Last Drag

Sligo, IE- All aboard and a broad, hopping the train to Connolly Station. Oil paint stains my trousers from this mornings art work. It’s messy. Not quite finished with yer man, but I’m getting there.

This scene, at Staad Abbey, I recall the first time I visited the small village of Grange, Benbulben covered in misty fog. I had never heard of it.

Happy to submit him to the local art exhibition with the master, Eamonn Dowdican. A charity even for the Sligo Cancer Society.

When I first moved here, all I wanted was a home with running water and warmth. After living in a van for three months, I figured, I deserved it. I am delighted I chose to pursue uncharted territory, only because now, no plans and no expectations I can really enjoy the mystery. Although it is not without heartache, the ecstasy is well worth it.

With Cairde, an arts fest, going down in Sligo I took to socialising along the Vegabond Poetry Trail. Favorite, Una Mannion charmed us all. Her memories growing up in Tennessee with the history of moonshiners at the Appalachain Trail, gave us all an escape. Unfortunately they caught me in an awkward state at my fav spot, Bookmark, although this is likely, as it is my norm.

What a face! Sitting here on the way to Dublin I wonder what the fan boys of Damien Dempsey will look like? Tommy, Darren, Nidge weasel?

The Geishas are framed and looking at this painting, I’ll get lost in it forever. At the bedside, in the morning, before I sleep sound even as the winds, they sometimes howl.

The best news is that Ireland has recognized me as a nurse in the general division.

After all, 21 months since I began, I am relieved. Now, I will attempt to live and work, this is the gift. I’m sure I’ll dream up some new unlikely feat, but for now I’m happy to be in good company with the 7% of American nurse applicants accepted in Ireland last year.

Happy weekend to you all, safe travels, big smiles, magic wands, wave ’em.

When God Says I Love You

Mullaghmore, An Mullach Mór– A spring day greets us with a full day of sunshine along the Wild Atlantic Way. There is a strand nearby that is a protected use area, a sharehold for farmers. I walk through the green pasture, up over the dunes and to my surprise a man walks up to me, completely nude. I never knew how to get here, but I’ve always wanted to go.

“Hello!”

“Hi,” I reply, wishing I too was naked.

I big smile.

A lovely day to see a middle aged man romping around the beach, like a dog playing in the surf. I admit, I had done research on this topic months ago but when it comes to my adventures, I’d rather stumble upon them versus forcing it, as this tactic always implodes (although I still do it sometimes). The beach, like many along the north west coast is isolated, underpopulated and serves as medicine for my soul.

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Continuing along, the nude dude seems to be away from his compatriots who keep to themselves down by the rocky bits.

A true wild man, away from his pack.

I once read that people with ADD or hyperactivity serve their tribe because they go beyond the boundaries, to explore the world and then report back what they see.

I worry that I will impinge on these free spirits by taking photos, so I try not to point. I won’t say that I didn’t get completely naked and go for a dip but I will say, I’m from Florida and it’s still March. I wander down the beach and back to climb the highest dune.

Yer man kept appearing like those arcade games where you have to hit the weasel. There he was lounging in the tall grass. He was so thrilled with himself, legs outstretched, hands tucked neatly behind his head, smiling into the sun.

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You missed my St.Patrick’s Day post because sharing is hard, it is still here. And if you want to see Mullaghmore on a normal day (the clothed beach) when it is dangerous/my writing was much worse, go here.

Listening to Gavin James “Bitter Pill” LOUD because it is the perfect segue for anyone trying to get over a piece of themselves and because he sounds like Hozier but with short hair.

Still alive and well in me Granny Flat.

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Connacht Gold

Sligo- When I was a schoolgirl, an Irishman stared into me and asked,

“Haley, can you tell someone you love them with your eyes?” I stared right back into him with a gentle reply,

“Yes, you can.”

It was unlikely that I had kept up with the readings he assigned but I knew something about the character of Hester Prynne.  It was my wild eyes and not my wit that got me through a vast amount of formal education.  I revel in my unlearning.

Photo on 2009-09-21 at 23.08

8 jaars ago

For St Patrick’s I decided to honour the Queen of Connacht with a we hill walk.

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Benbulben from Knocknarea

The north west of Ireland has a dense concentration of megaliths.  These can include dolmens, cairns or burial grounds. Bones, tools, white quartz and beads are often found during the excavations of these sacred sites.

