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Today Was the Day


Today was the day that I was glad have complimentary hobbies. When its rainy I play poker. When it’s not too rainy I hike around finding Tupperware in trees. Today it was rainy.

Tomorrow it will probs be rainy too, which is super sad, because Mercury will be visible to the naked eye AND Astronomy Ireland is setting up telescopes all over Dublin to see Mars, which is closer to Earth than it will be until 2018. Dayum! OMG I may be the biggest geek in Europe! See ya at the convention, Wil!

Today I tried to sort out the TV/PS2/Wii/Cable cables. Here in Ireland they use SCART plugs to connect these devices to each other rather than the cute little yellow=video/red & green= audio. Let me say one thing about SCART: not as sturdy as one would hope. I was lucky enough not to permanently damage any electronics (for once!) but they still arent all working properly.

Today I also made some kick ass soup. It had vegetables and salmon and cayenne pepper. It kicked ass like Rowdy Roddy Piper from 1985. Yes, it was that good. It was almost Bruce Lee from 1977 good, but lost points for needing more salt and me accidentally leaving the boquet garni in the pot.

I have to go launder my pocket protector so Ill catch ya tomorrow!

I Tricked You!


Ha the joke is on you! You thought I was going to take off and leave my blog to moulder in the dank undergrowth of the internet - but no! I am still here. Time for the weekend in review:

Saturday was Birdy’s birthday and I dashed off that birthday post before we left for her special day out at the museum and out to dinner. We went to Collins Barracks in Dublin which houses the Museum of Decorative Arts as well as the Museum of Old-Time Soldiering*. Being with a nine year old birthday girl precluded us from seeing the soldier part and we enjoyed room after room of Irish design, from clothing to furniture and old collections of stuff that someone thought looked good together. Birdy especially enjoyed hanging out with family friends Side Order and her husband The Swede

Currently on exhibition is the Sea Stallion, an amazing example of living archeology. In Denmark, they dug up the ancient hull of a Viking ship. Through testing the wood, they discovered that the ship was constructed in Ireland, and they commenced to reconstruct the ship using computer blueprints created from the original vessel. When they finished they got a crew together and sailed from Denmark all the way to Dublin. They learned a lot about how tough vikings were! Near the Sea Stallion is a geocache but I wasn’t able to go look for it because it was raining and I was trying to be a good mom and focus on Birdy. Oh well, next time I take the kids to the zoo we are stopping and I am totes finding it.

After the museum we went to Birdy’s favorite restaurant Milano. It’s an Italian restaurant that has nice food, but my kids adore it for the children’s menu. They get to order a real starter, main, and desert and it even includes a bambinoccino: warm milk frothed and dusted with chocolate. The staff at the restaurant did a great job celebrating with us and we all had a delightful dinner.

I found it!Sunday was the day I was waiting for. No kids birthdays so I could go back to my selfish self and drag the family on a long cache-expedition. We walked all around Dun Laoghaire and out on the pier were to beautiful views of the Irish Sea. Check out my glee in these candid photos taken by fhwrdh.

Recording my infoFun!

*This is not really the name of the museum, it should be though.

Birthday Girl!


brother and sister

Little Hellcat Birdy is nine years old today

How could my four years of high school dragged by so slowly and these nine years have gone by so fast?

I wrote this six years ago, just to give you a glimpse of the little miss growing up:

Baby Bird

So my daughter is three. and stubborn. and not potty trained.

More than anything in the whole wide world she loves ballet and dancers and tutus.

This is not my doing, I played with dump trucks as a young girl; and certainly not her father’s, he specialized in playing chess with himself and tracing the lines on graph paper in his youth. It’s just that we somehow made this little girlie-girl-princess-head and we are amused and enchanted and slightly aghast as she prances around in my pink babydoll nightie from the beginning of our marriage when I still wore such things.

Last Christmas I turned on PBS just in time to catch Julie Andrews introducing the London Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker and I called her over “Hellcat! Come see the ballet!” I thought she’d enjoy the opening scene and I’d be able to turn on Law and Order in time to see Jerry Orbach sum up the plot twist with a glib remark. but no.

An hour and a half later I awakened to the closing strains of Tchaikovsky and an outline of my little daughter sitting about 4 inches from the screen, mouth open, eyes wide. Julie Andrews came back “For many of you this was your first Nutcracker, I do hope it was a magical experience.”

Oh believe me, Julie… it was.

Ok, so I have this little miss in diapers who loves the ballet. What better motivation for potty training is there than lessons for she who keeps her pink princess Barbie panties dry all day? None I tell you, none.

