Sunday, September 26, 2010

Past villains, present spirits

On a misty, foggy day (a "soft day" to the Irish), I took my group to a castle on the coast that had been destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's boys in 1650. It's near a holy well so we were double dipping. (I'm sure Ollie's guys did their best to destroy the well also, but it didn't work.)

Below the castle there is a "storm beach" -- a beach where huge boulders are washed ashore, only to be taken out to sea by the next storm, and then returned again by the next one, sometimes even blocking the road. Someone, the Good People* no doubt, had been having a bit of fun with the stones and left us quite a little display of their mastery of the problems of balance and precision. The more you look at it the more you wonder about how they did it. There were many, many of these little wonders besides the ones pictured here.

I'm reminded of the comment of an old Irish gentleman: "The faeires? I don't believe in them myself, of course. But they exist nevertheless."

* Never refer to Irish faeries as "The Little People." It annoys them.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Downside of Travel

For me the downside would have to be being away from my dogs for several weeks. They go to dog-savvy neighbors, or, in the case of Jack, to his Mom and Dad's place, where one brother still remains. It's not really their deprivation, it's mine. Worse in the case of a puppy. I missed three weeks of Jack's development after all.

The pic above was made today, on a ramble the four of us took. In some situations and from certain angles he looked very mature. He's losing some of that dunderfoot puppy-klutz stuff and becoming more agile, more confident, even occasionally elegant in the way he moves and handles himself.

Not much can compare to walking with two close-working bird-dogs. They are the very definition of passion and the giving of 110% at all times. Life is good!

Back on the Ranch

I'm back from Ireland, tired but happy. A great, wonderful trip. Unlike last year's I had plenty of time to visit my friends, catch up on the gossip, and just plain... loaf before my little group arrived. They were good people, all muy simpatico, and it was fun to share "my Ireland" with them for ten fun days.

Last year I drove to the airport on the day of departure and when I returned I drove all the way home. I live about five hours from the airport and the return trip, when I had already been awake for many, many hours was an ordeal that I swore I would never suffer through again. So this year I went down a day early, got a motel, and had a leisurely departure day. Did the same on the way back: got a motel, a good night's sleep, and a very early start the next morning. I was a good way from the airport when the sun came up, as shown in this picture. (I have a bad habit of taking photographs through windshields! Much safer now with the stand-off digicams and their nice big screens.)

In my next few entries I will be reviewing some aspects of the trip, posting some photographs and comments.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The village harbor

Lots of the kids in the previous picture have fathers who fish out of this harbor. Fishing here means setting pots for lobster and crab and netting a few mackerel and salmon.

It's a dangerous life, and a hard one. But it tends to make good people, and good friends.

Among the Angels

Still in Ireland, and visiting the two-room schoolhouse of the home village. Rest assured they are not all angels, but wonderful, inquisitive, bright children nevertheless with endless curiosity about ranch life, Indians, cowboys— the whole nine yards.

You know you're aging "a bit" when you first met their parents when they were this age.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tipp Wins It!

The pic is from last year's match when Tipp lost to the Cats. There is every chance these two fine teams will meet again in 2011. (I need to start planning my trip!) The county colors for Killkenny are gold and black and Tipp's are blue and white.

Today, in a monumental upset, Tipperary defeated four-time champion Kilkenny to take the All-Ireland Hurling Championship for 2010. Killkenny had won for the last four years and was heavily favored to win today for an unprecedented fifth in a row -- which would have been an historical first. But the underdog Tipp team came out breathing fire and in the first few minutes scored, and scored, and scored again. Neither team let up through 73 minutes of non-stop, no time-out action. Some of the fiercest and most skillful play I have EVER seen, and I am not alone here in that. Natives say it is a hurling match that will go down in Irish sporting history. An absolutely thrilling, heart-pounding game. In this house we were all rooting for Tipperary from the get-go (the underdog, plus we all have connections there), but were secretely resigned to yet another overwhelming victory by the Killkenny powerhouse. (This is their first lost in over 50 games.) It is truly a great day here in western Ireland!


Coming into Ireland, the clouds over the Atlantic cleared slightly and revealed that we were making Irish landfall just north of Mount Brandon, Ireland's second highest mountain, and only five or six miles north of where Lindbergh saw land in 1927. I knew three men here who, as young boys, saw him fly over— sadly all three now gone. I am currently in a tiny village at the right edge of this photograph, under clouds, but later bathed in glorious sunshine. True to Ireland, we are now being lashed by a fierce storm and have been all day.