Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Restocking in the Nick of Time!

 We went grocery shopping today. The Aldi in Dungloe was remodelled a couple weeks ago, so I was wandering around getting familiar with where things are now. It appears to be the same layout as the Donegal town Aldi after they redid that one. I make my shopping list in the order in which things appear in the store, which saves time. But everything was willy-nilly this time. Still, we got what we wanted and more. Bill spotted the jalapenos. 
We knew it was time to start looking for them, since they appear in the summer and then after that, they put out whatever jars they have left and don't get more for months. I love these and use them a lot, so last year I would always buy 2 or 3 jars each time I was there and they had them. I used them and put the extra in the cupboard--at one time I had 10 jars in there. By then, they weren't available anymore, so I was happy enough to have a supply. We are seeing more Mexican food appear in the shops now, but it's still not a lot. Better than when we got here 8 years ago, though! Still, I can't buy fresh jalapenos and besides these, jars of Old El Paso are the only option. I've bought them in a pinch, but they are not as good (they're quite bland) and cost twice as much. Aldi's are far superior so I'm thrilled to see them back! I opened my last jar on Friday (the pizza just isn't the same without a bunch of pickled jalapeno slices 😋). I bought three more. Time to start restocking!

It's the little things. 😁

Monday, May 23, 2022

Prickly Beauty

This afternoon while I was making tea and waiting on the kettle, I noticed the insides of the cactus blooms. They are lovely wee flowers.
This is the third year that this particular cactus has bloomed, if I remember correctly--each year the ring of blooms is closer to the top. I don't think I've ever noticed the inner blossoms before.

There's something to be said about prickly beauty. 😃

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Is This Route Cursed?

 The last time our daughter came to visit was just over two years ago. The day she left was the day our first lockdown was announced. When she arrived that time, we went to the airport to meet her and headed back to where we were then living. The first leg of that trip was on Bus Eireann from Dublin Airport to Letterkenny and it was an unpleasant journey, which I wrote about here.

This time we live in a different place and have different options for getting to and from the airport. When we went to meet her, we were able to take a bus that picked us up right outside our door and dropped us off at the airport--it was extremely convenient and comfortable. As I was planning the return journey, I considered taking the same bus back, but decided against it because of the time. Had we taken that option, we would have had to wait at the airport for 6 hours and not arrived home until almost 11 that night. Since our daughter's plane landed almost an hour early, she'd already been there for almost three hours by the time we got there. It just seemed like a long time to wait when we could avail of a different service and get home two hours earlier. Or so I thought!

The plan was to take Bus Eireann to Letterkenny again, arriving at 5-ish. The bus to Bunbeg would leave at 7:30-ish, so that would give us time to have some dinner in Letterkenny. It all seemed like a very reasonable plan--at least in theory. First of all, the bus, which originates in Dublin City Centre, was late getting to the airport. Since the last time we used this bus, a new ticketing system has been implemented, so if you have not bought tickets (or reserved seats in the case of those travelling with a free travel pass), you take your chances. We had our ticket/reservations so got on the bus and settled in. When the driver was done getting every ticketed passenger aboard, he counted the seats that were left and allowed that many people to board. Every seat was full. By the time we pulled out, we were already 25 minutes late. Still, we were rolling.

That didn't last very long, however. The bus was weird--it had some kind of sponsorship or something on the side and when I looked out the window, there was like a screen on the outside--I could only see what was outside through the tiny holes. It made me kind of dizzy. But about an hour into the trip, I could see that something was off. We were moving very slowly and on the far left side of the road. Cars were passing. Eventually, we stopped. Then he turned off the bus, got out, and messed with something in back. After a few minutes, he started it up again and we picked up speed. Then we slowed down again. Finally, he pulled over, turned off the bus, talked to someone and made an announcement. The bus was going nowhere. It was overheating. He talked to someone who would be there in 20-30 minutes. We might as well get out of the bus. Some people did. Many people were very tired from travel and did not. After some more time had passed, we learned that another bus was coming so everyone should gather their belongings. For some people, this involved very large suitcases. We milled around outside while the dog in the yard across the street went crazy barking at all of the strange people.
photo by bill burke
The mechanic arrived and had a look.
photo by bill burke

