Wednesday, October 17, 2007

hemingway is my man.

so we have this sweet machine at our conference center that can make 12 different coffee drinks. just push a button and wha-la...watered down hot chocolate. yum. seriously though it has been the highlight of these past few days, that and delicious bean salad. hmmm..i'm getting hungry just thinking about it. I should be typing my travel writing essay right now but...I would much rather read more hemingway or eliots four qaurtets. both are brilliant writers. hemingway is the master of language. the master. if you have not read him, you should. at least that is my humble, undergraduate opinion.
I picked up Four Qaurtets today because I was bored and I loved this passage:

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years--
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emmulate--but there is no competition--
There is only the fight to recover waht has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under condtions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss
For there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
-East Coker, T.S. Eliot.

I love poetry. and hemingway. and machine hot chocolate. and hob nobs. can't forget those hobnobs.

Monday, October 15, 2007

time to say goodbye...

'ello chaps!

I spent my finally weekend in Ireland this past weekend. We had homestays through a presbyterian church in Belfast. Hilary and I stayed with an elder couple, Tom & Margaret. They were absolutely wonderful. We had a great time just hanging out with them. They are both retired. Tom was a pharmacist and Margaret was a nurse...they met at Tom's pharmacy and have been married for 40+ hears and have 4 kids. I loved listening to all their stories about their kids and grandkids.

They took us around Belfast and showed us the city. We went to St. George's market this big fresh food/other goods market that was inside of warehouse. There was music playing and lots of people and different foods to try. They had a huge table full of seafood--some of it still alive (eww.) They took us to a Cathedral-St. Anne's. It was pretty modern looking. There was a group of mentally disabled adults practicing for a harp and lyre concert. It was beautiful. We stopped and listened to them for a while.

We ate at a Spanish Tapas restaurant that was deserted...but it was really good. We talked about everything..the War, growing up in Northern Ireland, the troubles, her kids....Margaret had a lot to share. She paints as a hobby and has some beautiful paintings hanging up in her house. She is really talented. I love that they are still quite active for their age. They stayed up later than we did!!

The first night they took us to a concert at their church, a local group from the Opera house singing show tunes and opera pieces AND the battle hymn of the republic, which Tom and Margaret loved and pointed out to us right away:) It was really good.

On sunday we went to church with them. The church is really great, a very diverse group--young and old and quite vibrant. It is encouraging to see a living and breathing body of christ that is functioning well---a lot of places we have gone don't seem to be having as much success.

After we said our goodbyes (quite sad really), we had lunch at the church and then left for the airport. I really enjoyed staying with them. I think it was a great opportunity, and one of my favorites of this trip. It is great to get to know some of the people that live here.....and I really enjoyed being in Ireland. I will miss it there---who knows maybe I will come back someday and go to school over here somewhere! If only in my dreams....

This week we are at conference center pretty much in the middle of nowhere outside of London and we are studying. We have a midterm this week & a paper due....but then we are going to PARIS this weekend. YEAH! I am so excited...and after that it is free travel. I can't wait.

Until something else blog-worthy happens,



Thursday, October 11, 2007

Still more Irish Loving...

Hello Friends!!

I am still in good ol' Ireland. We are staying in Sligo for our last night tonight. We toured around "yeats country" today and saw all the places associated with his poetry. It was a misty gray day but still really beautiful. We saw the Island of Innisfree "I will arise and go to Innisfree...", gosh...I am drawing a blank on all the places and names...but it was a lot of outdoor, lakes and such. We also toured an estate.

We had a guide Stella, from the Yeats Society. She read us poems and shared with us all the stories of the places. It was an all day trip so I am pretty exhausted which could be why I am not really having a good recall of what we did.

The first place we stopped was one of my favorites. I don't think it had anything to do with Yeats. It was a holywell that catholics worshipped at in the time when they were being persecuted by the protestant english. They worshipped their in secret. Now it has an altar and several statues of saints and mary. It was very peaceful though and holy. There were signs nailed to trees that said 'silence' and another vistor to the place was just sitting and praying.

When you walked up some stairs there was a tree covered with little trinkets, hair ties, and wrinnkled photographs. It is called the rag tree. It was beautiful, like an odd assorment of ornaments on a christmas tree...but they all meant something to someone. A memory frozen there...It was a neat experience.

We also visited Yeats grave with the famous epitath

Cast a Cold Eye
on Life on Death
Horseman, pass by!

There was a little craftshop right next to the church and I bought a grandpas hat. It is pretty sweet. I am pretending like I can pull it off.

We went and got some italian tonight for dinner and I think after this I am going to go listen to the new radiohead album (ahhh!!!) hopefully, a guy on this trip--alex downloaded it online so I am hoping to listen to it later.

We are heading to Belfast tomorrow, another long day of touring Northern Ireland and than we are meeting our host familes! I am so excited. We are hanging out with them for the weekend, so that should be a lot of fun. It will be nice to just SIT and be chill with a family.

Then we are done in Ireland after this weekend:( I have really liked it here so far...but the end of this month I am going to France and Italy so I have that to look forward to!

