June 30, 2006

Cause its a boring day at the office

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have high extroversion.
You are outgoing and engaging, with both strangers and friends.
You truly enjoy being with people and bring energy into any situation.
Enthusiastic and fun, you're the first to say "let's go!"


You have medium conscientiousness.
You're generally good at balancing work and play.
When you need to buckle down, you can usually get tasks done.
But you've been known to goof off when you know you can get away with it.


You have medium agreeableness.
You're generally a friendly and trusting person.
But you also have a healthy dose of cynicism.
You get along well with others, as long as they play fair.


You have low neuroticism.
You are very emotionally stable and mentally together.
Only the greatest setbacks upset you, and you bounce back quickly.
Overall, you are typically calm and relaxed - making others feel secure.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is high.
In life, you tend to be an early adopter of all new things and ideas.
You'll try almost anything interesting, and you're constantly pushing your own limits.
A great connoisseir of art and beauty, you can find the positive side of almost anything.

June 28, 2006

How much is too much?

We just met with our realtor to sign the seller's contract. Of course we needed to also decide the price for the house. We didn't expect the house to almost double in value in four years so we're happy with whatever at this point. Its above what we expected and we want it to sell this summer. Apparently the market has really slowed down. Lots of houses are sitting for more than 60 days. NO GOOD for us. I want this done. After examining the comps the realtor suggested a price range. We were comfortable with the low middle of that range.

(Now, she and her husband have become much enjoyed friends of ours and during our meeting blogging came up. I sent her here to show her a sample. She had no idea what blogging was about. Which means she may be reading this. If so, hi, hon! Just trying to process with my 'peeps.)

She said she thought we were being 'aggressively conservative'. Hmph. That feels like a dare. I know she truly has our best interests at heart. Really. Three percent of $5,000 is more than nothing, but not by much. We have to figure out how to gamble. Pick the right price for the market and jump in. What we're realizing though is that we're not financial risk takers. We'd prefer the sure thing with less worry and less hassle. Cause, lets face it 60 DAYS of model home maintainence might just kill us. I mean, you only get an hour warning before someone comes to see the house. It usually takes me 5 hours of hard work before we have guests over. Why mop when you can do something else with your time? That's definitely a place I procrastinate.

Oh, she also pushed back the open houses. Public showing Sunday July 9th, Broker Open House on the 12th. Phew! Now we can get all the tweaky things done as well as the big ones. Her biggest concern was the attic office (or 3rd bedroom): the sacred repository of Jrex's geological organizational methods. He's been making great progress with all the sorting and trashing that needs to happen. He's scaled back his experiments so he can focus on the house. I'm loving the team effort. What a good husband.

(Yesterday was his birthday! I celebrated by going to my small group. Bad wife. But we went out to dinner Sunday and once we get a contract, he's buying a lovely steak and we'll open an aged wine and toast the next phase of the adventure.)

Any opinions from the great home buying/selling public? Any gambling advice? (And yes, scarp, we already prayed and asked for a price. That was the one that got us the 'aggressive conservative' comment. It's likely what we'll go for, but I just like to brainstorm all possibilities before picking one)

June 27, 2006


I tried making a header for my page and I've been trying for two hours to get it to center! Any ideas or referrals to others who might know?

As good as bad can be

To answer the 'how bad is it?!' question. I suppose if you must slide your hand along a razor, it's better to use your left hand. And if you're planning on doing that, it's great if you 'just' slice the muscle pad at the base of your thumb. It really didn't even bleed much and it was a clean straight cut. Four stitches. Except for stretching my hand wide I have total mobility. Frankly, the tetanus shot in my right shoulder has caused me more discomfort. We went out to dinner Sunday night and I couldn't carry my leftovers cause on the left side it hurt my hand, and on the right, my shoulder. It still hurt last night.

