Who loves ya baby

David shaved his head a few nights ago. I had to help. I think this is going to be higher maintenance than the short cuts with clippers we have been doing for the last year or two. He brought his fancy clippers here but they aren’t behaving quite right, so he decided to dispense with all the hair I guess.

So which famous bald guy is he? He asked if he looked like Bruce Willis but the eyebrows put him more in a Telly Savalas-You Don’t Know Jack-Patrick Stewart-Mr. Clean-Andre Agassi category. At least he doesn’t look like Sloth from Goonies, one of the pictures that came up in a Google images search for famous bald guys!

We finally got a response from the immigration department, and now they want more evidence (back in time) of our relationship to allow him to stay. Time to dig out the old hard drives to see if we can come up with what they want; my purging philosophy means I probably don’t have copies of plane tickets from trips we took together six years ago and even my email has changed. Even harder is that we left anything old and paperwork-y back in the US! It’s frustrating because we’re here spending money and paying taxes (my ability to be here and work is not in question), we’re not trying to get him a work permit, and my employer has supplied a letter in support of his being here with me. We already gave all the evidence that he’s on my insurance and we both have income/bank accounts to support ourselves. Once again, sneaking in would be easier! Harder to do in an island country, I suppose.

By the way, my friend Kathleen has a blog now that she’s here working as well. We’ve been taking some trips together so you might hear about our days in Waterford and Clonakilty faster from her!

Happy BD Grandma!

I think I’m a day or two late but happy birthday to Grandma! Grandpa loads my blog in the morning and prints new posts for her, so I hope she’ll see it. I’ll post this picture of us from not too long ago, where she complained about my hair hygiene and made us laugh.

I shared that story with my 15 year old cousin after she posted on Facebook that she was recently at Old Country Buffet with Grandma, who told her her haircut was the ugliest one she’d ever seen. I love it! Grandma tells it like it is.

It was always fun to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. You got ice cream and sugar cereal and hamburgers and trips to the mall and painting parties and a cool dog. We videotaped ourselves lip-syncing and dancing and dressing up. Then we’d make her pictures crooked just to hear her holler.

And who can forget this picture I posted on my website over ten years ago: she came all the way out to Massachusetts to see me in college (or maybe it was for graduation?) and, well…

We all raise our glasses to you, Grandma!

Iceland day 1

Yes, we’ve been on vacation! Before we made it to Iceland a week ago, we had an all-day layover in London (hard to get to Iceland from Ireland), so off we went from Gatwick to explore the city a bit: lunch at Wagamama because it sounded good, then wandering through Covent Garden to a visit at the London Transport Museum. It was interesting but I wouldn’t call it top of the heap for museums. I’ve been to the bigger attractions so we decided to try something new.

We found visiting the outdoor-gear shops (big North Face-type stores) in one particular block a good way to pass time, and we managed not to spend money. We did see a manufactured ice-climbing wall, but I had no idea we’d be doing it for real in a few days!

1. For Mom, sewing machine display at the airport
2. Gate 13. This was after David realized he flew on Friday the 13th and we had been talking about the 13 y.o. boy who was struck by lightning at 13:13 on that Friday the 13th.
3-4. Our very clean, simple, Scandinavian-looking hotel the first night. All the beds are twins to be pushed together if you book a double, apparently, and this was the case in 4/5 places that week.
5. Outside the Keflavik hotel, Paddy’s Irish Pub was the nearest business.
6. Bónus is a grocery chain. I think the piggy’s left eye needs some design work. Thank goodness we got a few groceries because we couldn’t afford to eat out in the expensive restaurants (if you could find one).
7. Gullfoss (Golden Falls). Look closely for the rainbow
8-11. Geysers, including the one named Geysir which became the name of all others in the world. That’s the one I found hot! Strokkur erupted several times while we were there but the bigger Geysir is less frequent.
12. Our silly little rental car (big enough to pick up hitchhikers from Sweden and Czech Republic, though!) was not suited for the kinds of roads the many safari-like vehicles can take. If you note the rear lights, you’ll see the reverse light is only on the right, while the left has a rear fog light in red!
13. For Mom: wristies for sale! I prefer the non-thumb type.
14. More on the types of roads. The ones with an F before the number require 4wd… they get worse from there. We did not go in the highlands at all as a result.
15-19. Þingvellir National Park, where government was established in 930 AD and cracks in the earth show continental drift. #17 shows a pool where unfaithful women were drowned. Apparently men’s crimes were punished by stake burning.
20. I like the funny hat on the 5000 krónur lady. The coins all have fish on them.
21. An expensive meal in an expensive hotel, but at least this one lived up to the reputation, price, and presentation.
22. Our ranch-like hotel. Iceland gets the occasional polar bear who floats or swims in from Greenland.

