun, music, good food, messy fingers, talk, laughter and new friends!

I am using the picture with the permission of both the little girl and her dad.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just A Note

Hi everyone.....this is just to let you know that I am still working on downloading and getting stuff organized to continue with my posts. We slept in a little bit this morning. We were all tired last night and didn't even pretend to want to stay up. I love that we can be just however we are with each other. Thanks Joe for making your home our home.

At the moment we are waiting for Pat Whelan to pick us up and then we are heading out to do some site seeing. I think we are going to St. John's Castle and then on to Bunratty Castle for an evening of Irish food and entertainment.

Joe just said we might not get knives and forks to eat with because it is to be a medievel dinner. Perhaps that will be the entertainment to watch each other eat.

So, off we go and I will be posting as soon as I can.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Home Again In Ireland

Tom, Joe and I are back home in Ireland now. We arrived at Shannon Airport about 4:25 this afternoon and our friend, Pat Whelan, picked us up. We had a wonderful time in London and had a lovely visit with Joe's sister, Peggy, and all her family while we were there. More gracious hosts we could never imagine.

I am going through pictures and videos as fast as I can and will start posting about our trip as soon as I can. I have so much to share! Five days of travel without benefit of the internet will test my memory but not my heart!

In the coming days you will see and hear about Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guard, a day with John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, a day on the Thames River where I spent my 66th birthday and also my trip to the ER in Lewisham to treat my run in with a pram (buggy) as we walked along outside Westminister Abbey.

Yep, I have stories to tell, pictures to share and videos to play. And, now, I am going to bed.

Good night everyone....kiss kiss......I love that!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Our Way To London Today

Today is the day Joe, Tom and I leave for London. We will fly out of Shannon airport which is about an hour from Nenagh. Joe's and our friend, Pat Whelan, will be driving us. Pat dropped by yesterday, (he is called Pat the caller by Sarah) and we had a nice visit around the kitchen table.

We will fly into Gatwick airport in London and I believe John, Joe's nephew will be picking us up. Funny....I don't have that detail clear in my mind. I will ask Joe. We will return on March 17.

I just asked Joe and his sister Peggy is going to pick us up in a mini-cab so she can come to the airport to meet us. Everyone in Joe's family is so wonderful and gracious.

Joe went to the doctor yesterday and got some antibiotics and cough syrup and was put to bed early by Dr. Judy.

I will be taking my laptop with me to London. I don't know if we will have access to the internet, but at least I will be able to download pictures and videos while we are there. I think I will try to at least write posts in Word so I don't have to try and recapture the time in London when we return to Nenagh. Then all I will have to do is transfer them to my blog. I think that is a right good idea!

So....until I write they say journey!

Please wish us a safe journey........I just love that!

I love you family and friends! See you as soon I can! xoxoxo

Off we go.......cheerio!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All Aboard........Our Trip To Dundrum

Judy and Tom at Freddie's home

Our trip to Dundrum was so nice. We traveled to Dundrum, which is about an hour from Joe's house where his sister Kathleen and her husband Neil live, as well as his sisters Freddie and Biddy.

We stopped at Kathleen and Neil's home for a beautiful lunch and a nice visit in the afternoon. Then we went on to Freddie's home which is just a few yards away for a lovely dinner with Freddie, Biddy, Joe's brother, Jim, and Tom and me.

Below is a picture of Joe and his four siblings at Freddie's home and a picture of Joe, Tom and me with Kathleen and Neil at their home. We will be meeting Joe's sister, Peggy, in London along with her children and grandchildren. We leave for London Thursday morning.

Everyone's beautiful welcoming of Tom and me with their open arms and hospitality will be some of our best and lasting memories of our trip to Ireland in 2009.

Joe, Kathleen, Freddie, Biddy and Jim

Joe, Judy, Neil, Kathleen and Tom

I am working at getting up to nine videos of our trip to Dundrum posted. I have been successful with four and and will continue to work at posting the rest. There is one in particular I hope to share with all of you. It is the one where we come up to the Rock of Cashel. (I don't think that one got posted yet...)

The videos are large enough that I may have to switch to plan B to get some of them uploaded. Keep checking and I will do the best I can this evening. We leave for London tomorrow and I am not sure I will be able to post while we are gone.

We will return to Nenagh on March 17th, one day after I turn 66 years old. How lucky am I? I must have been born in a field of shamrocks! I hope the videos take you on the journey with us from Nenagh to Dundrum. What I don't get posted tonight I will post later.

Below are four videos I was able to upload. I hope you enjoy the trip to Dundrum.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Home From Dundrum

We arrived home from Dundrum around 8:30 p.m. tonight. We stopped in town and picked up a pizza and sat in Joe's sitting room and just relaxed after the time spent in Dundrum. Our time with Joe's family was wonderful and I thank Freddie for doing the post right below this post.

I will be posting pictures and videos tomorrow. I just viewed the videos I took on the way to Dundrum and I think they show the countryside and small towns we traveled through really well. Even though I was in the car and made the actual trip, I enjoyed it a second time on the videos. I love being here and I love sharing the trip with all of you.