I must say its nice to finally get a perk from being married to a doctor (cause the big house and big bucks haven't done it for me yet!) When the P.A. told me to come back in 5 days, I pointed to Jrex and said, 'He's a doctor, can he do it?' She laughed and said, 'Sure'! The nurse came in to give me the wound care speech and said, "And come back in 10 days--wink wink--to have these removed.'

Service with a smile (through my gritted teeth)

In more house fun and games I went to Home Depot last night. I opened a can of paint to repaint a wall in the bedroom and it had mold in it. (I didn't know paint could grow mold?!) I took the can (with the formula clearly imprinted on the lid) to HD for a supposed 5 minute deal. At 7:45 pm. I waited 15 minutes while they called and called for someone to come to the paint department. A guy showed up without the orange apron. He works in receiving and felt awful that people were waiting. He knew the 'real' paint guy was on lunch break and was trying to be helpful. He didn't know how to just program in the number, so he tried to get a mold-free bit of paint so he could attempt to use the color matching system. Nothing worked. Based on his accent he seemed to be from Africa. In the midst of all this fuss and bother, Jrex called to say he was coming home.

I told him what was going on. He recommended just coming home and trying again later. While he was talking, the HD guy kept asking me questions. Jrex felt that I was wasting time trying to get something 'close enough' (what, has he been married to me long? To know that close enough is never good enough for me--at least for house stuff) I finally had to ask Jrex if I could just call him back. After we tried two more things the paint guy shows up from what had to be the longest lunch break ever. He knows how to punch in the formula and it was, in fact, a 5 minute deal. 45 minutes later.

I called Jrex back and explained that after the other guy was trying so hard I didn't want to be the snippy white American and leave. He totally understood the situation (but was relieved we got an exact match).

So I went home and painted til 12:30 am. And woke this morning to discover that the paint guy hadn't let the color mix long enough, so its lighter than the rest of the paint.

June 26, 2006

Home Repair Tips and Tricks

A wallpaper scraper has a wonderful 4 inch razor that works great for removing old paint from baseboards. It can also be used to smooth rough walls and prep for painting.

1. When you're finished with the scraper, DON'T leave it razor side up in the tool bucket.

2. When you're hammering a nail in the baseboard, DON'T lose your balance.

3. Try not to scare the dog by cussing VERY loudly as you run to the bathroom to rinse and evaluate.

4. DON'T try to call your husband while driving to the ER and pressing paper towels to your chest with your bleeding hand.

5. Thank God for knees that can steer.

6. When he (the husband) offers to join you (after an all-nighter moonlighting in the hospital), don't try to be tough and say he doesn't need to bother (be grateful when he doesn't listen to you).

7. DO try to think of a better story than the truth, 'cause repeating the klutz-factor version will get old very quickly.

8. DON'T try to do home repair right before church, especially when you're scheduled to do announcements.

9. DO add in the phone numbers of new members of the leadership team before you need them.

10. When the nurse gives you a tetanus shot, DO have her put it in the same shoulder as your bad hand.

11. Six hours later when your shoulder aches, before you stretch it over and over and over again, DO ask your husband if a tetanus shot causes muscle pain.

12. Again, DO think of a better story for when they announce why you're not in church...

13. Answer phone calls as graciously as possible. Repeat pitiful story. Again. And Again.

June 22, 2006


Judging by the comments on my "Quote of the Day" entry, I misrepresented Luci! She's the sister of Chuck Swindoll (not that it matters, I just think its neat). She was asked to write the book as a single woman in her 60's. So, it didn't sound like she'd marched around declaring her determination to be single. Rather, in an era when many women chose marriage as their only option she became an executive for 30 years. It sounds like her life has been about embracing who she is and loving it rather than pining for what she didn't have. The book wasn't a projection, it was more of a reflection.

She was quoting Sophie Tucker, a vaudville star who also took who she was and made it all work. In Luci's story, the Christian publisher was asking her to write a book. She surprised herself by agreeing. Then he asked what she would base it on. She quickly joked, "Not scripture! If you'll let me do it based on this quote, I'll do it." I think it was a humorous test of whether the publisher would let her be herself or whether he wanted her to do sappy religious writing.

