Monthly Archives: September 2015

Ploughing Through County Cork

dead slow

We love road signs in Ireland

Youghal Ireland Day 5 September 2005.

Continuing the SandyBeachGirl travelogue and I think I’m finally learning how to spell Marjalene’s name after ten years. Sorry Marj!

Today the madrigal group is going to sing at the National Ploughing Championship. Rather like a cross between a state fair and a giant craft show, it covers three days. It is held in different counties each year and this year it is being held on a farm just up the road. The crowd is expected to exceed 150,000. Even though it is nearby, about a ten minute drive, it will take the group about two hours to get there because of traffic. Sounds like Ireland’s version of a hurricane evacuation only they are going to a fun event instead of leaving a potential disaster. Later to hear Donny’s version it sounded like a disaster (insert wink) but Bill and Becki had fun.

I plan to sleep in as there are only eight VIP tickets for our group and they all need to go to the singers. Again upon their return BB&D tell me I could have paid my way and gone as one lady in our group did just this but none of us knew that in time.

I am really tired anyway so this is not a problem for me.

I tell Donny goodbye at around 9 and roll over for more sleep. I awake at noon very refreshed. I take a shower and bring my journal up to date. After everything suits me I head out to the cybercafé to do internet things.

It is a beautiful day, sunny and clear very un-Irish like.

Back at the apartment I plug in the computer for charging and decide to go out for groceries. I make a list, grab my backpack and leave a note for BB&D.

plough signsheep irelandblack sheepcountryside fairbill fair    marsha john speech fairdonny becki fair casual fair irelandtractor ireland    becki hat acute bendI meet John coming up the walkway. The group is back. I continue on because I am sure they will need down time and we need sundries. On the way I stop in a thrift store and find a fun top and a black sweater that is a blend but looks warm, and both are cheap. Next I stop in one of two toy stores in town and find a fun theater type toy that has figures that move around by means of magnets on a stick for Martin & Lydia. Next I go to the grocery store and get the things we need. The list is short but essential, things like toilet paper and milk. Now I head for the butcher to get fresh eggs and sausage and to the bakery for bread.

The bakery lady comments on the traffic outside saying it is the crowds coming back from the ploughing. I ask her if she has ever been to a ploughing, telling her that my group is there. She laughs and says she went ten years ago when it was much smaller.

She says the idea is nice for the farmers but that the merchants stalls are too close together and that it is hard to see the merchandise and also hard for the merchants to sell since there is such a throng of people. And she says that the local town merchants will not benefit much from all the influx since most folks will go to the ploughing and then go back to their lodging without doing much shopping.

Outside the apartment I meet up with Becki & Bill. They tell me that Donny has gone to town looking for me. We see him waving to us from our third and top floor bathroom window so he is already back at the apartment. Becki decides to see if she can send any mail home as it was a tangle for her the other day, before they are due at the Mall Arts Center to sing before the performance of The Virgin Queen and Her Shepherd of the Ocean. We all want to see this show. It has debuted here and is only being performed twice. Tonight will be the last show.

I decide to try and find Becki at the café since I have all of her pictures on my computer. That way she can send some photos. Donny decides to go with me. Becki is not in the café. I take Donny on a walking tour of the shop street also called the up street. The street along the water is called the down street. I have had more opportunities to explore the town than BB&D.

We head south window shopping. I show Donny the jewelry store I bought my earrings in and tell him that they have a bracelet I really like. He wants to see it. It is a well appointed store with Waterford crystal and nice jewelry. Donny likes the bracelet too and buys it for me.

rainbow no filter

No filter just your pot of gold if you can find the end

We continue on until the up street meets the down street just before the Mall Arts Center. We head north to our waterfront apartment to put the computer away. A beautiful rainbow is forming in the eastern sky. It is only a partial one but it gets brighter and brighter just like the ones Suzanne and I saw in Hawaii. We take pictures and cross paths with our jewelry store man who must be headed to the pub before going home.

Becki is back with some presents she has bought for the girls. It has been a shopping day for her. At the ploughing she got fun wool hats and gave me one. Bill bought her a beautiful Irish wool sweater there. She was happily surprised.

I tell her that we tried to find her on the up street. She says she had more trouble with email and went shopping instead. I tell her that I will send the email if she types it into a draft which she does. BB&D head for the theater, I head for the café. There I try to send the email but the pictures are in a form that is taking forever to go. I finally decide to pull some from my Picasa albums since I pretty much know what Becki wants and I know Picasa is quick.

