31 March 2013


The spirit of Easter is all about Hope, love, and joyful living.
-- Anonymous

Blessings to you and yours!

23 March 2013

There Once Was a Woman Called Bridget ...

Something, something, something ... (I'm not good at making up Limericks on the spot).

When I last forced you to look at shared my Ireland pictures, we were visiting the Jameson distillery and the little town where it is located.  Our next stop was Limerick, County Limerick, where we would be for three days.  We had been there briefly (as in, we drove there, ate dinner, and drove back to our hotel) on our first visit, but this was our chance to really poke around and take our time.

On our way, though, we decided to stop at the Rock of Cashel, in County Tipperary, since we had read about it, known someone from the town of Cashel, and figured it would be fun to see.  And we were going to be driving right past the exit for Cashel, so it seemed like a no-brainer. However, after we arrived, and parked in the small lot nearby, we found out that it was closed for the day (it was about 4:00 in the afternoon - the last tours were at 3:00).  Oh well, such is life.  We did get some nice photos, though, and then we made our way to Limerick, where we were in a gorgeous hotel, and within very easy walking distance of all the things we wanted to see.  So here are some of the sights we saw during our time there.

Path leading to the Rock of Cashel

A totem-like monument on the side of the hill

Near the top (getting the "artsy" shot of the bird in flight was just luck)

 Our hotel room in Limerick

View of the River Shannon from the window seat in our room

Medieval wall, dating from the 1100s (right behind is a neighborhood street)

St. Mary's Cathedral, also dating from medieval times, with the churchyard cemetery

King John's Castle (King John of Magna Carta fame; he never actually was here, but this was where the government administration was in Ireland during his reign.)

Castle yard, viewed from one of the battlements

Another view of the River Shannon, and one of the many bridges, 
also viewed from one of the battlements

Yours truly on the dock next to the Visitors Center

Limerick is a great city for walking around, and I think while we were there, we must have walked the entire city at least once or twice.  Every night we would go to a pub in the medieval part of town, not far from our hotel, and have dinner and a pint, and just relax and people watch.  Everyone was very friendly (as they are everywhere in Ireland, truly), and there was usually a rugby or soccer match on that we would watch (well, actually we spent most of our time watching everyone else watch the matches).

I gave The Tim a hard time the one day, when in only an hour's time, we came across the following:

The Arthur family (my family name) has a long and storied history in Limerick 

Whereas, it would appear that things have been tough for the Clancys 
(The Tim's family name).

And that's today's travelogue.  I'm having fun sharing these with you, but I have to admit, it's making me really itchy to return sometime soon ...

Have a good weekend!

19 March 2013

A Random Ten

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic works just fine for me:

10 Random Things on My Mind

The challenge for me is, only 10???

Here you go.

1.  How much of a hassle will it be to get new glasses?  I just got new glasses and frames last summer, but they have been problematic ever since.  Turns out, my current trifocals are overkill in two lenses, and underkill in one.  I really don't like my frames, so I might as well replace them too.  Of course, that assumes I can somehow afford them, even with the fairly good vision insurance that I have ...

2.  What will my design for my inappropriate Easter egg be?  I have a couple of ideas, that's not the problem.  Executing the design so that it is in any way decipherable is the issue ...

3.  Will I ever make the time to write down the complicated part of a pattern I am knitting so I can actually finish the thing?  I thought I'd do it last week, when I took some extra days off for my birthday, but I didn't even think of it.  I just need some time when I am in the mood, and can have a good chance of no interruptions.

4.  Should there be a knitting get-together this year? I've done it for two years in a row, actually calling it the Annual Faux Knitting Get-Together, and mixing knitting and non-knitting friends.  It's been fun, and successful, but usually by now it's planned and people are invited.  Do I even have the energy to do it this year?

5.  Will the baby sweater I am nearly finished knitting actually fit the intended baby?

6.  Why are people such jerks?

7.  I need to go back to the gym.  Sooner rather than later.  Once I'm in the groove, I'm fine. But while I was sick, I couldn't get out of bed, much less go anywhere.  And then I had to catch up on so much else.  Next week, hopefully.

8.  I need to really clean the second floor.  The third floor and the first floor recently got a good cleaning.  The second floor is the last bastion of dirt, and must be conquered!

9.  I have a couple of ideas for easy patterns in my brain.  Will I ever actually try to knit them?

10.  I'm glad tomorrow is Wednesday.

That's all folks!!