Speaking as a married person who was ready to be 'single for life' before getting married, there are times when I wonder what Option B would have been like. My friend in Ireland and then Luci today were neat reminders of how amazing and rich my life as a single woman might have been. Its a message most people don't hear very often these days.

Sorry for not giving the quote a context. (I always worry that I talk too much and no one reads my long wordy entries.)

Quote of the Day

Via Luci Swindoll, author of I Married Adventure: Looking at Life through the Lens of Possibility

When asked by a Christian publisher to write a book on her choice to remain single, she responded that she wouldn't base it on a scritpure verse, rather she'd base it on this quote: "From birth through eighteen, a girl needs good parents. From eighteen through thirty-five she needs good looks. From thirty-five through fifty-five, she needs a good personality. And from fifty-five on, she needs cash."

June 21, 2006

I love these women!

We had our second small group meeting last night. I was a little nervous because two women who hadn’t been there the first week were joining us. In the first week the four of us (Indy, Expressive, Sistah and me) bonded really intensely. For some strange reason total honesty about one’s struggles tends to have that effect! I didn’t want the two new women to feel left out and wasn’t totally sure how to ‘integrate’ the group. In addition, one of the women, Austin, is a new pastor in the church. I know as a leader myself how hard it is to lay down the caregiver role and be vulnerable. I fretted that if she came in and tried to ‘fix us’, it would destroy the dynamic we’d started the first week. The second woman, Relief Worker, wasn’t a worry at all. She and I jumped off the deep end the first time we talked, so I knew she’d be just fine.

Relief Worker did get a bit bug-eyed as we waited for the last woman to arrive. The intense laughter and chatter that Indy, Sistah and I launched into without seeming to breathe seemed a bit much for her. I’m sure that by next week she’ll hootin’ and hollerin’ with the rest of us.

For the group itself I went over the group guidelines again and the four of us reiterated why we need this group. Then the two new women got their turn. As expected, Relief Worker joined us at the deep end of the pool. Austin started off saying how she could totally identify with where each of us was and how the Lord has brought her to a place of knowing that there is always hope for every situation. My heart was sinking fast, please don’t preach, please don’t preach! But then she told us about the places in her where she’s being called to forgive and love (again) and is so done with that. Phew! The total honesty circle remained unbroken.

After all that we were running out of time. I briefly went through a (really fun!) game called Trace. It’s a tool for becoming more aware of emotional triggers, our responses, and what God wants to show us in the situation. I used my own circumstances as an example. Partway through I had a lightbulb moment about when and why I shut down and didn’t want to deal with God in some of my core areas. At the end we went around and prayed for ourselves. We did this last week and it was SO hard! Each of us have complete compassion for each other, but it’s hard to have that for yourself. Plus, if you’re avoiding Somebody, it’s hard to talk to Him!

I think part of my desire to start blogging was to have a place of honesty. To connect with my long-distance friends from times/places in life where I had such honest relationships. What’s been neat is that through the blog I’ve been able to extend the network of people who like to swim in the deep end.

What about you? Where do you find your deep end connections with people?

A Game called Trace

In case any of you want to join in the 'fun'.

1. Triggering Event or Situation
2. Brings a feeling (old or new?)
3. Your behavior / response as a result
To the other
To yourself
4. What is the lie you believe?
5. What is the truth of God’s word?
6. What is your responsibility in the matter?
7. Where is grace for yourself or the other?
8. Acceptance
Now is the time for change or action

Another way of showing the progression:

Sin > Truth (Awareness phase)
Truth > Grace (God phase)
Grace > Action (God + me)

If we act first, it’s out of our fleshly response, which is based in a lie. We want to learn to act from a place of truth and grace both for ourselves and for people around us.

June 20, 2006

That slurping sound you hear is my brain going down the drain.

