Saturday, February 29, 2020

More Irish Here

Our new town is in a Gaeltacht region, which means there is more Irish in use than in some other areas.
While it's common for other towns to have both the English and Irish versions of their names on the welcome signs, what is slightly different about this place is that the Irish name is the only official name of the town. People use 'Dungloe' (the g is usually silent when people pronounce this word, so it sounds like done-low) and some places spell it 'Dunglow' although I have been told that is incorrect. But this is not the official name, which is an Clochán Liath. In the past, these were two different places. The Irish name refers to the grey slab that offered the only way to cross the river until a bridge was built in 1762. Dungloe (Dún gCloiche in Irish) was a settlement 5 miles to the north where there was a monthly fair. The fair was moved to an Clochán Liath in the late 1700s and people started using both names.

There is usually a smattering of Irish around, no matter what town we've been in, but it is a lot more visible here, both on road signs and businesses.
pharmacy sign

another sign on the same pharmacy
top directs people to the scenic route, middle to visitor's centre, and bottom to the ferry
I look forward to learning some Irish. Part of the problem I've had is that when I am studying a language, I am always better at reading and writing than I am speaking and listening. I can get some sense of what some words mean here, but wouldn't know how to pronounce them. Interestingly, place names have helped with some vowel combinations. For years before we came to Ireland, we had a map on the bedroom wall, which we also had up in our first apartment here. I would look at some place names and have no clue how I would pronounce the words. We listen to the radio a lot here, so hearing some place names regularly repeated, I would suddenly think, 'Oh, I bet that's this place they're talking about!' For example, I never knew how to pronounce Youghal or Dun Laoghaire until I heard these names on the radio and learned that they sound like 'yawl' and 'done-leery' respectively. Anyway, my interest in Irish is primarily reading, although it would be nice to be able to speak a bit as well. I will be enquiring about whether there is a group at the library or nearby, or a class or something. Whether there is or is not, I discovered two different sets of lessons on CDs with accompanying booklets at the library. I won't have time to begin this until mid-March, but I plan to check one out and start then. Should be fun and this seems like a really good place to build my skills.

Enjoy the day, in whatever language you like best 😊💭

Friday, February 28, 2020

A Short Walk Between Showers

Earlier today, I got an email saying a couple of books were in at the library. It had been lashing down  rain all morning, but when there was a break, I made a dash for it. Of course, as soon as I got downstairs, it was misting again. By the time I got to the library, my glasses were off, my hair was dripping, and I was glad I'd worn my trench coat. No matter. I got my books, put them in my bag, and headed home. When I walked outside, it looked like there was some snow mixed in with the rain, even though it was quite mild. By the time I got home, it was back to mist again. The whole trip took me less than 15 minutes.

After lunch, we could see that it had stopped raining again, so we took off to wander around for a while, choosing to take roads and paths that we had not been on yet. I satisfied my curiosity about whether there was a path between two roads--there is. I'd seen what looked like an entrance to the path a few weeks ago when we were finding the GP. It's a good shortcut and allows pedestrians to avoid the chaos at a roundabout where two roads meet.

Walking along, we came to the Public Services Building. This town has just under 1200 people, so it isn't large, but it is the largest in the region, so that may be why the building is located here.
What caught my eye about the building is the one circle amidst all those sharp angles.

A bit further on, we turned onto a side street, assuming it led back to Main Street. By then, the mist had returned, softening the edges of the surrounding hills.
At the top of the road, we could see Main Street below.
We did another short loop and I got a picture of these fun figures and their instruments (made of logs and flower pots) outside the River House B&B.

