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Basye/Wexler Adventure 2021

6/16/21     To Blog Or Not To Blog

Maybe. Not sure I now have all that much to say. We'ved settled back rather seamlessly (minus the moving stuff from storage back into the house) into our house. No issues left behind by tenants. House looks good although there's stuff we need to do (though folks don't want to talk about a furnace now). Everyone starting to settle into daily routines next week (Kate and Rachel to work, Sara to practice, me to wrangling. It's rather interesting how quickly you just settle back in. House feels like home. Neighborhood the same. Similar routines even though we're not quite on a schedule yet. And the heat. It's really hot here. A dry heat but hot, pushing 100 degrees. I continue to feel the low profile vibe. I like just hanging out, doing my own thing. We'll see how I feel a week from now. Wrangling three days a week will be interesting. That's a lot of saddle time, heat. Don't/hope things remain quiet for awhile. Peace


6/11/21     I Travelled During The Pandemic 

                 By David Wexler


So (which became my favorite start to my blog) I travelled during the Pandemic. I realize in saying that I may draw the ire of some--what a selfish act? How many people did you infect? How many things did you miss due to closures, lockdowns, etc? Well, the fact is that if was awesome. Where and how shall I begin. We'd had enough of life. We felt desperate to have a plan, to get away, to reset. It was December 2020, Ireland was at a Level 3, so we went (my wife, 16 year old, and I). My dad died. Then I went. Ireland. All clear. 14 day quarantine. Grocery and pharmacy only. Now Level 5. Stay within 5km of your house. Lockdown. We run and walk Kinsale, Ireland to death. We wear masks and social distance. We do grab takeaway and cook. We live in Kinsale, Ireland. We walk down the hill into town. We walk up the hill to our house. We smell the peat and drink the peat whiskey. We see our friends, safely. We rest. Cork City is next. A small converted barn nestled below the towers of St. Finbar's. Cork locked down--running, bike riding, escaping to the greenways extending outside the city. The French Market. The River Lee. The rain. The dark. Castletownbere. A farmhouse steps from the ocean. Running up and down hills to the heights or the water's edge. The road to town. The mighty Beara Peninsula. The fires. The back porch. The cooking. Ireland to ourselves. Dublin. Grimy. Gorgeous. St. Stephen's Green. The parks. The cold. The march. The Liffey. 


Croatia wasn't to be. We tried. We thought we could make it. We didn't. We cried. We contemplated Paris, ended up in Newark. Newark. To Boston. Tufts Medical Center, Chinatown. The runs--Southie, North End, South End, Boston Commons. The opening. A trickle. Cambridge and dumplings. Sara and dance. The Y. The Why? The Cold. The food. A funky time in a partly barren city in February.


Garden City, South Carolina. Prefer to say Murrells Inlet. Beach. Boardwalk. Seafood Markets. Mini-Golf. The Warlock. Plantations and rice paddies. The beaches. A laid back time in a laid back place. A break. The coast. Charleston. Really Mount Pleasant but close enough. More beaches. The beautiful bridge. The cobblestone streets. The food. The city at night. The porches. The porches. The creek and dolphins. 16 year old departs. Rachel and I press on to . . .


New Orleans. The Big Easy. A fancy apartment on the edge of the Quarter. Just opening. Mikey. Walking and streetcars. The parks. The grittiness of the French Quarter. The funk of the Frenchmen Street--outdoor and indoor music. Wow. Street food.


Winding down. Puerto Rico, you lovely Island. Old San Juan. Funky. Curfews. Masks. Are you open? Our little private beach. Our cafe. El Morro at night. The rooftop. Boqueron. Cabo Rojo. Rick and Miranda. Really? Roosters. The walk in and back. The runs. The heat. Playa Buye. Playa Sucia. Boqueron Beach. The beaches. The dogs. The hot dusky towns. The surfing. Luquillo. The bars not the bars. The walk and run into town. The guide who didn't. The beaches. The beaches. El Yunque. The treehouse. The Kiosks. The drivers. The treehouse.


Florida. Family, Home turf. Nice visits. The Boys. AC. Ken. Home. Thinking of home. 


Here. Left December 13-17, 2021. Home June 8, 2021. So I travelled during the Pandemic. And this happened. 






6/11/21`     Still Reading?

Apparently there are still a few wolks reading our blogs so I'll continue posting for a little while. Things are pretty quiet here. It's amazing how below the radar you can stay in this life. We will be attending Sara's track meet which will put this whole "back in the world" Idea to a test. Some nice creature comforts here. Good Wifi. A place to lie down where its cool. A sleepy dog. Our amazing backyard. It's a little hard to figure out how to reenter society. Right now I want to take it slow and only do what we have to do. 


6/9/21       Home

I've started writing this particular blog a few times only to accidentally delete it. I am suffering a little jet lag, so I am up quite early. The morning in Colorado is beautiful and quieter than PR for sure. We spent a few days with family in Fla. That acclimated us to the next phase of our journey, being back in the world again. So far, so good. The house is in great shape. We've got this makeshift air conditioning set up that is now installed and running. Elf and Tully are home. We've just been spending a few days getting reacclimated It feels nice to be home. Our garden looks beautiful. Lots of weeds though.Grilled last night. First time in a long time. Feeling good. This may be my last blog. I don't know.


6/7/21     Flordida

Spending a little time in Fla. Hot as hell down here. You cannot really be outside after 11am and before 6pm. Just too damn hot. Not much to do down here. My mom cannot do much--her hearing and vision are gone and she cannot walk very far. We made it to the pool a few times and the beach once, but Rachel and I, after thirty days in Puerto Rico, are pretty burned out on both. So pretty much all we do is sit around while Betty falls in and out of consciousness. We've managed to mix in some alone time with family members separate from my mom, which has been nice. But we're really just ready to be home. Not much else to say. Aloha. Oh, and great bagels, lox, cream cheese spreads and deli down here. Pizza not bad either. Not as good as Queens but a cut above Denver.


6/7/21     Reflections On Six Months Away

So we rented our house, put our stuff in storage, and left. What have I learned from this experience? I will try to jot down my thoughts on this and will probably add, amend, change, and reconsider as I go along. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • I can write every day. It might not always be deep or well thought out or grammatically correct, but I can write.
  • I can be flexible. We knew when we set out to travel during a pandemic, we knew, or thought we knew, some things. We knew that Ireland was "open" and that we could go there, hang out, see our friends Margie & Alana, go to pubs, etc for a little while. Wrong. We could go to Ireland for three months but after we got there the country went into total lockdown. In a way, this made it even more incredible. We essentially had the country to ourselves and could walk the country by ourselves. We thought Kate would be in Japan, teaching English in a small town near Nagasaki. Wrong. Japan cancelled the JET program for the year, and we left her behind in Denver. We thought Sara's school would be online all year and her extracurriculars--running and dance--would be shut down for the year. Wrong. Her school essentially reopened, and we shipped her back home from Charleston six weeks ago. We thought we could travel Europe after Ireland, Croatia, specitically. Wrong. We ended up returned to the states. And so on. And so on.
  • I cannot sit on a beach for the rest of my life. I can do it for a month. After that, I need to do something else.
  • Rachel and I will be able to survive when both Kate and Sara leave home. We did a practice run and made it. We prefer having them both near us, but we can make it.
  • Kate and Sara are "all grows up." They can find the food and survive without us. 
  • I need to reach out to my close friends on a regular basis. I cannot let months go by without some form of contact--a telephone call, a text, a visit. And if I'm the one to do it, I will. Non-negotiable.
  • As is often said and as Sara observed about halfway through, "home is where the heart is." We were able to make a "home" in a small converted Barn in Cork City, in a giant house near the water in Castletownbere, in a condo on the beach in Murrell's Inlet and in a sterile apartment in the middle of Tufts University Medical Center in Boston.
  • I still consider myself a "foodie," but I prefer local street food to fancy restaurants.
  • I love all music. On this trip, we listened to country (South Carolina), Irish music, Irish Pop, Pop, alternative, funk and jazz (New Orleans), reggaeton (PR), salsa (PR), PR hip hop and rap, etc. It's all good.
  • I like the Internet and reading articles on CNN, NYT, Buffzone, ESPN, etc. As much as I tried to tay away from it, and I did succeed in Ireland for the most part, I came back to it.
  • There is something very nice about being out of your element, out of your every day. I loved hearing people speak "foreign" languages even if that just meant a strong Southern drawl. When I did hear a familiar voice, e.g., a New York accent, it made me cringe a bit.
  • I remain an avid reader even though I've gone through periods of my life when I didn't reach much. I've read over 30 books in the past 5+ months.
  • I can run anywhere although it is more difficult to motivate to run in hot, humid places.
  • As a result of wrangling, horseback riding in other places is less appealing to me than it used to be.
  • It's important to strike a healthy balance between being alone and being around others.
  • Tropical places are noisier than Colorado. Even sitting here right now in a residential neighborhood near downtown Delray Beach, the birds, frogs, and lizards make a lot of noise. Maybe I just don't notice it as much at home. We'll see.
  • When looking for an AirBnB or VRBO, we would avoid a place where the owners also live on site. Our only "negative" experiences have occurred under these arrangements.


6/4/21     Final Thoughts on Puerto Rico

A month in an island paradise famous for its beaches. Crazy. When Rachel and I decided at the last minute to head to PR, I was a little skeptical. A small island where people honeymoon for an entire month? In a way it was a no brainer. We were heading down the Atlantic coast, we've done Florida ad nauseum, Hawaii seemed way too far away, and we had nowhere to live until June 15. We were also a little travel weary, ready to limit the number of trips to the airport and itching to return home. So off we went. A few takeaways here. PR has the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. When I think about my favorite beaches the places that come to mind are Negril, Jamaica, Kauai, and the South Bay near LA. Well, PR's beach are better. The beaches vary from quiet and secluded (the beaches hidden in the mangroves near Seven Seas in Fajardo) to the party that is Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo. Many include calm, crystal clear water, but we also hit the waves in Rincon and Luquillo. We saw pristine beaches like Playa Carolina, literally across the street from the airport and beaches that make you want to bring a giant trash bag like Luquillo's main beach near the food kiosks. I loved the way locals go to the beach. They pack up the entire familty, from grandparents to babies, grab giant coolers, grills, and a speaker, bring tents and lounge chairs, and head to the beach for the day. The entire extended family stands in the water for hours as different family members bring beer and food to and fro. It's quite the scene. But PR also has a jungle/rainforest. We hiked and stayed there and it was beautiful--birds, frogs, lizards. I also really liked the street food, one of the most enjoyable things for me on any trip (see Japan, South Korea, Cuba). I loved the pinchos, pinones, and mofongo. So I would highly recommend PR. Not for a month but certainly for a week or two. 


6/3/21      We're Back (Almost)

Rachel and I have returned from the jungle a/k/a Yuyiqui Treehouses. A Very interesting place to stay. No wifi, beautiful foliage, birds and frogs and fireflies, oh my. Vegan. Anyway, it was a nice final stop on our thirty day tour of Puerto Rico. Yes, thirty days in PR. We basically covered the whole island including every type of PR food you can imagine--pinchos, pinones, mofongo . . . I will reflect on PR and the 5+ month "vacation" soon, but I don't feel quite ready. Right now, we're in Delray Beach, Florida visiting my mom and my sisters before our return to Colorado on June 8. We're staying in a small guesthouse in a quiet neighborhood about a mile from dowtown Delray. Seems very pleasant so far. We shall see. 


5/31/21     Final Move In PR

Rachel and I leave our little house in Luquillo for a couple of nights in a treehouse on the edge of El Yunque National Forest. We then head to Florida for a few days before we return home. I've enjoyed our stay in Luquillo. We live in a small neighborhood with a lot of personality (and barking dogs). It's a short walk/run to the beach and provides easy access to the eastern part of the island. We can count over 20 PR flags and parrots from the safety of the dining room, a constant reminder that we're in PR. Yesterday we travelled to the beaches of Loiza. It is difficult to describe how beautiful the beaches are here. You can just pull off to the side of the road, park, and walk out to a gorgeous, white sand, blue-green beach. We ate lunch at a famous Boriquen kiosk as well. Food here is either grilled or fried, so a bit heavy on the stomach. I think the food I've missed the most over the past 5+ months is Italian food/pizza. Looking forward to grabbing some in Delray Beach. I feel like we've done everything and seen everything we can possibly see in PR. Time to return to the mainland and, ultimately home. I will post some final thoughts on PR after we leave on Weds night. Be well. 


5/28/21     Snorkeling At Culebra Island & Other Thoughts

Rachel and I took a boat trip to Culebra Island, about an hour away from mainland Puerto Rico. As with many of these planned excursions, it was filled with folks of all stripes--locals, partiers, snorkel fanatics, tourists from other parts of the world. The snorkeling was good, not great. We did not see anything exceptional at the reefs but the water was warm and clear. We swam at Flamenco (or Flamingo) Beach, a beautiful white sand beach off the island. This was followed by lunch and the Rum Punch drinks that turned the return trip into a little bit of a party. A fun day all around as our time in Puerto Rico winds down.


A quick shout out to my girls, Kate & Sara. To Kate for her recent work promotion. And to Sara for winning the 3200m race at the Don Osse Lakewood Tiger Invitational.


Interesting David Brooks opinion piece called "The Great Unmasking" that posits the idea that Americans will change post-pandemic, and we will focus more on what's really important in our lives. He uses the term "aggressive friendship" to describe his pledge to communicate more actively with his closest friends. Personally, events over the last two years seem to have affected me in the way Brooks describes. I feel like I am more actively reaching out to those I am closest to even if it's just a quick "checking in" text. I continue to communicate with strangers and assume this will continue as I often am forced to either through travel or wrangling. I am not sure what will happen to what I refer to my second level relationships, and I am very curious how those will evolve. Will I reach out more to those folks? Will they reach out to more me? Will those relationships dissipate or might some of them grow closer and move into my more intimate circle. As I've learned over the years, most friendships constantly evolve and not always as you might expect. I can think of at least two examples where I had grown apart from people but now feel like those people are some of the people I am closest to. I have not seen much of a move in terms of my inner circle. That circle has remained fairly constant over the last few years. As for focusing on things or activities that are really important to me, I think I know what I'd like to be doing more of but until I return home and start my involvement once again in those activities (wrangling, volunteering at the Denver Rescue Mission, golf, etc.), I don't know. It's difficult to predict the future. I think I know how things will go but you never know. Things sometimes come out of nowhere. 


5/25/21     No Show and An Eye for An Eye

Rachel and I woke up at 6:30 am, excited to hike and visit waterfalls in El Yunque National Forest. Unfortunately, our guide did not. We waited and hour and after phone calls and text messages with GetYourGuide. com (Not). we didn't get our guide. This leads me to another "pro tip" for travelling that comes with some mixed messages. Often when we book places or tours we use a third party--Expedia, AirBnb, GetYour Guide.com. This comes with some advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that if you run into problems with the company or person you're actually using, you have a fall back company to fight the battle for you. So when our guide was a no show and calling their direct number didn't work, we had someone to essentially fight the battle for us and provide us with a refund (we hope). On the other hand, it is harder to communicate with a third party when things go awry, like you're running late or you're lost. We've also found that you can sometimes get a better deal if you deal directly with the party providing the service as we found out from our Dumpling class in Boston. So, it's kind of a mish mash as to what is the best way to go. We've generally had good luck going both ways but in this case we did not get to go on our hike but we did receive a refund (still pending). Luckily, we were prepared for an alternative activity and found our way to Seven Seas Beach in Fajardo, a town about 15 minutes from where we're staying. A tip from a waiter in San Juan told us to head for the main beach, then follow a path to more interesting and less touristy beaches. We found three other beaches that were really beautiful and spent the day there. Unfortunately, I've been experiencing some eye issues. For the second time in a couple of weeks my left eye has become really irritated to the point of extreme discomfort and pain. I don't know why--sand, sun, salt, sunblock, bug spray, eye strain, but it kinda sucks. Earlier in the trip I thought I experienced a miracle. If felt like my vision had suddently improved to the point where I did not need to where my glasses or contacts for distance at all. Maybe not. I will take a day off from the beach and sun and "see" if things improve. Cheers.


5/23/21     Sunday Morning in Loquillo

It's a rainy day here in PR. It really poured overnight. Interestingly, this is the first rain we've seen in PR. We're used to afternoon rain storms in tropical places like Jamaica and Costa Rica, but it has been very dry so far. Yesterday we hit the museums in San Juan. Very good exhibits at both the Museo de Artes and the contemporary art museum. We ate lunch at a Cuban restaurant and engaged the waiter in an interesting conversation about PR--commonwealth v statehood v. independence. He seemed to come down on the side of remaining a commonwealth, which seems to provide PR with the "best of both worlds" although it's clear that some changes need to be made here around infrastructure, education, jobs, crime, transportation, waste management. Our house here in Loquillo is very comfortable minus the drip coming from the ceiling this am. It's covered in PR flags and parrots. I am starting to mentally prepare for our return to the states and ultimately to Colorado. After being on the road for 5+ months, it's hard to envision life back at home. I hope to continue wrangling three days a week and volunteering at the Denver Rescue Mission a couple of days a week. I also plan on continuing to work on my golf game. I am really looking forward to spending time with the girls. Obviously, Rachel and I have spent quite a bit of time alone together over the last few weeks. I think this will prepare us well for life as empty nesters as Sara leaves for college a year from now. But I think the four of us together in the house will be awesome! I also miss Elf, our adopted Yorkie, who has been keeping an eye on our friend Spencer these last few months. I look forward to seeing our tortoise Tully as well. I can say that I am also a little nervous about our return. We left in the midst of rising Covid rates and hadn't seen many of our friends and family for a long period of time (with a exceptions). How will it feel to be home? Who will we see and how often? Will we eat in restaurants like we used to? What shape will our house be in after being rented for these past 5+ months? Will our 1995 Toyota Corolla, in "storage" at Rachel's parents' house, still run? These and other questions seem to enter my thoughts more and more as the date of our return moves closer and closer. I feel a sense of excitement but also a little bit of anxiety. It's a strange feeling. I will say that this "trip" has changed me forever. This is something I plan to write about after it's all over. Much love to all. 


5/22/21     The Noisiest Place On Earth

I love Puerto Rico, but it might be one of the noisiest places on Earth. I do not know what it's like inside the walls of an exclusive housing complex or all-inclusive resort, but outside it's extremely loud--the roosters (who fyi crow all day and night not just in the morning), the fast driving cars, the barking dogs, the cooing birds, the blaring music--it's a cacophony of sounds. Just a heads up. When you visit, bring earplugs and some time of white noise device (I play the sound of heavy rain on my phone at night). Because it's loud. Very loud.. 


5/21/21     Location Loquillo

So we've setted in near Loquillo beach. We are staying in a real neighborhood with all that brings in PR. Pretty, colorful homes next to homes in total disrepair. Our house is very nice but totally "barred" in, meaning bars blocking the parking port, bars around the front porch, bars covering the windows. That's par for the course in the real PR (meaning outside the exclusive resorts and gated communities which I assume exist here). Every house is usually fenced in as well. We're about a 5 minute drive/20 minute walk to the nearest beach, Playa Azul which forms a coastline that runs through Loquillo Beach, the largest beach on this side of the island. Right down from the beach are the Loquillo Kiosks, a row of about 40 restaurants serving mostly PR cuisine like pinchos and mofongo with some pizza and burgers mixed in. Rachel and I had wonderful takeaway there yesterday--she had mofongo ceviche, while I had an incredibly delicious rice bowl with barbecued pork. I am really enjoying the street food here. We've eaten at some good restaurants, but I prefer street food here as I do in South Korea and Japan. It's cheaper and tastier. The beach was very nice. Trash is a major issue; Rachel and I found ourselves picking up trash on the beach as we walked to the car. It's amazing that people do not clean up after themselves; it's also a problem at campsites In Colorado from what we've been reading. Come on folks! We went on a tough hike today in El Yunque National Forest to El Toro Peak. It was quite muddy although it's been pretty dry here, so it wasn't too bad. All good here in PR, but I think Rachel and I are feeling ready to return home. We'll make a quick stop in Fla to see my mom. Then home on June 8. Buenas Noches Mis Amigos. 


