Happy hour is back!…A good time to define our goals…

A pair of look-alike cows may be a mom and a calf.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
Connemara is also the name of a brand
of Irish whiskey produced at the Cooley Distillery.”

_____________________________________________________________
Over the past four months, since Dr. Theo discovered my heart issues from a cardiac stress test done in his office on a Saturday morning, I’ve contemplated
whether or not to continue drinking a few glasses of wine now and then.

After asking the three doctors I worked with, the surgeon, the cardiologist and Dr. Theo, they encouraged me to enjoy red wine regularly.  I contemplated and researched dozens of studies on how red wine affects the arteries.  I couldn’t find any consistency in the pros and cons of drinking a glass or two (no more) on occasion.
Note the dots on this cottage.  I refer to this as the polka dot house while Tom refers to it as the nipple house.  Typical male.
For over 20 years I didn’t drink any alcohol assuming it was better for my health based on my genetic profile.  I only began drinking a bit of red wine in the past few years, mainly on cruises and then at happy hour in South Africa.  

The condition of my arteries, according to the doctors, occurred over the past 20 years or more. It didn’t happen overnight.  Who’s to say that drinking wine or not drinking wine made a difference especially after I abstained for over 20 years.
We see this larger fishing boat almost daily in Bertraghboy Bay, where we’re located.
Good grief, I’ve thought.  I have multiple hereditary medical conditions and according to the recent diagnosis, my prognosis for the future isn’t optimistic. I already restrict myself by eating a special diet for the past eight years. 

I haven’t had a cookie, a cracker, a potato, a pasta dish or a sugary dessert all these years.  The benefits of this low inflammation diet made me well enough eight years ago that we eventually decided to travel the world which would have been impossible before the diet change.  

A painful heredity condition was eradicated through the diet, not necessarily “cured” but allowed for a pain-free lifestyle. But, through heredity, this drastic situation with my arteries ensued.
Fishing boat in the bay in front of our holiday home.
Thus, the thought of never drinking a glass of red wine again, as one indulgence of few, makes sense to me since I don’t seem to have any ill effects from drinking a dry red wine.  If it’s good for me, great.  If it’s not, I’ll never know since my ongoing cardiac issues won’t change either way.

The first time I drank wine since the surgeries months ago, was last Saturday night at a pub/restaurant.  It was such a joy to sip on the silky flavor of a good Malbec.  I drank about 1½ glasses and must admit I felt a bit tipsy after not drinking for four months.

This Tuesday when we grocery shopped, we purchased two bottles of red wine for me and a bottle of Courvoisier for Tom.  Happy hour was about to begin again.  It’s not so much about sipping the tasty liquids that appeal to either of us.  Its the ritual associated with setting aside time to talk, to dream to plan while enjoying our respective drinks.
Sheep on a hill.
We rearranged the living room furniture and put two comfy chairs with an end table in between in front of the big windows overlooking the bay. We can sit there comfortably for an hour a day, and then switch to ice tea or mineral water for the remainder of the evening.

This one hour has already become special to us.  It’s a perfect time to discuss the research we’ve done throughout the day.  With inclement weather, we haven’t ventured out this week other than to grocery shop in Clifden on Tuesday.  

Again, today, it’s foggy, misty and rainy hardly a day to inspire us to get out sightseeing.  Hopefully soon, as we get closer to summer, we’re hoping we’ll enjoy more sunny days.  

We don’t mind the cool weather.  But, its no fun touring on rainy days when the chill goes right through us.  We’re accustomed to the hot weather in South Africa, often hot and humid throughout the day and evening.  It’s quite an adjustment especially with the clothes we have on hand.
There are numerous islands in the lakes in Connemara.
Plus, the remaining instability of my legs prevents us from walking on wet surfaces due to a risk of falling.  This is not exactly how we envisioned as our time in Ireland but this is a reality we’ve had to face.

So, now as we plan and dream for the future during our pleasant “happy hour” as we look out to the sea, we’ve begun to shape some goals of where we’d like to travel after January 2020.  At this point, we won’t necessarily be booking any adventure-type activities until we know my legs are fully healed.

However, we are researching where we’ll live for 62 days while in the UK between August 23, 2019, and October 24, 2019, while we await an upcoming trans-Atlantic cruise out of Southampton, UK.
On upcoming August 11th, we board a cruise out of Amsterdam to sail the Baltic Sea for 12 days ending in Amsterdam at which point we’ll then fly to the UK for the above mentioned 62 days.  We’re hoping to wrap up a holiday home for this period this week.
 
That’s all folks!  Have a great day!
______________________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, May 30, 2018:
“Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, if you like then you should have put a ring on it!”  This wildebeest pose reminded me of the song by Beyonce at the 47-second mark in the video.  Watch the video to see what I mean. (Click the above link).  For more photos from this date, please click here.

An evening in a traditional Irish pub…Will this be our standard Saturday night dining experience?…Tomorrow, Part 2*…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…

On the way to the pub, we stopped for a photo of this which I believe is some type of pheasant.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”St.
Patrick’s Day is celebrated grandly in Ireland. People eat traditional Irish food
which includes beer, pink bacon, and savory chicken.



*Part 2…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…will continue in tomorrow’s post.  


Today, in order to break up the seriousness of Irish history, we are excited to share our first night in a traditional Irish pub with excellent meals options. The atmosphere is delightful, the staff friendly and helpful and the ambiance of patrons stopping in for an ale and a chat depicts the image I had in mind.

 
The patio at Tigh Mheaic.  We commented that we doubt diners would sit outdoors in such cool weather even when the weather warms up by a few degrees during the slightly warmer summer months. 

The last time we were in a traditional Irish pub was while on a cruise from Harwich, England to Boston, Massachusetts (USA) which had a few ports of call in Ireland along the way.


At that time in September 2014, we’d met several couples onboard and eight of us took a van from the ship to the town to check out a few pubs and shops.  For photos on this port of call visit, please click here.  It was on that cruise that we visited the Blarney Castle.  