After I open Picasa I am pleasantly surprised to see that Becki’s school folder has somehow weaved its way there. Great! I email it to the two addresses she has given me, herself and Cathy Evanoff, the media teacher at FFE. I am ready to leave, I check my mail one more time for no particular reason. Opps! There is a return mail. It is the mail to Cathy Evanoff. Her address must not be correct because Becki’s did not come back. So I have only sent mail to Becki. Sigh.

I am late for the show. I come in about half way through. Still it is brilliant. Everyone loves it. The storyline is Barbara as Elizabeth and Chris as Sir Walter recalling their glory days on the day he is to be executed. HRH is a ghost of course and Walter appears as he would have looked in his prime. Elizabeth appears as she would have looked on the day she was crowned queen. The wit and chemistry between the two characters and the two thespians is electric. lebame has written a jewel and Barbara and Chris deliver it to perfection.


Our great friend Breeda!

Now we head to JD’s Pub. The local mailman is singing. Everyone tells us that he is a local favorite. JD’s is the most popular hangout. We are a bit early. Bill and Donny secure a booth/table and Becki and I go up the street for Chinese take out. We will sneak our food into the pub. We are a bit hungry, but the pub does not serve food and also it is frowned upon to bring food in. Reeda tells us that the rule is you must share. That works for us.

When we get back the pub has filled. Our group has grown too. Jane and the YaYa’s (her sisters) are here. John, Greg (tech man), Carl, Barbara, her mum, lebame, the committee ladies, Gloria (props), Marge (Hunt Thomas’ mom and madrigal singer). We have an entourage tonight. The pub gets rocking fast.

bill lebame

Bill & lebame sporting her Elvis jacket

The drinks are flowing, folks are dancing, smoking is only allowed outside everywhere in Ireland, so the smokers are in and out the side door to smokers’ alley. You can see them outside our window. The lighting is reddish, very artsy looking. We all drift between the two booth/tables where we have settled. lebame appears at our table in a fabulous Elvis jacket. She bought it on his last concert tour. Only a few hundred were made. She paid big bucks, but like she says, she is still wearing the same jeans she had in high school. Since she is camera shy, I ask her how I can get a picture of the jacket. I could sneak a picture but I respect her wishes. She lets Becki wear it. Becki gives me a great Elvis pose.

connie barbara

Connie & Barbara

Everyone is happy. Marj is dancing in the aisles with John. We threaten to tell Hunt. She laughs, says she is done for the night, and bids farewell. Members of our group are beginning to drift away. Suddenly Carl summons me to bring my camera. I follow. We go outside, lebame wants me to take a picture of John and Carl with a Youghal native who now lives on Long Island. I oblige but the lighting is horrible. I keep moving them to a new spot. Finally we are at the front of the pub, as we have started out at the smoking door. Barbara and her mum are just leaving. We recompose the picture adding Barbara in it. lebame tells Barbara she will make her famous yet.

The girls take off. We go inside. Bill and Becki are dancing. It’s a good song I say to Donny. He takes the hint. We dance. Back at our table a fast song has started up. Donny tells John that we need to dance. We go for it. The song goes on forever, our postman has turned it into a medley. John and I keep looking for an exit. Finally others join us on the floor and we bail out.

irish gals

Our amazing welcoming committee

John and Carl head home. The committee ladies are still here. We join tables and chat with them for awhile about politics and culture. They are such wonderful ladies. It is getting late, they are tired and head home. So again it is BB &DS closing the bar with the local diehards. We dance a lot and finish our drinks. Mr New York is still here. He chats with us on the dance floor. I take him my card and meet his wife. Later they start dancing too. I tell her I knew a New York girl like her would have some fancy moves. I take their picture and get their email address so I can send it to them. All too soon last call is called out. We drain our cups and after three tries find the right door to leave by.

Your favorite Sandy beach girl in Ireland


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Y’all would LOVE Youghal

Ireland Day Four September 2005

top of youghal

Flowers, the city wall and the bay beyond that

It’s a typical Irish day today, cloudy and rainy, although we are told the weather is still unseasonably warm and has been all summer. But no one is complaining. Winter in Ireland is hard and that will be here soon enough.

