blog · ocoee river · tennessee

Travel | White Water Rafting 2007

Possibly one of my favorite pictures

My “summer cleaning” for this year appears to be mostly digital, lol. I’m basically just going through old files and folders, deleting things I no longer want or need, and sharing fond memories.

This particular memory is from all the way back in 2007, when I went on a white water rafting trip with the young adult group from church (not youth group, we were all adults at the time).

I’m particularly proud of how this picture turned out ❤ ❤ ❤

I don’t remember exactly where we went, but some research leads me to believe it was the Ocoee River in East Tennessee, pretty much nestled right into the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains. My camera, at the time, was not waterproof so I don’t have any pictures of the actual rafting, but I did take lots of nature pictures from around the cabin and the woods.

Our cabin was right on a little river and I could have spent hours sitting on the porch, listening to the water and the wind and the birds.

If I could live the rest of my days in the mountains, I would do so in a heartbeat! It’s not often that you can go someplace and not hear traffic or sirens or just the sound of other people, but it was so indescribably peaceful on this trip that I can’t even say.

I’ll have to see if I can get some of my girlfriends together for a trip like this in the future!

No streetlights or telephone poles in sight
The view from my bedroom was so peaceful

Have you ever been white water rafting?
If not, would you want to go?

blog · memphis · travel

Blog | Snow in Memphis (2016)

I was going through some truly old files on my computer backup and came across these pretty pictures of a snow storm we got in February 2016.

We were still living in an apartment in Germantown (a suburb of Memphis), but we were on the second floor so we got to see some pretty things all covered in snow from a great vantage point!

Seeing as it is now July 2020, and it is as hot and humid as summer can be in Memphis, I thought it might be a good time to share these ‘cool’ pics…

What’s your favorite time of year?

blog · college life · ireland · life · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 8

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Before our tour of Kilkenny Castle, we were able to visit a street market and some of the shops along the road.

During this walk, we stopped at a crepe stand that was owned and run by a Frenchman. He had owned his own restaurant in South France. While talking with him and the other customers, it was hard not to notice the lyrical similarities of the French and Irish accents. Both speak quickly, but the French seemed more clipped and quicker than the Irish. This is not, of course, to say that the Irish aren’t quick speakers!

It really was a fun discussion/chat about food and life in different areas of the world.

Experiencing Kilkenny Castle was just as eclectic as the building itself.

The architecture of Kilkenny Castle, an eclectic mix of medieval and Victorian styles, has been described as beautiful by some. There are others who see it as a hideous hodgepodge.

I thought the castle was quite grand and rather enjoyed the transition from ancient times in the medieval lower levels to the more modern Victorian bedrooms on the upper floors.

It is truly remarkable that this property remained in the Butler family for so long. It must have been a drawn-out decision to sell the house to the people of Kilkenny. My own family does not have even an iota of the history of the Butler family, but even the mere thought of letting a family home go is a difficult one.

Some of the most memorable things that I heard on this tour are as follows:

Many a good match was made at a wake.

This was in reference to the social events that wakes were. A time to celebrate the lives of loved ones now gone.

Save face. / Don’t lose face. / Mind your beeswax.

Were all sayings that were meant as a warning. These all referred to the wax that people used to wear beneath their makeup. This wax could melt if too close to the fire, so the use of pole screens came into being.

I like this.

My professor wrote in response.

A good journal, Michelle – full of observations that will help you remember your trip for years to come.

There were times I thought a little more attention, specifically to language, might have been good, but I did enjoy reading this.

And I certainly enjoyed your company on this trip!

Journal grade: 190/200

Professor Doug Branch
blog · college life · ireland · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 7

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Visiting the Rock of Cashel was the most entertaining tip due to the following story that a local girl told me…

As Sarah tells the tale, a boy her age was banned from the Rock. At the age of seven, he had climbed the Rock (a pastime of local children) so many times and heard the tour guides so much that he’d memorized the tour! He was banned for giving tours to visitors and has not been allowed back on the Rock since. 🙂

When we came down from the Rock, we visited a lovely (and eclectic) little store where I was able to purchase an Irish-made sweater.

Before we left Cashel, we stopped in at Rossa’s Pottery. The owner and the store’s namesake, Rossa, was lovely and took the time to look up and explain the meaning of a Celtic song for us.

