Tuesday, 30 December 2014
West Cork, County Cork, Ireland
Almost recovered with our colds and jet lag, we headed into Cork City for some various chores, running to the bank, getting some shopping done, and then off for a field trip to West Cork, to visit our friend Rosie. The day sped by as we headed to Skibbereen (West Cork, Co. Cork, Ireland) along the charming ocean towns of West Cork. Great lakes (loughs) all around and some fascinating sites within. By late afternoon we pulled into Skibereen, found parking, then met with Rosie for some hot chocolate, chai tea, and pastries. A walk through the time square to abosrb the energy that is the Maid of Erin, and a mad dash for the beaches in attempt to give Cian a chance to play in the sand and walk on the beach. Such luck was lost, as he fell asleep and darkness fell as we approached Schull (West Cork, Co. Cork, Ireland) where Rosie had a place on the beach with a gorgeous view of the harbor and seaside. Fish patties, veggies, and rice for dinner blessed with appertifs of Irish Cream and wine. Catching up on old times and new, it was a fabulous afternoon and evening. We had a well welcomed break from Cork City and family. I passed out early cuddling Cian down to sleep, exhausted from the drive and travels, I was not far to follow.
Monday, 29 December 2014:
Cork City, Co. Cork, Ireland
Early to rise, we were on our road to recovery. Jet lag has finally started to round itself out in our daily schedules, although we were still arising very early. Early to depart, we headed off with mom to Carrigtwohill (Co. Cork, Ireland) for a late breakfast/early lunch at Ballyseedy Home and Gardens. We passed the Movie Junction, a favorite pitstop of ours for watching films. While Etain and her mom were shopping, I took Cian out back in the garden center to play with the rabbits, chickens, and other fowl, exploring the cement faeries and trolls, cars, and other modern concrete yard art. Then inwards we went for a nice lunch with tea, lemonade, quiche, potato salad, soups, and other salads. Cian wandered around the kids area drawing on the chalk board and wanting badly to tear open the packaged toy trucks with me in tow saying “No!”. Afterwards, we headed through Cork City as a back way around to Douglas and home in Monkstown. Then a evening of rest and recovery to a family dinner of salmon, mushy peas, mashed potatoes, and veggies with a nightcap for the evening. Rest was had as we were still in recovery.
Sunday, 28 December 2014
Cork / Douglas, Co. Cork, Ireland
This morning, Cian’s Aunt and Uncles brought over his cousin Owen and Liam for group photos and a play date with one another. More family fun and conversations while we struggled with our recovery from our colds and jet lag. Today we headed out from the family home towards town for various sundries and supplies, getting US dollars converted to Euros, and getting our Meteor Irish phone service and internet card dongle activated. We headed off to the Douglas shopping center for errands. After grabbing groceries we treated Cian to his very first Dairy 99. Lots of activities in the mall for the young Cian to get excited about – couldn’t pass a corner without a car, carriage, rocket, carousel, or other contraption that got Cian giddy and wanting a ride. I broke down and let him ride the rocket – the Prince in his glory. There was a kids activity zone where the Cian got to play cars, dance around on acrobatic mats, in a pseudo-fake fantasy countryside array of toys and props. Otherwise it was quite a low key day for us as we focused on rest, recovery, and family time. Family convened around a turkey dinner, with mushy peas, veggies, and mashed potatoes with an early night ahead.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Cork, County Cork, Ireland
Early to rise, We took out Cian to the front yard to play on the toy tractors which got him all giddy and excited. “Cars!” is his favorite subject as well as word. Pushing and pulling him around the yard gave nothing but sheer excitement for the young lad. Struggling with sleep issues, deprivation and jetlag, we pretty much stayed home the whole day trying to recover and get back on a proper sleep schedule. Unfortunately waking up at 5 am going to bed at 1 pm and getting up at 6 pm, sleep by midnight, and waking up at 3 am wasn’t really helping our sleep deprived systems. Struggling with Cian’s first illness – a common cold that was shared with us wasn’t also helping the situation. Cian’s cousins came to visit, as well as his Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, and family affair as we had a lovely late Christmas dinner together – exchanging gifts and pulling “crackers” as a common Irish holiday tradition with a snap – pop – and a gift released in the middle. The warm hearth of family and rekindling of spirits was had by all.