Becki & I have decided to get up and walk early, well early for being on vacation. We have agreed on eight for our start time. Donny has set his phone to ring. Later into the depths of my sleep I hear a tap, tap, tap. I wonder who could be knocking at the apartment door and how could I possibly hear it in the bedroom. I continue my sleep only partially awakened anyway. Another tap, tap, tap marches into my slumber. Maybe it’s Becki I guess trying to figure out why Donny’s phone has not rung.

I call out to Becki and struggle out of bed. A moment later the chirping of Donny’s wake up birds calls out. Ah ha, Becki has been a quick one this morning.

town wall youghal

Original Youghal city wall

I dress, grab my camera and we venture forth. No rain yet only clouds. We climb the steps by the clock tower. They go up and up and up. When we start up the steps I tease Becki about repeating the circuit twenty times. She agrees. By the time we reach the top we think tomorrow will be soon enough. It’s really not that bad, somewhat like climbing the monument hill only higher. It’s a regular sort of neighborhood up here. Folks getting off to work and kids to school. In Ireland the kids wear uniforms to school. This street is still small, like all Irish streets, but very busy with morning activity.

The overlook from here onto the old village and cove down below is wonderful.

We are now above the church and its graveyard but cannot get in from here. The old city wall parallels our walk even as we start our descent about ¼ mile later. We see a lane winding up to our left and take it only to find ourselves right back where we started about fifteen minutes later. We are now on the shopping street and as it is time to go back so Becki can get ready for practice, we stop in the butcher for some fresh bacon, which is more like ham. Then we go to Collins the bakery for bread. The shop is full of baskets and barrels of huge loaves of bread in every direction. The shop lady tells us her husband bakes bread all night. We buy a brown loaf and a white one.

Back in the apartment we realize we have forgotten to buy a newspaper. I go out to get one while everyone else is prepping for the morning practice. I leave Becki starting breakfast but take over when I get back.

boat street youghal

Our home along Harvey’s Dock

There is a little time before practice after we have eaten. Donny decides to see if he can check his email and do computer business things. I plan to meet him and retrieve the computer and also check my mail etc. When I get there, Donny and Jacquie are standing outside the shop. Or rather Donny is kneeling in the sidewalk trying to view the computer screen. The shop is not open as we were told it would be. Donny is online but cannot see the screen because the glare is so bad. He gives up.We all wait a bit and then I go on to the grocery where I replenish our supplies. Back at the cybercafé, I find Donny inside just finishing up. We switch places. He is off to practice.

I chat with Cathie and Katelyn on AIM for awhile and send mail for a few folks. Then I pay up and head to the bakery to buy more coffee. So far it is the only place in town we have found to get coffee beans ground up freshly for us. The shop lady and I discuss her small variety of beans. She apologizes. I tell her it is fine. I tell her that Ireland more than makes up for it with wonderful whiskeys. She laughs. I tell her what I need to do is make some Irish coffee. Both she and her assistant start talking at once to tell me exactly how to do this to make the coffee perfectly right.

It is very simple, but very important to do the steps correctly, they say. Start with a splash of whiskey, Jamison, Power, or Paddy. Add hot black coffee. Then drizzle cream over the back of a spoon so that is curls into the coffee. Add some brown sugar if you must.

I have a full backpack of groceries plus the computer but this is too good sounding to put off. I head back to the grocery for cream and whiskey.

Back home I unload and try to take a bath. But I have not been given instructions to the tub hot water acquisition. Actually the first night here I took a bath and the water was extremely hot so I did not realize there was a hot water maze to negotiate. The water I used must have been left over from the previous folks. The shower has a heater box connected to it, but the tub has some type of switching plan in the hall. After a while I give up and take a sponge bath. For some reason I cannot get the shower to run at all, even though I know its sequence, so cannot fill the tub that way. About this time the group comes in and rescues me.

becki umbrella donny umbrellame countryside countryside youghalmarsha marian   bb countrysideIn a short while we are due to meet for a tour of unknown destination but it will be a driving one. We have a few minutes so Bill & Becki go to town to try and send some mail home to her music classes. I want to find a less dressy pair of earrings since for some reason all I have brought with me are big dangly ones which I love but not for day. Donny is sure we will all miss the bus. He promises to hold it for as long as he can.

I find an awesome pair of silver earrings that depict the Children of Lir legend. The story goes that an evil queen turned King Lir’s four children into swans. They were forced to live 300 years in each of three Irish places. Now all that is left of them is their lovely singing voices.

