In honor of our common Irish heritage (today anyway), I thought I’d post some original art as well as photos from our very short visit to Dublin, Ireland a few years ago. The photo of the Celtic cross is from the historic landmark at Cranfield Church in Randalstown in Northern Ireland. I would note that we could not get into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin because you needed tickets which we did not have. That did not stop us from strolling the adjacent park and enjoying the blue sky and sunshine.
We happened upon this lovely speciman while we were on vacation last summer. It was one of the choices for breakfast at our hotel in Quebec. I had to laugh at its ‘luxury’ adjective even as it gave me flashbacks.
Thirty-five years ago this month, very close to this day in fact, I was traveling with my college roommate throughout the British Isles between the fall and spring semesters. We were traveling by foot mostly with trains, buses, and hitchhiking interspersed where necessary. We stayed in hostels the whole time except for one bed and breakfast in Warwick. Except for that bastion of civilization that included a delicious English fry-up and a bathtub, we carried and prepared out own food. On any of the two night stays we were able to procure eggs and milk or other refrigerated items to use.
On the other days we breakfasted on mueslix. Not this luxury variety from Kellogg’s, but a no-name baggie of oats and other grains, almonds, and raisins. Mixed with hot water, it was….vile. Maybe I should have added milk and butter as if it were oatmeal, but we never had milk or butter at our disposal; only water that we could heat. Sometimes we ate it cold.
At least the tea was good.
I fully intended to try this ‘luxury’ branded muesli, but I never got past my aversion filled flashbacks to try it. I tried to get one of my kids to eat it so I could taste it, but they wouldn’t succumb to the pressure. It was as if they could read my memory.
Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
St. Francis of Assisi
I was happy to find the above quotation in my collection for today since today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. He is well known for his love of animals; in fact, many churches do blessings of animals during this weekend of his feast including my own parish. He is the patron of animals, merchants, and ecology and is known to have set up the first live nativity scene around the year 1220.
In devotion to our common home and its care as well as his concern for the poor, Pope Francis took that name as his Papal name in 2013. It is the first time a Pope has been called Francis, and truly speaks to the heart of our current pope and brings on much inspiration to do for others in many ways.
The above photo is of my most recent labyrinth walk. Located behind the library in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada, it is placed in serene, pastoral setting, surrounded by grass, trees, and a farm in the distance. There was the opportunity to walk it, pray the walk, and then to sit just taking in the space around me. There was a vegetable garden, a gazebo, and a court for lawn bowling. If my family wasn’t waiting for me in the car, I could have stayed there at least an additonal hour. I may plan on them dropping me off for a bit longer the next time we’re in the area.
It was a very hot day, but once I settled onto the marble bench after my walk, I was able to feel the breeze, letting it cool me off while I contemplated the bucolic area. Despite sitting relatively still, I felt energized and inspired, and all I wanted to do was to sit and write for a bit. That is one of the reasons that I always carry pen and paper, although in this case, I left it in the car bringing only my mask and my phone camera.
When I first saw the shape of this labyrinth online about two years ago it seemed an unusual shape. Upon seeing it in person, I realized that the shape itself wasn’t unusual or the design, but the way the turns were so sharp with acute angles. For me, it created the feeling of looking inside a keyhole or walking through the inside of a keyhole like a miniature person, Elves and the Shoemaker style.
As I said in yesterday’s reflection, I like falling headfirst into the photos and letting myself be inspired as if I had returned to the original place of the photo.
I do have plans to post a few things this week while I’m away from home. If you can’t wait for the prose, check out the Instagram link on the lower sidebar. I’ve just posted a vignette of snapshots from our first two days in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Included in the photo are:
Historic Site of Margeuerite Bourgeoys et Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours – outside and altar
Emtpy tomb of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Kanawake (the site where she died)
One of the oldest doors of the first hotel in Montreal. A nearby historical buiilding is keeping its historical features and turning into an Air-bnb
Largest potted plant *I’ve* ever seen – Town of Mont Royal
Riding the Metro
Poulet et poutine at St. Hubert’s
Gelato! Creme broule, napolean, and raspberry sorbet
Sculpture on our walk through towards the Port of Montreal
I will try to post photos on this Instagram daily.
Any suggestions on what to see and where to go in Toronto and Niagara Falls are welcome in the comments.tm
The first time I had a jacket potato was in Warwick in the Warwick Castle cafe. It was a special treat. Warwick was a food oasis. We were hiking and staying in hostels and so we cooked our own meals – mueslix for breakfast, canned hash or peanut butter for lunch, hot dogs. We had eggs once. Warwick was the castle cafe and dinner at Toby’s Carving Room. No idea if it’s still there, but that was delicious.
It may have been the food on the go that made this jacket potato so amazing, but it stayed in my head for years; decades. It was simple and it was delicious.
It was simply a baked potato with stuff in and on it. I can’t remember what it contained. I have a vague memory of melted butter, freshly shredded cheddar, and sour cream, but there may have been bacon and there were definitely chives.
It became bigger than life in my memory.
