Countbasye 

Adventure 2021

1/22/21

Great day renting and riding bikes out of Cork City Centre to the Greenway and Blackrock Castle. Sunny day so everyone was out. In Denver, where virtually every day is sunny, I think we take it a bit for granted. Here, and I am sure in other places like Oregon, the sun comes out and people immediately pack up the family and head out for a walk, run, or bike, With respect to running, you need to toughen up and go, waiting for the most sunny part of the day. The English Market here is excellent. Food stalls after food stalls, butchers, bakers, cheesemakers, sausages, etc. We've decided to do most, if not all, of our food shopping here rather than go to one of the myriad of grocery stores. We had our second shot at pizza in Ireland. I think the pizza in Kinsale was a little better. I ordered garlic potatoes (of course) with our pizza just because you can. Ireland remains on pretty much full lockdown with stores that sell "essentials" the only ones that remain open. This can be confusing as you cannot walk into a store and buy jeans but you can buy gloves, hats, notebooks, tape, etc. All restaurants are closed except for delivery and take away. It feels like things are clamping down all over Ireland, especially in Europe, As of right now, it appears we can travel to many countries in the European Union with a PCR Covid test but we'll see if that continues. It seems like they're treating in a different direction here than in much of the US, although it's hard to garner a complete picture from the news and from friends and family, In Colorado it seems people are leaving their bubbles and getting together with other folks to do things like ski. Again, this may be totally off since we only receive a limited perspective. People do go outside quite a bit here, but the only time you see people socializing is outside coffee shops and usually standing a few feet apart. We are suffering from a little bit of cabin fever, but personally I am fine with it. I try to break up my day between writing, reading, running, walking, meals, and movies. I wish I enjoyed art more or something that pulls me away from the computer more as I even read novels and poetry on my computer or iPad. Need to think about that. 


Returning to my thoughts about travel a bit. I think the fact that Rachel and I took it as almost a challenge when people said we would stop travelling once we had kids has had a profound effect on everyone in our family. We took Kate to Negril when she was six weeks old and haven't stopped since. We learned early on that travelling with kids is actually pretty easy. They're more flexible than we give them credit for and seeing different places and cultures through their eyes actually enhances the travel experience. Some places have become "repeat offenders"--Ireland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Japan, with other destinations mixed in like The Czech Republic, Belize, South Korea. I hope this doesn't sound like we're rich or spoiled (although maybe we are), but to do this we've eschewed other things--a fancy house, new cars (much to Kate's chagrin), top end gear, etc. It's just a choice we've made. For other people, it's more important to have a big comfortable house to hang out in and nice cars to commute to and from work. To me, it's a choice we all make. Obviously, some people have the money and flexibility to "do it all." Not us. What is the effect? I think we, and especially our children, have more of a worldview than an American view. I, for one, view myself as more of a citizen of the world rather than a US citizen. So when people talk about making America great again or talk about policies that will benefit the US at the expense of other countries in the world, I just can't buy in. I wish American well because it has provided me, my family, and my friends great opportunities and when America does well, all those folks do well and are happier. But right now I have so many issues with the US in terms of its political system, its inherent racism, its educational system, its criminal justice system that I feel very disconnected from it. That's not to say other countries don't have their own issues. Ireland, for example, has a rather ugly history with some of these things, especially the power the Church had over every day lives. Hence the huge disaster dominating the media here, the Mother and Baby Homes. But these are not my issues, at least not yet. Will my attitude change? Maybe. But that's where I'm at right now.  


1/21/21

Inauguration Day! Yay. We made it. Looking forward to some peace and quiet on the political front at least until the impeachment trial starts. Reading Seamus Heaney's 100 Poems. One poem that I don't believe is in the collection, "When All the Others Were Away at Mass"

In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984, was voted Ireland's favorite poem. Look it up. It's excellent. Today is supposed to be sunny, so we're planning on renting bikes and riding around Cork. Talked to my mom yesterday. She seems surprisingly spry given my father's recent passing. I think having my sisters down there and being able to move back into her home has really helped her spirits. I'm doing well--running and reading a great deal. And thinking. So back to the travel thing. Rachel and I travelled some before we had kids. We sent to Negril, Jamaica on our honeymoon, which still remains my favorite beach in the world. I know people have mixed feelings about Jamaica but I love Negril. Hope to return someday. I also think wAe went to Switzerland to visit the Kuntzlers, Rachel's host family from her gap year after high school. I cannot remember where else, But it was eye opening to me. I just loved the shock and awe of finding yourself in an entirely different world, faced with a different language and different culture. I think that was when the bug bit me. And the food. As some of you know, I am all about food. I will eat pretty much everything, other than some weird animal parts, like pig's ears (which my friend Toshi made me eat at a now closed Denver restaurant called Essex Hall few years ago). When we travel, the family usually loses me at some point as I wander off in search of some delicacy. Again, I think it started in Switzerland when Mami (Rachel's Swiss Mom) would cook raclette and veal sausages (which you could also get as street food). In Jamaica, I was all about the jerk chicken at Da Boss on the beach in Negril. More on travel and food later. Cheers!


Redbreast 12 Year Old · Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (Midleton Distillery, County Cork)

Awarded the Worldwide Whiskey Trophy 2019, scoring a 98/100, so who am I to critique it? Well, I'm really no-one other than someone who enjoys basically a shot's worth of whiskey, straight, over typically a two hour period on a nightly basis. I will say that it is pricey. About $90 a bottle. But when in Ireland . . . Beautifully dark brown in appearance (I like a darker looking whisky for some reason). It doesn't possess a strong smell unlike the two peated whiskeys we've drank so far. The nose dances on the tip of your tongue, spicy and bold. It smooths out quickly and then turns sharper at the finish. I'm not very good at saying things like "it tastes of vanilla, followed by a bouquet of raspberries and cinnamon." I just don't seem to taste those things in a whiskey. For me, it's more about spice, smoothness, and drinkability. I cannot drink much whiskey, meaning I enjoy sipping a sixteenth of a normal glass size over a long period of time. It turns so smooth after then nose that it's a little dangerous because you can drink a fair amount of it without feeling its effects. On Wexford Whiskey Scale, it earns a 9.5/10. The best non-peated whiskey I've had so far.


