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Spent the evening with the Gardners – we get together every so often to play games and eat together. We had a ton of glass-bottled beverages between the two families… and Jason couldn’t help himself. We were slap-happy by the time he got to writing out sheet music for us, so we had a blast.

First, the official band photo (yes, that’s a crown on my head – Autumn insisted I wear it, even after she took off her princess duds):

Woodruff Place Baptist Church Jug Band

Woodruff Place Baptist Church Jug Band

Then, watch the video on Facebook. (You’ll probably need to be my friend.)

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Today we went to Kilkenny.

We were just families – no TU students, because today they had class and a paper to finish. We three (Mom, Dad, and I) stayed with the family I mentioned yesterday – the parents are great company, and the teen daughter was a lot of fun. It was a full day – we left early for the long drive, and got home late.

The first thing we all did was to tour Kilkenny Castle together as a group. I expected armor lining hallways, antique furniture, tapestries, and fur rugs – too much TV, I guess. The inside of the building was just… a building. The restorers did an outstanding job, especially considering that the whole place had been run down and all but demolished by time and misuse, but it lacked the movie-set details I expected. =)

What it DID have that I didn’t expect was modern art exhibits. It was really haphazard – the installations (and they were video and built models, not painting and sculpture like you’d expect) were just scattered in some of the more formal first floor rooms, as if someone had just tossed them together. Didn’t look planned – just… messy.

There was no photography allowed in the castle (only on and around the grounds), else I’d have taken and posted photos of the most interesting rooms. There were replica bedrooms with interesting wallpapers and furniture, and there was a long portrait gallery containing paintings of generations of the family who owned the castle and lands.

Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle

When we’d finished with the castle, our group went up the street to a bookstore cafe. We had a fabulous lunch (and wonderful coffee) before heading off to St. Canice’s Cathedral.

St. Canice's Cathedral
St. Canice’s Cathedral

This church, unlike some of the other cathedrals we’ve visited here, is still in use and NOT completely commercialized. The woman taking tickets said they’d rather not have charged admission, but that the state didn’t subsidize that church, so they had to do their own upkeep. It was an enormous building that housed a very obviously active body, so I didn’t mind paying the entrance fee. =)

There was the same kind of memorial plaques and tombs and iconography as in the other churches, but somehow here it wasn’t distracting. Maybe I felt that way because I could also see evidence of the congregation’s use of the building as well – information about reaching the neighborhood, beanbag chairs for a weekly kids’ group meeting, choir stalls that were obviously used…

There weren’t extensive grounds like we found at the Dublin cathedrals – this church was surrounded (completely) by a graveyard. The headstones were so interesting – and so beautiful!

St. Canice's Cathedral
St. Canice’s Cathedral

Once we left the cathedral (but not before Rachel, the teen daughter, climbed the 100ft-high round tower), we headed back toward the castle part of town. We wanted to see the Dominican Black Abbey and do a little shopping before our scheduled dinner.

The Abbey was completely deserted when we entered – no one was there to charge admission (it was much smaller, and an actual church) or to take money for the few pieces of literature it offered (and had prices on) – you simply dropped your money into boxes in the wall.

It was a strange mix of very old and very modern – the building and court were obviously historic, but some of the stained glass was new (make sure you click the link to my pictures, above) and not at all what you expect to see in a building like that. This window, however, more true to period – but look at this detail (and check out the colored light coming in)! You’ll have to click and view it larger:

Black Abbey
Black Abbey – the more traditional stained glass

Black Abbey
Black Abbey – the striking modern stained glass

After the Black Abbey, we stopped for coffee and shopping in the Market Cross Shopping Centre, then went on to the Design Craft Centre. Lots of local artists have shops and studios in this set of buildings just across from the castle. We went into several shops, and ended up picking up souvenirs and gifts at a pottery shop and an all-kinds-of-handmade-art shop. I was SO tempted to buy one of Anna Neilsen‘s prints… (her website is a mess, but I didn’t take pictures)… her work is WONDERFUL.

We left the shop and went to dinner at the Hibernian Hotel with the rest of the folks on the tour. We ate an amazingly fantastic three-course dinner, then headed home.