I get to the bus, as do B&B in plenty of time. Donny is there and the rest. It is a small van type bus. Two of the committee members have privately hired it to give us a tour of the countryside. We see the Irish Sea from a bluff. We see a section of Ireland preserved and protected by the government where Gaelic is still spoken and used in daily life. We see a monument to the America soldiers that helped with the Irish revolution. We cannot read it because it is in Gaelic, but Marian translates for us. We find this slightly amusing as any American wandering along will not know it addresses their countrymen unless they should happen to know Gaelic. We also see an abandoned church surrounded by equally abandoned graves.

mall arts

Mall Arts Center

Back at the Mall Arts Center, Marian and Tom, our tour sponsors, invite us for a drink at The Quay just down the street. We suggest our driver join us. He is happy to do so, but goes to park the bus first. We have our drinks and some of us order snacks as it is nearing dinner time. The madrigals are due to perform for the opening of Elizabeth R, Barbara’s one woman show, and then head to the Walter Raleigh Hotel to hear traditional Irish music so there is no time for other food.

At the arts center I run into my Irish sword friend who has written out a whole page of Gaelic for me but there is no time to chat now. He will get back with me later and explain it. He has brought that wonderful sword with him again.

power barbara barbara lebame laughing barbaralebame asks me to take pictures of HRH after the performance since there will be a similar set up as with the Lost Colony group in which certain scenes are restaged for a film being made. The crowd is small this evening but very appreciative of the show. Barbara’s mum, Connie, from England has flown over to see her and her performance. Barbara is sick but being the trooper that she is you would never know it from her marvelous performance.

Donny has waited for me rather than go on to the Raleigh. Not wanting to interrupt the show he has waited in the lobby. So he saw neither show because as it turns out just as we get to the hotel the last song has completed. Everyone tells us what a wonderful show we have missed, complete with River Dance rivaling Irish jigging. And the kids are all local. Breeda has taped it and shows us a selection. Bill has made his Irish debut during the talent portion of the show where anyone can sing or dance. He was a big hit with the audience.

The committee ladies want to take us to a close by pub. Just then the younger of the two guys performing at the Raleigh on Saturday night pops in and tells Bill that Dave, the other guy in the group, is playing at the Yawl Inn and would like Bill to join in. Bill is a happy camper. His fingers have been itching to jam with someone.

bill yawl

Bill jamming at the Yawl in Youghal

Apparently the Yawl Inn is a bit more casual than the ladies would like because they turn us over to Aoile, the young daughter of one of the committee members, and bid their goodnights.

We decide to walk to the Yawl. It is on the shop street just beyond The Hook we were at the night before.

Becki and I stop in a shop for a chicken sandwich to munch along the way.

The Yawl Inn is small much like a college bar only again all ages are enjoying their night out. Bill immediately joins Dave and another guy strumming. Here as well, he is a hit with the crowd and also with Dave. I tell Becki they will be invited back to tour with a music group. She laughs and says Bill always finds a group to jam with. She is surprised that it took him four days this time, on their trip to Hawaii it was only two.

Again we close the bar and wander home under a hazy crescent moon hovering just above the horizon.

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WE Bring SUNSHINE to Ireland

yellow boat youghalSince I started the Ireland revisited thread I’m going full monty and reposting all eleven of my LiveJournal entries. Feel free to pop in and out to read when time allows the posts are not going anywhere. And share with friends, it was an awesome trip! I’ll not post on weekends.  But other than that the next few weeks SandyBeachGirl is going to be all about Ireland.

Of course this will be the trip from my point of view and for the time Bill, Becki, Donny & I were there meaning that some of the cast and crew were already in Youghal when we arrived and others remained after we left but we were there for the entire festival so that pretty well covers things.

Day three dawns bright and beautiful. The sky is clear and there is hardly a cloud to be seen. The folks in Youghal are amazed. They have rarely seen so much sunshine at one time.

red houseWe are to be given a tour of the Red House. It dates from the 16th century. Helen is on the festival committee. Her husband gives us the tour, but first Helen serves us tea on their sun porch. There are about ten of us that show up for the tour. It is an amazing house, full of history and wonderful stories. The furnishings are almost as colorful as the house. One side board came from the brother of the present owner. He bought it for 35 pounds. A matching piece later sold for more than the house it was in, at a Southeby’s auction.

Another piece made of Jamaican wood had a hidden drawn in one of many intricately carved panels. Inside that drawer was yet another hidden drawer. This is located on their attic like third floor which is bigger than most houses. There is a central living area with nice sized bedrooms sectioned off in each corner. The only thing that says attic is the slanted roof line, open beams, and wood from floor to ceiling, walls included.

