Painted Sky

This is a real quick clip taken around 6pm of some fascinating weather. This was taken from our balcony and at first it was dis orientating as the light was brighter in the east.

The camera pans from east to west and you can see the sun behind the clouds in the distance. This weather can change at the drop of a hat from sunny to ” damn, got a jacket?” Out of the blue you get gusts of 60mph that can howl through your bones. Then it’s T Shirt weather. We dig it.

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One word sums up the greatest grocery store in the history of the world.
Why? Cuz it is. Really, why? Read On. It’s the only grocery store outside of Trader Joe’s that we’ve ever had an allegiance to. Well, F  Y  I  Aldi Nord owns the Trader Joe’s enterprise and has been since 1979 when Theo Albrecht took it over. And they appear to have remained controversy-free; at least to my knowledge.


This is what the inside of an Aldi looks like ; pretty simple and unglamorous as advertised. When we were in Nashville this was home away from home. Now the
reason why it’s so great : we could feed the whole family well for a week on $70.
I’m not talking trash. The quality was really good and it’s even better here and the price tag; the same.

The suppliers for the meat and produce are Irish and the QC for Irish food is pretty off the chart. For instance : They can track back each cow here to the original farmer and to its mama. That makes the meat pretty expensive; think a 6 euro 50 Big Mac.
No drugs, no hormones and grass fed to the best of my knowledge.

Here’s the catch. If it’s busy you gotta be on your game. You go in and you’re immediately on a virtual conveyor belt of shoppers and it slowly ebbs and flows a little so you look ahead, see what you want, what you need & grab it as you go by while keeping the kids from grabbing everything and thoroughly pissing off the customers directly in front of & to the back of you. We’re getting to know the layout better now & that helps a lot. When you’re done you queue your stuff up on a long narrow conveyor belt and the checker starts scanning as you finish emptying your cart.  You hustle down to the end where you spin your cart in and parallel park it in front of the busy checker. There’s no check out cabinet space; that’s all about your cart & your bags if you have them ready in time. Groceries are flying off the edge of the counter into the cart. You organize, you bag, you catch cuz checkers don’t slow down. It gets to be kind of a fun game if you can keep it moving smoothly. The customers behind you are watching intently. Oh, the kids! They’re pulling boxes of swag off the display. Gotta breathe. Smile stiffly. Suddenly you notice at times like this that you and your rag tag family are the only drama in the store, period. You’re the storm and all around you, just outside of reach life is perfect and ideal. How do I get to the calm part?

Aldi has great prices on beer and wine.

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To tell you the truth I don’t reflect much on anything. I don’t think about where I was or
where I’m going much of the time. I’m usually just….busy. We all are. That’s why when I see horses and donkeys my head starts to clear. Thing is I don’t think about myself much (not until I start to write about myself I guess). I think about what it’s like to be a donkey. Is it “easy?” Is the food good? Are they pampered? These ones sure are.
These guys live up the street. The kids feed them carrots. They’re pretty good natured really. Here’s some pics.

A zebra and a donkey can mate. The offspring is a zonkey. You never hear of a 40 donkey team either.

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Reaching Out and Seeing What’s There.

There are protocols in any field and when you’ve been spending enough time in the zone you tend to know how to communicate instinctively with others who do what you do. I’ve been spending a bit of time learning about jobs outside of music, researching,  learning  what counts as transferable skills, how to be effective, blah, so on.  Job hunting is new to me; gig hunting isn’t.  STILL….this is, well….different. ‘N…ahh tell ya why.

I’ve heard this location boasted as the being  the music hub of the country. That gets me reeeeeeealy interested. As a music junkie I want to be a part of the trip MAN! Thing is if they’re playing trad I’m the quiet man. I try to respect some polite rules of a session : if there’s already a guitar playing don’t play. One guitar is good enough and is going to do his/her own harmonic thang with the melody. O yea and uh….the melodies. If you don’t know it’s best to lay low. I’d hear the fiddle or concertina start a zesty, liliting diatonic melody going a good 32 bars acappella. Ok fine. Then the mandolin starts accompaning note for note at bare 33. Nice (I have no idea how the song goes btw).  I ask the mandolin player how long it took him to learn it. He said ….”aaah I got in about 32 bars tonight; never heard it before”…..That’s how the gangsters do it here. I went home shocked and slightly in pain. The pint helped.