Friday, 26 December 2014
San Francisco, California, USA to London Heathrow, London, United Kingdom to Cork, county Cork, Ireland
The late night nine and a half hour flight from San Francisco, California to London Heathrow Airport – departing around 7 pm on Christmas Day, arriving in London around 1 pm the following day, 8 hour time distance for us went smooth as could be on our United flight. The United Stewardess made a free seat available for Cian to stretch out during the long flight. Spinning forth into the future. Touching down in the U.K. uw made our way through passport control – drilled on how long we were visiting, getting a retina scan (first time I had to do that) and checked through security again. Then down to our gate to await our departing flight to Ireland. Young Cian played with his Thomas the train engine and cars, while I worked on photos and Etain tried to fit in a little nap. We had just enough change of cents and pounds to grab some bottles of water and a wispa chocolate bar. By 6 pm we were boarding our flights for Ireland aboard Aer Lingus. The flight was quick and turbulent, bouncing up and down with the air flow and weather ruckus. Down on the ground in Cork by 7 pm. Dad was awaiting our arrival as we then crammed into the small economy car and barely fit the luggage flying down to the family estate in Cork. Family gathering and get togethers with holiday cheer and catching up was had. A lovely duck dinner with Irish mashed potatoes and mushy peas was served. After dinner and conversation wore us out as we turned in for the night before midnight.
It was a restless night as I was struggling with the onset of a cold. Our young son Cian also sick with the cold – runny nose and feeling ick, the first time he became ill with anything since his birth 21 months ago (there was a mild spell when visiting Ireland last year we thought he might had his first cold, but it didn’t last long and may have been an allergy – this is for sure a cold). Lucky we can indulge in that he has lasted 21 months without getting ill – thank the Goddess for breastfeeding, delayed immunizations and quality co-involved parenting which I think are the triggers for our success. We lodged ourselves over Xmas Eve at the Medford Ramada Inn* who had affordable rates with a place to park our car for free during the two weeks we’ll be gone on this adventure. Not bad for $80. We had a good swim albeit cold water, indulging in feasting at Denny’s, and movies in the room. Not sure when we passed out. We woke up late around 9:40, just barely enough time to rush off for the free hot breakfast included with the room, the highlight of which was waffles and orange juice. Then back to the room to discover that the room key didn’t work, and the maid let us back in. We got extended checkout til 1 pm as we don’t have to head off to the airport technically until 2 pm. We’ll soon be off to Ireland. So much in disarray as most of our belongings are still in storage we couldn’t find our roller suitcases nor our power converters for the US to Irish plugs. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came on HBO and it just dawned on me that I had yet to see that one -so we watched almost all of it while getting ready for checkout.
We actually checked out just before 1 pm, and because it was Christmas day, their free shuttle to the airport was off. So they hired a cab for us door-to-gate service. Got to a pretty empty airport, checked in, luggage on the conveyer belt, and we were on our way to the gate. They were expecting wind and weather delays for our 4:20 pm flight, so they switched us to the 2 pm flight … hustle and bustle we just made our gate. Security check went smooth and on the plane were were to San Francisco. Cian was good the whole flight through. He passed out and slept albeit originally excited about flying into the sky on a plane.
We had a 4 hour lay-over at the San Francisco airport. Grabbed some sushi for lunch and a chai to invigorate us. No free internet so went into withdrawal as couldn’t log on until well settled into Eire. Exhausted before boarding, our 9 1/2 hour flight with a 8 hour additional time change ahead we boarded United and flew across the country, followed by a leap across the grand pond. Our colds were at peak with much of a chill, sneezes and runny noses, not the greatest for flight. Coughs took effect as boarded the blue, we were at the back of the plane where they seem to send parents and infants. Luckily a sympathetic stewardess asked our seat mate to move to another location so we had three seats for Cian to stretch out. We caught up with films we’ve been wanting to see, and before we knew it were landing in London Heathrow the next afternoon around 1 pm.
- * Note: these links refer to articles not yet written as of publication of this piece. They will be published most likely before mid-January. Please check back.
More photos here: See the rest of this entry…
Wednesday, December 24, 2014: Xmas Eve …
We made the best of our last vending day for 2014. Given the lack of sales in the previous few days we pondered why we were even open on Xmas eve … Foot traffic picked up in the early part of the day and some stocking stuffers and gifts bought but overall a slow sales day. So slow, we decided to close at 2 pm instead of the planned 4 pm, although it took nearly 4 pm to get finished cleaning and closing down the shop, removing valuables from the shop to a remote vault, and preparing for our expedition to the magical island of Eire. High hurricane strength winds swept through the streets in the early morning and rains fell soaking the city and was probably the cause and effect of why not too many shoppers were out. The Snowfall dotted the landscape in the higher hills as a white wintery wonderland fell for Xmas eve for those living on the outskirts of Ashland.
