23 December 2015

season greetings from Killybegs

The last few weeks Killybegs underwent a holiday makeover.  On December 5th the big event scheduled was the arrival of Santa and the lighting of the Christmas Tree.  Unfortunately the festivities had to be cancelled due to the arrival of Storm Desmond, an extratropical cyclone, and rescheduled for the next night.
Shari and I walked down to the center of town to join the other people gathered to wait for the beginning of the event.  After about 1/2 hour we could hear music and drums from the distance playing some holiday tunes.  St. Catherine's School band led the parade in to the town center.  Some were playing their music with their accordions while others pounded to the beat of their drums.  After the music was finished, Santa made his entrance to the clapping of the crowd.  He walked around and bent down to the children's level where he gave out candy and took a lot of selfies.  Everyone was enjoying seeing the scene unravel.  The small kids were ecstatic.  Finally the moment everyone was waiting for happened.  The Christmas Tree's lights came on.  It was a fun time being there.  The interaction with the children and the people with Santa was really nice.  A nice family evening full of joy and happiness.

Below are some photos of the decorations seen around town.  Enjoy and have a safe and happy holiday season!!













The next four photos below are from Donegal Town




Shari does love her yarn


Killybegs Community Hospital

25 November 2015

keeping warm

This is our first winter in Donegal and we are in the learning stage of using our fireplace.  There are a few options that we can decide from to heat our cottage.  The first and the simplest one is to have some kerosene delivered.  We have a tank out behind our shed and a timer inside to control it when to come on and off.  We decided that we weren’t going to use that option this year because we want to see how the fireplace works.  The fireplace has a back burner which will heat our water and radiators, it just takes longer than the kerosene (2+ hrs).  Anyway, we’re not people who like lots of heat.  Lately we been firing up the fireplace around 4pm and keep it going till around 10-11pm.   It provides us with the warmth and is not overbearing.  There are also numerous choices on what to burn.  Briquettes, wood and coal.  We have been doing a combination of all three and that seems to be efficient for now.  The coal burns the hottest and if you place the briquettes or wood on top of that, it burns nice and steady.
Winter temperatures here are not the coldest we have experienced such as in Maine and Fairbanks, Alaska.   Actually, the temps feel like spring but the nights do get colder and generally remain above freezing.  Other factors are rain and wind.

So we will see how this winter goes for us.  We just started  using the fireplace a few weeks ago and are learning what works best for us.  As for now, it’s a little bit of everything.


SuperValu advertises what they sell.  It's very close to our cottage and we have a small shopping cart that we can use to haul the stuff back home.  Our neighbor has a supplier that will deliver the coal up to us so we don't need to buy that down at the store.  The other items can be purchased at Aldi's and Lidl's down in Donegal Town when our neighbors drive there to shop plus the items are a little bit cheaper.  Polish coal is not allowed in this area so the sign is a little outdated.  Prices are right though.


The coal comes in a 25kg bag.  We usually fill the pail up and bring it inside.  Doesn't smell at all.  Neither Shari or I couldn't believe that people still use coal these days but a lot still do.


We sometimes use a heat log when the fire is going good.  It is made of compressed sawdust.


Wood logs, compressed sawdust log and a fire starter log which burns for 2 hours and we sometimes use to get the fire going fast.  Then we add the wood or briquette and sometimes coal.


The briquette comes in a bundle of 20.  Once they start to burn, they break up in layers.  They last about an hour and smolder a bit longer before they are gone.

The end result


14 November 2015

Reboot

Finally, another post after months of silence :)  Well, our move and settling in to our new town has been completed for almost 6 months now.  Moving was hard considering Shari did mostly everything.  Unfortunately a case of the shingles prevented me from doing the simple things that you take for granted.  The numbness and some sensitivity is all that is left after 8 months and hopefully that will pass eventually too.

When we were done, it was nice to say we moved by bus.  I imagine not many people do that or would want to do it.  Anyway, it was a free option for us and it was different and for us different is good!

