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Belfast Children’s Festival – last minute super star Aine! by Ann Treacy
March 12, 2014, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Belfast

Aine and I decided to take a day trip to Belfast. That way our family teenagers could enjoy a night at friends unhindered and we get out and see something fun. Belfast is about 2.5 hours away from Dublin by bus (add an extra hour to get from Cabinteely to town) so it’s a jaunt but a fun one. And the super luxury of visiting a place like Belfast again is that we didn’t feel like we had to see any of the big sights. We mostly went to have lunch with a friend and check out the Belfast Children’s Festival.

I was excited to see a special event at the festival – performers from Catalonia (past home of mine) were there doing fancy hair stuff. I know that Catalonia knows how to put on a show. And when we got to their performance I was not disappointed – there where doing hairstyles that would make Dr Seuss proud. Much to our delight – Aine was selected to be a model. So that made the event even more fun.

Also it was fun to catch up with an old friend and to hear how things in Belfast were going. I think they may be experiencing some growing pains as different cultures (and some not-so-new) cultures learn to coexist.

A Day in Dublin: the Science Gallery Fail Better exhibit by Ann Treacy
March 12, 2014, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Dublin

The girls and I finally had a day in Dublin to do anything we wanted. (OK anything I wanted.) We started with the Fail Better exhibit at the Science Gallery. It was a collection of failed experiments. Here are explanations from my favorite two failed experiments…

  1. In 1965, George and Charlotte Blonsky, a married couple living in New York City, were granted US patent #3216423 for an “Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force”. When a woman is ready to deliver her child, she lies on her back on a circular table. She is strapped down. The table is then rotated at high speed. The baby comes flying out. This is intended to “assist the under-equipped woman by creating a gentle, evenly distributed, properly directed, precision-controlled force, that acts in unison with and supplements her own efforts”.
  2. It was trumpeted as “the building with more up top”, a swollen pint glass of a tower that bulges out as it rises to pack in more offices at the lucrative higher levels—all topped with a Babylonian sky-garden. What the developer of 20 Fenchurch Street in the City of London had not bargained for was, that like every Bond baddie lair, the Walkie-Talkie building would also come with its own lethal death ray. In the summer of 2013, the concave south-facing facade of the 34-storey tower was found to channel the rays of the sun into a concentrated beam down on to the street below, so hot it melted the bumper of a car, scorched shop carpets and bubbled their paintwork. One passer-by even managed to fry an egg in its heat.

After that we trekked around town visit lots of shops and checking out favorite places like George’s Market. Aine and I checked out the Maker Shop, where she got to solder a homemade flashlight and we got a few minutes with the National Gallery. The older girls got in a little shopping – or maybe just hung out at a coffee shop, we’re not really sure. But everyone had a nice break from bubble wrap and each other!

Short trips around Dublin while I plan to break all of the plates at home by Ann Treacy
March 11, 2014, 10:30 am
Filed under: Doon, Wicklow

So after the funeral we spent a lot of time packing up Patrick’s mom’s house with the Australian contingency. We threw out things like a broken crib in the attic that had to be 40 years old and bubble wrapped about 1000 plates and knick knacks. So my plan when I get home is to break all of the plates I own and we’ll be eating off paper for the rest of my days. To be fair, I’m not really one for knick knacks anyways but man bubble wrapping will curb any saver tendencies. The girls can just fight over the mostly modern art on the walls and the backlog of laptops from days gone by.

Between the packing we did get in a few walking trips and visits.

We went into town for the markets and cupcakes, we went to Howth to see the seals, we went to Dun Laoghaire to walk the pier, Aine and I walked from Bray to Greystones and finally we found ourselves in Powerscourt and Glendalough – where the terrible St Kevin pushed the beautiful Kathleen into the lake. Uncle Michael had a car – a car for us in Dublin is a very rare treat. It was fun to be able to get to places so easily.

Return to Dublin for Irish Grandma’s funeral by Ann Treacy
March 11, 2014, 9:48 am
Filed under: Dublin

Irish Grandma died quite suddenly. The good news is that Patrick and most of his brothers were home for Christmas. We got the call mid-February saying she was sick. She died February 20. The girls had never really been to a full funeral before. I hadn’t been to one in Ireland. The greatest difference is in the removal the night before the funeral. We went to the funeral home where we went to see the body in the open casket. The crowd is kept to pretty immediate family. Everyone prays a little and then they cover the casket (some of us left the room) and move the body from the funeral home to the church.

Then there was a nice service at the church and a small dinner, again for immediate family at a local restaurant. We rode up to the events in the limo – not the most comfortable place to be although the driver was very nice. (The limo was comfortable, just the idea of it was uncomfortable.)

The following day was the funeral. Patrick gave the eulogy. Kate and Aine brought up the gifts. Lily and I each did a prayer of the faithful. It was funny to see Patrick and his brothers squish into the front pew. Let’s just say they may have fit into one pew back in the day – they’re a little big for it now.

The burial was different from home too. First the coffin is pared down – not the huge not-coffin-shaped coffins we have back home. Second, it is lowered down (more by hand than machine like at home) during the burial. It seems a lot closer. The girls did a good job holding it together for the whole event.

