Yes, We Have No Potatoes!

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

It was about 1845 when the Irish Potato Famine started and went on for the next 7-8 years. Much of the middle and all of the lower class made potatoes the bulk of their diet. One million people died in that time, and one million emigrated in vastly over-cramped ships, to Canada, America, and Australia. Most times they went as indentured servants in lieu of the fare for the voyage.

In the mid 1840’s my X great grandfather, Archibald Buie, a sea captain by trade, left the Isle of Islay and took his last voyage to Ontario, Canada with his family of three children. Islay is off the coast of Northern Ireland but belongs to Scotland.  It is pure conjecture that the famine was part of his story: did he ferry immigrants or see the oncoming tragedy? Archibald, and his father and father in-law were all sea captains in a treacherous part of the world for sailing.The timing was right, and it captures my imagination of what their childhoods, apprenticeships,and day to day life at sea must have been like, as well as for those they loved and were kept waiting back home in Bowmore, Islay.

From Ontario, a branch of the tree went to Kansas, then to New Jersey and this twig to San Diego. How many of you have Irish ancestry because of the famine that brought them west? Do you bleed a little bit green?

The potato blight has long been eradicated and the national food is once again potatoes; there wasn’t a single meal I was served in my 5 weeks in Ireland that didn’t include potatoes!!


Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Defined as:type of fairy in Irish folk lore, depicted as bearded men who like mischief/ spend time making and mending shoes and have a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If captured by humans, they often grant three wishes in exchange for their freedom.          

I’m on the look out!

Life is like a River

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Boy there sure are a lot of rivers in Ireland! And river walks are delightful. On our meandering along these rivers (Noor, Barrow, Slaney, Shannon, Liffey, Boyne,and Bann) we have seen barges, canoes, kayaks, swimmers, and fishermen, and one naked groom-to-be jump in as a right of passage.


Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Our townhome complex in Kilkenny has a large fenced pond on site where resides mom and dad swan and two baby cygnets. They have been fun to feed and funnier to watch as two babies grow.  Swans mate for life (tho’ mom swan flew off for 5 days and left dad in charge).

The swans on dry land are totally awkward as they venture forth to the fence and beg for any carbohydrate we might have. Dad has a hazelnut size knot at the base of his beak and mom has just a bump. Huge black flipper feet enable them to glide so picturesquely.

Just sorry we won’t get to see the ugly duckling’s transformation!


Saturday, August 5th, 2017

It was 4 years ago while on a bus tour of Ireland we randomly commented “you know I’d like to get to know Ireland better and Kilkenny appeals to me as the place to make homebase for such a venture (or words to that effect).” Cooky and Robert heard us and chimed in that it sounded like a great idea and count them in!

Well life happens because we had walking the Camino in our sights, then that needed two new knees and rehab. All the while the Quandts would call to see if it was time for Ireland yet? Last November we sat down with them and made plans for the month of August. It was getting exciting!

In living with them for four weeks we know that we are very different; no kids(thus no grandkids), no church, CNN and never Fox, they stop for lunch, don’t drive abroad, sleep late, drink white wine, don’t cook…you would think it was a recipe for disaster

But we made it work!  It was delightful!!All enjoy travel and making new discoveries, we gave each other space, didn’t talk politics,they ate my cooking drank a lot of wine, hated parting,  and emerged as great friends!

The “B” List

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Too much of travel is checking off items on a bucket list. There is not much depth or satisfaction,and the world famous location does not become part of you. They become photos proving you were there.

I discovered “B” list travel on a trip to Washington DC several years ago (see D.C. blog) and now I seek them out.

Today I was on the trail for local crafters; a glass blowing studio,a pottery firm,and a candle maker. Each of the locations were delightful and gave us a chance to engage local artisans. Conversing with a native Irishman, accent and all, make them friends for a time; a glimpse into a life lived in Ireland.

Doing ones homework about a location and its history makes that Castle or Abbey ruin come alive with the distant echoes or battles, unrequited love, or selfless sacrifice. I’m learning a lot about Oliver Cromwell and his hate for all successful Irish enterprises. Why does that Castle only have 3 sides? Well Oliver Cromwell’s troops blasted one side down to make it indefensible.