But in appealing to my daughter’s girly and artistic tendencies to achieve underpant dryness, what price will we pay? Will she enter into the Madame Strict’s Ballet Academy at $18,000 per year tuition? Will she wreck her feet and have lifelong back pain? Will she rehearse 18 hours a day, leaving no social life and less academic success? Will she become anorexic and bulimic and pop Mini-thins and Correctol like a cheese-loving-interstate-truckdriver, only to stop menstruating at 14 and smoke Marlborough Lights like a chimney until she is finally told at 22 that she is washed up and should just quit and have babies and tell bitter stories about what she could have been? Will she never learn to count to five???

She chats to me from her car seat in back as we drive. “Mommy, I’m gonna do ballet. And I’m gonna dance in a special skirt called a tutu. And I’m gonna have a hamburger and french fries and a soda for lunch.”

You sure are honey…

So far today she has discovered a birthday-decorated dining room, made chocolate chip pancakes, opened presents (2 new outfits, a new coat, some PC games and My Sims for her DS), put on make up, and tried on all the new clothes (fashion show dahling!). Now we are off to have a family day at the museum and have dinner at her favorite restaurant. I’d say this should kick of age nine perfectly!


You: Treasure Hunter


A few days ago I wrote about my favorite new thing to do: Geocaching. Well, Mental Floss Magazine must read my blog because looky here!

Most of the time the reaction you get when you tell someone new to the concept is mild interest, as if you had picked up plumbing or collecting stamps or bottle caps. Other times you can see that as soon as they get home, they are going to jump on the computer and see what its all about.

My dad told his pal who works for a California county park service about it.

“Oh yeah, we hate those things.” he said. “We found one and had to call the bomb squad.”

My father in law agreed. “That’s the day and age we live in. ”

Sad. Well, I am going to keep myself from going on a rant about how fear is costing us more than safety is worth. Maybe instead of blowing up our fun, the parks and rec department can take a page from The Ohio Historical Society and join us! They have hidden their own caches on their historical sites to keep new visitors coming through. Or maybe just write up a policy and post it here: GeocachingPolicy.org.

The truth of the matter is this:

Geocaching is good for the environment. Cachers generally are against hiding caches in protected or sensitive areas. Hiking is a lot better for the environment than ATVs and dirt bikes! The Cache In/Trash Out program has seekers take a trash bag with them and collect garbage on the way out.

Geocaching is good family fun. Try to argue with that…. see? You can’t!

Geocaching saves lives. No, really! Read this: Climbers rescued on Mount Hood aided by treasure hunt box. Summary: two climbers lost on Mount Hood find a geocache and are able to call in their location to rescuers.



I have talked to a lot of people recently about the kind of vacations they like to take. Everyone has their own style of holiday, What works for our family may not be what yours had in mind.

For instance, we really try to soak up as much of a new area’s culture and history as we can. We have shown our kids how to enjoy a day at the museum, eat unfamiliar foods, and meet and communicate with locals who may not speak English.

One of the other moms at Birdy’s school was horrified at the prospect of spending her holiday like that. She longed for days in the sun, water skiing on the lake outside their vacation cabin in Waterford.

My in-laws just came back from a week in Cancun that they raved about. It was a prepackaged holiday on a huge resort and they really enjoyed the service, food and activities.

Our family went outside our normal city break routine and took a cruise around the Mediterranean last October. The tours around the ports were wonderful, and it was a great way to see a big chunk of Italy, Spain and France all in a week.

So what do you like to do for vacation? Do you save up all year and take a grand trip? Or are small weekend jaunts more your style?

posted under travel | 1 Comment »

The Damned Gym


 I belong to the gym down the street. Now, when I first got to Ireland and took a look around and saw beautiful Georgian architecture and gated gardens, I thought that the gym would be full of medicine balls, Indian clubs and electric tummy wigglers.

But no! My gym is on FIRE! Seriously, there are flames everywhere - from the moment you walk down the tea-lit glass staircase to get into the gym, to the flaming torches that adorn the walls of the weight room. It looks like the sixth circle of hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy (that is the circle reserved for heretics, where they are trapped in flaming tombs).

Only the swimming pool is spared the tea light treatment. Ok, yes, it is surrounded by tea lights on all sides, but until the day that a tea light can burn underwater whilst ladies bounce through their Aquafit routine in their beskirted speedos, the pool itself remains tea light free. But don’t think the interior design team didn’t do their literary homework! This room looks like a combination of Plato’s Cave and Dante’s fifth circle of hell (thats the one on the river Styx where the wrathful fight each other on the surface of the water and the slothful gurgle restlessly below). The room has a blue hue created both by the blue tile of the pool and the blue lighting above. Its very dark, but only to draw attention to the projection that takes up the entire far wall with a continuous showing of The Blue Ocean. Its like The Cave - but for fish! There are also four inexplicable monitors on the side wall that show Jaques Cousteau specials, Gladiator, some other fish documentary and Gone With the Wind. Because swimming laps is the perfect time to get your movie on!