Posting may get slow here for a while. We're in the midst of readying the house to sell it. We're on day 3 of the awning-from-heck fiasco. Who knew that paint stripper would just reconfigure the paint into stucco with the strength of steel? That power sanders are limited creatures? That caulk needs 24 hours to dry (as does oil-based primer) and that we only have a 48 hour window between last night's rainstorms and the ones that are coming? We're looking forward to our upcoming adventures: surfing the uneven bathroom floor with cheap stick-on linoleum, scraping carbon monoxide induced bubbles from the bedroom walls, drywall patching and painting and last but not least, the fine art of the wallpaper strip. I have an offer from a friend to come and help clean the house. I hope she really meant that!!

Here at work I've lost all momentum. Clients want design work and I just don't care. One of my client's work was all backed up onto a now unreadable DVD. ALL their work. Do you have any idea how much it costs to retrieve data from a DVD? IF they can get anything off it it's between $900-1400!!! Fuggetabahtit.

I've begun surfing for jobs in Cally. Which of course freaked me out cause I need an updated online portfolio. Which means digging out and photographing my work. Or creating digital layouts, or whatever. Plus doing the website. Resumes. Keywords. Searches. Research. Applications. And, hopefully, interviews. I have to get a job lined up asap so we know where to get an apartment (and how much we can afford). Whether we need a second car. Whether we should totally panic about the whirlpool sucking down all our life savings into the pit of this move. Oh, look, a tiny little chunk came back up! It's the token reimbursement for moving expenses. NOW I feel better.

Bottom line, for now I need to focus on the house. Once its on the market I'll bust my butt and get the job process going. Oh yeah, one more highlight. I chatted with my Dad last night who had this encouraging word, "What do you do if you get to the closing and the deal falls through?" Hmm... I don't know? Run screaming into the woods? Thanks for the scenario, Dad!

Just give me a call at 1-800-WHERE'S MY FAIRY GODMOTHER if you find her.

June 16, 2006

The downswing

Last night I was supposed to meet people at the climbing gym. On the way there one of my best friends called me. I ended up just sitting outside the gym chatting with her for over an hour. Eventually it seemed silly to spend $16 for less than an hour, so I drove back home (still talking). It was our first talk since I got back and she's had lots going on. I need some exercise, but I think last night I'd reached my aquaintence saturation point. The last weeks have been amazing, but I think I hit the 'peopled out' wall.

I realized a long time ago that my version of extroversion means that I'm either ON or OFF. If there's another person around, I'm automatically ON. Even if it's my husband. After a couple weeks I just start to crave zero people contact for a whole day. I wasn't quite there last night, but I was close.

This weekend should be absolutely thrilling! Tonight I get to finish installing ceiling tiles in the basement bathroom. Tomorrow? Hmm... should I refinish the front door, apply linoleum tiles in the basement, weed the garden, or find some other equally thrilling occupation!?

I just want to curl up in bed and sleep for the next three months. When I wake up I'll have a great job that pays me tons of money, I'll have a fabulous apartment with a nearby mountain hike, our house will have sold for an exhorbitant fee, all our furniture will have sold for ridiculous amounts of money via Craigs List and the car will be packed and ready for our camping trip across the country. Anyone have a fairy godmother tucked up their sleeve? I'll be Sleeping Beauty, you bring the godmother. This could all work out really well!

June 14, 2006

Busy Busy

I'm home safely. Jrex brought the dog with him to the airport. A happy reunion was had by all!

I met Snickollet during my 5 hour layover in Boston. That was fun. She doesn't look any bigger than my sister did (actually a little smaller) at the end of her pregnancy, but she has two in there! As has often been noted by other bloggers when they meet each other in person, it was much more like meeting an old friend rather than meeting a new person.