5/20/21     Goodbye Boqueron

I've been offline for a few days as my computer suddenly refused to connect to the Internet. We left Boqueron yesterday and stopped at Cuevas Ventana, a cave in the hills, that opens into a beautiful view of the valley below. Very cool, lots of birds and bats. I expect Rachel or I will post some pictures shortly. We are now in Loquilllo, an area very close to the beach about 45 minutes away from San Juan on the east coast of the island. Some thoughts on our stay in Boqueron. I would say that it is a place worth at least a week's stay. We rented a place about a 10 minutes walk into town which was great. We ran almost every day to and from the beach, sometimes through town, other times along the water. The town is small but filled with restaurants, shops, and food stands selling pinchos and oysters. It's a fun place to people watch and catch cool views of the ocean. The best thing about the area is the beaches. There are four beaches, all different in size and vibe. Boqueron Beach, which we could walk to, is a long stretch of beach that is relatively quiet. If you wish to drive, there's ample parking for $4 and most of the spots remain empty. You can walk right into the water with only a small amount of reef to avoid. The water is pretty clear although you cannot see your feet as at some beaches. Buye Beach is a party beach. Parking can be tricky. As you walk onto the beach, you pass a restaurant and bar and people bring food and drinks onto the beach. There's usually competing music blasting. The water is very clear. You can walk right out--no reef-and the water very warm. You sometimes have to walk along the beach aways to find just the right spot. Combate Beach, which we only visited once, is very similar. A giant party with restaurants at the end of a packed strand of sand. Finally there is Playa Sucia. It is located just below a famous lighthouse in Cabo Rojo. The first tme we went there, there was a great deal of seaweed on the beach and in the water, making it a litte unappealing for swimming. It's in a narrow cove so it is probably the most scenic beach in the area. Parking is a little tricky as you need to know to keep driving to park close to the actual beach. We joked that we later found out that Sucia means and it did appear that way the first time we visited. When we returned, it was much clearer and we found a great spot in the shade to hang out. It has more of a current, so that's kind of fun as the other beaches do not provide any waves to speak of. Overall, I would definitely spend a week in the Boqueron/Cabo Rojo area. We were there for 14 days which was a bit too long as we grew a little bored towards the end.


5/16/21     The "State" of Puerto Rico

We are having trouble figuring out what's really going on in PR. The beaches and beach towns seem full and busy. People seem genuinely happy and enjoying themselves. The inland towns, however, feel dead and abandoned. Roads need work and homes are hit or miss. You'll see a beautiful, recently built house, next to an abandoned skeleton. Virtually every home is gated in. A lot of restaurants and foods are open, while others seem permanently shuttered. We spoke with a man who worked at the history museum in San German for a long time yesterday. He complained about the blind ignorance of young people in the country and the unwillingness of many people to work (versus receive government handouts). He said that the idea of independence was virtually dead in PR (something we had gathered from our readings about the island) and that many did not see any advantages to statehood (residents of PR cannot vote) since, in his view, PR receives many benefits already. It appears that PR needs help. Infrastructure is in bad shape. Unemplyment remains very high. And prices for services and food are triple what one would pay on the mainland. On the other hand, it's a beautiful island where families and communities seem very close. We have not felt unsafe nor seen much in the way of violence or social unrest. We cannot tell who really owns the island--its homes, its communities, its boats and yachts. Is this stuff owned by the people who live here or by wealthy "outsiders" in the states or abroad? Not sure. We've really enjoyed our time here but still do not quite "get" Puerto Rico. If we figure it out, we'll let you know. 


Pro AirBnB/VRBO Traveller Tip #863: Bring a few key kitchen items in your checked luggage such as a good can opener, a cheese grater, tongs, etc. Obviously this will depend on what you use on a daily basis in the kitchen, but we've been surprised by what people stock in their kitchens and what they do not.


5/15/21     Beach Party

One of the things I've noticed in Puerto Rico is that days at the beach are a family party. All generations show up from Abuelas to Ninas, toting floating rafts, giant coolers, grills, and giant speakers. They entire family spends all day in the water, drinking and eating while chatting or staring at their phones. This was our experience at Playa Buye (about 20 minutes away) yesterday. We sat near a family of maybe 20 with nieces and nephews and girlfriends and babies. A couple of the men started grilling and literally bringing cheeseburgers to folks hanging out on a couple of surfboards in the shallow water. Other folks brought beers and drinks to and from the water and everyone seemed to take care of each other. One dude sat under an umbrella and blasted music for our entire half of the beach, while a competing speaker played music on the other half. At the this time of year, the ocean feels like bath water, and you can just walk straight in without that sudden cold feeling. This is my kind of beach experience although other beaches, including the one in our neighborhood, tend to be quieter and more mellow. Rachel and I tend to standout for a variety of reasons including our relatively lame beach setups and baseball caps. Today we plan on heading inland a bit to see two museums (we've had little success finding open museums despite what their websites say), then maybe hit the beach later. We try to avoid the beaches on the weekends as the crowds are pretty overwhelming. We're both starting to get our heads around our return home in a few weeks. It's amazing how things seem to be going slow, then all of a sudden we're packing our bags for the next destination. I've felt this way numerous times on vacations, but it feels the same way on this 5+ month vacation. Weird. 


5/14/21     Bioluminescence

I think I spelled that correctly. Anyway, we took a boat trip out of La Paguera to swim in a bay that lights up due to the presence of plankton in the water. It was really cool, minus the young woman who was stung by a jellyfish while swimming next to me. It was amazing to essentially see stars in the water below and stars in the sky above. A totally worthwhile adventure. We've settled into a fairly consistent routine here. Coffee outside in the morning, a short run around town, beach for a couple of hours in the afternoon, Ozark (Season 3) at night. Rinse. Repeat. Per usual, mosquitoes are starting to find me despite my consistent use of repellent. Bites appear. Itch for a day. Disappear. I've been starting to prepare for our return home and the list of things that need to get done in the weeks after our arrival. Not sure how I feel about my to do list, but I am looking forward to seeing the girls, Elf, our house, our friends . . . It was funny hearing people on our boat talking about their upcoming horseback ride. That's one thing I do not need to do on vacation anymore (unless others want to). I expect to be wrangling three days a week when I get back, and I am mentally preparing for the heat, horse flies, wacky tourists, and so on. I feel like I need to rewatch the saddling video my friend Susie made me. Does the blanket or pad go on first? I can't remember. Other than that, we continue to explore the island of Puerto Rico. I feel like we will have covered it all by the time we leave. I've been trying to compare it to other "similar" destinations--Hawaii, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and so on--but don't feel like I quite have my mind fully around it. I would rate the swimming beaches here--meaning you just walk right into the ocean easily and comfortably--near the top, followed closely only by the beach in Negril. More on this later. Buenos Dias.


5/13/21     Happy Birthday Sara Beara 

I want to wish Sara a very happy 17th birthday. Enjoy an amazing next few days--birthday celebrations with friends, track meet, Prom. Your mom and I are very proud of you and all that you have accomplished. I love you and miss you. Dad


Akhtar, Ayad, Homeland Elegies (Non-Fiction)--a Pakistani writer (a friend of my friend Steve Klein) struggles with his faith and identity

Baker, Bill, We Need To Hang Out (Non-Fiction)--an interesting non-fiction work about why men struggle to maintain meaningful every day relationships and how to fix this.

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.

Barry, Kevin, Night Boat to Tangier (Fiction)--a Waiting for Godot type novel taking places in Algeciras, Tangier, Cork, and Berehaven

Bascomb, Neal, The Perfect Mile (Non-Fiction)--the story of the effort to break the 4 minute mile

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

Byrne, Gabriel, Walking With Ghosts (Memoir)-rambling memories and stories by the actor famous for The Usual Suspects

Denis, Nelson, War Against All Puerto Ricans (Non-Fiction)--a focused history on actions taken to prevent Puerto Rican independence

Egan, Charles, The Killing Snows; The Exile Breed; Cold Is The Dawn (Fiction)--a three novel series based about Irish Potato Famine

Heaney, Seamus, 100 Poems

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

Hornby, Nick, How To Be Good (Fiction)--Interesting story about a strangely evolving marriage

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

Haas, Jeffrey, The Assassination of Fred Hampton (Non-Fiction)--Self-explanatory

Johnson, Anita, Eating By The Light of the Moon

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

Kent, Nick The Dark Stuff (Non-Fiction)--a collection of essays written by famous rock writer and hanger on.

Levine, Bruce, Thaddeus Stevens (Non-Fiction)--a bit boring history of the man and myth

McBride, James, Deacon King Kong (Fiction)--interesting mystery about life in the "projects."

McCarthy, Pat, McCarthey's Bar (Non-Fiction)--an English writer travels to Ireland to reacquaint himself with his Irish roots.

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

The Blood Miracles (Fiction)-Book two in the series about drugs, sex, and gang 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

Wineapple, Brenda, The Impeachers (Non-Fiction)--the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Yu, Charles, Interior Chinatown (Fiction)--quirky, strangely formatted novel about growing up Asian in America.

Updated 5/15/21


5/12/21     Surfin' Safari

Yesterday Rachel and I headed up to Rincon, Puerto Rico's surfing mecca for a surf lesson. Nego, our instructor, took us down to the beach for some on land pointers and then in we went. Man, surfing is hard. This is the third time I've surfed (Costa Rica and the Santa Monica) and it just kicks my ass. Nego kept saying how Rachel and I were "in shape," but I think nothing really prepares you for the punishing nature of the sport, particularly the paddling out. It akes a lot out of you. It didn't help that I suffered one of the worst calf cramps of my life part way through the lesson. It was really fun, but we're both a little bruised and battered this morning. We then spent a few hours at a local beach where people snorkel. We did not bring snorkel gear and it was pretty rugged entering the water, so we sat this one out. Hit a great pastry shop and oceanside bar on the way home. A very fun day. Really enjoying Puerto Rico.


*One of the funniest things I've seen since being in PR. When accessing ESPN, you see scores listing scores of games involving the San Diego Fathers!


5/10/21    Questioning Colorado

The last few years have, for the first time in thirty odd years, caused me to question living in Colorado. The criminal justice system is incompetent and corrupt. The homeless situation in the city has spiraled out of control from both perspectives. It's terrible for the people living on the streets (volunteering at The Denver Rescue Mission I have seen it up close and personal) and difficult for businesses who have to deal with it on a daily basis. I think about two of my friends' businesses where you literally have to walk through tent cities and people stumbling through the streets to access their workplaces. Gun violence continues to escalate with the latest killing of six people in Colorado Springs. It feels like (and it may be true) that Colorado leads the nation in mass shootings. I love the weather, the mountains, the "healthiness" of it and, of course, the friends and family who make it my home. But I may be reaching the point where enough is enough. Of course this raises the question of what are the alternatives? There are few places in the US that seem attractive. Living abroad presents its own issues. But I think this is a question I (and our family) may need to think about moving forward. Feel a little sad about it. 


*Disclaimer: The above blog reflects my thoughts and my thoughts alone. It was written after I awoke to the news of the fatal shooting of six people in Colorado. It does not reflect the feelings or thoughts of any other Wexler or Basye.


5/9/21     Puerto Rico's A Beach

Here's my take on the west coach of PR. It's about the beaches. We've visited a couple of historic towns and what we mostly saw was nothing. Few people, few open stores, few signs of life. Museums closed (despite what their websites say). It could be Covid, which is on the rise here, thus masks are required outdoors and there's a 10 pm curfew or it could be summer in the islands or it could be that PR is just struggling. But go to the beaches, and it's a different story. We've now hit all the area beaches other than the one closest to us: Playa Buye, Playa Sucia, and Playa Combate, and they are all really fun. People bring giant speakers onto the beach or anchor their boats and crank the music. It seems like a long time since I've heard any English sung or spoken; I love it. And it's all generations of families together at the beach, hanging out in the water with a beer or cocktail. Just having a good time. I often feel like we're the only foreigners, sort of like I felt in Ireland. It's very hot, so a couple of hours at the beach is plenty. We haven't been at the beach in the late afternoon, close to sunset. I would like to see what that's like. Do people get wasted? Party? Stay until dark? I think we'll check that out in the next couple of days. I've seamlessly switch to beer and rum; it just feels right in PR. We have a couple of day trips planned--Rincon, possibly to surf, and La Paguera to go on a boat trip and see and swim in the bioluminescent water. Other than that, a lot of hanging out. I finally beat Rachel at cribbage (Yay Me!). 


5/7/21     Boqueron PR

So we've now spent a couple of days on the western coast (?) of Puerto Rico near the town of Boqueron, outside of Cabo Rojo. After a rough first night with roosters crowing at all hours, I've bought earplugs, turned up the fan on the AC, and found a two hour soundscape on Spotify that plays the sound of rain so I can now get some sleep. We've been touring the area-a lighthouse, some beaches, a walk into town. All very nice. One funny thing. Rachel and I did not know that Sucia in Spanish means dirty, so we were surprised by how "dirty" (meaning lots of seaweed) Playa Sucia turned our to be. Muy estupido. The other two beaches we've seen were beautiful--Playa Buye and Playa Boqueron. Playa Buye may rival Negril in terms of its beauty. Our condo is really nice and comfortable and Rachel's been trying her hand at some PR dishes. So far, so good. 


I continue to ponder what life will be like and what I want it be like when I return to Denver. In my mind, I see a much tighter circle of friends with less time spent with people who bore me or give me a pain in the ass or who possess values that I just can't tolerate. I am sure this will be a great relief to people who I bore or annoy or who don't agree with my value system. I also feel like I need to see my "outside of Denver crew" a lot more. We already have some things planned--an October getaway, a ski weekend, etc. I realize I do not have much time left on this earth (relatively) at almost 58 years old (I just realized that it will almost 40 years since I graduated high school) and I cannot waste a minute. On a side note, I found Jennifer Boylan's recent article "When Loyalty Is Overrated" in the New York Times thought provoking. It seemed to criticize how we stay loyal to things and people when maybe we shouldn't, e.g., Mike Pence to He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN). It made me think about how I am loyal to some people almost to a fault. I think back to HWSNBN famously or infamously saying he could shoot a person in the middle of 5th Ave and his people would still love him. I feel the same way about all of my close friends. They could literally do anything, and it wouldn't matter to me. 


5/5/21     Updated Reading List


Akhtar, Ayad, Homeland Elegies (Non-Fiction)--a Pakistani writer (a friend of my friend Steve Klein) struggles with his faith and identity

Baker, Bill, We Need To Hang Out (Non-Fiction)--an interesting non-fiction work about why men struggle to maintain meaningful every day relationships and how to fix this.

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.

Barry, Kevin, Night Boat to Tangier (Fiction)--a Waiting for Godot type novel taking places in Algeciras, Tangier, Cork, and Berehaven

Bascomb, Neal, The Perfect Mile (Non-Fiction)--the story of the effort to break the 4 minute mile

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

Byrne, Gabriel, Walking With Ghosts (Memoir)-rambling memories and stories by the actor famous for The Usual Suspects

Egan, Charles, The Killing Snows; The Exile Breed; Cold Is The Dawn (Fiction)--a three novel series based about Irish Potato Famine

Heaney, Seamus, 100 Poems

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

Hornby, Nick, How To Be Good (Fiction)--Interesting story about a strangely evolving marriage

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

Haas, Jeffrey, The Assassination of Fred Hampton (Non-Fiction)--Self-explanatory

Johnson, Anita, Eating By The Light of the Moon

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

Kent, Nick The Dark Stuff (Non-Fiction)--a collection of essays written by famous rock writer and hanger on.

Levine, Bruce, Thaddeus Stevens (Non-Fiction)--a bit boring history of the man and myth

McBride, James, Deacon King Kong (Fiction)--interesting mystery about life in the "projects."

McCarthy, Pat, McCarthey's Bar (Non-Fiction)--an English writer travels to Ireland to reacquaint himself with his Irish roots.

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

The Blood Miracles (Fiction)-Book two in the series about drugs, sex, and gang 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

Wineapple, Brenda, The Impeachers (Non-Fiction)--the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Yu, Charles, Interior Chinatown (Fiction)--quirky, strangely formatted novel about growing up Asian in America.


5/5/21     Some Lessons Learned

Here are a few more things I've learned on this adventure:

  • Rental cars are expensive. On the other hand, they've been extremely flexible with changing dates and dropoff locations, all at a cost of course.
  • Do not book things using Expedia. Their customer service sucks
  • Don't book places where roosters crow all through the night (that was last night fyi)
  • It's nice to have a real book once in a while (versus a kindle) especially for the beach
  • Beach stuff is important--chairs, umbrella, etc. You need to figure out how to bring it with you or find it. In SC, a company would drive down the beach and provide folks with a setup for a decent price.
  • If you're using AirBnB or VRBO, check to see if the place provides body wash, shampoo, suntan lotion, etc. Dragging this stuff around makes your bag really heavy.
  • Spotify is awesome to have when you want music from different places in the world.

More to come . . .


5/4/21     Final Thoughts on Old San Juan & Other Thoughts

We leave Old San Juan tomorrow so here are my thoughts. It's definitely a little touristy, e.g,, t-shirt shops, cigar shops, jewelry shops, advertisements for the best mojitos in town, While I am sure there would be many more tourists here but for Covid and the summer months coming, you can definitely feel the tourist vibe. Folks drinking too much, walking around with their faces staring at their phones, etc. Overall, we've loved it (as I've loved every place we've been so far). We found our local place for coffee and sandwiches. We found our local beach, a short walk from our hotel, where we were only maybe two of ten people on the beach. We had some great drinks and amazing local cuisine the last two days. It's nice, as I mentioned in a prior blog, that I can literally eat and drink anything! In other words, we figured it out and loved it, but I can also see how some people would find it too touristy.  By and large, locals were very friendly. We had great luck tonight with a wonderful bartender at one place and a great restaurant owner at another. It's definitely worth a three to four day visit.


On a totally different front, I want to say I appreciate all of you who have reached out to me during the last 5+ months. It's been fun sharing some of my experiences, photos, thoughts, etc as well as hearing what is going on in your world. I also appreciate those of you who haven't reached out. I understand that you might think that I needed some space (which I did from time to time) and also appreciate that you have some "ish" going on in your own lives. As I said in an earlier post, I've found it interesting who I've heard from and who I haven't, but I do not judge given what I just said. I get it either way especially since I have been somewhat scattershot in who I've reached out to more and who I've reached out to less. Again, there are All good. 