17 March 2013

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I think it only makes sense that I do another installment of our trip to Ireland today, don't you?  After Kilkenny, our next stop for overnight was Blarney in County Cork.  We already knew that we were not likely to stop to kiss the Blarney stone, because everyone we know who had done so, said that a) you are hanging upside down, high off the ground, and b) there's *always* a long wait in line. So even though it would be fun to say we'd done it, neither of us really likes standing on long lines, especially when we aren't spending a lot of time in one place on a vacation.  So our adventures in Blarney mainly consisted of long walks, toodling around the little town, a visit to the Blarney Woollen Mills, and visiting a pub we liked for dinner and a pint every night. Our big adventure was in the nearby town of Midleton, where we went on a tour of of the Jameson Irish Whiskey distillery.  So interesting, so much fun, and a tasting at the the end!  We did this on the day of our anniversary, and at the tasting we met another couple who were also celebrating their anniversary, and were on a weekend holiday from a nearby small town.  They were both schoolteachers, and we had a great time talking to them.

Hmm ... there's a letter missing .... has someone been sampling?

The entrance to the store, and where you also purchase tickets for the tour.
The old copper kettle next to one of the main buildings.

 The courtyard - there are about 5 buildings like this all around.

 The distillery master's cottage on the grounds.

The original water wheel.

Barrels ready for transport.

One of the trucks used to transport the barrels to Dublin for distribution.  
(Today, they are delivered by train).

Jameson Irish Whiskey is still brewed in Midleton, in a new building adjacent to the old distillery, which is basically a sterile-looking box with no real character.  The whiskey is then taken to Dublin, where it is distributed all over the world.

Midleton was a pleasant little town, though most things were closed, since it was Sunday.  But there were another couple of notable things about the town worth showing:

This is town library, down the street from the Jameson distillery.

And a little bit farther down, and across the street, tucked away in a little alley leading to a courtyard, a yarn shop!

Let's see ... the Jameson distillery, the library, and a yarn store, all within walking distance of one another, on a single street - would it be wrong to say it felt like home???


So raise a glass - Jameson, Guinness, Smithwick's, whatever your beverage of choice - and toast Saint Patrick on his day!  We will be, along with some homemade Irish brown bread, served with potato and cabbage soup.

"May you have warm words on a cold evening, 
a full moon on a dark night, 
and the road downhill all the way to your door"
 -- Irish blessing

12 March 2013


This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is:  Ten Favorite Things That Are Green, in honor of St. Patrick's Day this coming Sunday.  I couldn't wait to participate in this one, because a) green is my favorite color, b) St. Patrick's Day is one of my very most favorite holidays, and c) I haven't gotten my act together in time to participate for the last few weeks.  So here you go!

1.  Shamrocks.  I mean, if we are talking St. Patrick's Day, you gotta go for the shamrock.  

2.  Ireland.  Truly.  There is a reason it's called The Emerald Isle.  Granted, not every single inch is green, that would just be impossible, but you see a lot of it when you are there.

3.  Jetsam's eyes.  They particularly stand out against his charcoal gray fur.  He is a beautiful kitty with a very expressive face.

4.  Christmas trees!  (Did you really think I'd leave out something related to one of my other very most favorite holidays???)

5.  Fresh herbs, like basil, parsely, oregano, rosemary - well you get my drift.  I don't just love seeing them, and think they are tasty, but some of them have the best scents!

6.  My favorite water bottle.  It's about three years old now, but I love it too much to think of replacing it, and it's still in pretty good shape!  (Plus it has ladybugs on it!)

7.  Yarn!  If you ever visited me, and saw my yarn stash, you would wonder if I realized there were other colors out there ... granted, it's not all the same shade of green ...

8.  Veggies.  OK, there are other colors of veggies besides green, but the green ones are some of the very best - I'm even a person who loves Brussels sprouts!

9.  My new shawl!  Except you have to wait for a separate post to see it ...

[Photo not available]

10.  The Barnes & Noble sign.  

This may seem like an odd choice, but it actually plays a huge part in our lives here at Chez Ravell'd Sleave.  When we first moved to Philadelphia, we moved here because The Tim had a job in publishing.  After approximately 10 years at that job, he was unceremoniously laid off (long story, but not mine to tell).  Fortunately, he was hired at Barnes & Noble, and the rest, as they say, is history.  I know some see it as one of the evil-empire big-box stores, and I can appreciate that.  But I can tell you that it is thanks to B&N that we have been able pay our mortgage as well as our other bills. So I am a big fan and supporter. 

