Illuminated Angel

Style change as a result of my trip to Ireland:
The little owl was because my father-in-law leaned over and asked me to draw one.

It came out with sort of an Asian-flavor, which was unintentional.  It's a bit too geometric for my tastes, but hey- it's early yet in the evolution.



I must say, when you have a friend to walk with, walking a 5k goes by ridiculously fast.
(We did run the last few meters, however.  Because we are awesome like that.)

It was a lot of fun, and I'd definitely do it again next year (perhaps go shopping a little earlier?).  Only hopefully next year I actually will be able to run it!

(Also if you are thinking this is kind of a cop-out update, you are probably right.  But my in-laws are in town, so cut me some slack...)



So tomorrow I'm doing the Color Run with my buddy Laurel.  Except, for obvious reasons, we will be doing a Color Walk (this is the sign of a true friend: she will slow down for your gimpitude).  Regardless, it is required that you wear a white shirt for the Color Run, but the more white you can wear, the better.  Hence I wanted to acquire an all-white "running" outfit.

...which I probably should have done sooner than this evening?  ::coughcoughprocrastinatorcough::)

But since I did not do it sooner than this evening, my outfit was pieced together from the following motley assortment:

A men's v-neck undershirt, size large, hacked up and tied in knots to reach an approximation of my size (it is oh-so-80s)

A youth's sports bra, size large (there weren't any left in women's- and when I tried on the XL it was too big, which I find deeply disturbing, seeing as how my measurements are... well, let us say I am quite mammalian, as has been pointed out.  My point being that I should not be able to shop in the "youth" part of the store for such items and what does this say about the state of our youth's health??)

A pair of extra-small shorts (just call me Daisy)

Knee socks (also from the youth department and meant for football, apparently?)
And, of course, my highlighter-yellow running shoes.
I feel... appropriately ridiculous?  Except Nathan took one look at the combo and said, in all seriousness, "You would have done well in the seventies, with the short-shorts and the knee-highs and such."

(Tee hee.)


I Never Dreamed it Could Be So Bad

I was catching up on a thing or two this evening, and thought I'd put in a nice brainless movie to run in the background.  I skimmed through the Netflix menu and what should I see but Barbarella!

"Barbarella," I say, chuckling to myself.  "That's a cult classic I haven't seen- it ought to be awesomely cheesey in the same way Flash Gordon is.  I'm sure I'll love it!"

Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaah no.  Who in the name of Sam Hill ever thought Jane Fonda should have a speaking roll?  Let alone one that required her to "sing"?  ::shudder::  And that opening sequence- yeah yeah, titillation I get it, but... couldn't we have been equally titillated if she'd turned off the anti-grav first?  It would have been a lot less awkward, I'm just sayin'...
Serious Regrets, yo.


Deer One

Inspired by a pair of friends.

Antler jewelry!  You want it!


Lady Bro and the Grand Reunion

Did we all grin like a bunch of dumb-ass morons as we resumed our regulary-scheduled group-climb?

Yes.  Yes we did.

It was awesome.



Work Doodles:
As Advertised.



Today we went over to our friends' house so that Nathan could tutor him in math, and I could jabber with her and sniff their babies' heads.  Most babies smell good (when clean, I mean) but theirs smell exceptionally good- I think they use a special soap.
Babies have alien heads.  This is because babies are aliens.  Tiny little aliens with pheromone technology to control OUR BRAINS.

Or maybe it's just because they were gurgling at me (and grinning and giggling and blowing ridiculous tiny bubbles).


Not Doing a Damn Thing

Nathan's one requirement for this weekend was that we Not Do a Damn Thing.

My caveat to that was, "-That We Don't Want To".

As such, I got on my bike this morning and took a new (longer) route to the climbing gym.  The reason for the new route was because I wanted to extend the joy of being on my bike again- and joyous it was.  The weather was just perfect.  Plus I saw all sorts of interesting things on the way, and it filled me with Great Affection for my chosen town.  I do so love Vancouver.
Will I ever be able to properly draw a bike?  The world may never know...

