* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Friday, May 24, 2013

What I'm Looking Forward To...

While I have really enjoyed my time in Ireland there are some things I look forward to enjoying upon our return to the US.

Seasonal Weather

While I don't relish the looming specter of a month or 2 of temperatures and humidity over 80, it will be nice to feel reasonably confident that I will go a full 3 months not wondering if it was wise to pack away the parkas.  At the same time, it's nice to know that at some point, I will need to pull them out.  I like the structure the gradual march of the seasons provides.  Ireland has roughly the same weather every day for 6-9 months.  It then has pretty much the same weather with highs about 20 degrees warmer.  I never realized quite how wearing really boring weather is.  There is a reason that Irish weatherman write poetry rather than forecasts.

It took me 6 weeks to figure out
this is a toast rack.
I wonder if they are the Irish version
 of a toaster oven as wedding gift?
Access to a car

A lot of the time, I have appreciated being forced to rely on walking or public transportation.  However, there have been more "Man up" talks than I am really comfortable giving to a 4 and 6 year old.  To wit: car travel seems appropriate when it is sleeting, when it is hailing, or when there is freezing rain.  This sums up a good hunk of January and February and pretty much every day of March.  Also, car travel for even short distances seems reasonable when running a 103' fever, when recovering from stomach flu, or when you are 6 and recovering from the stomach flu but have to come along with your mom to pick up your siblings.  Also, a car is handy when transporting 3 children and 36 cupcakes to school in a country where it apparently hails all year with no warning.

Knowing how to safely cross the road.

I still get nearly run down by an unexpected bus about once a week even though the crosswalks are all emblazoned with "look left."  Apparently the socialist nanny state is no match for a dyslexic crossing the road.

Georgian Houses look alike.
This made it difficult for drunken Georgian Lords
 to find their way into the correct home.
A clever, clever girl introduced the colorful door.
Looking at the sky and knowing what it means, weatherwise.

I never realized what a visceral connection I feel towards the weather.  It's this knowledge of the environment that creeps in over the years.  It gives you a certain feeling of security that if you can't control the weather, you at least know what it will be for the near future.  When I look up at the sky in the US (or even in Canada), I feel a modicum of confidence that I can tell you if it's likely to rain in the next hour.  I know the warning signs for when to turn on a radio.  I can hazard a guess about if we should try for a picnic for lunch.  I am completely adrift in terms of climatology awareness in Ireland.  To my credit, I don't seem to be alone in my confusion.  Ireland is a small island and seems to be at the mercy of at least a couple of pretty strong jet stream looking things based on the daily radar pictures.  It also has all manner of winds blowing off of the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean.  It makes for a swirly, unpredictable mess.  The upshot is that you can be confident that there will be precipitation pretty much every day.  It will also be windy.  Anything else is a crapshoot no matter how good your technology or modeling.  As a friend told me, the weather predictions on the west coast consist of looking out towards the islands.  If you can see the islands, it will soon rain.  If you can't see the islands, it's raining.

Knowing where to buy things

I am looking forward to walking into a store and not having to ask if they sell x, y, z here.  As an added bonus, I will likely know the correct name for the item.

Guerilla knitting in Belfast

Grocery shopping

There is a magical wonder to the Tesco man showing up once a week with tubs of groceries for me to unload into the cabinets.  But, there is also a big downside.  The grocery store I can get to on foot has a very limited selection so if I happen to forget to order something at all obscure, I'm stuck.  And, obscure means black beans or pizza sauce or non-orange juice among other things.  You also run the risk of the dread "out of stock with no suitable substitute" note.  Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes you are told that they were out of carrots or, my personal favorite, potatoes.  An Irish grocery store is out of potatoes.  There were simply no potatoes to be had In The Entire Store... in IRELAND.  I have to do a fair bit of fancy footwork, dinner-wise every couple of weeks to make up for oversights, out of stock, etc.  I also tend to rely on my grocery shopping as inspiration.  I do a weekly menu plan and build a shopping list from it.  (I love this free printable one)  But, I also will switch things up a bit to allow for unexpected sales and specials or if various produce is or isn't looking especially good.  Since I have my menu right in front of me, it's easy to see what can be switched up and what can't.  On-line grocery shopping has made both shopping the sales and switching up the meals a challenge.  And, most of the produce shopping is with a wish and a prayer that nothing will be too terribly under ripe or overly bruised.  Since I'm not as familiar with the growing cycle here, I have a hard time figuring out how to shop in season.  And, I'm never really sure what size I'm ordering.  This has resulted in awesomely large mayo containers and minuscule pieces of cheese.  Quick, how many grams does your ketchup weigh?  No cheating!

This is the weather report for June, July, and August.
(assuming it's a warm June)
My appliances

A primary role in my life is keeping our household in a state acceptable to the Department of Health.  I also keep us all fed.  These two jobs require tools and the quality of the tool matters.  I can make do with all manner of things and, yes, I am quite aware that my great grandparents made do with far less.  But, that was then and this is now and I just want a vacuum cleaner that doesn't make me question the existence of a loving God.  I miss having an oven that cooks things pretty much the same way every time.  I miss a washing machine that never asks me to fish puke bits out of the drain holes.  I miss a dryer that dries things.  I miss my slow cooker, stand mixer, food processor, and rice cooker.  I can now say with confidence that those things I worried were simply wasting valuable space in my kitchen are, in fact, vital to my happiness as The Fairly Adequate Homemaker.  While I am so pleased to know that you can, in fact, cream butter and sugar with a potato masher, I would far rather let an infernal contraption take that task on.

The weather guys try to spice up the reports.
Bubble Baths

Dublin has at least 2 Lush stores.  I can't figure out why.  As far as I can tell, no one ever really takes a good tub soak.  To have a good bath, you need a solid, overgrown, almost obscene US water heater.  The on a timer, energy conserving jobs just won't do it.  And, really, on this one point, I totally pity the Irish.  If there is any climate that begs for ready bubble bath access, it's a damp and chilly one.  On a related note, I am anxiously anticipating getting to wash my hands with a faucet where the hot and cold water mix.  What can I say?  I dream BIG!

They have a lot of different lovely ways to say
"We just... have No Idea"
Somewhere there is a special bar
for people attempting to forecast Irish weather.
FYI- Met Eireann did the forecast for DDay
(apparently quite well)

I understand that by many standards we are in a perfectly reasonable, nay, might I even hazard GENEROUS space but I am a personal space wuss.  I think I can do a small house with young children or a small yard with young children but I can't do both.  And, while tile and hardwood make for easy clean-up the noise level is unreal.  I desperately long for the day when I can chase them all outside and Not Hear Them unless they put some effort into it.  I want to have the option to divide and conquer.  I want to carry the laundry basket without being concerned I'm about to take out a table and 2 children.

Ireland is a lovely adventure but there's no place like where you're used to.


  1. I also dream of a vacuum cleaner which doesn't cause me to question God's goodness. And a dishwasher, while we're dreaming big and drunk.

    Solidarity, my friend.

    1. Fist bump and a hearty call of "woman of valor!" back at ya'. :-)

  2. This is so fun, I love the toast rack! Also...Ireland weather sounds a lot like southeast Alaska, be sure to make some beautiful leaf piles in the fall for me :)

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