We came home, I got the pizza crust started in the bread machine then sat down with a cup of tea, which was extra satisfying after walking around in the wind. Storm Jorge is supposed to arrive tomorrow and Met Eireann has issued a status orange wind warning, so it's gonna get crazy again. This is the third named storm this month. Even with the wind and freezing precipitation we've been having, daffodils are blooming, as are these flowers:
I hope things are blooming in your part of the world, too.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Happy Dogs We Met Today

We went back to the recycling centre this morning. When we went on Monday, we knew it would be closed and that was fine. No need to wander around looking for it while carrying stuff. Today we brought our tins and glass. We talked to the guy there and asked him what the process is for food garbage. They do 'regular' recycling, too, so we will be able to bring our milk cartons and stuff there as well. At first, he was telling us how much it would cost per car load, but when we said we would be walking, he said it'd just be a euro.

As we were on our way there, we were greeted again, as we were on Monday, by the dog from the Inis Ean B&B. S/he has three legs, but gets around fine. S/he is very friendly and mellow, which is good considering she has an important job at the B&B, greeting guests and making them feel welcome. Even though we were just passing by, s/he came out for some praise and petting.
While we were putting our stuff in the bins at the recycling centre, a van pulled up on the other side of the area we were in. Suddenly, there was a very happy dog coming towards me. The tail was whipping back and forth and it could not be contained. Within a few seconds, the entire back half of that dog's body was whipping from side to side. It was so cute!

On the way back, we saw a dog that looked very like the one from the B&B standing on the footpath ahead of us. At first, I thought it was the same dog, but with a wee friend who was a fluffball covered in curly black fur. The wee one ran around on tiny legs, barking a few times so we knew who was in charge. I was concerned when s/he ran into the road--being black and very small, it would be easy for a driver to simply not see the dog until it was too late. Fortunately, it's not a busy road. As we walked by, I realised that the larger dog was not our B&B friend, because I could see 4 legs.

It's a nice walk to the recycling centre and it's even nicer with dogs. 😀

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Reading Whlie Relocating 2

Here are the rest of the books I read in January as we were in the process of moving.

A Little Book of Japanese Contentments: Ikigai, Forest Bathing, Wabi-sabi, and More by Erin Nimmi Longhurst

A friend recently sent me this book and I loved it! It’s one I will pick up and dip into time and time again. The author is bi-cultural as her maternal family is Japanese and her paternal family is British. She lives in London and writes the blog Island Bell. I don’t read the blog as it’s not my kind of thing, but the book is lovely. It has sections on various ideas that are a part of Japanese culture, such as those listed in the subtitle and many more besides. These sections are interspersed with photos and artwork. I started the book on a day when I was in the new apartment for a night by myself--Bill had gone back to Killybegs to bring another load. It was the perfect book--I sat with a cup of tea and read about the traditions and enjoyed the art. Lovely moments!

Died in the Wool by Ngaio Marsh
I’ve been reading books that I knew I didn’t want to keep and got through many of them. Then we were packing up the remaining books to haul to the new apartment. I was deciding what to keep back and read, but decided that what I was really in the mood for was a mindless mystery, so I turned to my e-reader and picked up where I left off in the Roderick Alleyn series. Like the last one I read, this one is set in New Zealand during WWII and Alleyn is there to investigate possible spying. In this one, he is called in to find out what happened to Flossie Rubrick, whose body was found bound up in a bale of wool. Is one of the people in her home an enemy agent? To be honest, I’m not as keen on these last couple of novels in the series as in the ones that came before. As I think about it, I felt the same way about the last couple of Mrs Bradley mysteries I read several months ago. Those also took place in WWII and involved suspicions of espionage. I guess I’m just not into that kind of thing. Hopefully the next books in both series will better.

Nobody by Alice Oswald
This collection of poems was originally commissioned by Bernard Jacobson to accompany watercolours by William Tillyer.

The Blue Geranium and Other Stories by Agatha Christie (audiobook read by Joan Hickson)
I’ve loved Agatha Christie for 40+ years and Joan Hickson is THE Miss Marple. And I am a big fan of Miss Marple. So this was the perfect thing to listen to during a time when I was usually pretty tired by the end of the day and just wanted to sit around and listen to something.

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
I didn’t know I still had this book, but found it amongst some of Bill’s books as we were packing them up to move. It’s chunky—almost 600 pages--but I figured I might as well see whether I liked it enough to haul it to the new place. Once I started, I was hooked pretty quickly and read on, finishing in enough time to pass it along. One less book to transport—yay! 

