Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week Three: Chelsea

Hello again! As we have been settling in, there seems to be less time for things like this. Or rather, we are finding other things to do other than spend our time on the internet. Like walks along the river looking at honeybees and mushrooms.

Irish weather has settled in, and yesterday we experienced gale-force wind combined with medium rain. I thought there was thunder... it was the wind sucking up air in the stove vent. One of the small houses claimed that they were going to be blown away. With the time change this weekend it is completely dark by supper time. I feel like knitting and hunkering down for the winter, but snow will never really come!

In the weavery I am learning a whole lot. I have only really done about an hour of weaving, since there are lots of other people who can do this part. Otherwise I have been doing finishing work, learning how to set up a loom, and learning how to create a pattern for people. One of the women I live with, Jill, is a fantastic weaver. She works very quickly on this gigantic loom to make shawls, rugs, and tablecloths. Most people follow a pattern that is designed for certain shafts to be lifted on the loom at certain times, but Jill has a natural knack for a modified tweed, and that is what she does for her cloth. It is lovely work, and the general feel of the room is quite calming on me.

Jeff and I have been making a point of trying to go somewhere when we have a day to do so. Last week we went to Derry, a.k.a Londonderry, which is in the very north of the island about an hour by bus from here. It is a walled city with a very torrid history, and was the site of Bloody Sunday. For the first time since we have been here, I was very aware of my Catholic background. What I did not know about the country is that a lot of the troubles were based on the civil rights movement of the US. In Derry Catholics (and some working class Protestants) protested the housing and employment situation in many different ways, both peacefully and not. Derry and Belfast were centers for this activity, or at least that is what the info in Derry told us. All over Derry there are murals and graffiti, some from the time of these struggles and some from, I do not know, maybe last week. Striking to see such open conflict. Anyway, you are all capable of finding out what happened if you are interested. But from our end, it was very strange being there. A very modern city, with big issues four hundred years ago as well as big problems in my lifetime. After all of our walking around we went to a pub where Jeff had his first Guinness, and I had a baked potato with "no meat"... which apparently translates to a can of tuna. Woops.

This week many people go on "holiday" for the long weekend, so at the house it will just be Jeff and I, Dessie, and Theimo (a farmer also attached to Rainbow). We will have a little break from the normal schedule, which Jeff and I hardly need at this point. Afterward we will have two days to ourselves to go visit Dublin. More to come!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jeff's first post!

Most of you know that Chelsea is the responsible and diligent one but its about time that I made my presence known on this here blog so here goes!

We are just about settled and I had my first day of real "work" today. This morning I got to pick carrots from the field. It is starting to get cold here and that means the crops have to come out lest they rot in the fields. It was quite nice working in the morning as the sun burned of the morning fog. I struggle to understand the farmer Jim through his thick Irish brogue but from his inflection I can usually tell the required response and I just laugh along when it seems to be right. I already have developed somewhat of a poor excuse for an Irish accent that I need to consciously push down. I don't want to sound the stupid american with the terrible accent. But I have already taken to saying Aye and Wee. It just is easier for communicatin'.

In the afternoons I am working in the woodworking shop with I am quite at home with. It is nice to work with tools again. We do almost exclusively carving which will be nice to bolster my creative side. As many of you can imagine, I miss the right angles and straight lines of furniture making but none-the-less it is good to be working with wood and building things again.

Yesterday we got a chance to go on an outing and we posted the pictures below. We are loving our new camera and Ireland will surely bring many more picturesque vistas to capture. We went with our house to some ancient stone circles seen in one picture below with me standing inside. We also drove around and stopped near an old stone farmhouse and the light was phenomenal.

More reflections to come!

Quintessential Ireland For You

Took a trip yesterday. These are some fancy photos from our time. Check out what beautiful work our new camera can do! We are quite proud and excited.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chelsea Post 2

Today this place finally felt like I imagined N. Ireland should. I have soggy boots and hair! This should not excite me as much as it does, and I am sure it will get old. There are so many things to talk about this first week, and I do not want to bore anyone such that they never read this thing. So, I think I will do most of this in list form. The essential bit is that I am feeling fine and in good spirits.

1. Weavery is as awesome as I expected, and I may even be learning to spin with a “villager” from the master spinner that comes in twice a week.
2. “Villager” is the term they use around Clanabogan for the adults with special needs. I am having and will continue to have problems with this. After all, if this is a village, aren’t we all villagers? It is a tricky thing to do, name a group of folks. I struggle.
3. We went into Omagh today. For a town of 20,000, there’s sure a lot of traffic! We shopped for conditioner, ate at a little-too-fancy pub (Jeff had Irish Stew… I had a cheese sandwich. I think I will be eating a lot of those here), and managed to get library cards. Navigating pounds and pence (pences?) was easy enough. A price x2 is the cost in US dollars, but everything is more expensive here, so it all seems just about right if I pretend the pounds price is dollars. Our fun-money stipend is comfortable.
4. Hot mango pickle sauce is an installment here, and I am in love.
5. Met a maintenance-man/tea-time-musician here named Adrian. Turns out there is something about the name… all Adrians are wonderful. He was quietly happy to see that I could sing some refrains with him. Also, I’m getting to know and love another man named Timmy, who lives in Rainbow. I am slowly learning some of his signs so that we can communicate, but he already makes me smile a whole lot.

That’s all for now, more soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009



Monday was our arrival, and since then I believe we have slept nearly thirty hours. We are still somewhat shell-shocked. We are living in a house called Lilac Cottage, which is quite nice, although a misnomer, as it has no lilacs to speak of. All our photos below are of this house, we have not had a chance to bring the camera elsewhere. This is the place we will sleep, but much of our time is in Rainbow House (I know.). Rainbow is where we will eat, socialize with everyone, and where many of our responsibilities lay. My schedule is set and I am quite happy with it, although Jeff still has some holes in his. Mornings for me will be at the house, doing domestic type things with three women named Jill, Kristin, and Linda. I understand we will do laundry perhaps, and cook the lunch meal for about 15 people (which is like dinner at home, the biggest meal). We have three hours to do all of this, which seems more than enough compared to the one hour I had at Morning Glory cooking for 12 folks. This just means I get to do more exciting things. Only one guy does not like spice, thank goodness! In the afternoon I will be in the weavery. On our tour yesterday we walked in there and I had to pull the doofy grin off my face-- I was a kid in a candy shop! Color everywhere, and piles and piles of yarn. I begin my time there on Monday. More soon!