He showed us the original sink they had to wash up in when they first bought the house. It was outside and although beautiful, not a bit practical. Their first Christmas in the house, all of their adult children came home. They recreated a traditional Christmas for the house complete with only candlelight.

stairs red house sink red house attic red housewindow red houseyoughal wallstone cross


After the tour BBD & I stopped at the Rendez-vouz. Bill has a traditional Irish breakfast, lamb chop, two sausages, a black pudding, ham, egg, chips & beans. The rest of us have regular food, all of it wonderful. Finally we find good coffee. We will be back.

map youghal lighthouse youghal bb lighthousesurf youghal

We have time to go see the Youghal Lighthouse which is only open on weekends. We take the car since we are short on time, although we could have walked to it. It is not a very tall lighthouse. The fun part is that we get to go all the way up into the lens part. Bill can finally see Youghal Bay and is appalled at the marvelous surf and the fact that nobody surfs around here. A few wind surf but there are literally no surfers. I am rather appalled myself, it is a nice rolling surf that goes on and on that I could actually ride and not get mauled. Of course there are rocks at the shore line to be mindful of and the water is extremely cold and full of seaweed, but still the surf is ideal.

more rehearsalsword play cast in costume donny pistol  rick bill donny marshaqueen and fan

The group has to practice. I go to the internet café, the grocery store and home for a brief nap. They come in a bit later and get ready for their first performance of the Lost Colony. We all leave for the Mall Arts Center. While the cast is dressing I chat with a lovely Irish gentleman that is keeper of the sword of Youghal for the evening. He offers to take my picture holding it. It is very amazing to be holding an authentic 16th century sword.

murphys toastThe audience is awed by the show. They are so appreciative. The owner of a pub in town invites us to stop by for drinks. Most of the group takes him up on his offer. We stop by a fish and chips shop on the way to the pub as there will be no food there and we are starving. The shop is just about to close for the night when we bombard them. It is called Doyle’s. They have a delivery van with Doyle-a-Meal on the side. We eat our fish and chips meandering down the street.

The pub has just closed but the brother of the owner takes us in a side door. The name of this pub is the Nook. It is our favorite one so far. It really is like Cheers, small dark and friendly. Bill says it would be totally perfect if there were a small combo jamming in a corner. The owner tells him that happens in the summer. He says he will try to round up some musicians for Bill to jam with later in the week. We close The Hook down and wander home getting there shortly before two.

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Happy Birthday Bill One Decade AGO

red bag of courage

And we’re off. Becki’s red bag of courage leading the way.

I started this post with the intention of highlighting the trip to Ireland that Bill, Becki, Donny & I took in the fall of 2005. But then trying to recall facts, Donny reminds me that it’s all in my LiveJournal entries about the trip. I tell him that I’m not sure that I love Bill that much to try and dig in the archives. I have not checked into LiveJournal in forever. But I bite the bullet and there it all is patiently waiting to be read again. And so rather than trim I’m going again with a few tweaks, but just a few.

We are eating and drinking our way through Ireland, Becki, Bill, Donny & I.

In between BBD are singing for their supper and I am documenting the OBX part of the festival for the folks back home. The company consists of Barbara Hird, lebame Houston, Carl Curnutte, John Buford, Bill & Becki Rea, Donny, Marsha Warren, Jacquie Pierce, Marjalene Thomas, Rick Wetzel, Carol Adams, Greg Purcell, Gloria Abbs, Larry Tise, Chris Chappell & Joan Brumbach.

They are performing a concert version of The Lost Colony (full company), Elizabeth R (Barbara), The Virgin Queen and Her Shepard of the Ocean (Barbara & Chris). All of this is being done in the quaint Irish port village of Youghal (pronounced yawl) at their Youghal Through the Ages featuring The Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh. The festival runs September 23rd through October 2nd.

birthday bill

Birthday Bill driving in Ireland September 23, 2005

We managed to get some sleep on the plane and arrive at Shannon airport not completely drained. Which is good because we decide to rent a car so that we can do more touring and also so that Bill can say he got to drive on the wrong side of the road on his birthday. It is kind of pricy but we get a better deal with my Master Card, so Bill and I are the official drivers. So far I have left all of the driving to Bill.