Tom had previously kissed the “Blarney Stone” during his two previous visits to Ireland before we met, once with a girlfriend at the time and the second time with his dear mom, Mary Lyman who passed away in 2008, months from her 99th birthday.  When we were there in 2014 we didn’t kiss the stone when we’d read that mischief-makers peed on it after dark.  

Note the vines growing on the outside of their building.  Quite impressive.

Tom took his all of his accrued vacation time, 28 days, to take his mother to the Vatican to see the Pope, tour Italy to end up touring Ireland based on their strong Irish history.  It was this story that made me fall in love with him.  


I figured any son who’d use his entire year’s vacation to take his mother (just prior to her going totally blind) to fulfill her dreams was definitely my kind of man.  He humbly told me this story on our first date in June 1991, when I’d invited him to my home for dinner. 


He hated the food I’d made but he didn’t complain at the time: grilled Cajun swordfish, grilled baby asparagus, and couscous…none of which he eats. He didn’t care for the Cabernet Sauvignon I served since he’s not a wine drinker.  He did enjoy the Creme Brulee I’d made for dessert.

Hummm…we’ve seen this sign at locations throughout the world.

But, I was entrenched in the story of taking his mother to see the Pope and visit Ireland.  I realize I’ve told this story in a previous post.  However, after 2,479 posts as of today, it’s easy for me to tell a story I’ve told in the past.  

When I do retell a story in a post, I’m always aware its a repeated story but I also realize we always have a flow of new readers from all over the world that may not have seen the previous story.

Last night’s drinks and dinner at Fáilte go Tigh Mheaic, which the locals shorten to Tigh Mheaic.  The pronunciation of this name is tricky. Next time, we’ll ask for clarification.  The Irish language is exceedingly difficult for us foreigners to grasp including pronunciation and meanings.

The design and decor of the bar depict exactly what one would envision for a small town pub in Ireland.

As I am writing today’s post with Irish news on the TV in the background, a news story that unfolded was how the audience for the traditional Irish pub is going by the wayside.  These pubs used to be packed with heavy drinkers and loads of merriment and conversation, on occasion rowdy behavior.


The young generation of today has little interest in hanging out in a bar.  Instead, they spend time in more sophisticated nightclubs packed with people their own age.  


Us, old timers, easily recall years of great times we had hanging out in a bar, meeting people and at times, developing romantic relationships, as was the case with Tom and I…we met in a bar in Bloomington, Minnesota, 28 years ago.

Eventually, we moved into the dining room to dine.

For the locals, there may still be a few diehards, who stop at a pub after work or in the evening but they are definitely not as prevalent as they were in the past.
My vision of dozens of people clamoring at the bar, engaged in lively chatter, may not be a reality after all, especially in this low population area.


The huge entire area of Connemara only has a total population of 32,000.  Carna, where the bar/restaurant has a population of only.  From this site: “There are currently 178 people living in Carna Village but there are 1,786 people living in the townlands around Carna and the Iorras Aithneach area. The population dramatically dropped from the previous average of 8000 before the Great Famine.”


With this low population and the risk of causing injury or death on the narrow winding roads to oneself and to others, excessive drinking makes no sense at all in this area or any area for that matter.  Surely, this fact, over the years has added to the lack of interest by the locals and tourists in “barhopping” or in “hanging out” at one location.

This taxidermy which we’re not fond of in general reminded us of the antelope heads at Jabula Lodge, our favorite restaurant in Marloth Park.

Speaking of drinking, last night for the first time in 3½ months I had two glasses of an excellent Malbec.  Of course, after not drinking for so long, I felt a little tipsy but I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious wine.


Nonetheless, we had a lovely evening. After a while, we left the bar to enter the adjacent dining room to order our dinner. The food was fresh and filled with local flavor.  We both had grilled scallops, Tom’s with salad, chips (fries) and mine with veg and salad.  Tom gave me his salad as he often does.


The bill was much higher than we’re used to after living in South Africa for 15 months.  Our bill before the tip was Euro 89.03, US 99.73.  Had I not ordered the entire bottle of wine, the bill would have been about Euro 78, US 87.41, by ordering just the two glasses separately.  I won’t do this again.  Plus, Tom left a cash tip of Euro 15, US $16.81, making our total for the evening Euro 104.50, US $117.06. We aren’t thrilled paying this much to dine out once a week.

We thought there’s be entertainment at this small stage but none started while we were there.  A handcrafted sailboat replica occupies the space between stage performances.

We brought home the remainder of the bottle with more than half remaining.  According to this site, a typical bottle of wine contains five glasses at 150 ml, 5 ounces each.  For my first wine since the cardiac bypass surgery, I wanted to make sure I controlled the size of my servings which in some locations, they pour too much, more than I’d want.


Today, cool and cloudy, we’ll stay put, make a nice Sunday dinner and settle back doing a “bunch of nothing” which, from time to time, is quite enjoyable.


May you do the same today.

  _________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2018:

The view from the restaurant, aptly named, Aamazing River View located in Marloth Park.  For more photos, please click here.

First “out of the car” sightseeing outing in over three months…”Cruising on down the road”…

Cashel Catholic church, not far from us.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
The Irish drinking song “The Hills of Connemara” has
been recorded and performed by a number of Irish and Celtic-themed bands.

Today was the first time in over three months that we went out on a sightseeing tour.  During my recovery period, I haven’t felt motivated or energetic enough to engage in the walking often required on such tours.

Low rocks walls line most of the properties in Connemara.

In this past week, as I’ve worked toward my goal of walking 10,000 steps a day (the highest day was 9500.  I’m working on the rest!) while doing a series of circuit training type exercises in the process using household items as props.


As it turns out there isn’t a fitness center nearby, not within an hour’s drive.  There’s no way it makes sense to drive two hours a day to go to a fitness facility when I can exercise at “home.”
Cattle on the side of the road.

