Thursday, July 5, 2018

This 'n that

Haven't posted for awhile, but have been busy doing This... yeah, like the title of the post.

Went down to Galway Saturday past to be part of a work crew getting Padriac's son Diarmuid's house ready for move-in tomorrow.  Although they probably could've moved in any time this week, Irish tradition (superstition) has folks only moving in on a Friday.  Had a great day lending an additional eye, and some old man muscle, to an involved project - replacing kitchen countertops.  Diarmuid is a skilled craftsman, having worked as a carpenter, so he was well capable of doing the project by himself, but we both caught a couple of potential mistakes, so it worked out well.

Sunday night, the four of us (me and C, P and M) caught one of our favorite musical groups at McGing's - the Hip-Pocket Trio.  It was a great night, just hanging out, catching up, and enjoying some super-talented jazz virtuosi.

I survived the round of golf at Enniscrone.  It was definitely a peak golf experience.  Played reasonably well, even parring out on 17 and 18 for a rousing finish.  It was a challenging walk, especially on those holes that played back toward the ocean and into the howling winds.  Candee walked along as well, thinking that she'd be able to peel off after nine to repair to the clubhouse for a coffee and the traditional querying of the Yank about the state of affairs in America, but alas the course does not return to the clubhouse after nine so she was stuck for the duration of the full 18.  She was a great sport about it all, knowing how very much I enjoy these outings.  The course started out fairly gently, approaching the immense dunes but working you through some of the more modest hills before returning on hole 4 to flatter and more open fairways.  It stayed that way through hole 10 when a turn in play had you heading directly toward the looming, towering seaside dunes.  Some blind teeshots, some breathtaking vistas as you crowned hills, some green complexes that looked like they were perched on a forbidding precipice.  I had been warned to bring plenty of golf balls, almost everyone's advice when they learned I was going.  Surprisingly, I lost only two balls, and these were replaced by others we found (heck, Titleist Pro V1's) as we searched the gorse for my mis-hit or misjudged shots.  The weather was magnificent.  Brilliant blue sky, warm enough to wear shorts and short sleeves, high and gusty winds to enhance the links golf experience.  What more could you ask...? - the clubhouse to be by the ninth green...

Magnificent piece of land
#16 - almost home

Tuesday at noon I met up with Padraic to play our first golf of the trip together.  We played nine at Westport, plenty for Padraic at this time.  It's been a few months since he's played, due mostly to a substantial loss of vision because of cataracts.  Luckily, he's had one eye done and the improvement in vision is nothing less than spectacular.  He'll probably have the other done within a few week's time.  He'd played very well for someone who's laid off the game for so long.  Me, on the other hand, played well above my usual game.  A birdie, a two-putt par on a 435 yard par-four (means I got on the green of this quite long hole in the regulation two shots), a couple of other pars, and no blowup holes - a stroke score of 41 and 23 Stableford points.  Padraic is a bit suspicious of my recently acquired handicap; actually, I'm a bit embarrassed about how high it is.  It's based on my first three rounds at WGC this year, rounds among some of the worst I've played.  It seems I've gotten a bit of a swing back, so I'm performing a lot better than expected.  Time will tell...

You may remember that Candee and I went out to the Ballycroy National Park last year to experience the stars at its International Dark Sky Park.  Last year, the sky was beautifully clear when we went and then fog and mist rolled over the mountains, obscuring a clear view of the sky.  Well, we tried again Tuesday night.  No fog or mist, and a perfectly clear night, but the sky just didn't get dark enough.  As you know, the sunrises at 5:10 a.m. and sets at 10:10 p.m., so there's only seven hours in the interim.  We were at Ballycroy halfway between these times, and the sky still had bright traces of indigo blue.  Even letting my camera take the picture at an  exposure time of 15 seconds, shutter wide open, couldn't capture the distant stars.  We'll have to accept that this is a phenomenon best seen in a winter sky.

Well.  There's a few visible.  Enlarge please.

Pawel came back up on Wednesday for "Kielbasa Night."  I had expressed my fondness for this iconic Polish sausage, and Pawel being Pawel, he arrived with three kinds of kielbasa, Polish mustard, and Polish ketchup.  We sampled each of the different versions after they had been perfectly scored and fried by our Chef de Cuisine.  A caramelized and crunchy exterior, a moist and juicy interior, paired with crusty baguettes, and complemented by the sweetish Polish mustard.  It was hard to know when to stop, so, of course, I didn't.  Ah, the homely and homey pleasures of a simple meal well executed.  And, of course, Pawel's wonderful company - we learned a fair bit more about his extended family, how life was lived as he was growing up, and of their experiences during the Nazi occupation.  We have no clue what these people went through...

The Maestro
Three different kinds, mind you.
Today, Thursday, we went into neighboring Castlebar to re-visit the pub and music venue Bridge St.  Padraic had heard that Thursday afternoons the pub opened early for "Cappuccino Sessions" and that the standard Session group, the Garvey Bros., were known for tight harmonies a la Simon and Garfunkel.  And what a treat they were...  Two brothers, along with their sis, two guitars, a tin whistle and a really wide-ranging selection of songs - from old time 40's big band swing (Almost Like Being in Love, Ain't Misbehaving), Bob Dylan (North Country Fair, Don't Think Twice), CSNY (Helplessly Hoping, Teach Your Children Well), Johnny Cash (Ring of Fire), Dolly Parton (Jolene - a favorite), Beatles (Norwegian Wood), and several country and old-timey gospel songs.  Super-tight, complex three-part harmonies, very nice rhythmic and harmonious guitar playing, and a haunting, but complementary, inclusion of the tin whistle.  Only a few weeks left in our stay, but I'm really hoping we can drag Padraic and Marion into Castlebar to hear this group.

The Garvey Bros.

Stuff to look forward to as the weekend approaches.  Tomorrow night we'll go to the Westport Town Hall to hear a program of music by four local groups playing four different genres - jazz, rock, alt-rock, and lyrical.  We've seen many of the performers in different bands, in different settings.  Should be pretty terrific.  But, before the concert, we plan to attend an open house/grand opening of the Lawlor Gallery, exhibition space for Lawlors, Pere and Fille.  The father, Jimmy, does beautifully executed, very imaginative pieces; daughter Hetty, all of 18 years old, paints mostly portraits.  She recently won the very prestigious European Sky Portrait Artist of the Year (youngest ever winner) and took first place in the Texaco Children's Art Competition.

Jimmy Lawlor
Self-portrait by Hetty.  Enlarge to appreciate her incredible use of light.

Sunday, we hope to travel back to Bridge St. to see the Hip-Pocket Trio at 6, enjoy their two hour set, and then head to the Maddens home in Westport to join a large and raucous crowd to celebrate their daughter Niamh's 18th birthday.  Should be a hoot...

Oh, and maybe fit some golf in along the way...

Tonight's sunset

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds a lot like heaven to me. Go man, go. MWK