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Ten things you may not have known about living in Dublin:

1) Traffic is slow, clogged, and awful, but it’s not scary in the sense of NYC-traffic-scary. In fact, drivers here tend to be more courteous than the average American driver (and definitely more courteous than the average Canadian driver. Sorry if that offends any Canadians (but it’s true; even Gabriel admits it).). But the streets and roads were built for a horse-and-carriage society, and there just doesn’t seem to be room for expansion. Rush hour is a terrible time to drive anywhere. Once it took me an hour to drive seven kilometers. Ridiculous! The positive side, of course, is the courtesy. You can pull out in front of someone and it’s okay as long as you wave at them or put on your four-ways to say thanks. ūüôā

2) The city water is free.

3) Dublin has some really, really nice parks. Just across the road from us is a beautiful one with a river, a walled-in garden, walking paths, and a museum. All free. Bronwyn and I like to go over there and just wander around. We’re also within a few kilometers of two other nice parks, both of which have great playgrounds for little tots and big kids.

4) There are three maternity hospitals in Dublin, all dedicated solely to the care of women and infants. I could write a lot more about the prenatal care here, and I plan to do that soon.

5) Just a ten-minute drive from our house is the largest shopping centre in the country. It has over eighteen acres of floor space and some of the narrowest parking spaces I’ve ever seen (just ask Mom how I managed an eleven-point turn while trying to park there one day when she was along).

6) Traffic again: streets are so, so poorly marked. About a year after we were here, Gabriel got a free phone with a package deal from a mobile phone company, and the phone has a GPS with downloadable maps. That has been invaluable to us SO many times; it would be such a pain to drive in Dublin without it. I really don’t know how anyone drives in Dublin without a GPS unless they grew up here and know all the streets and roads by memory.

7) It’s a windy city, probably because it’s so close to the coast. Gabriel checks the forecast and groans when he sees high wind predicted because it makes his cycle ride to school even worse than normal. (No, he doesn’t like cycling to school, but he does it for the health benefits and because it saves money, and because (traffic again!) it’s easier than fighting traffic.)

8) Homeowners paint their doors whatever color they feel like painting them.

9) Dublin is essentially a collection of villages that grew together. That’s why part of our address is “Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.” Each “village” usually has a parish centre/Catholic church, a bank, a butcher, a few shops, a druggist, a GP’s office, and if you’re lucky, a public library. And OF COURSE a pub.

10) The buses are double-decker. Riding on the top of a double-decker bus is one of the best ways to see the city.

Here is one reason you (we) aren’t hearing much from Gabriel on this blog lately:

This is his schedule for next week. Now, it might look manageable until you consider that for every hour spent in class he should spend two or three out of class doing homework. We’ve quit saying “maybe next semester will be easier” and changed our mantra to “in so-and-so many months we’ll be done.”

I was telling him my brilliant idea for holiday cards this year, and he wondered if he’d be put through the torture of participating in a family photo shoot. He thought maybe I could Photoshop him into a picture of our family. I said I could do better than that; we could put his picture in an oval in the corner of the photo like they do for deceased family members. Underneath it we could print, “Gabriel Jantzi, dearly beloved husband and father. We look forward to reuniting with you in about 20 months when you’re done with that ding-dang-dong vet school.”

*** *** ***

Baby is due in a week and a half, more or less. My family doctor assured me yesterday that I’ll go into labour today “at 4:00, and it’ll all be over by tea time.” He was joking, of course, but I’m pleading with this baby not to take TOO long to come out, because if it does, Mama will go OFF HER HEAD.

*** *** ***

Last night from about 11:30 to 1:00 we listened to the neighbor’s adult son as he sat in front of their outdoor fireplace, listened to loud Christmas and country music, drank beer, and shouted randomly into the fire. (I got the giggles when “Country Roads, Take Me Home” came on. Does anyone else who worked at Yoder’s Restaurant remember Moose belting that out on his gittar?)

“Is he retarded?” Gabriel wondered. “Why would you drink yourself stupid all alone on a Friday night? How could be any fun?”

I suppose someone else might look at the schedule above  and wonder how that could be any fun, too. These are the mysteries we ponder at midnight.

I have a wonderful supervisor at work. One of the things I like about Aisling is the way she saves me from myself. Last week I made some remark that somehow remotely implied that this Canadian didn’t know about the June Bank Holiday. Aisling picked up on it and warned me not to come in to work today. ¬†(The first Monday in June is a public holiday.)

A few days ago I was chatting with a coworker, and during the course of the conversation, I mentioned that had my supervisor not reminded me about the upcoming bank holiday, well, I would have come to work that day.

“Well,” my coworker commented, “that’s dedication.”

“No,” I said, thinking about having a lie in (sleeping in), “that’s stupidity [or ignorance; I forget exactly what I said].”