Joe has gone to bed now and Tom and I are still sitting in the sitting room. Joe is not feeling well tonight. He has a fever diagnosed by me..........the hand touch thermometer needed. We all need to be well as we travel to London on Thursday. Tomorrow will be a day of resting and just hanging out.

Look for the photos and videos coming up. They are great!

Good night everyone. See you tomorrow.

My American Visitors By Freddie

Hi everyone,

This is Freddie. We had a lovely evening here last night. We had Tom and Judy who are visiting our island for the second time. And, they started off being friends of my brother, Joe, but by this time they are part of our entire family. We enjoy their company very much. They are really very nice and they make themselves at home and we all feel very comfortable with them because they are just like one of ourselves. So, when they come we really have a nice time and all the family gets together. We have Biddy, Jim, Kathleen and Neil and of course Joe himself.

So, we do have a great evening altogether. We have a meal and then we sit around the table and chat for a long time and we are never in any hurry. So, then, after a time we go to our sitting room and sit around the fire. We talk and talk and talk and we have a drink and we take photographs. We discuss all the current events and we talk about the history of Ireland and everybody is racking their brains to see what they can contribute.

Then we retire back to the dining room again and we have tea and cake. By this time my brother Jim wants to go home so Joe takes him home. When Joe comes back we might chat again for a while and we might have a little video show and finally we decide to call it a day. Because by this time it is 1:00 a.m.

And, this time we retire to our respective bedrooms.

Love to all,

Monday, March 09, 2009

Will Freddy Be Able To Do It?

Today is Monday the 9th of March. It is evident on the videos I have been making that I have had some laryngitis. Along with that I have had a cough which I thought was getting better. In fact, last night somewhere around midnight or so, I thought I was sounding downright better...almost normal.......almost.

And, sometime during the night, I had a coughing fit that might just have set my laryngitis back a bit. We will see what the day holds once I wake up a little more, have a little more coffee, a shower and step into the day.

We are going to visit Joe's sisters today and will be spending the night at his eldest sister, Freddy's, house in Dundrum tonight. So, it is lunch with his sister, Kathleen and her husband, Neil. And, dinner at Freddy's. Dinner at Freddy's usually means we get to see his sister, Biddy, as well.

We met everyone in 2006 and seeing them again this visit was one of the things we were really looking forward to.

I don't know if I will have a chance to post before we return home tomorrow. Freddy has had quite the interest in computers, so it might just be possible that a post will be done. Who knows, if all works out I just might ask Freddy to do a bit of a post.

You know, in 2007, when Joe made his first visit to America he was the guest speaker at our daughter-in-law's 5th grade classroom in Iowa for her unit on Ireland. We could make Freddy as famous as Joe if she will do a post on an American blog.

How about it Freddy?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Anniversary Mass

Today was the 10th anniversary mass for Joe's late wife, Ann. We left the house for church at 10:40 a.m. for the 11:00 mass. The church we went to was St. John's, one of two Catholic churches in Nenagh, the other being St. Mary's. We had visited St. John's during our last visit in 2006. The service was really special for me. I loved the music and the homily. But, most of all, I loved that we got to share this day with Joe and some of the members of his family. Following the mass, several of us went to the cemetary to pay our respects to Ann.

It might sound funny. I don't know. I had been to the cemetary before in 2006. And, like that visit, this time I spoke silently to Ann and thanked her for having a happy marriage with Joe and keeping him safe for our time with him. I told her we were taking good care of him and that he is the Godfather now to our newest little Grandson, Jackson Toby. I feel like Joe is a gift to all of us and I wanted her to know.

The family then gathered at the Hibernian, a lovely restaurant in town. I got to talk with Joe's granddaughter, Deirdre, who is 16, her friend, Lisa, also 16, and Joe's granddaugher, Claire, who is 12. I learned all about what is called a transition year in their school system, which precedes the last two years of high school. The students do all kinds of interesting things during that year like participate in drama, visit a court room, and golfing plus many other things. There are no tests. It is a year of experiences. I thought that was just a wonderful idea. And, I learned about what Claire is doing in her sixth grade year. They are wonderful young people and it was such a pleasure to visit with them.

Joe's son Milo, and daughter Eileen, and a friend Alice, were the other adult family members who were at the Hibernian. It was nice to visit with them as well. We missed several other family members who were unable to join us at the Hibernian but
were fortunate to meet and visit briefly with following mass.

It is wonderful to be welcomed by Joe's family and given the privilege to share this special family event.

Below are two of the gate to the cemetary. The other is of the car Milo is driving. Joe followed Milo's lead by making an illegal u-turn to get headed in the direction of the Hibernian. Tom, Joe and I had a good laugh about that since the navigation system in my car at home instructs me, when I am going the wrong direction, to make...................a legal u-turn!

Following the pictures are three videos.

Here are the pictures.......

Getting ready to make the illegal u-turn
And, here are the videos.............

