24 February 2009

Anyone for pancakes?

I'm sitting at my desk on Monday morning and someone in my office remarks with enthusiasm "Hey tomorrow's Pancake Tuesday!"


I will admit that being mystified by people's comments since living in Ireland is not an infrequent occurrence for me but...Pancake Tuesday?

"Oh yeah, cool, Pancake Tuesday!" my other office-mates smile, nod and agree, delighted by the prospect. Clearly Pancake Tuesday is something to be happy about. I admit to myself that anything having to do with pancakes sounds like a pretty good thing.

I casually glance at my calendar. I am used to not knowing what the hell anyone is talking about since I've moved to Dublin and mostly end up using all my faculties to simply not look like a complete moron. Maybe my calendar will have a national pancake holiday marked on it? Perhaps with a short history?

But the only thing I see of significance this week (other than a shit load of work stuff) is Ash Wednesday.

"Uh, you guys mean Mardi Gras?"

Blank looks.

"Fat Tuesday? Carnivale?"

I get polite faces and nods, maybe a little impatience for the dumb (but well-meaning) American. "Yeah, yeah, those too...but here it's Pancake Tuesday!!"

This time the blank look is from me.

"You mean you don't have Pancake Tuesday in America?!?!" They are sad for me, pity that I spent a lifetime missing out on something so special.

"No, we don't eat pancakes." I say "What exactly is the deal?"

"The Tuesday before Lent begins we all eat pancakes." I gather that historically it has something to do with cleaning out the pantry before Lent. I am nearly speechless. Nearly.

"Let me get this straight...the rest of the world celebrate just before Lent begins with a drunken orgy of intoxication and THE IRISH EAT PANCAKES????"

Rio, Spain, New Orleans, The Caribbean, Venice...masks, costumes, floats, parades, beads, boobs, partying...a veritable bacchanalia of drink, food and celebration in Catholic locales the world over and the Irish have fecking PANCAKE TUESDAY??

I was floored but after giving it some thought I decided there's a good reason the Irish kick off 40 days of self denial with something as mundane as pancakes. It's because (and I say this with utter affection) there is no real chance of almost anyone in this country giving up alcohol for the entire time. Why have a big alcohol fueled celebration before the fast if there's not going to be much of a fast to begin with?

Anyway, that's how I made sense of it. And I had a lovely pancake with my lunch.


23 February 2009

Party Phases 101

At our recent party at the Miramar with the usual suspects, we differed on our interpretations of the 5 phases of party. These are mine.

Phase 1 - Assembly
Party official begins when more then 5 people congregate with alcohol. Planned or unplanned, it is Phase One, even if you don't realize yet.

Phase 2 - Ramp Up
The civilized part of the party. People make small talk, tell jokes...a time of general merriment. "Hey, good to see you!, How have you been ?", "Great !, Hey do you want a beer?". 'Sure, thanks"

Phase 3 - Chaos
It is usually at this point that Bingo shows up carrying a stolen lawn ornament or wearing a penis hat...unless the party is at his house. In that case Phase 3 can be identified when Bingo pulls out his arsenal of home defense weapons from behind the couch or decides "These drinks are too weak, I'll make the freakin drinks!"

Phase 4 - Disintegration
Furniture gets broken . People wander off and/or pass out. Its usually at this point when party goers start foraging for anything edible in the kitchen. They make pickle sandwiches and dip chips into any leftovers you might have in the fridge. The beginning of the end. "Where is Rob?", "I dunno he was sitting out in the driveway with a bottle of tequila talking to your mailbox about 10 minutes ago"

(Happy Birthday Tony!)

Phase 5 - Shark Fishing
At our going away party in 2007, Dale and I were the last two people who were not unconscious. We decided that we should each have a glass of scotch, then walk down to the beach, wade into the water and try to catch sharks with our hands. Luckily, we didn't catch any, but when someone is really drunk, we still say "He's gonna catch a shark"

17 February 2009

Göttingen III

My third trip to Göttingen to coach the Grasshoppers, this time for 10 days.

I'm staying in the same apartment, the yellowish building, all the way up top. (those two white windows behind the tree)

I'm a prisoner in the attic !

Its a small apartment, but its a great location right across the street from the University.

Its a quick walk downtown, only 10 minutes if I cut through the campus.

Its cold here now, 30 degrees, but not too bad. Downtown here is much more calm now that the Christmas Market has packed up shop.

All the nifty old buildings are still here, including this one below Kelly pointed out to me last time we were here.

The central meeting place or "the Navel" with its statue.

and of course the famous statue of the girl with the goose, the Gänseliesel

Team organizer and girls team captain Anjulie pointed this little marker to me, its a plaque on the ground where you can actually see all 4 old churches from...or at least the tops of them over the buildings.

Like this one....