Youghal is about 130 kilometers or a two hour straight through drive. We decide to weave and wander along the way making our trip last longer because we are in no hurry since first rehearsal is not until evening. Our first stop is at a wonderful little pottery shop where we buy mugs to drink our coffee in. When we ask the clerk how to proceed on our journey she tells us to take the ‘turd turn’ at the roundabout (roundabouts are very big in Ireland). We try not to laugh. Having trouble with the letter h, the Irish just leave it out. Already we love this country.

Next DB and I drift off to sleep leaving Bill to fend for himself as far as navigating goes. He stays the course and our next stop is at the village of Fermoy for lunch in a tiny café in town. We all order the blue plate special which consists of an entire meal. Becki did get three mounds of potatoes while we only got two, as she ordered fish which needs a bigger plate and we ordered lamb.

The countryside is so green and beautiful. Flowers grow everywhere. Ruins of castles appear occasionally. Pasture fences are actually amazingly thicket hedges or stone walls. Stonework buildings and houses are everywhere you look. All the people are eager to help us with any question and even go out of their way to offer advice.

Finally we reach Youghal. It is a very old port village with three main streets. The oldest continually operating church is here. The group will sing there Saturday evening.

youghal street youghal clockyoughal flowersmoby dick youghalboat tide

We find Carl and get our apartment key. We are all staying in a new complex that is right on the water. It is built around a parking courtyard and gives off an airy feeling. We settle in and go to find the Mall Arts which is not a mall at all but a beautiful art center also on the water a short walk away. It is housed in the town hall which is an old stone building in the front with a modern full glass addition overlooking the water in the back. This is where the festival shows will be held.

more flowersMy trio is due in rehearsal, so I take off to explore the street of shops which is one block over. Carl has taken Becki and myself on a driving tour down this street getting us to the apartment so I have a fair feeling for where a few things are. After I successfully tangle with an ATM machine, graciously helped by a nice Irish lad and gent, I buy fresh baked bread and ground coffee beans at a deli. I explore a few shops and head back to the apartment to deposit my things.

I try and try but cannot get the key to work. I head for the arts building to get another from the group and run into Donny coming back from rehearsal. My key works just fine when I try it on the right floor. I was one floor under our level. Maybe I do have a bit of jet lag even with our No Jet Lag pills. Donny leaves for the debut engagement which is singing for the opening reception. I want to freshen up and will meet them there.

The reception is lovely. There is a huge life size flower plaque of Queen Elizabeth made entirely with chrysanthemums.

barbara queen flower donny costume bill costume becki lady

After the opening reception Barbara and Chris have their show. The rest of us head out to The Quay, a pub between our apartment and the arts center, for beer and chips. There is a rehearsal at eight after which we return to The Quay en masse to celebrate Bill’s birthday. Irish pubs are truly the gathering hole for all. Every age, people together or alone, gather at the pub for a wind down (or up) evening. So far the ones we have seen have dark paneling and sturdy tables and chairs. They remind me a lot of the Cheers set only bigger.

us pubSlowly members of our group fade away. lebame asks me to email pictures to Vera Evans for the local papers which I will do tomorrow. An Irish lass tries to teach Donny the jig and gives Bill a full feel up much to his delight, while trying to ascertain his size for something I forgot but ending up in being an age and weight guessing contest for her, Bill to buy her a beer if she is successful. We help her with the age but for the weight she is on her own. Her guess in stones takes a bit of translating with the contest ending up in a draw but Bill buys a round anyway.

Donny & I leave the gang to close the bar and head home. Bill and Becki follow shortly. It seems you can stay as long as they’ll let you after eleven in any bar but you cannot go to a new one after that time, which is official closing, so when Bill & Becki try for a new spot they are out of luck.

Saturday morning finds Bill and me headed to the grocery with our fifty euro voucher in hand to buy breakfast goods. Donny is minding the coffee and Becki is slumbering on. We did well, getting four bags of food and fresh bread and an apple tart from the bakery for about seventy euros. Bill cooks a marvelous breakfast of eggs, awesome fresh sausage, toasted bread with orange marmalade and so so coffee. I have heard that coffee in Ireland is lacking. But we have hope, there is a new coffee shop in town that is supposed to be outstanding. 