1/20/21

This day had to come. My friend Kevin pre-saged (not sure that's a word) it. I've started reading Seamus Heaney. 100 Poems


1/19/21

Been in Cork City for a couple of days. Kind of nice to be in a city after five weeks in a small town like Kinsale. Found a nice running route that takes me across two rivers or really one river, the River Lee that branches in two for a short stretch. A lot more diversity here in terms of people, restaurants (takeaway only), and sights. Very interesting to be in a city that's been shutdown due to COVID. The only other city I've been to during COVID is Denver which is a mess. Boarded up windows, homeless encampments, deserted streets. Pretty sad and depressing. Cork is prettier but still eery in its emptiness. We've only been here for one night a few years ago, so no sense for what's it's like when it's open. Given the number of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants, I think it would be fun place to visit/live. Rachel and I just went for an evening stroll which was really nice. We discovered some historical markings indicated only lanes and streets from back in the day. And it wasn't raining. Now it's pouring so we made it back in time. Just finished Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great. Ouch. A scathing criticism of religion. Interesting read. Not sure how I feel about it. Will need time to process it. I've been thinking a lot about how I feel about travel and life abroad. I would never have guessed that I would enjoy travel as much as I do. My parents surprisingly (because we didn't have much money) travelled a great deal. They usually went on 3 to 4 week guided tours of different places when my father was in a better place financially. But they were never in a position to take us along. And honestly I don't know if I would have appreciated it back then. I was a typical American teenager who only cared about sports, girls,  a cheap 8 pack and some weed. Family road trips bored me. Camping was okay but also focused on playing catch with the random friend who sometimes came along. I think the first time I flew on a plane was when I left for college by myself, my things wrapped in a over taped box. My first real travel adventure was when I took three weeks off from my first law job to go to England, Scotland and, ultimately,  a quick weekend in Paris. I remember that trip with some mixed emotions, Travelling alone can be, by definition, lonely. I did see family in England but not having known them well, it felt a bit awkward. I also was more shy back then. I plan on exploring this more at a later date. It's around 11:00 pm here. I do love hearing the rain splash against our glass covered dining room. Don't get that a lot in Denver.


Reading List Updated 1/19/21


Banville, John Snow (Fiction)--Fascinating murder mystery set in Ireland

Banville, John Time Pieces (Non-Fiction)--Series of short pieces about life and architecture in Dublin

Barry, Kevin City of Bohane (Fiction)--Futuristic gang novel set in 2053. Great slang and language.

Bowman, John Ireland, The Autobiography (Non-Fiction)--Great short pieces about Ireland (I think; it's been awhile)

Hitchens, Christopher. God Is Not Great (Non-Fiction)

Gladwell, Malcolm Talking to Strangers (Non-Fiction)--typical Gladwell book about why we misread people

Keneally, Thomas The Great Shame (Non-Fiction)--Long, thousands of pages, about leaders of the Young Ireland and minor criminals banished to Australia

McInerney, Lisa The Glorious Heresies (Fiction)--Excellent novel that's part of three novel series about the dark underbelly of life in Cork City

Madden, Bill Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life (Non-Fiction)--Kind of puffy piece about Tom Seaver's life

Roberts, Randy Blood Brothers (Non-Fiction)--Very interesting novel about the relationship between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali



1/17/21

We made it to Cork, no problem. Our taxi driver was very interesting, discussing Trump, the lameness of the Irish government, Confederate monuments, the differences between Ireland and Northern Ireland. When we reached the neighborhood we're staying in, he said this is what you would call the "ghetto" in the U.S. and referenced the Elvis Presley song. But I love the "Barn." It's very cool. I love Kinsale and would move there in a heartbeat. But it was time to go. I think we walked every walk, hiked every hike, and ran every run. We loved seeing Margie and Alana. So glad we were able to make it here to see them. Looking forward to continue to cook with them and chat via Zoom and What's App from Cork and beyond. I continue to read like a fiend. I have four books going at once at present. We will continue our cook classes with Ballymaloe, and we start an online lecture series through the Irish Times next week which involves some local writers, artists, journalists. We've mapped out a 5K running route in Cork City that will try out this morning. It was interesting that in a couple of hours of walking around Cork City, we saw more diversity than we had seen in five weeks in Kinsale. A surprising amount of people were out and about on a Sunday and the number of restaurants and coffee shops open for takeaway was impressive. As usual, our first order of business was finding a supermarket, which we did with relative ease. That's usually followed by my desire to find the best off license in town. My one beer and a half shot (sipped) program continues to work well for me. 


I've been spending a good deal of time thinking about faith and where I stand on religion, God, etc. I've always considered myself more spiritual than religious, but attended temple on the high holidays, fasted on Yom Kippur, etc. We have also always celebrated the major Jewish holidays at home with family and friends, even saying dinner prayers on a regular basis and eating challah on Friday nights. We raised both our daughters Jewish but always with the understanding that ultimately they would have to choose what they believe or what they don't believe. I enjoy some of the ritual and traditions but just never truly had a "leap of faith." Services bored me, and I never really bought into the God creating man and the world and then taking a hands off approach to humankind or even less to the day to day activities of humankind. Now I feel myself drifting even further away from belief. Maybe this has something to due with my father's death. He was always the most religious person in my life (interestingly, he did not profess much faith in the last few years of his life) and instilled much of the guilt (and I say that without criticism) I felt when I did not do things like go to temple or fast. I also love and respect our rabbi in Denver, Rabbi Mo, so I will always support whatever he's involved with. I am reading Christopher Hitchens right now. He is a true non-believer and writes a great deal about why. I've found his writing very interesting and difficult to challenge. We'll see where this journey goes. 