Dúlamán is a song about the various types of seaweed found along Ireland’s coasts. The Irish have longed used this resource for medicinal purposes as well as for relaxation. Dúlamán takes all that the Irish feel for seaweed and beautifully creates a sort of poetic love song…

Dúlamán na binne buí, dúlamán Gaelach
Dúlamán na farraige, b’fhearr a bhí in Éirinn

Tá ceann buí óir ar an dúlamán gaelach
Tá dhá chluais mhaol ar an dúlamán maorach

Bróga breaca dubha ar an dúlamán gaelach
Tá bearéad agus triús ar an dúlamán maorach

“Submerged seaweed canopy” by Julius A. Ellrich is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Seaweed from the yellow cliff, Irish seaweed
Seaweed from the ocean, the best in all of Ireland

There is a yellow gold head on the Gaelic seaweed
There are two blunt ears on the stately seaweed

The Irish seaweed has beautiful black shoes
The stately seaweed has a beret and trousers

Very cool!

my professor
blog · college life · ireland · life · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 6

Tuesday, May 17

Honestly? I didn’t pay much attention at all to the trip from Dublin to Thurles.

My fingers itched for the comfort of knitting and feel of soft, smooth yarn. I don’t recall much of the drive beyond the murmur of students and faculty.

Once we’d settled into our rooms, people started exploring the small Thurles community. And what is the heart of the community? A library that is also a gathering place!

In Ireland, checking out yer books!

Library cards are entirely free to both residents of Ireland AND to foreigners! Identification is not required to register for an account, a thing almost unheard of in the United States.

My instructor commented… “So glad you did this!”

After I’d signed up for my account and browsed the collection, I talked with the librarian, Loraine.

She told me that they were moving to a new integrated library system that would be country-wide. We discussed electronic collections and discovered that we used the same system, OverDrive. Loraine and I continued talking and I learned an entirely surprising thing!

The Thurles Library system, in fact the entire system, does not have a Friends of the Library group. Libraries in Ireland are supported solely by the government! In the states, we have nonprofit groups that raise funds for programs, furniture, and more!

After exploring more of the city, my little group returned to the library for a music program…

The tribute to Kris Kristofferson was an absolute pleasure to take part in. Many community members were in attendance, all ages enjoying the music, often clapping (sometimes singing) along with the performers.

During the performance, I took a moment inside the library. While there I talked with a library associate who asked about Memphis, my work, and the music we could hear from the next room. I told him about youth services and the duties the job entailed… He offered me a job!

My Professor commented, “Nice!” to my job offer, lol.

blog · college life · ireland · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 5

This post is SO late! My goodness, you’d think I forgot about it… which I didn’t, I just misplaced my journal from the trip before typing up the events therein, then I wasn’t blogging for a period of time, and well, here we are.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Our second day trip was to the Titanic museum in Belfast, the city where she was built.

Continue reading “Travel | Ireland: Day 5”
blog · pittsburgh · travel

Travel | Pittsburgh 2019

I had a lot on my plate leading into what has become my annual October visit to Pittsburgh, PA for hockey and touristy things with my mother…

  • I had accidentally booked our room for only one of the two nights we would be in town.  While it was a pretty easy thing to fix, the unexpected hit on my budget and surprise “oops!” caused a fair bit of stress leading up to our departure.
  • We left the house later than originally planned and spent most of our time going through security worried that we wouldn’t make it to our gate on time.
  • And I’d only just talked with my boyfriend the evening before about not being able to go see him.

Day One…

Continue reading “Travel | Pittsburgh 2019”
blog · college life · ireland · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 4

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Our planned outing with the TnCIS group was today and we headed out early to get to the Newgrange site.  (http://www.newgrange.com/)

Older than even the Egyptian pyramids at Giza and Stonehenge, the Irish passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth are some of the most impressive buildings of ancient times. These three sites are located along the River Boyne in an area that is perfect for the agricultural communities that settled there.

Ancient Irish peoples cremated their dead and placed them in great passage tombs. Unlike today, ancient people did not forget their dead and would commune with them at special times of the year.

Newgrange is one such site and has a roof box which allows the mid-winter sun to penetrate into the innermost chambers of the tomb.

One of the reasons Newgrange and its sister sites are so impressive is that much of the building materials were gathered from far away areas and floated upstream to the building site. Huge stones were dragged up from the river, had incredibly intricate designs carved into them, and were placed in their final resting spot. Many of these stones are still intact and in place today! Perhaps we should take lessons from the ancient people on how to build things that will last through the ages.

Although we cannot ask these ancient Irish people their thoughts, much can be learned from what they left behind. It is highly likely that only respected elders were allowed to enter the innermost chambers, with public rituals held outside the tombs.

Feminine symbolism is found in the egg-shaped stones and the passages within the structures while masculine symbols are seen in the various phallic objects and the stone balls.

This is especially interesting because of the connection that ancient peoples saw between death and rebirth.