Thank goodness for this past week’s exercise.  Had I not done it, there’s no way I’d ever have been able to participate in any type of self-tour.  Not only was there a lot of walking and standing within the facility but with many outbuildings, a garden, steep rocky walks and hills to navigate, it would have been impossible.


Most patients three months after cardiac bypass surgery are quite able to engage in such activities since they began walking right after surgery.  For me, the leg infections and two additional surgeries prevented me from being able to walk and exercise up until a little over two weeks ago.

Chaiseal describes a “stone fort” in the Irish language.

One of our kindly reader/friends wrote to me concerned I am being too hard on myself by attempting to catch up so quickly.  But, I decided if I can do without strain, to proceed without fear and excess caution.  


A few days ago when I managed the 9500 steps in one day, I was elated but exhausted.  Never during the walking itself did I struggle.  I only had to ease back a little the next day to 7500 steps when my legs were tired.  Today, with our outing and the climbing up and down hills, I should be able to accomplish around 8000 steps, again striving for the higher number.

View across the bay.

I have to remind myself that walking the 10,000 steps is equivalent to walking over eight km, or approximately five miles. A little over two weeks ago I gave up using a walker and had trouble easily walking across a room without holding on.


Our bodies are amazing.  They so much strive to homeostasis, described as:  “The tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.”  Basically, our bodies strive to be well.  We need only to pay attention to this process.

View across an inlet, a bit tilted in an effort to avoid the car’s side view mirror.

I don’t have all the answers.  I only know my own situation and it may be entirely different from others in a similar situation.  All I know is I am bound and determined to be as healthy as I can be based on the fact I still have bad arteries throughout my body, a genetic condition over which I have little control.


When we returned to the house after the tour, this late in the afternoon, I wasn’t up to preparing a detailed story about the history of Connemara, its people and its heritage.  Tomorrow is another day and after a good night’s rest, I’ll be looking forward to sharing our photos (of which we took many) and interesting history of this area.


We’ll be back tomorrow with much more…


Happy day!

  _________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2018:

This warthog we spotted in Kruger had tusks that were almost a full circle. For more Kruger National Park photos, please click here.

The simple life…Ireland elicits a slower pace…

This morning’s catch when John stopped by with fresh caught Atlantic salmon, a container of crabmeat and another container of prawns.  The cost for the above was Euro 25, US $27.85.  There’s enough salmon for three meals and a fourth meal with the crab and prawns on a lettuce salad.  The average cost per serving Euro 6.26, US $6.97.  We paid John the Euro 14, US $15.60, we owed him from last week’s fish.  I asked if he could bring salmon each week.  Tom doesn’t care for fish so I’ll happily enjoy every morsel.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Northern
Ireland is governed by the United Kingdom, while the rest of Ireland is an
independent nation.”



Living in Ireland is very different from anywhere we’ve lived after over 6½ years of world travel.  The environment, the people, the chosen pace of peace, calm and good humor is present in every situation we encounter.

Today’s mist and clouds over the sea.


This is appealing.  Thank goodness we have this website requiring new photos daily and a goal to research Tom’s ancestry.  Otherwise, we’d be so content, we’d hardly go out other than to shop and dine out on occasion.


We’re far from many restaurants but now that I’m beginning to feel better, we’ll go out to dinner more often.  Since our arrival on May 12th, we’ve only dined out once.

A gate to a private drive or boat launch.


We’ve so enjoyed the wide array of fantastic food products from the SuperValu supermarket in Clifden that cooking has become such a treat.  We can now find ingredients we like to use that we never could find in the Spar Market in Komatipoort.


Now that I can cook again, we’re making a few more interesting dishes I didn’t burden Tom with when he was cooking all the meals by himself.  That’s not to say, he’s not helping.  

Many homes in the countryside have this similar look and are very old.


He’s right beside me in the kitchen doing all the “heavy lifting” including washing dishes, hauling food and pots back and forth to the laundry room where the second refrigerator and another bigger sink is located.

This morning feels like a typical Irish day.  Ann, the lovely house cleaner arrived at 9:30 am informing me that she’d lit a candle at her church for my continuing recovery.  How sweet is that?

Fishing boat in the bay.


Moments later, Eileen, the owner of this house who lives in the house next door, also stopped by.  They both possess a wealth of fascinating information about Connemara and Ireland in general.  We love their accents, warmth, easy smiles and enthusiasm.


We’d planned to head out today but it’s raining, not uncommon for Ireland.  Also, Eileen called the fish guy, John to find out if he was coming by today.  He stopped by before noon. Note the above photo and caption for further explanation.

We paid John the Euro 14, US $15.59, from last week when he’d insisted we take some fish when the package had yet to arrive containing our new debit cards leaving us with no cash (euros in Ireland).

A boat at the organic salmon station.

After the ATM cards had arrived we immediately drove to Clifden to an ATM to get enough cash to last for quite a while. Weekly, we pay Ann Euro 60, US $66.82 for three hours of housecleaning, the highest we’ve ever paid.  That’s not to say she isn’t worth it.  She does a meticulous job.  


Housekeeping wasn’t included in the rent as it was in South Africa where we had two cleaners, Zef and Vusi, each day of the week.  We’ve been spoiled.  But, knowing we have a cleaner only once a week, we’re being diligent about keeping the house tidy and organized in between Ann’s visits.


No, we don’t have a social life here yet and may not be able to make lifelong friends here as we did in Marloth Park many of whom we are staying in touch, particularly, Kathy and Don, Linda and Ken (we spoke on the phone yesterday) and Louise and Danie.


Now that I’m beginning to feel better, we’re planning on getting out more.  In the interim, this simple life is suiting us just fine.


Happy day!
                           ______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 23, 2018:

This was our first sighting of a good-sized herd of cape buffalo we spotted from Marloth Park yesterday, on the banks of the Crocodile River.  There were from 24 to 30 in the herd.  For more photos, please click here.

The scenic beauty continues as we get out more and more…

At every turn the scenery is breathtaking.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Most
Irish people believe that fairies exist. In their culture, fairies have magical
powers and bring happiness and great things to families.”