There are lots of interesting places to see in town and you can walk there which is a real bonus to us considering we no longer have a vehicle.  The bus has a regular stop here too and you can get anywhere you need to go plus we can catch a ride with one of our neighbors if we happen to being going to the same destination.

If you have questions about moving here, you will find the info on our moving experience earlier in this blog.  Email us with any questions you might have and we’ll try to answer them for you.

Going forward in this blog, we will be posting photos of the places we visit, things that catch our eyes as we walk around town and share our story with you.

There is a video that the Carpet Factory shows that illustrates how they made their famous Donegal Carpets.  It's a nice window in to the past.


Fintra Beach




Fintra Beach is a beautiful beach to stroll anytime.  The times I've been there, it wasn't crowded, just a few people walking their dogs.  It is very peaceful place to explore!!


01 May 2015

Moving

Well it has been a strange few months to start off 2015! Bill got some kind of crud from a guy in the GP's tiny waiting area--that was in February. Then he got some back spasms, which reoccur intermittently. Then he went down with a bad case of shingles. The pain which usually accompanies this did not begin until he was already 2 weeks in, but when it came, it incapacitated him. We had been thinking about moving but we were not having any luck getting return calls from letting agents so we decided to let it go, stay here, take day trips, and decide where we wanted to move at a later date.

As it turned out, the day trips never happened and it was just as well that we never got replies from letting agents, because Bill was in no shape to move or travel. At one point he commented that he wished the place he'd seen listed months ago--a terraced cottage in the Old Coast Guard Station in Killybegs--would become available again. At the time he first saw it, we were in the middle of our Ballinrobe lease and we could not pursue it. Less than a week after he said that, the listing was back up. I hadn't paid much attention to it before, since we couldn't pursue it anyway, but I looked at it this time and really liked it. It seemed like a shame in a way, because we both thought it would be snapped up before Bill could get well enough to travel. We watched and waited.

By the Easter holiday weekend he was saying he felt like we should go the next week. We decided to wait until the Tuesday following the holiday (which was 7 April) and see how he felt. If he still felt like he could go, I would call the letting agent and see if I could make contact.

Tuesday morning came and he gave the go-ahead. I called the office and spoke to the letting agent right then. He said the place was still available and we arranged to see it the following day. He asked if we could provide a letter of reference from a previous landlord and since we did not want to give notice here until we had another place, I emailed the landlord we had in Maine. He was kind enough to write a really great letter and email it to me. I forwarded that along to the letting agent. We booked a couple of nights in a B&B, packed our backpacks and caught the 7:20 am bus out of Ballinrobe the next morning. We got to town, went straight to the agent's office, went to the cottage, looked at it, said we would take it and then settled in to wait. He sent the letter to the owner and said he would contact us the next day. Late in the afternoon he called and said that the owner agreed to rent it to us so we went by and gave him a security deposit. The following week we went back with a small load and signed the lease. We paid the first month rent and got the keys. We have been going back and forth ever since, bringing suitcases and backpacks (Bill is still not up to par 2 months into this shingles stuff, so the loads are lighter than they otherwise would be). We have done 4 round trips and have a one-way journey next week when we move up to Killybegs for good. We have been moving by public transport. I have moved using a moving van, a U-Haul, the US Postal Service, our truck, and a plane, but this is the first time I have moved by bus--it's really handy to have places furnished here!

We have had a couple of surprises as we tidy up the odds and ends of moving house, as they say here. First of all, I think there is a bit of cross-cultural communication stuff that is tricky. When we look stuff up online we end up finding stuff that seems like it is what we need until you read further and things get confusing. The bank was a case in point. We found all this stuff online that made it sound like a long and involved process to switch branches. Finally we decided that it'd be best to just go to the bank and ask what we needed to do. When I said we were moving, the woman immediately assumed I wanted to close my account. I told her I didn't want to close it, but we'd be living in Killybegs and would need to use the bank there. "Oh you don't have to do anything," she said. I asked about changing contact info and she said that yes, we would have to do that and she would give us a form, which she spent 5 minutes searching for on the computer. She printed it and gave it to us, telling us to fill it out and bring it back. We got the form on Monday and left for Killybegs Tuesday. We came back yesterday and filled out, signed, and returned the form this morning. The woman there signed it, dated it, said she would fax it to Dublin and the change should happen Tuesday (this is a bank holiday weekend) or Wednesday. We are almost afraid to hope that it could be so easy.