1/15/21

Pouring rain and wind today. Now that's Ireland! Luckily we all got a run in this morning. Now we're "battening down the hatches" so to speak. Closing in on finishing our Art Map of Ireland puzzle. So close. Need to finish tomorrow! Cooking up a storm here which has been fun. Shepherd's Pie great. Irish Stew needs work. Meat a bit too tough. Reading four books right now. Started a book by Christopher Hitchens. Will not share the title so as not to offend, but I am sure some of you know his work. Very interesting. Also wading through The Impeachers about Andrew Johnson's impeachment. So many similarities between what was happening then and what is happening now. I am feeling great about the decision to take this trip. Yes, coronavirus limits what we can do--for me, mainly no pubs, but I've been there and done that in Ireland. I think if this were my first time here, I would feel like I was missing out. I would say the same about visiting other places I have not been to before. Not being able to see the sights, the museums, the restaurants and bars would be a bummer. It will be interesting if we end up in a place we've never been before (see Croatia), and how I feel about not being able to partake in some real tourism. Following my Basketball Buffs from abroad. going well but too soon to forget last year's late season collapse (lost last 5). Not much else to share. Be well.


1/14/21

Hello everyone out there. Happy 2nd Impeachment! What a crazy time in the states. Things in Ireland a bit turbulent as well. COVID continues to wreak havoc as Ireland takes the lead in highest rate of infection. With the highest level of lockdown in place, there's really nothing else to do except step up vaccination game, The main focus here has been on the mother and baby homes that existed in Ireland from like 1928-1998. Yes, 1998. Essentially women who got pregnant were abandoned by the fathers and their families and forced to go to state and church run homes where they were shamed and worked, often to death. The babies also died at a very high rate as society basically turned a blind eve to all of it. A recent 3,000 page report has brought apologies and recriminations forth from all corners, the government, the church, the people. Very sad. We've been holing up here, eating, running, reading, playing games, and watching movies. We've also been sharing food with our neighbors. Nuela, who lives next door, makes these killer egg, bacon, veggie breakfast muffins. I think Rachel and Sara will be posting the recipe soon. I've cooked a couple of Irish favorites--shepherd's pie and Irish stew. This trip has been a godsend for me. It's really provided me with some space to improve my physical and mental conditioning, Daily runs and lifting along the river. Reading and writing quite a bit. I've learned how little I truly need for my day to day existence. I got rid of a lot of clothes before we left and basically brought what I own, minus a suit and a tuxedo. In other words, I can carry most of my stuff on my back. I still need a computer and a phone. I need music but find plenty of it on YouTube for free. A beer and a little whiskey. But that's about it. I see a much more minimalist lifestyle in my future. As Thoreau famously said, "simplicity, simplicity, simplicity." Mentally, I still have a lot of work to do. I am focused on my day to day existence and have only started to think about the future and what will be in it for me. Definitely wrangling. I miss horses and watch with envy as folks ride their horses around our neighborhood (the KInsale Equestrian Centre is right around the corner). Other than that, I'm not really sure. A few more days in Kinsale and then off to our next location. After that, who knows? We're watching updates from various countries regarding our ability to safely travel there within coronavirus guidelines. We'll keep you updated. 


Walking. A lot of people walk here. When we head out for walks in and about town (within 5km), we see tons of people. Men and women, women and women, families just walking along the road. Awesome.


Whiskey Review: W.D. O'Connell Whiskey Merchants Single Malt Whiskey, Bill Phil Peated Series, Small Batch, Batch 01, Bottle 233/600 (Cork)

Now this is a pretty special whiskey, one of only two peated whiskeys produced in Ireland. Only 600 bottles were produced in the first batch. According to the man at the local off license, this whiskey is 100x better than the Connemara (see review below). I love the simple, clean look of the bottle (see picture under Photos on website). The whiskey itself is very clear in color. The nose is very smooth and doesn't have as strong a peat smell or taste as the Connemara. Right off the nose, it crackles and burns in your throat for some time with a bit of a fruit flavor. It returns to a smooth finish and leaves a very nice after taste. As opposed to other whiskeys I've had here that are aged in wine casks, this whiskey is aged in "first-fill ex-bourbon casks." Rachel really likes this whiskey. I still have not found the perfect whiskey but this one is very close. It earns a 9/10 on the Wexford Whiskey scale.  


1/12/21

Good morning. Real Ireland weather apparently has returned--cloudy and a bit rainy. Some additional observations about life in Ireland. People drive very fast but politely wave to you as the speed by. As I think we've mentioned earlier, folks need to step up their poop pickup game, Too much everywhere especially given the number of dogs we've seen. The minute the sun comes out, people stream outside to enjoy it. I assume since the sun is a rarer sight here people don't want to miss it. We've scheduled some online cooking classes which should be fun. We've also shown Sara a couple of our old movie favorites including Crossing Delancey and Benny and Joon (back when Johnny Depp was hot and not crazy). Sara has started remote school from Ireland. She's usually "in school" from around 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Kate is still waiting to leave for Japan as Japan has recently tightened up its COVID restrictions. She landed a job with our good friend Tosh's company which will keep her busy and provide some valuable experience while she waits. We continue to monitor the political situation in the US from afar and with trepidation for the future. 


Irish cooking terms from our Ballymaloe Cooking Class: Herbs with emphasis on the h as in the name; scones, pronounced sconns; the stove/oven is the hobb; basil, pronounced bozzle



1/10/21

Good morning. A little morning fog and frost here. We had a really fun Zoom dinner with Margie and Alana consisting of various courses of shrimp, Kale, pomegranates, and Sara's banana, peanut butter, and chocolate cookies.. While they live only a twenty minute walk from us, COVID rules prohibit us from getting together indoors, so that's the best we can do. I will be making my third attempt at Shepherd's pie today. We'll see how it comes out. When we planned this adventure, I thought I would do all this deep thinking about the meaning of life, my future direction both personally and professionally, etc. So far, I've done very little of that, focusing mainly on my normal every day routine. Not a lot of deep thinking going on. I would say the turmoil back in the states has been distracting and maybe when things calm done, i.e., Joe Biden takes office, I will be able to "escape" a little more. The other thing I am struggling with is this blog. Since I am using it to some extent as my personal journal, I sometimes do not know what I should include here in part because I do not want to hurt or offend anyone. I am afraid if I "put it all out there" some folks may take it the wrong way. On the other hand, I feel compelled to share my thinking out loud if only for my mental processing. For example, I've been thinking a lot about circles. Like everyone, I have an inner circle of friends and family, followed by outer circles and outer circles and outer circles. How do these circles fit together and overlap? With limited time on this planet, how do you allocate your finite amount of time? Since I do not know who actually reads this blog (I assume not too many), does it really matter what I say? Of course I would never "name names" unless I were being complimentary or humorous. That's just not my style although maybe that's something that needs to change. If you are reading this blog and have thoughts about this, please hit the "Say Hi" button and let me know. Feedback is greatly appreciated.  


