here I am
Browsing trips



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. =)

posted under photos, trips | 1 Comment »



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. =)

posted under photos, trips | 1 Comment »



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.

posted under photos, trips | No Comments »



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

posted under dog, photos, trips | 1 Comment »



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.  =)

posted under life, photos, trips | 1 Comment »



Day 3: IKEA, Kristen’s Baby Party

Busy day. We went to Baltimore, met up with friends from Hawai’i, who now also live stateside, and make my first trip to the wonderland that is IKEA. Those guys are SMART. They make it really easy to spend lots of money. Babysitters, in-store cafeteria, pencils and pads of paper… It’s amazing. I found myself getting seriously sucked into the gotta-have-it American materialist mentality.

We’re going back tomorrow to maybe get some furniture. =)

Then, we went to a party Kristen’s parents threw for her and her hubby and their new baby. They’re in from TX, and all of the family friends and old friends were invited. (Kris and I were friends in high school and after.) I got to do a little catching up with her and her brother (my only “little brother”), and with an old friend from high school (Sara!), as well as with other friends of mine (actually, my friends’ parents, whom I now consider friends). A good time until I started dying from cat exposure.

So, home we went. And I coughed up a lung.

That night, Grandpa (who had been refusing to go to the hospital) expressed a need to see a doctor. So Mom and Dad took him. He was admitted with low blood pressure and renal failure. They hooked him up to lots of antibiotics for a respiratory infection, and he started getting better right away.

Day 4: Melissa’s Birthday Party

I coughed all night. David even considered moving out to the couch, it was so bad.

Grandpa’s situation improved.

David and Leah made Melissa’s cake, and we had the afore-blogged party.

Day 5: We didn’t go to the beach.

Between me being sick and my Grandpa spending a couple of days in the ICU (thanks, all you well-wishers), we decided not to go to the beach.

So, we stayed home and played games instead.

Day 6: I have bronchitis.

Seriously, that was the big news of the day. I stayed home coughing and coughing, then went to an urgent care clinic and got my Dx. Then I went to a drugstore and got my drugs.

They moved Grandpa to a regular hospital room from the ICU.

posted under trips | 1 Comment »



Left just after work on Thursday. Had a meeting with a… difficult… colleague, then a “touch base” (bizspeak drives me crazy) meeting with my managers. Then, off to Pennsylvania.

Day 1: Driving.

We drove for 8 hours. There’s a whole lotta nothing between Indy and Blue Ridge Summit, where my folks live.

Day 2: Hershey Park.

Dave’s first time at Hershey – Leah and I took him. It’s been 8(?) years since I’ve been to HP, so there was a lot of new for me, too. Turns out Dave’s not a fan of the “scream coasters” – kind of a bummer for him. We avoided riding them during the day to save him the waiting in line, but Leah and I wanted rode a few late, just before the park closed. Thankfully, the longest line we waited in was only half an hour long, and Dave rode a tame coaster twice while he waited. =) My favorite: the StormRunner. That’s a fun coaster.

Here’s us on the Chocolate World ride (which, since the last time I rode it, has gone from educational and borderline boring to being on multimedia steroids):

posted under trips | No Comments »



Only a few more days until we drive east! I’m pretty darned excited for a change in location, if not an actual vacation. I’ll have to work (the deadline’s so tight that my team leader canceled her vacation), but dangit! I wanna visit family. I wanna go to the beach.

posted under trips | No Comments »



We’ve been reunioning this month.

Weekend #1: Dave’s dad’s dad’s family (Aukermans)
Weekend #2: Dave’s mom’s mom’s family (Schraders) <- this weekend
Weekend #3: Dave’s mom’s dad’s family (Funks) which we’re missing for…
Weekend #3: Dave’s 10-yr high school friends reunion

David has a lot of people to reunite with… =) I enjoy these reunions, though. This is something my fam doesn’t do.

I’ll take some pics this weekend and post ’em so you can join in the reunion festivities (now that I’ve figured out why my photos weren’t transferring from my camera and fixed the issue).

posted under family, trips | 1 Comment »



I’ve been having a good time visiting family. It’s always good to see them, and especially good to see them in teh continental US. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVED Hawai’i, and would drop everything to go back, but I’ll tell you what. It’s infinitely easier and more enjoyable to fly an hour instead of 15.

This is the first time I’ve flown to see my family since they’re back from HI. As I was packing for the trip, I started piling up books and stacks of DVDs to take in my carry-ons. David watched me for a few minutes, and when I asked him for help fitting everything into a bookbag, he reminded me that I wasn’t going to be flying for 15 hours. =) I happily took out the stacks of books and DVDs and wow… it’s great having a feather-light carry-on!

So, anyway, I’ve been here with my family for a week. When I visit, we typically pack the time full of visits from and to family friends. Those meetings are always wonderful – I don’t keep in touch with folks as well as I should. I have all these great intentions, but I never seem to have time to follow through. The good thing is, these people watched me grow up (as much as any non-family member has ever done, anyway – being a military brat, not too many people get to know me past 2 or 3 years). They know me well enough to know I love them even though I don’t call or write. It’s great.

What isn’t great, though, is the thought of running into folks I went to high school with. I DREAD the experience, and I know it’s just bound to happen. Each visit to my parents increases the odds that I’ll run into someone I know. For some reason, small towns have always made me feel trapped – like if I wasn’t careful, I’d get sucked in and never escape. I watched it happen to people who were older than me, and I couldn’t wait to get out.

I really like who I am now. I really like my life. I don’t want to go back. High school wasn’t the height of my life. It wasn’t the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve moved on. And I don’t really want to talk to or meet anyone who hasn’t.

That said, there are some old classmates that I REALLY enjoy seeing. Sarah Camp (I’m so sorry about Joe!). Sarah Green (thanks for having lunch with me!). Adam Donius (I’m SO glad you came back to see if it was me – congrats on the baby!).

It’s been a good trip. =)

posted under trips | 3 Comments »
« Older Entries