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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Jay's Take on Northern Ireland: My Own Private Idaho: The Past is Never Dead

My Own Private Idaho: The Past is Never Dead: Yesterday, a former British soldier was arrested in Northern Ireland and charged with murder during the Bloody Sunday shooting of Catholic m...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Temple House, County Sligo, Ireland

Temple House, County Sligo - original entrance

 Temple House, in County Sligo, Ireland, is operated as a guest house by Roderick Perceval, descendant of the family line of owners dating back to the 1660s. I wanted to explore such a house, and so we stayed here for two nights.

Present front entrance

 All its furnishing date back to the 1850s when it was enlarged. Our room originally belonged to two sisters; dressing tables, wash stands and other furnishings are duplicated. The mattresses are more recent and very comfortable.

The Perceval sisters, Jean and I can't recall the other sister's name - Agnes, I think. They married Lavin brothers.

On the grounds is a late 13th century Knights Templar castle. This Knights Templar castle lies the farthest west in Europe. The Knights Templar were dissolved by the pope in the early 1300s, their lands confiscated and given to the Knights Hospitaller. Politics!

But back to Temple House.

                     I wish our stairs were as easy to mount as these are - wide and low. Ascending and descending pure pleasure and rather regal.

                                             The house is filled with portraits of Anglo-Irish ancestors.

Malcolm Blaine, killed in action 1914. A great-uncle.

The house is a 19th century time capsule; stuffed animals and birds are everywhere. I was especially taken with this case of taxidermy frogs in the hall outside our bedroom.

But Temple House, grand as it is, still has a sense of humor.

Roderick is a fine hotelier, and chef, serving wonderful suppers and fine breakfasts at one large table.  Despite being dressed in jeans and sweaters, you feel you're at a grand dinner party of old. He arranges the 12 guests as a proper host should, so that conversation is lively and friendly. I especially enjoyed his Irish porridge with apple syrup in the morning. Stay at Temple House for a taste of Anglo-Irish life. Roderick and his wife also raise curious sheep.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Our Trip to Northern Ireland - Derry (Londonderry)

You can walk the wall high above the old part of Derry, where in 1689 its inhabitants staved off a siege by Catholic King James II  until Protestant King William arrived to relieve the town.

I wanted to go to Northern Ireland, especially to Derry, because an ancestor on Mom's side, James Raney, sailed from Derry for America about 1732. 

Outside the old city wall. You mount the steps just inside to walk along the top.

 I got my photo taken with Reg, who had just marched with a King William commemorative parade in the Protestant section of Derry. It must have been windy because I forgot to remove my ear protector.

Sidewalks in town are embossed with bronze depictions of sea life.

From the west side of the city wall we viewed Bogside, the Catholic section of Derry.

 We descended to see the murals on the sides of houses depicting The Troubles. There were many. Here are two.

Below "You are entering Free Derry" someone has scrawled "Smash Fortress Europe. No one is illegal." The city wall is up the hill.  Later, back in the town center, we had our photo taken by a friendly police woman with her partner and his sniffer dog.

I always stop to read war memorials
Not all of Derry looks back at war and The Troubles.
I went to the nearby River Foyle that flows through Derry into Lough Foyle and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean, where I wished my ancestor a safe voyage to America.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Harry's Last Mouse

Harry in his youth when he could leap to the high places he loved.

Another cat has gone - and broken my heart.  On the day before we left for Ireland we took Harry to the vet because he was having trouble breathing. An x-ray showed a mass was encroaching on his windpipe, displacing it.  He was sixteen.

Harry's newspaper photo 1999. His best features were his beautiful green eyes.

He was fifteen months old when we saw his photo in the Laramie Boomerang and the statement that he was available for adoption from the shelter. His previous owner called him Iggy. She was visiting him when we arrived. "He likes dried Friskies," she said, "and he loves having his tummy scratched." She was pregnant again, lived in a trailer, and her husband said she could only keep his mother cat. So, we took him home and rechristened him Harry. People thought he'd lost part of his tail, but his father had been a bobbed-tail cat.

Last mouse caught sometime this past summer
Harry was a great mouser until he grew lame and deaf. He hadn't caught a mouse for over a year until he showed up with this one early in the summer. So proud of himself, he had to be photographed. 