1/9/21

I don't want to be sanctimonious and repetitive, so I will just say that Rachel and I are very saddened and concerned about the events in Washington, D.C. a couple of days ago. We hope things will soon get better, and the U.S. can move quickly move forward in a much more positive direction in 2021.


Another beautiful couple of sunny days in Ireland. Some nice runs and hikes along the river, ocean, through town, and out into the countryside. We saw a pod of porpoises yesterday as we crossed the bridge toward Ballinspittle. Apparently this is very unusual and they normally do not travel that far up the river into the harbor. We also found cows and sheep (which I just found out were not sheep but feral goats); we had not seen them since our arrival and wondered where they were hiding. I posted some pictures and videos, but they truly do not capture the beauty of Ireland--the rolling green hills, the river and ocean, the gorgeous houses on the hillsides. The days of Ireland being a poor country are long gone. More puzzles. Sara and I are working on this art puzzle of Ireland. Tough stuff. I think it will keep us busy for awhile. We all finished reading  City of Bohane. Highly recommend. The Great Shame has turned into a bit of a slog. I’m on page 1500 out of 2050. I read a lot of long non-fiction works and about three quarters of the way through I start to lose interest. I am not very good about stopping a book, but it does get painful towards the end. I just started The Impeachers which chronicles the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. I wrote a long, convoluted paper about it in my AP History class in high school, and I’ve always found the Reconstruction period fascinating. We’ll see how it goes. Things continue to tighten up here. It’s interesting that the Irish government will install new rules, e.g., you cannot venture beyond 5km from your house, wait a week, then decide that it’s not working and impose a stricter limit. Everything I’ve read about COVID says you need to give policies a minimum of two weeks before you can expect to see any progress. Now they’re suggesting limiting off license (liquor store) hours. OMG! When Mayor Hancock tried to close liquor stores and marijuana shops in Denver, it caused such a panicked rush (Rachel and I were in a packed line for 20 minutes at Divino and bought like $350 worth of liquor) that he rescinded the order after three hours. 


1/6/21

Good morning. Beautiful sunrise here in Ireland. At times I wonder if I'm accurately conveying what we're doing here, especially in light of COVID. I don't want people to think we're visiting Ireland as "tourists," traipsing (I love that word) around, going to museums, restaurants, bars, etc. which we typically do on vacations. In reality, Ireland is in almost total lockdown, much more so than we experienced in Colorado. We are really just living in Ireland like everyone else is living in Ireland. We wake up, drink coffee, read the papers (only Irish Times and The Guardian for me), run and walk, cook all our meals (except for occasional takeout), play games, and watch TV or movies. In other words, exactly what we were doing for the last year in Denver (but less so due to tighter restrictions). Ate a black pudding and egg breakfast burrito at the local Farmers "Market" (which due to Covid includes about five "farmers). Delicious.


Reading List So Far

Banville, John Snow (Fiction)--Fascinating murder mystery set in Ireland

Banville, John Time Pieces (Non-Fiction)--Series of short pieces about life and architecture in Dublin

Barry, Kevin City of Bohane (Fiction)--Futuristic gang novel set in 2053. Great slang and language.

Bowman, John Ireland, The Autobiography (Non-Fiction)--Great short pieces about Ireland (I think; it's been awhile)

Gladwell, Malcolm Talking to Strangers (Non-Fiction)--typical Gladwell book about why we misread people

Keneally, Thomas The Great Shame (Non-Fiction)--Long, thousands of pages, about leaders of the Young Ireland and minor criminals banished to Australia

Madden, Bill Tom Seaver: A Terrific Life (Non-Fiction)--Kind of puffy piece about Tom Seaver's life

Roberts, Randy Blood Brothers (Non-Fiction)--Very interesting novel about the relationship between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali


Latest Whiskey Review (Scroll down for others)

Whiskey Review: Teeling Whiskey, Single Grain (Dublin)

Sold to me as "everything an Irish whiskey should be," the nose is very smooth. It follows with a tickly, spicy body and finish. It goes down very easily and reminds me of a whiskey I would drink at home, maybe a High West Campfire or a Four Roses. It's "fully matured in California red wine bottles," and you taste the wine in the nose but not after. It has a beautiful reddish color to it. It is very nice as a smooth sipping whiskey. We used it in a half baked Manhattan (no cherries, Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth, and chocolate bitters) without great success. It may not be fair to blame it on the whiskey as high end vermouth and high end cherries kind of make a Manhattan for me. It compares favorable to the Red Earl's, although I liked it a bit more. I would it a 8/10 on the Wexford Whiskey scale.



1/5/21

Quiet day other than having to deal with some ridiculous bank error stuff back at home. Errrr. Rachel and I went for a beautiful stroll towards Ballinspittle and ended up at Sandycove (a/k/a Sandy's Cove, see photos for explanation). I think I will start renaming places in Ireland for various people close to me. Ross is already taken--Rosslare Harbor, Rosscommon, Rosmore (we all need more of Ross), New Ross (better than the old Ross), Roscarbery. You get the idea. Only issue with walking here is that there are often no sidewalks and cars drive really fast, especially around turns. Great sausage rolls at local food shop as I continue on my red meat only diet (hopefully Dr. Albanese is not reading this blog). Then Sara and I defeated Rachel in voice controlled Monopoly. On our evening stroll, Sara jinxed Rachel by saying she always wins every game (Downton Abbey Clue(do), Monopoly, and Cribbage). We have a zoom charades game planned with Margie and Alana. We'll see how that goes. A lot of people out and about today despite Level 5 lockdown. Lots of dogs--poodles seem to be the preferred breed with Scottish terriers a close second. One or two Yorkie sightings, but I'm guessing that due to anti-British sentiment Yorkshire terriers not that popular. Saw a wonderful Dalmatian (do not see those many of those anymore) and a few Irish Setters. I know some folks out there are travelling--I think Florida, Mexico, and the islands are popular. I know a lot of Sara's friends are skiing. I also know that many of you are enjoying your lovely houses and yards. I hope everyone is finding some way to get through this Covid nightmare. Be well and be safe  


