Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ireland: Day 3

Today we toured Dublin - mostly aboard the bus. On our scenic drive through the city (for which we were actually awake & alert this time), we saw the following:
  • Grafton Street - The pedestrian area of Dublin. Lots of shopping & pubs. No autos are allowed. Always packed with people.
  • Famous door - The largest & most photographed residential door in Dublin.
  • D4 zip code - The most prestigious area to live in Dublin (kind of like Highland Park).
  • Trinity College - AKA The University of Ireland & the most prestigious in Ireland. 47 acres in the center of Dublin. Until 1970, Catholics had to get special permission to attend. There's no tuition for EU citizens and most get grants for living expenses, as well. Over 50% of the population gets some kind of college education. Also the home of The Book of Kells.
  • RTE - National television & radio broadcasting.
  • Christ's Church Cathedral - Built inside the old medieval wall. Protestant congregation.
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral - Built on the outside the old medieval wall. Built on the grounds near the well where St. Patrick converted a man. Also a Protestant congregation. Johnathan Swift & his wife are buried on the grounds.

After lunch on Grafton Street, we toured the Book of Kells exhibit at Trinity College. It was a fascinating description of the origin of the tiny manuscripts and how they were made. The artisanship and craftsmanship is amazing. We couldn't take photos of the exhibit. But you can see examples here. This exhibit ended at the entrance to The Long Room - or the main chamber of the old library. Their collection is absolutely extraordinary, not to mention extensive. When the original library had filled every shelf, they raised the roof to its present height. The library houses over 200,000 books.

In the evening, we gave our first concert at St. Ann's. It was a relatively good concert, considering most of us were still jet lagged. The concert was well-attended. Even some of Harry's friends from home were there - they happened to be in Dublin on business & popped in to see us.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I Have Learned From Emails

Dear Family and Friends,

I just want to thank all of you for your educational emails over the past year. Thanks to you:

  • I no longer open a public bathroom door without using a paper towel.
  • I can't use the remote in a hotel room because I don't know what the last person was doing while flipping through the adult movie channels.
  • I can't sit down on the hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.
  • I can't enjoy lemon slices in my tea or on my seafood anymore because lemon peels have been found to contain all kinds of nasty germs including feces.
  • I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking your nose. (Although cell phone usage may be taking the number one spot.)
  • Eating a Little Debbie sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of Trans fats I have consumed over the years.
  • I can't touch any woman's purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom.
  • I must send my special thanks to whoever sent me the one about poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.
  • Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.
  • I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.
  • I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program. Thank God for their Philanthropy!
  • I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St.Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.
  • I no longer eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
  • I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
  • Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
  • Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.
  • I no longer can buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.
  • I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans.
  • I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.
  • And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.
  • I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.
  • I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
  • I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.
  • I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.
  • I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for or which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda;, Singapore and Uzbekistan .
  • I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.
  • Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.
  • And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up $5.00 dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.
  • I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, July 25, 2008

TGIF

Whew. It's been a busy not busy week. Makes sense, right? Right. Not to me either. Here's the latest.
  • My boss' son is improving each day. He's been moved from ICU to a room and has begun therapy. Slowly but surely, he's regaining normal cognitive function. (Funny story: for one whole day, he spoke nothing but Spanish - which he took all thru high school - and better than anyone remembers him speaking it. Luckily his brother is conversational too - he interpreted all day. He's back to speaking English now.) Hey, going from 70mph to 0 is quite a shock to the system! So needless to say, the recovery matches the harm. Anyway, he's doing well.
  • Finally had Derek's 100k celebratory dinner with his boss on Tuesday. Had a nice dinner at a local sushi restaurant. It was nice to go to a work dinner & not really talk about work. His boss, of course, congratulated him - particularly since he's currently MORE than 2 months OVER quota.
  • We are currently in the process of (most likely) buying out our in-laws' interest in a condo in Vail, CO. They've owned the property for more than 20 yrs but haven't used it much. I've only been up there once but absolutely loved it. So when my f-i-l offered us his share, we were thrilled. We're gathering all the info just to be certain all the ducks line up. But I feel confident the deal will go through in the coming weeks.

That's it for this week's news. I'll be working on Ireland summaries this weekend, so look for those to post in the coming week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Helpful Site

For those of you tired of finding a mailbox full of "you're qualified" notices from every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a business, I found this link in the newspaper today. Whoohoo, a lifetime free of those stupid notices!

