New Methods

The best part of this trip, in many aspects, is the way that it compels us to look at how we – as a family AND as Americans – use resources.  Our host family is circumspect in their carbon footprint, and although I never thought of our family as profligate, I realize now how much extra energy we DO use, and how wasteful we have been.

Will we be able to carry some of the knowledge back to our home in St. Paul?  We’ll try.  I plan – at least during the warmer months – to dry some of our clothes outside.  I’m pampered enough to want to continue drying the close-to-the-body items in our nice dryer (making them soft and lovely) but there’s no reason we can’t dry all other things on a line, and our back deck would be the perfect place to do it.

We’ve been economizing in other ways here – partly due to our own natural frugality, but mostly due to our limited funds.  For the past two days our forays out into wider Ireland have included a home packed pic-nic lunch with a thermos each of black and cream tea.  The savings are such that we feel able to spend on things that we can take home and use and will remind us of our trip to Ireland.


I’ve come to believe that any family trip lasting more than 1 week demands at least ONE obligatory break down, usually by – but not limited to – one of the parents.  I had mine yesterday.  It wasn’t big, it took all of 10 minutes and happened in the front driveway, in our car, as we were pulling out for our day.

The upshot was that I was feeling a bit little-red-hennish.  As the organizer, chaffeur (mostly), tour guide, chief cook and bottle washer of the trip, I was feeling run down AND unable to come up with more stuff for all of us to do that would engage each of us.  A tall order, even in an enchanting place like Ireland.  I needed help.

I’d been asking for weeks for Gerry and the kids to become engaged, to look up things for us to do, to explore, to plan – all to no avail.  I downloaded walking tours of Dublin, driving tours of Ireland, I’d taken out tour books & videos from the library, but I seemed to be the only one who cared.

The result was that I was putting together all of the itineraries, which spread me thin and make the days seem a bit thin, too.  It also made the rest of the family feel pushed around, disengaged, disappointed, and – at times – complaining.

So we had a summit in the driveway, and the family agreed (for Mommy’s mental health, if for no other reason) that they would become more active in the planning of our final week in Ireland.


A Couple of Irish Laddies

In the past few days we’ve done some lovely stuff, which I will write about at length tomorrow.  But suffice to say Gerry is now comfortable driving a stick shift on the opposite side of the road, too, and we visited Donegal Town, Donegal Studios, and many points between.  Yesterday was Sligo, Yeat’s gravesite, Glencar falls & Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetary.  A brilliant day.  And we bought hats for Gerry & Max, a matched set, which they share.


Today we head up to the Northern Coast, which we’ll do in two days.  We’ll hit Carrick-a-Rede (rope bridge) and Hezlett House, then swing back to Springhill (owned by an offshoot of my own Cunningham family from Ayrshire) and we’ll hope to see the ghost…  We’ll finish at Wellbrook Beetling Mill to see how Linen is made and pass by Oakview Park in our own Raphoe on the way home.

Tomorrow we’ll head to Belfast for the Transit & Folk Museum, then come home via the North Coast (again) following a driving tour by  We’ll let you know how it goes, the tours cost about £5 each, and we can play them in the car on our mp3 (we have a cord that allows us to listen to my ipod through the car speakers)

It stays light SO late here, which is lovely for vacationing.  It’s also lovely as I don’t relish driving on the very narrow rows after dark!  Gerry’s taken the wheel a few times, and it’s good to have TWO drivers.  But it’s very wearing on him, I can tell, and it takes it out of him.  When I volunteered to do the bulk of the driving yesterday he was grateful AND he fell asleep immediately, so I was definitely good that he was in the passenger seat…


The internet chez Manse is good, but slow.  It took hours to download our driving tour yesterday (which is why we didn’t TAKE that driving tour yesterday)  For that reason, it’s hard to upload the photos I’d like to put into the post, but I HAVE been adding photos to flicker as I can.  You can check my flicker page, specifically my Irish trip set, to see all that we’ve been up to!