1/4/21

Another strangely sunny day in Kinsale. The weather is not at all what I expected. I thought it would be cloudy and rainy every day. Wrong. There is frost on the roads and streets in the morning, something you do not often see in Denver. It makes for some tricky running and walking. Luckily, we really don't start out until after 11:00 am so not too big a deal. We continue with our regular routine--running, walking, board games, puzzles, TV. We watched the new A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper last night. Surprisingly good. I've been wading through Irish history, starting from about 1820 forward, Fascinating. I think I know about everything from the Fenians to Young Ireland to the IRA. And reading the Irish Times every day. From a language perspective, it's still pretty hard to understand people. Yesterday I called to order takeout from an Indian restaurant in town. Between his Irish/Indian? accent and my American accent, it was a struggle. We ended up with an inordinate amount of rice pilat or pilaf. We are comfortable with saying "Hiya" and "Howya." I also hear a lot of "Dya know whot I mean?" or "Dya know whot I'm sayin'?" People usually greet you when you walk by them in the street, but I wouldn't say anymore so than in our neighborhood at home (although I've heard some people, especially from the midwest, describe Coloradoans as not so friendly. My only other points of reference are New York and Philadelphia (not very publicly friendly) and Atlanta (very publicly friendly, private not so much). I am trying to write every day (supposedly good for the soul) which is hard since not much is happening, so if I seem a bit repetitive, my apologies. I am eyeing the Redbreast 12-Year-Old Single Pot whiskey distilled at Midleton in County Cork as my next whiskey. It was rated the world's best whiskey in 2019.


Things I've Learned I Can Live Without: A dishwasher. Especially with only three people eating meals, I can call upon my dishwashing days at the AEPi house to scrub, rinse, and dry. A dryer. Rachel and the girls are the masters of the drying rack. Assuming I have enough clothes (I tossed a bunch before I left, so I have pretty much my entire wardrobe with me). A coffeemaker. Give me a French press and I'm good. 


Things I've learned I Can't Live Without: Whiskey and beer (I think I could do without wine right now. My CU Buffs (I can do without watching games and chatting online), but I need to see box scores and stats. 


1/3/21

Warning: Political Rant (May not wish to read)

I have finally kicked the US media cycle. Well, sort of. I haven't seen or read a US paper or news program in four days. Every other day, however, there is an article or editorial in the Irish Times which talks incredulously about what's going on in the US with respect to the election still, and I'm afraid we've become a bit of a laughingstock here on the other side of the pond (the Boris Johnson Brexit farce also gets a lot of play). I hate to say it, but I have lost faith in American democracy, the criminal justice system, the media, religion . . . The idea that 11 senators (I understand some crazy members of the House will always be out there) would agree to continue this farce of a rigged election truly shocks me. The fact that they would put politics and reelection (those 70 million Trump voters) over truth and what's best for the country is ridiculous. I know people say the checks and balances have held firm but I don't buy it. The fact that we have to rely on people like Brian Kemp and Mitch McConnell for some sanity is truly depressing. I have not lost faith in people--family, today's young people, and friends. I cannot say enough about the people in my world (you know who you are). Truly incredible.


Warning: Running Talk (May not wish to read)

Anyway. that's enough of that. What's happening here? Full lockdown continues, and it seems the vaccine rollout is a lot slower over here. I think it's doubly frustrating in Ireland because Pfizer has a manufacturing plant here but due to delays in approval by the EU (one downside to the EU), it hasn't really gotten going. The lockdown hasn't affected us much other than shops in town are now closed. Restaurants and coffee shops continue to do delivery and takeaway service. A lot of people are out and about every day, walking, running, and biking. I'm really happy with my running here. The hills are daunting and difficult, but once you reach the crest the views are spectacular--the ocean, the river, the different shades of green. I've tried to capture it in my photos, but they don't do it justice. On a typical day I run a 5k and walk/hike about the same distance. Not too shabby. As Rachel said to Sara yesterday, retiring to Kinsale would keep us in shape. As usual, we are scheming a bit about such a move. A scheme, by the way, doesn't have the negative connotation here as in the US. It means a plan versus something nefarious.


Tidbits: The phrase, "I need to see a man about a horse" (which Sara says I use all the time when I need to use the bathroom) comes from an English play when a character wants to avoid a difficult situation. He actually says "I need to see a man about a dog." It was used as a means for a man to escape a situation to bet on a dog or horse race. Now either phrase (horse or dog) refers to skipping out to use the bathroom or grab an alcoholic beverage (and was used this way during Prohibition). The song "It's a long, long way to Tipperary" was a lament about an Irishman in London longing for home in Ireland. It became a military marching song during WWI.


1/1/21

We finally made it to 2021. 2020 basically sucked other than a few cool things--wrangling and Ireland to name a few. We had a fun albeit quiet New Year's here. Rachel, Sara, and I cooked a nice meal of steak and potatoes. Rachel and I shared our first Manhattan in Ireland (still some work to do there), and we played Scrabble where I finished last as usual. We finished watching Bridgerton on Netflix which is essentially Downton Abbey with a lot of sex. We also watched a Netflix original mockumentary about 2020 with Samuel L. Jackson and Hugh Grant. Pretty funny but also a little scary especially seeing lunatics like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson on the world stage. Hopefully now that Brexit's over with (not really) and after the U.S. military drags Trump out of the White House kicking and screaming things will start to quiet down a bit. The weather here has been surprisingly sunny and beautiful as we settle into Level 5 lockdown. While a full lockdown sucks, it also fits nicely with our plan, which is to just find a nice place to live here in Ireland and chill the fuck out. It is interesting that we've all now flown on multiple flights to Florida, Oregon, and Ireland without a sniffle or cough or anything. We've all tested negative once and here in Ireland, despite growing cases, they are dissuading people from getting tested. I am struggling to not take a picture every day at the gorgeous view from our backyard but it is pretty surreal with the Bandon river and the rolling green hills behind it. I've been surprised at how many people run, walk, and bike here. I don't think of Ireland as the exercise capital of the world. It may be different in Kinsale which is typically more of tourist town (when there were tourists) but everyone is out and about, walking into and out of town, along the river, and out into the ocean following a beautiful coastal path. For you baseball fans out there, I just finished Bill Madden's Tom Seaver autobiography. A bit of a puff piece but interesting nonetheless. Makes me laugh that Tom Brady tried to copyright the name Tom Terrific. Of course his application was denied as the ruling stated that the nickname has always been connected to Tom Seaver and not him. You'd think he be happy just being referred to as the GOAT. Moving on to a book about the relationship between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. So far it seems like a stretch but we shall see.