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Staying Skinny In Left Field : A Word On Driving

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In this village, as in most there are streets that come off of any given main road that, for Americans would seem treacherous. That’s because they really are (even though people know what they’re doing on them) and that’s the way of the world. I’ve been going 100kph at night down a two lane road between town and village and nearly plowed down a horse standing in front of me. I’m lucky I get to live and learn. The road in the photos is the road I walk normally to take Finny to / from school. You have to be ready to pull over when you sense a car coming at you from the other direction a ways off. Or, they have to pull over for you. You’re never sure until it’s almost too late and you’re headed at 80kph into each others grill. This is because sometimes there’s another type A plus neurotic parent leadfooting up on your tail.  Then it can be an Irish standoff, between you and the old lady in the Citroen diesel heading at you who’s chattering up the hill and waiting for you to get out the way!  You start to convince yourself that, being a yank you’re getting used to the fact that the steering wheel and the shifter are backwards. That’s right boys n girls, you simply…..stay……left. I sometime still hang out the window looking at the hair line distance between me and the oncoming Scania monster rig diming the accelerator as he passes and leaves us buffeting in a toronado wake. East of us in Furbo the pub /restaurant Padraicins gives, or at least used to give rides home to local patrons. Good idea.

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The Humdrum For Today

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Today Bridget was off from her restaurant gig so after we collected the kids from school we went to town. BTW where we live is the village and whenever you say you’re going to town people assume you mean Galway City. I called Spiddal a town and everyone thought I was nuts. So….we left the village for town. The first stop is a notary for an application for a vital record. In the states there are people you can hire for 15 -20 bucks at a print store that will notarize you. Here the services are done by solicitors (read : lawyers) and there are a couple of them who do it in Galway. I went to an ancient three story building not knowing I was going to use all three stories when I showed up for my appointment (don’t walk in). I waited in the waiting room for a while when a pleasant guy comes in and politely directs me up to 3 stories to the Barton Fink office, looks over the paper, stamps, signs and collects appx $55 in euros cash (no cards taken). I got an envelope out of the deal that I didn’t have to buy at a post office. If it sound like I’m complaining I’m not. I really like the way things are done here. For example : sure they have IT and networks but there’s a lot that is still done the old fashioned way : with paper. Receipts are usually hand written a lot of times and, even when the bureaucracy gets a little crazy it’s always possible to get a hold of a living human being, usually someone whose plenty smart and pretty darn helpful too. We snapped a few nice pics of town before leaving at 6 for the village.  Now here’s hoping the DSL keeps working good. More to come…..D

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HORSEPUCKEEE HAWWWW!!! Ballinasloepokes meet itinerant maidens in waiting.


Ya see, whenever we go out for a walk (not only because we have to but sometimes when it just seems like a darn good idea) we’re likely to find a horse that’s sociable enough to want to try to eat the kids hair whilst they fawn over said horse as if its a giant baby. Don’t get me wrong; I love the nags and the visits never get old, doubt they could. So when we heard there was a horse FAIR nearby in Ballinasloe, and not just any ordinary horse fair but the oldest  annual HF in Europe, replete with amusement rides, curios, music &  shenanigans we signed up gleefully for one of the busiest Sundays in recent memory. So….photo 3

Where do I start? First, this picture doesn’t do justice…you have to realize there are thousands upon thousands of horses in town for this. The first thing that hits you is the lack of parking ANYWHERE close enough to actually see horse mecca. So I dropped the wife and daughter off & took my boy to troll for spots. That’s when the second thing hits us. Everywhere, everywhere like an evil, stinky explosion of confetti were the biscuits. They don’t care…they drop…they’re horses. I lucked out a little over a mile away and stuck Finn on my shoulders and hit the bricks being extra careful to dance around horse bombs and the impenetrable exchange with someone well traveled who took a liking to me for a minute. The language didn’t sound like Irish plus I can understand a pretty thick accent. I thought I was losing my hearing or my mind when he said “good on ya mate, bye.” I breathed deep clouds of horse as the rest of my family came into view.

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Nola welcomes you to the Fair.  If you click the link you’ll get the lowdown on the event and the whos and wheres.

Sometimes you feel like you’re part of a global community, a 7 billion strong neighborhood. Sometimes it’s not like that. You figure it out; I’ll just tell you what I 4photo 5

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There are the girls. Usually about 16 to 20 all with spray tans and outfits that run the range between hoochie and extravagant. Sometimes they dawn big white dresses or fox fur and miniskirts. Then the guys, some looking like Jackie Cooper from the early 40s with their wing tips, side parted hair and riding canes. Each side puts on the show for the other. The girls are looking for husbands. They’re travelers and many of the families are in the horse trade. This is the place to buy and sell. There are also head splitting cherry bombs going off every 2 minutes, clandestine tossings in the amusement area from young troublemakers.  The smell of horse and various perfumes, some not so nice colognes,  meet with the sound of hard amusement ride autotuned house mixes to produce an experience that cannot be forgotten. I heard this is one of those events where the people are actually happy the Garda are there. It’s an equine Sturgis.

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Here you go…horse trailer paddy wagon.

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They had dere fun, n tats whut matters!

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