Eircon is another thing. Bill was going around in circles trying to figure out what to do, so I googled "eircom service and moving" and got a simple form to fill out which supposedly will start the process of moving the service from one address to another. They are supposed to call and we will see. I have no more trust in them than I ever did, but they do hold one hostage--either through the contract or because they own the phone lines. Even if we try to switch to a new provider, we will still be entangled with them to some degree because they own the lines--and according to some stuff Bill has seen online, people have paid dearly for trying to go with a different provider. They really have worked out this rip-off con game quite well.

One unpleasant surprise was the post office. Turns out that if we want them to redirect our mail to the new address, we have to fill out a lengthy form, bring proof of address of a very specific type, and pay a 65 euro fee for 3 months of service--and it goes up from there. We have one piece of recurring mail that is important, so Bill changed the address on that and we will leave the rest to be delivered here and discarded by the next tenant--just as we did with the mail we got for the previous tenant!

All in all the good outweighs the bad. We may still have hassles with Eircom and the bank. The mail issue is a small one. The electricity seems like it'll be straightforward--we just send them a meter reading on our last day.

After trying to contact several letting agents and steeling myself for a hassle, we ended up having a wonderful experience. This guy is great. He has great communication practices, answers questions thoroughly and clearly, gave us a lease that was standard and gave general terms, then gave terms related specifically to that property and then attached a multi-page inventory of every single item in the house--right down to the number of plates and coffee mugs! I told him I was impressed with how thorough it all was. He brought us to the cottage and showed us how to use the water heater and when he had a question himself about a couple of things, he called the owner and got answers. He will manage the property as the owner lives in Dublin.

The owner went to the cottage before we signed the lease and cleaned everything, checked stuff, and even bought a stand alone freezer for the place! The fridge that was there was an under-the-counter model with a tiny freezer compartment. He felt a bigger one would be better so he got one. He also left a new frying pan and new wine glasses. I thought it was a really thoughtful thing to do. It was so wonderful to stumble into the place after a long day and find it some homey and welcoming!

Looking back, I am glad those other letting agents never called or emailed back. If they had, I might have missed my chance to live in the little cottage at the Old Coast Guard Station in Killybegs. As soon as we got off the bus, I felt like I was in the right place and when we walked into the cottage, I knew it was the right place for us.

04 March 2015

Cash

It's been interesting here to see how things run on cash here. Some places don't even bother to accept credit cards--both B&Bs we've stayed at were like that, so we made sure we had cash. Almost our only shopping is done in grocery stores, so I am not sure what it's like in other sorts of places, but we almost never see anyone pay with a debit card here. This is understandable when you consider that every time the debit card is used, a fee is charged--it was 20 cents when we first got our card, but I think it's gone up to 25 now. It would be easy for the fees to add up fast, so we have gotten into the habit of withdrawing cash and using that. This has the added benefit of making it much easier for us to know where we stand. The rent gets transferred to the landlord's bank account automatically each month. The electric bill gets taken out. The internet bill was being taken out by direct debit as well, but after our problems with the company, Bill will opt to pay that for the remaining few months of our contract. Because Bill's Social Security payment is in dollars, but is deposited into a bank that deals in euro, we are never sure exactly what our actual monthly income will be--it depends on the exchange rate and this has changed quite a lot since we got here as the euro has weakened against the dollar. When we arrived it was 1 euro to US$1.44. Now it's about 1 euro to US$1.12. In practical terms, our income has gone up automatically for the past 10 months, but of course, what goes up, must come down, eventually :-)

I know pretty much what our monthly bills will be--the electricity is the only thing that varies, and that comes every couple of months, so I just figure on 50 euro a month for that. It's not been that much yet, so that works. Because I know how much we need to leave in the bank, we can take out the cash we need and that's what we use.