Tripod Vegas

Ms. Vegas bunny has been through quite a lot lately. After infections in both feet that spread badly in one leg, she had her rear left leg amputated just over a week ago. We considered her senior age and ongoing upper respiratory issues, but her wonderful caretakers in the States said she still had the will to fight and a lot of life in her, so we opted for the surgery. It was apparently the right decision because she seemed relieved to be rid of the pain after surgery and her other foot is getting better with attentive care. Vegas still isn’t up hopping around on her remaining leg, but she scoots around her enclosure, eats well, grooms constantly, and the surgical site has healed great, so we have high hopes for her future. At some point she needs to learn to get that other leg back under her and hop on it, but it’s bandaged right now and probably hard to manage.

We were able to do a Skype video call tonight so I got to see how she’s doing. She was lounging like nothing happened! Hopefully she’ll be up and hopping soon. I feel far less worried about her knowing she has such capable nursing staff!

Sea kayaking

Two weekends ago, David and I did an all day sea kayaking course. Our group picnicked on Sandycove island which got smaller and smaller as the tide came in, saw a seal poking its head out in the harbor because boats mean fishermen feeding them, and explored caves in the cliff walls from Kinsale Harbo(u)r down to the Old Head Pier. Neither of us fell in! Can’t say the same for some other guy who was adjusting his shirt one moment and slipping into the sea the next. I was INCREDIBLY exhausted the next day; not sure what was up with that but it made work a challenge.

Wildlife was mostly cormorants, jellyfish, and mussels, plus all the seagulls. Anyway the kayaking was fun but I opted out of course day 2, while David and our friend Kathleen did that this past Monday. They had to practice getting back in after intentionally falling out of the boat, and it doesn’t sound like the water was particularly comfortable even with a wet suit!

Flashback: I found a disposable 35mm camera at a petrol station (€12!) and used it during kayaking, then found a place in town that actually develops fillum. (That’s film but we can’t get over the way it’s pronounced here.) Fortunately the processing was cheaper than the camera itself. The pictures aren’t the quality I’m used to with my digital, but the risk of drowning a good camera was too high to try for snazzy photos. Also, I didn’t think paying a fortune for a special case to take my camera underwater was worth it.

And now, time to reminisce about working nights at Qualex… are they even still in business? [nope!] On busy summer nights we’d develop, print, cut, and package 40,000 rolls of film. The slowest night still had 15,000, the amount of film used by northern Indiana, southern Michigan, and a few remote MI towns that flew in their orders! The couriers would drive to every pharmacy, grocery, and photo shop within a couple hours and that’s how all your next-day and two-day processing happened. Didn’t matter if you took it to Target or Kroger: same place made it into prints.

At the time I couldn’t predict there wouldn’t be a market for any of it just a few years later. Those nights in factories make me appreciate where I am now! I did enjoy that kind of work, though.

Here you go, scanned fillum photos!

Dublin, “done and dusted”

Time to complete the roundup of our Dublin trip in June.

1 Creepy statue of children that’s supposed to be in honor or memory of them…
2-8 Dublin Castle, mostly palace-like, where the Brits ruled locally for centuries and it’s now used as a government facility (rather more Irish now). There were excavated remains of some of the old walls and moats from the older castle.
9 Typical evening: computing in the hotel. That thing on our feet wasn’t very wide and was at the end of the bed. What is it for?
10 Ikea! Our first trip. David has been very anti-Ikea at home (he wanted to build high quality furniture, not buy cheap stuff), but he admitted they have a lot of neat design ideas and when you need a desk and have no tools, you have to branch out a bit. I was disappointed we got there so late that we couldn’t explore the acres of stuff and eat in the restaurant.
11 Merhorse (?) lamp post, near Trinity College I think
12 Mr. Bagpipes, for “anything that requires the unique sound of the bagpipes”
13 Rainy shopping area. There was also a women’s running event in town that day so we were surrounded by freezing wet people in shorts and participation medals
14 I always pick up street rubbish in a top hat
15-19 St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which dates from the 1200s, including Jonathan Swift‘s grave and an amazing tiled floor. Handel’s Messiah was first played here according to what we heard when we were there, but there is some disagreement when I look into it online.

We actually tried to go cliff walking at Howth nearby on our last morning in Dublin before going home, but the fog was so incredibly thick we couldn’t see the road, let alone any cliffs or water. Some other time! ‘Tis a weather dependent country sometimes.