Reflections on Ireland & Being a Continual Learner

My first full day back in Ireland and Waterford.

Started the day with Genny for an hour.  Doing everything I ask, what a sweetheart. She gets us warm and toasty all over and knows enough to save some for later.:–)

In the next days, I must deal with a few issues.  I need a long term way to keep the batteries up, warm the boat and have hot water.  Genny makes it for me, but she is expensive and whines a bit. I need a solution that costs me little, is quiet and will do anyting I ask for as long as I want.

Typical Man.

So today, walked up the hill, passing some of my favorite Waterford places: the auto/marine store, the electrical place and then, today’s real destination, two bakeries: one that does the best cupcakes and the other, Hickey’s, that makes the best bread, chewy, tasty, with a firm crust.  Bread to die for.  I get there at 1:30 p.m.  They are already closed! What, a baker that knows fresh bread is about the morning.  This is how we got the saying: “you snooze, you lose”

By the way, doesn’t it bother anyone that in English, snooze and lose sound the same?  So ooz=se and you wonder why kids have a hard time with spelling.  Maybe that’s why everyone pronounces my name “boast”.  Easy grammar rules, but pronunciations that make no sense. Remember that the next time you inwardly roll your eyes trying to understand a non-native speaker.

So, back to my first love, observing stuff.

$6.45 of ingredients

$6.45 of ingredients

I go to the butcher shop next door and ask about the bakery hours.  They inform me that they close at 1:00 p.m.; I’ve already accepted that, and am now looking at his meat.  I see 4 lamp chops for  $5.25; I get them.  I then ask about pork belly, but add that I’m not going to buy it now.  He still goes to the back to get it and brings out this 3 foot long piece to show me.  It looks great, he talks about the bone and the “rind” makes it so tasty.  Yes, we do love pork belly too.  At $2.50/lb. I say that’s a real bargain.  He agrees and says that pork is cheap in Ireland.  I say that in the USA too, but they have bred all the taste out of it to get to that low cost.  He laments that the same is happening here.  Though I do not think it’s that bad nor will it ever get to the situation in the USA.  In my two mile walk from boat to bakery and then back thru downtown, I must have seen half a dozen real butcher shops and only one large shopping market.  It’s clear people value quality over price.

The Salad

The Salad

So another word oddity, they use the word rind for skin of meat. We only seem to use it for watermelon nowadays.  I don’t even hear it applied to oranges anymore, everyone says “peel”.  Now, another connection, in German Rindfleisch is red meat, as in this is the meat under the skin. And on this thought of language history, the word deer in English and Tier in German, sound pretty much the same, but now mean different things. You know what a deer is, but in German, the word means all types of animals, but what you didn’t know was that our word for meat, as in meat we eat use to be the same word, deer or Tier.  What changed is that for thousands of years when the Germanic languages were developing, what they ate was the animal we call deer.  The word had to be modified as humans ate all the deer and then had to find other meats to eat.  Thus deer took on a more narrow meaning to just one type of meat.

Another observation, Coke has real sugar in it.  That tells me that even the giants like Coca Cola know what they can get away with and what they can’t.  Maybe one day America will be like that again.  Won’t happen as long as we keep electing lawyers with virtually no inking of science or even math.

So back to my shopping. I wanted lettuce.  Seeing these green leafy things in one of the butcher shops that also had Waterford apples, I decide to buy two apples and lettuce.  The “lettuce” turned out to be cabbage.  What was I thinking?  Every butcher has the main ingredients that go with meat,  cabbage, potatoes, onions, turnips and beets.    I still got the apples and I was paying the 20 cents for two, when I saw a package of some of the sliced bread from Hickey’s Bakery, I grabbed a package and mentioned that I had just been there but they were already closed.  He told me to take a different package, as the one I had grabbed was yesterday’s. Just another typical Ireland experience.  People in every profession and every store actually seem to treat their job like it’s their profession.  Makes a world of difference.

Talking about people, pretty much anyone with whom you have eye contact will greet you as you pass by.  Kids, those naturally friendly 4 and 5 years olds, will say hello if you look at them.   It’s a friendly place.

I finally find the supermarket.  It’s in the mall downtown.  I buy this great looking lettuce, $1.25, so tasty too.

So, had this great dinner of salad with apple, mandarin oranges (part of the Costco provisions, bought before we realized we would be able to buy food again) with sesame and olive oils and vinegar.  The four lamb chops done on the Weber, all washed down by Vinho Verde we bought in Rhode Island (yes, we too saw the irony of bringing Portuguese wine back to Portugal.  Best dinner I’ve made in a long time and it only cost $6.45 for all the ingredients.

Lastly, I pass the panhandling gypsy, every town has a few, and she is with a girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old.  As I pass and the mother holds her hand out while mumbling something, the girl sticks her tongue out while trying to put this funny face on.  Cleary, she was trying to be funny and it was so cute.

I still didn’t give ’em any money.

But every experience here has been interesting and insightful.  New country, new things to learn and experience.  Can’t ask for any more.  Next weekend there is a lecture about cruising Poland presented by the Cruising Association.  It’s in London, but will give me the opportunity to celebrate the birthday of my childhood friend, who is like my sister.

So for me, learning is what keeps me young.  Learning the boat, the sea and now new people and places.  Even the Gaelic language fascinates me.  This is the name of one of the streets by the dock, “Lana Thig an Chaife” , I love seeing connections.  In the word Chaife, I see a connection that clearly I never understood in hearing the words, but seeing them spelled this way in Gaelic is insightful.wpid-20141017_080504.jpg

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