As we all had caught a cold in the last couple days since Solstice, the first time that young Cian had ever fell ill in his 21 months of life, we had to delve into their own apothecary digging out the Echinacea Angustifolia* to make up some capsules to boost our immune system. As I pulled out the mortar and pestle, I brought it down to the floor so that wee Cian could have his first introduction to herbalism – shocked as I was, young Cian crawled straight to the mortar grabbed the pestle and started grinding the Echinacea root. Shocked and surprised was I! I knew immediately that Cian was definitely an old soul … and true to his namesake, “Cian” Irish for “Endurance” and “Ancient One”. Cian had a blast taking apart the gel caps and putting them in the gel capsule machine, stuffing in the powdered echinacea as if he was playing in the sandbox. A stash was made for the journey.
Just as we were ready to head off to catch our plane across the great pond, we were triggered with a faulty Toyota caravan alarm malfunction disabling the engine … it took a half hour for me to figure out the work-around so that I could get the car started again. Finally after some trials and errors we succeeded. Then halfway to Medford we realized we left behind some important documents and left the wreath hanging on the door, so a quick spin around back to Ashland the turnaround was accomplished. Onwards to storage we grabbed some gear for our flight, and headed to the Ramada Inn* for our lodge, park n’ fly for an affordable rate of under $80 allowing us to leave our car for 2 weeks. We nestled in for the evening, went down to Denny’s for an Xmas evening diner feast, showers and relaxation as tomorrow we are to board the plane back to the Old World.
* Note: These links refer to pages that are in process of being written. Expected publication is by no later than middle January 2015. If they do not work after this date, please let us know.
More photos from this date here: See the rest of this entry…
Tuesday, December 23, 2014:
Monday and Tuesday we began our sorting out of travel gear and gifts to bring to Ireland. We planned for our Expedition to Cork to see the grandparents and Cian to play with his cousins. A journey to retrieve some magical healing waters. A journey to commune with the Fae. A time for family and friends. We recently took the sage advice of fellow business owners in Ashland believing that this week – especially the days up to Christmas Eve, would be the most prosperous sales moments of the year. Wrong that prophecy beheld – as we felt afterwards that we should have closed up for the week – The sales and foot traffic for monday and tuesday were low. We sacrificed our sanity and free time to stay open every day in December until Xmas eve in hopes the fortold tales would hold true and pessimistic with how little support the shoppers had with Main street and small local shops … apparently the big chains with their super pre-Xmas sales nabbed the business from the mom and pops. Gearing up for the exodus, final touches were made with the Amazon cart and web sites in preparation for the new year. I spent most of Tuesday updating inventory online and dealing with inventory that Amazon suppressed because of photos, listing details, and other issues. Amazon banned his Pirate replica toy guns (and squirt guns) because of some silliness that they look like real weapons (they don’t as they have the florescent caps in them) and I got into a email war with Maison Terre herbal company who felt threatened by my “Sell Yours Now” listing I took advantage on with their Organic Black Cohosh root. Somehow the novices at Maison Terre felt they could “trademark and brand” Organic Black Cohosh root they repackage and sell on their own, and felt they had the right to “own” the listing of “Organic Black Cohosh Root, 1 oz bag” on Amazon. They made threats, even went stupidly low to state “Tree Leaves Oracle listing is fradulent” in their listing in attempts to coherce us to remove the listing off of Amazon. This of course just infuriated me telling them how it is, reported them to Amazon, and still have kept the listing alive. Of course with our two week vacation coming up, the Tree Leaves’ listing will disappear while we are in Ireland, so “Maison Terre” will think they won, and then two weeks later the listing will re-appear and the battle will probably restart again. Competition is silliness and the fact struggling artisans and healers feel threatened by others providing similar goods and services really shows the bad side to many, and Maison Terre has done nothing other than shown their true colors in this matter I felt. Lots to prepare and lots to do, we were very busy these days through. Late nights, photo work, last minute shipments priority to those trying to get Xmas presents arriving on time. We were exhausted each and every evening.
