Sunday, April 27, 2008

A rediscovered photo

Found this photo today and decided to post it:

This is my sister Penny and me on Himmelskibet (known in English as the Star Flyer) in the magical Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen a couple of years ago. Click here to see a video of the Star Flyer ascending to its full 262-foot height. I have to say, it was pretty exciting. You can see all over Copenhagen from up there, although you may be a little distracted by the fact that you're spinning around and around while sitting in what feels like a rather flimsy little swing.
You're not supposed to bring anything with you, but of course Dad produced a camera as we reached about tree-top height. In the picture, Penny (who announced that she has a slight fear of heights as we were climbing into the swing) was starting to murmur, "Oh, no! No-o-o! No-o-o-o-o! I can't do this!" (a murmur which eventually became a full-fledged howl)... and I was calling out, "Dad! Is that a camera?!"

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hey! I'm outside!

I spent some time clearing out sodden leaves and filth from the area outside the apartment door, and now I am sitting happily at my green picnic table for the first time in Aught Eight, enjoying a Sacred Cow IPA from our very own Corner Brewery.

I let Hank out and he stumped around in irritation under the tree beside me, sniffing the air and complaining pathetically the way only ancient cats who remember more sprightly springs can complain. Then he stumped angrily back inside. And Scott... well, he's busy watching "The Rockford Files" on Netflix.

So it's just me and my Sacred Cow. And my computer, which, I have to say, has just at this very moment fallen victim to a rather liberal dosing of bird poop. I have noisily shooed the culprit off and wiped off the screen, but this could be problematic...! I won't worry about it for now. No bird poop will ruin my happy disposition, by gum! Although it is, in fact, gummy, which is why it concerns me, computer-wise... :-/

Never mind. It's spring! Bring on the bird poop. I don't care.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekend wonders, culinary and musical...

Saturday night was the big Kerrytown dinner, held once a month inside the Kerrytown market area. About 150 people were there, tucking into a sumptuous Italian repast prepared by Chef Casey Pennisi and his friend, whose name escapes me but which I will definitely add when I have been reminded, since he deserves due credit for this extraordinary feat.

The feat is this: the two of them prepared, cooked, and plated all 150 five-course meals. No prep cooks. Just the two of them. Incredible. And it was delicious.

The menu (thanks, Liza!):

First course: Baby greens, goat cheese, soppressate salami, fresh basil with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette

Second course: Seared scallops with tomatoes, peas, and fresh oregano over rigatoni

Third course: Lean pork and spinach stuffed into a cannelloni shell covered with pecorino cream sauce

Fourth course: Red wine braised beef brisket with sauteed zucchini, eggplant and porcini mushrooms.

Fifth course: Cannolis with limoncello in the filling.

The birthday boy and me, enjoying the excellent table company!

Liza demonstrates how to shake up a bottle of ketchup.
(Not really, but the gesture seemed to require a caption...!)

Proud father of the chef at the next table!

And then, last night, there was Joe Jackson at the Michigan Theater (click for a rave review of the show!). That guy just throws his head back and delivers the goods. Lightning-fast fingers on the keys and unbeatable energy with the songs shifting from classicalesque to jazzesque and back to poppish, but never only one of the three at a time. And the whole crowd swaying and singing along - including a very happy Barb, Sarah, and me.

A simple and powerful trio!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A few photos from my family adventure

Just a few pictures of just a few of the wonderful people I reconnected with in Bangor last week. I've already ordered a photo album of about 120 photos, so that I may leaf nostagically through them all whenever I like! Meanwhile, here's a random handful...
With my cousin Richard and his fabulous wife Val
With the soon-to-be bride and groom, Jilly and my cousin Peter
One of Jilly's adorable Scottish terriers
One of the many lovely views along the coast
My cousin (well, first cousin once removed or whatever) Niamh, who loves mussels
A brisk morning walk with my mother and my aunt Barbara
The big day!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I'm famous!

You know my previous post about winning the bet I placed on the Grand National?

Well, I just got a message from my journalist cousin Richard, who knows a good news item when he sees one: "You're now a media star in Ireland's biggest selling newspaper! Check it out! This will appear in the Sunday World this weekend."
He attached a pdf file of a page in the Sunday World called "The Who Column" with little snippets of celebrity sightings and interesting anecdotes. There's a picture of me and Dickie, accompanied by this blurb:

WHO was a ‘grand’ winner? Maeve Sullivan flew into Bangor from the US last week and showed all the serious punters how easy it is to pick a winner. In town for a family wedding the girl from Michigan stuck a pin in the paper and came up with Comply Or Die which promptly romped home in the Grand National. After nipping out of the reception to watch the race she suddenly realised she had a problem – she would be on her way back to the States before the bookies opened on Monday! Step up knight in shining armour Dickie Young. He put his hand in his pocket and handed over the winnings – in return for the winning docket of course!

