Sunday, December 4, 2011

When in Ireland in December...

....the Irish may have a reputation, but you will seem drunk just walking down the street b/c the wind sideswipes you this way and that

....toes will tingle, slippers are necessary

.....the pellating rain against the windows at first sound like marbles chafing, keys jiggling,  or leaves crunching, but really as it intensifies, it sounds just like Connect Four pieces dropping on the roof. 
hail's a-knockin' at the front door avoid peeing just b/c the seat is so cold

....the rain blows in one direction rains on you even when the sun is shining andyou look up and there isn't a cloud in sight. 

....keeping the kettle always filled and constantly sipping a hot tea is one way to deliver warmth into the body

....looking outside looks the same as in the summer. 
.....rain falling down the chimney may evoke fears of drowning inside. 

....lessons in firemaking are crucial. small coals on the bottom. 

what it looks like when it works. is pitch black before 5pm until after 9am
an hour later...
....walking into the wind may seem like a workout, getting nowhere, but walking in the direction of the wind will get you anywhere immediately. 

.....a hot toddy may be the only way to warm yourself without heat, and feed yourself without a stove

......there's nothing cozier than reading a book on the couch, a blanket to snuggle in with the sounds of the wind whipping outside.

.....but crawling back into bed with the electric blanket on high is just sometimes the thing to do. 
....and you'll realize there's no where else in the world you'll want to be. well, for the holidays. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The last weeks in America: a Recap

November 5: last Portsmouth Farmer's Market; a very cold, very quiet farewell. Christmas fair with Mum. Required pre-dinner drinks at Ri Ra, dinner at the One Hundred Club with John, Sheelagh, Frank and Judi.

November 12: last shift at Cava (I think? very possible I was cut, but it was the last day of Restaurant Week so probably not).

November 13: John and Sheelagh leave for NYC with two packed suitcases of mine. I'm left with a shoulder bag to last me for the week and to take to DC next weekend.

November 14-17: eat a lot of frozen soups and breads I had made with the leftover farmers market produce. Read a lot of travel essays.

November 15: Read an entire book in one day.

November 17: last night in Portsmouth. Drink with Judi at Mombo, adio's Tj's, Press Room, Ri Ra, etc....

November 18-20: weekend in DC.
Bucknell themed party with Blue and Orange drinks:
 Blue Moon, Mango Margaritas, Natty Lite's just because,   
 national monuments,
 outdoor  markets, smelly dogs, cute dogs, old college photos,
 bloody mary brunch,
 margaritas and birthday,
homemade hot apple cider, UNISG reminiscence, lots of catch up and laughter.

November 20: Trip to NYC. Hello John, Sheelagh & Jess!

November 21-December 1: pack and unpack, pack and unpack, pack and unpack { insert Arina comment } 
November 21: Post Office, Kaluystan's, homemade dinner
November 23: Farmers Market pre-indulgent feast shopping. Cocktail party at Jess's apt. Hello Chris and Beth!
November 24: Thanksgiving. 
Ess-a-bagel, the usual. 
Thanksgiving Day Parade then cooking.

thanksgiving going to her head...
Neil Diamond!! 
Mum after seeing her LOML

Dinner starts with Hibiscus Cava cocktails, homemade turkey liver pate, 
cheese plate with not-puffed-up-cheese-puffs, 
squash apple soup, farmer's market turkey, cranberry chutney, roasted garlic & maple syrup mashed sweet potatoes, roasted fingerling rosemary potatoes, braised greens with kalamata olives and feta, crispy brussel sprouts with garlic chips, broccoli with cheese sauce and crumbled cheetos, balsamic glazed cipollini onions, apple pie, pumpkin pie, crumbs cupcakes and 
Australian wine!
November 25: run in Central Park: my favorite NYC activity. The Australian Bar. 
 Le Souk Harem aka HOOKAH with John, Sheelagh, Chris & Beth
 - love it! 

Tiki drinks with fuzzy cocktail stirrers with family friends
November 26: Brunch at Les Halles, goodbye Chris and Beth,
 run down West Side Highway, old-catch up drinks, 
drinks and out and late night eats like a real New Yorker with Jess & Chloe

November 27: Little Owl brunch and Gottino drinks with Mum & Jess, 
football and farewell drinks for Kim, her required Shack Shake meal, and Eataly.

November 28: Tapas in the old neighborhood
November 29: old local fav Spotted Pig then the Highlands.

November 30: last night in America! 
Momofuku ramen with Mum, Cannibal beer, 

dinner with the fam at Artisanal (I love cheese)
then Pj Clarke's, of course.

December 1: last day in America! quick coffee down in FD, escaping Occupy WS, errands,
 2.5 hour lunch at BareBurger YUM ostrich meat, goodbye Dad and goodbye Mum. Airport. Pinterest laughs. Airplane food. 
Turbulence. More Turbulence. Deep breathes. Woman screaming. Survival, barely, an hour early b/c of the incredible winds.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“The adolescents of my generation, greedy for life, forgot in body and soul about their hopes for the future until reality taught them that tomorrow was not what they had dreamed, and they discovered nostalgia.”
Gabriel García MárquezMemories of My Melancholy Whores

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


my grandfather in the news!

I wish it didn't take Rihanna to give my grandfather a little publicity, because I think his talent and his paintings are extraordinary, but I am beyond proud. 