Satiated Donny & I head for the internet café. It’s located on the shopping street almost directly over from our apartment. We get the computer configured for their wireless and I get into checking and sending mail. Donny leaves for rehearsal. I finish and take the computer home and meet them at the arts center. The madrigal group is singing in St Mary’s which is within walking distance but easier riding with all their costuming on. We are taxied to the church. It is so old. It has a timbered ceiling and reminds me of a cross between the grand cathedrals of central Europe and our colonial age wooden churches.

rick, becki, marsha church window church martyr church flowers bill, john, donny

Their singing is well received. The organizers are pleased with the turn out. It is a small town so the turn out is modest but they are very happy. Now it is raining in torrents. Our bus taxi has disappeared. We get ferried in batches back to the arts center. Everyone changes and the majority of the group heads to Ahernes for dinner. It is on the shop street a bit north of the apartment. The meal is fabulous. All the dishes are excellent. The desserts are typical European, lightly sweetened with a focus on using fresh fruits and dairy. We even have passable coffee, actually pretty good coffee.

rea churchOur quartet decides to check out the scene at the Hotel Raleigh. It is located on the water street beyond the arts building a bit. There is a new group of two guys performing. They are very good. They do a lot of American songs which we find amusing. Again all ages frequent the bar. Breeda, a festival friend that had dinner with us, tells us that the hotel has hosted a wedding, a funeral and a christening today. The wedding is still celebrating in another part. Some of the funeral attendees including the daughter of the deceased are in the bar. She is partying on for a while but then dissolves when the duet starts into ballads. We find out who she is later, at the time we were trying to guess her story. As the entire group that is with her are dressed in black we guess funeral.

We head home around one. Bill, Becki & I take a walk along the docks, Donny goes up. Back home we dig into the cheese we have bought at the market and the apple tart. Add in a malt and it’s a great night cap for our first few days in Ireland.

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Capital building, Columbus, Ohio. It was a great night for a rally.

I went to my first political rally when I was 16. The year was 1960. I was living in Whitehall, Ohio an independent city that grew out of a farm and repeatedly refused to be annexed by Columbus, the state capital, which literally grew around it until it was completely surrounded but never surrendered.

Within Whitehall’s five+ square miles we had one high school, one catholic school, one library, one Putt-Putt golf course, one huge community swimming pool (Swimland), one fire station, one mayor who along with his wife hosted a slumber party for the Job’s Daughter bethel that I belonged to every Christmas break, one Krispy Kreme donut shop, the nation’s first regional shopping center (Town & Country called Miracle Mile by most) and one city bus line.

This night I was leaving Whitehall to journey downtown on the bus like I had done countless times before. But I was not going shopping at F&R Lazarus my usual trip downtown. I was going to a political rally. John F Kennedy was speaking. I loved the political process. I would watch the national conventions for hours. Not that I had a lot of choice with only three TV channels to pick from but no one forced me to endlessly watch either during long summer days.

bernie sanders

Greensboro NC September 13, 2015 standing room only crowd of 7,000+

Kennedy was a dark horse. Everyone said that he could not win because he was a Catholic. Even though I was not old enough to vote, I wanted to hear him speak. It was a school night but that was of small concern. The rally was outside in front of the capital building. By the time friends and I got there it was pretty packed. We’d never get to see or hear. We would not be daunted. We climbed a nearby light post. It was perfect. Kennedy soon appeared and he electrified everyone gathered. It was a moment in time like few others.

This weekend Donny & I traveled to Greensboro from Durham where we had been visiting middle most son and his family. We were on a mission to hear Bernie Sanders speak. He’s just a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, he cannot possibly win the nomination much less an election folks are saying and yet his numbers increase every day. Like Kennedy The Bern electrified his audience. He spoke with no teleprompter, few notes, and much conviction. He spoke from the heart.

Time will tell how far Bernie Sanders goes. But like Whitehall that never let a little thing like impossible geographic growth stop it from otherwise healthy and creative growth and like Kennedy who not only won but became one of our more effective and beloved presidents, the impossible is always possible.

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BO-JA-GI Wrap SandyBeachGirl Style

sea bassIf you’re Korean or have ever watched Korean drama or just in general know a lot about Korean culture then you probably know more about Bojagi wrap then me, but I’ve taken it to heart. Long before I had the idea to wrap my art in custom printed Bojagi wrap, which is my own spin off of this honored Korean centuries old tradition, I used old tablecloths or vintage fabrics to wrap gifts.

happy birthday bojagiI got that notion from watching Korean historical dramas that Emily introduced me to, Dong Yi and then Yi San. Everyone always wrapped and tied with a tidy knot any foods, a gift, almost anything that needed transporting in a covered manner in a serviceable cloth. I was intrigued and hooked. I did this for a short spell when we joined friends for dinner or we were gifting someone but everyone thoughtfully kept returning the clothes I used. That seemed to defeat the purpose of an effortless but recyclable wrapping and so I pondered a better way.