So a few weeks ago I was at the Damned Gym and I was on one of the weight machines when a woman walked past me and gave me a look like “I know what you did, and I don’t approve”. I smiled at her, ’cause thats how I roll, when suddenly it hit me: the powerful stench of stinkyness. It smelled like… poop.

“Ew!” I thought to myself, “she should say excuse me!” and gave the woman the “I know what you did, and I don’t approve” look.

Then I realized that the woman thought that I was the stinker! When we had exchanged looks we both realized that neither of us was the culprit, so we simultaneously turned our gaze to the two gentlemen at the free weights who had the nerve to already be giving us the stink-eye!

Then someone said “look, its a leak!” and sure enough sewage was spilling through a crack in the ceiling, absolving all of us from suspicion. But for that bare few moments we were all in the sixth ditch of the eighth circle of hell at the Damned Gym. (thats the one where fraudulent accusers go, and listlessly wander around in lead cloaks. We didnt have lead cloaks but those weights were pretty heavy).

So if you move to Dublin, say your prayers, eat healthy, and save for lipo, or you too may end up at THE DAMNED GYM.


Factgirl: Treasure Hunter


One thing about poker players, at least the interesting ones, is the OTHER stuff they like to do. Howard Lederer is a great chess player. Gus Hansen, Dan Harrington, Erik Seidel, and Phil Laak, are all backgammon players. A bunch of the pros play golf. I hear a bunch of you poker bloggers are strip-club enthusiasts…

This all brings me to one of my special interests: scavenger hunts. Back in LA I loved it when MouseAdventure time rolled around. This is a huge scavenger hunt at Disneyland organized by the MousePlanet website. Teams of four run around the park solving puzzles and gathering clues. There are little prizes, but really everyone is there for the fun of the hunt.

This Christmas, I received a Garmin eTrex Legend HCx from my dad (thanks, Dad!) I have always wanted to go geocaching, but never had a GPS. Now I am an unstoppable caching machine! For those of you unfamiliar with it, geocaching is when one person hides a cache somewhere and logs the coordinates onto geocache.com. Then another person downloads the coordinates and uses their GPS to find the cache. Some caches are big waterproof boxes, some are tiny little capsules. They can be hidden in rural or urban areas and there are caches throughout the world. Inside each cache is a logbook finders sign, larger caches will also have some little take one/leave one items.

I have already found my first two caches in California, none yet in Ireland , but I can’t wait to get out there and hunt! If you have access to a GPS, why not register and go for a treasure hunt this weekend?

Poker and popcorn and whiskers on kittens


I’m channeling Maria because we’re fixin to take the kids to see The Sound of Music in London in a few weeks. Yes, I know we already went to London, but we missed some of the major attractions; Stonehenge, Bath, The British Museum, plus we love that city. As far as the truthfulness of the title of this post, popcorn is nice and I’m allergic to cats.

That leaves poker, which is on a bit of an upswing as we speak. I took a nice long break from poker after trying nearly everything to shore up my horrible run. I went down in levels. I tried to play tighter. I even cracked a little Harrington for some review. Nothing. So the break.

It worked! I am back to killing the sit-n-gos and cashing in the tourneys.  One day I’ll be back in a decent time zone and can join in the blogger tournament fun once again.

Meet the New Blog!



Did you just change your link?  Yay! Check my sidebar and make sure the link to YOUR site made it through the move unscathed.

So here it is, the new blog. I like this design because its swirly and fancy and orange.  Also, its now in Wordpress so its easy to change if I grow bored of it. I just couldn’t look at my old tired blog and get inspired to write.

I still have a few little things to change, locations of some stuff, cafe curtains, perhaps a flowerbox in the window… but for now I am moved and excited to fill this new bloggy blog with postings!

Thanks for sticking with me through the move and happy new year!

If you are in the South…


Hey y’all!

Heads up if you are anywhere near Greenville, South Carolina. My friends Susan and Dave started a new restaurant there in July called American Grocery Restaurant.

They were just named Best New Restaurant in Greenville and featured in on the cover of Link Magazine for Southern Exposure (that’s pastry chef Susan - can you tell she is a former model and ballerina?)

Anyway, check out the link above and if you are close give them a try. They are wonderful chefs and amazing people.

posted under food, friends | 4 Comments »
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