12/30/20

It's been a couple of days, so I thought I put down some thoughts here. We have been surprised by the decent amount of sunny weather here (although today is rainy and foggy). I think most of us think of Ireland as rainy and cloudy all the time but that's not quite true. It's kind of how people think it's always snowing in Colorado or always raining in Seattle. It's sorta true but not entirely accurate. You do get used to it and dress accordingly. We've been running and hiking every day. Again, lots of hills so it kicks your butt a little bit. I don't and have never felt that advantage of coming from a high altitude place like Colorado to a sea level location. This is possibly because the terrain and the humidity offset this so much. We did get to see Margie yesterday and her awesome labs Harriet and Peter. Peter is one of those dogs who is obsessed with his ball. He carries it around everywhere and will fetch it nonstop for hours. His ability to find it even in thorny and hedges is impressive. They're the complete opposite of Elf who shows no interest in that sort of thing as it interrupts his 18 hours of sleep per day. Spencer has said he will play with his new squirrel stuffies. New behavior for him. We shall see. Lots of reading here as I've added a book about Tom Seaver to my reading queue. For some reason, maybe just getting older and more nostalgic, I've become more interested in stories about my childhood heroes, most of whom were Mets--Seaver, Koosman, Tug McGraw, Tommy Agee . . . Not sure anyone is interested. I haven't been a Mets fan nor much of a baseball fan since I left home at 17. Otherwise, all quiet here. I will say this. Travelling and "getting away from it all has its limits. I mean it's not all puppy dogs and rainbows. You can never totally escape the stresses and trials of every day life--car issues, financial concerns, whatever personal issues you or others close to you are struggling with, the daily annoyances and irritations. It's different because you're in a totally different environment. It may lessen some of these things or make them easier to deal with, perhaps because there is nothing you can do about some of them. But they're still out there.


12/28/20

This writing every day thing is tough, especially during a pandemic. I guess we're probably doing the same thing everyone else is doing (minus the working thing of course). Hanging out, reading, cooking, drinking. We're just doing it in Ireland. It's funny living in someone else's house. The weird noises and quirky things. I can only imagine what the folks renting our house are going through. We have the funky radiator sound, the running water sound, the strange oven. But we're starting to get the hang of it. I will say that it is hard to step away from my old life especially with the internet, email, text messages calling me. I've tried my best to shut it all down with mixed success. My phone is easy; my computer is not. I finally got my bag, so I have my full clothing repertoire. I especially missed my duster and my fleece gloves and hat. I am up to my ears in Irish history and Irish authors. I feel like I have a decent inner Irish brogue, but I am not ready to break it out in public yet. I hope everyone is happy and healthy as the New Year arrives. Peace. 


12/27/20

So today's been a weird day. After a crazy storm last night with high winds and rain, it was beautifully sunny this morning. Huh? Now, the cold and rain are moving in with a chance for snow. My suitcase continues its world tour. It will supposedly arrive within the hour. We shall see. In the interim I did get to buy some fancy English/Irish outfits. Covid is all the talk here with essentially the entire country shutting down due to rising numbers (which seem like nothing compared to the states). It won't affect us much since we're here but may limit our travel to County Cork during our stay. After January 1 you are not supposed to gather with anyone outside your household so we may not see Margie and Alana much although I think we can still go for walks with others in our bubble although that's not entirely clear either. We continue with our book club reading mentioned in my last post. I am now reading a non-fiction book by Thomas Keneally called The Great Shame that chronicles the forced emigration of Irish "criminals" to Australia. Dinner's ready so I'll add more later.


12/26/20

Happy St. Stephen's Day. Not really sure what that is, but it seems like it's a big deal here. We've mastered the Irish breakfast, eggs, tomatoes, black pudding . . . Can't eat it that often--cannot be good for the health, but it's delicious. I have been thinking about why we love Ireland so much. I think it's officially my most visited foreign locale, passing Switzerland and Japan. It certainly lacks the style of other places and doesn't present the always interesting language barrier, although one could say it's harder to understand people than in a place like Spain. I will say Scottish brogue is even more difficult. I attribute it to a couple of things. Irish culture has certainly crossed the Atlantic. Between the music, the food, the drink (a stout and a whisky has been my go to for years now), it doesn't feel that foreign. It's beautiful but so is Italy, France, Greece. Obviously the shades of green and the rolling hills are unlike anything I've seen, certainly nothing like Colorado. It ranks high on our list of kid friendly places next to Italy and Greece. Switzerland, France, not so much. Back from 5k walk along the coast. Storm coming. Just finished John Banville's Time Pieces, a collection of non-fiction stories about different neighborhoods and architecture in Dublin. Very good. He's from Wexford and sets a lot of his fiction there. Our next family read is Kevin Barry's City of Bohane. Sticking with fiction set in Ireland for now. 


Whiskey Review: Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey Original

So I was hoping to try Black's Irish Whiskey made her in Kinsale but alas (apparently Boris Johnson's favorite word), it was sold out. Trying to stay with Irish whiskeys, I saw this whiskey on a special shelf. The owner of the liquor story said it was one of only two peated whiskeys made in Ireland although I believe Connemara (located in the Wild West near Westport, home to a national park) says it's the only one. Then he asked me whether I liked peated whiskey, to which I replied, I don't know. I guess we'll find out. As I said earlier they burn peat in their fires here, so I figured it was basically whiskey made from dirt. It appears more golden than the Red Earl. It smells smoky like it smells in the streets here which is a lovely smell by the way. The nose is very spicy and it burns the back of your throat a bit. You cannot ignore the smell of it as you drink it. The body tastes like black licorice and doesn't drink very smooth. It also feels like it goes right to your head although it contains no more alcohol 40% by volume) than Red Earl's. So far, whiskey here is whiskey not bourbon or rye. I've always preferred rye. The finish stays spicy and smoky. For me, it's not the type of whiskey you can drink much of in one sitting, maybe a quarter of a short glass at the most. It does not pair as well with Murphy's. It's definitely unique and different. For that reason alone, I would rate it an 8/10 on the Wexford Whiskey scale.