One thing I noticed right away was how tiny the tills in the grocery stores are. I've been in a lot of grocery stores and worked retail a few times over the decades and I am used to the big, flat tills with slots for all of the bills to lay down flat. here they are tiny, little metal rectangular boxes that have space for the coins and spaces for the bills to stand up on the long edge. This can be done because the bills are different colours and sizes, with the size increasing as the denomination gets larger.

It's easy to see at a glance what you have. They have 100 and 500 euro notes as well--we had some when we got here, but the larger notes are not as readily accepted--we had to use the 500 euro note to pay our security deposit on our apartment because no bank would change it for us. The people in the office commented that they don't usually see those.

There are no 1 euro notes--they do that in coins. There's a 2 euro coin, too--change accumulates quickly.
Someone told us that she has a container where she throws all her 2 euro coins at the end of each day. When she goes on holiday, that's a good part of her spending money. She said it's amazing how quickly it adds up!
We toss our change into a small container and when we get a text from the library saying a book is in, we take the 1 euro per item fee from the container.
This currency took some getting used to at first--we had to examine all the coins to see what we had as we were paying for something. But now it's easy to differentiate. It doesn't seem so much like play money anymore!

01 March 2015

Attempting to Make Contact When Trying to Rent

When we moved here, we had no idea where we would end up. We'd narrowed things down to the west, but that was about it. We'd learned about daft.ie and spent many, many hours poring over listings for the last few months we were in Maine. We'd look at listings and then google the towns where these places were located so we could see whether they had bus service and a grocery store--we didn't have a lot of requirements!

Looking at the listings was quite interesting--it was amazing to see the ways in which people had tried to turn smallish kitchens into sitting room/kitchen combos, shoving the couch in there almost up against the under-counter washing machine.

Daft.ie has a big blue button on each listing that says "email this advertiser" and on a couple of occasions, we did, trying to set up appointments to see the places listed. We got no replies.

We arrived at our B&B still having no idea where we would go, but we bought a pay-as-you-go Tesco Mobile and then revisited Daft. We found a possible place up the road from Galway and Bill called the letting agent. He left a message. It was Friday evening, so it did not seem surprising that no one answered. The next morning, he sent a message to the same letting agent about another property she had listed in the next town. We figured that letting agents must work on Saturdays, so we expected to at least get some kind of response.

We went down to breakfast and were chatting with the Irish woman who owns the B&B. We told her about the phone call and message. A strange look came over her face and she was clearly choosing her words carefully when she gently explained that Irish people are very laid back and business is not done as it is in the US--we should not expect people to be eager to do business. It was unlikely that we would get a reply anytime soon from the letting agent and it was likely that her office did not even open until 10. I was very happy to have this information, because it helped us refine our plan of action!

After breakfast we went for a walk, stopping at the grocery store to get food for the rest of the day. We returned to our room, fired up the computers and spent the rest of the day prioritizing towns and villages. After hours of searching, we had discovered that Ballinrobe had several likely looking places available, all listed by the same letting agent Bill had already contacted. That was at the top of the list and our plan was to call at 10 on Monday morning.

When I called, I left a rather long message, explaining that we were looking for a place to rent quickly and since she had several places listed that we thought would work, we were sure that if she had time to see us the following day, we would be willing to take one of them. She called back within an hour and although we had to play phone tag all day and deal with leaving messages and a dropped call on her end, we ended the day with an appointment at 2 the following day--she'd squeezed us in.

She seemed a bit bewildered as she showed us a couple of places and pleased when we took the apartment. By then I understood that this was not how things are usually done, but it worked--she called us back and we moved into the apartment on the very day our week at the B&B was up. The guy from the B&B even drove us up here with our luggage, helped us bring it up, and showed us how the heaters and water heater timer worked, because the letting agent had given us the lease to sign, collected the first month's rent, brought us up and then raced off.