I bet Steve is sorry now he gave back his painting!! 

Gordon is in BBC news!!!!

By Simon Hunter

'Rihanna's tree' up for grabs in church sale

RihannaRihanna's controversial video was filmed in the field Gordon McKnight painted 30 years ago.
It seems a long time ago now but there was an age before the MTV European Music Awards descended on Belfast.
And in that pre-'Bieber hits Belfast' era, there were also huge entertainment stories.
The biggest of the bunch was the controversy caused by R&B star Rihanna filming her latest, raunchy video in a field near Bangor.
The story became a global phenomenon when farmer Alan Graham interrrupted filming of the video and told Rihanna to "cover up".
Now, the instantly recognisable tree from the 'We Found Love' video, which was also filmed in Belfast's New Lodge, is up for sale.
But this version of the tree comes from before the Barbadian popstar was even born.
It is a watercolour of the eye-catching tree as viewed from the main Belfast to Bangor carriageway. A view closely mirrored in the Rihanna video.
It was painted almost 30 years ago by Bangor man Gordon McKnight and it will be auctioned by Ballygilbert Church later this month to help raise funds.
The 92-year-old painted the tree in 1983 and never dreamt of the fuss it would be involved in come 2011.
Gordon McKnightGordon McKnight with his painting of the infamous 'Rihanna' tree.
"I am absolutely astounded at the level of interest in the tree painting," said Mr McKnight
"I initially painted it as I had always liked the view coming along the carriageway.
"When the Rihanna furore came about, I dug the painting out of the attic and offered it to the church for the exhibition."
It is hoped the watercolour will help raise thousands of pounds for the newly refurbished and extended church halls.
The painting will be auctioned alongside 200 other pieces at an exhibition in the church from 17 to 20 November.
Director of the exhibition, John Coote said: "We are very excited about Gordon's painting and indeed all the artists who have contributed to the exhibition.
"This year, with Gordon's contribution, we aim to open the exhibition to a bigger audience and want to thank him for donating the painting to us."
Who knows, there may even be a phone bidder from Barbados looking for something to display in her multi-million dollar home.
This is copied and pasted form the Bangor Spectator, the Northern Ireland newspaper where my relatives live. 

Church hopes ‘Rihanna tree’ will raise the roof

A SKETCH of Bangor’s globally famous ‘Rihanna tree’ goes on sale this month to help fund repairs to a nearby church.

The tree, chosen for its distinctive look and location, features in the video for the controversial pop megastar’s number one smash hit We Found Love.

It was flashed around the world in September when Rihanna, who brought the streets to a standstill when she arrived to shoot the video, was asked to stop filming by landowner and North Down alderman Alan Graham.

Upset by Rihanna’s raunchy moves, Mr Graham refused to let her carry on – though the video still shows the scantily clad superstar cavorting with a shirtless boy while the famous tree is framed in the background.

One man who spotted the tree’s star quality is ninety-something Gordon McKnight, who realised it was a special sight five years before Rihanna was even born.

A committed Christian, Mr McKnight now hopes that a sketch of the tree he put to canvas in 1983 will help raise some much-needed cash to repair the roof of nearby Ballygilbert Church.

The sketch, along with 200 other pieces, will be on display from November 17 to 20, after which all the works of art will be auctioned off to help the roof repairs fund.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"It is fatal to know too much at the outset: boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his route as to the novelist who is overcertain of his plot." Paul Theroux, To the Ends of the Earth

Mum and Dad left today with two suitcases filled with the last of my belongings. One is for Dad to take to Ireland, and the other is my checked-in luggage. What didn't make the cut - what I'm still not ready to part ways with and what didn't fit into these two suitcases - was dropped off in our storage unit yesterday. There's nothing left here. All I have is a shoulder bag with enough clothes to dress me next weekend in DC, let alone the rest of the week here in Portsmouth. I'm not planning on bringing both suitcases to Australia, it's just that, and I don't know why, but I'd rather have the majority of my stuff in Ireland, as a somewhat stable "home-base," or in one place, rather than sitting in storage. Most of my clothes are there anyways, leftover from Italy as I only packed to come back to America for a month. Who knows where I'll end up, but somewhere inside of me, despite this vagabonding adventure I'm about to embark upon, is itching to have just one home where I can set up all my things, rather than it being here and there, making friends with mice in storage, and taking up space at John and Sheelagh's. (Maybe one day I'll have more than one home :) ) I consider myself to be a particularly good packer, but I wonder if I'll be able to pack for a trip across the world with just my backpacker bag. And I HATE over-packing, it makes me fidgetly-anxious and hot-flashed-claustrophobic. 
one year in this bag?

Packing for such a trip is hard. I try to think of all the things I packed for Italy and didn't wear (those red heels for dancing in Milanese clubs that were only worn for Halloween - the Colorno cobblestone, the Colorno everything were just not well-suited for such footwear). I guess once I figure out what I'll be doing over there, I'll be able to plan a little bit more accordingly. Until then, it's a lot of What If's and oooh-maybe-I'll-have-an-excuse-to-wear-this-headband-that-I-haven't-worn-in-5-years-again. 

But at least when I'm in Ireland, I'll have ample amounts of time to pack and unpack, pack and unpack, pack and unpack - one of my favorite stress-relieving late night activities.*

*Arina!! Who's going to make fun of me?!