Apparently, the move is now official. I put in a job application yesterday, more as a feeler than anything else. I looked at apartments. We can get a two-bedroom apartment for 'only' $600 more than we're paying here for our mortgage. Not cheap by any means, but only a third more than our current mortgage so not as quite as bad as I thought it might be. We may have to suck it up and get a one bedroom, but we'll see. (I hate having a TV in the living room and will NOT have one in the bedroom. I'd love to not have it at all, but that's not entirely up to me...Plus we like being able to have people visit.) On the plus side, lots of the apartment complexes have a pool, 'heated spa' and an exercise room. I'm starting to think apartment living might not be so bad! ;-)

I started a new small group last night (yes, 24 hours after returning). I'm co-leading with another woman from church and she organized the whole thing while I was away. I got to nap for three hours in the afternoon, so that was good. In terms of small groups, I've grown tired of chit-chatty small/home/life/whatever you call them groups. So are the other women who came last night. I began with some basic principles for small group (given at the retreats I go to once a year). 1. It's better to care than to cure. 2. Stay in the Room (tell your own story) 3. When someone shares a failure neither alibi it nor condemn it 4. Whatever is shared stays in the group 5. Allow each other more than one chapter in life 6. Leave room for Grace. We shared what our hopes and needs were for this group. And we dived off the deep end. We all were so amazed and humbled by each others honesty and pain. I can't tell you how glad I am that I will get to know each of these women and that they will walk with me as I wrestle with God this summer. (The whole wrestling thing is a whole 'nother post...)

Back to work. Back to fixing up the house. Back to endless to-do lists. Back to annoying clients and projects I don't want to do. Back to busy.

But now I know that when I'm stressed, it's good to stop for a pot of tea!

June 10, 2006

Anam Cara

Not to give anyone whiplash after my previous email, but today I glimpsed the life I might have lived if I never got married.

We’re staying with an American-Irish woman at the moment. She facilitated our entire trip over here. She’s in her fifties, has never been married and has poured her life into encouraging, equipping and loving the Irish. I’m glad to be married to my husband, but I could also see myself quite content to have done what Facilitator Woman has done with her life.

Today I finished the website drafts. Once I posted them, we (Facilitator Woman and I) left to go shopping. Since marriage to a Korean I’ve become indoctrinated in the necessity of returning home with gifts. I won’t spoil any surprises but, OTRsis, you’re getting what you deserve…OTRdad—your bounty is paid…Jrex, you’ve tried the Scotch, now you’ll have to try something Irish. For myself I found a little white teapot with matching cream and sugar containers, as well as a tea cozy to cover the pot while it brews. I’m excited to export some Barry’s tea and continue my new tea addiction at home.

After shopping we drove an hour to see the glorious west coast of Ireland. Just inland from the cliffs are some of Ireland's bogs. Here is machine-harvested turf standing to dry before being packed for sale. I thought about a scarf, or golf paraphanalia, or a pewter ornament, but instead I’m bringing a bit of turf home to give to my father-in-law. When you really care, only the best will do!

We wandered along the cliffs, ate at a pub, and returned to her family home for tea. The whole day we chattered away. She has experienced so many ‘ugly Americans’ who come in here and want to tell the Irish how they ‘should’ be doing things. We connected on values of hospitality, of being in a culture and learning from it without pre-judging from the outside, losing a parent to cancer, mentoring others in healthy conflict, and being ‘third-culture kids’.

During the drive she shared with me part of what the Irish Evangelicals are looking for from Americans. It’s not someone to tell them what to do, rather they are seeking people to come alongside them. Once while discussing mentorship vs friendship with an Irish pastor and his wife, he smiled and said, “Ah, Anam Cara. That’s an old Irish Christian notion. Having a soul friend: two peers coming together to talk about what Jesus is teaching them, encouraging each other and praying for each other.”

Here's the view from Facilitator Woman's kitchen! She gave me an open invitation to come back to Ireland and bring my husband. She suspects that when some of the other believers here see the sites I’ve done they may want something similar. I’m humbled that she would want me back. I’m excited about the cool stuff I bought, but more than anything else, today I experienced Anam Cara.