5/2/21     Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Wow. What a beautiful place. We're in Old San Juan right now at a hotel, which is kinda weird since we've been in apartments during most of our travels. It's a short walk to a small beach. So we wake up, grab coffee nearby at a local hole in the wall, run around the fort, then head to the beach for a few hours. Then we usually walk around in the afternoon and grab a drink and some food before things start shutting down due to the 10 pm curfew. Tough life. I've noticed a few things about myself. I prefer more exotic places where I don't speak the language--Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, NOLA, Puerto Rico. I like being near water, a constant in all the places we've been on this journey. I prefer street food to sitting in a restaurant. I can easily move from beer to gin to whiskey to rum. I drink very moderately so no real hangovers so far. I've also found that I like to get from A to B without many stops in between. I am the sort of person who goes shopping with a singular mission. I go in, choose my running shoes, and get out. I don't like to browse much although I did find an awesome Roberto Clemente towel when shopping for a beach towel. We've met several people from Philly, all of whom describe it as a hellhole. I always kinda liked Philly. I've found it interesting regarding who I am in contact with on a regular basis, who contacts me, who I try to contact but who ignores me (I understand), and who I never hear from. I'm not sure what it means, but it's interesting nonetheless. We plan on spending a month here in different parts of the island. From there, who knows. Buenos 


5/1/31       Goodbye NOLA

It was a great few days in The Big Easy. Yesterday we caught two art shows in the Bywater section of the city, Jamnola and Studio Be. Jamnola was just straight fun, a colorful interactive art display focused on Mardi Gras. Studio Be was the exact opposite. It was a grim reminder of how f'd up this country is when it comes to racism and guns. It really impacted me emotionally, and I was ready to go off on this country in terms of our criminal justice and political systems. But I've had a day to calm down, so I won't. Suffice to say there's something very wrong that we must continue to fight these battles. We leave for Puerto Rico today. I am very interested to see what this part of our journey looks like. It's been amazing so far, and I am so happy we made the decision to pack our shit and take off. We've avoided any Covid issues, testing negative time after time. We've received both doses of the vaccine and look forward to a healthy and happy journey the rest of the way. Peace.


I haven't added any videos in awhile, but I just added a video of a great band we caught in NOLA last night. You can find it under Video tab. Enjoy.


4/29/21     The World Turned Upside Down

FYI, Rachel and I have continually struggled with posting photos to this site. Sometimes photos that appear right side up on our phones and even in the website builder show up upside down on the site. So I apologize for upside down photos and regret that I took down some photos because I could not figure out how to make them appear right side up. Other than that, all good here in NOLA. Saw a fun jazz show last night featuring Big Sam. No major side effects from second shot so far other than a little sweating and some shoulder pain where I received shot. We're off to take a Covid test (doesn't make too much sense since we'e received both vaccine shots) so we can travel to Puerto Rico. What's going on in my head? What will I do (other than wrangling and feeding the homeless and playing golf) when I return to Denver? Who do I want to spend the bulk of my time with (other than Rachel, Kate, and Sara) given my experiences over the last two years? How will Elf (our dog) respond to his return home? Where do I want to live in the future? Denver? Ireland? South Carolina? Where will Sara decide to attend college? Will Kate ever go to Japan or will she decide on a different life path in the next year or two? How will Rachel adjust to life back at ASLD? Do we need one car, two cars, or three cars? And that's just for starters.


4/28/21     The Big Easy & The Second Shot

I have to admit I was a little wary of NOLA. I believed we needed to stay on the mainland until we received our second vaccine shot, but I thought New Orleans would be a bit much given the crowds, partying, etc. I think it had been 18 years since I last visited and, although I loved it then, it didn't seem to be place to visit during a pandemic. So far I've been wrong. We arrived late Monday night and checked into an awesome, modern loft in Uptown. The next morning we enjoyed a great breakfast with our friend Nancy's daughter Mikey who attends Tulane. I really enjoy chatting with teenagers about their college lives and finding out what the kids are up to. It's also cool to see my friends in their kids. What a smart and insightful kid! My friends recently had the opportunity to spend time with Kate and Sara, which was also very cool. Anyway, after breakfast with Mikey, we walked through Audubon Park, through the Garden District and Lower Garden District, bought grocery essentials, and returned to our apartment for a beer. We then headed to the French Quarter. If I have been to the French Quarter, I don't remember it. It's pretty dirty and shabby looking with bar after bar and pizza by the slice after pizza by the slice. My friend Kevin, a NOLA savant, hit us with some recommendations off the Quarter on Frenchmen Street. Unfortunately a lof of places were closed on a Tuesday evening. But we found an outside courtyard with a jazz band kickin' it. It was really fun sitting outside with a strange cast of characters listening to live music. It had been a long time. The band was great with seemingly random people joining in to sing and play drums. What a fun day. Today we gear up for our second shot. We've heard about some nasty side effects so we're preparing mentally for that. Fingers crossed.


4/26/21     A Jew From Queens

Warning: This entry will be filled with contradications, hindsight, revisionism, and hypocrisy. The other day I was exchanging texts with a friend and telling him how much we were enjoying South Carolina. He responding by saying something to the effect of, "yeah, the perfect place for a Jew from Queens." I thought it would be interesting to explore both parts of that statement in terms of how my religion (or culture, depending on how you view Judaism) and where I grew up has driven my life choices. Let's start with the Jewish part. As I've written previously, Judaism wasn't something I chose; it was something forced upon me by my parents or mainly my dad (who interestingly became very religious in his seventies and not religious at all in his eighties and nineties). I later became a High Holiday Jew (someone who goes to temple on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). But after high school I headed to the South, although Emory and Atlanta are probably as Jewish as you can find in the South. I joined a Jewish fraternity although I didn't really get that at the time (a story for another day). I went to law school at a Catholic university, Villanova, then moved to Colorado, not so Jewish. So, as you can see, my life until that point contained some "Jewish" moments but also some "non-Jewish Moments."  I married someone who was not Jewish in a mostly civil ceremony, but we converted our daughters at a mikvah (a holy bath) when they were babies, raised them Jewishly. Both were Bat Mitzvahed, which required me to attend temple more than I would have liked. I always said that I was never sure if I believed. I didn't describe myself as agnostic or atheist. My friends are a mixture of Jews, Christians, agnostics and atheists. I've continued to drift from Judaism and recently decided I just didn't believe in god (v. God). Christopher Hitchens's book God Is Not Great ighlighted some of these issues. I just have seen and experienced too much to believe that a god would allow terrible things to happen to great people--me, friends, family, the country, the world. I find Jewish holidays, at least the religious components, stultifying. The traditions, fine. So there's the Jewish Part. I do not believe my faith will play a role in my life moving forward. 


As for Queens. That's an interesting one. For those who don't know New York, Queens is one of the five boroughs of the city. I grew up in a house with a driveway and yard on the creatively named 186 St, a block from a major thoroughfare, Union Turnpike. Ironically, this is not much different from where I live today in Denver, except for the nice restaurants and parks in Platt Park. I met three of my closest life long friends there--Steve, born in the same four family house as me, James in preschool, and Will at around the age of 12. The Queens I grew up in was a contradictory place. I lived in Flushing, a fairly middle class neighborhood. Some of my friends lived in Jamacia Estates and Holliswood, home to the very welathy. I grew up in a place where you could play stickball all day, eat the best pizza in the city, drink beers in your car at Cunningham Park, play hoops at Hillcrest, and watch the Mets and Jets lose on a regular basis. A place where you could feel physically safe one minute and in danger, if you crossed too far into the wrong neighborhood, the next. It's a diverse place (although people of different backgrounds lived in separate neighborhoods) where most folks live as they're moving up in the world and leave as soon as that occurs for either Long Island or the city or Florida, to retire. When I was growing up everyone I knew was either Jewish or Italian. That was it. I do not know anyone who still lives there. How did it shape me? It made me very conscious of where I am at all times, setting off alarm bells when I am somewhere not so safe. It made me appreciate being able to walk to places to eat. It made me not always trust people and places. It made me want to leave and explore other places--Atlanta, Philadelphia, Denver, the world. It made me sarcastic and biting, at times, as it provides you with a bit of an edge and attitude and, to some extent, a feeling of insecurity. It made me hate Brooklyn and all that is has become. You can take the boy out of Queens but you can't take the Queens out of the boy, or something like that.


4/26/21     YOLO

Reflections to date or what I've learned from four months of travelling during a pandemic:

  • We've heard it many times before. You need to seize the day. You need to live today; there are no guarantees about tomorrow. The idea that you should wait to do things, wait until you retire, wait until the kids leave home, wait until you're 65 is problematic. Many of the things we've done on this trip-10 mile hikes, 15 mile bike rides, days filled with activity after activity would be very difficult, I think, for someone 10 years older than me, or 68. I would be very concerned that if I waited much longer to travel the world I wouldn't be able to physically do it, Some of the sights we've seen--Beara Island, the North and South End of Boston, Blarney Street in Cork--would be very difficult to navigate at an older age. There's just too much walking involved. So I if there's something out there that you want to do that involves physical exertion, do it now. But, if you're goal is cruises, sitting by the pool, hanging out in your backyard (all fine goals), then don't worry about it.
  • Less is more. We don't need the things we think we need. I feel like I could carry the things I need in a large backpack--computer, clothes, toiletries, that's it.
  • We all have our moments. We all have moments when we're cranky, annoyed, frustrated, angry. It's okay. They pass.
  • Be flexible. So you can't go the Croatia because of Covid. Ok. Where can you go? 
  • Who do you really care about and who really cares about you? To some extent, the pandemic has really shed some light on this. Who calls or texts or emails you? Who do you call or text or email? There are some people who are just bad at this. But, for the most part, the people you reach out to or who reach out to you are the people you need in your life. 
  • Take pictures of your checked baggage. It is likely the airlines will lost you bag at least once. They will then ask you the brand and the type if bag lost. If you have a picture, it can help immnsely.
  • Every place is interesting. Ok, so we didn't make it to Cinque Terre this time. But South Carolina has been a revelation--the history, the food, the beaches. You thought you were going to Amsterdam and you ended up in New Jersey. Enjoy New Jersey. 
  • Take some time to think about what you want the future to look like. Where do you want to live? Who do you want to live with? What's important to you? 
  • Shoes are important! You need running shoes, walking shoes, flip flops. Dress shoes? Not so much. 

I should note that as I write this I realize that I right it from a position of privilege. Of course you need the financial wherewithal to do some of these things, but I also think we make choices that drive that. Do I really need that big a house? Do I really need a new car? Do I really need the latest piece of technology? A lof of these things are not important to me.


4/25/21     Sara's Going Home

Sad. Excited for her and for Kate. But sad. It was really fun seeing this adventure through the eyes of a 16 year old. Rachel and I will miss the Bear.


4/24/21     Fort Sumter

Yesterday we took the ferry to Fort Sumter, a place I've wanted to visit for a long time. I've always loved history. I think it started with reading those cheesy John Jakes novels in high school and continued at Emory where I took every Civil War (err War for Southern Independence) offered and several other history classes. I was too lazy to major in history which required one to write a thesis. This would have taken away from valuable time spent watching soap operas and drinking from the running keg at my fraternity house. Anyway, it was an interesting trip, surprising in the sense that there's little left of the fort, most of it being destroyed by Union bombardment during the war. We finished the day with a visit to a preserved (as opposed to renovated) old house in Charleston. Lots of history here, as you can imagine. Overall, I've loved Charleston and would consider moving here as Rachel and I think about the future. A house in Charleston near the beach and a place in Ireland--doesn't sound too bad. The city seems very accessible, the beaches are close by, and the food scene is excellent (a prerequisite for me). The summer heat would be a downside. I also wonder about a lack of social connections, given the network we've build in Colorado. Coincidentally, I just read a very interesting editorial in the New York Times by Kate Murphy entitled "The Pandemic Shrank Our Social Circles. Let's Keep It That Way." This is something I've been thinking about a lot over the past two years. Who do I want to keep close to me and who should I just let go because they bore, irritate, or annoy me? I am sure there are some people who are thinking the same thing about me. I keep waiting for an email or text from certain people, saying, "thanks, it was, fun, but you're out." 


Rachel and I are mentally preparing for the departure of our beloved Sara Beara who will return to Denver for track and AP exams on Saturday. It's been an amazing four months watching her grow and learn and think as she's been stuck with us. We'll miss here but also know she and Kate will have a great time living together in an apartment in Denver. What a unique sister, sister opportunity! Rachel and I will continue on the New Orleans and, from there, to Puerto Rico. After that, we're not sure, but I'll keep you posted. It's been an incredible ride so far.


4/20/21     Ravenel Bridge and Stupid Politicians

So yesterday we took our bikes over the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. We're staying in Mt Pleasant. a suburb located about six miles outside the city. It's a quiet community with a lot of great restaurants. There's a bar and restaurant area over the Shem Creek and yesterday we saw dolphins swimming in the creek. The wind and steep incline made the ride to Charleston a little difficult. Once we reached downtown we locked up our bikes and started walking. We are all a little paranoid about not being given U locks for our bikes, but the bike shop assured us they would be fine. We've experienced a couple of bike theft issues in recent years in D.C. (Sorry Nancy and Morris) and Denver. We strolled through the College of Charleston, a beautiful downtown campus and visited the Russell House, a historic home built in the 1800s. We had our first tasted of South Carolina BBQ and loved it. The ride back over the bridge was not nearly as difficult. 


Maxine Waters? WTF? Why would you open your big mouth and encourage violence on the streets especially in light of what Trump did on Jan 6 and the pending jury verdict in the Chauvin case? You just gave the defense and the GOP the biggest gift you could give. It's amazing to me how our politicians cannot get out of their own way. 


4/18/21     Doin' the Charleston

So, we're in Charleston. I really enjoyed our two weeks in Murrells Inlet. I loved living on the beach and waking up and going to sleep with the ocean waves crashing outside. I also loved the laid back vibe of the place especially after spring break ended. I think this might be my new US beach vacation favorite over the South Bay (that's tough to even write for me, South Bay Wex), West Palm/Delray, Sanibel, the Keys, Hawaii. It's really laid back with many locals and great local seafood restaurants and markets. It just felt like a real place versus a tourist destination. But it was time to move on, especially as the weather started to cool off the last few days. We reached Charleston yesterday, a short 1.5 hour drive with a few stops along the way (including a visit to a plantation which was kinda weird). It's like visiting some of the former Jewish communities in Europe. It's like you're walking on people's graves while wearing khaki shorts, flip flops, and eating ice cream. We visited downtown Charleston which was really hopping on a Saturday afternoon. People were wearing masks, as requested, in indoor spaces and outside to some degree, but we were not used to crowds so it felt a little overwhelming. We will return on a weekday and see what that's like. Mentally, I feel okay. Sara leaves Saturday and while I am happy for her to have the opportunity to live with Kate, run track, see friends, I will miss her. She's become part of our every day life, even more so when we're at home together. I also feel that sense that you get when you're on vacation that its all coming to an end and it's back to the reality of your day to day life and the stress and anxiety that brings--houses, cars, etc. For me, it's even weirder since I am retired and really don't have much of a plan for what to do next other than, hopefully, wrangling, running, and serving food to the homeless. I know this feeling is temporary and that Rachel and I will have a great time on our adventures together but it's still there for the moment. I continue to feel like the US is not the place for us. The mass shootings every day and the political nightmare and divisions that guns and Covid have only exacerbated this feeling, at least for me. This country is so broken I don't know how you fix it. I think we need to tear it all down--the political system, the criminal justice system, education--but I know it will not happen. Has anyone noticed the near total silence from the Republican party recently on this spate of gun violence? Now granted, I only read CNN, the New York Times, and the Denver Post, but I have not heard a peep. The fact that a 19 year old kid, whose parents called the police and who was investigated by the FBI, and whose shotgun was taken away, can walk into a gun store and purchase weapons is sick. Really sick. The world is not much better. In France, a man who beat an elderly Jewish woman to death, than threw her out a window, cannot be prosecuted because he smoked weed beforehand? Come on. Anyway, I will step off my soap box, but that's where I'm at. One final thought. It has been really nice to talk to so many of my close friends and family the last couple of weeks. Everyone seems to be hanging in during these crazy times. Much love. 


4/15/21     Go Gamecocks!

A few months ago, Sara received a recruiting letter from The University of South Carolina. So, since we were down here, we decided to take visit. It's a dead period for recruiting so coaches cannot conduct on campus visits or meet with recruits (which was reenforced when we reached the athletic facility and a very nice student working there mistakenly asked the coach if he wanted to talk to Sara). And I must say, that although USC or UofSC was not really on my radar, we came away impressed. Sara handled all details of the visit, from booking the AirBnB to lunch reservations to the stops on our visit. We walked around the Horseshoe (the Quad), took picktures with Cocky the statue, and spent money at the school store. We also "toured" the Engineering school and walked through the different food halls and cafes. It's a beautiful campus with gorgeous flowers and landscaping. The biggest eye openers, however, were the athletic facilities. We went onto the track and into the different offices and academic support facilities. Outside the coaches' offices we ran into a member of the track team from Tom' River New Jersey. She was very nice and shared her recruiting story with Sara. She also took us into the building that houses their indoor track and showed Sara the dining hall for athletes. It's amazing how nice students on a college campus can be. Kate had a similar experience on some of her college visits. This young lady, whose name escapes me, couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. It really psyched Sara up. We then strolled over to the Dance school. We actually were able to sit down with one of the school's leaders who outlined their program for Sara. Again, people cound not have been friendlier. That night we attended a baseball game on campus (USC has one of the top programs in the country). We also enjoyed a lovely lunch downtown and took in the Columbia Museum of Art. Out of nowhere USC moved to near the top of Sara's college list. We'll see what happens from here. Coaches talk but until you receive that offer, you never know. Other than that, we're doing well. Out beach time in Murrell's Inlet is winding down, and we head to Charleston on Saturday. Sara then heads back to Denver and Rachel and I continue on for another couple of months to who knows where. What an amazing journey this has been!!


4/12/21    Southern Charm

Well, South Carolina is certainly showing us a little of her southern charm. People have been incredibly friendly and welcoming so far. We've done some interesting exploring including Brookgreen Botanical Gardens and Sandy Island. Apparently plantations in this area grew rice on its plantations, a cash crop that didn't bring cash for very long. Yesterday we went on a tour with a man whose family was brought here as slaves from West Africa. Although there wasn't much to actually see on Sandy Island, it was fun going for a boat ride up across the river and through some inland canals. He was very nice and we met his family as well, a few of only 32 inhabitants of the island. Last night we had an awesome dinner in Murrells Inlet, about five miles away. It's famous for its marsh walk, wooden paths with restaurants and bars galore. Just a beautiful spot and, with most people gone after spring break, fairly quiet. We head to Columbia tomorrow for a college visit to the other USC. One thing that I've learned from this experience, and I may have already mentioned it, is that it's hard to avoid spending time planning our next stop even after we've just arrived in a new place. It's not like you can wait until two days before to book a plane ticket or a place to stay. Nevertheless, we're set until June 3, so we can relax for awhile. Other than that, not much to report. Sand, sun, ocean, seafood . . . 