I walk the 40 minutes up to see the Queen, who was said to be married many times.

These could be actual marriages or ritual weddings wherein kings would symbolically marry the “one who intoxicates and brings great joy,” Maev, Meadhbh, Méabh, medu, mead, St.Patrick’s Day, male dominated debauchery, nuns marrying Jesus- see where this is going?

Anywho, I am no historian.

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I make it to the top and around the cairn (this is one of three potential burial sites so it may just be a pile of lucky rocks, who.knows.) I find myself walking down the path into Maev’s Forest.  On a previous night walk up Benbulben a fella told me that the English cut down all the trees here.

So now, you will find these little pockets where the people have attempted regrowth and they are called forests.

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Once down the opposite side I continue into the village of Strandhill. When you use google maps here, hitchhiking time is estimated which I find hilarious and quite comforting now that I am far from my car.

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I arrive at Hangar 1 of the old airport, The Strandill Markt. There I meet my friend Sarah of the Black Sheep Bakery with Larry her mascot. We are friends at our day jobs wherein I go to her and complain, she laughs and then we drink tea.

I stop by the Sushi Sisters serving it up to the hipsters of Sligo.  I enjoy seeing the movement of a country, refining simplicity and up for anything.  With my father’s words buzzing in my brain I continue on my way.

He has always told me to follow my heart.  Recently he has added “and stay attractive.”

I will take a holistic approach to this advice as it serves me best.  He sends me a selfie from a ski lift in Taos.

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Queen Maev by JC Leyendecker

Whatsapp has informed me that it will save all of my voice recordings to my Gmail account. Why? My data footprint will now consist of an 80/20 blend of appropriate and inappropriate images, epic anti-intellectual monologues and a blog about the possibility of being me.

As always thank you for your time, continue wasting it, and read this week’s poem.

All the Lines of Her Face

Sligo- I have joined a writer’s group. We meet in the Yeat’s memorial building with books so dear, nobody has been let in for decades. As I sit, I wait. I yearn to sniff the books locked behind the glass. I meet my cohorts, four, 40-50 year-old writers. I write my poem in the spirit of showing up, but I let a man read it aloud. Tonight, I read it to you.

I skate along the jagged peaks of my mind.

I skate for you, searching for that familiar song.

I skate in places I should not go, tempt me.

I skate for my mother so she can cheer me on.

I skate for my brother, his fears released.

I skate in and out, and up and down.

I skate. I could skate forever.

I skate to a cafe for a nice cup of tea.

I skate, so I breath deeply. My breath is your breath.

I skate until there is no warmth in my hands or in my feet.

I skate in the forest through the trees and I listen.

I skate through the wind, through the rain.

I get on the ice.

To skate.

Poem meet portrait. The more beauty within a person, the harder it is to capture them. A piece of her soul, her energy lives here with me now in my little place by the sea and we listen to Ray LaMontagne’s debut album and drink red wine and do all the things that good sisters do. Some critiques say that you can’t paint a portrait from a photo because you cannot capture the person’s essence. Well, they can go away. Others say that the real painting is found in the palette which in some strange abstract subconscious alternative universe, is the waar.

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Looking forward to St.Paddy’s, a national holiday that is celebrated around the world. The Irish get the award for best traveled, best sense of humor and for having pride without imperialism.

Currently listening to

First Aid Kit “Ruins”

Goooooodnight.

Slieve League and Silver Strand

Co Donegal, Ireland- When I got news that my baby sister was headed to Ireland to kick off her Eurotrip Birthday Party… I had a panic attack.  Where will we go, what will we see, just how many ounces of Instagram gold will.she.mine.

I spoke with my brother who just welcomed his own baby girl into this magnificent world and he said, “you know you’re going to have to do everything she says, go everywhere she wants and be happy about it.”  I am glad he understands the female psyche.  As she runs on rad daydreams and DMs from her hometown squad I knew the pressure was on.

It was this big.

Catching up on GirlTalk

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She had fucking brilliant weather.  So I didn’t have to do what I normally do when people visit me in Ireland and it rains, which is, “Pssttt! you are in Ireland.” As far as viewing nature’s bounty, the possibilities are endless in one of Europe’s most beautiful countries, rain or shine.  My sister sent me “The Plan” in a Whatsapp a few weeks before her arrival and it goes as follows.  See the Donegal Mountains (easy from ma backyard bishes!!) No really, but we ventured up to Slieve League (Sliabh Liag) for a closer look.