Well, she did also teach me a recipe for hot mulled port. I suppose that might be just as crucial, right?

June 9, 2006


This has little to do with Ireland in particular. It’s more about dealing with long-distance and independence in a long-term relationship.

When Jrex and I began dating we lived 6 hours apart. Many relationships these days seem to get forged in the heat of physical attraction and the friendship follows after (if it ever does). For us we subsisted on phone calls, letters and occasional visits for a year and a half. It meant that the emotional friendship became the strongest base in our marriage. It also established a degree of independence in the midst of our growing interdependence.

Three weeks after Jrex and I got married my mother was diagnosed with cancer of unknown primary. He was also finishing his PhD. Most nights he got home between 10 pm and 2 am then left again by 7 am. People kept asking how I liked married life. In my head I would snort and think, “I’ll tell you when I find out!” On the outside I nodded and smiled, “I like it.” During that first year of marriage I went home to my Mom as often as I could. Jrex finished his PhD in July, the week before he started back into his 3rd year of medical school. He didn’t have much time off. In September (our 6th month of marriage), I went home ‘for as long as it took’. My Mom was dying. My job gave me indefinite leave (but I didn’t care. I would have quit if they hadn’t done that. Death certainly reorganized my priorities). My husband also gave me indefinite leave (so to speak). I stayed there for a month and a half. My Mom died within two weeks, but my sister and I stayed behind to clean the house (and to be depressed and lethargic).

Jrex’s medical school graciously gave him a week off to come home for Mom’s last few days of life and to stay for the funeral. He was the one in the room with her when she breathed her last breath. The rest of us were exhausted from waiting while she rasped random breaths of air. We’d stop breathing when she did, “Is this it? Was that the last one?” then draw in ragged air when she did.

By the end of our first year of marriage we’d only been in the same house for 9 months. Throughout our marriage we’ve had various times apart. Mostly I’ve been off visiting friends or family while Jrex toils in his medical or research programs. I’ve often worked four 10-hour days a week so I could take 3 day weekends.

Why do I say all this? Well, I thought that being here wouldn’t be a big deal emotionally. I didn’t expect to be woebegone without him. In some ways I’m not, but the lack of him feels like a hole in my side. We can’t talk on the phone and he doesn’t have access to Skype so we can’t really IM. We tried via email but it was awkward at best. I don’t know how to express it. Something is missing. I’m off balance. I’ve forgotten how to journal because I’m used to telling him what I’m thinking rather than writing it down. I’m with another married couple who are wonderful, but don’t process or travel the same way that Jrex and I do. When he and I travel together I rarely need time alone. On this trip I’m craving it because there’s nowhere that is ‘home’. If Jrex is with me, so is my sense of ‘home’. It’s not our house, much as I love it, it’s us together wherever that may be that creates the sense of a safe haven.

I suspect this all feels more poignant because of the lives of these women. I know that missing him is temporary. What would it be like to know this hole would only grow deeper? It took me 7 years before I started feeling 'normal' without my Mom. How long would it take for an amputated heart to grow back? It scares me to even consider it.

June 7, 2006


One of my team members is reinstalling a PC. He started at 10 am and it’s now 6 with no end in sight. While waiting for him I took the car to go take pictures. I’m enjoying driving on the left. Getting used to using a stick shift with my left hand is more challenging than remembering which side of the road to use. There are helpful arrows reminding which direction to take. Apparently they get lots of German and French tourists who drive on the right (in addition to Americans) so it’s in their best interest to remind us the way to go.

I visited two graveyards. The first was called John Paul II. It’s fairly new. The graves are personally tended by the families and are full of mementos and memorabilia.