_____________________________________



The scenery from every turn in the road, let alone the views from the windows in our holiday home, are nothing short of spectacular.  This morning overcast and cloudy with rain predicted is still gorgeous as the clouds gather around the mountains known as the “Twelve Bens.”

Wildflowers are often found blooming on the side of the road especially this time of year as summer nears.

From this site:
The Twelve Bens or Twelve Pins (Irish: Na Beanna Beola; the peaks of Beola) is a mountain range of sharp-peaked quartzite summits and ridges located in the Connemara National Park in County Galway, in the west of Ireland.


Topographically, the range is partnered with the Maumturks range on the other side of the Glen Inagh valley (a Western Way route). The highest point is Benbaun at 729 meters (2,392 ft). The range is popular with hill walkers, rock climbers, and fell runners. The 15–kilometer “Glencoaghan Horseshoe” (Irish: Gleann Chóchan) is noted as providing some of the “most exhilarating mountaineering in Ireland,” and “a true classic”. A more serious undertaking is the 28–kilometer “Twelve Bens Challenge”, climbing all bens in a single day.”


The plural word for a group of sheep is flock, dove or herd.  A very large group of sheep is a band of mob.


Now, as I write here I can see the “Twelve Bens” from the house as we gaze across the Bertraghboy Bay.  On any cloudy day, we can peer out the window to see the fluffy clouds leaving trails of mist over the mountains.


Views are even more spectacular on sunny days as soon in a few of today’s photos.  We often choose to take a drive when it’s a sunny day to enhance the quality of our photos.  But, still, there remains the magic and mystery of clouds filling the skies on days of predicted rain, such as today.


An abandoned boat in part covered in vegetation creates this classic scene.

Tomorrow, when lovely Ann, our house cleaner arrives at 9:00 am, we’ll let her inside and take off to explore areas of Connemara we’ve yet to see of which there are many.  Connemara is described as follows:



From this site: “Connemara (Irish: Conamara; pronounced [ˈkʊnˠəmˠəɾˠə]) is a cultural region in County Galway, Ireland. The area has a strong association with traditional Irish culture and contains a major part of the Connacht Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, which is a key part of the identity of the region and is the largest Gaeltacht in the country.”


Rocks are seen everywhere in Ireland.  From this site:  “The geological map of Ireland displays a wide variety of rock types which have originated at different periods of geological time. The oldest rocks are metamorphic gneisses which are to be found on Inishtrahull, several miles off Malin Head in Co. Donegal, and elsewhere in the north-west. They originally formed as igneous rocks 1750-1780 million years ago.”



“One common definition of the area is that it consists of most of West Galway, that is to say, the part of the county west of Lough Corrib and Galway city, contained by Killary Harbour, Galway Bay and, the Atlantic Ocean


Some more restrictive definitions of Connemara define it as the historical territory of Conmhaícne Mara, i.e. just the far northwest of County Galway, bordering County Mayo. The name is also used to describe the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking areas) of western County Galway, though it is argued that this too is inaccurate as some of these areas lie outside of the traditional boundary of Connemara.”



Ireland consists of many boggy areas which are prevalent here in Connemara.


There are arguments about where Connemara ends as it approaches Galway city, which is definitely not in Connemara — some argue for Barna, on the outskirts of Galway City, some for a line from Oughterard to Maam Cross, and then diagonally down to the coast, all within rural lands.

The wider area of what is today known as Connemara was previously a sovereign kingdom known as Iar Connacht, under the kingship of the Ó Flaithbertaigh, until it became part of the English-administered Kingdom of Ireland in the 16th century.”

Clouds reflecting on a lake.

The population of Connemara is 32,000. There are between 20,000–24,000 native Irish speakers in the region making it the largest Irish-speaking Gaeltacht.  The Enumeration Districts with the most Irish speakers in all of Ireland as a percentage of the population can be seen in the South Connemara area.  Most Irish speakers are of school age (5–19 years old).”



There is so much for us to learn about Ireland, the birthplace of Tom’s ancestry.  Soon, we’ll begin visiting some of the towns/counties from which they originated.


In the meanwhile, we’re so much enjoying our sunny day drives through the winding, hilly roads, occasionally encountering a one car road or bridge.  One must be extra careful driving through the area with many blind spots and farm animals standing, walking or sleeping on the road.


Today, we’ll stay in.  We’re making mozzarella-ball stuffed meatballs with a red sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, along with grilled vegetables on the side.  Lately, both of us have become tired of eating side salads and are taking a break for a while, having more cooked or raw vegetables as an alternative.


We hope each of you has a peaceful and pleasant day!
                            _________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, May 22, 2018:

Although it’s impossible to conquer all of the alien plants in Marloth Park in order to protect wildlife and humans, the dedicated Marloth Park Honorary Rangers spend considerable time (their own free time) pulling out invasive plants.  In the case of “Mother of Thousands” every last bit must be pulled since it will regrow from even the most minuscule portion left behind.  It was this morning that we met friends Uschi and Evan (not in this photo) with whom we’ve since become great friends.  They are leaders in Honorary Rangers in Marloth Park.  For more details, please click here.

Weakness…Working my way toward familiar every day life…

Donkeys are highly regarded in Ireland to the point there are special programs available to adopt and a specialized Donkey Sanctuary in Cork.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Irish
people speak English, but Irish school children are still taught Irish, which
is the Gaelic language
.”


It doesn’t happen overnight.  The past challenging three months have left me longing for our form of normalcy, by our standards, which includes getting out, exploring an unfamiliar country, learning about its people, customs and culture.

Yellow irises growing wild in the countryside.  Please click here for information on the wild yellow irises in Ireland that often grow along the road. 


However, after lying down for almost three months with my feet up, I am weak, unconditioned and every movement requires a concerted effort.  Now that the withdrawal has abated, I’m back to walking today, adding some lunges and arm exercises to the mix.  It’s slow going.  