The idea of sponge block printing on scraps of fabric came to me as the perfect solution. I create letters for a message and shapes for accents and voila an instant Bojagi wrapping. And rather than knot the material I use package string to keep everything in place. Less material needed and less bulky to ship or transport.

Bojagi is the ideal name for my fabric wrappers because my brother used to call me Ja being unable to pronounce Sandra. Or rather JaJa which got shortened to Ja. And so there I am right smack in the middle of Bojagi.

bojagi wrapAny customer who orders a major piece of art from my Etsy store, SandraBallART, automatically gets a custom Bojagi. For littler pieces I’ll do the same but I add in a small fee. Any local folks that order art as a gift get a custom Bojagi wrap as part of the package.

Bojagi wraps SandyBeachGirl style are fun to make and stress free. It’s an outer wrapping so what if a little paint dribbles on the cloth or the letters are a bit hard to read because the paint bled. It’s Bojagi art. Recycled. Reclaimed. Renewed!

And feel free to jump on board the SandyBANDS express. Make wraps with your own unique style for fun or sale.  Start your own Bojagi business. You are so welcome to post your comments, photos or links here. We’re all on this planet together. Let’s take care of each other.

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Camp OBX 2015


Mimicking the pose of three first flight witnesses. Jake (16 year old Johnny Moore), Martin (lumber merchant Cephus Brinkley) and me (surfman Will Dough) Senior Camp 2015. Photo credit Lydia.

In 2006 Emily & Marty need summer help with then six year old Martin & three year old Lydia. Being more fun to call it camp than anything else it quickly it became officially Camp OBX envied by many but attended by a very select few.

Not far from the beginning, Donny’s nephew Jake and his family, plus even more of Donny’s family, were visiting and after Jake got back home to Richmond he decided that camp time was needed. Taking the bull by the horns he told, not asked, his parents that he wanted to attend, applied and was accepted. He’s now in his sixth year and the only non-grand to be a full rights camper. He always tries to schedule his camp time with Martin and Lydia but occasionally he’s been the only camper in residence.


Beach time with the teens brought this no zoom needed friend to my towel side.

Three years ago the younger crop of grands began getting their own special camp time. As much as all of our campers love and cherish their parents, and while family camp time is unique and awesome, as seven year old Edward, now a three year camp veteran, states, “It’s not camp when you’re here, Mom.”

Campers have learned to read, swim, surf, and ride a horse all at camp. Campers have seen turtles hatch, the inside of the Wright Brothers Monument, and almost seen the moon rise at the top of Bodie Island lighthouse (got halfway up to be thwarted by lightning in the area). Campers have made their first mini-golf hole-in-one and one lucky camper even got just the right one to win a free game (Professor Hackers ftw), gotten their first hourly paying job (thanks Val and My Little Sunshine) and mastered the art of wearing flip flops while at camp. Campers have camped out under the stars, seen shooting stars, and watched babies become Virginia Dare stars at the Lost Colony. Those are only some highlights. The list is pretty much endless. And FUN is always the operative word.

We got our first official t-shirt this season, thanks to the Desjardins family, Marty specifically who came up with the idea. It reads “Grandma Sandy What Can We Do That’s FUN?” This now much repeated phrase was started by grand Sebastian trying to get me to play Portal without actually coming out and saying it, since he has limited screen time. His clever reasoning being that if the idea comes from Grandma Sandy allowances are made. It took me longer than the rest of the family to figure out his coded message.

2015 marks our first pretty much non-stop camping the entire traditional school break summer and it really was, as Jake told his parents, the best year yet!

martin camperlydia camperjake campersea bass camper


edward camper benji camper zach camper marie camperpj rising camper

The Nifty Nine. Martin 14, Lydia 12, Jake 17, Sebastian 6, Edward 7, Benji 7, Zach 5, Marie 3, PJ 2. Martin & Lydia belong to daughter Emily & Marty. Sebastian belongs to son Donald & Terri. Edward & Marie belong to son Stephen & Sarah. Benji, Zach & PJ belong to son Andrew & Jenn. Jakes belongs to Donny’s brother Robert & Diane.




Filed under Beach Life, Camp OBX, family