4/9/21     One Shot Down, One To Go

First vaccine shot done for all of us (Kate too)!  So easy to schedule down here in SC and Colorado. Hard to understand why everyone isn't getting it done. Settling into beach life. Wake up. Coffee. Run on beach. Hang out on beach midday. Afternoon activity, shopping, etc. Rinse. Repeat. Been hitting the Southern food/seafood hard. Shrimp, snapper, Jambalaya, crab cakes, biscuits and gravy. Excellent so far. It's been very busy this week with Spring Break and all. It will be interesting to see what happens next week. We shipped a bunch of winter clothes home from Boston, plan on sending more from here or Charleston (our next stop on the What The Fuck Are We Doing Tour). We're shipping Sara home from Charleston for track season and AP exams. Before she returns home, Sara has planned a trip to Columbia, South Carolina next week to visit the University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!). As some of you know, Sara's a pretty good runner. She's been talking to mainly DIII schools like Carleton and Kenyon. A few DII schools (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs). And a couple of DI schools (Illinois St) and, surprisingly, University of South Carolina. Those of you who've had kids go through the college "recruiting" process know that talking to a kid versus recruiting a kid are two very different things. It's also a "dead period" for recruiting and, due to Covid, scheduled on campus visits are on hold in most places. Based upon Sara's conversation with the USC coach, I get the sense he wants her to visit the school and decide she's really interested before pursuing her. So it should be an interesting trip. We were able to snag some USC baseball tickets which should be fun. Mentally, I've been a little up and down. Still struggling a bit with the idea of being back in the States. It just feels kinda weird after living in Ireland for three months. There's so much negativity in this country right now--Covid, mass shootings, George Floyd, Matt Gaetz, Trump, Deshaun Watson, whatever. I am sure there was a lot of crap and negativity going on in Ireland while we were there, but when it's not your home, it just feels different. Like some of the violence erupting in Northern Ireland. Not my problem. I don't know. For many reasons, I just don't feel quite comfortable in this country right now. And I don't know if I ever will. Again, I might feel differently tomorrow or next week or next month or when I get back home. But I will let you know. 


4/7/21     Vaccination Day

So we figured out the whole Covid vaccine thing. Rachel, Sara, and I receive our first shots today; Kate will receive hers later in the week. Yay! It looks like South Carolinians are getting vaccinated although the rate appears to be lagging a bit behind the national average.  All well down here otherwise. It was a beautiful beach day yesterday. It's spring break here for K-12, so that's why it seems so busy. We thought we had picked a spot that was fairly remote and quiet but have been a little surprised by the number of folks on the beach. Now we know why. It will be interesting to see how things look after spring break next week. We have also been surprised by how "beachy" the weather's been. We knew it would be nice and warmer but didn't expect it to be this nice in April. The water, not surprisingly, feels very cold. You see mostly kids swimming while adults stand around and watch. It's been fun to see the ebb and flow on the beach--the early morning runners and walkers, the beach starting to fill up around 10 am. Everyone setting up their little "camps" with chairs, umbrellas, and beach toys. Then, by 4 pm, everyone starts to pack it in for the evening. When we returned from minature golf last night around 6 pm, everyone was gone. Poof! As I wrote in my last blog, we were all a little leery of the South, but we have yet to see or hear much of anything concerning whether it be people discussing politics, Covid, race, whatever. I plan on writing every day, so I will keep my posts short unless there's really something to report. See Y'all!


4/6/21     Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

So the winner of the Wexler-Basye NCAA Basketball bracket is . . . . me! I picked Baylor to win it all. Unfortunately the championship game was a blowout. I did not find the tournament particularly compelling this year. Once Colorado lost in the second round, I kinda lost interest. My passion for following sports has ebbed and flowed over the years, other than my loyal following of the CU Buffs. I do not watch much sports except when the Buffs are involved. It's been moving i that direction for the last few years. I will watch some baseball or golf to catch an afternoon nap, a little NBA, especialy when the Nuggets are playing, but other than that, meh . . . I will say that the first episode of Ken Burns's Hemingway was very good. I am not a big fan of Ernest, but the doc was compelling. I've aways liked his short stories, Indian Camp being my favorite, but I've found his novels kind of boring. People praise his simple, direct style, but I've never really found his writing to be all that interesting. If I've ever made it all the way through The Sun Also Rises or Farewell to Arms, I don't remember. I think his style is fine for short stories but doesn't work as well for longer works. As for life here in Murrells Inlet. All good. We have a great condo right on the beach (see the pictures) and there are numerous small seafood shops and restaurants close by. The South makes me a little nervous at times. For example, there is a family staying nearby with a huge beach setup. In addition to the usual beach chairs and toys, they drag out their flagpole every day and hoist up the American flag and several smaller flags. I did not want to know what the smaller flags said, afraid it would be a gun rights thing or long live the Confederacy stuff. Luckily, they are flags representing various universities--South Carolina, East Carolina (Go Pirates!), etc. Bumper stickers also serve as a trigger down here. So far we've seen "keep walking, I'm just reloading," and "I know, I know, driver's license and registration" and "we survived Obama, you can survive Trump." But, as those of you who've travelled through or lived in the South know, whatever lies beneath the surface (racism, Trump, guns), usually stays there, Everyone is outwardly friendly and polite so far. Finally, I should tell you that the beach here is amazing. We were saying yesterday, that it's probably the nicest beach we've been to next to Negril, Jamaica. The sand is warm, comfortable, very wide, and hard enough in places to run on with sneakers. The water is calm and clear (too cold right now for us spoiled folks whove swam in the Carribean or Mediterranean. While no one wears masks outdoors (or indoors, other than at Krogers), people seem to be socially distancing. And it's busy this week. I thought it would be kinda dead in April, but I was wrong. Lots of folks out and about. That's enough for now. Talk later.


4/5/21     Murrells Inlet/Garden City

So, we're in South Carolina. I know, South Carolina. We were looking for some place warm, spent days looking at a map, and picked here. It's on a strip of beach called the golden strand that essentially runs from Myrtle Beach to Charleston. We figured a few days at the beach would do us some good after some cold weather in Boston. We had some mixed feelings about going to the south for politial reasons but decided that we should go where we want to go and keep an open mind. For a car rental, we chose the "wild card" option. Essentially, for a cheaper rate, you allow the rental car company to pick your car. According to the website, the company can choose any car, compact or larger. So what did they choose for us? A pickup truck, of course. After all, we're in South Carolina! No flag holder or gun rack. Bummer. Also, pickup trucks don't work great for short people. It takes me about two pulls to hoist myself into the driver's seat. The condo we're in is a little dated and weather beaten but, per my request, it's right on the beach. Pictures to follow. As an aside, I hope everyone understands (and I think most of you do), that a big part of this trip was to get away from everything, clear our heads, and figure out a path forward. So, while we are not too far from some of you geographically, we're very far (or trying to be) mentally. This kind of "isolation" from other people (partly due to Covid, partly due to our attempts to regather ourselves) has been great at times and difficult at other times. It's great to take a break from my usual social interactions to a more contemplative state, but it can feel lonely. I think it's been hardest on Sara in this regard. It's hard for a 16 year old to spend four months or five months or six months away from friends and family, stuck with Mom and Dad. For me, I've realized that I've sort of fallen back into the same pattern as before we left. I talk to the folks I talk to on a weekly basis and I talk to everyone else on a two to three month basis. Mentally, I am still adjusting. It's difficult to change mindsets sometimes from place to place. Typically, I spend the first day or two in a new place, a little anxious and a little depressed. Then, as I get more comfortable, I find my footing and I'm good. So, after one day here, I am still feeling things out. Sitting here on our back porch, staring at the ocean, writing down some random thoughts, helps a bit. Let's see where this goes. 


4/2/21     Goodbye Boston, Part II

So today's our last day in Boston. Some candlepin bowling planned. A little dinner out. The kinds of things you can do here in the U.S., or at least in Boston. Not sure what's going on elsewhere but I hear things are loosening up. It's always a little hard to pack up, gear up, and mentally psych up for the next move. We've definitely gotten comfortable here in our little Boston Chinatown Tufts Hospital Bubble. On the other hand, we've worn out Boston. Not much else to see here. It doesn't help that it's been noticeably colder the last few days. Has living in Boston for a month caused me to want to live in a place like Boston or Philly or New York? No. Still thinking outside the U.S. Has it jostled my thinking about living in the US, living in a city, etc.? Yes. See below. I would also add that we've been living in this weird corporate apartment that was a last minute change from the original apartment we booked. It seems like a place where interns and residents at the hospital live, but we've also seen a cross section of other folks. It just has this weird, "never lived in" feel and smell. It has a great view of downtown, specifically the State Street Building, but it just feels a little off. Very clean and safe. Just off. I will check in when we reach our next destination. 


4/1/21     Goodbye Boston

As our unplanned month in Boston winds down, some thoughts. First, I hope everyone's okay out there. I haven't talked to a lot of you in a while, mainly because not much is happening (not a bad thing). Boston has been interesting, causing me a lot of "flashbacks" to growing up in Queens. The grit and grime of the city that, at times, grosses me out. After four years of high school, riding the subway for 3+ hours every day, I never again wanted to see the inside of an inner city train car. Well, I am seeing it here. The coolness of "neighborhoods," with their own somewhat distinct smells and sounds (although this is fading; I do not think our kids will remember this aspect to city life). Living in a highrise and taking the elevator up and down throughout the day (new to me). The extremes of wealth and poverty on display downtown and in Beacon Hill. The strange disconnect of living in a city but not being "of" that city. When we started this journey, we had a loose plan. Go to Ireland, then figure it out from there. "Worst case scenario," come home to the states. Well, I wouldn't say it has been the "worst" just different. And we knew this going in. In some ways, I think it's actually worked out for the better. Europe is truly locked down. We have felt more "free" in the states to do what we wish (within the safety confines of Covid). In some ways there's less stress here since you kinda get everything even if you're not sure how to get there (we've spent a lof of time walking and riding the T). I also think that on a trip like this, just like if we were at home, you're on a bit of a rollercoaster in terms of your life. You're reading a lot, then you're not. You're drinking a lot, then you're not. You're really into working out, then you're not. You'r really into taking pictures and posting them on the blog, then you're not. Now, I would say the rollercoaster's been a little smoother but the bumps are still there. I feel like I am in a stage of the trip, due in part to outside forces, where I am more focused on doing things than contemplating things. I also think this may change in the coming weeks. I may add some other thoughts about Boston and the past month later. Ciao.


3/31/21     College Visits

So those of you who've been through the college process with your kids know how ridiculous the whole thing is. You earn mostly As and Bs in honors and AP classes, pile on a bunch of extracurriculars, perform well on standardized tests, then get rejected for unknown reasons by a bunch of schools or learn that, to attend the schools that accepted you, you will need to take out a second mortgage on your house. Fun. But you still go through the process because that's the process. We've had a chance to visit a few schools on our six month tour, specifically Brown and Tufts (we did visit University Colllege in Cork as well). Both are beautiful, especially when the weather's nice and students are playing frisbee on the quad. Brown's location in Providence, RI was a little less attractive (not that Sara is particularly interested in Brown) than Tufts, located in a beautiful suburb of Boston. We also were able to "tour" the engineering school at Tufts, which was exciting for Sara. Running in college will likely play a pivotal role in Sara's college decision. She hears regularly from the coaches at Carleton and Kenyon, so I think those schools still lead. We'll see. After awhile, all the schools seem to become one giant blur that say the same things, "we take a holistic approach to admissions" or "there's always something going on for you to do on campus," or "we meet 100% of student's financial need." But we're all excited for Sara and helping her through the process (which she seems to understand well having watched Kate go through it. 


As for everything else, we're good. We've enjoyed our month in Boston, especially the fact that things are so much more "open" here. We've been able to eat out a bit, see movies, go to museums, etc. Personally, I feel like we've exhausted the city a bit, especially during Covid. I am ready to move on. Plus, we're all ready for some consistently warm weather. I'll check back in later.


3/29/21     Dems Witches

So we went to Salem, Mass. Not really sure why but we did. I think we just needed to get out of the city a little and figured there might be something interesting happening there. I think Rachel laid out the details, so I'll stick to the more intangible things. It was rainy and windy. Bad. Salem is a pretty small place that revolves around shops, restaurants, and sites that "celebrate" the witch trials and also its New England heritage. Seemed like strange folks made their way to Salem for the day, including us. Just a weird, what are we doing here, now, kinda place. Despite all of that, we had a fun day. Excellent art museum. And what else? Well, we continue to bumble around, experiencing new things, and trying to figure out what we're doing and why we're doing it. In other words, we're just living. Trying to track down the vaccine and time it, so we can either get the one shot or the two shot. Nice seder with family. Just bein'.


3/27/21     Return To Normal

Been reading and hearing this phrase a lot. When will we return to "normal"? What will the "new normal" look like? At least here in Boston I kinda see it. I already see plenty of people walking outside, eating in restaurants, and browsing in shops, facemasks on. So, one day (when enough people have been vaccinated), they'll take off their facemasks. And then we'll be back to normal, I guess. I do not know when we will see the streets of cities crowded with people commuting to and from work.That still seems far away. And without that, cities will not have the same buzz as in the past. I do not know what a year of little to no social interaction will do to people. Will people jump back into the going out to dinner, coming over for drinks lifestyle or will we see fewer social gatherings? How will kids relearn how to interact with each other? How will affect me? Right now, I have a hard time imagining socializing with folks in the same way I did "before" or whatever that was. It's hard to remember "before." Maybe just live in today and forget before or later.


3/26/21     Donde Esta?

Not sure on the grammar but I've been listening to Sara's Spanish class for the last hour. Things are pretty quiet here in Beantown. There's a bunch of stuff swirling around us, as always, so we're also thinking about a lot of folks out there. 


3/25/21      Introspection/Boston/Boulder

So I’ve heard several people react to the changes in my blog’s “essence.” Apparently (and I’ve noticed this), I’ve become less introspective since my return to the states. I think the change has occurred because of a number of factors (in no particular order). First, I’m three months into this adventure, so I’ve already thought about a lot of things. Second, there’s less time for thinking here in the states. More things are open to us, so there’s less time just sitting around and contemplating the meaning of life. Finally, I feel like there’s less “stimulus.” I think there were more and different stimuli (?) in Ireland. It feels so “natural” to be in the states surrounded by all the “usual” stuff--ambulances, trains, street signs, homeless folks--that it doesn’t evoke as much thought.

 

I’ve figured out Boston to some degree. Seeing a little more “post-pandemic” life here. I know the neighborhood, the area, the streets. I don’t feel like I need to use Google Maps as much to navigate the city. I feel in a relatively good place. We have a “plan” for the next few weeks and for Sara’s eventual return to Colorado, so that’s good.

 

So the shooting in Boulder feels weird being in Boston and all. Seems so close to home but at the same time so far away. And we all know that nothing will change. That we’ll moan a bit about gun control, mourn the lives lost, try to understand why the killer did it, then forget a bit and move on. So, what’s there to think or feel about? But at the same time I feel like it casts a bit of a gloom over everyone. It reminds us about how fucked up we are as a country and a people. Life here has fallen into a rather comfortable pattern. Read paper and drink coffee in the morning. Run late morning. Hang out through lunch. Walk somewhere in the pm. Cook dinner. Watch TV or movie. Repeat. Go on some adventures in and outside of town. All good.


3/22/21     Providence (or providence)

So we've sort of settled into the whole Boston thing. We've hit virtually every neighborhood, some on a recurring basis (Cambridge, South End, North End). We've sampled some Boston pizza, lobster rolls, soup dumplings. We've seen a few museums and several parks. So we decided to break out a little and take the train to Providence, Rhode Island. Of course. So obvious. Only 45 minutes away. We learned that Providence is fairly quiet on a Sunday morning at 9:45 am. We learned that the Providence Zoo is really not in Providence and is a long walk/bus ride away but not that far via Lyft. We learned that Brown University is a beautiful school in a picturesque location on a hill above the city. We learned that the Italian section of the city, Federal Hill, still exists and requires you to drive slow and play your music loud! We learned that 9 hours in Providence is probably enough (if the RISD museum was open it may have filled in some empty time). And we learned we could walk 13 miles. 


3/20/21     Chchchangin'

I've not felt like blogging as much just as I am sure many of you have not felt like reading my blog as much. We are just in the day to day now like many of you. Just, probably, in a different place. There is this seven stage process I've noticed. Arrive at a place. Take a few days to adjust to it. Adjust to it. Feel pressure to start looking for next place. Start looking for next place. Find next place. Settle back into present place. And on we go. Looking forward to some excellent eating ahead--oysters in the South End and Italian in Providence, RI. Thinking about my running route for today. Thinking about the NCAA tournament and my Buffs (do not want to let it "eat" day). Thinking about my friends out there. 


3/18/21     It Took Awhile

But I got my head around Boston and being back in the states. A couple of things factored into that. First, we all found a routine of some sort--run, workout in the morning, chill/walk/school/activity in the afternoon, dinner at home. Sara also has been able to set her own schedule between online dance, in person dance and come and go as she please more. It is also nice that things are open here, especially compared to Ireland. We've gone to the movies, candlepin bowling, museums. Now, I know everyone is not comfortable with that type of thing but we are and we're very conscious of being careful in all public settings. I also like that the different neighborhoods provide some interesting running, walking, and people watching. Yesterday I ran through Southie. Today I ran through Boston Common/Boston Public Garden/Beacon Hill. That's kinda cool. I also think we lucked out on our apartment. Yes, we're literally in the middle of Tufts Medical Center, so It can be a bit noisy with sirens and ambulances. But, it's incredibly central with a T stop literally across the street. We plan on a few side trips, Providence and Provincetown (a bit confusing), before we leave. 


3/17/21    Southie

In our effort to explore every nook and cranny of Boston, we walked to Southie (South Boston, not to be confused with the South End or Dorchester) and did some candlepin bowling yesterday. Southie, made famous in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Good Will Hunting, was the old Irish working class neighborhood of Boston. Now, as a result of gentrification, it doesn't look like a working class neighborhood. Beautiful row houses, some recently restored, line the streets and runners are ubiquitous. But it's still cool. No Matt or Ben sightings. I don't think I have ever done the candlepin bowling thing before, but this place seemed authentic albeit empty (not many bowlers at 3 pm on a Tuesday). I will say that my patented hook did not work as well in candlepin as in regular bowling. I think Rachel enjoyed it more as the balls are lighter and easier to control. We wallked all the way through Southie and back through the Seaport area to downtown. As Sara has pointed out, Boston is a nice running city as the different areas of town are interconnected which allows for longer runs through Cambridge and other surrounding areas. Anyway, we're enjoying our stay here. Not Zagreb, but what is?


3/15/21    Back in the USA

I've been trying to capture my thoughts about being back in the states, specifically or not specifically, Boston. I have mixed feelings about it. Let's start with the negatives. I know the states. I know what to expect in terms of walking around an American city. The smells, the sounds, the sights. To me, that's more negative than positive. Poverty. There are a lot of visible signs of poverty in Boston (as there is in Denver these days). A lot of homeless folks and people clearly struggling. We saw some of that in Dublin but not much elsewhere in Ireland. A lot of generic food and clothing choices, fast food, chain restaurants. chain stores. I will give Boston some credit here as The North End, Beacon Hill, Cambridge, and The South End, all feel very distinct with lots of local choices. The culture wars in the country being fought politically. The most troubling right now are the efforts to restrict voting. I just don't get it. We've finally reached a point where people vote and, having used mail in voting for years in Colorado, it is a no brainer. It's amazing how blatantly political all this is, yet it is happening. Insane. Overall, I think being back in the states just changes your mindset a little. On the positive, we have a very nice apartment in a great location that allows us to walk to almost any area in the city. More things are open here--restaurants, museums, movie theaters. Some nice running as well. I love running the Boston Commons with the city surrounding me. We're getting the hang of public transportation as well. But, overall, I just don't feel "away" in a sense. I feel like I am "here," which is fine but not exactly where I want to be. I do not say this as a complaint, it just is. I would finally note that our time here has allowed us to recover a bit, physically and mentally, from living abroad for three months. Sorry for being a bit all over the place, but that's kinda how I am feeling right now.