Many patients after cardiac surgery go through a rehabilitation program for a few months.  With my legs being infected, leaving me unable to walk and with the program only available in distant Nelspruit, that option wasn’t available to me.  Nor could I have handled the 90-minute drive every other day.

We love the reflection of clouds in the water as we drive through the countryside.

Instead, I have researched typical exercises suitable for my situation and am determined to rebuild my strength and flexibility.  I worked out for most of my life. I am very familiar with different modalities useful for rebuilding strength and mobility.  


The doctors informed us that the strength of my heart kept me alive with my outrageously bad arteries.  It was through years of ardent exercise that I was able to keep my heart strong enough to keep beating while it’s arteries literally collapsed.  And now, I refer back to my years of exercise experience for this important task ahead of me.
A little sheep family resting near the road.


The key word here is “motivation.” Mentally, I am highly motivated but my weak muscles and body defy me.  I must work past this feeling of being somewhat “feeble” to being able to move about freely and with confidence.  


I only started walking again two weeks ago.  And yes, there’s been some improvement within the past two weeks with the walking I’ve done each day but it simply hasn’t been aggressive enough to affect the type of change I need to stop feeling so weak.

As we approached the town of Clifden we noticed a number of apartments and townhouses on the inlet.  Clifden, our area to shop, only has a population of 1,597.  “Clifden is a coastal town in County Galway, Ireland, in the region of Connemara, located on the Owenglin River where it flows into Clifden Bay. As the largest town in the region, it is often referred to as “the Capital of Connemara”. Frequented by tourists, Clifden is linked to Galway city by the N59.”


Today, I decided to step it up, literally and figuratively, as hard as it is to muster the energy, to become more aggressive.  I’ve been able to manage 7000 to 8000 steps a day on my fitness device but sadly, this is not enough.  Strength building is a vital part of the equation.

This precious photo was my favorite of the day.

Last night, I slept poorly.  Without the pain meds, my leg is painful and woke me several times during the night.  I don’t think I slept more than three or four hours.  


I’m exhausted but still, during the day, every hour I will get up and walk at least 1000 steps, do a few lunges at the kitchen counter and use the spring water filled plastic one-liter bottles of  Pellegrino as hand and arm weights, performing a variety of movements.  I’ll add repetitions and other exercises as I become stronger.
A dark brown ram along the side of the road.


The amount of discipline I’ll need today is over the top.  Perhaps after a better night’s sleep tonight, it will be easier tomorrow.  But, I’ve resigned myself to this hard reality: no excuses and no rationalizations.  It’s a “must do.”


It’s necessary to keep reminding myself…I don’t want to continue to be unfit and feeble with a likelihood of falling that I’ve been over these past many months. Perhaps, I was in this state, justifiably so, but no longer.  The time has come for change.

Yesterday, we crossed this single lane bridge on the way to Clifden.  There are a few different routes we can take from here to Clifden and will change it up each week.


I write this here to enhance my commitment, to declare to our readers that there is a better and more fit life awaiting me as I continue on this mission.  Are you experiencing a similar state of being?  if so, join me in this process and let’s get up and get moving!


Happy, healthy day to all!
                       ______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 21, 2018:

After dark, “Mom, Two Piglets and Auntie” came back to see us along with another male group of four zebras.  For more photos, please click here.

It’s over…

Appealing view of clouds reflecting into the body of water.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
The
country’s major exports include food products such as potatoes, lamb and beef. They
also export a large amount of zinc, lead, machinery, and pharmaceuticals. Their
imports include oil, aircraft parts, vehicles, and petroleum gases.”

________________________________________


Finally, the withdrawal is over.  It took one more night’s sleep and three full days to recover.  Yesterday was a nightmare.  I was lethargic, agitated, and anxious.  I couldn’t find a comfortable position as I lounged on the sofa all day and evening.  

Flowers are beginning to bloom all over Ireland as the temperatures warm.


I ate more than I usually do in an effort to not only distract myself from my state of malaise but in an attempt to nourish myself with healthy foods. I drank no less than a gallon of liquids including herbal teas, spring water and two full mugs of my usual protein smoothie.


At least twice during the day, I fell asleep on the sofa and then in the evening when we attempted to watch the show “Victoria” using the HDMI cord from my laptop to the TV but I kept falling asleep.  It was only 20:00 hrs., 8:00 pm.

Taken through the dirty windshield glass, a family of sheep “movin’ on down the road.”

Off to bed by two hours later, I slept another eight hours awakening at 5:30 am.  It was light when I went to bed and then again when I awoke.  The curtains in the bedroom are thin and light colored and the morning sun easily awakens us each day.  

Oddly, there are 17 hours of daylight in Ireland which will only increase as we get closer to the summer solstice.  From this site:  “What is the Summer Solstice? In Ireland and Britain, the Summer Solstice – also known as Midsummer – traditionally takes falls on June 21 each year. It is the longest day of the year, i.e. when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The colors on their fleece are meant to identify them from farm to farm.  As mentioned in a post a few days ago:  Set against backdrops of rolling green hills and mountains, farmers often paint their sheep. … Besides pure identification of the sheep in Ireland, during mating season, rams spread some color of their own. With a bag of dye tied around their neck, they leave their mark on the upper back of any ewe they mount.
As I lie in bed contemplating arising, I wondered how I’d feel when I stood up. The withdrawal symptoms after three months of painkillers, although considered relatively mild, were disabling for three days.  I didn’t expect to feel better until five to seven days had passed.

As I stood up and made the bed (Tom was already up and about) I knew I was better.  I’d done the same each of the past three days forcing myself to perform small tasks and it took everything I had.  This morning, for the first time in over three months I could do so with ease.
Mom, dad, and babies sticking together.  In some breeds both the male and females have horns.

Of course, in Marloth Park, we never had to make the bed with the boys coming six or seven days a week to clean the house.  It’s a big adjustment now without all this help.  The biggest issue is keeping the kitchen floor clean until Thursday when lovely Ann, our cleaner comes for three hours to do the entire house.



