Tag Archives: friends

A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad deal AND God’s country

Our first full day in Ireland, I was “late” to the bus.

Anyone who’s ever traveled with me can tell you this is a big deal. A very big deal. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad deal. I HATE being late, and I hate when late people end up costing me opportunities.

In reality we weren’t really late, but everyone else was early, so they hurried us along, which was fine except the only seats left on the bus were in the very back.

You know what happens in the back of the bus, right?

Yeah, we were the wild ones, I guess.

Break the ass with a ham

Break the ass with a ham

You can tell how wild we were by how much joy we took out of this sign on the back of the bus, which we would have never seen had we not been running on time (just later than everyone else) that first day.

Sandra and I are old travel buddies. 20 years of trips makes for an interesting friendship. This was our third vacation overseas together. Thankfully, we had Susan to point out this great emergency sticker disaster. It led to much laughter.

Irish Wolfhounds. Beautiful, but I think they were bored.

Irish Wolfhounds. Beautiful, but I think they were bored.

BUT I still felt bad about being late—r than everyone else. And I felt bad because Sandra was sick. In fact, I felt a little like these guys (Irish Wolfhounds), stars of our first stop: Kerry Bog Village.

Kerry Bog Village is one of those places that shows how life used to be. No actors, but the houses, tools and flowers were cool. It was raining when we got there, so I ran into one of the villager houses.

Peat fire!

Peat fire!

My first choice was a great one because a peat fire was burning and that Irish rain is freaking cold.

I’ve always heard about how stinky peat is. WRONG. It was lovely. A little smokier than wood, but a good kind of smoke. I could definitely live with peat fire on a regular basis.

4 dont throw out baby with the bathwater

Once I got warm I turned around. What I saw made for a laugh out loud moment. I guess maybe I should’ve known the origin of the saying “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” I didn’t. Now I do.

All the Kerry Bog Village houses had the horseshoe on the door for luck. It’s interesting how many cultures put something on their doors. One day I might research the history of these totems. Maybe.

The rain stopped and then started and then stopped and then…you get the picture. If you go to Ireland, make sure you take an umbrella or be willing to walk around wet and cold. Thankfully, my trusty umbrella was with me constantly.

5 peatPeat was piled outside the village house like we would stack wood. I thought that was interesting. I also loved the tools and pots and pans outside the house.

Yes, I know. Flowers and pretty pretties.

Yes, I know. Flowers and pretty pretties.

While I wandered around the village, I couldn’t help but admire the gorgeous foliage. I took 5 bajillion pics of flowers. I won’t share them all. This one was interesting because of the wheel. I wonder if villagers would actually leave the wheels propped up against shrubs or if I fell victim to a staged picture point. If this was a staged picture point, I’m cool with that. It’s pretty. I like pretty.

After about 20 minutes I left the village. It’s definitely one of those tourist trap type places. But, hey, I’m a tourist, so that’s fine. Still, it’s not an in-depth look at life in Ireland.   20 minutes is more than enough time to make your way through the place. (I stand corrected. If we had more time there, I might have noticed how historically accurate it was!)

It’s a nice stopping off point early on the Ring of Kerry Drive.

Homesick moment

Homesick moment

While waiting on everyone else to finish looking at the village or to get their Irish coffees (the sign on their shop said they served Ireland’s Best Irish Coffee. I didn’t try it there, so I don’t know the veracity of that statement), I wandered around the parking lot and ran into this scene. It made me a tiny bit homesick because it looked like Texas, only super green because of all the rain.

But just a tiny bit homesick because I was in Ireland! I never really planned on a trip to Ireland. England and France were on my bucket list from the time I was a teenager. One of my students wanted to go to Ireland, though, and EF made that option possible (Thank you, EF Tours!). I’d been to England, France and Italy already. The student who wanted to go to Ireland had been on one trip with me already, and one of my friends who traveled with me to England and France told me Ireland was God’s country. My student who wanted to go to Ireland loved being there from the time we landed at Shannon airport. I liked it alright, but at this point, I still ranked Paris as my all time favorite city.

8 a hint of what's to comeAnd then as we continued on the Ring of Kerry drive, I saw this.

Before long I knew my friend was right. Ireland is sacred. It’s beautiful. It’s awe inspiring. It truly is God’s country.