And I know there are only supposed to be ten things, but with baseball season so close to starting, it's worth remembering that baseball fields have a lot of green too ...


08 March 2013

And Now - Kilkenny!

After our visit to the Irish National Stud, discussed in this post, we left Tully, County Kildare, and headed to our first overnight stay, in Kilkenny, which is in County Kilkenny.  Fortunately, we didn't get lost, as we did on our initial adventure, but it was far enough away that we didn't get there until it was dark.  Which made wending our way from one end of the Town Centre to the other, in order to get to our hotel, which was just outside of it, challenging.

However, we are nothing if not intrepid, so we did arrive safe and sound, though tired.  So basically, we unpacked and just hung out in the room until we couldn't stay awake any longer.  We only had one night staying there, so we wanted to be sure we were well enough rested on the next day to enjoy our day poking around.

One of the interesting things about our hotel was that just behind it, there was a petting zoo.  You heard that correctly - a petting zoo!  Go figure.  But it was fun to see animals, and they were all very well taken care of, and though admittedly not free to roam, had LOTS of space.  Of course, we had to check it out before we headed into the Town Centre.

The Tim makes a friend

 Why should they each eat out of a bucket, when both can share one?

Sweet pony face.

There were also sheep, goats, and cows, but those pictures did not turn out well enough to really tell what they were ...

And then we headed to Kilkenny Town Centre for the day.  As it turns out, they were having a "Taste of Kilkenny" festival, so we lucked out and got to see and try lots of local foods and beers.  (Whole families were there, and I commented to The Tim how parents were having samples of the local beers along with their kids.  No big deal, you know?  Whereas, here in the States, I'm sure everyone would be phoning Child and Family Services.)  Kilkenny is such a pretty and historic little town, and we were lucky because it was a gorgeous day!  We went to the food festival, toured Kilkenny Castle, and walked around on the grounds, then walked up and down the streets and looked in some shops.  We stopped for a tea break in a little tea shop that was charming, and really busy - so we heard a lot of the local news from those nearby.

We got a charge out of this Halloween decoration - the lid would open and close slowly, and the vampire would appear!

 Kilkenny Castle and a small portion of the side "lawn"

 Kilkenny Castle gardens

Kilkenny Castle - the wall on the left is where you enter the grounds, and the food festival was right outside that area.

Another wonderful day, and that evening, time to head to our next spot - Blarney, in County Limerick.  But that's for the next installment ...

Have a good weekend!

05 March 2013

February Book Report

February was not a big reading month, but I still managed three books, which is acceptable to me with everything else going on.  My lunch hour reading at work was nearly non-existent, due to unexpected events that meant I usually was lucky to have time to eat, and then as previously mentioned, I was so tired all of the time, I couldn't stay up very late in the evening.  But since I am not in a race, or reading for a grade at the end of a semester, I'm not gonna worry about it!

The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton.  This book was interesting. It takes place beginning in 1914, when a 14-year old Grace is sent by her mother to begin a life of service at Riverton, a manor house where her mother once worked.  She becomes part of the household, and is mesmerized by the children of the house, particularly the daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.  

The narrator, Grace, is telling the story as an old woman in a nursing home, making tapes for her grandson to listen to.  She is contacted by a young woman who is producing a movie based on an event that happened at Riverton in the 1920s, when the poet Robbie Hunter shot himself in front of Hannah and Emmeline.  Grace was there, and the young producer has tracked her down to ask her about things for the movie.

As the story progresses, a lot of things start pointing to the end, aka the story the  movie is telling.  But Grace wants to tell it her way.  And she knows what really happened and why.  Which does make for an interesting read.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I can say that some of the "secrets" seemed obvious as I was reading, and others I could only suspect.

My biggest wish is that we would have had the chance to learn more about Grace once she left her life of service.  She apparently got her doctorate and had a career as an archaeologist, but those things are mentioned only in passing.  So we have her life from teenager to young woman in great detail, with a few details about her as an older woman, but nothing in between.  Still, I thought this book was especially good at evoking time, place, and the restrictions faced by people of every social class in England during this time period.

This was also one of the books on my reading list for the TBR Pile Challenge.

One for the Books, by Joe Queenan.  I received this book as a Christmas gift.  I'm pretty sure I've heard of Joe Queenan, though I'm not sure where/when/how.  This book is a set of essays he wrote - some appearing previously in other publications - where he discusses his love for books, and what they have meant in his life.

