Monday, December 21, 2009

Nearly Home for Christmas

On my way to work this freezing December morning, my fingers throbbing and stinging with pain from the cold, I came across something I hadn't seen before. There in the middle of the car park was a pile of dung, horse dung. Sidestepping the dung a feeling of separateness, a detachment washed over me. I was removed. Distant but familiar sounds and smells seemed to engulf me. I was walking through the square my hometown, Dungarvan.

Dungravan is a seaside town on the southeast coast of Ireland. It is one of the few towns in Ireland with a perfect square for its town centre. The buildings and businesses vary in height from single story to three stories. Shop fronts of bright yellow, royal blue, pinks, shades of orange and greens with their big windows all bright and shiny. The Square bustles with uniformed children chattering as they make their way to school. Mothers gripping toddlers and pushing prams, shopping baskets attached laden with messages. Shopkeepers pushing trolleys filled with vegetables outside their shop doors. People stop to chat about the state of the country or the weather. A typical morning in the square. Then there is Market Day. Market Day brings a more frenzied bustling tempo to the square

Market Day in Dungarvan is the first Thursday of every month. Farmers from all the surrounding boroughs’ bring their livestock and produce to sell. Farmers wives set up stalls to sell their home baked cakes and buns, their jams and chutneys. Hawkers set up stalls to sell their wares. The town is awash with the smells and sounds of the market. The first thing you notice on market day before you turn the corner into the square is the pungent smell mixed with the smell pipe tobacco and home baking. These smells announce Market Day. The square abounds with the sounds of pigs squealing, sheep baying and horses neighing. The low excited rumblings of farmers bartering fill the air. The clip-clapping of horse hooves on the cobblestones, as farmers peer into their mouths, check hooves and slap their hind ends. Male and female hawkers calling as you pass by, in an effort to interest you in their wares and brick a brack. The voices and sounds melding together creating a strangely melodic tune. The tune that buzzes in your head all day long, driving you crazy. Side stepping and zigzagging through the square trying to avoid the piles of dung spotted on the street as you rush to get to work on time.

My foot slips and I twist my ankle slightly. Disorientated for a moment I don’t know where I am. Shaking my head to get my bearings, I feel the sting and pain of the cold in my fingers again. With a sad twinge of nostalgia I realize I am not home in Dungarvan. I am thousands of miles away, walking to work on this freezing cold December morning. I smile because for a brief moment, I had been catapulted home. I experienced the smells, the sights, and the sounds of Market Day. All this because of a pile dung in the car park.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Where Did My Puppy Go!?!

Last Thursday due to a trip to Las Vegas, I booked Louie into our vet’s boarding facility for two nights. Dilin (son #2) graciously agreed to pick him up on Saturday before the vet's office closed at noon. Our flight back was scheduled to arrive late on Saturday night. We were due home around midnight. If Louie stayed beyond Saturday at noon, we would not be able to collect him until Monday evening after work. I just couldn't leave him for that long.

The vet offers a grooming service as well as boarding. Louie was overdue for a trim. So, I asked the receptionist if the groomer had any openings during his stay. The groomer was fully booked, but if there were a cancellation Louie would be slotted in, the receptionist assured me. Before we left, the groomer came to the reception area to meet us and enquire as to how we wanted Louie groomed. I very confidently told her I wanted the puppy cut. The groomer then flabbergasted me by asking, “What do you mean by a puppy cut." That threw me for a loop. I thought I had the terminology down pat. This was Louie's fourth grooming session and "puppy cut" had up to this point been the description that had produced the desired results. I stood there looking at her, spluttering and splattering. This seemingly simple question plummeted me back to my first years in the US. Struggling to relate the minutest detail of everything, I attempted to engage in.