We signed a one year lease which will be up in less than a month and a half. We have been trying to decide whether to stay here or whether to go elsewhere. Once again we have been spending a lot of time on daft and learning about small towns and villages. Once again we have pressed the "email advertiser" button on listings. We rarely get a reply. One person did respond to tell us the place in question had been taken a couple of days before--the listing stayed up for about a week afterwards. Other letting agents have not bothered to respond. By now, none of this surprises me and I expected it, so in one case I waited a few days and called. I was surprised to speak to a live person and even more surprised when she asked me why I wanted to move to that area. I answered her, but was thinking, "That's not really any of your business!" She took my name and contact number and assured me that as soon as she talked to the guy, someone would be calling to set up an appointment for a viewing. I told her that we would be arriving by bus and staying overnight and that we were likely to take the place in question and would be prepared to give him a security deposit at the time of the viewing. She responded with, "OK, leave it with me and we'll get back to you."

That was 10 days ago (17 since the first attempt at contact through the Daft listing) and there has been no response. At this point we have decided to skip it. I am not sorry about this, because I like Ballinrobe. We will stay here for now, travel around and visit other places, doing day trips when we can and staying for a day or two in some places. If we find a place we want to go we will call and then appear in person. We will have to be aggressive, as we were when we arrived. There will be a lot of hassles involved and although I am willing to deal with them, it will be for a place that I really want to go to, not a place I settle for because that's the letting agent that decided to do their job and reply to a potential customer!

24 February 2015

The Winner is Story #4--Mostly!

We think that today might have been the day in which the latest sorry chapter in the Eircon saga ended. To briefly recap, a 150 euro charge appeared on the bill out of the blue almost halfway through our contract. Bill called to see what it was about and was told that it was not going to be removed from the bank account, but would sit there until 3 successful direct debit payments had been made. So our bill would show that we owed 185 euro, but only the 35 euro monthly fee would come out of our account. The next month, this is what happened. No problem. The following month, the entire amount was removed and Bill had his monthly chat with a "customer service" rep, who told him that the 150 would be put back within 10 working days. When those days came and went, he called again. A case was opened. he was given a case number. He was assured that a check would come by post within 15 working days. By the time these 15 days had passed us by, it was the week after Christmas, so we waited until the holidays were over and we were into January before Bill called again to hear story #4, which was that there was a credit pending on the account. This would show up on the next bill, which would also show that they were taking our monthly fee out of the credit. The next bill came a week and a half later, with no credit appearing, so he called again and was told that they would be taking the charges from our bank account and the credit, which was still pending, would appear on the NEXT bill and eventually our monthly charges would come out of that. So we had 5 stories, 3 of which had already proven false. There was little we could do except watch the bank account and wait for this next bill. During that whole process, our monthly charge has gone up to 50 euro from the 35 we paid for the first 6 months of our contract (we knew this would happen) so we waited to see about December, January, and February. This morning, Bill checked the Eircon site and saw that our balance is now -0.03 cents. The bank account has not been touched, so it appears that the woman who gave us story number 4 was mostly correct. It never did show up on the bill, but they did what she said they would do. Hopefully that's an end to this hassle now, and there will be no more surprises forthcoming!

24 January 2015

Redirected

I got a reply from the Consumer Protection Commission last evening. It was mostly a form letter with a bit of stuff tacked on at the end. They said that they would suggest a formal complaint, in writing--to Eircom, I assume--and if that doesn't produce results, and if I feel they are in violation of the contract, I should report them to ComReg, the regulatory body that supposedly oversees telecommunications.

The problem in this case is that we have no idea what the contract is. Nowhere in the paperwork they sent does it mention this 150 euro deposit. Requiring a deposit of this sort seems like a fairly common practice here. When we were setting up the electricity, we received paperwork that stated they would require a 400 euro deposit if we did not set up direct debit. We set it up, they took the 400 euro out and then put it back within days. We have never had a problem with them. They say what they will do and they do what they say.