3/14/21    The North End

We're getting used to the Boston thing. We've run and walked in almost all directions. We still need to spend a little time in East and South Boston, probably work out a campus visit to Tufts for Sara, maybe head down to the coast for the weekend. We spent yesterday in the North End. It started off fine. We stopped at a pizza place to sample the slices here. Pretty good, but afternoon slices of pizza can be a little dicey (and dry). We walked around; crowds were rather sparse. We went to a locally recommended restaurant for some pasta and a martini, Overall, a very nice evening in the North End. The only issue was the crowds that started rolling into the restaurants and streets early evening. People wore masks but certainly were not socially distancing. We heard several comments, both in the restaurant and outside, that basically the North End was not "doing the Covid thing." A little disconcerting. By the time we left, we all felt a little "get me out of here" like. Wicked Not Smart.


3/12/21    Thelonious Monkfish

Rachel and I went out for the first time in months. We shared some drinks and food at the aforementioned restaurant in Cambridge, right down the street from Sara's dance school there. It was a little freaky at first as not many people were in the restaurant. And then it was freaky when more people were in the restaurant. But overall, it was fun to be out. Took a day off from exercise to give my foot a rest, so look forward to a city run today. It's been beautifully clear here so far. Expecting some of that New England cold and wind soon. Check you later.


3/11/21    South End To North End

So lots of swirling thoughts about being back in the States and this next part of the journey, but I have mixed feelings about putting it all out there. I like Boston and it's cool living in the center of a city. We really can explore in all directions from our front door. Mentally, it's a different mindset--you hear and see and smell every day life and, in a way, it's almost too familiar. Denver and Boston are probably not that far apart anymore. I think about what fills up your brain on a daily basis. What should be in there and what should be left behind. It's a work in progress. I took a little jaunt (the T) across to the North End this morning. Cool area, some good looking restaurants and deli/pastry shops. I wandered into Mike's Pastry (which is apparently a big deal) and bought some chocolate chip pound cake. Just feeling my way through things. I am thinking about some of my peeps out there and pushing positive thoughts your way. 


3/10/21    The Fens

Still getting my mind around being back in the States. Feels weird, kind of like I'm here but I'm not here. Enjoy running in the city. Today I will run to Fenway Park. Don't think I've ever been, definitely not to a game. I am trying to get into a space where this journey can continue albeit in a very different way. The weather has been surprisingly beautiful. Sunny, cold at times but not too. We've walked the city hard the past few days. Yesterday we essentially walked out of the city and into Forest Hills (not the Queens one). I think everyone's trying to find their way into a good, healthy routine. We'll see. As always, the world continues to spin around. Sending positive vibes out. 


3/9/21     I Like Cities

So it feels nice to be in a city. I've been exploring Boston a bit. I certainly have Boston Common and the surrounding area down. Cambridge as well. I know the difference between The South End and South Boston. Don't have a sense for The Back Bay or East Boston. But it's nice to be in a very different space for a moment in time. Cities distract you in a different way than the countryside. We did both in Ireland. I liked both (it's unfair to compare anything to our house in the middle of nowhere outside Castletownbere). But, in general, I like the city vibe. 


3/8/21      More Than A Feeling

So you're probably wondering how I feel being back in the US. Well, initially, not good. We absolutely loved Ireland and, in hindsight, were lucky to make it into the country and stay for three months. But, as I've written, it was essentially shut down. We could go to the grocery store, buy coffee and food to go, and hike and run. That's it. We thought we were going to Croatia but due to COVID that did not work out (which we found out at the airport in Dublin as we readied to leave). Then, at the suggestion of the ticket agent, we switched our plans to France, only to learn that France was essentially locked down. So we spent a day and night at a Dublin airport hotel trying to figure out our next move. Everywhere we considered in Europe either appeared to be very difficult to enter (we thought we could enter Croatia but learned we had read their website wrong) or, if we managed to make it in, would be totally shut down--no restaurants, bars, museums, etc. I also felt a little gun shy, having thought we understood all the various rules and regulations for Croatia but apparently not. So, we thought about where to go next, factoring in the ability to reuse our Lufthansa plane tickets minus a change fee. We thought about Chicago (no Lufthansa flights), Hawaii (36 hours of travel), Miami (very expensive around spring break time), and other places in between. We had talked in the past about how fun it might be living in an East Coast city for a year, New York being at the top of the list. But New York during COVID just didn't seem appealing. As some of you may have forgotten, we rented our house, so we have nowhere to live until June. There was a direct flight to Newark (only 6 hours), so we took it. Of course the airlines lost Sara's bag (as they had lost mine on the way to Ireland) which caused us to miss our train to Boston. This meant we had to spend a few hours in the Newark train station (not pleasant). We found a cheap apartment in Boston but when the current resident tested positive for COVID, we were switched to a nicer apartment near Tufts Medical Center right outside Chinatown. It's really comfortable and affordable and after a day here decided to extend our stay through April 3. So how am I feeling? A little depressed. A little anxious. A little excited. And a little tired. I've really enjoyed running in downtown Boston so far, and we've gotten to know the route to Cambridge very well (Sara took her first in person dance class in a year there, and we did a dumpling class there yesterday). I am excited to explore the City--the Back Bay, the North End, the South End, Southie, and all points east and west. I'll let you know more about how I'm feeling in a few. Love. 


3/6/21      So, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Zagreb . . .

So we go to the airport in Dublin at like 5 am. We were really tired and it was a dark and gray day. We were really tired and all the signs were in Gaelic. Now my Gaelic had gotten pretty good during my three months in Ireland. I was feeling craic if you know what I mean. We wound our way through the various airline lines and waiting areas, following all the signs to our gate. We boarded the plane, immediately fell into a deep sleep and woke up . . . . . . . in Boston. Whoops. Apparently Zagreb in Gaelic is Boston. Who knew? Luckily, we were able to find a great apartment in downtown Zagreb errrr Boston and settled in nicely. The unexpected jet lag, there’s an hour difference in Zagreb but a 5 hour difference in Boston, left us exhausted. We ran through Boston Commons, defeated some Redcoats, underinflated some footballs, and basically breathed in the “Boston is the greatest city in the world, fuck yeah” vibe. We loved the Haymarket for outdoor/indoor food shopping--great little cheese and meat shop where we tasted some Italian provolone and italian meats. We found the local Whole Foods. And away we go. Thinking it could be Cinque Terre a/k/a Newark next. We’ll see.


Reading List Updated 3/8/21

Baker, Bill, We Need To Hang Out (Non-Fiction)--an interesting non-fiction work about why men struggle to maintain meaningful every day relationships and how to fix this.

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.

Bascomb, Neal, The Perfect Mile (Non-Fiction)--the story of the effort to break the 4 minute mile

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

Byrne, Gabriel, Walking With Ghosts (Memoir)-rambling memories and stories by the actor famous for The Usual Suspects

Egan, Charles, The Killing Snows; The Exile Breed; Cold Is The Dawn (Fiction)--a three novel series based upon true events during the Irish Potato Famine

Heaney, Seamus, 100 Poems

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

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

Johnson, Anita, Eating By The Light of the Moon

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

Kent, Nick The Dark Stuff (Non-Fiction)--a collection of essays written by famous rock writer and hanger on.

McBride, James, Deacon King Kong (Fiction)--interesting mystery about life in the "projects."

McCarthy, Pat, McCarthey's Bar (Non-Fiction)--an English writer travels to Ireland to reacquaint himself with his Irish roots.

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

                          The Blood Miracles (Fiction)-Book two in the series about drugs, sex, and gang 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

Wineapple, Brenda, The Impeachers (Non-Fiction)--the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Yu, Charles, Interior Chinatown (Fiction)--quirky, strangely formatted novel about growing up Asian in America.


3/2/21      Final Thoughts on Dublin & Ireland

First and foremost, we all tested negative for COVID, so we're good to go (we think) for Croatia. It's really damn confusing as to where you can go and what you need to go there right now. We had a momentary panic when we couldn't check in for our flight, and it appeared we couldn't transit through Frankfurt to Croatia. But, after a conversation with a representative from Lufthansa, we think we're good to go. Phew!! We went on our last walk/death march through Dublin today. We actually made it beyond the tourist areas and into some real neighborhoods in the city like Philsborough and Glasnevin. The Botanic Gardens were open, which was shocking, and they were truly beautiful. Of course, Rachel and I have now decided we're moving to Dublin. So, after living in Ireland for three months, what do I think? First, everything I say must be qualified by the fact that we lived in Ireland during COVID so other than grocery stores, coffee shops, and food that did takeaway, nothing was open. Of course the outside was open so we did an incredible number of runs and walks everywhere we went. I would also say that it's really hard to know how you would live living permanently in a place even after being there for three months. So here's what I got. Ireland is awesome, and I would move here in a heartbeat. The people are incredibly friendly and love Americans (or at least appear to). People seem more open here and more into the idea of community than in the states. Again, this is tough to judge since we did not interact with many locals due to COVID. I love their accents and lilting way they say everythings "lovely." It's very green (shocker) and even though it was cold, it never got too cold. We've endured much colder winters elsewhere (see the US, Switzerland, Japan, The Czech Republic). We probably enjoyed more sunny days than cloudy or rainy days. It's a great running, biking, and walking country. Despite it's reputation, there is plenty of great food in stores and restaurants and even a fair amount of diversity in food and people, especially in Dublin and Cork. FYI, there seem to be more burrito places in Dublin than in Denver. It's not a huge country so even driving from almost one end (Castletownbere) to the other end (Dublin) only took about three hours. While I love Kinsale and Castletownbere, I think I would prefer to live in a city kind of like where we live in Denver. Rachel and Sara seem to favor Dublin over Cork. I would probably agree but it's close. After this visit (our 4th), I would probably place Ireland at the top of my favorite places in the world, a significant move up from where I had it placed before we went on this trip. I will be sad to leave, but I am also ready for a new adventure. Ready for a break from Irish Stout (O'Hara's and Guinness, my favorites) and Irish Whiskey (Redbreast 12 year, Proclamation, and W.D. O'Connell's Peated).  Cheers to all. 


3/1/21      COVID Testing Day

So today we head, somewhat ironically, to the Dublin Airport for COVID testing prior to departure. We're all a little nervous, fighting a little travel weariness, minor colds, life in Dublin lockdown. I am also not feeling particularly sanguine, one of my favorite words, about life and the world right now. I just feel like there's too much negative shit going on right now--Covid/pandemic, Trump's reappearance, anger in the streets of Dublin and other places around the world. As a result, I feel like so many people, especially young people, find their lives on hold. Going to college and living in a single dorm room, waiting to make that next cross country move, looking for a new job that doesn't exist. As one of my close friends said last week, "if I were a young person growing up in this time, I would probably look around and say what the fuck?" I find myself thinking about what I've told people and what other people have told me at different times in my life. "Well, it could be worse. Look at what so and so is going through." That's bullshit in my opinion. When you're struggling, it isn't particularly helpful to be told to have perspective. So that's one of those things I've tried to stop telling people. It sounds good and all, but I don't think it helps. I am hopeful that the world will awaken from this funk a better and happier place. We walked around Dublin last night, and it was just sad. Everything closed down, homeless on the streets (it was nice to see some areas set up around town to serve them food). I've heard that downtown Denver, New York, and LA look much the same. What will happen when this is over? Will we create a better world or simply revert back to the same old, same old? I shudder to think what the ramp up to the next election will look like with people like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and "he who must not be named" spewing their lies and hatred around. Ugghh.


Okay, enough happy talk, puppy dogs and rainbows. I will say, I love Ireland. Would I feel the same way if I lived here? If Ireland was my day to day existence? If I lived in a rainy climate (although the weather's been really nice since we've been here)? That's so hard to say. I remember thinking that way about Denver when I moved there almost 30 years ago. Well, that worked out pretty well. My gut says yes. So I will try to enjoy my last few days here. I will share some final thoughts then off (hopefully to Croatia). 


2/28/21     Dublin Day 4/Running & Biking Dublin

Beautiful sunrise in Dublin this morning. It is very interesting being in a large city during an almost total lockdown. The weather's been beautiful, so a lot of folks out and about. The parks, and there are many in Dublin city, are packed with people looking for a few moments outside. I can't say I blame them. I feel like we're just observers to the whole situation. Even during yesterday's demonstration I felt on the outside. I understand where people are coming from on the lockdown. The numbers in Ireland are relatively low compared to many places around the world but, as opposed to the US, Europe seems to take this whole COVID thing much more seriously. I don't know if it has to do with their proximity to other countries, an older population, an aging health care system or what but a lockdown here really means a lockdown. From what we've gathered from reading about the situation back home and talking to friends and family, the US and Denver and Colorado, in particular, are pretty much open for business. People seem to be moving pretty freely, skiing, eating in restaurants, etc. while the numbers, although seemingly dropping, remain astronomical. It does seem like the vaccine is moving more quickly back home than here but again, as outsiders, that's hard to say. We're not on anyone's vaccination list in Europe. And while everyone is tired of the lockdown, I feel very nervous about contracting COVID right now, with our tests being on Monday and us leaving for Croatia on Wednesday. I did not feel at all safe in the crowds around the demonstration yesterday and wore a mask as I walked around outside for the first time in a long time. I feel a little anxious right now, as I think our while family does. Rachel has a bit of a cold which is a little disconcerting ahead of our COVID test. Sara's trying to balance school, dance, running, and being stuck with Mom and Dad for over three months now. Kate's life is essentially on hold as she continues to live with our friends Scott and Amy (although she'll have her own place starting March 7) and awaits word on when or if she'll be leaving for Japan. I know, first world problems, as people are dying, sick, depressed, anxious, stuck in this never ending pandemic. But that's sort of how life is. While the world swirls out of control around you, you tend to focus on your much smaller world. Perspective is a tough thing! And, finally, congratulations to my CU Buffs who, rather than their usual collapse down the stretch, have taken the bull by the horns and appear on the brink of locking down an NCAA Tourney bid.


I should add that Dublin is a wonderful running city. Between Phoenix Park, St. Stephen's Green, Merrion Square Park, Trinity College (if it were open) and the River Liffey, it offers incredible terrain and views through the old city, the new city, Temple Bar, and Parnell Square. We rented bikes in Phoenix Park and cycled most of the park. It's a Sunday, so a lot people were out and about which is a little scary during Covid. Crossing the street from the park felt like Shibuya in Tokyo.


2/27/21     Dublin Protests Lockdown

So we just meandered our way through the Dublin Lockdown Protest. Kind of weird to see all these people marching down the street chanting "We Want Freedom. When Do We Want It? Now." We did not know what they were talking about until we asked some folks nearby. Huge police presences but everything seemed fairly calm although it did make it onto the front page of the Irish Times. Seems like it's probably a good time to scoot out of Ireland. Other than that, all good here. We're just kinda chilling until departure on Weds. Crossing our fingers we can make it to Croatia. Check back in later.


2/26/21     Dublin & The Reason To Use Cell Phone Data

So we made it to Dublin. It was a little sketch to be honest wit ye. We were stopped by Garda twice on our way to Kinsale to say goodbye to Margie & Alana. We were asked where we were going and why. We said that we were headed to Dublin because we needed to leave the country as our 90 day Visas were about to expire. We were then waved on. We have all noticed how pleasant the police are. There's none of that tough guy, power tripping attitude we receive from many cops in the States. We sense that the police or garda work with the people not against the people here. It doesn't feel that way in the States. I guess it has something to do with how our police are educated and trained. I also think it may be that police here don't feel as threatened by people and situations since there aren't guns here and it is highly unlikely someone will try to shoot you when you pull them over for a traffic stop. As numerous incidents in the US recently have shown, something needs to change with the police in our country. When they shouldn't use excessive force they do (see George Floyd). When they need to use force, they don't (see the storming of the Capitol). I am not optimistic this will happen. Anyway, back to our trip to Dublin. We have been trying not to use our phones, including Google Maps, to save $$ on data. So we've essentially been downloading directions to my phone and just following them without seeing a map or really having any idea where we are. It's worked for the most part, but it got us sideways on our way to Kinsale. We had to stop at several stores to ask for a map and directions. Asking do you sell maps, resulted in quizzical looks. A map? You moron, there's this thing called Google. Then the directions. No one really knows streets or roads here. They say, "go straight away, when you see the pub or church, make a right. Follow that until you see a sign that says Innishannon Inn, then turn right. You can't miss it." Anyway, we made it to Kinsale and had a nice socially distanced brunch. We then headed to Dublin, following our stupid printed directions. We found our apartment which is located right on Parnell Square, very centrally located. We had to return the car by 4:30 pm and it was already 4:15 pm. There was nowhere to park, so we stopped in a loading zone. Of course yogurt had spilled in the trunk so after some annoyed exchanges between Rachel and I, we unloaded the car. The apartment is located at the top of three steep flights of stairs and our bags weigh about five tons, so we needed to drag all our crap upstairs as the clock ticked on our rental car return. We got back in the car only to realize our directions did not make sense since we were turned around from our original departure spot. We gave in and turned on Rachel's phone and, of course, her Google Maps wouldn't work. We then turned on my phone, which worked, so after numerous wrong turns and U-turns, with Garda all over the streets, we made it to the rental car place. Closed. It said it was open until 5:30 pm but, apparently, it closes at 4:30 pm during COVID. Anyway, we were a little fried, so we grabbed some takeaway pizza and beer and called it a night. 


Reading List Updated 2/26/21

Baker, Bill, We Need To Hang Out (Non-Fiction)--an interesting non-fiction work about why men struggle to maintain meaningful every day relationships and how to fix this.

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.

Bascomb, Neal, The Perfect Mile (Non-Fiction)--the story of the effort to break the 4 minute mile

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

Byrne, Gabriel, Walking With Ghosts (Memoir)-rambling memories and stories by the actor famous for The Usual Suspects

Egan, Charles, The Killing Snows; The Exile Breed; Cold Is The Dawn (Fiction)--a three novel series based upon true events during the Irish Potato Famine

Heaney, Seamus, 100 Poems

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

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

Johnson, Anita, Eating By The Light of the Moon

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

Kent, Nick The Dark Stuff (Non-Fiction)--a collection of essays written by famous rock writer and hanger on.

McBride, James, Deacon King Kong (Fiction)--interesting mystery about life in the "projects."

McCarthy, Pat, McCarthey's Bar (Non-Fiction)--an English writer travels to Ireland to reacquaint himself with his Irish roots.

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

Wineapple, Brenda, The Impeachers (Non-Fiction)--the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Yu, Charles, Interior Chinatown (Fiction)--quirky, strangely formatted novel about growing up Asian in America.



2/24/21     The Jerusalema Challenge

Called you and your families out on this. Whatcha got? I expect big things from some of you who are very talented or have family members who are very talented. 


See our video on the main page or search for Basye Wexler Jerusalema Challenge onYouTube. I would also highly recommend that you view other (and better) videos on the challenge such as Dublin Nuns, Irish Garda, and Swiss Police Officers. 


2/24/21     Say Goodbye to Castletownbere

I've written a lot today. So I'll keep it short. I loved Castletownbere. The house was amazing. I loved making a fire every night, cooking in the large kitchen and, especially, sitting in the sun room reading, writing, and staring at the ocean. The runs and hikes all around the Beara Peninsula were amazing. If anyone out there needs to really get away from it all, relax, find some peace of mind, get it away from it all . . . Castletownbere and the house we stayed at, Sandmount, is the place to go. If you want information on it, please let me know. 


2/23/21     I Am Incredibly Prescient Or . . . 