A Wreath for Rivera by Ngaio Marsh
The last week of January was pretty hectic as we finished the move. In addition to that, we had to spend some time in Donegal Town in the middle of the week so Bill could keep his dentist appointment, made before we even knew we would be moving. I knew there was a TV in the waiting room, but it is usually set to weird UK stations. Once it was one full of infomercial and I was left to wonder whether anyone in Ireland would actually call to some place in the UK to buy an inflatable king size mattress that could turn any room—even the kitchen or laundry alcove—into a spare bedroom. This time it was set to a normal channel, but I came prepared with my e-reader, so I was able to tune out the TV and continue the Roderick Alleyn series. In this book, bandmates are not getting along and egos are bruised. There are arguments about many things, including a stunt that is to be carried out at the next performance. Yes, you guessed it—the stunt goes awry and someone does not get to finish the set. Fortunately for everyone except the culprit, Inspector Alleyn was in the audience and could get to work immediately.

And now suddenly we're almost at the end of another month--this one has also been full of books! I hope there are some good ones on your book pile 😃

Monday, February 24, 2020

Learning Where Things Are

We set off this morning to find the recycling centre. This is where the bins are to recycle glass, which cannot be put in the recycling bags (or bins, if people have them) for pick-up. In other places we've lived, these bins for glass and tins was located in car parks of some kind, but here they are inside the recycle centre. This is also where we will bring food garbage, like used coffee grounds, apple cores, etc. Our apartment is upstairs on the first floor (it would be called the second floor in the US, but here the bottom floor is the ground floor and the one above it is the first floor). Anyway, we don't have anywhere to put garbage and recycling bins, so we buy bags to put out for pick-up. It is usual here for them to pick up garbage one week and recycling the next. We try to keep our garbage and recycling to a minimum for environmental reasons, but even if we wanted to put out garbage frequently, the most we could do it is every other week. This, along with the fact that we can't have bins, means we have to do something else with food garbage--we can't leave it inside for two weeks. We can bring it to the recycling centre and dispose of it there. It has to be in compostable bags, and we have plenty of those. When we run out, we can pick up more at Aldi. The recycling centre is about a mile away from our apartment and it's a really nice walk. Today we had some more fierce wind, which has been blowing for weeks now, a bit of freezing rain, occasional brightening, and plenty of grey skies. It was brisk, that's for sure, but I enjoyed the walk immensely!

the donkey on the left had something to say when we stopped to take pics

i thought this was a lawn ornament, until s/he turned their head to look at me
a dusting of snow on distant hills

When we were almost home again, we saw this sign, which made me laugh.
After lunch, we went out again, heading in the opposite direction this time, looking for the community garden, which is quite close by. We found it and saw that recent storms had done considerable damage to the polytunnels. However, there were new fruit trees planted, so maybe it will function anyway this year. We figured there wouldn't be much going on right now, but we were hoping for a sign with contact info on it so Bill could see whether it is still in operation and whether he'd be able to participate. He did get an email address, so there's another task successfully completed.

We decided to walk home via the shore walk, because one of the access points is just around the corner from our apartment.
It looks like the area where the trees are is a wildflower garden. That should be nice when it is the season for flowers.

We didn't walk over the bridge this time, because this is just about the spot where we turn off the shore walk and make the two or three minute walk from there to our door.

It was nice to explore some new parts of our new town. In future, we'll just head out and go down various roads to see where they lead. There's also a river walk. We walked part of that one day to get to one of the grocery stores, but there's much more to it than what we saw. It's kind of weird--this is the smallest Irish town we've lived in, in terms of population size, and yet it seems like it has a lot to offer, at least for the way we live. There's the library, more grocery options, and a lot of footpaths (sidewalks), which makes walking a lot safer. It's good.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Reading While Relocating

Since we were offline for a few weeks, I didn't post my monthly reading list for January, so I'll start that now, before it's time to post February's list.
Devices and Desires by PD James
I picked this book up at a charity shop. It’s an Adam Dalgliesh story, published in 1989, I think, but some aspects of it are quite current. The story involves a nuclear power plant and discussions of the role of nuclear power in a world in climate crisis. It seemed a bit darker somehow than some of the other Dalgliesh novels I’ve read.