Then there’s Henry VIII !

He didn’t like the monasteries having so much power and money so he had his troops take the roofs of the churches and monasteries and it immediately dispersed the monks and brought the massive places of worship into ruin.

In Ireland there are stone circles and Celtic carvings with ancient auras that don’t have lines or need an admission fee like Stonehenge.

The point being go deeper, go eager for the bigger story and always talk to people!

The tourist sees what he has come to see, but the traveler sees the bigger picture.

Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey

Reflections now that I’m back.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Many pilgrims talk about how their lives radically changed after completing the Camino. Some devote themselves to charitable endeavors, or a more spiritual lifestyle,or planning their very next camino, and even giving a lot of their earthly possessions away. I agree that life should be simpler, but we’re good with making it a solitary endeavor. We know that life gets hectic, but we do make time for our christian walk and we we are passionate about the charities we invest our time and money in. So has the Camino changed us?
A shower after a long,arduous hike will never feel as good as a shower at home, nor will a plate of pasta and a bottle of wine ever taste quite as satisfying. I’m not as likely to plop down at a table of strangers and start up a conversation or reveal my inner most thoughts with people i’ve just met. The frailty of life was never more apparent but neither was the beauty of it either. The world could have it’s tragedies and scandals but my focus was on making it over the next hill and praising God for His creation.
I found a quote that I think sums it all up.
“The journey home is never a direct route; it is in fact, always circuitous, and somewhere along the way, we discover that the journey is more significant than the destination, and that the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our memories forever.”(N. DeMille form his book “Up Country.”
Yep, that’s a wrap for this time. Thanks to those who came along for the adventure of a lifetime!img_2620

La Familia Sagrada

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

If ever architecture was an act of worship, it’s Barcelona’s Basilica by Anton Gaudi.

Pillars that branch out like trees hold the vaulted ceiling and stained glass mimics the colors of sunrise on one side and sunset on the other. And the outside of the edifice is as enthralling as the inside with all the bible stories that are depicted beneath the 18 bell towers. Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus is scripted above the passion of Christ sculptures revealing the alpha and omega of our faith.

Tickets have to be purchased in advanced online because everyday they are sold out before they open. Though still under construction, a completion date of 2026 will honor the 100th anniversary of the architect’s death.

To experience the Sagrada is to be swept up and drawn a little closer to heaven!

Selfie Stick Improving

Selfie Stick Improving


Now What?

Monday, September 26th, 2016

We are ahead of schedule from our Camino and ready to do some exploring! Tomorrow we leave Santiago by train to Madrid for three days then on to Barcelona for four. At that point we board a re-positioning cruise that will make stops in Spain, Portugal, and Bermuda as it crosses the Atlantic to New York!! It’s the Sirena from Oceania cruise line. These cruises are dirt cheap–relatively — and pop up twice a year. Our Alaska cruise back 25 years ago was also a cruise like this

In Barcelona we will buy some presentable clothes and maybe a suit case!! This is kinda a “pinch me” I’m dreaming kinda thing. 14 day cruise gets us to NYC on the 18th. Wifi available we think. Then we’ll figure what comes next.

Homesick but loving the exploring!


Angels In Life’s Journey

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

There is an intensity on the Camino I hadn’t expected. It’s you against each day’s terrain as well as the knowledge that food, water, and a bed are not a guarantee. So coming upon people who speak your language, are closer in age, and profess a Christian Faith (have kids, and grandkids, husbands, normal) makes you halfway to being fast friends. Then, because they’re more experienced and also kind-hearted, they look after you and celebrate each day’s accomplishments and cheer you on! This was Karen and Deborah from Queensland, Australia ❤️

For the majority of the Camino Ingles they took us under wing and welcomed us at the end of each grueling day (they were much faster walkers). When we finally arrived they had scoped out the town, and prayed that our day’s journey would get us there in time to grab the last two beds, and were ready to enjoy dinner and wine and share stories of the path.

We got our compestelas together and sweetly enjoyed our final time together. Thank you both for being our angels and may our life’s journey cross again.