He was a lap sitter and when we'd watch TV, he'd cuddle into the crook of my arm and fall asleep. Jay would have to get my tea and make the popcorn because I'd say, "I have a cat on my lap."

He enjoyed sleeping on the porch in the sun.

 Or being near the warmth of the fire.

Most of all, he wanted to sleep between us at night.

We buried him near a young maple tree a short distance from the house. Dear old cat, I wish you happy hunting in your spirit world.

Monday, August 31, 2015

My Talented Cousin - Colleen Raney

 I have a wonderfully talented cousin, once removed (that's a 2nd cousin), one of the youngest of my first cousin Pat Raney and his wife Barbara, who have oodles of wonderful kids. Colleen's talent as a singer in the Irish folk tradition is a wonder to hear. I really didn't know about her (Pat and Barbara live in Seattle and Colleen lives in Portland, until I was peppering Pat on Facebook about our Irish ancestor (who came to the U.S. about 1730 from what is now Northern Ireland) because Jay and I are going to Ireland and Northern Ireland.  He mentioned that Colleen had studied at the National University of Ireland at Galway - and that she was a professional singer. What??? So, I googled her and then I ordered her three available albums from her website.  What a delight she is to listen to.

Here is a sample of her extraordinary voice, the first song on her album, "Here This is Home."

You can hear more of her songs on YouTube. Just look her up by her name, Colleen Raney.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sentimental Journey Back to Laramie, Wyoming

Jay and I drove down to Laramie, Wyoming, last week - the first time we've been back since 2007. I wanted to see my friends Sue (in middle) and Mary (at right). We've corresponded via email since I left to come back to Idaho to care for Mom, but emails are no comparison to seeing people you love  in person.

I love statuary and the University of Wyoming has in recent years planted mythic images of the Old West across it campus.  You may know that the bucking horse Steamboat and his rider is the image on the Wyoming license plate. It is also the official image of the university. While Jay was working at the university,  a huge statue of Steamboat was erected outside the football stadium.

Later a large colorful statue of the Shoshone Chief Washakie was erected in front of the university's Washakie Center. The university is proud to educate members of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes of the Wind River Reservation .

I was delighted with the newest installation (added spring 2015) near the athletic field titled "Breaking Through," in honor of Title Nine women, depicting a young woman in 1920s western garb on a bronco. It is enormous, intended to match "Steamboat." Her hat alone weighs 500 pounds. The wall is reminiscent of  Wyoming sandstone blocks  used to construct early university buildings (still in use).

There are plenty of nice hotels and restaurants in Laramie and it's a tourist draw in the summer. One of the nicest places to visit is the American Heritage Center and Art Museum, the building designed by architect Antoine Predock.

So, next time you fly into Denver and rent a car, drive two and a half hours north through Cheyenne to Laramie and spend a couple of days. And be sure to eat at the restaurant down on 1st Street (originally Railroad Street) and Ivinson, where you can watch  trains go past on the old Union Pacific rails across the street. The restaurant's second floor and that of other buildings near the tracks were originally  whorehouses attracting railroad workers and cowboys off the range, the university boys being too poor to indulge in that particular sin.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interesting Animals I've Met at Charity Thrift Stores


I lead a rather mundane existence, going out a few times a week, following a route from the Spokane Valley to Post Falls and then Coeur d'Alene, haunting charity thrift shops for goods to resell on eBay. Unlike restaurants, thrift shops allow well-behaved pets to walk the aisles with their people. Birdie, above, saved her master's life on his drive from Arizona to Idaho, furiously licking his face as he nodded off. "It's not our time to die," she whined in his ear.


Horace (I think that's his name) can play dead if he feels like it.

This is the sister of Horace's owner with Lillian, who needs her claws clipped. Apparently, this brother and sister team make a day of shopping with their dogs.

Pixel or was it Pixie?

I forgot to ask this cutie's name
This part Doberman, part Brittany, wears a muzzle, removing worries from owner and shoppers

I should have written down this dog's name

Even parrots get out sometimes
When I mentioned my blog project to a young clerk, she told me I'd just missed the woman with the white rat wrapped around her neck. And sometimes a man with a ferret in a cage strapped to his chest makes an appearance. I can only hope.