As an aside to the wealth of history in the area, I found it really cool that the areas around these tombs had once again become agricultural. Farmers keep cows and sheep on the land and crow crops in the same soil of old.

On the drive from Newgrange to our surprise, the town of Bettystown, a beachfront community, I noticed something…  The major roads in Ireland are called “Motorways” instead of “Interstates.” Once I’d considered it for a moment, I realize that it makes sense. In the United States we have a system of roadways that connect the states, an interstate system. However, Ireland has counties and would not need an interstate system. Instead, they have a motorway to travel across the country.

Personally, I think “Motorway” sounds quite hip, but I am definitely still attached to my “Interstates.” I’ve traveled all my life.  🙂

At the beach, many of my classmates and I removed our shoes and played in the chilly waters of the sea. Water is the element I most identify with and whenever I get the chance to experience the nature of it, life is good.

Brianna and I stopped in a small cafe for a snack of french toast and we talked with the waitress about the trip we were on and what we had seen so far. She was quite sweet and said that most tourists passed right by the cafe, but that it was nice to hear we were having fun.

blog · college life · ireland · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 3

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Our first experience riding the Hop On, Hop Off bus wasn’t particularly great. The driver, a Dublin native, rather brusquely stated that he didn’t like to hear his riders’ speaking. We were told, “Your talking has made me lose my track.” which appears to be interchangeable with the Americanism, “You made me lose my place.”

My instructor commented… “Not very nice! I didn’t hear this.”

I have noticed that the Irish phrasing sounds more solid, almost as if it carries the weight of age. The American way of saying things is often very impudent sounding, often quite brash. We are a young country, after all, and the older I get the more that I am able to recognize this.

Knowing the Irish are particularly proud of their breweries, I looked forward to getting a tour of one of the local facilities…

2017-06-30-15-26-teeling_distillery_cropped_80

Teeling Distillery is the only working Distillery in Dublin. It is a small, family-owned business that returned to Dublin and became the producer of the first Dublin whiskey to be distilled within the city in over forty years.

Peter, a fast-talking, highly knowledgeable young man was our tour guide. He explained how the distillery tried to purchase the original land and when they couldn’t, decided to locate in the historic Liberties. The Liberties were located beyond the city walls and residents felt “at liberty” to brew whiskeys and beers without having to pay taxes on what they produced.

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Peter sitting in front of Natalie.

We learned about the different ingredients and cooking processes that the Teeling Distillery has used for years. From the selection of grains to the three copper vats where the solution is cooked down to become their signature whiskeys, everything at Teelings speaks of quality.

Traditions of old and new techniques come together in the three vats named after the Teeling daughters — Alison, Natalie and Rebecca — to create a wonderfully smooth small batch whiskey.

During the tasting portion of the tour, Peter explained the correct way to drink good Irish Whiskey…

  1. Start by swirling it in the cup. The natural oils of a good whiskey will leave a residue called peaks and tears on the glass.
  2. Second, smell the whiskey, breathing in the different scents.
  3. Third, take a small sip and swallow, breathing out immediately afterward to allow the alcohol fumes of that first taste to escape.
  4. After these steps, one may continue drinking, allowing each mouthful to sit on the tongue as the flavors and depths are revealed.

As the Teeling family says…

At the Farmer’s Market next door, a kind sort of haggling over prices occurred as vendors and their customers decided the worth of vegetables, fruits, meats, and more.

The people in attendance were of the community, speaking familiarly with vendors and other customers, reminding me of the small-town grocery store where I grew up. It seems that much of Ireland still has that small-town sense of community. The people truly care about each other and their country.

We traveled through Dublin by Hop On, Hop Off bus and hopped off across the River Liffey at the Story of the Irish show.

Guided through history by an actor portraying an ancient Celtic god, Crannog, we learned of the origins of the Irish people in their own words. Crannog is one of the Tuatha De Dannan, a people of magic who are honor bound to tell the truth, and is the guide who protects you as you travel through history.

The original Irish people migrated up the coast of Europe at the end of the last Ice Age. A few of these people crossed the water in skin boats to the island of Ireland, leaving the coast of a Britain still connected to the continent.

From that first landing the island was able to escape much of the war and conquering forces of the mainland. The island of Ireland was (and has been) so isolated from the world that the gene pool remained undiluted for thousands of years and a prosperous agricultural community developed. This group of people were technologically advanced and traded with lands as far away as Persia!

The most wonderful thing I was able to take away from the show is that there is currently a revival to bring back many of the ancient Irish traditions, the culture, and language.

Hearing tales of ancient Irish kings and of the steadfast, enduring soul of the people was truly inspiring.

blog · college life · ireland · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 2

FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2016

Walking to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells didn’t afford us the opportunity to hear much of the local language. Conversations became background noise as we entered the college grounds.