With Eircon, you're told a different story every time, so who knows what the procedure is. If they were clear that they were going to take the money for a certain period of time and they did that, I would not have an issue. Instead, they simply tacked it on a few months into the contract. Then they said they wouldn't take it. Then they took it and have given us a bunch of different stories about how and when they will return it. I am not sure how anyone can be expected to enter into any kind of contract when things keeps shifting.

The latest thing they're pulling is sending everyone letters saying that their rates may be going up. Since they have new plans and bundles every week, it seems, it has been difficult to know whether this includes our plan. I was pretty pissed off at the idea that while we are legally obligated to abide by the contract, even if we have not given written consent, do not understand the terms, or cannot get a straight answer about what the contract entails. they are free to disregard the most basic part of the contract and raise prices on a whim. However, whether because of Irish laws or those of the EU, they have to offer customers a way out of the contract without penalty--at least in theory. So if we are a part of this rate hike, we should be able to cancel the contract--although it would not surprise me to learn that they have some other unethical plan to punish people who try. In any case, we shall see. If we can get out of the contract, then we may well avail of the opportunity to escape the clutches of Eircon, even if it means being without home broadband for a couple of months until we move.

23 January 2015

The Latest Chat with "Eircon"

Bill chatted again this morning with a rep from Eircom (they should be called "Eircon," but that would give the game away, I guess) regarding the unauthorized withdrawal from our bank account as I described in yesterday's post. I guess it will not be a surprise to anyone to learn that he got still another story about when and how we can expect the return of this money. This time the story is that they will take the December and January bills out of our bank account and the 150 euro credit will be applied beginning NEXT month. It is interesting how it always ends up being NEXT month, which never quite seems to arrive. This story makes no sense whatsoever, since if they were planning to direct debit the regular monthly fees, why did they not do so in December? Bill asked why the story this month was different yet again and the woman had no idea how to answer. He asked for contact information for someone with more authority and was directed to the same old number that he has had to use before--they are no better than chat. In fact they are worse, because we have no record of the phone conversations as we do with chat. He asked how much it would cost if we terminated our contract early (it runs until mid May) and was told it'd be 186 euro, so he asked her to itemize that for him. Turns out that, in spite of being told that we would keep the modem, we would have to pay 41 euro for that--or so she said. Since you never can believe anything they tell you, who knows?

I decided we needed some help here, so I contacted the Consumer Protection Commission. Hopefully they can give us some advice on what our rights are and how best to proceed with this. We both want to be done with this and we both want Eircon out of our lives. We are not the only ones to have this particular problem with them and I am sure we will not be the last. Other people have other problems and we have had many since this all started. They already got 50 euro from us by charging us for a phone line that we did not want, but they said we must have--only later did we find out that it was not even live. Bill was told at the very beginning that there would be no set-up fee and there were two of them--one for the non-live phone line and one for the broadband. We were told the modem was in the mail and when it didn't arrive, Bill called and the guy found the work order had not been forwarded or processed. The bill sailed through, though, because we got that before we got the modem. They've charged us fees because of their own mistakes and Bill has had to contact them and get those credited. Now they have effectively stolen 150 euro from us and promise to return it "next month." It's really the last straw. In my query to the consumer people, I mentioned that we've had a whole series of issues with them, but focused on this particular one. They are supposed to get back to me within 3 days. I have no way of knowing whether they will or whether this is yet another waste of time, but I guess I will find out.

22 January 2015

Eircom Raids the Bank Account!

In case anyone has missed my previous posts about Eircom, here's a recap: AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

We have had nothing but trouble with them from the start. We have been ripped off and it would have been worse, except that Bill has carefully monitored every bill we have gotten. Not one month has gone by without him having to call or chat in order to straighten out some crap that they have tried to pull. Chat provides a transcript, so he's been doing that, in case we need evidence. The last three months have been a doozy of a rip-off, because they went into our bank account and removed 150 euro.