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Rainy Day In Nenagh

Today was the first day we have gone out of the house. We had to solve the "hair dryer for Judy" problem as tomorrow is a big and important day.

Tomorrow is the day we go to church for the 10th anniversary mass for Joe's late wife, Ann. Tom and I feel very honored to be a part of Joe's life and to participate in tomorrow's recognition of this very important person in his life.

As it turns out, Greta, a friend of Joe's and now ours, offered to let me borrow a hair dryer so I wouldn't have to go out and buy one. This is just another example of how kind and generous everyone is here. I cannot say enough how welcome both Tom and I feel.

Below are some pictures of the day here in Nenagh as we drove downtown in search of not only a hair dryer but a new little table and lamp to go beside the couch where I sit. In fact, I am happily sitting right in my spot with my new table and lamp beside me. Joe is afraid it will be missing when I leave. It won't be Joe. I promise!

You will see how drizzly and rainy it was here today. It didn't matter. It was just nice to get out and feel the air and see the town bustling. I hope you enjoy seeing Nenagh. It has been home to Joe for 46 years.

Following the pictures are two videos showing Nenagh bustling with activity in spite of the rain.

Pictures of Nenagh..........

And, now the videos..........

Friday, March 06, 2009

Big Plans For Tomorrow Seeing As I.........

Yesterday afternoon, Friday, Joe went out to the store to get some food. Before he left he and I put an adaptor up in my bedroom so I could plug in my hair dryer. We tested it and things looked good.........................and then Joe left the house...........Tom was napping..................and I showered and was going to see if I could beat off the case of jet lag I had.................and then I was going to do my hair.......................

It sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

It was simple enough..........until I smelled the smoke!

In fact, I had gotten my hair dry and turned off the hair dryer. I was finishing getting ready and out of nowhere the hair dryer turned on all by itself and I saw and smelled smoke. I didn't really believe in little fairies or leprechauns or banshees until that moment. All I know is I didn't turn the hair dryer back on and I really didn't want Joe to smell smoke when he walked in the door!

So, I did what any self respecting girl would do and called for Tom right after I unplugged the hair dryer. And, when Joe came home I said I had good news for him. He asked me what that was. I told him the good news was that the house didn't burn down...that we had had a case of a smoking hair dryer and he shouldn't take his coat off because we needed to go out and get me a new hair dryer.

But, at that moment, that would have postponed his cooking, we decided to do our hair dryer buying on Saturday, which it now is, because none of us seems too interested in going to bed and it is now 12:35 a.m. Saturday morning.

We are having a great time............all of us! Joe is a great friend and a great host and he never loses the smile no matter how many opportunities I give him.

Welcome To Joe's Home

Our Trip To Ireland 2009

Our Trip To Ireland...Getting There

(Fields Of Love)

Tom and I left on March 4 to visit our friend, Joe, in Ireland. We had a wonderful time getting to the airport because our good friend, Steve, drove us. Spending time with Steve is as good as being in Ireland....just different : )

Tom and I had plenty of time once we got to the airport to check in with ease and have a lovely lunch at the French Meadows in the mall after we passed through security. This is where we had our first disagreement. Tom said lunch took a half hour and I said it took an hour. Geez, the stress we live with!

We flew to Chicago and then off to Dublin. It was a 57 minute flight to Chicago and about a 6 1/2 hour flight to Dublin....not bad at all. There was a little turbulence on the flight to Dublin but all in all it was a smooth flight.

Once at Dublin we had to go through immigration which took some time. There was quite a line of people and only three agents on duty. I never mind standing in line though. I enjoy getting to talk to the people who are willing to talk to me and I always find something to laugh about or maybe just share a smile.

I happen to have laryngitis so when I talked to one man in line I said, "This isn't my real voice." He said to me, in a funny sounding voice, "This isn't my real voice either." Then we laughed and that was fun. Then, I was standing in line minding my own business and a nice young girl smiled at me and came toward me. She said, "Are you from Minnesota?" I said, "Yes, I am." Turns out she saw my driver's license in the thing I hang around my neck with my passport and driver's license at the ready and MINNESOTA was in clear view. I found out she lives in Brooklyn Center off 69th which was right where we used to live years ago. I love standing in line!

And, oh my, once we got through immigration and we met Joe, that is a story in itself. I am always glad to see Joe and usually the world knows it! There was a nice lady standing next to Joe when I went up to hug him and hug him and hug him and the lady started to wipe tears from her eyes. I looked at her and told her how we had met three years ago and now he is the Godfather to our ninth grandchild. So, there were more smiles and exclamations of "Isn't that wonderful!"

And, then in the restroom of the really lovely pub/restaurant where we stopped for some breakfast on the way home to Nenagh, there was another lady there washing her hands. She looked at me and said, "I think I saw you at the Dublin airport. You were hugging a man in a red coat." I laughed and said, "Yes, I was!" She said it was so touching she about cried. So, we shared my story and her story of why she was at the airport which was just as nice and away we both went to our respective lives. I just love the stories that come with doing regular, ordinary and usually insignificant things in life.