12 thoughts on “New Methods

  1. Speaking of meltdowns…. for years, our family traveled from NJ to Prince Edward Island, every summer. It became a running joke that we HAD to have a fight “near the McDonalds at the Magnetic Hill” in Moncton, New Brunswick. Somehow, after about 15 hours of driving, it always fell apart there. One year, I got out of the car at said McD’s and threatened to fly home rather than get back in the car! The kids, now grown-ups with kids of their own, are more sympathetic than they used to be, but we still laugh about the “Bad Karma” at that spot!

  2. I was reading thru past blog posts and wanted to recommend if you’re trying to stay off gluten. She has great recipes and lots of practical ways of dealing w/ being gluten intolerant in a world full of gluten. She also went to Italy and did VERY well and you can read about that in her archives. It might help you on your trip there. Best of luck from another gluten intolerant, fibro sufferer!

  3. Ah laundry. We are a family of three but one of us is an athlete who has been known to go through six or seven t-shirts in one day. I do not hang up things in the backyard,but we have a spot in the basement where we hang wet garments . I bought a fan to blow on the clothes from underneath. When they are dry or almost dry we put them in the dryer for five minutes with a dryer sheet and fold immediately,so most don’t need to be ironed. The clothes last longer too.

  4. I’m loving your trip, too; wishing I could muster what’s left of my adventurous spirit and take my daughter to new places and new experiences.

  5. Ditto on Debra’s comments above. I’m tall and obsessed with finding jeans that are long enough. I never want them to shrink and lose length.

    Most of the stuff I wash, I hang in my garage to dry. Jeans, twill pants, and cotton sweaters. When the stuff is completely dry (no further fear of shrinking) I throw it in the dryer for about 15 minutes to soften it up. Works great.

    If things are really wrinkled and I need a little help, I’ll soak a hand towel, wring it out, and throw it in with the dry clothes. The dryer heat makes it give out just enough steam to help with the wrinkles.

  6. I know exactly how you feel about organizing a trip!! One time I spent days looking up choices and planning our itinerary, and then when it came time to buy the plane tickets she insisted on going somewhere else! Most of the time though she’s not interested in looking at the guidebooks and making suggestions until we get to the actual city, and then the itinerary I spent so long planning totally gets changed. ok, sorry for the rant, this is your blog isn’t it 🙂

  7. So maybe one of those days to fill needs to be total chilling out time? Just be in Ireland – no need to do.

    Besides, once you’ve seen Yeat’s grave, you’ve really checked off the most important thing. 🙂

  8. I have stopped trying to have a plan or itinerary because when the kids hit their teens they didn’t want to do anything “organised”. maybe you should do NOTHING and see what happens…?

  9. I’d be inclined to give Gerry a pass on this. I know when I’m not feeling well, the last thing I want to do is make plans on going anywhere. And I’m talking about things like colds and headachess. Gerry’s ability to muster the energy to go places is amazing.

    I wonder if the kids might be thinking they don’t want to suggest places that might wear him (and you) out too much ?? On the other hand, maybe what they want is a day of “doing nothing”. I think sometimes when a chance like this comes up, we think we’re wasting it if we don’t fill every minute with going somewhere, doing something.

    Speaking of lifestyles and frugality, could you take some more photos of the of the house? I find it fascinating how homes in other places are set up, and that glimpse of the kitchen in an earlier post has me curious!

  10. Carbon Footprint… I would love to hang clothes in the back yard, like we did when I was a child. BUT — the home owners association [of which I am secretary] notes that the deed restrcitions won’t allow any type of clothes line, pole, or rack in your bakc yard. SIGH, deep sigh. I do hang some clothes in our garage – door closed so it does not offend.. oh but to have sheets dried by the sunny breezes of summer… that would be terrific. For those who don’t know about outside drying…. if there is not a wind/breeze your clothes dry stiff… but let the wind blow — better than any softner.

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