Update

For those of you interested in knowing the whole story:

My judge's son, Stephen, was involved in a single-car accident yesterday morning. They believe he had a seizure (he has epilepsy) which resulted in the accident. The officer who responded to the call told my boss that it was a horrific accident and he was amazed Stephen was even alive.

Stephen is at Parkland Hospital in the ICU. The initial CT scan indicated a moderate concussion with some slight bleeding and swelling of the brain. Nevertheless, they are cautiously optimistic about Stephen’s prognosis. Other than mild abrasions on his knuckles and the left side of his face, Stephen’s only injuries are the ones listed above, i.e., he has no broken bones or internal injuries, etc.

For most of the day yesterday, Stephen was intubated & sedated. Once they felt confident surgery was not necessary & he was stable, they removed the tube & brought him out of sedation. He was responding to instructions (e.g., raising two fingers when asked to) and had feeling in his extremities. He was giving the thumbs up when asked how he was doing. My boss is, of course, very much relieved.

Stephen had another CT scan overnight. The results are still positive and the doctors are pleased with his situation. While all of the objective data looks good, they anticipate Stephen will be in the hospital for some time as he will have some neurological issues as a result of the impact.

{UPDATE 3 p.m.}
Stephen has been sitting up in a chair today and recognizes/knows the people who are visiting. They are considering moving him out of ICU to a room tomorrow or the next day. They will be assessing his “cognitive issues” over the next several days and determining whether he should do in- or out-patient rehab.

Please continue to lift this family up in your prayers for a speedy, successful recovery.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Special Thoughts

Please say a little prayer for my boss' son. He was involved in a very serious single-car accident on his way to work this morning & is now in the neuro-ICU at Parkland. The prognosis is good at the moment so we're all cautiously optimistic, but his condition remains serious for the next 24-48 hrs. More info later...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things: Installment 6

This is a fun one that struck me over the weekend. Enjoy!

Things: I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up (revised)

  1. Sue Ellen Ewing - hey, don't knock it! I grew up in the Dallas era. And my mom watched it religiously, as did I. I know. Crazy. But I loved the story, and most of the "adult stuff" flew over my head anyway. But oh how I wanted to be Sue Ellen Ewing. She was strong, determined, sassy, self-assured, well spoken, rich, good looking - every little girl's dream, right? LOL
  2. Mary Lou Retton - again, consider when I grew up. The American Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team was HUGE. And every little girl loved watching them. I loved doing stupid tumbling runs in the backyard & making everyone watch...as I fell flat on my butt. (I earned the nickname "Grace" honestly!) But I had the best 10 stance ever!
  3. Mob boss' wife - LOL. In a sick & twisted kinda way, right? Good grief, Grasshoppa. I know. WAY out there. But hey, who REALLY had all the power? The women, of course! hahaha Can't blame a girl for dreamin'.
  4. Marine biologist - If I recall correctly, a trip to an aquarium sparked this interest. And then there were subsequent trips to Sea World, etc. I was fascinated by marine mammals & their care & training. Ultimately, I realized that jobs in this field were few & far between.
  5. Aerospace engineer - As a child of the 80s, I remember the "race for space." And I distinctly remember the Challenger tragedy. My third grade class watched the lift-off live on television. Talk about startling. But ultimately, it sparked my interest in aeronautics. And this interest lasted quite a long time - all the way up through my jr year of high school. I ultimately wanted to fly fighter jets off aircraft carriers but had to give up that dream when I realized I wasn't tall enough to even try. That didn't dissuade my interest in flying. I then decided I could design the planes. Then, of course, there was the downsizing of the military & all of the subsequent layoffs in the industry. Again, jobs were few & far between.
  6. Contemporary Christian singer - This was more of a pipe dream amongst friends. We had such fun creating stage names. In the end, we all knew it was a road none of us would travel. But it was fun dreaming!
  7. Small & exotic animal vet - And this is the aspiration that took me to college. I really wanted to work with zoo animals. So I started on the track that would take me to vet school. In the end, I panicked over all the standardized tests I would have to take to make it (I'm not a good test-taker), not to mention the tremendous amount of debt I would have to accrue, & switched to an ag business degree.
  8. Ag banker/broker - With my ag business degree, I pursued jobs in the finance industry. Ultimately, I had no luck. I'm not sure if it was simply that I didn't have the experience or that I looked SOOOO young (I was actually told "you don't look old enough for ANY of my clients to take you seriously") or that I simply wasn't looking in the right places for a job related to my education. But ultimately, I sought employment outside the financial industry.
  9. Lawyer - So after having no luck finding a job, I talked to a family friend who also happened to be an attorney. He encouraged me to look at the legal profession - I was detail-oriented, organized, smart. Basically, he thought I had all the tools to make a great lawyer. And that's how I landed my current job. I pursued postings in the legal field. I thought I might go to law school or maybe become a paralegal. But once I got here, I realized that, while I would be good at it, I didn't really NEED a legal education to be happy. And to pursue a legal career, I would have to give up my vocal endeavors that had just begun to bud.
  10. Opera singer - And that brings us to the present. One day I hope to sing on a "big" stage - something with the DSO would be nice. The Met would be a dream come true. But in the meantime, I'll take the small stage any day of the week just knowing that I can do something that I truly love - SING.