How exciting is that! I can't believe it. I'm famous!

I will happily grant autographs and interviews upon request... ;-)

Tomorrow I'll see if I can figure out how to post it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Irish Grand National and me

Whew! Getting readjusted to post-vacation life has been tougher than usual... I've slept and slept and slept, for one thing, and Scott says I've been muttering in my sleep every night. Jet lag? Or my spirit yearning to return to Bangor, Northern Ireland, where I had such a glorious time?

I'll get some pictures up this weekend, but for now, I have one story for you.

The night before my cousin Peter's wedding, many relatives and friends were gathered in my cousin Richard's and his wife Valerie's kitchen. Among them was her father, Dickie, who at one point started excitedly handing out betting slips for the Irish Grand National, the biggest horse race of the year, and one I remember watching and hearing about as a child. Dickie suggested I place a bet, too.

I glanced at the list of horses running in the race and my eye caught on the amusing name Comply Or Die. Why not? I gamely grabbed a betting slip and scribbled the name on it (with "to win" indicated after the name, as instructed by Dickie), and I put down five pounds from my back pocket.

Dickie advises my cousin Richard while I dream about my forthcoming winnings
My cousin Andy gets in on the game

The next day, during the boisterous wedding reception, Dickie and several others made their way to a room with a television in it so they could watch the race. Shortly thereafter, someone came hurrying in and announced, "The winner had a name with a wedding theme: Comply Or Die!" Everyone laughed, and then I said, "Wait! That's my horse!"

So there was much amusement and I had my back slapped many a time, and for the rest of the evening Dickie and I would toast each other whenever we passed each other in the crowd. "You punter!" he'd say, twinkling at me over his glass, and I would twinkle right back.

I won 40 pounds, which is about $80, and I was highly pleased with myself about it, too.

My gambling career has begun!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Greetings from... Ypsilanti

It's not where I expected to be today... oh, well...

My flight to Chicago was supposed to leave last night at 7:05. We boarded at 7:20 or so. Once the plane was all boarded, the captain announced that storms in Chicago were preventing flights from leaving or landing at O'Hare Airport, so the plane was deboarded and we were told to wait until further notice.

At 8:15, the weather in Detroit had worsened, including flashes of lightning, so all flights from Detroit were delayed. My connecting flight to Heathrow was on a different airline and would board in O'Hare at 8:50 (Chicago time, that is -- one hour earlier than here) and would leave at 9:50. I worried and considered and talked to the gate people and called the other airline, and in the end... well... I didn't get on the plane.

When I left at 8:45, the plane was still there, reboarded but not yet on the runway. If I had been connecting at any other airport, I would have taken the risk. Let's say it got out on the runway at 9 o'clock. The other departures were delayed too, so let's say it got off the ground at 9:10. It would have got into Chicago at 9:30 Chicago time. Then let's give it some time to get itself to the gate and whatnot. Last time I was at O'Hare, I had to stand in a long, snaking line of people going through security at a snail's pace. That cuts my connection time down to five or ten minutes right there to get to the gate.

I suspect my brave and fearless mother would have risked it. But I didn't dare. I couldn't do it! I'd have been chewing my nails off the whole trip and then running like a maniac and then maybe not even making it, and then there I'd be, stuck in Chicago. I even called to see if the flight to Heathrow was listed as being delayed, but apparently it wasn't, or at least the phone information hadn't been updated if it was.

The good news is, they gave me a travel voucher for 300 dollars! Whoo hoo! Scott and I can go on some fun little journey sometime this summer.

Meanwhile, they re-booked me for today and sent me on my way. Scott came and got me. Here I am. At home.


The challenge will be tracking down my luggage. I keep getting conflicting stories: it's probably in Chicago, it's probably already in Belfast, it's probably at Heathrow. No one can tell me anything.

If I don't get my luggage, I will be wearing jeans and a T-shirt to Peter and Jilly's wedding. Not to mention wearing those same jeans and same T-shirt the whole rest of the week, too. I put everything in that suitcase!

Cross your fingers for me!