My Man, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse (audiobook read by Jonathan Cecil)

One of the things I want to do in 2020 is read more classics. I have the Jeeves and Wooster books on my e-reader, or at least some of them, but in January, I was reading books that I have and did not plan to keep. I discovered that the e-audiobook section of the library website has a lot of these books, so I did a search to find out the order of the books and started at the beginning with this one.  At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but then I laughed, so continued on. I don’t think I would like to listen to a bunch of these books back to back, but I’ve got another on reserve and will continue to listen to them in order here and there, at least until I have had enough. 

Not all of the stories in this collection involved Jeeves and Wooster. There were a few in the middle that were narrated by Reginald Pepper, but they were very similar to the Jeeves stories. 

The Cockroach by Ian McEwan (audiobook read by Bill Nighy)
When I came across this title in the e-audiobook section of the library website and read what it’s about, I immediately reserved it. This novella takes Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and turns it on its head. Instead of a man waking up one morning to discover that he is turning into a beetle, in this book, a cockroach wakes up one morning to discover he is a man—the Prime Minister of Great Britain, to be exact. And he is presiding over a UK that is also turned on its head as people vote for ‘reversalism,’ the author’s fictional equivalent of Brexit. 

I loved this book and laughed a lot. I think he captures well the absurdity of the whole idea, although there are serious problems that will lead to suffering which are also a part of the book. Those are not so funny. This book isn’t so much plot-driven—we can see how Brexit has been playing out---and I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I say that at the end, reversalism prevails and in their speeches at the end, the cockroaches, now back in their own bodies, who helped usher it in give some speeches in which they talk about how the people will suffer, but this will be good for the cockroaches, because whenever humans live in poverty ad squalor, cockroaches thrive. They proudly declare, ‘Britain stands alone!’ 

The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses by Chandler Burr
I’ve had this book for a few years, carrying it from place to place and I decided it needed to go to someone else now. It was a great book, telling the story of a misfit scientist named Luca Turin who has a nose—and an obsession—for perfume. He goes in search of rare perfumes and writes perfume reviews. And eventually, he worked out a theory of how smell works. He called it the vibrational theory of olfaction. This did not sit well with scientists who work on smell and he had a hard time getting his work published. The man was an outlier because while he was trained in one particular science (biophysics), he was self-taught in many other disciplines. His sense of curiosity drove him to unearth obscure old theories and work and to read and study widely, allowing him to fit things together in ways that would not have been possible had he been narrowly focused on one field. I do not have the background or knowledge to know whether he was on to something with this theory and I think he has moved on to other interests since the book was written. But I loved the book. What really grabbed me was the story of his deep interest with the subjects that interest him and his curiosity. As someone who knows what it’s like to be an outlier in academia because your interest does not fit within a narrowly defined definition, I found that aspect of his story interesting, too. Interdisciplinary work is more accepted than it used to be, I think, at least in some areas, but when I was trying to do it, even in a field like anthropology, it didn’t go over well. I’m glad I kept the book for these year and even more glad that I finally read it—both because I enjoyed it and because it was one less book to pack, move, and unpack!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Back Online and Cute Video With an Important Message

We're back online now. Thanks to those of you who kept your fingers crossed for us 😀 We had two issues still unresolved as of yesterday morning and it was a race to see which one would be the last. The wifi was taken care of by midday and that left the return of our security deposit from our previous dwelling. There had been no communication from the letting agent after we left--no replies to emails or voicemail. This was annoying but not surprising as this sort of thing was a problem all through our time there and was a contributing factor in our decision to leave. Late yesterday afternoon, he had someone else call to apologise for not getting it back to us sooner, so that is now done and I will not have to deal with him ever again, I hope. A friend said to me, 'I bet you'll never even consider a property that he has listed ever again.' True, that.