We were desperately needing to grocery shop today.  We had no idea what we’d have for dinner when we’d depleted all the main dish items we’d purchased a week ago.  With the small freezer, most of which is taken up by our ice cube trays, we have little room to store meats for future meals.
This sheep was fascinated with us until we made a noise and then he ran off.


Subsequently, each week we’ll purchase two roasted chickens, one for shopping night and the other for the next night.  Then, if we dine out once a week, we only need freezer space to store meats and chicken for the remaining four evenings.  


The fish guy comes once a week and most likely I’ll have the fresh fish that day for at least one night, while Tom has whatever we’ve made to last two nights.  The food storage situation is merely one of those adjustments we need to make as we continue to travel the world.


We’ve postponed our trip out of town that we’d mentioned a week ago.  With the challenge of the past three days and our need to purchase groceries, we’ll save that for another day. Today, while out and about we’ll be able to take photos to share.  


Have a spectacular day!

                           ______________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, May 20, 2018:

I sat at this table with Gail, Leslie, Pat, and Jeanine while we participated in the Royal Wedding Watch Party.  There were others that attended the party but aren’t in the photo.  It was a fun day!  For more photos, please click here.

Pain killer issues…More discomfort…

This morning view!

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Northern
Ireland is governed by the United Kingdom, while the rest of Ireland is an
independent nation.”

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I deliberated over writing about today’s topic.  There’s a certain amount of embarrassment and shame associated with withdrawal from necessary pain medication.  We are not talking about non-medically prescribed addiction to opiates which is rampant in today’s world.


Patients often take opiates for medical issues and when its time to stop, they cannot do so or choose not to do so and end up spending months, years or a lifetime drug seeking. In a desperate need to acquire more medication, crimes may be committed, relationships destroyed and even death may occur from overdoses.  For more information, please click here for information from the Mayo Clinic in the US.


That’s not what we’re talking about today.  Today, we’re sharing my personal experience over the past three months of taking a prescribed combination drug, Ultracet which is described as follows:  This product is used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. It contains 2 medications: Tramadol (37.5 mg.) and acetaminophen (325 mg.), such as Tylenol or Paracetamol.

Although the dose of Tramadol is low, it is a scheduled substance* and considered to be an opiate, a class of drugs described as follows:  “Opiate is a term classically used in pharmacology to mean a drug derived from opium. Opioid, a more modern term, is used to designate all substances, both natural and synthetic, that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. Opiates are alkaloid compounds naturally found in the opium poppy plant Papaver somniferum.”

*Scheduled medications are described as follows from this site.  Please keep in mind that we don’t profess to have any special education or knowledge on this topic.  Please see your physician for assistance in this manner. However, I do have a story to tell with the hope it creates awareness and support for those who may have experienced similar issues.  You are not alone.


Three months and one week ago, as most of you are aware, I had emergency triple coronary bypass surgery on February 12, 2019.  Three of the four of my cardiac arteries were 100% blocked.  Angioplasty was not an option.


With the necessity of taking veins from the legs with long incisions, inserting chest tubes and neck IV (PICC line), and opening the chest via another 30.5 cm, (12-inch incision) and then cutting through the strong breastbone.  No ribs are broken during this procedure.


After surgery, upon awakening and discovering a tube in my throat (intubation), I was in agonizing pain in each area of my body involved in the surgery.  At that point, I was given morphine both to reduce pain, cause sleep and reduce the memory of the experience.  


No doubt, the morphine worked when it was added to my IV. Upon waking, hours earlier than expected I remember asking using hand signals for pen and paper to write, “Take out the tube!  It’s hurting my throat.”  


They didn’t remove the tube.  They gave me more morphine and I slept for several more hours.  This next time I awakened, the tube was painfully removed while I was awake.  More pain.


Over the eight days in ICU, I was given pain medication via the IV in my hand, morphine for the first day and Tramadol, for the remaining time.  By the time we went back to Marloth Park, 11 days post surgery, I was still in an enormous amount of pain.  


In the first 24 hours back in Marloth Park, I pulled a muscle in my right chest in the middle of the night and the overall pain exacerbated by 100%.  Although Tom provided professional caregiver attention, the pain was unbearable.  


I was sent home with a box of 60 Ultracet tablets with instructions “not to worry” about the drug since the low dose wasn’t addictive and wouldn’t cause any issues upon stopping.  


The doctor suggested I take two tablets every four hours or as needed.  I chose to take one tablet every six hours.  It helped make me more comfortable but didn’t totally relieve the pain.  I chose to “suffer it out” with this lower dose preferring not to take any pain medication if I can avoid it.


Then, less than a month after the bypass surgery, both of my legs became infected and after two surgeries, more morphine and IV Tramadol during the five days I returned to the hospital for two surgeries, three days apart, on both of my legs.  I was sent “home” with another 60 mg box of Ultracet tablets.


The pain in my legs proved to be more painful than the recovery from the bypass surgery, although it was a close second.  I continued to take the tablets, every six hours as I’d done previously.  The pain continued, if not fiercely, even when I was instructed to be on total bed rest for almost a month.  Walking was limited, using a walker from the bed to the bathroom or from the sofa to the bathroom.


It was less than two weeks ago that we returned the walker to a kindly Marloth Park resident who loaned it to us thanks to Louise for posting a notice on the Marloth Park website and getting several kindly responses in minutes.  I was instructed to start walking.


The pain continued since I still had a massive open wound in my left leg which required debridement at the doctor’s office every other day, and I continued to take the Ultracet, never more than three tablets a day, one upon awakening, )


The pain continued on the long 26-hour travel day and for the next several days since we arrived in Ireland.  Then, a miracle of all miracles, the leg began to improve.  On Friday morning at 6:00 am, I took the last pain pill, knowing the pain remaining until the wound closes, would be manageable.  I still have two almost full boxes of Ultracet.


By Friday evening, something was wrong.  I had the chills, my hands were shaking, I bordered on nausea although I could eat and I had such a degree of malaise I could hardly move from place to place. It hurts to raise my arms.  Walking up and down the steps took everything I had. I knew what it was after considerable research on reputable medical sites.  