(Oh and as for the gym- I did two 5.6s up-and-down, then a 5.8 and a 5.9  My ankle felt solid, but it will take a bit for my strength/endurance/technique to come back...)


Ribbons at Regional

Today was my Regional Meeting for work (part of the reason I made the questionable decision to go in to the office yesterday), which meant a lot of sitting around, Listening.  And, as you may have surmised, when I Listen, I doodle:
This could actually be awesome.


A Demon

Here is a demon for you:
Probably he is a demon of Bad Ideas.  Ideas like, "Sure I'll go back to work today!"


Farewell My Emerald Island

Start: Dublin
End: That depends on how you define “end”…

There is not really much to say about this day, except that I watched four movies on the Ireland-to-Chicago leg.  Four.  In one day.  That's... probably not healthy?  But definitely getting me back in the good ol' American lifestyle?
Friends With Kids; Mirror, Mirror; American Reunion; The Raven


The Danger of Plum Blossoms

Start: Kilkenny
End: a decent room in Ashfield House, Dublin

We had to get up bright and early since our parking became not-free at 0800, but that was alright with us- I, personally, got the best night’s sleep I’ve had since we got here, and I’m not sure if it was the decent mattress or the fact that I had some valerian tea before bed.  Whatever it was, I felt fully rested and ready to go.
W is also for Wicked Sweet
We made straight for Wicklow National Park, and more specifically for Glendalough.  There is an old monastic site there just full of interesting stone things- not to mention two lakes, one of which is just breathtakingly gorgeous (there’s that phrase again…)  All told, Nathan and I probably hiked about four or five miles in the park, which is not too shabby for a girl who was sporting a cane two weeks ago.  We found this one waterfall that was particularly nice, so I took the time to sketch it while Nathan snapped away with the camera.
Waterfalls don’t really lend themselves to being drawn, but that never seems to stop me from trying…  I think it’s a fascination with the way the rock is carved away.
Once we’d gorged ourselves on the beauty of the national park, we headed over to Wicklow Town to gorge ourselves on some delicious food.  Specifically at theBridge Tavern, where Nathan had a lamb hot pot and I indulged in some bangers and mash.  It reminded me comfortingly of England.

After Wicklow it was time to return at last to Dublin, so we could return the car and get one last night of Irish fun.  On the way, however, we had to stop to buy a duffle bag, to hold all the presents we’re bringing home (mostly for nieces and nephews, by the by).  This turned out to be an adventure in and of itself, as apparently duffle bags are few and far between in the Emerald Isle.  Eventually we found a sporting goods store in a town just south of Dublin, and I dashed in and bought a bag that was probably too big, but better than too small.  Of all the souvenirs I dreamed I might bring home from Ireland, I will admit that an Adidas bag was not amongst them…

We decided to drop our stuff off at the hostel first, which meant a round of true city-driving for Nathan.  Gentle Readers, my husband was awesome.  Seriously, I was so impressed with his maneuvering (in rush hour traffic, no less!), and he got parking right across the street from the hostel.  The man is obviously much loved by the Irish driving gods.  Anyway we checked in, and I had excellent banter with the clerk, who declared me “true Irish” after I told him that both Vancouvers were named after the man who brought sheep to the natives, and then confessed I never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

And then it was back to the airport to turn in the car.

It’s a very strange thing to be at the airport when you’re not going anywhere- almost dream-like, in a way, because you don’t have any sort of urgency.  It reminded me of one night many years ago (seven?  eight?) when I went to the Portland airport with some friends of mine, just to hang out.  We rode on the elevators and ran down hallways and ended up on top of the parking structure, watching bunnies silflay in the amber moonlight.  It was like a tiny magic kingdom all our own, and well worth the cost of parking.

But back to today.