So I just started reading a book by Billy Baker entitled We Need To Hang Out: A Memoir. It is described as a comic adventure about a middle aged man who seems to have "misplaced" his friends. As I am reading it, I thought back to my blog from 2/7/21. It appears I am either extremely prescient or late to the party. Regardless, I do not think I have misplaced my friends; I think I have at different points in my life, maybe some of them for a little while, but I've found almost all of them again. I think. If I misplaced you, let me know. You should have my email or cell phone number. I think about some of them from time to time. I have occasionally reconnected with them for an email or two and then let it fade away. Part of it is geographical. We live far apart. Some of it is "bandwidth." I don't know that I can handle too many quality friendships at one time. It can be taxing and some of my friends are high maintenance (meaning I carry the load). Others carry the load for me. My friends feel very close right at this moment (not literally, since I'm in Ireland and most of them are on the East Coast, the West Coast, or somewhere in between). But, as I've stated, the concept of "new" friends (newer than 25 years), and friends who live in the same time zone, remains relatively elusive. I wonder if my new found love of pop music and telling people to "feck off" will help or not.  


If any of my friends out there are interested in reading this book and chatting about it, please reach out via this website or WhatsApp.


Some thoughts on Billy Baker's We Need To Hang Out with some page references (I'm reading it on Amazon Kindle):


  • "Guy dates." I've had a few of these over the last few years in Denver. And, just like the writer, they usually turned out to be "one and dones." As I wrote about in an earlier blog, either I was like meh or they were like meh (6).
  • Phone conversations. Unlike the author I have really long (30-40) minute phone conversations with my close friends. These calls often drive my family crazy because they usually cause my voice to switch into "teacher voice" (really loud and annoying) (8).
  • Female friends. I would count 4-5 women as close friends. Additionally, I I feel lucky that I have great relationships with my friend's wives, husbands, and partners (I hope they feel the same way or they may find me to be a pain in the ass who shows up on their doorstep too often and keeps their partners up/out too late). Some I feel like I know really well; others I don't know very well but know we're cool. I would name names here and I started to, but I'm afraid I'd leave someone out. Bottom line, you know who you are. Much love. This allows me to make occasional solo visits to my friend's homes without feeling like I'm invading their personal space too much. Sometimes I enjoy spending time with my friend's significant others even more than with my friends (ball busting, see a constant theme in book) (18).
  • "Wednesday nights." I used to bowl with some friends once a week. It was great but then petered out after awhile. Not sure how I would pull this off, living so far from many of my friends. My friend Spencer and I try to schedule a hang out night every few weeks (10).
  • None of my friends have moved to Vienna without telling me or at least I hope not. Please let me know if you have (21).
  • Unlike the author, when I don't hear from a friend for awhile, I don't always assume "everything is cool." Some are like me in the sense that when they're struggling, they don't feel like talking. It's more fun talking to folks when things are going well and you feel excited to share your world with them (32).
  • Done several, let's get a cabin and hangout deals with small groups of friends. They're awesome but usually "one offs" that don't carry over to every day life. A few weeks of chatting and planning, the event, a few weeks of debriefing. I plan on doing more of these in the future.
  • I love the idea of a Wednesday night meeting place although a barn would probably not work. I also think it would be difficult with so many friends in different locations. The idea of doing it with new friends seems really challenging. I will have to think about who and what that might entail. 
  • Golf. Golf is a great one for this. Rachel and I started playing golf this summer. It was a great way to just hang our for 2-3 hours (we only play 9). I also play golf with my friend Yasuko which means we hang out at least every two weeks. I play with my friend Spencer's dad, I also just play by myself which means I meet some nice randos out on the course. I envision more golf in the future with friends or future friends as my golf game improves. That's the only problem with golf as a means to hanging out. You need (or I feel like I need) to reach a level of proficiency that allows you to go our there with folks (190). Jim, James, and Toshi, I am almost there.
  • Horseback Riding/Wrangling. As some of you know, I am now a professional wrangler. When I am wrangling, I ride with Rachel and the girls. I also started riding my friend Kathy and expect to use this as a "friend vehicle" more in the future.
  • Finished the book. Sorry but I am a fast reader and have a lot of time on my hands. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will just say, it is not something I did or would have done two years ago, but now I would. And I am talking about either end of that situation. 

2/22/21     Bere Island

So we finally made it to Bere Island, a small island across from Castletownbere that you reach by ferry. It's about a 20 minute crossing. It's been on our list for awhile but the daunting nature of a 5-6 hour hike in the rain and wind (trying to find a sunny day here can be a bit of a challenge) kept us away. But we made it and hiked to the Lighthouse on the edge of the island, across the bay from a hike we did a few days before. The views were spectacular. I keep thinking we cannot see anything more beautiful, any more amazing views of the ocean, the cliffs, the waves crashing against the rocks. And then we do! The hike felt like it was uphills both ways. A lot of steep terrain and, of course, the ubiquitous sheep. Truly amazing. We're counting down our days here (3 to go) before we head to Dublin and then to Zagreb, Croatia (we think), and I'm trying to appreciate this place. If you ever need to get away from everything, go to John O'Leary's house, named Sandmount, in Rosscamowen, five miles outside Castletownbere. I'll help you get there (or come with) if you're interested. Long run day for Sara and I (Ugghhh!). Cheers.


Oh, and I now really like pop music. 

And, I am much more likely to tell people to "feck off."

More on these items to come.


Reading List Updated 2/23/21

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.

Bascomb, Neal, The Perfect Mile (Non-Fiction)--the story of the effort to break the 4 minute mile

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

Byrne, Gabriel, Walking With Ghosts (Memoir)-rambling memories and stories by the actor famous for The Usual Suspects

Egan, Charles, The Killing Snows; The Exile Breed; Cold Is The Dawn (Fiction)--a three novel series based upon true events during the Irish Potato Famine

Heaney, Seamus, 100 Poems

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

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

Johnson, Anita, Eating By The Light of the Moon

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

Kent, Nick The Dark Stuff (Non-Fiction)--a collection of essays written by famous rock writer and hanger on.

McBride, James, Deacon King Kong (Fiction)--interesting mystery about life in the "projects."

McCarthy, Pat, McCarthey's Bar (Non-Fiction)--an English writer travels to Ireland to reacquaint himself with his Irish roots.

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

Wineapple, Brenda, The Impeachers (Non-Fiction)--the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Yu, Charles, Interior Chinatown (Fiction)--quirky, strangely formatted novel about growing up Asian in America.


2/21/21     Minor Mojo 

So I've been feeling like I've been losing a bit of my "minor mojo," my sense of escape from life's little pressures and stresses. It's something I've talked about here before, but it seems to be more in fhe forefront of my mind this past week. And when I speak of these things that prey upon my mojo, I am not talking about the "major mojo" things, the important things, the things that you need to deal with because they affect the people closest to you, the people you love, the people whose back you need to have and who've had your back in pretty difficult times (you know who you are. Much love!). As a brief aside, the one thing I've learned over the last two years is that we really need to look out for each other. We really need to be available to each other in a "drop everything, it's 4 am, call me, I'll be on a plane tomorrow kinda way." But the mojo spoiling shit is stuff like dealing with insurance companies and bills, waiting for that credit back to your credit card account, the "I told you to cancel that subscription" kind of shit. It's that little stuff that's been hurting my mojo a bit. And I mean a little bit. I am happier than I've been in a long time. Ireland deserves a lot of credit for that. What a fucking awesomely beautiful place! So I've been thinking about how I can get my minor mojo back. I know my meditation game has been a little off. I know I check my email too often. I know I feel like I need to resolve every little issue yesterday. I struggle at times with the minor mojo stuff and always have. I often wonder how many people truly live "in the moment"? How many people really live in "mindfulness"? How many people live in this happy, peaceful state 23.5 hours a day, 6.5 days a week? Deepak Chopra, you out there? Jon Kabat Zinn, a little help? Gwenyth, you feeling it? I need to get my minor mojo back. But dinner's ready. Minor mojo will have to wait. I'll let you know when I get it back. 


2/20/21     Nostalgia

I was "accused" of not being particularly nostalgic. It happened on a ski trip years ago with some old college friends. We were riding a chairlift,  talking about our college days, and I said something to the effect that I wouldn't want to return to those times because I thought that back then I was both really insecure and also kind of a dick. I didn't mean I wouldn't like to go back to college, which I would (as opposed to high school which I did not like much), but I would like to go back and do it differently. Not totally differently because I had some great times (the party the night after our fraternity football defeated our arch rivals to win the championship was the best party I ever don't remember), but with a different attitude, a different approach to life, a freer self sense. I also feel some nostalgia for childhood, playing endless hours of stickball at P.S. 178; law school, which I didn't realize wasn't college +1 but at which I met some of my closest friends in the world; teaching, which I truly loved. No nostalgia for my seven year law career, which I don't look back at with much fondness. I just feel like we tend to really gloss over the truth of how we often felt in those times in our lives--the loneliness, the insecurity, the hangovers. Looking back, I think there were too many times I had my head so far up my ass (and so little money in my pocket) that I couldn't fully enjoy life. But yesterday I felt nostalgic. It may have been prompted by talking to some close friends or two months of isolation or too much whiskey. But whatever triggered it, it made me want to hang out with close friends, party up, listen to the Grateful Dead (who I hadn't listened to in a while). So I did it. And it felt good. It also sparked a brief conversation about the future. Were those the best of times, as opposed to the present and future, which will never quite live up to those seemingly much more innocent and joyous moments? My initial response and my response today, is "No." And this from someone who would never be described as the most positive, life is great, it will all turn out well kind of person. But, in this narrow sense, I tend to think that something great is coming. Of course, this plays the soundtrack from West Side Story, "something's coming, I don't know what it is, but it's gonna be great" or something to that effect. Obviously, this may have something to do with this amazing journey I am on right now. Or plans Rachel and I have been talking about for the future--traveling abroad, living abroad. Or thoughts I've been having about making my now semi-annual trips to LA and NY (and DC) and just hanging out with close friends and family. I don't know. But after a couple of tough years for me and for some of the folks around me, I feel like something's coming. I don't know what it is. But it's gonna be great. 


Whiskey Review: Proclamation 1916-1920 Blended Irish Whiskey (Westport, County Mayo)

I had been staring at this bottle in the "on sale" section of the local Supervalue Off License. Looked cool but never heard of it. So I did some digging and saw that it had received some excellent reviews. Light in color. Incredibly smooth on the nose. Sits really nice and calm on the body, super smooth as the label says, full bodied and extra smooth. Delivers the classic bit at the end, kind of a crackling peppery finish that I've tasted in almost all of the non=peated whiskeys here in Ireland. Great straight. I have not been mixing the whiskeys here (have not seen great Vermouth), and I am not big on adding water. No "special" flavors to it, no berries or other fruity tastes. As with many of the whiskeys here it is finished in bourbon casks with a touch of sherry finished malt. This is a great whiskey.  It earns an 9/10 on the Wexford Whiskey scale. See picture of label in Photos. 


2/18/21     One Week To Go Castletownbere

So we have one week left here. I have absolutely loved it here (and I loved Kinsale and Cork City). I've been to many beautiful areas of the world--Greece, Costa Rica, Japan, Switzerland--but I don't think there's any place as beautiful as the Beara Peninsula (although many people say the area around the Ring of Kerry, Dingle and up into Galway and Westport are more beautiful--tough to imagine). High cliffs, ocean slamming against the shore, bays and peninsulas). And it's February! So the only thing that might make a place more beautiful is warm weather which one might see here in the summer. I've got my meditation groove back, though I've struggled to do it on a daily basis as things sometimes get in the way--cooking classes, Zoom calls, my fire duties, whiskey). We've had more sun and warmer weather here lately; it has reached the 60's the last few days. This strikes me as amazing considering the recent frigid temps in Colorado. I just finished Pat McCarthy's McCarthy's Bar. A very funny and light read about a half-English/half-Irish writer who travels through Ireland seeking out his Irish roots. Highly recommend. I feel like I've achieved some sort of state of calm other than some stress and anxiety around travelling during a pandemic. There are a lot of rules around 48 hour COVID tests, 72 hour COVID tests, antigen tests, 24 hour results, passenger locator forms, what's required in each country to depart, arrive, transfer, etc. You can read five different documents or talk to five different airline reps and come up with five different answers. I am not complaining mind you, as I feel privileged and a bit guilty to be travelling right now, but it does add some additional stress to life abroad. I am not particularly concerned about contracting or transmitting the virus as we've been pretty much quarantining (more so than we had to do in Colorado) for three months in Ireland. But it is still hard for me to let go of worrying rather than just going with the flow and seeing what will happen. So, in that sense, I am still a work in progress. Finding places to live has really been pretty easy as not many people are travelling right now. We've been really lucky with our accommodations and the people who own/manage the properties. One thing I've learned after 25 years of using VRBO and, now, AirBnB is to read the reviews in terms of the availability and responsiveness of owners/managers. It is quite stressful to be 30 minutes away from your new home not having received the lockbox code to your new place. We've had that occur in the past but, so far, it's been really smooth here on that front. The other thing I've noticed more on this adventure is that, and I've mentioned it before, everyone in our family is in a different mental space. Kate is living with friends, working part-time, trying to figure out her next living space, and waiting to leave for Japan. Rachel is taking her first break from working in 25 years and trying to adjust to life not revolving around work, art shows, and gallery openings. Sara is doing school remotely, talking to coaches at various schools--Carleton, Kenyon, Grinnell, Northwestern, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs abourt running, training, dancing, and trying to stay in touch with friends back home. And me? Well, if you've been reading this blog, you know what I've been up to.


Reading List Updated 2/18/21

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.

Bascomb, Neal, The Perfect Mile (Non-Fiction)--the story of the effort to break the 4 minute mile

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

Byrne, Gabriel, Walking With Ghosts (Memoir)-rambling memories and stories by the actor famous for The Usual Suspects

Egan, Charles, The Killing Snows; The Exile Breed; Cold Is The Dawn (Fiction)--a three novel series based upon true events during the Irish Potato Famine

Heaney, Seamus, 100 Poems

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

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

Johnson, Anita, Eating By The Light of the Moon

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

Kent, Nick The Dark Stuff (Non-Fiction)--a collection of essays written by famous rock writer and hanger on.

McCarthy, Pat, McCarthey's Bar (Non-Fiction)--an English writer travels to Ireland to reacquaint himself with his Irish roots.

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

Wineapple, Brenda, The Impeachers (Non-Fiction)--the impeachment of Andrew Johnson



2/16/21     Zagreb Here We Come!

So where do you go when it's the middle of a pandemic, your visa's running out, and you don't understand the rules for testing and travelling? Zagreb, of course. That's in Croatia, by the way, and we figure no-one will notice or care that three stupid Americans are slipping into the country. What language do they speak in Croatia? I don't know. What foods do they eat in Croatia? No clue. Can we go there, assuming we get a PCR test in Dublin? Maybe. This has disaster written all over it. We'll let you know how it goes. We continue to eat and hike our way around the Beara Peninsula. We cooked some Thai Curry Beef along with our Ballymaloe cooking instructor yesterday. Pretty good. Needed more spice, and we struggled for the second time with beef that was a bit too tough. We hiked the Garinish or Garnish (which I prefer) Loop yesterday across from Dursey Island. There's a famous cable car that runs across the ocean to the island, but it's closed due to Covid and, I assume, winter. It looked a little sketch, anyway, rust on the towers and on the cars themselves. Amazing views of the rocky cliffs below, down to the ocean, and back around through farmland. Today, we hiked the Bullig Loop across from the Bere Island lighthouse. Spectacular views of the bay and opening to the Atlantic where boats seem to just disappear into the clouds. Very warm here, maybe 55 degrees or so. We have all been amazed by the beauty here and the plethora of hiking opportunities. Who knew we were so outdoorsy? So warm that we're switching to Gin and Tonics tonight. Cheers or however you day goodbye in Croatian. Is that a language? I don't know. 


2/14/21     Happy Valenstein's Day

So our kids managed to turn St. Valentine's Day into a Jewish holiday many years ago, minus the fasting and stories about the Jewish people escaping death. It's always been Valenstein's Day in our house. A bit of a rough go of it this morning here in Ireland. Woke up at the ungodly hour of 6:00 am (since the sun doesn't come up here, if it comes up at all, until like 8:30 am, it's impossible to know what time it is when you awake) to lights flashing in the kitchen. The oven or hob in this house has a strange set of buttons that have something to do with the time of day, cooking time, type of oven setting, etc. that we work by randomly pressing buttons until it stops beeping. I randomly pressed buttons to stop the flashing lights, but then the hob started beeping every twenty minutes or so, not optimal for sleeping or reading. I opened my lap top to find the Buffs suffered another inexplicable loss to a bad Cal team (yes, I've fallen off the no sports wagon). This is followed by the expected news that Trump has been acquitted again. Apparently, if you do not personally light the fuse, meaning holding the actual flame to the piece of string, the explosion to follow is not your fault. Most Republicans, McConnell, aka the Turtle, voted to acquit while at the same time saying that what Trump did in inciting an insurrection and encouraging folks to plunder the Capitol is really, really bad, but what can you do? The American political system has become a laughingstock around the world, run by a bunch of cowards whose only thought is how they can I get re-elected. I am not sure why they are so concerned about this, when they do absolutely nothing while in office. I guess they like the perks of living in DC, far away from whatever god forsaken state or county they're from. So, bottom line, everything's in the shitter and I've sworn off the news and sports for the next hour. Meanwhile, back at home, Kate's struggling with car issues. As some of you know, I hate cars and would probably never drive again if I could. I really hate car problems and car loans and would never even consider buying a new car for $30,000 that would end up costing me $50,000 after the miserable 5 year/$500 a month car payment and which I would invariably hate right when I paid it off (see 2 Subaru Foresters and an Acura Integra). Now some might say, why not buy a new car and not have these issues. Well, based upon my experiece, even new cars have these issues, witness the three clutches our "new" Subaru went through in its first 60,000 miles. As a result, our cars experience the problems that old cars experience. I've dealt with this by insuring that our mechanics are within walking distance of our house so that, when they inevitably break down, I can basically push them to the mechanic's shop then walk home. Anyway, car issues suck especially when you need it to get you to work in 0 degree weather. Sorry, Kate. It's windy and pouring; the ocean is a shifting gray mass with no sign of light anywhere. 


Okay, enough negativity. I am reading a really funny book that I found at the house when the Internet went down, and we all panicked. It's called McCarthy's Bar and it's about a man's journey through Ireland as he tries to retrace his Irish roots. He does a great job of capturing Ireland, its history, as well as the tourists who come here. I highly recommend it. He spends a great deal of time in West Cork and along the Beara Peninsula, so it's easy for me to relate to. One thing he said really struck me. As Sara and I were returning from our hike yesterday, I commented that I was surprised that the beautifully carved green pastures filled with sheep were not anchored by quaint cottages but by multi-story mansions. The writer points out that the reason for this was that there was no "in between" in Ireland like in his home country of England. That Ireland essentially went from shacks and mud cabins during the mid-1800's and the potato famines through the early 1900's to new found wealth in the latter part of the century, with no in between. So, no modest homes were built, some of which would have remained standing and others replaced by McMansions like where we live in Denver. Makes sense. Anyway, hope everyone is doing well out there. Cheers.