I was in withdrawal, not unusual after such a long run of pain medications including four surgeries, two hospital stays and a long difficult recovery.  So what am I doing to get through this?


1.  First and foremost:  Not taking more tablets to alleviate the symptoms.  This would be the worse thing I could do.  I put all the tablets away, knowing full well, I wouldn’t be tempted to take more.  I want this over with, not prolonging it by taking more pills.
2.  Stay hydrated and eat – Somehow drinking non-caffeinated herbal tea is comforting and an easy way to consume fluids.  Plus, its cool here and the tea helps me warm up.  We made a great dinner last night…yes, I helped and I had seconds a few hours later.
3.  Sleep – I wish I could sleep straight through until this goes away.  But, that’s not possible.  Although I had two good night’s sleep both Friday and Saturday nights and dozed off and on all day on the sofa, I still feel extremely tired and listless.
4.  Keep active – This sounds like an oxymoron when I mention sleep above.  But, I’ve found doing light household tasks, cooking, laundry and continuing the walking seems to help.  
5.  Keep a positive frame of mind – Easy to say, hard to do.  But, this will be over before too long.  Based on the length of time I was on the medication and the dose, I’m am expecting the withdrawal to last about five or six more days.  Today, its better than yesterday which is encouraging.
6.  Tell loved ones about the withdrawal – For some reason, there is shame associated with the word “withdrawal.”  For those who’ve taken the appropriate pain killers for medical reasons under the care of a physician, there is nothing to be ashamed of.  If I’d continued the meds when I no longer needed them, started “doctor shopping” for more, lying to family and friends and many more negative forms of behavior, this could be construed as addiction.  Tom is supportive, as always and will do anything he can to help me get through it although I am forging ahead trying to stay active.


Why did I write about the personal situation?  Take away the “shame” as mentioned above and we’re hoping this post even if it only inspires one person, will make it all worthwhile.  We are all in this world, in this life together.  Reaching out, regardless of the cause may open our eyes to new possibilities.


Based on the exacerbation of the symptoms, we decided not to go out last night to the pub in Carna for drinks at the bar and dinner.  Once I’m over this period, I’ll be ready to start “kicking up my heels” once again.  


Be well.
                         ______________________________________




Photo from one year ago today, May 19, 2018:

There were many rainbows at the falls.  For more photos, please click here.

Uncertainty…Where’s next?…Is it coming to an end?…

A cow in a field with her two white calves.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 

“Ireland is known throughout the world for its vast amount of castles. Ireland’s history is dotted with wars and
violence, so castles were built to protect families from invaders. Today, most
of the castles are still standing and some can even be visited by tourists.”
__________________________________________

On November 8, 2019, we’ll arrive in the US via a cruise from Southampton, England to Fort Lauderdale Florida.  From there we’ll head to Minnesota to spend time with family, staying a few weeks and then off to Nevada and Arizona to see more family members.  

From this site:  “Livestock ear tags were developed in 1799 under the direction of Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, for identification of Merino sheep in the flock established for King George IIIMatthew Boulton designed and produced the first batch of sheep ear tags, and produced subsequent batches, modified according to suggestions received from Banks. The first tags were made of tin.  Ear tags were incorporated as breed identification in the United States with the forming of the International Ohio Improved Chester Association as early as 1895, and stipulated in the Articles of Incorporation, as an association animal and breed identification, of the improved Chester White.  Although ear tags were developed in Canada as early as 1913 as a means to identify cattle when testing for tuberculosis, the significant increase of use of ear tags appeared with the outbreak of BSE in the UK. Today, ear tags in a variety of designs are used throughout the world on many species of animal to ensure traceability, to help prevent theft[citation needed] and to control disease outbreaks.”

Currently, we aren’t sure how long we’ll stay in the US but anticipate it will be for 60 days total.  Our next booked venues are for two upcoming cruises.  At this point, we don’t have any holiday homes or hotels booked in between.


Another cow on a hill.

We have no intention of stopping our worldwide travels.  These gaps in our itinerary are merely a result of the challenges we’ve faced over my health in the past three months which prevented us from taking the time to conduct research and book future venues.


In addition, the precarious nature of my long recovery, caused us to wait to arrange further bookings with a fear we’d pay deposits and my recovery would result in further delays with travel becoming an issue.

Although they all may look alike, we only share one photo of each of the ruins we encounter while driving through the countryside.

After our 25 hour travel day between last Saturday, May 11th and Sunday, May 12th, we knew we’d be able to continue on. The manner in which I managed the long trip (especially with the use of a wheelchair) made it all possible.  We won’t need to book Business Class on our next flight to Amsterdam on August 9th when it’s a short flight only lasting for a few hours.

A red door on the ruins of a barn or outbuilding.

Our next flight from there will be on August 23rd, the day the Baltic cruise ends we’ll fly from Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Exeter, England which is a less than a two-hour flight. Soon we’ll be booking a holiday home in the UK for a total of 60 days ending on October 24, 2019, when we’ve booked a cruise from South Hampton, England to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

There doesn’t appear to be any information about the various ruins of houses, barns, and outbuildings in Ireland.  Although, information may be found regarding the castles and larger structures.

When staying in holiday homes, medical issues become less of a burden when we are in close proximity to quality medical care.  Recovery can easily transpire in any location as it did in Marloth Park, South Africa and continues now in Connemara, Ireland.


Am I fully recovered now while here in Ireland?  No. My left leg continues to be painful and requires sterile care every 48 hours.  Tom does this for me and it’s working out well.  We continue to see some improvement and, as I walk several times a day, the improvement has accelerated.

In Connemara with many sea and inlets, we often see bogs and waterways during low tide.

In the next few weeks, we’ll begin research for the next leg of a journey as indicated above for the 40 days in the UK but also consider where we’ll be going after we wrap up the time in the USA.  


There’s no doubt, there’s a degree of uncertainty as to where we’d like to go after our time in the US ends.  Previous to my heart issues, we considered many remote locations but now, we’ve begun to rethink some of these.  

