Filed under: America, Family, Friends, Home, Indianapolis | Tags: America, Immigration, Indianapolis, Ireland, work
It’s been nearly seven weeks since we made our great move back over to the USA.
Every one of those weeks has presented its own unique challenges and blessings. Some days are filled with hope and others, defeat. We always knew it wouldn’t be easy, yet even I have to admit, I never knew it would be so exhaustingly difficult. We are ALL homesick for Ireland, and all probably wondering at times if we did the right thing. Frank feels the strangeness of this place very acutely, and I struggle to grasp any sort of sense of belonging here. I guess this is what it means to be nomadic?
Our biggest hurdle is finding work for Frank. When I was in Ireland, I kept in touch with friends and co-workers here in Indianapolis, so I was lucky enough to have a part time job waiting for me at Starbucks. Not ideal, but imperative in terms of insurance benefits and a small amount of income. Frank is still looking under every stone! He’s had a couple of interviews, but so far, his search has been fruitless, and very, very frustrating for him. My heart hurts to see him feeling so lonely, and isolated, and “unwanted” by employers thus far. I know that feeling – I went through it myself about six years ago in Drogheda. And to top it all off, a care package from his mam got lost in the mail – after a week of hanging on to the promise of Lyons tea and Cadbury’s buttons, this news was just really sad!!! So we’re worried, and anxious, and probably a little too impatient with the kids! But we won’t be broken – we aren’t giving up. I married a lovely, strong, hard-working, sensitive, kind, Irishman – the kind who says, “the glass is half empty, but there’s another pint on the way!”
In the meantime, I am thankful. Sometimes I have to remind myself to be so – OK, nearly every day I have to remind myself. But I am, truly, truly grateful for many things here, even while I’m missing all that we had before. I am delighted with the pumpkins, spiced cider, and changing fall leaves of the American Midwest. I am thrilled with the local libraries and parks for our kids (and us!). I am thankful to be able to watch the World Series on TV again. I so treasure our friends and family and the incredible generosity and empathy they have shown us. At one point I felt like we were experiencing a real life “loaves and fishes” scenario: we started out in our home with very little, but by the end of the first week, we were surrounded with so many gifts of furniture, kitchenwares, kids clothes, bedding, towels, food, and more, that we actually had more than we needed. And at the end of the day, we may be worrying about where the money is going to come from in a few more weeks, BUT we are well cared for now. We have a nice home filled with comforts. We have food in the fridge. We’ve had our little bouts of colds and infections, but we’re healing. We have a minivan that we bought from friends and was exactly in our limited price range. We have each other. We have love.
If you’re thinking of us anytime this week, please say a prayer for our family and for Frank’s job hunt. And if you’ve been helping us out all along, as many of you have, THANK YOU, once again.
Filed under: America, Ireland in General, Irish Outdoors | Tags: Drogheda, Emigration, Ireland, Photography
I’m a bit in denial, even as I sit here surrounded by half-packed boxes. After 5 1/2 years of Irish adventures, my family and I are moving back to the USA on the 10th of September, just 30 days away.
It has been a bit crazy, trying to plan out the whens and hows, and I am desperate to cross things off a list of endless details that must be organised. But, deep down, I know this is going to be a lot harder than merely getting to the airport on time or finding the right car when we get there. It’s going to be really, really difficult to leave.
People keep asking me if I’m excited, and yes, of course I am! In my stacks of lists, there is one near the top for the first precious groceries I will buy when I’m settled back in Indiana – it includes things like cornmeal, applesauce, spicy salsa, Italian sausage and coffee-flavored ice cream. I can’t wait to see my friends and family again, and introduce them to my kids. And I’m really looking forward to making a fresh start and building a new life with (hopefully) more promise.
But Ireland has been a very special place for us, for me, as well. I don’t think I can actually put into words all the moments and places and people who have forever stamped this country on my heart. And really, I’ll forever be a transplant here – Ireland was never really “mine.” But there are bits and pieces of her I will carry with me from now until we return, which will hopefully be soon and often.
My grandma Evelyn always used to have squirty cream in her refrigerator and Breyer’s Ice Cream in her freezer. Even if she wasn’t hungry for dinner, which was often in her later years, she’d still have a bowl of ice cream with a generous flourish of whipped cream on top. The older I get, the better that sounds to me, too.
It’s easy to idolize people after they’re gone. I’m sure my grandma would love to think we were all nominating her for sainthood down here on earth, immortalizing her in cloudless, pink-tinged memories. And there are a lot of those memories to share – long Sunday picnics at her condo in the summer, comfortable afternoons spent learning how to quilt, or crochet, or bake or play Skip-Bo. There are funny stories we share, times when she embarrassed us as teenagers or brought down the house with her New York-accented comments in public places. We loved her dearly, and we keep her with us this way.
It’s important to remember, at least for me, that she wasn’t perfect, either. There were times when she hurt my feelings, usually with a sharp opinion on my wardrobe or weight. And, like most grandmas, she complained that I did not visit her often enough. Like most kids, I ignored this annoying little reality, telling myself I did enough and that my life was very busy.
Now, years later and living in Ireland, I have seen firsthand that she was right. (more…)
Filed under: Family, Literature, Parenting, Writing | Tags: Children's Books, Julia Donaldson, Oliver Jeffers
I don’t know about you, but so often these days, especially now that I have kids, I find myself remembering a sentence or description or maybe an illustration, oddly displaced in the junk drawer of my mind, and I play it over and over for days until I figure out what it is, or where it’s from. Most of the time, these little nuggets of memory are from my favorite childhood books.