It was interesting to be offline for three weeks. There were things I missed--booktube, art videos, podcasts, email, search engines, and stuff like that. But in some ways, it was good. At one point, I realised that I have been off Facebook now for 3 1/2 months and that I have not missed it once. I wish I'd gotten off of there sooner. Like getting rid of Facebook, not having wifi at all led to some positive adjustments. We did have to spend time going to the library to check email and other things, since so much is done online now, but since I could not listen to the various online things I usually do, I had free time to do other things instead, which was nice. I would not want to be without access at home, but it was an interesting experience to be without for a few weeks.

One of the things I listened to instead of podcasts was a show on RTE Radio 1 called Mooney Goes Wild--a show about nature. On Monday, there was a story about a small school in County Cork, called Cappabue National School, which has 23 pupils and two teachers, if I remember correctly. They did a beach clean-up project and learned about the climate crisis. One thing that came of that was a video project. They wrote a rap song about it called One Small Change and recorded it. It has become a sensation, according to the story. The interviewer asked the kids about their experiences doing the song and the aftermath. He joked about them being celebrities. One girl said, 'Oh, it's OK now, but if this keeps up, going into town will be a nightmare!' I got a chuckle out of that and made a mental note to look up the video when I was back online. This morning, I remembered to do that. It's so cute, but they have an important message. Here's the link, in case you want to watch it. It's at The Irish Times newspaper website.

I leave you with a picture of this cute creature. We stopped to say hello on our way to the grocery store earlier in the week. And yes, I did say thank you for the wool--I always do.😄😉

Hope it's a good day in your part of the world!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Wifi Sorted

Hurray for the woman at the Vodafone store! After we talked to her on Friday and explained our situation, she said to leave it with her and she would call and find out what was going on, then let us know. Later that day, she called and said the person she talked to couldn't explain what was happening either, but would look into it and get back to her, whereupon she would get back to us. She said that if we didn't hear from her within 48 hours to call back into the store. To everyone's surprise (including hers), they called her on Saturday with the answer. Someone cancelled the installation order, Who knows why. She said we could go ahead with a new contract instead of a transfer of address and could do that whenever we wanted. We said we'd be right down. She was ready for us. It took less than 5 minutes to get the paperwork done and that was that. I thanked her for getting it all sorted and she said, 'Not at all.' She seemed pretty happy to have been able to solve the problem. She looked at me and said, 'Someone WILL be calling you.'

I was cautiously optimistic that we would hear something sometime this week, but I was really surprised when, a couple hours later, Bill got a text thanking him for choosing Vodafone and giving us a date and a time frame for when the engineer (their word) would come. Now things are proceeding as we thought they would weeks ago. By the end of the week, we should be set up--and we'll be paying less than we were, so that's cool, too!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Getting Settled, But Bad News on the Wifi Front

After a few weeks of being told that someone would be calling us about coming to connect us to broadband at our new apartment, today the story changed.We're having trouble with Vodafone-- Bill called again this morning and after being on hold and transferred around, was given a different story this time--that we cannot even get broadband in the apartment. When he pointed out that the previous tenant had left a Vodafone modem and that we are located right next to a Vodafone store, the guy simply repeated that we cannot have it there because the signal is too low. So we went to the store and the young woman there said that was nonsense, so she is going to look into whatever the issue is and get back to us. She did bring up the address and said a weird error message came up, but that there was no reason we should not be able to have service there. There did seem to be some confusion about whether we were transferring our account from the old place. Apparently, this is not possible because the contract was up, so she said we would have to start a new contract. I said that was fine, but the dude on the phone said that we could not have service at all. She frowned and shook her head. We will have to wait to see who is correct. In the meantime, we come to the library a few times a week to do what needs to be done online. Should we not be able to get broadband at home, this will be problematic at certain times, but we'll just see what happens and take it from there.