We laughed together. ¬†You see, there we were in the vet school, amidst all the students spending precious years of their lives, chuckling at silly people who can’t see the difference between dedication and stupidity.

We were laughing at ourselves.

~ 09250671

Back in the first week of February, Bronwyn had to get a BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Gu√©rin—I don’t know what that means, but it’s a tuberculosis vaccine) vaccination. I didn’t know TB vaccinations were still given in this day and age, but apparently Ireland has seen a rise in TB with the recent influx of immigrants from Eastern European countries and other countries where TB is still a threat.

Anyway, ever since getting the vaccination, Bronwyn has had a hard red lump on her arm where she got the needle. I figured it would go away after a few weeks, but instead it got larger. I was a little worried, but other moms assured me it was normal. Eventually there was a hard lump under her skin, about the size of a U.S. nickel in diameter. Two nights ago I was putting her in the tub when I noticed a thin papery scab that was starting to peel away from the lump. I peeled it off and this is what happened:

It drained at least four times this much. It was like the mother of all pimples.

It doesn’t seem to bother her much otherwise.

Now, to offset the gross factor of the first two pictures, here are some cuter ones.

Apparently Mom with a camera is hilarious.

Happy Wednesday!

-Jennifer

I’m currently reading Madame Doubtfire, the plot of which is set in England. One of the chapters tells of a shopping trip and perfectly describes the frustrations of finding what you need in Britain or, in my case, Ireland. Here, Daniel and his small daughter are on a search for a pair of dungarees—“hardy, machine-washable, room for growth, and NOT WHITE.”

Thinking about it afterwards, Daniel could not for the life of him work out where those two whole hours went. Admittedly, they went to several shops. The first had no dungarees at all, the second only white ones. The third had dungarees in red and blue and apple green, but they were labelled Caution: wash separately, so Daniel, remembering Miranda’s firm specifications, was forced to prise a wistful and somewhat resentful Natalie away. The fourth shop had machine-washable dungarees in grey, but not in Natalie’s size. The fifth had four pairs of dungarees in Natalie’s size, but none of them fitted. Nor did those labelled with the size above, nor the size above that.

‘They pinch,’ Natalie grumbled, pulling irritably at the crotch. ‘They’re too tight here. They hurt.’

‘Have you tried Notweeds?’ asked the saleslady, coldly.

So they tried Notweeds . . . as the glass doors swung open, the shop-girls sprang to life.

‘We’re closing now,’ they chanted in unison. The braver of the two laid her hand on the sleeve of Madame Doubtfire’s cardigan, to shoo her out.

Daniel was irritated. Drawing himself up to full height, he towered over the girl, and thundered, ‘Young lady, the notice affixed to that door says plainly that you close at half-past five.’

‘It’s practically that now,’ the girl argued.

‘There are still seven minutes left.’

‘That isn’t really long enough to try anything for size.’

‘Then we shall look.’

…Natalie practically had to be dragged between the racks of clothes. She trailed her feet along the floor so stubbornly, she left tracks even on the hardy shop carpet. She was horribly fractious, complaining loudly and bitterly: her feet were hurting; her legs ached; she wanted to go home; she was missing Blue Peter; she didn’t even like dungarees.

‘We don’t stock them anyway,’ crowed the shop-girl.

And that, dear reader, is why I sometimes wholeheartedly long for Walmart. (I’ll admit that other times I’m smitten with the charm of these shops—it’s just when I can’t find something I really do need that it’s frustrating.)

-Jennifer

I haven’t found anything useful to us on Freecycle lately, but there have been some entertaining “Wanted” ads.

Wanted: Damaged or otherwise unusable or substandard coffin. Preferably not used.

Wanted: wanted Mac computer. Hello My computer just died so wondering if anybody has a mac computer that they no longer need. thanks coco

Wanted: bus wanted as home. Hi everyone,I am looking for an old preferably double decker bus to convert as mobile home,drivable diesal but will convert to cooking oil.No distance a problem.Or will consider a smaller van converted or fo conversion.

I can’t decide if these deserve an eye-roll (“surely you jest”) or applause for never giving up hope (“Someday my double-decker bus will come!”).

scratching my head,

Jennifer

This morning I made something for the first time ever: steel cut oats. I got the recipe from my friend Thelma, and you can skip over to her blog if you want to see pretty pictures of the oatmeal, yet. Let me just say that this is better—way better—than regular oatmeal, amen. Here is Thelma’s recipe in case you’d like to try them too (you would).

3 C. water
1 C. milk
1 T. butter
1 C. steel cut (*aka pinhead, aka Irish) oats
1/4 t. salt
Bring milk and water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a skillet until foamy, then add the oats. Toast, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant with a butterscotch-like aroma (1-2 minutes). Add to the simmering liquid, turn the heat to medium low, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the mixture thickens and resembles gravy. Add the salt, stirring with a wooden spoon handle, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 7-10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

Add a drizzle of maple syrup and YUM. This makes a big batch, which is actually nice because they take about 45 minutes to make and apparently reheat very well. Thelma also says it’s important to follow the recipe instructions as to timing, even when you add the salt.