Sunday, December 21, 2014: Yule Morning …
Early to rise we headed out promptly to the office. Etain dropped me off so I could go arrange the gifts Santa left last night. Etain and Cian headed off to the grocery store to gather supplies. Santa visited Cian at the shop this year. Nestled under the tree were presents galore while dad set off to tidy the shop getting ready to open the doors. As the shop opened in came some customers, more lookers rather than spenders. When Etain and Cian arrived we gathered into our den and peered through the door with Cian curious what was about. In did he peer a bright Yule tree decorated with plunder …. jolly rancher candy canes, matchbox cars, a pirate’s sword, books, crayons, blocks, and trucks … all that he could want. He got very excited and nearly dove out of my arms atop the table the gifts were displayed. Dove into the trucks with the blocks next off, he was already building a new creation. Overwhelmed was he that when we pulled down the stocking, he was quite scared of the teddy bear peering out even as we emptied the goodies from the bottom of the sock. Mom and Dad dove into their stockings filled with chocolate and goodies galore. Then off to greet customers wandering in curious as to why Santa arrived here early. It’s Solstice morn and that’s when Lady Befana and Santa Claus visits the heathen kids around the globe. Then a second coming sometime as well on Xmas morning for double-plunder. The special marking of Pagan joy.
It seemed such a waste for us to spend our holiday in the shop this day. Everyone proclaimed that we must stay open as this was the time for the business to thrive. Hardly a sale or a customer walked through the door, and those that did were shopping around until later that evening. A few last minute stocking stuffer purchases took place and a gift or two as well, while downtown was bustling with shoppers galore, this poor little shop down off main was bypassed by many. As we were about to close their doors for the evening heading out to the Grange for a Winter Solstice rite and dance party, we came to the surprise that our car battery was dead. Awaiting triple A, it took yet another hour, and another rite was missed for the season. We headed off to Target for some last minute gift selections for gifts to bring across the great pond for Cian’s cousins. A simple dining out feast for a Yule treat wore us out quite quickly. We headed back to our RV for a winter eve’s nap and dreams about the Green Isle adventure later this week.
Saturday, December 20, 2014: Yule Eve …
All through the day Yuletide affairs were in the works as we attempted to prepare for what some would say are the busiest shopping days of the year, but alas not really that true, although this particular day was busier than the days before Christmas Eve. We hustled and bustled making sure inventory was on the shelves, and as throughout the morning lots of foot traffic – mainly window shoppers – came through the doors. This made us think that evening would be even busier. I donned my santa suit as did the wee Cian, getting ready for Yuletide eve adventures. Afternoon became dead so we thought we could close early, but that changed as the end of the day got busy and we realized we’d be closing late. So plans of celebrating Yule at the Grange with the Rowantree community and the Elderberry clan fell into the shadows of late night shoppers. But alas most of those shoppers were simply browsing around for ideas as we realized we should have closed early instead. Next year will be different. We were disappointed.
We scattered for some alternative plans as we decided upon checking out Medford’s 2nd annual SantaCon which we feared would be just a santa party in a bar rather than a actual santa crawl. Our friend Kara joined us for the festivals as we waited for the last shoppers to leave the shop while sipping eggnog (coconut milk) with Kraken rum. We donned our elves and Santa gear appropriately closed up shop and headed out just before 7. Onwards ho’ to the Honkey Tonk Saloon where we met up with 20+ Santas, Elves, Ms. Clauses, and Reindeer for a gathering to unleash before heading off doing good will and Yuletide deliveries to all as the week will call all Santas, Elves, and Reindeer into 24/7+ work bringing gifts to good boys and girls, coal to the naughty Krampus style.
Great good cheer and a Happy New Year, celebrating early on Solstice Eve. We met the others made new friends and had great giggles, as wee Cian ran around the dance floor hopping, bopping, and spinning in circles. He got drunk on his cranberry elixir a sober sloppy un-drunk wobbler he was.
Potato sack races, three leg races, and other games took effect as we won a $20 gift certificate for Italian, a photoshoot certificate, and a free month of child karate. It became quite a prosperous event for all gathered. It was quite a Santa Party in one saloon rather than the traditional SantaCon tromping from bar to bar. This however worked very well for us being bound to the little Santa in training after an exhausting day at the Leaf and Dragon. Our bellies full of holiday cheer, lots of photos taken with other Santas dear, the clock struck 9, as it was past under 21’ers time … the announcement came on that all wee ones had to leave so headed home we did to our beds awaiting we.