2/12/21     Glengariff Glen Ross

Spent the day in nearby Glengariff, hiking in a bamboo forest and nature reserve. The scenery of Ireland is hard to describe or capture in pictures or videos. The shades of green, the moss, the patchwork of farms, the sheep, the ocean. It is lovely, and I've really appreciated it on this trip. I am settling into the slow pace of life here, as I continue to contemplate this moment in time and the moments in time to come. I am taken back to things going on at home--our dog Elf peeing and pooping around Spencer's house as he adjusts to being left at home during the day, Trump's 5th or 6th Impeachment trial (I'm starting to lose count), COVID and PCR tests and vaccinations and lockdowns and reopenings, etc. I've learned that it's hard to keep a fire going for 5 hours and hard to drink more than a Guinness and a spot of whiskey. I've learned I can live in a rainy and gray (or is it grey?) climate, something I never thought I could do after living in Colorado for 31 years. I've learned I can read 4 books at once but not well. I've learned that I can play games such as cribbage, Scrabble, and Parcheesi but not well. Speaking of which, I am about to lose to Sara in cribbage, so I'll check back in later. So I won. I freakin' won a cribbage game. I think I was on something like a 25 game losing streak to Rachel and Sara. Anyway, not much else going on here. Feck off, as they like to say here. FYI, the Irish curse like sailors, in other words, more than my mom did when I was a kid. Oh, and I just figured out what a gobshite is. A stupid, foolish, or incompetent person. So I guess I'm a gobsite. Feck.


2/11/21     Stormy Weather

Really storming here on the edge of the world. Rain, howling winds, waves crashing. The whole shebang. We've been following our usual pattern of long mornings, runs, lunch, hikes, cocktails, dinners, TV or movies. We went on a really nice hike/walk yesterday on something called the Dorrus Loop outside the town of Arigole near the border with County Kerry. One of the shorter hikes we've done here; it only took a couple of hours there and back. We've done some cooking along with the Ballymaloe Cooking school. The other day we made a delicious fish and cheese dish using a freshly caught turbot given to us by our neighbor here. I am mastering the art of Irish Soda bread. Still trying to plan our next move. It's increasingly looking like Italy via Dublin and Frankfurt. We need a PCR test within 48 hours of departure, and we also need to factor in airports we pass through as sometimes those countries have different rules than the country we're going to. We also need to consider the "openness" of the destination country. Ireland has been almost totally shut down, so we'd like a place that's a little more open especially if it's one we've not spent much time in. As you can imagine, travelling during a pandemic is not the easiest (or probably smartest thing), but we're being very careful, and I do not feel like we're putting anyone, including ourselves, at risk. My daughter Kate (stuck in Colorado, awaiting travel to teach in Japan) recently asked me if I regretted our decision to travel during this time. My emphatic answere was and is, No!. This was and is one of the best decisions I've made in my life. It's been truly life changing. The bottom line is we need to leave Ireland by March 13th when our 90 day visas expire, so off we go. 


2/10/21    More on Work Friends, Teaching, & Retirement

So my friend Donna (a friend from work not a work friend) texted me recently which caused me to think more about friendships and teaching or not teaching. I was always surprised when we would invite people we used to work with to get togethers after they had retired, and they would demur. I would wonder, why not? I thought we were friends. But now I get it. While you spend a great deal of time with people you work with, almost all of it involves the work or, as a teacher, the work and the students. That's all you talk about. And I loved it because that's what I was passionate about at the time. So, once that's gone, what's left? Often, very little. Even if your co-workers annoyed you or possessed values you disagreed with, you hung out with them. I cannot imagine what people I worked with had to put up with from me just because we "worked together." So the only way you transcend a work friendship is to create a relationship above and beyond or separate and apart from the job. From my perspective (and this is all from my perspective), that is extremely difficult to accomplish. The people who I worked with and continue to be friends with met some other strange criteria, meaning there was something else there--an incredibly strong value bond, a relationship that existed prior to work, a history that involved something more. My friends through work reading this know what I'm talking about, I think. It's a weird thing. You spend 8-10 hours every day with folks but that doesn't mean you're really friends. You may really like the person or find them interesting but there must be something more there. The other interesting things is age. Often, especially as teachers, you work with people twenty years younger or twenty years older than you. And while age is only a number, your at very different stages in life. You might be raising kids, while their kids are long gone from the house. You may be thinking about retirement, while they're just starting out on their journey. It's very had to bridge that sort of "life gap." So now I understand why people who retire, especially in teaching, sort of disappear. Poof!


Now, this entry, sparked by my texting with Donna, might be more difficult to "walk the line" (thank you, Johnny Cash) on. I feel like I'll get one shot here, so I do not want to screw it up. I don't miss teaching nor do I think about it much at all. Something I did for 25 years, and I don't think about it or care to talk about it (I do see the irony here but texting with Donna made me think and speak about it). In fact, when people ask me what I "do," I say I wrangle. Then, when they look dumbfounded, in part because they don't know what it means to wrangle, they follow up with, "no, I mean what did you do" (by the way, I've stopped asking that question because I think it's rather inane). I hesitate, mumble something about teaching or practicing law, and quickly change the subject. Now, this may seem surprising to those of you who know me well. I was so into teaching. I loved it. I breathed it. I slept it (or did not sleep while doing it). It defined me so much which, in hindsight, was a dangerous thing (a subject for another day). I've been talking to friends who are thinking about retiring and that's one of their biggest obstacles. Their profession defines them, and they're not sure how to let that go. And I'm not sure you can. It just happens. I wanted to be a great teacher, the best at my school, the best in the district, the best in the state and so on. At times, I am sure this made me unbearable to live with and work with. Especially in my early to middle years in teaching when I could be arrogant and condescending to others in the profession who, in my view, did not feel that way about teaching. I just couldn't tolerate those who didn't, in my opinion, want to be great. I compared myself to the two greatest teachers who came before me at my high school (Deb Brennan and Dave Barnhardt, I hope you're still out there). In my view, they were rock stars and I wanted to be a rock star too. As I got older, I became more humble and more focused on my craft and not what others were doing in their classrooms, for better or for worse. I also stopped caring as much about others' perceptions of me as a teacher and the honors and awards that came with that (at least I'd like to think so). I will tell you that being a great teacher, and I mean a great teacher, is nearly impossible. Not many people outside the profession probably realize that. You must love kids (especially the age you teach). You must be a great lecturer and discussion leader. You must be able to facilitate meaningful group work. You must be academically rigorous but also understanding. You must be able to grade quickly and efficiently while providing meaningful feedback. You must be able to teach the best of the best and the worst of the worst (which is sometimes hard to distinguish). You must, as an English teacher, be great at teaching literature, non-fiction, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. You must set boundaries around your time but also allow those boundaries to break down when necessary. You must be able to guide students though high school, into college (reading essays and writing letters of recommendation), sometimes during college (former students would ask me to read essays they wrote for college classes), and beyond (I once wrote a letter for a forner student applying to medical school). You must be able to work with colleagues, counselors, administrators, and district employees. And you must do it all without burning out (some of the best teachers I knew put so much time into their work that they quit due to burnout)In other words, you must do it all. And, as you can see by this list, it's damn near impossible. I worked with teachers who did many of these things, but all of them, day to day, year to year? Holy shit, that's a lot to ask. I honestly didn't expect anyone to be able to accomplish all of this, but I expected them to at least try. And if they didn't strive to be great, I had no time for them. That was the first thing I said to new teachers I worked with. Do you want to be great? If not, leave. And where did I fit into all this? I will leave that answer to others. Was this the right approach? I don't know, but it's how I saw it. So, that's me talking about teaching, probably for the last (or close to the last) time.


Whiskey Review: West Cork, Single Malr, Irish Whiskey, Dha Chasca (Skibbereen)

Dha Chasca (Two Casks) is made locally in Skibbereen, County Cork and is first placed in Bodega Sherry casks, then moved to double charred first fill Bourbon casks. The nose is really smooth and you really taste the sweetness of sherry right off the top. The body is very smooth like a traditional Irish whiskey, something like the Teeling whiskey I drank earlier on the trip (see below). It bites and stings a little on the finish and leaves a buttery aftertaste. It's a very good whiskey but not a "special whiskey" like others I've tasted. I would feel comfortable using it in a Manhattan especially since it has a much lower price point than some others.  It earns an 8/10 on the Wexford Whiskey scale.

See picture of label in Photos. 


2/8/21     Ghosts

For the two of you reading this blog, I feel I need to include a disclaimer. Often what I write here are thoughts and musings that pop into my head or that have been bouncing around in my brain for awhile. They are often somewhat half-baked as I continue on the spiritual and emotional journey that all of us travel. I understand and appreciate that many of my friends come from cultural, ethnic, political, religous, and spiritual backgrounds very different from my own. I know that you may disagree with some of the things I say and look forward to talking to you about where you come from on some of these things. 


Well, onward and upward. I am reading a book by Gabriel Byrne, Walking With Ghosts, Byrne is much loved here in Ireland and somewhat famous in the states for his roles in Miller's Crossing and The Usual Suspects. I find it fascinating. The guy has suffered through some awful experiences in his life including abuse, loss, and alcholism. He says some really interesting things about how we all walk with these memories and experiences (ghosts) from our past that we must confront at some point in time. For him, this is a girl and schoolmate he betrayed, abuse, the loss of someone he was close with. I won't share anymore so as not to spoil the book. He also says that no-one truly knows anyone else, in terms of what thoughts run through their heads or the ghosts they walk with. He laments the fact that people cannot freely express their thoughts and emotions without being subject to criticism and ridicule. It made me think about the ghosts I walk with. Many of these ghosts are silly and immature things we do or experience as kids. Other ghosts are major life events. I am not really comfortable sharing a lot of my ghosts right now on a "public forum" like this, but one example from my own life would be about being around 12 years old and lying to a friend about not being able to hang out, only to be totally busted hanging out with another friend. A small and minor ghost but a ghost nonetheless. 


A cold, windy day here in the hinterlands. A perfect day to read, write, sit by a fire, drink some whiskey, and listen to some music. We have finally come around to the genius of Spotify. I know, a little late, but I didn't feel like I could carry my 100+ CD's and CD player with me to Ireland and beyond. I survived my week long sports boycott, so today I binged on ESPN Super Bowl highlights and CU Buff sports. My plan is to continue checking in on the sporting world once a week on Mondays. We shall see. 


2/7/21     Friendships

Waiting for sunrise. Headed out to hike Hungry Hill. It was described as a difficult hike somewhere between 5 to 8 hours. We drove to the top of Healey Pass which rests between two small towns, Arigole and Laragh. The hike was relatively steep in the early going. I seem to always be caught off guard by how wet and muddy it is here on the Beara Peninsula. Today was once again one of those days. I wore my Merrell's which turned out to be a disaster as my feet were totally soaked within the first ten minutes of starting out. It was all good, beautiful terrain, gorgeous views of Lake Glanmore and houses and farms below. But as we approached the summit the winds really picked up and ominous clouds rolled in. It reminded me of the tragedy on Mt. Everest depicted in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, minus the fact we were not summiting Everest. We were so close but, with the weather getting worse and the winds picking up, we had to decide whether to try to summit or turn back. We decided to turn back. Ultimately, that was the right decision as we got a little lost on the way down. Overall, it was a very interesting hike and much different from our other hikes here on the Beara Peninsula.  


I continue on my mental and emotional journey. I've found myself a little more distracted and anxious lately about things like a strange call about a lost cell phone and a request for access to our cell phone carrier, a text from an acquaintance containing depressing news about someone I don't know, and just little things here and there. I am not sure what that's about, but it's something that I still struggle with. I had a long, late night telephone/video conversation with a close friend (James, I know you're out there). I find it fascinating that there are still people (maybe two or three old friends, you know who your are) I can have long telephone conversations with, especially in this day and age of twitter and texting. I often wonder if I'm the only one who still talks on the phone like that. It seems like something from a long, long time ago. I trace these long conversation back to elementary, high school, and even college days. There's something different about them as opposed to email and the like. A certain intimacy that doesn't exist anymore. The only downside it that my "teacher voice" often kicks in, and I keep everyone within a ten mile radius awake. 


I also continued to be struck by the age of my closest friendships. I have a friend that I've known since practically birth, a friend from preschool, a friend from my teens, then a series of close friends from college and law school. I don't want to try to name everyone because I'm afraid I'll leave someone out. High school apparently was a dark period (in many ways). I had a couple of close friends in high school (apart from James who is the only person I attended preschool, elementary school, junior high school and high school with). One of my closest friends, Peter Starkey, died a long time ago and I've lost touch with most of the other folks I went to high school with. My "newest" friend, Spencer, I've known for something like 26 years. I would also incude a few close personal friends I've made through Rachel and members of couples we've known over the years. But even those friendships go back some 25 years or more. The running joke in our house used to be that Dad needs a new friend. Again, I wonder if this is true for everyone or if there are folks out there who've made a "new" close friend within the last five years, five months, or five days. "Work friends" don't count unless you see them regularly outside of work (I have a few of those as well). Assuming this is true for many people, is it because we become choosier as we age and don't suffer fools as much? Is it because of the long history you have with old friends that allow you to navigate the ups and downs of life? Is it a guy thing? I'm not sure. I've tried to start some new friendships but it seems like, after hanging out a few times or going to a few games together, either they're not interested or I'm not interested in continuing on. And I sometimes feel like I have enough trouble keeping in touch with the friends I have on a regular basis and do not have the "bandwith" for any more. Well. that's enough musings for today. Enjoy the Super Bowl. I'll miss my first one in forever as the start time will be something like 10:30 pm Ireland time, and we don't have easy access to the game. Plus I am still on my sports withdrawal plan. It ends tomorrow, and I shutter to think what has happened in my absence.


2/5/21     Sleep & Faith

Day 5. No Sports/Buffs. It's been hard, but I've made it 5 whole days without reading about US sports and my Buffs. I plan to end my personal boycott Monday morning after the Super Bowl (won't be able to watch from here anyway).. After that, I plan on checking in every Monday morning to see what's happening. That's the plan anyway. I am finally a bit optimistic about some of the things going on in the US, specifically people being held accounting for just making shit up. I am all about free speech, even when I don't particularly like the message, but you can't just make shit up. I am also happy that the Biden administration has decided to reengage with the world. As I wrote about a month ago, I see myself as more of a world citizen than strictly a US citizen, so any attempt to connect with people and countries around the world is a huge positive for me. It's been very refreshing to just talk to folks here, to the extent you can talk to folks during COVID. I think I've had only a few conversations with actual people since I've been in Ireland. Our neighbor in Kinsale, Anne, the woman who takes care of this house in Castletownbere, and the firewood guy in town yesterday. They've all been pleasant after the initial, "Oh, you're American, Trump is awful." They've also involved the exchange of food--cookies, cake, turbot (a type of fish). People are really nice and friendly around the world. As for our life here the last few days, nothing much to report. We've settled into our home, figured out how to only food shop once every five days (my goal is a week), learned how to make a wood and peat fire, baking our own bread, and so on. We've now done two beautiful hikes around the Beara Peninsula with several more to come. Still thinking Dublin then Europe (still hard to figure out where we can actually go). Once again, a beautiful sunrise this morning over the Atlantic. It may be hard to not see this every day. I've started "living" like a normal person. Going to bed at a reasonable hour after some reading, waking up at a reasonable hour on a consistent basis. I've struggled with that over the years. I had fallen into a pattern of staying up until random late hours, waking up at different times, struggling with periodic insomnia. I don't think I'll ever be a great sleeper (my father did not sleep much at night, as kids we were allowed to fall asleep with the TV blazing, as a teacher I would have to wake up at 5:50 am . . .), but I hope to be better. We'll see. I'm still reading about three books at a time. See reading list below. I am also continuing my religious/spiritual journey. Religion was something that was forced upon me by my father, mainly. And I don't mean that as a criticism. It was forced upon him in a much more strident way, so he only did what he knew--putting me in religious school, trying to make me go to temple on Shabbat, not letting me play sports on Yom Kippur, etc. I've slowly let most of that go, but I think I continued to do some of those things out of guilt (fasting on Yom Kippur) and not because I truly believed. I don't think it's uncommon for people to let go of that guilt when the person who instilled it dies. I was really struck by my father's lack of faith in his last few years, the opposite of what many people experience as they get close to the end. I do not know whether he truly lost faith or if that was a product of his dementia in his later years, Anyway, that's where I'm at. Be well and peace out. Wex


2/3/21     Ocean & Meditation

Beautiful sunrise here over the Atlantic. I will try to capture it and post a picture under Photos. We're starting to settle into a month here in Castletownbere. We love this house so much we decided to extend our stay a week. Still trying to figure out next move. We think we will need to fly out of Dublin as flights out of Cork are pretty limited right now. We're also watching and gauging what's happening around Europe as different countries are going in different directions--Germany closing down, Italy opening up. We're doing lots of cooking and baking and also plan on hitting the myriad of hiking trails around here over the next few weeks. We feel very "Covid-Safe" as we're essentially in the middle of nowhere other than an occasional visit from the woman who helps take care of the house and a few trips to the grocery store. We're watching another very good series on Netflix in French (we loved Lupin) entitled Call My Agent. Now I've started dreaming in French with an Irish brogue. Physically I feel great--that's what running and/or hiking every day will do for you. Mentally I would say pretty good. There are times I look at the long stretch of the day and think--what will I possibly do today? Then the day seems to fly by. I also have to deal with minor issues back here or back home that distract me--waiting for bike refunds, messages about tax bills, that sort of thing. I am on day four of no sports/ Buffs. Not sure how I feel about that since it takes out a chunk of my morning reading. I do read the news, so I read and hear about what's going on abroad and back home. The fight over the vaccine between the EU, England, Northern Ireland, and Ireland is a little disheartening as is the craziness of some Republicans and their mouthpieces. Shit like school shootings were fake, inciting the killing of various political leaders. laser beams from outer space. I am not saying the Democrats are perfect but their craziness is a little more "sane." The ocean here is so beautiful to look at. Not to swim in mind you. After experiencing the Mediterranean and the Caribbean (those are hard words to spell), it is difficult for me to even imagine swimming in such cold water. Although the Atlantic in Florida is really quite pleasant other than the seaweed, sea lice, etc. I have started meditating again, something I got way into for awhile and strayed from the last year or so. I love Tara Brach's meditations. She has such a calming voice. Getting to and maintaining that perfect headspace over a long period of time--a day, a week, a month--is a real challenge, and I'm not sure if I will ever achieve it. Even if you get there in your own head, I feel like there's too much flying at you from all sides (every day issues, family stuff, friends, the news) to really find that balance. I do not know anyone who is close to that place. If you are, please shoot me an email and let me know. I wonder if even the most calm people in the world are really there-Jon Kabat Zinn, Deepak Chopra, Obama? I hope everyone out there is in a good place. I know that life issues and Covid have really wreaked havoc with some of your lives while others have found it to be a release and comforting in a way. Some of my friends have even said that they've actually been personally really happy during this last year (you know who you are). I tell them to keep quiet as it feels wrong when so many people are suffering but the reality is that it's true for some folks. Well that's all for now. Cheers.


Reading List Updated 2/3/21

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.

Bascomb, Neal, The Perfect Mile (Non-Fiction)--the story of the effort to break the 4 minute mile

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

Byrne, Gabriel, Walking With Ghosts (Memoir)-rambling memories and stories by the actor famous for The Usual Suspects

Egan, Charles, The Killing Snows; The Exile Breed; Cold Is The Dawn (Fiction)--the first of a three novel series based upon true events during the Irish Potato Famine

Heaney, Seamus, 100 Poems

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

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

Johnson, Anita, Eating By The Light of the Moon

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

Kent, Nick The Dark Stuff (Non-Fiction)--a collection of essays written by famous rock writer and hanger on.

