Monday, May 23, 2011

Dublin, Ireland

This is Gogarty's.  A traditional Irish pub just down the street from our hotel on Temple Bar road.  It's over by Trinity College, and a couple blocks from where Obama will speak tonight.  I slipped in here on my own, and soon got swept up in the celebration.  It was packed, playing the traditional songs, and I met so many great people, including the band.  Yes, a little River Dance exhibition as well.  Very fun.  A great place, and a great evening.  I felt home.

Today, Obama is in town, and last week it was Queen Elizabeth.  I very big week for politics here.  On another note, it was a en epic rugby championship, where Leinster's home team snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat.  I'm not an experienced rugby fan, but even I was caught up in the miraculous recovery from a 5-22 halftime deficit to an outrageous 33-22 win.  Absolutely incredible, and the young Jonny Sexton was the hero.  Christian, all I could think of, was you.

Guinness is a big part of this city, and country I would say.  It's a celebration, a way of life.  We toured the factory.  It's such big business (the beer and the tour), they've converted the original factory into a lavish museum of sorts, with a 360 degree-glassed-in bar at the top of the 7 story structure.  A great vantage point overlooking the city.

There's plenty of culture here, as well as a distinguished literary history.  Moira, here's to you.  A little tribute to James Joyce, with a couple of readings this week.

This is to you, Mike and Kathy -guess the sir name :-)    We were out walking around and coincidentally ran into this place.  As it seems to be everywhere, a very friendly, unassuming atmosphere.  I could get used to this.  Okay, I am used to it.  We had a good chat with the bartender, who shared much of the bar's history, including Hillary's visit a couple years ago, as well as some details about how some of the literary greats used to hang out in our very midst.

 As it turns out, our cabbie from the airport was a tour bus driver a few years ago.  We were lucky to get a bit of the blarney on our way in.  The flags on the front of the hotel are with respect to President Obama's visit today.  He'll be speaking about a block from our hotel.  You can see an inkling of the security involved, with the street barriers in the foreground.  In the distance you can see a spire, I have to refresh my memory on what it commemorates.  Something like 600 meters tall!

A tiny vision of the security detail in the city.  I heard 10,000 officers.  They've been building the stage, and blockades since we've been here.  An amazing amount of concern for the safety of the US President.  The bartender said it was even more-so for the Queen's visit a couple days prior.  The first visit of the queen since Ireland declared her independence some 140 or so years ago.  Truly a momentous occasion, and those who've discussed it, were moved, and very positive about it.  One of the highlights, a bow by the queen in the Garden of Remembrance.  She also started her speech in Gaelic, another genuine heartfelt moment for the locals, and I must admit, even made me a little emotional just hearing about it.  (Moira, Sarah, quit giggling!)

Guinness surge.  As the nitrogen escapes, it creates a cascading surge.  A very unique and delicious aspect of the famous beer from Ireland.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Kicking It Up a Notch in the Garden

The landscaping is really taking shape.  Here you can see the patio and the new stepping stone path and many of the new plants in and ready to go in.  I hate to say it, but I think we've been in some sort of construction on the garden on and off for about a year!  Okay, fine, 12 years.  If you would have asked me back then, I would have never guessed we would have ended up here.  Each little phase was more than I had hoped, and we've had easily 5 phases.  That said, I've been really happy with the results of each, so I guess I can use that overused phrase, it's all good.

The nectarine finally grew some leaves, and just budded here.  Do you think I'll get any fruit the first year?!?  We'll see.

Anyways, we've been very busy in the garden.  What's to come:
Moving roses, what not to do (and we did it anyway).
Clearing the weeds in the lower terrace
Nursery plants in
Drip and spray irrigation
Stepping stone path
Veggies in
retaining walls
plans and matrix
Identify this caterpillar on my new Fuji apple tree.
Identify this moss on my concrete block retaining wall.
Summer squash in my new lowest terrace.

Ellie guarding the hot peppers
This is the first tier of veggies.  Ellie is now in the 'landscape' area.  I lost some square footage to landscaping, but gained a bunch in the lowest tier, where all the trees are.  Shown in the foreground are hot peppers, medium hot cherries.  Further back, top are radishes, coming in fast.  To the left of them are rocket salad.  Further back and taller are basil bushes.  I planted one of those guys from Whole Foods.  Trader Joe's sells them too.  They went sort of pale in the planting process.  Not sure how to avoid that.  Behind them, you can't see the strawberries.  In the foreground, you may be able to see a couple strawberries too.  On the lower tier, you can see some tomato cages.

Kirsty Ellie Moira Fig Peach
This is looking the other way on the lowest terrace.  For reference, the wood retaining wall to the right is 3 feet tall in the corner where the girls are.  You can see the slope of the hill beyond my garden.  It's about 12 feet wide at the end, and about 60 feet across the back, and about 5 feet wide at the narrow end. 
This is looking South.  You can almost see all 7 fruit trees lined up on the left.