After being back and settled in the DelSo for a week, I thought I’d share what I missed this summer while away. Some of the items on the list, I may take for granted when I’m home, while others are always appreciated. The list is not in any order, although alphabetical would naturally be my first impulse. I’m a librarian, remember?
- My pillows. I wish I could bring them along on the vacation, but there just isn’t enough room in the car – and there are only two.
- My coffee bean grinder. What do you mean not everyone grinds their beans freshly each morning?
- My griddle pan. Traditionally, I bring my waffle iron along on the trip, but next year I may need to find some space for my go-to pancake/grilled cheese making surface. Making either of these items individually makes no sense when you can make three at a time.
- Our sweet old lab, Cassidy Bono Lilly, especially when I read stories like this gem from Paul Grondahl.
- Him. Because I like having him around.
What do you find yourself missing the most when away from home?
Filed under Albany, breakfast, Cape Cod, Cooking, DelSo, family, favorites, friends, Martha's Vineyard, Summer, travel, vacation
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About a million years ago, I entered a beauty pageant known as The Rose of Tralee. Yes, really. There were two reasons I was prompted to enter the particular pageant I did – one being that my teenaged friend/nemesis V had won the contest the previous year, and the second that it was a contest geared to Irish-American princess wannabees and that had my name all over it. Sign me up. I knew I was sunk when my current events topic during the contest involved Northern Ireland and Ireland and I made parallels to the Middle East and other historical religious wars. Nope, not quite what they were looking for.
Speaking of looking…here are some of the flowers I encountered during my visit to Ireland. Hope you enjoy them more than I enjoyed that damn pageant.
Click on photo for slideshow
Or maybe I should just say “I’m back” seeing as how many meanings that word home can have.
It’s an odd thing sometimes being first generation American, especially with a mother who wants nothing to do with her family and a father you never met. I met my first relative when I was 22, an age when I was living alone in a city I had chosen to reside in, not merely a place I had landed in haphazardly. I had purposefully chosen an apartment, my nicest one ever, and was making a place for myself away from anyone I knew and finally going to college. I was home.
The sense of being wanted by, and belonging, to a family was new to me and very much welcomed. I’d never before heard stories of my father, of his childhood and his many brothers and sisters, and I cherished each word. These kind and thoughtful Uncles and Aunts invited me into their homes and gave me the sense of being a part of something I had never known before. I was home.
I made contact and visited with my Mother’s family in Germany. I first met them when I was nearly the same age my mother had been when she last saw them. I was taken to her childhood home, where my Opa still lived, and embraced by her brothers and sisters. My joy in meeting them was reflected back to me in the warmth and interest I saw in their eyes. I was home.
For only the second time in my life, I’ve had the chance to see both sides of my family in the same year and it has been a powerful experience. We’ve shared meals and stories and memories. During my time in the countries where my parents were born, I’ve felt a connection – to my relatives, of course, but also to the air, the sky and the earth. It was almost organic. I was home.
What does home really mean? For me, it means being in a place where I want to be and knowing that I am loved and wanted. Home is everywhere.
Vacations can be weird. We spend months planning and saving for them only to find them over in what can feel like the blink of an eye. Poof – done. We get home with a suitcase full of dirty laundry, a bunch of photos to upload and a yen for our own pillow.
That being said, there have been some long days on this trip. Arrival day is always a challenge as a body tries to shake off the assault of 12+ hours of travel and a five-hour time difference. Factor in a bit of dehydration, a cranky 14-year-old and a sleeping pill hangover (mine, not the teen’s) and you’ve got yourself a bonafide rough day.
We haven’t been especially up and at ‘em in the mornings because it turns out Griffin isn’t really a morning person. That’s okay, though, because the evenings in Ireland, particularly in the summer months, go on forever with the skies only truly darkening on the far side of 10 pm. Are you familiar with Yeats’ He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven? In it he talks of “…night and light and the half light.” Visit Ireland and you’ll know exactly what he meant.
I wish I had longer to stay with my family. There are only two remaining siblings of my Father’s, from the original family of 14 children, and each time I leave Ireland I go knowing that I may not meet them again. My time here feels far too short, but I do miss my guys at home and the life we are creating there together. Whether long or short, these days won’t come again. All we can do is live them fully.
I’m not here to talk to you about the likelihood of spotting a leprechaun or the intense greenness of the countryside. No, I’m here to tell you about some things you may not know. For instance, are you familiar with the phrase “going out for a bit of craic?” True confession: the first time I was in Ireland and my cousin suggested we partake in some craic, I was worried. Come to find out that “craic” is a term for fun. This craic isn’t whack – promise.
Another thing that I found confusing are the road signs, particularly one that says “Ramps.” This word refers to neither the entrance or exit to a motorway or those spring onions for which everyone goes crazy. Instead “Ramps” essentially mean speed bumps in the road. You’re welcome.
Most Americans have figured out that chips are fries and crisps are chips, but how about aubergines? Familiar? Well, aubergines are eggplants and they seem to be pretty popular, especially in Asian cuisine and vegetarian dishes. It is a much more elegant word for those purple orbs, don’t you think?
Speaking of colors, it is possible to get a lovely tan in Ireland if you happen to visit during the best summer in years. As a matter of fact, if you neglect to put sunscreen on your feet you just might end up with sunburn on your feet. At least that’s what a leprechaun once told me.
My middle son is wrapping up his middle school academic career in a couple of weeks. There are a few events to commemorate the occasion, including a day trip to NYC, later this month. When I was in 8th grade, we also went to the city. I remember it vividly because I saw my first Broadway musical, Grease, and wore the brown sweater coat (the height of fashion in 1980!) my mother knit for me. It was a special day.
On Friday, he brought home the permission slip which detailed the itinerary for their day. Basically, they depart from Albany at 6:30 in the morning, returning at approximately 9:30 p.m. Their first stop is midtown where they have 2.5 hours scheduled at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. From there they head to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. I understand that not every kid has parents who believe in authentic experiences which reflect their locale, but doesn’t this sound incredibly generic? Is there anything about this that screams “greatest city in the world” to you?
But, wait, it gets better. The kids then head down to the South Street Seaport – and this is the part that really rankles me, where they have 3 hours to wander around, using the “buddy system.” Now, I’m sure (right?) there will be adequate supervision of the kids, but this segment of the trip, the lengthiest one, is completely unstructured. In the description provided on the permission slip, this cool, but small area, was heralded for its “mall and 15 places to eat.” Really?!? I’m sending my kid to New York to go to a mall and eat at some chain restaurant?
I’m pretty familiar with the downtown area where the kids are going to be. The Brooklyn Bridge and the World Trade Center are right there. Why aren’t they bringing the kids to either of these free, yet, significant places? Maybe a ferry ride to Staten Island? There’s so much history in that area! How about Chinatown, Little Italy or the Tenement Museum, all of which are included in the 8th grade social studies curriculum?
Is it just me, or is this a true example of missed opportunity and lack of effort in planning? What do you think?