I am not sure if I liked or hated this book.  Queenan seems like a person who is very busy making sure that you know he came from a difficult, poor childhood in Philadelphia, but that he has risen far above it by becoming literary.  My problem is that he seems like someone who I would consider a literary snob.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am incredibly judgemental, and tend to think that many people are annoying or even stupid.  However, I also realize that I am incredibly judgemental, and that my opinions are not necessarily based on any provable evidence.  I wish everyone would read "good" books and enjoy them.  I wish reading and writing were as important to society overall as science and math are.  In reality, I am glad when people just read.  I am glad there are public libraries and people who patronize them.  I am glad that there are still brick-and-mortar bookstores so that I can purchase a book in person.  And I'm even glad there are e-readers, because when you walk back and forth to work every single day, carrying your lunch, your water bottle, sometimes an extra pair of shoes and who knows what else, it's nice not to have to carry a heavy book as well, or worry that it will be ruined by the other crap.

Joe Queenan is not like me in any of those ways.  As a matter of fact, he spends a lot of the book telling the reader how much he is a purist, an intellectual.  He is like me in that he reads A LOT, wishes everyone did, and loves the worlds that books provide.  

There are parts of this book that made me laugh out loud, and parts that made me want to go to his house and punch him in the face.  I can say that the best thing about it was that it made me consciously think about myself, reading, and how I see it in the universe at large.  

So - maybe you should read it.  Who knows?

First Among Sequels, by Jasper Fforde.  Well, this was somewhat disappointing. I had really enjoyed the other Thursday Next books, but this installment, while interesting enough, did not really capture my attention.  Usually, I can't wait to keep reading, because the wordplay and literary references are so fun.  This installment had some of those, but the story just didn't grab me the same way.

This time, Thursday must capture and contain Thursday Next1-4, her character in the first four books of the series about her, which apparently takes great liberties with the "true" story of Thursday.  Of course, her husband, Landen, has no idea that she is still working in the book business.  Instead, she helps her friend Bowden in the "Acme Carpet Company" installing carpeting in Swindon homes.

Anyway, I've read others who felt kind blah about this book, but then said the next in the series was back to what was expected.  I hope so, because it is disappointing when a series that I like fades away into boring books.

And so ... on to my books for March!

02 March 2013

Hooray for March!

I meant to post yesterday, but zonked out instead.  For whatever reason, by the time yesterday rolled around, I was exhausted - the week had just worn me out, though I am not sure why.  In any event, that's that, and here we are in the month of March.  Which is one of my favorite months.  I read somewhere a quote about March saying it was "winter in the shade, and spring in the sunshine."  I think that sums it up quite nicely.  But March also includes Milo's first birthday, my birthday, St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day, a couple of other family birthdays, and this year, Easter right at the end.  So it's probably pretty obvious why I like it so much.  :-)

Since St. Patrick's Day falls in March, and I've failed to do it any earlier, I decided that I would share some of our pictures from Ireland on the blog this month.  We took approximately eleventy billion, but don't worry, I won't make you look at them all!

Anyway, we visited Ireland from October 25 until November 2 of last year.  It was our second visit, and most certainly will not be our last.  We flew in and out of Dublin, and our first reservations from there were in Kilkenny.  But we decided rather than go straight there, we would take a brief detour and visit the Irish National Stud in Tully, County Kildare, which is where so many of Ireland's famous horses started out.  According to the map, it was maybe 90 minutes from Dublin, so we figured we'd go there, take our time looking around, and then head to Kilkenny.  Which is what would have happened if the exit we needed from the highway had not been closed for maintenance!  The map we had was not as detailed as would have been helpful (though we learned that was not unusual), and well, we didn't know where we were really, so a 90-minute trip ended up taking us the whole day, and we got there with 45 minutes to go until closing!  However, it was well worth it, and it was a beautiful day.

This picture never fails to amuse me.  The Tim posted it on Facebook with the update "Visited the Irish National Stud today - it was like looking in a mirror."  To which MANY commented, with such things like, was he sure it wasn't the Irish National Spud, the Irish National Dud, etc.

Caretaker's cottage

A perfect autumn day

 One of the residents

 The fountain in the stableyard

Rows of stables

Remains of an medieval church on the grounds

Me with Oscar, the caretaker's dog

As it turned out, we saw quite a bit, and enjoyed every second of it.  We got in the car and headed to Kilkenny, where we would be spending the night.  I'll show you some of those pictures the next time.