One of the Irish women I've met grew up in the Gaeltacht (the region of Ireland where Irish is the first language. Note: Gaelic is the root of the language, but that’s spoken in many places. The proper term for the language here is Irish). I asked her why weren’t more people into speaking Irish. She said Ireland has had a mixed history in regards to patriotic things. For most of this century, those who were super patriotic were also likely to be IRA members or sympathizers. As a result people have been hesitant to fly their flag or speak Irish for fear of others making assumptions. That’s been changing in the last few years, but it’s slow. Apparently this town and county were a big support/sending base to the north during the Troubles. To this day there’s a farm up the road with four military vehicles parked next to the barn.

At the graveyard, I saw this stone carved all in Irish. Based on what she’d said, I wondered about the man’s life and history. There were two guys tending a grave on the far side of the cemetery. Despite my reputation for boldness, I decided to let discretion be the better part of valor and not ask.

Just down the road was the Famine Graveyard.

I didn't realize there would be no headstones. So many people died during the famine (in the 1800’s?) that they were just buried in a mass grave. Now there is a path that walks a triangle around a tiny chapel. Mary stands between the chapel entrance and the field where the dead were laid. No headstones. No record of names. Just an area surrounded by a strip of mown grass and a path for remembering. The area between the statue and the tree behind her is the graveyard. It looks bigger in the picture than it was in person.

St. Louis Arch

Though no one here has ever heard of the St. Louis arch, Listowel has a 'millenium arch' which resembles a 1/10 scale model.

June 6, 2006

Rain, what Rain?

Everyone I spoke with warned me to bring rain gear for this trip. "All four seasons in one day" is a popular way to put it. I even bought special hiking boots to wear for all the mucking about I anticipated. The pair of shoes I threw in for the heck of it were my TEVA sandals. So what shoes have I worn every day? And why?

My TEVAs. Because it's been in the 70s or 80s every single day. Most days haven't had a cloud in the sky. I've yet to see Ireland in the rain. As a result I don't really think I'm in a foreign country; we're just in South Carolina with a different accent. Today we went 'downtown' to photograph the town square and the bridge over the river. With my Tevas I just tromped into the shallow water to take a photo from the middle.

The first place we visited here in Ireland was Bantry. It's down in the Southwest of Ireland, County Cork. The town we were in has lots of tourists come through but the pastor is a cattle farmer and was a gentle, contemplative man. I didn't get to milk any cows. Sigh. The pastor raises them for beef, so the calfs drink all the milk. He has over an hour a day dealing with the cattle and I think it gives him lots of time to think. He was well prepared to do the website. We did visit his brother in law who does milk the cows. But I'll tell you, the look the heifer on the end gave me persuaded me that milking a cow might have been a fatal mistake!

While there I found out that Irish butter is bright yellow due to the bright green grass. I'd honestly assumed they were dying it (as they do in the States)!

Now we've come up to Listowel (pronounced Listool) in County Kerry. The pastor here is a man of action and he'd rather be doing than talking. Part of designing a web site is to draw out of people who they are and how best to reflect the organization. He was more resistant to the process than anyone I've ever met! It's like he couldn't see the value of it. He just wants me to cut and paste him a website from other churches. Yet he and his wife have built a church from the ground up. All the members of the church used to be Catholic. Most of them have paid a fairly high price for leaving the Catholic church. Part of the challenge for the pastor and his family is that they've had no role models except Americans and Brits. I'm trying to convince him of the need for them to write their own copy and really own this site. We only have 3 days here and we really need 2 weeks just with him and his church.

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the pace we're trying to keep up. I'm still trying to finish up the Bantry site while taking in their site. I may sit out the next one and let my girl, K, show the third pastor how to do his own website.

We've truly experienced Irish hospitality. Every single night we've had dinner with a different family. In the midst of wanting to get work done we're also being encouraged to rest and spend time with people. It certainly reflects the skewed values that Americans have in terms of work. It's just now I know that two weeks is barely enough time for two websites, certainly not three.

So, I'm off to another dinner full of fresh butter, fresh cream, fresh scones, and lots of meat. I warned Jrex to expect a very fat wife waddling out of the airport! Thank God for the tea.