Check out the rest of today’s pictures if you have the time. I only posted a few of the best ones – be grateful. I took 250. =)

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Today, we went to church with Leah at her Presbyterian Church in Greystones.

Greystones Presbyterian
Leah’s Church

It was their Harvest service, so we got to see a little of the local church talking about action in their community. Neat people, good sermon. The music was a little difficult – I don’t know how much of it is that church’s choices vs. how much is cultural, but it was hard to sing. Words were in books and projected, but no music – I didn’t know but maybe one or two of the tunes, and those not well. We were left to fend for ourselves, musically – with no idea how to pull the melodies out of thin air.

I spend a lot of time any time I’m away from my church in Indy being grateful for the way we do things – always, we have music to read from. We can actually participate in the music and worship instead of being confused, self-conscious, and frustrated. But overall, as I said, it was a good service. I was glad to have been there and to have experienced my sister’s Sunday morning.

After church, we all got onto buses to visit Powerscourt, an estate south of Dublin. So gorgeous. I have a lot of pictures posted from this visit, but I have many, many more that I didn’t post. There were a number of gardens, tons of statues and ponds and fountains. The estate is palatial – grand. Please, please, please go look at my pictures – this place was breathtaking.

Powerscourt Estate
Powerscourt Estate

We spent the day mostly hanging with another student’s family – really enjoyed getting to know them, and to have company that fit well with us. The teens were fun – a lot of fun.

After Powerscourt, we went back to Coolnagreina (the YWCA the TU kids live in) for dinner. We got there and had a free hour, so Leah and I walked a little in the town and on the coast while Mom and Dad froze a little while on a bench overlooking the beach. =)

The view Leah gets to see every day

We all headed back for pizza and to warm up. Played a couple of games, first amongst ourselves, then with a large group of folk, before leaving for the evening.

I’m back at the hotel and VERY interested in getting into bed. =) It’s late, and we’ve got an early start tomorrow morning. We’re going to Kilkenny. =)

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If you keep up with my Flickr account, you’ll notice that I’ve started posting Ireland photos. Not too, too many, but enough to give you an idea what we’ve been doing and what it looks like over here. =)

I’m going to back post what we’ve been doing so you know what day we did what. I was writing in a journal-type book because I didn’t have constant computer access, but I think I can start posting. I’ll probably finish after I return to the US, though… Fair warning.

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I talked to Leah!, originally uploaded by tara.aukerman.

I finally got to talk to Leah! I spend so much time thinking and saying, “I wish Leah were here” or “Leah would SO get a kick out of this” that I almost feel like I talk to her often. Almost. Tonight I really got to talk to her.

I love Skype.

Those of you who know Leah know that she gets less and less eloquent the later she stays up. By the time we “hung up” at 3am her time, she was really starting to sound silly. A few gems:

  • “and they have shapely lower halves”
    — Telling us about how much she likes to watch rugby, a new sport to her. She was trying to explain that the guys are really strong on the bottom halves because anything above the waist is considered a foul. Ended up sounding more like she watched the sports for … all the wrong reasons.  =)
  • “muscular women – it makes me happy”
    — Telling us how women play rugby, too, but that they have to be very strong.
  • “here is the amazingness of my life today.” [long pause]  “I forgot what I was going to say.”
    — Getting ready to tell us about something exciting that happened today.
  • “I can always remember everything ever about all the rooms of my life I stay in.”
    — The response to my suggestion that she take pictures of the house she’s living in so that later she’ll be able to remember all the details.
  • “roll out, do some makeups and go to the food”
    — Her plan for tomorrow morning. =)
  • “probably some days in the night”
    — The next time we get to talk to her online.

She’s so much fun!

Now, my life will be complete if I get to talk to Melissa. (Hear that, sister? When can we talk?!)

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Inch Beach
, originally uploaded by Chupperwidge.

This photo is amazing. Leah’s in Ireland, and I miss her dreadfully. I’m going to get to go see her soon – I’ll be travelling to see her in… holy cow! Only a couple of weeks!

Anyway, look at this picture she took! Be jealous with me (that she gets to see this stuff, and that she’s such a good photographer that she takes such awesome pictures), then be jealous OF me (because I get to go see her soon!). =)

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We got both Jake and Lindy through the Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to get more involved with this organization – after all, two of our family members came to us because other people volunteered their time and lives.

