Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring Cleaning

If you've ever been to my house, you may understand the overwhelming prospect of trying to keep the landscaping neat and tidy.  Not only is there a ton of square-footage, but it is filled with old, overgrown plants.  Finally, this month, we had a major cleanup of the front yard.  I wish I'd taken a picture of the container the gardener and his helpers filled with the trimmings; it was an impressive sight.

Just for comparison's sake, here's a "before" photo of one section taken about a year ago (before clean-up, but also before another year's growth compounded the problem) followed by an "after" photo of how it looks now:

Hey look!  There's a dry creek under all that mess!  Fascinating!

There was more taken out (and in a quicker, less thorough way) than I'd have done myself, but it'll soon fill back in, I'm sure...just in time to be excavated when we begin our remodel. Hrm.
Wish I had a "before" picture for this area--such a difference!
Love this little pathway!
Melinda was sad to see her jungle taken away, but since she never made use of it, she has lost her right to an opinion on the matter. :)  Overall, I'm very's like my "To Do" list sunk exponentially in a singular Saturday.  Of course, now the trees need trimming. Sigh.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Almost Driver

All of a sudden I realize the terrified look in my parents' eyes when we finally approached legal driving age.  This stuff is scary.  This is the age when The Hardest Part is Letting Go really kicks into high gear.  Timothy is now 15: the countdown is in full swing.

It has actually been a fabulous adventure--seeing Timothy grow and mature.  He has a brilliant sense of humor and a great big loving heart.  This year was the first (in quite some time) that he not didn't plan out (months in advance) which presents he wanted from whom.  Not only that, but he didn't want a huge party (which worked out quite well considering the fact that I'd declared 2011 to be a non-party year).  We went to a restaurant for his birthday dinner, and then came home for Key Lime Pie and some Lime Sorbet.  A simple night, but spent with some of the best people around.

Cue the crazy singing!
Lime and Fire: 2 of Tim's favorite things.
This guy has a great smile and laugh!
What a goof. Isn't he great?
No complaints from Andrew.
nom nom nom
Serious thoughts? or serious dramatics?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Dingle Peninsula

The last leg of our journey in Ireland was spent on the Dingle Peninsula.  While there were myriad sights to see in that region of Ireland, we found ourselves winding down and enjoying the town of Dingle.  The only driving and sightseeing we did, in fact, was Dingle Peninsula itself and a brief stop in Cork on the drive back to Dublin.

All over Ireland, scattered throughout the countryside, are sheep.  Scraggly sheep with character.  Sheep decorated in bright colors that, if you are as lucky as I was, just might pose for you, and reply with a weary "Baaa" when thanked for their cooperation.

I love how the houses are comfy cozy, smooshed up together.  It could be a problem, however, when it comes to searching for a business in a town you aren't familiar with.  Many times during our trip we experienced the frustration of not being able to find something that came with quite simple directions.  You see, we are used to finding things in California...where most cities are laid out in a grid and buildings have street addresses...not so in Ireland.  In Dingle we were to be staying at Murphy's B&B--no street number, only a street name.  When we arrived we found 2 Murphy's B&Bs Right Next to Each Other.  What???  We went into one, they acted like they had our reservation and showed us to our rooms.  An hour later, as we were eating dinner downstairs, we got a call from Murphy's B&B wondering when we were going to check in.  Apparently we were at the wrong one, but really had no way of knowing.  We moved our things over, and were much happier with the new place (which is not the one over the pub, just in case you ever go! Look for the smaller sign next door.)
2 Murphy's B&Bs next door to each other--novel idea!
Just a pleasant row of houses.  Smooosh!
Chris in Foxy John's--a very traditional pub, complete with
hardware store and bike rentals!
The bartender at Foxy John's was my favorite!

The drive around the peninsula was amazing.  We weren't expecting to encounter anything awe-inspiring, which made it even more incredible to find.  The two-way road way very narrow, which made it quite an adventure.
Beehive huts built 3,000-4,000 years ago, inhabited until
around 1200AD
A cross etched into stone at the beehive huts.
This is one of the scenes that took my breath away.
My favorite Ireland scene.  I just can't look at this enough.
What was the best part of Ireland?  Well, the natural wonders abound, constantly reminding you that there are bigger forces at work.  I love nature, so this was a huge thing to love about this country.  Also, there are a lot of rosy-cheeked people there, so for the first time in my life I didn't have people asking me why my cheeks were so red--I looked normal!  And the music was so much fun...  But mostly it was just the people.  I know that you hear all the time that the people are so friendly, but the people we encountered were more than friendly, they were interested.  They approached us to find out who we were, what we were doing, what we thought.  This is why you'll hear people talk about the pubs--the Irish pubs are great because they are a place for people to connect.

I procrastinated putting up this last post about Ireland because I don't want to say goodbye to it just yet.  This is the place I've longed to go since I was young, and it's the first place that I've so sorely missed upon returning home.  To think that some of the people and places now exist only in my mind is a sad thought, so I counter it with the promise of returning someday.  Anyone want to go? Let's plan a trip!