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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.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lilac Legacy

My mother loved lilacs. At least I believe she did because over the years, she planted a variety of bushes. They come on, one type  after the other, filling the area around the old house with a variety of fragrances - lest you thought they all smell the same.

For Mother's Day, my son Donovan gave me two Korean dwarf lilacs and planted them up here at our house, one in front and one at the dining room window. Its fragrance wafts in through an open window..

Saturday, April 25, 2015

First Impressions - Lunch at Tillie's

 For looking in on her cat Bella while she was in California, my friend Cheryl took me out to lunch at the new restaurant, Tillie's, in a charming bungalow.

Tillie's on 7th Street in Post Falls, Idaho

This isn't about Cheryl, though she has had an interesting life.


And it isn't necessarily about me, although I have had an interesting life, too.


It isn't necessarily even about Tillie's, but I recommend it for lunch. They will start serving dinner after Mother's Day.

Some of Tillie's interesting decor

It's about first impressions. Before seeing the red bicycle as I went through the gate, I saw these colorful tables and chairs below.

I immediately said to Cheryl, "I have a blog friend in Boston, who would be enamored with those tables and chairs."

Front porch of Tillie's

The male half of the married couple who own the restaurant waited on us while his wife cooked in the kitchen. She could be heard calling out, "Thank you" when a customer left. Next time, I must look in on her. The husband related how they came to open the restaurant. What I took away with me were phrases he used, which reminded me how we project our own self-image when we meet people.

 For a few years after I ceased practicing law, I continued to say that I was an attorney. It took time to stop viewing myself as one; I finally tacked on the word "retired". I once met a woman who, within a minute of our introducing ourselves, identified herself as the mother of a Down's Syndrome child, that had died two years earlier at age eight. We spent some time in conversation about her experience being the mother of this child during and after those eight years. She finally mentioned that she had two strapping sons in college and a six-year-old daughter.

So, the part-owner of Tillie's identified himself as a retired businessman, who sold his business, intending to do what retirees do, when his wife expressed her dream of opening a restaurant in this bungalow he had renovated. It has a charming interior, so he can be justly proud of his work.  He also said that working with his wife is a new experience. I had the impression he is withholding judgment on the type of experience it is. But he seems a cheerful man, so at the very least, he is an indulgent husband. And a friendly, welcoming host. We were given warm chocolate chip cookies on which to end our lunch. So, Cheryl and I had a lovely time. We'll bring our mates next time.

And then we went to Good Will, where I bought this folding rocking chair to go with my antique walnut Victorian bed in the guest room. It was a very nice day.

Mother's folding rocker