On This Day…

Ever look at your calendar and remember what you were doing on this day, one or two or three years ago?

Three years ago (well, April 25), I found myself in church. In western Ireland.

With only about 10 regular attendees, there were more people buried in the churchyard than alive inside the service. It was rather quiet. 

Aftewards, some friends and I went horseback riding! I hadn’t been on a horse since I was eight years old (when veterinarian topped my list of career choices).

This horse was named Rua (Gaelic for “red”). As we neared the hilltop, she bolted. Bouncing around, as in control as a sack of flour, I clutched the English saddle, watching my life flash before my eyes…and arrived at this incredible vista of clear sea and sky (with the Blasket Islands visible across the bay).

Having survived our adventure, we limped off, saddle-sore, to reward ourselves with…

…the world’s most amazing chocolate cake! Murphy’s is an Irish ice cream/sweets shop that makes absolutely the best chocolate cake in the world. If you’re ever in Ireland, find some. It’s an especially good way to forget about being saddle-sore. 
I still miss Ireland some days. Especially when I think about what I was doing on this day two years ago: editing my senior project in college. 
With scissors. Helps rustle up the necessary ruthlessness. No better way to visualize transposals or deletions. I also think I killed an entire rainforest’s worth of post-it notes. But I graduated!
One year ago, I was…

…at my desk, finishing the second draft of my novel. I’m now partway through the fourth draft, which (I hope) will be the last. Maybe this novel will see the light of day before I start getting a senior discount on my office supplies. 
And today, I am here, typing up this blog post:
Freelance life may not often take me across the world on exciting adventures. I don’t often find myself bolting up hills on a runaway horse or violently editing a story with scissors. It’s not every day I get to celebrate the accomplishment of a completed novel draft. But my imagination doesn’t starve. And that is a blessing.
What do you see when you look back at this day in past years?

The Great Potato Revolution

Well, you asked for it…another installment in my Britain story. This one’s going to have to be abbreviated, as time is short this weekend, but today we’re traveling to Dingle (An Daingean), in County Kerry, Ireland!

Two years ago yesterday, I was in a grocery store. My study abroad group of about twenty-five students was staying in a “self-catering” youth hostel–which means basically that beds, showers, and pots and pans are provided for you; the rest is do-it-yourself. Like a bed and breakfast, minus the breakfast. Hence, the grocery store.

By this time, we’d been in the British Isles for three weeks. One food group had grown very old: potatoes. Yes, the Brits think that potatoes are a food group (no offense to my British friends :)). I have nothing against potatoes, but seriously, everything included them. Everything. In a hostel in northern England, the menu one night consisted of shepherd’s pie (mushy peas and beef topped with mashed potatoes), with a side of–what else? Jacket (baked) potatoes!  

At any rate, three weeks in, with a grocery store at our fingertips, we college students wanted some potato-free fare. We were going to split into groups and take turns making dinner for everyone. As a Spanish-speaking Californian, I suggested Mexican food. Nice break, right?

Except that the SuperValu store had still other ideas about types of food groups. Items plentifully stocked: brown soda bread, canned baked beans, granola bars called “Elevenses.” Items not stocked: tortilla chips, black beans, sour cream, guacamole. Salsa existed, but was priced at an arm, a leg, and a sack of pirate gold. Hm.

Potatoes were not an option. Potatoes were never an option. So we compromised. Bought Irish soda bread and saved it for sandwiches (best bread ever). Skipped the chips and salsa/guacamole. Discovered that Irish beef tastes pretty Mexican when mixed with taco seasoning and stacked on tortillas under lots of cheese. But the best part was cooking together with friends, the spicy, familiar smells rising around us, in a sunny kitchen on the other side of the world.

And no potatoes.