Books are so much more than just words on pages… the older I get, the more I realize just how much of ME is made up of things I’ve read in books. My beliefs, my imagination, my curiosity, my emotions, my misgivings, my fears… my history and my future. I love that there are books I can pick up at any stage in my life and find myself transported right back to the scratchy yellow and brown plaid couch in my parents’ living room, knees curled up, heart thumping. I love feeling safe and warm – or perhaps anxious and breathless – when I open a favorite story.
I could go on and on waxing poetic about everything from novels to cookbooks, but mostly, I wanted to tell you about two incredible story books I’ve read to Evelyn that have made ME get teared up. (more…)
Filed under: Food and Drink | Tags: Chocolate Tart, Feta, Fresh Fish, Ground Beef, Home Cooking, Raspberry Tiramisu, Watermelon
Well friends, I did it. I cooked a new recipe (or sometimes two!) every day for the week of July 1 – 7, and lived to tell the tale. It was an interesting challenge, harder than I thought in some ways and easier in others. It’s something I wouldn’t mind repeating, but I have to say – most of the food was just OK. Like, fine, normal, whatever meals. No disasters, which is always a good thing, but I think I was hoping for some more cooking brilliance in my camp! But anyway, read on and you can see for yourself how it all went.
For brevity’s sake, I’m just putting in the recipes I’d recommend – if you are interested in the others, just drop me a note. Also, I’m not sure if anyone else took the challenge, but if you did and you want to share, please go ahead and do so in the comments section!!
Monday: Curried Salmon Couscous
This zesty little salmon dish was the dark horse meal of the week and funnily enough, the one I was trying to beat for the next six days! It was easy and so yummy, a really great mix of textures and flavours, and also a wonderful option for summertime. The original recipe is from Ireland’s “Easy Food” magazine (I think!) but I tweaked it a bit, mainly using fresh grilled salmon. We really loved this meal and will be having it again.
Packet Moroccan Couscous (or make your own. We used Ainsley Harriott’s)
Small handful of raisins
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen or fresh sweet corn, cooked
2 medium sized salmon fillets, seasoned with salt and pepper, then grilled. Canned salmon can also be used.
Little Gem lettuce leaves
paprika, to taste
80 ml plain yogurt
2 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper
Cook the couscous according to the packet’s instructions and mix in raisins, onion and corn while still warm. Set aside to cool. Grill your salmon fillets and cool, then flake with a fork. Mix the ingredients for the dressing. Spoon some couscous into each lettuce leaf, then add some salmon, then drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with paprika. Eat immediately. Voila! Serves 2 – 3.
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Hi there – so, as we are moving soon, I’ve been going through my mountain of cooking magazines, clipping out recipes I’ve been meaning to try. (Meaning to try for years, in most cases.) I’ve assembled them in my kitchen journal and feel quite proud, like the book is my magnum opus, as Charlotte the spider would say! Anyway, then I thought, “How can I remember to use this collection of food genius rather than let it sit gathering dust, as it has been for the last several (as much as 13) years?” And I came up with the (small) challenge.
The Challenge: 7 Days of Entirely New Recipes
Who: Anyone who loves to cook, or is just in need of something new in their repertoire.
Why: So we can share great recipes (or bemoan the not so great ones!) at the end.
When: Starting this Monday, July 1, 2013, to the following Sunday, July 7, 2013.
So, I’m going to be looking through my recipes again today and tomorrow, writing out a shopping list, and hopefully using some of those untouched spices and ingredients haunting the back of my cupboard as well! Then, it just occurred to me this morning, why not invite others to join me?
If you’re like me, you have great intentions, but you fall back on all the “safe” meals (especially when you have a family) and end up cooking things like spaghetti, stew, curry and sausages every week. I’d like to try cooking 7 entirely new dinners in our house just so I can find some good alternatives to work into the rotation, ha ha, but also to flex my weak cooking muscles again and hey, just make life a bit more interesting. If you’d like to join my challenge, please do – it doesn’t have to be 7 full days of new cooking from dawn to dusk, maybe just dinners, or lunches for that matter! Pull out some forgotten cookbooks, or go to the library, or look online! I think it will be fun. Then, if you’re game, drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the end of the week (or the beginning of the next, let’s be realistic) and tell me what your favourite recipe was, or what worked, or what was a colossal disaster, or whatever! I’ll do up a blog post then a few days later. Send pictures, too, if you like! Maybe just let me know in advance if you want to take part so I’ll look for your email after the fact.
Until then – Happy Cooking! Let the countdown to Monday begin.
There’s nothing like an Irish wedding.
Last weekend, one of our dearest friends here, Kieran O’Sullivan, got married. I’ve had some small indications before of what a “real” Irish wedding was like, but I still found myself in awe of this incredible celebration. Now obviously, this wedding, as any, was unique to the couple no matter what their heritage, but there were some truly stunning parts of it that were characteristically Irish and thus were particularly memorable for me.
This was by far the fanciest wedding I’ve ever attended, anywhere! From the time I entered the church, all I could do was stare and gape at the amazing array of hats and fascinators surrounding me. Wow – how beautiful! I wish I had been brave enough just to take pictures of womens’ heads… but since I was a polite spectator, you’ll have to use your imagination.
I love the way Irish ladies take dressing up so seriously. Every lady and girl in attendance was dressed in fine clothes – not just a nice skirt and top, but proper formal gowns and party dresses in all colours of the rainbow. Many had their hair and makeup professionally done, and the accessories were extensive and classy. Matching handbags, shoes, shawls, hair pieces, nails and jewelry were “musts.” The lads didn’t look so bad, either – suits and ties on nearly everyone. But mostly, I still just keep thinking about the hats. So glad that we’re keeping milliners in business around here between weddings and the races – wouldn’t it be a shame to lose such a stunning form of art?