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

Wineapple, Brenda, The Impeachers (Non-Fiction)--the impeachment of Andrew Johnson



2/2/21     Beara, Bread, Jerusalema

We went for a lovely hike around the Beara Peninsula (see picture above). Day 3 of no US sports reading. It's tough for me not to click on ESPN or the Buffzone, but I'm trying. Really getting the fire thing down (see other picture above). Sara and I are also working on our bread baking game. We've made several versions of Irish Brown Bread, which is an easier bread to make, keeping in mind my limited knowledge of bread baking, because it doesn't require yeast. Some awesome videos of different folks doing a dance to Jerusalema. It caught my attention because the Irish Garda did a video. You can just go to YouTube and search for Irish Garda Jerusalema. Rachel also posted the link on her blog. Enjoy! 


2/1/21     Gin, Stout, and Fire

Happy St. Brigid's Day! In Ireland this is one of many festivals and marks the beginning of spring. We did see some lambs today which means spring is coming. My last few posts read like short novellas, so I'll try to keep this one short. A couple of alcohol finds. Beara Ocean Gin. Excellent and reminds me of the other Irish gin I'd started drinking Drumshanbo, So good, you don't really need lime. I've also been looking for an Irish Stout that is better than Guinness and I think I've found it. O'Hara's Irish Stout. Very, very good. Big news! For those of you who know Rachel and I well, we have many opposite talents. Rachel can fix things. I cannot. I can throw and catch. Rachel cannot. But neither of us can start a fire under any circumstances, whether that be on a camping trip, in a fire pit, with fire starters, wood, gasoline, No fire. But here in Castletownbere, in perhaps the wettest place on Earth, fire. Peat fires, wood fires, peat and woo fires. Fire. I will post a picture as proof. Fire.

 

1/31/21     Death Marches and Sheep

We are settling into Sandmount, our home on the edge of the world. Yesterday we all went for different runs. We first tried to explore this heavily wooded path from our house that leads somewhere, although I did not go far enough to find out. It was incredibly muddy, so I turned around and headed back on the road and up a road towards Hungry Hill. It was fairly steep but beautiful with lots of sheep along the way. Our whole family is fascinated by sheep, cows, horses, goats. Not sure why. The sheep here are painted different colors, red. As I just learned through Google, farmers do this, so they can identify their sheep in general and also know which female sheep have been impregnated and need to be moved to a different field away from the ram. I am sure you will see plenty of pictures of sheep in the following days. I ended my run down the road from our house at the ocean's door. The Atlantic is pretty wild here, crashing waves that sound like thunder. We drove into Castletownbere and hiked to an ancient fort and a stone circle. Stone circles are all over Ireland and are believed to be related to some spiritual rituals aligned to the cosmos. The big question is where did the stones come from and how did they get to the circle location. I need to do more reading on this. It was a nice hike that turned into a bit of a "death march." Probably not a great term but in our family it usually relates to a short hike or walk led by Rachel (but not always) that turns into a 5-10 mile hike that we're ill-prepared for in terms of clothing, water, and food. Sometimes death marches end up nowhere or to a place that is long closed. See prior death marches in Bryce Canyon, Montreal, Hawaii, Switzerland, Costa Rica, etc. We then returned to town and did our "big food shop," as we've grown a little tired of going to the store every day. 


While I feel like I've done a good job of getting away from it all, I am still struggling with a few things. I read three "newspapers" online--The Irish Times, The Guardian UK edition, and CNN. This invariably leads to rather depressing news on COVID, Brexit, or the state of US politics--the pitiful state of the Republican party, Marjorie Greene (whoever that is), Kevin McCarthy . . . It seemed like events of January 6 led to a few days of reality for folks and now it's back to Trump, QAnon, election fraud, etc. Really sad and pitiful. I am not sure this is healthy stuff for me. 


The other thing I struggle with is my CU Buffs, both football and basketball. As some of you might know, I used to be extremely competitive athletically, to the point of getting thrown out of games as a high school baseball coach, getting into physical and verbal altercations on various sports fields, pushing 8 year old girls too hard in soccer. I've worked very hard to escape this pattern. I think two events lead to my "recovery." Injuring a friend during a touch football game was one. And being a big brother in the Big Brother program. I won't elaborate on the first, as I find it too embarrassing. On the second I will talk. Most of you know Taylor, my little brother since he was ten years old (he's now, 38 I believe). Anyway, I coached Taylor through much of his little league baseball career in some capacity, We also worked on his baseball skills on a weekly basis. When I he reached high school, I continued to "coach" him, working with him off the field. All good. The problem lay with coaching him during his high school games between at bats, before and after games, etc. This continued through his first two years of high school. In his junior year, he was coached by Chuck Gilman, a high school baseball coaching legend in Colorado, It suddenly dawned on me that he didn't need me to coach him as he had an excellent coach and rather than helping him play better, it was probably hurting his performance. I certainly felt that breaking down each at bat post-game was hurting our relationship. It clicked. From that point forward Rachel and I would go to games and sit in the last row of the bleachers, as far away from the field and other "parents" as we could get. After the games, we would go to Spanky's or Red Lobster or Beau Jo's Pizza and not talk about the game at all, It was a much better way to approach things and helped our relationship immensely. The ugliness of youth sports and the craziness of parents/fans eventually caused me to leave coaching. It was difficult for Rachel to sit in the stands while parents ripped me or for me to be confronted by a drunk parent in the parking lot after games or calling our home to complain about playing time. I even had to unlist my phone number. But eventually I moved past all this and became less competitive. Running was a big part of that as I learned to run for "fun" and health and not for competitive reasons. Problem solved.


The problem that still remains is following my CU Buffs. I do not know how I became such an avid fan, other than I started following them when Rachel was a student at CU and my roommate was a CU graduate and big time fan. It was my first exposure to "big time" college football, and I followed the Buffs through their glory years--Darian Hagan, Eric Bienemy, Kordell Stewart and so on. The "Miracle at Michigan" (look it up if you don't get the reference) occurred on my wedding night. I also became the self-described only CU Men's basketball fan prior to and during the Chauncey Billups years when nobody went to games. I've always been a passionate college basketball fan since following the St. John's teams as a kid and attending unbelievable games between Georgetown, Villanova, and St. Johns while in law school at Villanova. I slowly drifted away from pro baseball, but remain a healthy follower of pro football (the Broncos) and pro basketball (the Nuggets). In other words, if those teams lose, I am a little bummed but not much. But my relationship to the CU Buffs has become unhealthy to a degree. I was a 15 year or so season ticketholder for CU football until this year (I did not renew my tickets because the losing became frustrating, no-one really wanted to go to games, Kate was graduating from CU, it did not appear anyone would be allowed to attend games this year anyway and so on). I go to between 5 and 10 college basketball games a year and have taught and met players on both the football team and basketball team. All good so far.


Here's the problem. When either CU teams lose, I become a little depressed. It has gotten better over time but it still happens. And these teams lose a lot! Not quite as bad as being a NY Jets fan but not great either. So here I am in Ireland, still checking scores, and still getting bummed out when they lose. Last night, when the Buffs blew a huge lead and lost to a bad Utah basketball team, it bummed me out, again. I know I need to grow up, realize that basing your happiness on the success and failure of a sports team, college or pro, is stupid and so on and so on. But I can't seem to shake it. So what did I do? I removed the CU Buffs website and ESPN from my Bookmarks toolbar and pledged once again to not follow the ups and downs of my CU Buffs. I've done this before, but like an addict, it lasts for a few weeks and then I return, enjoying it for awhile then being bummed out when the inevitably lose a game. There is something positive about being excited for the upcoming game and reveling in the aftermath of victory, but I am almost at the point where I'd rather watch a game I have no emotional connection to. Bottom line, I feel like life is short and it doesn't seem healthy to waste a minute of it being depressed over losing a game. 


I know some of my friends and family out there have learned to step away from their overly emotional involvement with their favorite teams or from their unhealthy connection to sports in general. If you have any advice on how to do this, please let me know.


1/30/21     Welcome to Castletownbere

We went for our first run in Castletownbere yesterday. It's about 5 km, give or take, from our house to town along a two lane highway. Kind of narrow in spots with cars whizzing by so we had to break out the reflective pinnies. Great views of the ocean and the Beara Peninsula along the way. We also met some local sheep and donkeys. Pretty flat all the way but running on pavement has caused some aches and pains none of us are used to. The actual town is bigger than I thought with a lot of shops (most closed due to COVID or winter season), a Supervalue (our go to basic grocery store), an ATM, etc. Very cute. I'll take some pictures or video and post soon. I can imagine it's a great summer escape given the number of B&Bs we saw along the way. There is also a ferry to nearby Bere Island. We did some food shopping then walked back home. It was quite an outing which occasioned the repeated comment from Sara, "are we crazy?" And my oft-repeated response, "yes." I love it here and would like to say longer, but we're still debating our next move. Ireland is on full lockdown and EU member states continue to tighten travel restrictions. Malta, anyone? I have fallen in love with Ireland and wish I could stay forever. It's just a beautiful country. Obviously living in a place is different from visiting a place. And never stayed in a foreign country this long (we're coming upon 6 weeks), it's a bit hard to judge. We finished watching the Irish Times Winter Festival. I think my three favorite interviews were Blindboy (a local musician and podcaster), Nicola Sturgeon (leader of Scotland), and Gabriel Byrne (actor famous for his role in one of my favorite all-time movies, The Usual Suspects and now writer). One of the "issues" we're running into here (and one I run into at home) is going to the grocery store every day. It seems like we're always missing some ingredient or something that we think we need. I know, first world problems, but I am trying to write every day, so from time to time I will become bogged down in minutiae. Today we plan on staying around the farm and exploring a bit. Cheers!


1/29/21

Part I, The Journey

We made it to Castletownbere a/k/a Castletown Bearhaven. It is located on the southwest part of Ireland, as far as you can go in County Cork without crossing over into County Kerry where you'll find the famous Ring of Kerry and Dingle. As I've written before, when we arrived in Ireland, COVID was at Level 3, allowing for travel within your county only. That is when we planned our trip here. Since then, Ireland has gone to Level 5 which says you must stay within 5km of your home. We're in a bit of a gray area since we don't have a "home," other than the rental places we had booked here and previously in Kinsale and Cork City. None of the details of the Level 5 lockdown applied to our unique situation, so we decided to stick to the plan, believing that housing was an essential purpose for travelling. We have also strictly abided by all of the COVID rules, staying within our three person bubble. We had originally planned to rent our car from Cork Airport thinking that we would return it there prior to leaving the country, which we must do by March 13. We were able to change our plans and pick up our car in Cork City, The drive was actually easier than expected. We chose not to drive the coastal route, which would have probably taken a full day and went directly across the country. It took about 2 hours. We were stopped by the Garda (police) at a checkpoint set up about an hour outside Cork City. It went very smoothly. We were asked if we had rented the car and requested to show the rental papers. We were also asked where we were going and for how long. He seemed surprised we were from Colorado, then bid us farewell and wished us a safe trip. I will say that at times, Rachel, Sara, and I look at each other and wonder whether we are insane for doing this. I always answer, "yes, absolutely." But given everything going on in our "world," I can honestly say I/we didn't have a choice. 


Part II: The House:

I am sitting on the back porch watching the sunrise as I look at the Wild Atlantic (as they call it here). I plan on posting a series of pictures under the photo section, so you might want to check it out. The house and farm (31 acres) was purchased by the family, who still owns it, in the late 1800's. In recent years they added a master bath, kitchen and this enclosed back porch. Sara has the upstairs (two bedrooms and bath) to herself. There is a wood and peat burning fireplace and pot belly stove. It feels very spacious, especially for three people and after our tight quarters in Cork City. But the location is the thing. It feels like we're at the edge of the world. At the edge of the road that leads to the ocean there's a sign that warns you about driving into it. It's heavily wooded and you can almost touch the sea. I've never lived in a place like this before where you can see and hear the waves crashing while inside the house. There was a wicked storm last night which while a bit scary was very cool. Hungry Hill sits behind the house and overlooks the Beara Peninsula and the border between County Kerry and County Cork. We are scheduled to stay three weeks but are already talking about adding a week, if possible. Our only hesitation (or mainly Sara's) is that we are incredibly isolated. Castletownbere is about 8km away. We will check it out later today, possibly by running there. We'll see. I hope our friends and family are well back in the states and abroad (Ireland and Switzerland). 


1/27/21

So it's been a couple of days. We continue to enjoy Cork City, especially The English Market, an indoor market with butchers, bakers, fishmongers, cheesemongers, etc. We buy most of our food here. We've continued our pattern of "morning" (11:00 am) runs, afternoon walks, and cooking. We continued our month-long cooking class with Ballymaloe's cooking school, making smoked mackerel pate, potatoes, and a little surf and turf. We are also through day two of the Irish Times Winter Festival. The livestream 2-3 conversations per night between different people from all corners. The first night included an interview with Bllindboy, a podcaster, rapper, and writer. Very good. I highly recommend listening to his weekly podcast. Last night, we listened to an interview with the writer of a book series called Ross, about a rugby player named Ross O'Carroll Kelly. I would recommend checking out his podcasts and articles in the Irish Times. I am working my way through Seamus Heaney's 100 Poems, The Perfect Mile, and a trilogy of books about the Irish Famine written by Charles Egan. The second book is called The Exile Breed and is historical fiction about the Irish emigration to the US and Canada. A little cheesy but it captures the misery of the famine and concomitant typhus that Ireland suffered through in the 1840's. Mentally I am in a pretty good place. I am so happy and appreciative to be out of the states. For me, it was time to go. Although there are plenty of issues here, including an almost full Coronavirus lockdown, I just feel better and happier in Ireland. It does feel weird to be "traveling" during a pandemic, but in a sense we're not traveling but just flat out living like everyone else. We've only traveled to reach our next accommodation. We've had little to no contact with anyone aside from going to buy food, the same as when we were in the states, but probably less so. We leave for Castletownbere Thursday and will be there through mid-February. We're still trying to figure out our next move as we need to leave Ireland by March 13 when our 90 Day Visas expire (most countries in the world will not allow you to stay more than 90 days absent exceptional circumstances which do not apply in our case). I've been running well, other than the usual running aches and pains--sore hip, some foot pain. One of the biggest challenges for me is limiting my computer time. I read, write, watch, and listen on the computer, which isn't great. I started doing some journalling using a pen and paper. So 1990's. I've returned to a bit of meditation as well, Not quite sure where that will go.  


Warning: Political Rant To Follow


We continue to be concerned about the political situation in the states as it seems that after a few days of peace, calm, and calls for unity, Republicans have returned to their old ways, fighting impeachment, suddenly remembering long-forgotten concerns about the budget deficit, and pointless resolutions condemning Republicans who failed to stand by Trump. Not surprising but disappointing, nonetheless. I had kind of hoped, rather optimistically, that the Republican party would return to its not so great old ways and not become the Trump party. It doesn't look like it will go that way. Our political leaders seem to care nothing about honesty and integrity and only about getting reelected, which means for Republicans not alienating the 70 million Trump voters. It's really sad and something has to change. If the events at the Capitol on January 6 didn't change things, nothing will. I felt the same way about the shooting in Newtown. If that didn't change anything about guns in America, I knew nothing would. I would add that folks in Ireland seem to hate Trump but do not have much faith in their own politicians. Blindboy described the two major political parties, Fine Gael and Finna Fail as "two cheeks on the same arse." The other party, Sinn Fein, seems to be gaining ground but still carries the legacy of the Irish Republican Army, which brings about mixed feelings on the part of the general population. There are also continued discussions about a United Ireland, especially in light of Brexit. Some people, including our recent taxi driver, think that will never happen. I have no idea but have always found a truly divided country (notwithstanding the political divisions in place like the US)--West Germany and East Germany, North and South Korea, hard to fathom. 


1/25/21

Happy Monday. All good here in Cork City. A few sunny days after some cold and rain. Continuing to "work the program"-running, biking, walking. I think we've covered pretty much every square inch of the city from the greenways and fields to the east and west to the centre city core. Really like it here. It's a nice mixture of old, new, grunge, and "Irish chic." Since pretty much everything is closed, it's difficult to get a true sense for the city but definitely a lot of pubs, restaurants, supermarkets, off licenses, frozen yogurt, and coffee shops. And coffee shops. And coffee shops. I found out what Rachel is missing the most here--Kate! We all miss Kate. Rachel's working on taking pictures of all the street art, of which there is a lot. I have become the resident videographer (see video section of website). Still trying to master it. It strange, and Sara's mentioned it, to be in "one" place so long. Usually when we travel, it's two, three weeks max. We spend a month in Kinsale alone and we're coming up to six weeks in Ireland, with at least three more weeks to go. Still not sure where we'll head next as Europe keeps tightening travel restrictions. Some great reading (see list below) and we've been watching/reading some interesting shows on Netflix. I say reading since the last two were French with subtitles (Lupin and Call My Agent). I think we're about ready to leave Cork City and move onto our next adventure, Castletownbere on the southwest coast. 


1/23/21

Good morning. We spent another nice day in Cork, running with Sara (she's killing me!), bike riding/walking up Blarney Street or Road, really not sure. It's supposedly the longest road in Ireland and a very steep uphill, so we had to walk our bikes up (I know, wimpy). We're still trying to figure out bike paths here. They seem to start and just end. Riding in the streets is a little scary what with the wrong side of the road thing and the speed at which people drive (of course, the courtesy wave as they scream by). We've settled into a routine here. Reading through the morning, running at around 11 am (or when it stops raining), lunch, afternoon bike ride or walk, school for Sara, dinner, tv or movie. It's kind of interesting how things work. We stayed in Kinsale about 4 weeks and will stay in Cork City for 12 days. When you first arrive at your knew home, you try to figure out how everything works--the oven, the shower, the heat. Then you spend a few days exploring. Then you fall into your routine, whatever that may be. What's open? Food stores, some churches, restaurants for take away and delivery, the streets and sidewalks, coffee shops for takeaway, some discount stores for essentials like household cleaning supplies, tools, automotive parts.  What's not? Restaurants, pubs, clothing stores, museums, castles, movie theaters . . . How does it affect us as "tourists"? When we travel, we usually hit museums pretty hard, followed by churches (or temples if they have them. In Cork the last Jewish house of worship closed in 2016. Rachel and Sara went to see it. Not impressive). We usually eat out quite a bit. Obviously, that has all changed due to COVID. Again, as I think I said a couple of blogs back, it would disappointing if this were our first rodeo in Ireland. Sara says she misses the museums. I would say I miss the pubs (and the music that often comes with it). Rachel? I'm not sure. You'll have to ask her. We all want to return to Cork City when it's fully open to see what it's really like. One thing in Ireland that I find interesting is that something like 54% of 18-34 year olds live with their parents. Rents and home prices are very high and I recently read that Ireland is the 13th most expensive places to live in the world. It reminds me a bit of Japan in this way. Reading Charles Egan's three part series about the Irish potato famine. The first book is called The Killing Snows. Very uplifting stuff. Hope everyone is well. Rooting Sleeping Joe on from afar. Folks here are very excited due to his Irish heritage and what's been described as his strong connection to Eire or Erin or Ireland.


Reading List Updated 1/23/21

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)

Egan, Charles, The Killing Snows (Fiction)--the first of a three novel series based upon true events during the Irish Potato Famine

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

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

Johnson, Anita, Eating By The Light of the Moon

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

Wineapple, Brenda, The Impeachers (Non-Fiction)--the impeachment of Andrew Johnson


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.