12/24/20

We'll today was a beautifully sunny day. Unusual for Ireland. We spent most of the morning shopping for clothes since my bag has still not arrived. Not my favorite thing in the world to do but necessary given the circumstances. Town was packed as people did last minute shopping for Christmas and prepared for the latest shutdown. We bought some peated whiskey from Connemara. Funky stuff. Review to follow. Apparently peat is what people burn here in the their fires. Very Christmasy in town. Uploaded a couple of half baked video to give people a sense for what Kinsale is like. Not much else to say. All is well. Happy Christmas to our friends out there in the world.


12/23/20

Ok, so not much new to report. We've kinda settled into a routine here. Drink coffee and read in the morning. Head out for a run around noon. Walk into town in the afternoon. Drink a little whiskey, wine/beer in the evening, and settle into some TV. Right now, we're watching an English series called Foyle's War. Not exciting but it is so nice to be here, just a different vibe and feeling in Ireland than the U.S. Typically, Rachel and I are eyeing property here in Ireland (everywhere we travel makes us think we want to live there). None of the crazy political stuff, little violence, little homelessness. Life moves slower. It rains a lot which I'm getting used to. Not a big fan of rain but here it turns everything into beautiful shades of green. They do need to work on picking up after their dogs here. Ick. Still very difficult to understand and be understood with the accents and all. 

I've been thinking a lot about what we're doing, travelling to a foreign country during a pandemic and all. I'm sure some people think it's a selfish thing to do. Others probably think we're crazy. Still others think it is brilliant. I feel like it's all of those things. I am very careful about wearing my mask at all times and only going inside if I absolutely have to. Do not want to expose any of the locals to the virus or put more pressure on Ireland's resources, e.g., doctors, etc. None of us have been feeling ill in any way, so I do not think we have COVID. While there are many fewer case here, the reaction from the government and health officials is much more forceful and honest. You actually see doctors from the national health service and MPs talking openly about the virus, providing clear and valuable information, The run up to Christmas is pretty big here especially with the return to Level 5 and a major shutdown coming. Grocery stores are packed and people are shopping like crazy. Although we can take a COVID test after 5 days and leave quarantine, we'll probably stick it out for the full 14 days as essentially everyone here is quarantined. We will likely be confined to County Cork for the remainder of our time (we must leave Ireland by March 13). Croatia anyone? 


12/22/20

Learning a great deal about Irish history through the book I mentioned in my prior post and through reading articles online. Sara mentioned how she remembered me ordering a Black and Tan (half Guinness, half Bass Ale) at the Pearl Street Grill in Denver. I knew never to order it in Ireland but now I know why. Essentially the Black and Tans were an English paramilitary group that violently mistreated the Irish. Now, you can order a half and half, which is the same thing, but more politically correct. I also learned what a Teddy Boy was as it is referenced in the Irish history book I'm reading. A British term for boys who dressed in an old Edwardian style in the 1950's, listened to rock and roll, and were considered trouble. I think Kelly Willis has a song that references them. Okay, so enough random thoughts. Things continue to tighten up here re COVID although the numbers pale in comparison to the numbers in the states. England is a mess between COVID and Brexit. Their shutdown is having ripple effects here and in Europe with France closing the Chunnel to passenger and commercial travel. It looks like we will have to remain in County Cork for awhile. Looking at a seaside cottage overlooking Dunmanus Bay for our next stop. We've been out and about in Kinsale a bit, trying to abide by the quarantine rules. That has been a little difficult since my suitcase has still not arrived. Had to buy some clothes to get by until or if it ever arrives. Growing increasingly skeptical as the airline says it has located the bag, and it was last seen in Madrid but never made the promised journey from there to Amsterdam and on to Cork. We shall see. Going out for a run. Kinsale is full of runners. It's a great place to run. You can run along the water through town and back to our house. Been listening to Irish Bands. I didn't realize how many bands are from here Kodaline, The Corrs, Thin Lizzy, Hozier and, of course, the greatest of them all Van the Man, The Belfast Lion, Van Morrison (who apparently is a Covidiot). Oh, and I forgot, Sinead O'Connor. Remember her.


12/21/20

I am sure both Rachel and Sara blogged about the Scilly walk so I'll keep that to a minimum. It was beautiful and felt like we were literally walking out into the Atlantic ocean. Did not know that the Lusitania sank not far from Kinsale, Still adjusting to all the time changes, Colorado to Florida to Cork. This morning is more of the traditional Irish weather, fog and rain. Things are really tightening up here on the other side of the pond due to COVID. London is essentially closed. You cannot travel from London to pretty much anywhere. Rachel and Sara are lucky they arrived a week ago or they would probably be stuck in a quarantine hotel somewhere in England. As far as Ireland, things still remain fairly open but a shutdown is expected soon. Not a bad place to be stuck in. I am reading an interesting book called Ireland, an Autobiography, which includes different accounts of the Easter Rising and the aftermath that led to Irish independence. As a family, we're reading a novel called Snow by John Banville, I believe, a murder mystery set in Ireland. It is a little difficult to totally disengage from the US. We see the headlines and it is still hard to believe how Trump tried to dismantle long respected institutions like the CDC and the Justice Department. This editorial, written last April in the Irish Times, really nailed it. Fintan O’Toole: "Donald Trump has destroyed the country he promised to make great again." For some reason I cannot copy the link, so you'll have to find it yourself. All appears to be well with my beloved Buffs, football team in the Alamo Bowl, basketball team whipped UDub by 30. Still waiting for my suitcase to arrive. Growing skeptical that I will see it again. Last I heard it was at the Cork Airport, but it seems like it's taking a long time to make the 20 minute drive to Kinsale. The days start late here. We do nothing until 11 am and shut things down when it gets dark, usually around 4:30 pm. I will try to take some video on my phone of the town so folks can get a sense for Kinsale. Rachel and Sara have been cooking and baking up a storm. Sara and I will try to do something tonight with the monkfish we bought at the butcher the other day. Being right on the coast means fresh fish, so I will need to adjust my diet accordingly. The one fascinating thing to me is that if you're of Irish heritage like Rachel, you can trace your family history way back. We know what counties Rachel's great great grandparents, or something like were born and I am sure there are grave markers of her ancestors in Meath, Fermanagh, and elsewhere. Unfortunately with the last name of Finnegan, actually finding them would be difficult. When you're Jewish (or African American), your family history was erased once they arrived in the U.S. My family, as far as we know, arrived in the US/England/Canada around 1918. Any family members, property, etc that they left behind in Romania and Austria was wiped out in the Holocaust. I've heard from people who've gone to Romania that there is no trace of the Jews who once lived there. While one can assume that we lost family in the Holocaust (those who chose to stay behind), we have no knowledge of any of that. I guess I should be thankful that my grandparents were prescient enough to see what was coming and got the feck out!