After the burial was a very nice luncheon at a local hotel – no church lady hot dish deal. This was fancy. And after lunch the crowd shifted to the bar. We were there (with kids) until about 11 pm. It was the first time I had met any of Patrick’s family outside of his brothers and their families. I’m including the pictures from the luncheon so that the family can access them.

Winter Carnival in St Paul: snow sculpture, ice sculptures and cold by Ann Treacy
March 10, 2014, 10:06 pm
Filed under: St Paul

It was roughly 400 degrees below zero during the St Paul Winter Carnival – so I’m super proud that we made it to see the snow and ice sculptures. The Twin Cities Daily Planet was kind enough to post our review of the sculptures – but I had a few more photos to share…


Thanksgiving in Chicago: Chicago Institute of Art by Ann Treacy
March 10, 2014, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Chicago

We went to see the Chicago cousins for Thanksgiving. It’s another family tradition. We’re lucky in that my sister makes the whole meal. We just show up!

This year many of us went to visit the Chicago Institute of Art; Aine and I love that place and it was fun to see it with more people.

San Jose in the Fall: Bat kid, lots of scenery by Ann Treacy
March 10, 2014, 7:14 pm
Filed under: California

In the fall I made a trip to San Jose. It was nice to not be cold for a while – admittedly if I knew how cold the winter was going to be I might have put off the trip a few months. I saw some fun things while I was there. I happened to be there while the Make-a-Wish Batkid events were happening. It was fun to see that – and fun to see the whole city (of San Francisco actually) turn out to see them make Batkid feel like a super hero. I also did a wine tour, visited the beach with huge seals and got to walk around San Francisco for a while. I went to one techie Meetup – lots of very focused, aggressive people from all over the world. Very interesting folks.


Pumpkinland: the tradition lives on by Ann Treacy
March 10, 2014, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

Well I think at least two of us were surprised but turns out the girls all wanted to go to Nelson’s Farm to see the pumpkins, the kittens, the go carts and the trebuchet. We ate lunch at our usual place in Waverly. We stopped to see the largest ball of twine in Darwin.


New York City in a New York Minute by Ann Treacy
March 9, 2014, 1:36 pm
Filed under: New York

The girls and I had one and a half days in NYC. (Grandpa dropped us off and went on to see carwashes and friends.) We made a list of all of the things we wanted to see while we were there. We saw everything on our list except the Statue of Liberty. We just decided that it was too much of a time commitment to make that trek. I wore my FitBit (which is just an expensive pedometer) and we learned after the first day that we had walked 18 miles! That’s pretty good.

We started the day getting up early to watch Good Morning America – mostly because we were staying in a hotel in Times Square that was feet away from the taping. Unfortunately none of us watch the show so we didn’t really recognize the people or know much about what was going on. So we headed south – partially because I was armed with a map of Banksy works. We were lucky enough to be visiting during the month that Banksy had taken residency in NY. So we were table to see lots of his street art. I was amazed at how much had been scrubbed away or defaced in the short time it had been up- who doesn’t know Banksy?! But I was happy with the amount that we were able to see.

We walked to the Brooklyn Bridge – and half way over it. We got bagels, which was on the girls’ culinary list. We toured the gardens of remembrance (sort of sneak previewed) at Ground Zero. We walked around Rockefeller. We went to FAO Schwartz – and got a creepy doll that has followed us to different places. We walked about the highline walkway – which is a cool elevated, artsy/nature path.

We went to the Museum of Modern Art, which Aine and I loved. Although with the visual arts, they had lots of small performance arts stuff happening around the galleries. We went to some cupcake place that the girls had seen on TV. We had slices of pizza. We had macarons at Laduree – somehow the girls knew about them. We walked through Central Park.

Roadtrip to New York via Michigan and Canada: Niagara Falls by Ann Treacy
March 9, 2014, 12:31 pm
Filed under: Canada, Michigan, New York

Who loves a road trip more than us? No one! We had a family baptism in New York so we decided to turn it into a road trip. Yes we were in the car as much as out of it – but that’s OK. Mostly it’s OK because Grandpa is the best driver ever. He drove every single mile there and back!

We started by going through Chicago to Northern Michigan. I don’t think I’d actually been to Michigan before. It’s very pretty – especially in the fall. It seems like we spent the first day or more driving. We did get the thrill of entering Canada. We had lunch there. The girls recognized that Canada is not exactly like the US – but it’s not really like London or Dublin either.

Also we all got a lesson on data plans. Only the mom gets to use International data roaming plans! So everyone else spent a few hours unplugged. OK maybe not the favorite few hours of the trip, but we all lived to tell the tale. We ended our time in Canada viewing the Canadian site of Niagara Falls. Unfortunately it was pretty dark but still pretty impressive. Also I realized that Priceline does not differentiate between US and Canadian hotels when you search for a place to stay near the border – after getting through the curt and unfriendly US border control. Luckily we also learned that we can get out of reservations made via Priceline if you call as soon as you figure out your mistake.

So we spent the night near Niagara, which was super nice for the two of us who got up early enough to check out the American side of the Falls. Though it was very cool. I always think it’s kind of amazing to see something that’s been around for so long. Then we continued on our voyage to New York City!

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