I just have to say…sometimes you grow up and realize your parents were right about things. Like my mom has been informed about health and nutrition for most of my life and I had next to zero interest in it until suddenly it’s hip to be healthy and now I realize my mom was about fifteen years ahead of her time. When we were home over the holidays, guess what I found in her fridge. Yep, steel-cut oats.

So go try ’em!

*When I went to the health food store yesterday for these oats, I could only find pinhead oats. I asked the salesladies about steel-cut oats but they had no idea what I meant. (Frustrating culture shock moment…which I should be used to by now!) I came home and looked it up online, and apparently steel-cut oats, pinhead oats, and Irish oats are all one and the same.

-Jennifer

We spent Christmas Eve at Ken and Linda’s house. They had oodles of people over and it was so much fun. Deborah had the use of my camera that night and most of these pictures were taken by her (as you can tell, she actually knows how to use it…unlike yours truly).

I love their house. It’s been renovated from an old barn on the church property that used to be the mission’s workshop. The house is long and narrow but snug and absolutely dripping with character.

Is this not a cozy sitting room? I think Victoria has found the perfect place for reading.


So has Abigail.

The place soon started filling up with people. The Millers invited over forty people, and even though not everyone came, it was a full house.

Bronwyn loved this little rocking chair.

We were all supposed to bring appetizers…mmm.

Dani and baby Sarah.

We played a hilarious game that involved unwrapping a present and following whatever instructions were written inside. Here Jeanette is trying to draw a picture on her head.

Linda and Vadym had to work together to wrap a present using only one hand each. (And that scarf I’m wearing was knit by my 11-year-old niece, Callie.)

What warm fuzzies this is giving me…there’s something about being away from extended family over the holidays that makes me even more grateful for the bonds of this church family.

This is his “done with exams” face. As of today, the worst semester of his entire life is history, and that ROCKS.

Also, three years ago today, this happened:

Awww. We look so young … and happy … and naive. ūüėõ I loved those newlywed days, but I love these happily-married-for-years days even better.

We just got eight inches of snow in the last 24 hours. I’m starting not to believe people who claim that Ireland has mild winters.

-J

EDIT: Gabriel thought I should add that I ran a 70’s action on that first photo, meaning I made it look like a photo from the 1970s. I like it, but he isn’t so sure.

Cycles

As indicated in a previous post, I sometimes cycle to school. ¬†As Phil H. knows, I don’t like cycling to school. ¬†Many are the fair mornings when I mentally compose another chapter for my very own latest novel,¬†A Cyclist’s Guide to South Dublin. ¬†(That was a lie. ¬†“Many are the¬†gloomy mornings…” would be more appropriate.) ¬†I won’t be publishing that book for two reasons: my mother told me that I may never do anything in public that would embarrass her, and knowing how many people there are out there that look up to me, I wouldn’t want to lead them astray. ¬†I never want to be the kind of hero that unwittingly inspires some beautiful child to take up cycling.

But this morning’s ride had its perks. ¬†I was stopped at a light when I noticed a, uh, slightly overweight lady with many shopping bags dangling off each arm puff up to the pedestrian crosswalk. ¬†She reached out and jabbed at the light changing button thingie. ¬†The pedestrian crosswalk light didn’t change. ¬†She persisted. ¬†Ah, but I like to see spirit in these worldly-wise individuals, jaded as they may be by the advancing years. ¬†The Shopping Bag lady shifted her load and jabbed again. ¬†And again. ¬†I counted. ¬†The button pinged six times. ¬†That ignorant pedestrian crosswalk light still didn’t change. ¬†I waited until she was comfortably ensconced back in her folds. ¬†“Nah,” I said, “you should probably do it a few more times.”

To be sure, to be sure, she had great presence of mind. ¬†She didn’t jump. ¬†I had a green light, so it was time to go. ¬†The look she gave me, though, buoyed my spirits the entire length of Highfield Road.

Things

Our Pharmacology professor is full of quotables. ¬†For example, once he was talking about the undeniably sad effects of certain bugs on the gastrointestinal tract, and the resulting attempts of the body to rapidly rid itself of that bug. ¬†In the picturesque vernacular, the results are known as “pipestem.” ¬†The professor referred to it as “exquisitely spectacular… reminds you of bad curry.” ¬†While expounding today on some random and quite unimportant point, he noticed that all we robots were writing away furiously… and felt pity for us. ¬†No need to take notes on that point, he said. ¬†“That’s a completely useless bit of information, only good to drop at a Saturday night curry party.”

Apparently he doesn’t like curry.

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