Whiskey Review: Red Earl Irish Whiskey (Kinsale)

Distilled locally as part of the Battle of Kinsale line, it's claim to fame is that it is aged in Rioja casks. The bottle is beautiful. The whiskey is very light in color compared to the darker whiskeys I drink in Denver (High West Double Rye, Laws). Spicy nose. Smooth body and finish. Can taste a little Sherry in it. Personally, I like a darker, fuller whiskey but this whiskey is very easy to drink and pairs nicely with Murphy's Stout preferred here in Kinsale over Guinness. In the past, I've preferred American whiskeys, especially ryes, over Irish whiskeys like Jameson. I recently decided to boycott Kentucky whiskey due to their continued support of Mitch McConnell, so the two whiskeys I drink the most are made in Utah (High West) and Laws (Colorado). I would rate this whiskey a 7/10 on the Wexford Whiskey Scale (my alias in Ireland is Davey Wexford). 


I may throw in a few gin reviews as well. My favorite gin in the states comes from Ireland. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin. So good. No lime needed. We hope to head to the distillery in, shockingly, Drumshanbo in central Ireland. With COVID, we may not be able to make it. Black's Whiskey and Gin are also produced here in Kinsale. Need to check that out at some point.


12/20/20

To follow up on the COVID thing, the one difference we've noted, at least in Kinsale, is that there are signs all over saying "we're all in this together." Now, some of the COVID signs are spray painted with things like junk science, etc. So there is some denial. It is also very easy here to order local food and pick it up at neighborhood locations rather than actually shopping in stores. We just received our groceries and only had to walk around the corner to get them. We also live across from a school which is fully open. You can see kids laughing and playing football (soccer) without masks. We also see teenagers vaping on corners after school. One striking feature of Ireland, at least in Kinsale, is the newfound wealth here. Everyone drives new cars, dress stylishly, and seem to have plenty of resources. The image of Ireland as a poor, struggling country does not hold true. I read that Ireland was voted the second best country for quality of life behind Norway and tied with Switzerland. And although they speak "English" here, we are having a very difficult time understanding people and being understood. We asked some schoolboys for directions the other day, and they looked at us like we were speaking a foreign language. Everyone says hi ya for hello. We also here a lot of feck this and feck that. Brexit is also front and center with special focus on fishing rights.


12/19/20

I accidentally deleted my last blog and I have no idea what I said. Bottom line, I made it to Ireland. A little nerve racking, especially wondering if I could truly pass through the airport in Amsterdam without a COVID test. Most of the people on my flight seemed to have one but they were headed to Cairo. Luckily I skated through the airport to my flight for Cork. When I landed in Cork I expected issues at Irish customs, similar to what Rachel and Sara experienced, but no problem. Showed my passport and passenger locator form, told them my wife and daughter were here, and boom, right through. Unfortunately. my bag didn't make it. It apparently is travelling to Spain, then back to Amsterdam, then to Cork. Will see when it arrives. 


COVID in Ireland

We are under a 14 day quarantine which means we can be in our house, we can be outside, which we've been taking advantage of. Running and lots of walks. We can go to the large supermarket in town but not into small shops. It's not like anyone is checking but it doesn't seem cool to do it. People do not wear masks outside of town, more in town, and everyone wears a mask inside stores, shops and restaurants. Only thing truly closed are wet pubs (that do not serve food). It looks like a travel ban will be reinstated January 6, which could mean that we need to stay in County Cork. Unclear if we can travel directly to other places like Dingle or Donegal. We'll see. We would be totally fine remaining in our present house or renting a different place in County Cork, like Ballinspittle or Clonakilty. 


12/15/20

So here I am sitting in a hotel room in Delray Beach after my father's funeral, waiting to join Rachel and Sara in Ireland. As far as funerals go, it was very nice. The US military played taps and gave us an American flag in honor of my dad's service in WWII. Family said very nice things about my dad and we said goodbye. I leave tomorrow for Ireland following the same uncertain path Rachel and Sara navigated prior to arrival. I am concerned about customs/immigration letting me in after they questioned Rachel and Sara upon their arrival with an incredulous, why are you coming to Ireland? At least I can say my wife and daughter are there, but you never know. 


12/13/20

So my dad died. He was 95. But it still sucks.


12/3/20

Getting closer. Finishing up details around house rental, storage unit, etc. Looks like Ireland is reopening with everything being open Dec 16 except for pubs that do not serve food. Also seems like a lot more countries are accepting COVID tests to either allow people to enter or allow people to avoid a 14 day quarantine. We shall see.


So, a lot of people ask why Ireland? Well, this is an easy one to answer. We started going to Ireland, and specifically, Kinsale, years ago because we love our friends Margie and Alana. Check. Point 2. One of my best friends in the world, Kevin Heffernan. Enough said. Point 3. Olive Finnegan, Rachel's renegade great grandmother, or something like that. As a Romanian Jew, there's not much history available. We know, however, that  Rachel's family came to rural Colorado from several different counties in Ireland around the mid 1800's (the big potato famine?)  We plan to check these places out. So, that's why Ireland. Love


11/22/20

Cannot wait to leave. Not sure what we're heading into corona wise but feel confident we can read the Emerald Isle. After that, no idea. Getting there in terms of preparing our house for tenants. Still a lot of packing but doable. Ready to shake things up.