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Number 2! Climb Benbulben.  I climbed the bad boy a few weeks before, in preparation of her demands with the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team.  Follow me! I know the way AND I know who to call when my lungs collapse due to a profuse cigarette smoking habit.  Nummer drie, Giant’s Causeway– holy shit, houses of the holy, hold my half-moon press, this had a lot of anticipation riding on it.  And, finally visit Enniskillen Castle aka McGuire’s Castle to reclaim our lands!

The Fiesta was loaded up.  My pack with peanuts and dark chocolate, a thermos of tea and dear sweet baby sister brought all of my CDs…from highschool.  Yes, Dave Matthews Band and Haley’s Mega Mix 3000 on repeat.  From the looks of it I had really mastered Napster and those songs took me right back…to listening to Neil Young and eating lunch alone while everyone else was (insert rude backstabbing comment.)  Those were the days!

Here we are at the highest sea cliffs in Europe.

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So happy though, seriously, that she came to visit the Northwest of Ireland which is truly astonishing, wild and perfect for two crazy sisters that couldn’t be more different (except that we both like the XX).


We stopped for a breather and a Smithwick’s at the Rusty Mackerel where the bartender promptly poo-pooed our next stop: Giant’s Causeway.  “It is underwhelming” he informed, go to Silver Strand.  We gulped the rest of our beer and started on an improptu adventure to…Hawaii.

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Seriously, no filter, just my awesome photog skiilz and again, the amazing weather.  Really, who would have guessed this was Ireland?  One hundred and seventy one steps down to the beach and three decades worth of anxiety blown away in this easy, breezy, fucking beautiful, my sister- the cover girl.

It was actually quite crowded for a typical stop along the Wild Atlantic Way.  We weren’t the only ones cashing in on the nice weather.

Cheers to Emily and Happy Birthday! I hope you cherish your last years in your 20s and see that your 30s might not be so bad.  That will be it for sunshine, until next year people! Ta!

 

 

 

Big Mama Had Twins

Co Sligo, Ireland- The cows are calvin’ and the farmers are balin’ for July in Agharrow.  I have harvested the new potatoes and my neighbors described them as “little flour balls”  (the Irish love a floury potato) so this is a good sign.  I will definitely plant them in abundance next year.

Gerry, the farmer had a big smile after I congratulated him on the birth of his twin calves!  A boy and a girl.  Walking the dogs down the lane is especially heartwarming as I spot the babes frolicking in the field.

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Life in rural Ireland moves much slower than what I am used to.  People are rarely in a rush, passing the time, enjoying the views.

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I am still waiting for my nursing reg with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.  I had a slight delay when my employer’s reference never made it to Ireland.  In the meantime I am volunteering at a nursing home.  This week we welcomed a choir from Mansfield, Texas.  I will admit it was charming to see a hoard of All Americans!  The residents certainly enjoyed their uplifting song!

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I am getting pumped for more family to visit Sligo and to share the views with my sweet sister.  Fingers-crossed for clear skies!

 

 

 

First Point- Wild Atlantic Way

Co Donegal, Ireland- Malin Point, the most northerly point of the Ireland, marks the beginning of the Wild Atlantic Way.  In the northwest region of the country and rural Ireland in general it is extremely dark, unpolluted and perfect for star gazing on a clear night.  Officially launched in 2014, the Wild Atlantic Way is a 1700 mile (2750 km) stretch of interconnected roadways that is as distinct as it is transcendental.

IMG_0015If you find yourself traveling down the winding lanes of the Wild Atlantic Way do yourself a favor and turn off the GPS.  The route is well marked, besides, getting lost is a hallmark of any great adventure.

 

 

I walked along the marble pathways to marvel at the crashing waves along the jagged cliffs.  In the distance, the sandy beach of Five Finger Strand surrounded me and the green countryside was sprinkled with sheep.  Only a few people at this point, a less crowded vista know as Bamba’s Crown.

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Aurora sightings are most prevalent during the months of September/October and March/April.  You can follow @Aurora_ireland on twitter for up to date Aurora alerts, sightings and browse some sweet pics taken along the Wild Atlantic Way.

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I will continue to make my way along the Wild Atlantic Way.  Happy travels!

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