June 4, 2006

Bantry Legends

The picture to the left is St. Brenden. The Irish say he set sail in his wee wooden boat and made it to the New World long before Columbus. I'm not sure whether the Vikings beat the Irish or not in that particular race. They seemed to pound away at the monks that stayed here, that's for sure! This statue is in the main town square. He's reaching his arms out in a curve that echos the curve of the bay as it tucks into the heart of the town.

Apparently Bantry is named for the first explorer to land on Irish shores. Long before the Celts found the island, explorers from Egypt were said to have traveled up the Bay then on up the river to arrive at the cascades. The explorer's name? Bant. It's not really the sort of Egyptian name I'm used to, but it was, of course, a long time ago!

I found the secret to being a carnivore!

Drink endless amounts of tea. It’s a dieretic and makes the meat slip right through you!

To answer your questions…

My father is taking after his father. The wonderful in-depth questions in the last comment are, I assume, from my Dad.

Yeah, the Irish prosperity, known locally as ‘the Celtic tiger’, is evidenced everywhere. There are new houses springing up each place we’ve visited. Apparently the Irish put a huge value (not surprisingly) on owning land and parents will mortgage their own homes to buy property for their children. The rumors of home prices in Dublin are putting Northern California to shame. Even here in a rural county (Co. Kerry) a piece of land with no house, is selling for 100,000 euro (aprox. 140,000 dollars).

Due to the prosperity and education of the young, and the recent sex scandals in the Catholic church, as overheard in a market on Friday, “religions gone a bit out of fashion, you know?” (meaning the Catholic faith).

I find time to write because I seem to need less sleep than the two I’m traveling with. I wake up earlier and go to bed later. I think it’s cause the sun sets at 10 pm and rises again at 4 am.

June 1, 2006

Ireland 101

We arrived this morning. I’m in the midst of trying to power through the jet lag and make it til 8 pm tonight without falling asleep. I slept four hours on the plane (thanks to my oh so glamorous padded strapless bra eye mask and ear plugs) but I’m typing through waves of exhaustion at this point.

Our first host is an American woman who has lived here for eight years and for two in Russia. Her mother moved to the States from Ireland so she’s grown up with deep cultural ties here. She’s been giving us a cultural pre-briefing. I’m beginning to realize this trip may not be too much of a cultural stretch after all. You see, the Irish are really just White Koreans (well, if its possible to actually be Korean and not eat spicy food).

It’s better to be humble and self-effacing than bold or ‘confident’.

If someone asks what you want to eat or drink, the ‘proper’ response is, “I’ll have whatever you’re having.”

I started asking things based on my experience of Koreans. “Is it culturally appropriate to refuse twice before saying yes?” She looked at me in surprise, “Well, yes, especially for the older folk. For the younger generation no one has time any longer. They are becoming much more direct.”

If someone on the street asks, “how are you?” one never says, “fine”. Its too optimistic. The Irish are ‘realists’ (what pessimists call themselves. ;-) ) and instead answer, “Not too bad”. I don’t know the on-the-street Korean greeting system. Is it similar? I don’t think Koreans are known for being pessimists. Not likely to do compliments, but not necessarily pessimistic?

She mentioned that Americans are often viewed as very loud and pushy here. She’s been in small groups and had to just bite her tongue to not be the first person to speak. It takes a long time for people to warm up and start talking.

The Irish are a very private people. She mentioned she often has to initiate talking about vulnerablities. One of the couples she knew had to confront the issue of the guy having been abused and then abusing in turn. The hardest thing for him was to go to a counselor. It’s a shameful thing here to discuss private matters with an outsider. Yet at the same time, no one in the family discusses anything either. It seems the Irish have a deeper history of alcohol and related sexual abuse than do the Koreans so the secrets are even deeper and more devastating.

All this is based on her observations. I’ll let you know what it’s like as I live with Irish families for the next two weeks.


Click to enlarge this photo. I love the name! At least they're honest.