We hopped on the bus back into the city proper, now old pros at Dublin transit.  The sun was fluffing itself up in a manner than indicates it will be setting soon, so once we were back at the hostel Nathan grabbed his camera and dashed out to the bridge, while I sat down and played Tetris with our new duffle bag.
It didn’t take long for me to get that sorted, so I joined him with plenty of time to spare, and was treated to the sight of the River Liffey turning molten copper.  I also got in about half an hour’s worth of pure people watching, which was fabulous.  It had been so long since I’d just sat back and watched people in all their random, erratic glory.  I found myself getting pretty judge-y about fashion (an easy trap to fall in to when one is in the Big City), and wishing I had gold stars to pass out for those who were Pulling It Off.
Nathan was roped into taking portraits for a few different people, and one such set was a married couple from Singapore, whose son was attending Trinity.  We stood and chatted with them for a good half hour, and even exchanged contact info.  It warms my heart that there are such open, friendly people all over the world.
Once the sun had finally stopped making a fuss, Nathan and I dropped the camera off back at the room, and after much discussion settled on a sushi place for dinner.  Sushi wouldn't normally be my first choice, but since I wasn’t particularly hungry (and figured I could always just have inari) and it is a first choice for Nathan, I didn’t put up any real resistance.

It took us longer than anticipated to get there, but eventually we found it: Yamamori.  We walked in and I immediately realized that this was not just some quick sushi joint- this was quality.  The music was low and sexy, the d├ęcor was a perfect blend of east and west, and the service was impeccable.  And the food!  Oh my goodness.  I did not have to satisfy myself with inari (which, while tasty, is not really a meal)- instead I ordered beef misoyaki and gyoza, but to start things off (and to celebrate a long, lovely holiday) I ordered a plum blossom off the drink menu.

Here is what I had to say about it in my little black book:

“This is my birthday in drink form.

And, um, “my birthday in drink form” was pretty strong.  It also led to this deeply insightful review of the restaurant:

“Everyone just shut the *expletive deleted* up right now.  Everyone in the world, because that is how awesome this place is.”

Yeah.  ::cough::
The top notation is, um, of note because it's the first time I've liked nori.  Not sure how much of that was the drink...
(I totally got the recipe from the bartender- it's not quite what the link provides, so we shall see which one is better.)


Busy, Busy Girl

Start: Killarney
End: Our only non-ensuite room, MacGabbhainn’sBackpacker’s Hostel, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

When I was a little girl, I had a book that I loved called Richard Scarry’s Busy BusyWorld.  In that book were a great many wonderful stories about different countries, one of which involved a pig family in Ireland.  If I recall correctly, the little boy pig wasn’t talking, so they took him to kiss the Blarney Stone, and ta da! He was cured!  This produced in my young brain something of an obsession with the magical Blarney Stone, so you will perhaps understand why I was gung-ho about today’s adventure:

Visiting Blarney Castle.

I was surprised at how expansive the grounds were, but we didn’t spare much time for them on the way in, because I Had a Goal.  When we got to the castle proper and got in the queue I was pleased because it didn’t seem to be that long- just a few people on the stairs leading through a doorway- it didn't even extend down to the ground level!

What I’d forgotten, of course, is that the Blarney Stone is at the top of the castle.

It actually wasn’t that bad of a wait- we moved fairly consistently, and there were good views.  The stairway was, of course, incredibly narrow and twisting, but there were enough windows and doorways that I was fine.

Nathan took me by surprise by informing me that yes, actually, he was planning on kissing the Blarney Stone.  Just goes to show you can know someone for sixteen years and still not know everything about them.

I’m not entirely certain how I feel about the event itself.  It certainly takes a bit away from the magic to have an Official Photographer on one side and an Official Tourist Steadier on the other as you scoot your butt across the Special Sliding Mat so that you’re close enough to kiss the stone.  But I guess there was one small moment when I was just an inch or so away from the stone, where I couldn’t see anything else but the smooth green-gray surface and could pretend like I was all alone… where I was overwhelmed at the thought of how many pairs of pressing lips it takes to smooth something out like that… that moment was a teeny bit magical, I guess.

I don’t know that it’s actually improved the quality of my gab, but let’s face it- I was pretty damn gifted in that department to begin with.  You can’t really top off when you're already at 100%.