A couple of weeks ago, we heard about two dogs who were purchased at an auction. They were puppy mill dogs – dogs that came from a place where they were caged, mated, and bred to sell. One, Mac, an adult male, had been so neglected that he was covered in ticks. Thousands of ticks. The organization picked him and a puppy, Buck, up in Missouri. They medicated Mac, who was so miserable that he wasn’t active and wouldn’t eat.

RRR got foster homes set up in New England, but needed to get the dogs there. A bunch of folks started planning the transport, and asked for volunteers to take legs and keep the dogs overnight as needed. They coordinated a crazy caravan of folks.

David and I just drove a short piece of the trip – Indianapolis to Columbus – but it was a neat experience. For one, we got to meet some of the folks we’ve been talking to over the past couple of years. There’s another woman in Indianapolis whose home is a foster home for local rescue dogs – we met her and her husband (they kept the dogs overnight before we took them).

We also met Carol, a wonderful woman who lives in Ohio – she’s the one who arranged both of our adoptions. We left Mac and Buck with her. She was a delight to meet, and just the kind of person you’d think would open her home to hopeless dogs.

Being involved in this transport has made me realize that I enjoy doing things that matter. Getting involved, even in small ways, with things and groups that make a difference. I hope we get a chance to help out again – some day, I think I’d like to foster dogs – but Dave’s still getting used to our two. =)

A couple of (bad) pictures:

Dog Transport 018

Dog Transport 005

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Our summer has been incredibly full.  We’re about to be back to life as usual (or a new kind of life as usual, one where David is working and I’m not…) – the school year starts August 31, and that’s only a few days away.

In our summer, we:

  • Went to Myrtle Beach, SC (which I mentioned in the last post)

so very relaxing…

don’t they look SO happy?!

graduation party glasses. =)

  • Went to the Aukerman family reunion

me and my D

a really great picture of Randy (rare to see him really smile on camera)

D playing like a little boy

  • Saw three Indians games

the obligatory “us at the pro” photo

beautiful park!

the Aukerfamily in front of the Pro

  • Went to Canada, first to visit friends Jim and Jessie in Kitchener, then to Bethany’s family’s cabin on Aylen Lake, then back to Jim and Jessie’s. No pictures from the lake – I left my camera at J&J’s! – but a couple of photos from the border and Toronto…

Dave’s first time over the border – he was giddy!

interesting city, Toronto. we walked for a while after an Indians/Jays game
we won, father-in-law! seems like it’s you, not me… =)

  • Drove straight from Kitchener (in ONTARIO) to Shawn and Lauren’s rehearsal (in TERRE HAUTE)..
  • To watch dear friend Shawn marry his Lauren  =)

here’s the hall and his folks

  • watched cousin Greg marry his Val

didn’t get any pictures of the bride and groom!
got a pic of Randy and Carrie and their Garrett, though…

the ymca – a new party tradition, it seems =)

the brothers Aukerman

  • Had my whole family visit (last time for a while)

melissa, hamming for the camera

daddy, clowning for the camera

Grandma Dee =) our visit with her and Brad was so sweet!

me and melissa =)

  • Watched my littlest sister start her first semester of college
  • Waved goodbye to my middlest sister as she left the country for another 2 years, just when we were starting to get used to her being back…

… and that brings us to this week.

I’m about to wave goodbye to my littlest sister – she’s headed for a semester in Ireland.  And I’m about to wave goodbye to the job I’ve had for almost a year – my contract at the hospital is up on August 31.

David’s about to start adjunct teaching again as he begins the pastoral candidating process.

Lots of changes have happened already, and lots more are about to come.  Stay tuned.  =)

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He is risen!

Not sure what that has to do with eggs, but I don’t get a lot of things. *shrug*

Neighbors decorate for every holiday – one of my favorites of theirs is Easter. Among many other things, they tie eggs to the branches of a tree that starts off dead and naked and then blooms with the eggs still on. =)


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She was pretending to be a pirate – lens caps make great eyepatches, if you don’t mind holding them up. =)


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