This could have been a house and a barn all of which are constructed using readily available stones on this rocky island.

We have no idea what the future holds, but then again, neither does anyone else.  As we age, there’s no certainty regarding our health or the increased potential of sustaining a debilitating injury.  My objective now is to continue to work on regaining strength and stability which will take time and patience.


Tonight, we’re heading to a popular pub/restaurant in Carna which has live Irish music.  We’ll be back tomorrow with photos of our evening “on the town.”

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Photo from one year ago today, May 18, 2018:

Three Egyptian geese on the shore of the Chobe River.  For more photos of Chobe, please click here.

Loving the countryside…Ruins…The Belted Galloway…

From this site:  “In 1842 a German writer and geographer called Johann Georg Kohl traveled around Ireland, publishing an account of his journey the following year. “Of all the countries in the world”, he observed, “Ireland is the country for ruins. Here you have ruins of every period of history, from the time of the Phoenicians down to the present day… each century has marked its progress by the ruins it has left. Nay, every decade, one might almost say, has set its sign up on Ireland, for in all directions you see a number of dilapidated buildings, ruins of yesterday’s erection.”

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Ireland
has made many trading partners over the last few decades. Today, the United
States account for 20% of Ireland’s exports, while the United Kingdom accounts
for 38% of the country’s imports.”


We’ve been out each day since we arrived in awe of the wonders surrounding us.  From the ruins of a variety of buildings to cattle, sheep, donkeys, and horses along the road in our “neighborhood” (so to speak), any drive on which we embark provides a plethora of photo-worthy scenes.


This area of Connemara is not necessarily a hot summer vacation/holiday spot as much as compared to many other European locations.  We’ve seen a number of B & Bs and a few hotels, resorts, and holiday designated areas.  This holiday home, based on its online booking calendar is almost totally booked for the remainder of the year.  

A Belted Galloway cow. From this site:  “Belted Galloway cattle originated from western Scotland, a region whose weather is strikingly similar to Ireland’s own damp climate! This makes Belted Galloways perfectly suitable to the wet, cold winters and the boggy soft terrain of Irish farms. Their long, curly outer-coat is ideal for rainy weather, as its coarseness deflects moisture from the animal’s skin. They also have a soft undercoat to keep them warm in colder temperatures. The head of the Belted Galloway has long hair around its ears, preventing frostbite in a case of an extreme Irish freeze. Common nicknames for these cattle are ‘Belties’ or even ‘Oreo Cows’ due to their peculiar resemblance to the popular treat!”


Whether tourists have come here to do something comparable to our plans, sightseeing or visiting relatives, they are obviously coming to this area and loving it.


The rough and uneven terrain and the boggy landscape isn’t ideal for walks on the beach or gaining access to the ocean for swimming or snorkeling.  However, there are a number of beaches within a two-hour drive for swimming and enjoying the ocean-related activities although the cool weather may easily be a deterrent.  

We spotted several Belted Galloway cattle in the country.  The last time we’d seen this breed of cattle was while living in New Zealand in March 2016.  See our link here.


Perhaps when it’s officially summer here in June, it will warm up a bit.  The average summer temperature is between 17.7 C, 64F and 20C, 68F, still very cool. This morning upon awakening, it was only 9.4C, 49F, and now at 10:00 am its a paltry 12.7C, 55F, not necessarily good weather for swimming, snorkeling, or boating.


For us, this isn’t an issue. I must admit I am thoroughly enjoying the cool weather after the heat during our 15 months in Africa.  We’re more interested in the historical aspects, researching Tom’s ancestry and as typical for us, immersing ourselves in local culture while we make every effort to blend in.

As we drove through the countryside in Connemara we were amazed by the number of ruins.


The kindly people we’ve met thus far, seem delighted with the fact that Tom is almost 100% Irish based on a DNA test he’d had done a few years ago through Ancestry.com where he’ll spend hours each week in research and building his family tree.


In US records, he hit a wall.  His ancestors immigrated to the US from Ireland from the 1830s and he’s updated his family tree to the best of his ability and availability of records available to him.  


To go further back to continue building the family tree it’s necessary to research records from right here in Ireland that may not have been uploaded to the Internet and stay as paper files in churches, governmental building, and public record-keeping facilities.

From this site In Ireland, large-scale domestic and industrial peat usage is widespread. In the Republic of Ireland, a state-owned company called Bord na Móna is responsible for managing peat extraction. It processes the extracted peat into milled peat which is used in power stations and sells processed peat fuel in the form of peat briquettes which are used for domestic heating. These are oblong bars of densely compressed, dried, and shredded peat. Peat moss is a manufactured product for use in garden cultivation. Turf (dried out peat sods) is also commonly used in rural areas.”


Fortunately, through years of research, he’s been able to determine many of the towns and counties where his ancestors lived and worked.  It is some of these locations, we’ll visit in our time here. 


He’s beginning to research the possible locations where such records may be found.  We hope to travel to one new location each week, giving us a further opportunity to explore this scenic country while stopping along the way to go through various records at specific facilities.


Depending on weather and how I’m feeling we plan to go on our first exploration next week, having left this week for getting settled, grocery shopping and getting into a somewhat familiar and comfortable routine.

A handsome horse at a pasture with other horses a few doors from our house.


A part of the joy of living in various countries throughout the world is when the time comes that we feel we fit in, especially when we have the opportunity to socialize with locals.  As always, its entirely up to us to create a social life of some semblance.


There are numerous popular pubs we’ll visit in the town of Clifden where we grocery shopped at the fabulous SuperValu market, purchased SIM cards and walked up and down the busy streets.  There were numerous pubs and restaurants we’ll visit during our time here.


We’re looking forward to sharing more and more with our loyal readers, again, whom we thank again for staying with us during the trying past three months. May your lives be filled with exceptional experiences. 

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Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2019


It was surprising how many boats were on the Zambezi River at sunset.  For more photos of the river cruise, please click here.