When my family went to Wales a few years ago, we ate at a wonderful cafe that I had eaten at on my solo trip in 2009, The Bell Tower Cafe, and I ordered a jacket potato with a salad. It was amazing. It lived up to the memory of Warwick Castle. It was laden with cheese, and honestly on baked potato even with stuff in it doesn’t look like much, but it fills you up, and you’re set for the day. With all my instagramming, I still can’t believe I passed up the opportunity to take a picture of it!
Recently for dinner, we had roast beef, and instead of making my usual leftover meal of Shepherd’s Pie (I know, it’s cottage pie, but my mother in law was from Antrim in Northern Ireland, and if she could call it Shepherd’s Pie, then I can call it Shepherd’s Pie). But I digress. I decided instead to make jacket potatoes with the leftovers.
I baked large russet potatoes in the oven for an hour or so at 400, and when they were finished, sliced them open, added butter, an already warmed up mixture of roast beef, gravy, peas & carrots, onions, and Worcestershire sauce, topped with shredded cheddar, sour cream and chives.
Back in November, I published a travel piece on covid traveling. I was about to write a new one for this summer as protocols have changed, but in reading it, except for the references to Thanksgiving travel and with the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in parts of the country, it is sadly still up to date.
A few things that I’d like to emphasize if you’re planning on a family vacation or even a stay-at-home vacation with local experiences:
1. Masks, social distancing, and Hand sanitizer. For all practical purposes, nothing’s changed. Wear your mask, wear a double mask in places with higher covid numbers, and wash your hands and use hand sanitizer when soap and water isn’t available. Keep six feet (or 2 meters) away from non-family/group members.
2. Contact Tracing. Expect to give out your name and phone number when asked for it. Each locality will have different rules and requirements.
3. Attractions. Check on capacity and if you need a reservation. Many places will limit how many people can visit at a time. Places may have timed tickets. Places may require social distancing. They may also require proof of vaccination.
4. Restaurants. They may require reservations. They may have longer wait times due to social distancing and capacity limits. They may have limited menus, and may also be short-staffed. Their hours may be different than normal.
5. Hotels. Hotels that offer free breakfast may not; they may have substitutes. They may have limited housekeeping due to staffing or wanting to limit how many people go in and out of each room. Pools and fitness centers may be closed or have limited access.
6. Shopping. Use your debit/credit card as much as possible and avoid cash if you can. Some places we went to last year refused to take cash at all.
I’d love to hear what tips you have used for your most recent vacations or trips. Comment below.
As of August 9th, travel to Canada by US citizens has been approved by the Canadian government. (The US side continues to be closed to non-essential travel, although if traveling to Canada, US citizens should have no issues returning to the United States, according to the Consular Affairs of the US State Department.)
Our family is planning on spending a week north of the border, but in order to do that, there are some atypical (as well as the usual) hoops to jump through first. I have been traveling to Canada since I was five, and so for many of us it’s taken awhile to get used to the changes when crossing the border. It is sometimes hard to remember that Canada isn’t simply US-North, but an entirely different country with policies, procedures, and laws that differ from ours. (It’s been especially challenging to those of us who have family in Canada that we’ve visited over several decades pre-9/11 and pre-pandemic.)
Some things to remember to as you plan your vacation to Canada this year:
So, technically, President Obama isn’t a guest blogger here, but he has provided (through social media) the first two graphics of both his summer reading list and his playlist. It reminded me of some of the things I’ve been occupying my time with, and wanted to share with readers.
My current reading list includes:
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics by Bruce Goldfarb
A Stranger and You WElcomed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle B by Jim Knipper, Richard Rohr, James Martin, Greg Boyle, and others
Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott
My Top 5 of Recently Read Books:
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
wow, no thank you. Essays by Samantha Irby
Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times by Joel Richard Paul
Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and teh Crippling of American Democracy by Adam Jentleson
His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham
Next in line to Read:
Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times by Michael R. Beschloss
Spotify Curation So Far:
<——————— Newest Link can be found by scrolling down on the sidebar.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha was the first Native American woman to be canonized. This was in 2012, the same year I joined the church with my ongoing attendance. It would be another two years before I came into full communion and participation.
There were many reasons that I was attracted to St. Kateri as I considered her among others while I discerned a confirmation name (ultimately choosing St. Elen of Caernarfon as many of you know).
I have always felt a connection to the Native American people and interested in their culture and spiritual practices. As kids our parents took us to the pow-wow out on Long Island with the Shinnecock Indians. It’s hard to live anywhere in New York State and not find nearby towns with Native names.
A gift from my friend in South Dakota. It is a dream catcher and it has helped me at times when I’ve had trouble sleeping. It is Native made near the sacred Black Hills. (c)2021
Kateri was from nearby; just west of the Capital District. She was born in the village of Ossernenon, now known as Auriesville. The village is mapped out at the Martyrs Shrine. After a small pox epidemic killed her family and left her scarred, the remaining Mohawk burned the village and moved (as was done when a disease ran rampant through their homes).
They moved further west and to the other side of the river to what is now Fonda, above where the current Kateri Shrine is located in the village called Caughnawaga. The footprint of the village can be seen and can be reached either by car or by walking the trails to the village and the spring.