For example, my first visits to the hairdresser involved questions like what exactly I would like done, how much I would like cut off? This much or that much? Do I want it turned under or turned out? What side do I part my hair, or do I part it at all? Do I want them to use a curling iron or some other contraption? Do I want conditioner? That one I always thought was just plain stupid! Of course, I wanted conditioner! Do I want gel, do I want hairspray? Going to the hairdresser had become a question and answer session, like one of those pub quizzes. Except I didn’t know the answers! Hey, mother of four here! Give me a break! I found a photo I carry with me at all times. I am ready for them now! Hair never looks like the photo, but that's a story for another day.

Back to the groomer. Finding my voice I reiterated a nice little "puppy cut." "I like him fluffy." Vet-groomer went on to expound on the pluses of a good trim! Better value for money, no hair matting etc. etc. I repeated, "I really like him fluffy!" Husband then chimed in, that yes in fact Louie had a tendency to get matted around the legs. I gave him the best-betrayed look I could muster. The groomer proceeded to describe the proper poodle cut. My forceful voice decided to join the fray with an unequivocal, “Absolutely Not!” I explained that I just wanted his cute little face trimmed a bit, and a fraction taken of the length on his body. The groomer and I eventually came to an uneasy compromise. No more than three quarters of an inch was to be cut.

Dilin collected Louie as he promised before noon and sent me this message!

"Looks like little louie got a buzz cut!!"

My first reaction,Dilin collected the wrong puppy! My poor little Louie was stuck in the vet's boarding facility until Monday! Dilin reassured me, this was indeed my little Louie. I will not be bringing Louie back to the vet’s groomer. I will be going where the groomers know what a "puppy cut is!" That is if Louie has hair to groom ever again! In the meantime, I am trying to adjust to “New Hairless Louie”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Las Vegas Here I Come!

My oldest son, Rian works for Sun Country Airlines scheduling flight crews. While visiting Rian in Minneapolis one day last October he told me about a deal Sun Country was running for its employees and their circle. A trip to Cancun, staying in an all-inclusive five star seaside resort . This promotion being available until December 15. So there and then, we decided to make a long weekend out of it and picked December 3 as our departure date. Yes, that’s right, tomorrow. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? A nice long weekend in the sun, by the sea to relax, read and recuperate from Thanksgiving madness, and rejuvenate to better cope with the upcoming Christmas chaos. My suitcase was mentally packed. I spent an hour on the floor beside my bed going through the unread stack of books, selecting my reading for the trip. I would only need two pairs of shoes, the ones I would wear and a pair of flip-flops. Which meant no checked luggage! I was going to carry-on. I love carry-on! I could see myself lounging under one of those tiki umbrella’s sipping Margareta’s. Watching the waves and breathing in the sea air. Perfect!

Rian arrived home with all the travel details last weekend. I was so excited. Not about Cancun particularly, but by the prospect of the heat, the sun, and the sea. Oh how I miss the sounds and the smell of the sea. As we sat around the kitchen table discussing the flight times, layovers in Dallas etc. the husband says, “I don’t know, is it really worth going to Cancun for three days. A week in Cancun makes more sense to me.” Rian countered with what about Las Vegas? Sun Country are running another great deal for Las Vegas. Once the flight times were checked, the husband was satisfied. Las Vegas he informed us, was a more suitable destination for our three-day weekend. I sat silently as my tiki umbrella and Margareta vanished in the proverbial puff of smoke. I don’t know about you, but Las Vegas has never featured on my list of places to visit. I love cities don’t get me wrong, but can Las Vegas really be classed as a city. It has always struck me as a place of frenzy with glitzy vulgarity and isn't it extremely loud! So much for recuperation and rejuvenation. The mentally packed suitcase must be repacked. I will need at least three pairs of shoes. Creative planning is now required because I am determined to carry-on and now I will only need one book!

We are staying at the Planet Hollywood Resort. There are two pools, a spa, a gym, a hair salon and a number of restaurants in the hotel. Maybe Las Vegas won't be so bad after all. I think I'll bring two books. Better safe than sorry!