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Irish produce « An American in Ireland

Irish produce


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It seems that in every second blog post of late, I promise to blog more often. These days I just can’t seem get a handle on my writing schedule so I’ll omit the usual promise and simply do the best I can to post more frequently.

The last few months have been tough for Mountaineering Man and me; his mother is ill and we’re spending every weekend at his parents’ home, which is about two hours away from Dublin. In order to protect the family’s privacy I won’t go into too much detail here, but suffice to say the illness came rather suddenly. It has been an incredibly difficult time for the whole family.

But even during this dark time, there are a few glimmers of light. It’s nice to spend some quality time with the family, who before this we’d see every third or fourth week. It’s  been a real treat to see my little one-and-a-half-year-old niece, who – totally unbeknownst to her – has been our comic relief and welcome distraction with her funny antics and ever-developing personality.

IMG_0284[1]I feel lucky to be able to see her every weekend, and am grateful that she is getting to know me too. She is a smart little girl, always up for a dance (last weekend her daddy put on some serious  ‘70s disco music and away she went!) and loves for us to read to her from her many books. Mind you, we don’t always agree; she loves her mom’s old Judy doll, which regularly scares the crap out of me with her blank-yet-piercing stare -  she reminds me too much of the Talking Tina doll from the Twilight Zone. And since my niece leaves her all around the house, Judy seems to pop up at every turn (particularly in my nightmares).

We also have at least one dinner with MM’s dad, sister and her family every weekend, sometimes two if we don’t have to rush back to Dublin for work. I’ve become the cook along with my brother-in-law; he’s the fry-up expert and will make the mid-day eggs, sausages, rashers, potato waffle, beans and tomato plate for anyone who is hungry. It looks so tempting I think I’m going to have to ask him to do one up for me next weekend. I usually cook the Saturday dinners and Sunday lunches, and despite my father-in-law’s protests that it’s too much work,  I genuinely enjoy it.

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Stuffed Shrooms

Recently I renewed my commitment to eat healthier; not necessarily in the caloric sense, but in that I would try to shop locally and eat as much wholesome foods as possible. The less packaged food, the better.

Due to our busy work schedules, I’d gotten quite lazy of late and found myself relying solely on Tesco deliveries for our groceries. Despite the fact that something was almost always wrong in the order – rotten onions, missing items, food with expired “Sell By” dates – it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally decided take back control of my weekly food shop.

Pizza 1_edited-1 Pizza slice_edited-1

The “ah-ha” moment came one evening when I was making sandwiches for Mountaineering Man to take to work the next day. As I ripped open yet another package of sliced chicken sandwich meat, I took a good look at it and realized how disgusting it was. Pinkish, shiny, not a trace of texture and clearly plugged up with salt water and gelatin, it was not nourishment – it was manufactured, God-knows-where-it-came-from processed foodstuffs.

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newspaper boy

I got my first job when I was 12 years old as a paper girl for the local newspaper, the [now defunct] Temple City Times. Every week the company would drop off 75 newspapers and I’d have to roll each one, secure it with a rubber band and if it was raining, put it into a plastic sleeve. Once they were ready to go I’d put them neatly into my canvas bag and hop on my bicycle to make the deliveries.

The rest of the delivery crew was all boys and they’d sling their big canvas bags casually over the handlebars of their bikes. But I found this too awkward; the weight of 75 papers was just too much for me to be able to balance it on my handlebars. So I had to wear the bag – which was essentially a big parka with a large pouch on each side to hold the papers. Even though the bag was designed to be worn exactly this way, it wasn’t the most stylish accessory and I looked like a complete spaz wearing this potato-sack parka/ bag thing.

One day when I was at the Temple City Times office to pick up my [paltry] paycheck, one the paperboys asked me why I always delivered all my papers. “You know that out of those 75 papers, only 15 are subscribers. The rest are just free papers you have to give out so people will sign up for a subscription.” He then went on to tell me that he only delivered the subscription papers and threw the rest away, because “no one would know.”

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caulipizzabbq

Sometimes I feel like I just can’t get a handle on my professional stuff – for lack of a better word. As a freelance writer working from home, there seems to be two kinds of weeks: One where I’m super motivated and I’m pitching numerous publications while working on big copywriting projects for US-based clients and others when I feel absolutely wracked with failure from not having enough or worse, any work. 

Keeping myself motivated, especially during those weeks when I don’t get a single response from the half-dozen pitches I’ve sent, can be entirely overwhelming some days. It’s a real rollercoaster ride, the freelance lifestyle. When you sell a story and get a few bits of copywriting work, you feel productive and successful. The rest of the time you feel like you’re not doing enough and wonder if you’ll ever get consistent work. On those real dark days you think of things like retirement funds, health insurance and financial security – or the lack thereof!

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 veggie tart_edited-1 It only took 15 months but I think my body has finally adjusted to the climate here in Ireland. It recently occurred to me that I haven’t had a cold or flu or major aches and pains for a while now; considering I was sick about once every month for the first year of living here, I’m overjoyed!

Irish people say the damp air here is what makes you sick. Whatever it is, my body went into rejection mode the moment I landed. My lungs were used to the comforting warm and dry air of Los Angeles, which was only very occasionally punctuated by a rain shower or cooler temperatures. So when my organs were introduced to the cold, wet breezes of the north east seaboard of this island, they were determined to show their misery by inflicting pain in the form of one bizarre illness or another.

First there was the monthly cold with the coughing and slightly-above-normal body temperature. Then came the crazy, head-rattling sneezing and runny nose/eyes from hay fever (thanks, rapeseed plants!). By roasted carrotsDecember of last year, I had contracted some viral infection that left me with painful, swollen glands in my neck and a low-grade fever and headache that lasted over 30 days. So exhausted and weepy was I during our New Year’s holiday in Athlone that Mountaineering Man had to ring a local doctor for an emergency appointment. The doctor told me the same thing my own doc told me, which was that my body was fighting some viral infection and I would just have to wait until it passed. He happily pocked 50 quid for his 5 minutes and I left knowing I’d chosen the wrong career field.

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home organics broadbean bread 2 Nearly two weeks into being a Dublin resident, I’m still trying to get the hang of things around here. I remember going through a similar adjustment when I moved from Los Angeles to Drogheda in 2010, though back then I was utterly clueless about anything Irish whereas now I’m just trying to learn my way around a new city.

Queen Dublin

Of course I happened to move here right in the thick of the craziest week Dublin has ever seen. There’s Queen Elizabeth’s visit, her first EVER to Ireland, which is currently going on. Tonight is the UEFA final (football) and Saturday is the Leinster Cup final (rugby), and both are huge sporting events (so I’m told) and both in Dublin. On Monday, President Obama comes to visit for two days. All these events have Dublin on major lock-down: streets are closed off, public transportation is limited and there are literally 10,000 cops patrolling the streets.

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