Once we got back down to ground level we took a tour of the Poison Garden, which I personally thought was super awesome and fascinating (and amusingly child-free).  And then we went to explore the Rock Close, which was pretty wonderful- but probably would have been more wonderful if whoever had made the informative signs had eased up a bit on the whimsy.  Very few people can actually pull of whimsical, and whimsy done poorly is just… annoying.

Nathan felt pretty content with our Blarney experience at that point, and I of course had accomplished my goal, so we moved on with our day to Dungarvan, where we had a very late lunch at a place called Nude Food, which was exceptionally tasty (Lonely Planet redeems itself a bit).  They had a gluten-free sourdough bread that was so delicious I almost cried.  I was actually afraid they’d forgotten to give me gluten-free bread, that’s how good it was.  Nathan had a local brew and was quite pleased.

After that we pushed on to Kilkenny, where I came face-to-face with the age-old problem of bloggers: when you are blogging you are not “doing things”.  Hence Nathan is several hours worth of acquainted with Kilkenny than I am, although once I wrapped things up the two of us did a bit of wandering, chasing down the rumor of live music at a particular pub.  We found it and settled in for a drink, but the musicians seemed more concerned with tuning and picking at their instruments than with actually playing, so we soon lost interest and moved on, finding a random still-open Indian market/take-awayrestaurant where Nathan bought himself a meal (I had a bite- it was as good as only hole-in-the-wall food can be).
K is also for Kilkenny
We spent a decent chunk of this evening cooing over photos of our animals, which tells me we're probably starting to be ready to go home…


A Frothing Ring of Water

Start: Annascaul
End: Smallish room (with a disproportionately large wardrobe) in Neptune’s Hostel, Killarney, Co. Kerry

This morning found us deviating from the itinerary once again, but unfortunately it was not to add in a cool thing, it was to not-do one of the things I’d been more excited to do: Skellig Michael.  Unfortunately, the only way to get to Skellig Michael is by boat, and the boats leave only once a day- and if the conditions are too dangerous (as they were this morning) you simply do not get to go.  And since we aren’t able to wait around a day or three until the wind and waves calm down, we were just out of luck.  Boo.

We went ahead and drove into Portmagee, anyway, and has ourselves a delightful breakfast at the Bridge Bar before starting out on the Ring of Kerry, a theoretically lovely scenic drive.  Less spectacular in the rain, I must say- but eventually the rain passed, and we found ourselves in Killarney National Park, surrounded by so much gorgeous, fairy-tale scenery that I felt completely mollified over missing out that morning.
K is also for Kick-A
Once we got through the park (amused as how small it is compared to the national parks we’re used to) we were in Killarney, so we checked into our hostel and did a bit of exploring.  First up was the cathedral, which was fine as far as cathedrals go, but had several particularly lovely prayers posted.  One of my favorites was this*:

Slow me down, Lord.  Slow me down!
Ease the pounding of my heart
by the quieting of my mind…

Give me amid the confusion of my day,
the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of the singing streams
that live in my memory.

Help me know the magical,
restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations,
of slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend, to pat a dog,
to read a few lines from a  good book.

Remind me each day of the fable
of the hare and the tortoise,
that I may know that the race
is not always to the swift-
that there is more to life
than increasing speed.

Let me look upward
into the branches of the flowering oak
and know that it is great and strong
because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord,
and inspire me to send my roots
deep into the soil of life’s enduring values
that I may grow towards the stars
of my great destiny.

The place that had been recommended to us for dinner was actually closed on Sundays, so we wandered a bit more until we wandered into the Silver Fox, which turned out to be quite fortuitous, as they made a lamb stew second only to the one I’d gotten at Shells.  As a result, we stuffed ourselves a bit fuller than we possibly should have, and had to do a great deal of walking to feel normal again.  On our walk we picked up a pot of organic honey and two small bottles of whiskey, so that when we came once more to the hostel we were able to indulge in a couple of sweet hot toddies as we read our respective books.

*(some googling tells me that perhaps the original author is an American poet by the name of Wilfred Arlan Peterson)