I went shopping today for some food and decided that I need to drop about 5 pounds, so I'm gonna drink a lot of broth....

in this particular case, clear broth

I also got mustard for my sandwiches...ahhh german mustard, who loves ya Mustard ? Me thats who.

...and it comes in a recyclable friendly tube that minimizes waste. Clever Germans.

15 February 2009

11 years of wedded bliss...

Happy Valentine's my dear people.

Valentine's Day is not just another media and market driven holiday for yours truly - it also marks the anniversary of my marriage vows to Mr. Blogger (aka Chris.)

A while back the Victorians parlayed an obscure saint into a quaint ritual. Fast forward a hundred years or so and you'll find the Hallmark Greeting Card Company taking that sweet idea to the bank. By cramming it so full of inflated expectations and pressure, they've spoiled a whole month for half the western world.

Alas! The Hub and I fought back and choose that day to be wedded so that the world may have something else to celebrate.
Don't say we never gave you nothing.
Friday your weary working blogger arrived home at 6pm to find the annual nuptial celebrations in full swing. Candlelight, a French chanteur piping out the speakers, wine, roses and dinner in the oven. Lucky girl having such a romantic husband, n'est-ce pas?

Starter of goats cheese and caramelized onion tart. Mmmmmmm. Main meal consisted of chicken breast stuffed with cheese and cream and haricot vert (that's fancy French speak for green beans -seemed a more romantic choice of words.) A lovely side of steamed green veggies topped with parmesan shavings. Sigh...this girl was in heaven.

So there I was, cramming my face full of cheesey chicken and yummy greens, swilling it all down with a lovely Malbec, thinking life couldn't get any better, when The Hub whips out a bag from the best named store in the world.

I am a woman of simple pleasures and just knowing there was a jewelry store out there with such an excellent name would have been gift enough for me. Plus I am rather fond of small shopping bags - they come in so handy don't they?
But surprise surprise! The knowledge and the sack were not the end of my pleasure, this gorgous Spanish beaded necklace was inside! Oh happy day!

It really is lovely, isn't it? And it looks quite fetching on, I might add.

So - that was how my fella kick-started our weekend and it just got better and better. We ate out on Saturday night at my favorite restaurant. Happiness is a table full of Lebanese tappas - and I got to pick all the dishes! A word of advice to the young folks out there - wedded bliss has got an awful lot to do with yummy food. Now it is Sunday evening and we are wrapping things up here with a home cooked meal by my own self and whatever gritty cop drama we can find on the telly.

Hope you all enjoyed our anniversary weekend as much as we did.


11 February 2009

Let it snow

Dublin only averages 4 days of snow a year and it rarely sticks. Last year there were zero snow events. This year we've had 6 or so and one day last week, it was crazy with the snow !

and of course....it was before and during Monday night lacrosse practice !

So there was a break in the snow before practice, it was kind of neat considering we don't get much snow. The Irish love talking about the weather, so new topic....snow!

Halfway through practice it started to snow again.


It got to the point of being ridiculous...especially considering we use white lacrosse balls.

UCD coaching staff freezing their asses off (Chris, Mike & Pam)

08 February 2009

Brian, The Children and The Ferret Nation

The best part of our Florida trip was seeing the kids. They're getting big...but not so big I cant do a push up with Jimmy surfing my back !

I tried with Allison on my back and I almost pulled a muscle.... then Brian tried to ambush me and jump on....that would have surely killed me.

Something I also had to see for myself were the reports coming in about a ferret plague that has hit my brothers house.

The reports were correct....holy crap, they have a lot of ferrets !

10 to be exact. When the Cathi had to move recently the kid's ferrets had to go home with them.

Yeah, yeah they're cute and all that...but geez 10 ?

The kids love them of course. Their names are Chad, Evelyn, Binky, Buck, Jerry, Olivia, Ace, Joaquin, Steve and Beauregard.

Ok thats not their real names.

I gave Genius Jack all the change from my backpack. He first separated the US from the non-US currency, then classified them by country of origin and size. Then he showed me on the globe where each one was from. Pretty smart for a 1st Grader huh! I wonder which grade he'll choose to skip ?

I guess thats what you can expect when their father is a Guitar Hero !

Rock on Florida Arnolds ! Rock on !

05 February 2009

Funny email I received


When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking Twenty-five miles to school every morning

Uphill... barefoot... BOTH ways

Yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that... I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today.

You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia!
And I hate to say it but you kids today you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, We had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalogue!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter, with a pen!

Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! No where was safe!

There were no MP3's or Napsters! You wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ'd usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!

There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished and the tape would come undone 'cause that's how we rolled; dig?

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that's it!

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your Bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Play Station video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'asteroids'. Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever!

And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel! There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning.. Do you hear what I'm saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up we had to use the stove ... Imagine that!

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy.
You're spoiled. You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980 or before!

The over 30 Crowd