Where's July Gone?

Gracious, you look up & most of a month is gone. Crazy! Guess that's what happens when you go out of the country for 10 days - you miss most of the month. Slowly but surely, I'm getting back in the non-vacation groove. So you'll start seeing more posts (notice I've started the Ireland summaries). I was in allergy bliss last week where I didn't really notice any major symptoms, but it's come back in full force this week. Gee, thanks. I probably asked for it as I drove around with my windows down, sunroof open, radio blaring & hair blowing in the breeze all last week/weekend. Hey, it was fun while it lasted.

Ireland: Day 1 & 2

So we totally lost Day 1 to travel. Left DFW about 1 in the afternoon on the 4th & got into Dublin at 8 am on the 5th. Ugh. Talk about jet lag! Our tour guides Gary & Michael met us at the airport. We boarded our two buses & took a scenic tour of the city before checking in to the hotel - we were all zombies. So needless to say, we only remember the things we photographed (and/or journaled about)...and subsequently saw again at the end of our trip. Before dinner, we opted for a late-afternoon tour of the Guinness Warehouse in lieu of a nap (smart idea!). Learning about the whole brewing process was surprisingly interesting...and we got a free pint. Our hotel was very nice - albeit very oddly laid out. They had clearly converted apartments into the hotel so there were stairs galore & the elevator was virtually useless & the hotel was all chopped up into several different buildings. Otherwise, though, it was a nice hotel. Dinner took forever - I don't think they were really prepared for 70 of us eating dinner all at once. But the food was good & we didn't really care as long as we got food before bed. And most of us went to bed as soon as possible afterward anyway.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not in the Mood

In case you're wondering, I'm still here. Nope. No jetlag...yet. Just not in the mood to blog this week. Maybe the weekend will bring you some blarney - but don't count on it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back home

As I'm sure you've all noticed, there was no time to post anything while we were away. Our schedule was cram-packed full of things to do & getting to a computer was not easy. And when I could get to one, I had just enough time to zip home email to family. Sooooo, long story short, we're home, we had a great time, & more details of the trip will be coming in the next week.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Things: Installment 5

I'm in Ireland this week. But I had the opportunity to make a great list to post while I'm away. I think you'll enjoy it.

Things: About Getting Ready for Travels

  1. I make a million lists. (see previous post about my list habits) It's my way of making sure I don't leave anything at home. I make lists for big trips months in advance, and I spend the next few months tweaking the list. As I think of things, I alter the list. I printed my Ireland list AT LEAST four times before I left, and EVERY list was different. I was finally happy with it & so I packed with the last one. =)

  2. I start packing about four days before I leave. I know. It seems crazy. But when you have a list of things you HAVE to take, making room for those things & everything else can be tricky. Going to Ireland has been a packing endurance contest b/c luggage restrictions have changed - both for the airlines & for our travel company. So I had to fit everything in SMALLER, LIGHTER luggage. Ugh! Me. The overpacker in smaller luggage. HA!

  3. I start getting butterflies about a week-and-a-half before a trip. I'm not sure why. But this always happens. And when it happens, it usually means that I unpack & repack the suitcase (if it's packed) b/c I'm worried that the butterflies are some sort of sign that I've forgotten something. And I just generally freak out!