I guess that is all for now, I will update again this weekend I am sure.



Monday, October 8, 2007

Irish Loving

It has been a loooooooong time since my last update. A lot has happened obviously so I will try to speedily update on you on what has been going on in the last week or so. Bring you up to the present.

Way back when...Sept. 28th to be exact which was not this last friday but the friday before we left high leigh for Cambridge and passed through Little Gidding. A little community out in the middle of the sticks where T.S. Eliot visited and later wrote about in his poem Four Qaurtets. We were served with that signature hospitality of this place and had tea and biscuits and visited the chapel. We sang the Doxology, which we have come to love on this trip. I feel like we are always singing it and it was lovely just standing in this small wooden chapel, the rain was falling outside and we were just praising God with such simple words. It was a cool moment.

The weekend in Cambridge was okay...we didn't do a whole lot. I think I was tired from the previous week and just needed to relax. We did go to the evensong at Kings College Chapel and that was a highlight.

I realize I probably just left out a lot of details over that weekend...but I don't want to write a super long and boring novel for you right now. Consider this the Cliffs notes.

So last sunday (not yesterday..but a week ago) We came to Ireland. We flew into to Dublin and took the city by storm for a few days. We did all things "Joyce-ian" (I'm talking James Joyce here). We walked along Sandy Mount Strand crushing sea shells under our feet just as Stephen Dedalus did in that great Joyce novel: Ulysses.

We also stood on the tower that inspired the opening scene of that same novel. A guy named mark with a perfect irish accent gave us a tour of Dublin pointing out all the street names and shops that inspired Joyce's writing in Dubliners. There is something really special about reading a text than seeing the places in real life.

We stayed in Cassidys Hotel on O'Connell street. This was really the ritz for us. Soft white comforters, hot showers, flat screen tvs. We were spoiled and we loved it. Not to mention the DELICIOUS breakfast buffet. I've come to love the tradition of baked beans at me-it's good.

We pretty much had freedom to explore the city, and we did the best we could. Eating out, sitting on the monuments that stood in the middle of o'connell street and watching the people pass by. Walking over ha'penny bridge at night....strolling through temple bar district.

We also saw the Book of Kells. Which was a real highlight. It is an illuminated and illustrated text of the 4 gospels made by monks in the 9th c. It is on display at Trinity college. Quite an amazing exibit. It must have taken soo much patience to make. truly amazing. you only got to see 2 pages, but they had a whole exhibit explaining the process of making it so it was well worth it.

NOW we are up to last wednesday....that is when we left Dublin and took a long coach ride to the west of Ireland, the county of Kerry. We stopped at Glendalough (Glen-da-loch) and The rock of Cashel. Two very impressive places. Glendalough was a site of a monastery and the rock of cashel was the site of a cathedral.

We stayed in cottages (tonight is my last night in them) right next to the river of Kenmare. Kenmare is the town we are in. The cottages are really cute. We have kitchens and living rooms and wooden floors. I've loved cooking my own food for the past week. We made some delicious meals. We mostly just read yeats here and hung out in town. Star gazed down by the water a few nights. It is nice to be away from the city. Feel some peace and quiet near the water.

The greatest thing by far we did here is go to Skellig Michael. It was truly a unique experience, as our coach driver Tim pointed out the morning we went (last friday). You can only get there by boat as it is an island 8 miles off the coast of Ireland in the atlantic ocean.
(side note: you should really google/wikipedia these places just to get some more of the I am sure I don't have time or space to tell you about here)

anyway...we took a little fishermans boat over the rocky waves (thank God for motion sickness medicine) and climbed up the 700 foot mass of rock that juts out of the ocean, known as skellig michael. it was an island that was used for a monastic city sometime in the 6th c. The ruins are still there, most of the stone huts still in tact. We walked inside what was once the chapel...everything dark and damp.

There was no gift shop, no postcard sellers or fish & chip stands. Just these ruins and a few chosen tourists like oursevles who chose to brave the rocky ride to see this place. I like knowing that this place is so set apart that people rarely make the visit. That it is a sacred place in that fashion...that you have to seek to find it.

It was truly a "breaktaking" experience (both literally and figuratively) The steps going up were tough to climb but the view at the top was worth it. Miles and miles of ocean. A small island right next to skellig michael, little skellig is a bird sanctuary. When we got close you could see thousands of bird circling the skies and landingin all the different cracks and crevices and ledges. They looked like snowflakes spiraling to the dark rocky surface and sticking there. A bird-capped island.

I will have to put up pictures later, but really even those can't come close to what it looks like. I think it is something you just see for yourself. And to think that monks lived there. That they braved those waters in a row boat not a diesel powered fishing boat--it really is amazing. Makes you think of the sacrifice they made, how devoted they were to God. how important He was to them. How much they understood the Holy. the act of being set apart. the sacrifice of self-denial, but the richness that comes from that. food for thought.

I guess I can end there. We leave tomorrow for Galway & Sligo and this weekend we will be in homestays in Belfast!! I can't wait to see more of Ireland, so far it has been a wonderful and rich place.

love you all.