We all waited some more. The next 'Expressway' bus arrived. It was a double-decker, which has very few seats on the bottom. We went upstairs. Fortunately, our daughter just had a backpack, so we did not have to deal with heavy bags. 
photo by bill burke

We settled in and got comfortable. We were on our way again. That delay took an hour or so. After a short time, we stopped for a 'rest break.' The woman in the seat in front of us commented that it was not where the usual stop was. She was right. It used to be at the Monaghan Bus Station and this time it was at a petrol station with a small shop attached, which was actually better. It was on the outskirts of Monaghan and had more to offer for people since there was a food and drinks counter in addition to the bathrooms. Our daughter opted to stay in the bus, but Bill and I made our way downstairs to use the restrooms. As we got to the bottom of the stairs, the driver informed us that we were taking a 10-minute break. When we returned to our seats, Daughter said he'd been upstairs to tell them about the 10-minute break and also said to someone that we'd be changing buses again. She was unsure if it was supposed to be a joke. Since he said nothing to those of us getting off the bus, we hoped it was. It wasn't! We drove for another 5 minutes and pulled up at the Monaghan Bus Station where we all had to get off that bus and get on another one. People were starting to get a bit annoyed at this point, but everyone maintained a polite attitude.

By the time we made our way downstairs and onto the third 'Expressway' bus, there were few seats left, so I ended up in one that was behind a broken one that would not stay upright. I had to slide my upper body in, but could not get both legs out of the aisle. I sat awkwardly with my left leg hanging down into the aisle and my right leg twisted in a funny way. I couldn't fit my backpack on my lap, so just placed it in the aisle and held it there. The guy sitting in the broken seat in front of me watched youtube videos without earbuds while he drank his beer, which seems to be a thing on this route. Since these were in a language I didn't understand, it was just noise, which was probably good--easier to tune out that way. When some people a few rows in front of us got off after an hour or so, we moved up to those seats. 

At this point, I was unsure how far we were from Letterkenny and it was getting into the time when there could be traffic. We were running very late and while I knew we were not going to have time for dinner when we got there, I hoped that we would be able to catch the next bus. I did chuckle to think that if we didn't, we would have to wait for the bus that I could have taken from the airport in the first place, which also runs through Letterkenny. 

In the end, we arrived two hours late and with half an hour to spare before the last bus of our journey arrived. It was on time and so, so comfortable. So all's well that ends well, but I will think twice in future about booking a trip on Bus Eireann Expressway route 32!

Friday, May 20, 2022


 Our daughter was here for a visit. She left yesterday and 25 hours later, arrived home. Tonight as I was making supper, these words started organizing themselves in my head.

for H after your visit, May 2022

Three night owls
step outside
into a chilly, grey May 
early morning.

The week sped by
overflowing with laughter,
old family jokes, catching up, 
and adding
new memories to the old.

But now we stand,
clawed by the wind,
filling these last few minutes
with small talk,
eyes focused on the curve
of the road in the distance.

Bill is the first to spot it.
‘Here comes the bus,’ he says.
We have just enough time
for hugs and love yous and
so glad you came.

The driver pulls up,
jogs down the stairs
and asks, ‘Just one of you?’
As I nod, the look of gentle kindness
he directs my way
pierces my heart.

As he follows you up the stairs
I remember -- this ritual
is an oft repeated one
on this island, which is so
well-steeped in good-byes.

Through the dark windows
my eyes follow your silhouette,
watching you pick a seat and settle in.
It’s a long ride to the airport.
The door closes. The bus pulls away.
I watch until it crests the hill then

Our paths diverged again,
as each of us heads back 
to the everyday lives
which suit us best.
It feels weird for a little while,
the absence. I need
to settle in again.

And yet the ache
of farewell
is tempered by
the joyful knowing
that we are where
we need to be 
and you are
going home to the place 
you have always known 
you belonged.