  4. I never sleep well the night before a trip. Sometimes I wonder why I bother going to bed at all. B/c you can almost bet that I haven't slept more than a few hours, if that. I think my mind turns all night long. Out of excitement. Maybe a little bit of anxiety. I've learned to take something before bed, but that doesn't guarantee a good night's sleep. It's kind-of like when I was younger & it was Christmas Eve. I never slept then either.

  5. I'm an overpacker. It's a chronic condition. Just ask my dad. He used to tease me about the weight & sheer volume of luggage I would take to summer camp or on weekend trips. While I've scaled back some over the years, I'm still the one with 500 pairs of underwear, 15 pairs of shoes, and the medicine cabinet - regardless of the length of the trip!

  6. I leave a handbook at home for the person in charge. Everyone makes fun of me for this. But the person who's left behind - whether it's Derek or the neighbors or the house sitter - always knows 1) where I am at any given time, 2) how to get in touch with me, 3) who to call if I'm not reachable, 4) every emergency number in a 20-mi radius, 5) vet info, 6) where we keep weapons, 7) what their daily duties are, 8) where we keep certain items, etc, etc, etc. I like to eliminate as many questions as possible. You know, cover all the bases. (Would you be surprised to hear that I leave a handbook behind at work too? It, of course, has more work-related information in it. =) )

  7. I always clean house before I leave town. Even if I'm the only one who's going anywhere. There's just something about leaving the house clean that makes me feel better about going. And it's a lot more likely to be clean when I come home if that's how I left it.

  8. I give careful thought to what I wear on the airplane. It has to be comfortable, made of all-natural fibers, and easy to run in. Hey, IF something horrible happened & my plane went down, I'd want to know I could run like holy hell & not have plastic clothes embedded in my burned flesh! (Natural fibers burn away without adhering to flesh, just in case you wanted to know. My co-worker who spent 5 yrs working in the burn unit at Parkland told me that.) I also never, ever go sockless b/c a) you have to go thru security with your shoes off & I'm not wearing those little booties or going barefooted and b) you don't even want to know what's been on the floor of that airplane (at least according to every stewardess I know).

  9. I try to see all of my good friends & family before I leave, especially when I'm leaving the country. Kind-of a bon voyage, if you will. Any excuse for a party! And everyone gets their chance to say "please bring me 'x.'"

  10. Last but not least ... I kiss all my critters goodbye before I leave & explain to them I'll be gone & for how long & to be good for whomever will be watching them. For whatever reason, it does seem to help with the loneliness issue. Or I like to think it does.

Friday, July 04, 2008

We're Off

Gone to Ireland

Check back in a few days for on-the-road trip updates (I hope)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Did Someone Say Party?

Whew. The checklist is checked. The bags are packed with all but the last-minute items. The camera's ready. The batteries are charged. When are we leaving?

Oh yeah. Not 'til tomorrow. So now we can have a bon voyage party. Anyone?! =)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

No, I'm Not Packed

But thanks for asking. And thanks for initiating the fourteenth panic attack of the day. Yes. The day. I'm totally freaking out here. I've never been this close to a big trip & not been packed. I just can't seem to get my act together. But I take some comfort in the fact that I have my super-duper-extremely-organized-ultimate-packing-list. Now. If I can just fit everything on the list in my bag!

Derek took me to dinner last night at our favorite local restaurant - Cosa Nostra. Mmm. How we love the food there! And the people. It was unusually quiet - maybe b/c we're used to eating there on the weekends when it's crazy busy. We were able to sit at our table as long as we wanted without feeling like we were taking away business - even though Denisio always tells us to "take your time ... enjoy." Enjoy we did. (And I'm probably five pounds heavier for it...haha!)

BUT needless to say, I didn't get much more trip stuff done. Altho, I did go by WalMart on my way home (before dinner obv.). Nightmare. I HATE WalMart, especially at five o'clock! Ugh. I gave up on a return. I stood in line for twenty minutes & moved not one inch or even one place in line. I decided to just get the crap I needed & get out. Once I got my items & was ready to check out, the express lanes were all jam-packed so I got in a very short "regular" line. I swear it was rocket science to get the lady & her ten items in front of me checked out. (Sigh) On the upside, I think I have everything I need for the trip. So now I'm just left to packing.

So until my bags are packed, I will not be answering the phone, the door, the critters, the husband, the ... well, you get the idea. There's time to be social when I know I'm ready to go!