Honestly, the only draw I felt to the Book of Kells is the huge undertaking and great accomplishment that it was for the times.

The symbols of the Four Evangelists (from Wikipedia)

One of the most interesting things about the Book of Kells is that there were a number of different monks who had a hand in its creation. While it was not unusual for scribes and artist to embellish the copies they wrote, the intricacies and dedication to detail shown in the Book of Kells is truly remarkable!

Written over a thousand years ago, the Book of Kells is proof of the talented artisans living in Ireland at the time.

Not only does the Book of Kells share the gospel of Christ, it also incorporates imagery and symbology from ancient Celtic beliefs. Throughout the book, Celtic crosses, knot work, and creatures can be seen in vivid, full color detail.

I was impressed most by the use of color in the Book of Kells. From the commonly used yellow ochre to the highly expensive lapis lazuli, pigments were gathered from as far away as Southeast Asia.

Even today, the artwork contained in the Book of Kells is easily seen and enjoyed in its original, hand-written state. It remains nearly pristine on the vellum pages and can be viewed on a daily basis by visitors to Trinity College.

The Latin in which the Book of Kells, the Book of Darrow, and the Book of Armagh are written is the language used by the Catholic church. What is interesting about this is that, while it is a dead language, Latin is still widely used in Catholic church ceremonies around the world. Not so dead after all, is it?

The Long Room

Above the exhibition floor is the Long Room. Originally the main chamber of the Old Library, this room now contains over 200,000 of the oldest books in the Trinity College Library collection. These books are shelved on the original shelves and in gallery bookcases. Being able to see materials that are hundreds of years old is a priceless opportunity that I won’t soon forget!

As an aside, I was allergic to Trinity College. During our entire visit to Ireland, I only had an allergic reaction at the college. Alas, I will never be an archivist if I’m allergic to the materials I am supposed to be working with!  😛

In addition to the many priceless books at the Trinity College Library, there is also a harp. The oldest surviving harp in Ireland, it is an emblem of the early bardic societies.

After a brief communication snafu, Miranda, Bree, Sara, Brianna and I found a coffee shop with WiFi. We spent almost thirty minutes getting to know each other better.

Just like the coffee shops back home, students were completing work and friends were meeting to catch up with one another. Some things appear to be universal and coffee shops being a place for the community is one such thing. Yay!

My instructor made the following note in my journal. “So glad you did all become friends! –Doug B.”

Though small, our next stop proved to be quite an interesting little museum. The collection of the Dublin Writers Museum is housed in an 18th century mansion. The building has suffered from water damage and parts of the exhibit had been removed for restoration.

Even with the missing pieces, the items remaining in the exhibit and the self-guided audio tour painted a memorable image of the historical significance of Irish writers and literature.

telephone

We were even able to see Samuel Beckett’s infamous telephone! This was a specially made telephone that he had made; it had special buttons that would block or allow calls only when he desired them and only his close friends new when the accept calls button would be pressed.

The reading of an excerpt from Bram Stoker’s Dracula had be grinning long after I heard it. The dramatic flare of this most famous vampire story isn’t particularly poetic, but it is vivid and imaginative. I would love to read Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan La Fanu. It would be very interesting to compare the two stories that, quite possibly, started the tradition of vampire novelizations.

After the tour, I made a point of talking with the security guard. I asked him why he chose the job he now held. I was rewarded by his reply that the opportunity to meet people from all around the world is what makes his job so rewarding. We talked a little about American politics and it was most entertaining to see how his accent became more pronounced as he became more and more passionate about the topic.

I wasn’t surprised to find that the Irish do not like Donald Trump.

Walking the streets of Dublin on Friday night was a wonder! The city was absolutely buzzing with activity; both locals and tourists enjoying the beautiful weather, taking to the streets with friends and family. I heard so many accents during this first evening in the city; from German and Swedish to Korean and British and, of course, the native Irish lilt.

Celeste, Christine, Brianna, and I walked for absolutely AGES trying to find something for dinner! It seemed that every place we stopped was closed and we began to wonder if we should just find a convenience store and grab something from the shelves. When we finally found a restaurant we all liked the sound of, it turned out that they were out of the menu items we wanted. *sigh*

Finally, we decided on “authentic oriental food” and ate at the Noodle House. Yay, food!

The girl in the restaurant where we ate dinner spoke with a British accent, calling the bathroom a loo instead of toilet. She was very kind and explained that chicken gougan is sliced chicken breast, breaded and cooked.

I am curious to find out if the chicken gougan recipe matches at all with that of a chichen nugget or strip.