RIP Nicky

Nicky Martinez loved to make people laugh.
Back when I first started dating DH, we’d spend time at the Martinez house talking to Nicky’s amazing parents. Nicky loved to share thier stories. He was proud of them, and they were proud of him.
When the phone would ring at 7 a.m. or earlier on a Saturday morning, we’d groan and answer it anyway and Nicky would say “Jalapeno Pancakes.”
I don’t know what Jalapeno Pancakes are, but Nicky sure was proud of them. 
It was easy to think of Nicky as a goofball, but  if you saw him around people who were hurting or people in need you saw he was much, much more. He genuinely cared about people and he helped others often.
If you were the brunt of a Nicky joke it was easy to get your feelings hurt if you forgot to laugh with him. But those jokes were equal opportunity. He shared the wealth.
When Nicky married Margie, he threw himself into family life. He loved fully. Margie and her kids mellowed Nicky some, in a good way. When Margie died, it devastated all of us, but Nicky didn’t stop living. The things that mattered most to him  continued to matter. Family, helping others, friends, Boy Scouts. Nicky stayed Nicky; that surprised me. 
Nicky loved to brag on family. From the time I met him and he learned I was going to be a teacher, he told me the story of his mother, the first hispanic member of the WFHS NHS. The woman who failed first grade because she couldn’t speak English but then set out to make sure no family member or friend ever failed for that reason again. The woman who went on to serve as a longtime principal for WFISD.
He loved to share stories about his father and the music. He loved to play music and if you ever got an invite to see him with a band, you wanted to make sure you got to check out the event. When his father got sick, watching Nicky gently take care of the man, watching him continue to talk to him without getting frustated, was heart breaking and heroic all at the same time. 
He was proud of his new wife for finishing school.
I’ve grown into middle age hearing the Nicky stories, knowing he’s right around the corner any time, seeing him…but not as often lately.
Last week Nicky died, and I was stunned. Today they’ll bury him. 
They won’t bury the memories though. Nicky Matinez was a big man with a big heart. He won’t be forgotten.
RIP Nicky. You will be missed.

The End!

Haven’t posted in two days because friends were visiting and I was writing, writing, writing.

I love when friends you haven’t seen in forever come into town and it’s like they never left! That’s how it is with Becky and Darese.


I finished a rough draft! It’s rough, rough, rough, but it’s done, and I like it. It will need a TON of work, but it’s a complete story.

I used the fast draft method, and I really liked it. I hope I still like it when I start revisions. 🙂

I also used Scrivener. I’ve barely utilized its features. I hope to learn more of the Scrivener secrets as I revise.

It’s 2:47 and I’m calling it a night!

Lunch Bunch

I eat in the teacher’s lounge.
Teachers are probably the only people who really understand the meaning behind that statement. Several of my fellow teachers treat the lounge like some sort of “other world.” A place inhabited by the demons of secondary education.
Not so.
Sure we mona and groan and grip and complain. But more than anything, we laugh. For thirty minutes (an unGodly amount of time to actually eat in!) I lose the teacher me and embrace the real me.
Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I cry. And honestly sometimes I do both.
My friends do too.
The lunch bunch has evolved over time into the birthday girls. Once a month we go out and celebrate birthdays. A little alcohol’s always involved. No boys allowed. Since all our birthdays are late this month we didn’t have anything to celebrate. Fortunately one of the lunch bunch has a mother-in-law she hates. It was her birthday today. We drank and ate and laughed and took turns looking at the MIL’s picture and saying mean things about her.
And then we laughed some more.
And some more.
About half way through I wanted to cry. One of the lunch bunch is moving this summer. She’s this amazing strong woman I admire so much. She credits Al-Anon for helping her find her true self and her inner strength. I’ve never been to Al-Anon but she’s helped me do the same thing for myself.
So often as women we do for others. We take care of our kids, our husbands. We cook and clean and run errands and write the Christmas cards. But we don’t take care of ourselves. Often we lose the ME, the person we were supposed to be.
Writing certainly helps me hold on to a dream, but the lunch bunch, the teacher’s lounge, they keep me sane. It might be the laughter, and I’m sure the alcohol helps some, but the real glue that keeps me together is the friendship and the knowledge that the days I think I can’t do it, they’re there to remind me I can.


Last night I thought I was getting picked up to go caroling. I’d just returned home with DH after a long night of church, Christmas parties and a hockey game and it would’ve been easy to just forget about the rest of the night. But I have this group of friends from work who depend on me and my smiles. 🙂
They’re amazing really. Strong women who help keep me sane on days I’m not sure that’s possible. They tease me, call me PollyAnna because I try to put a positive spin on life, even when it pretty much sucks. But like I always tell them “Iran has nuclear weapons. We’re going to die. Might as well make the most of it while we’re here.” 🙂
So when Dh and I made it home I grabbed my tennis shoes, called my friends and decided what the heck, I love caroling? Tired wasn’t reason enough not to go.
Ten minutes later a stretch limo pulled up. Nope we didn’t go out singing in the cold. We went dancing. Just the girls. I can’t remember the last time I went dancing with friends, but I think I’m going to make it a part of life. I needed that and so did they. I get so caught up in family and writing and the job I forget sometimes to go live. Thank God for friends who help me remember.