This amount appeared on the bill as a "deposit." Bill contacted them to find out what it was about. The guy said that it would just sit there and after 3 successful direct debits, it would come off the bill. On the bills we would see the 150 plus the regular monthly fee, but they would only withdraw the monthly fee. The first time, this is exactly what they did. The next time, they took out the fee and the 150 euro. Bill chatted. "That will be returned to the bank account within 10 working days," he was told. Needless to say, 10 working days came and they went and there was no sign of our 150 euro.

Another bill showed up. Bill chatted again. This time there was a pause while Eircom dude went to investigate. He returned to his keyboard and informed Bill that he would have to open "a case." Bill would be given a case number and would receive a check in the mail within 15 working days. You will not be surprised to learn that 15 working days passed without any sign of a check.

Meanwhile, the new bill came. It sat there. Last week, Bill chatted again. He provided the case number and wondered where our 150 euro might be and what was going on with the current outstanding bill. This time he was told that there is a refund credit pending, so they will take the outstanding balance out of that. Everything would show up on the next bill, she said--the 150 euro credit and the fact that the December balance as well as the January one had come out of that credit.

Guess what!? We just got the January bill, which states that we are in arrears. There is no sign of the credit. So now we have to worry that they will extract even more money from our account.

This is the most toxic company I have ever had the misfortune to deal with. They are dishonest. They lie. They rip you off. Steer clear.

15 January 2015

Status Red!

We were warned for the past few days that we'd be getting a storm with high winds coming in from the Atlantic. Met Eireann set the warning status at orange, which is the intermediate level, with yellow being the lowest and red being the highest. Yesterday they changed it to red for exposed coasts and mountainous regions in several counties, including Mayo, suggesting that people could expect sustained winds of 80 km/h with gusts between 130-150 km/h. They urged people to stay home and asked local authorities to consider closing schools today because of the potential for very high winds overnight and into this morning.

Yesterday morning there was snow on the ground from the night before.
That soon melted as things warmed up and the precipitation changed to sleet and hail. By afternoon the wind was picking up and by evening it was really howling out there. It was wild and made all kinds of sounds as it whipped things around. It really does sound like a train at times. Our deck has metal railings and as the wind whipped around, we could hear the railings making noise--it was like the wind was playing an instrument.
We made sure our headlamps had batteries and the phone was charged. We made coffee and put it in our insulated stainless steel mugs in case we lost power. After that coffee was gone, I boiled some water in the kettle and filled them again, wrapping them in socks and a thick wool cowl and then placing them in the microwave--I figured with all of that insulation, the water would stay pretty warm and would allow us to have coffee or tea this morning if the power went out last night.

Our walls are more than a foot thick and this was not the first time I have really appreciated that fact. If I lived in a different kind of building, I would have been nervous. I would not have been surprised to lose power, as was happening to many around the country, but we didn't. I went to bed around 12:30 and was just drifting off to sleep when I heard the sound of water gushing nearby. I thought we'd sprung a leak or something, so I jumped out of bed and went to investigate. All was well. The water was pouring off of the roof outside and the wind was blowing it around, but it was staying outside. One of the first things we noticed when we got here was that there is a little lip all the way around the opening where the door sits--both sides, top, and bottom. We had to get used to stepping up and over the bottom lip. I realized it was probably because of wind, but I wonder if it has something to do with the rain, too. If the bottom of the door frame had been like the ones we had in the US (except Alaska, where they built for the cold), we would have had rain coming in under the door, I think.

I must say that I am pretty impressed with ESB, the electricity people. They are definitely no Eircom style company--they actually do a really good job. This afternoon there are still 16,000 people without power and that really is not bad. It stinks if you're one of the 16,000, I know, but this was some big wind and I would've expected that number to be much higher.

Apparently the storm was moving north of Ireland, so we got the southern edge, and Donegal, in the north, got hit the worst, although it sounds like Co Galway got hit pretty bad, too. It's heading straight for Scotland, where they can expect hurricane force winds. Keep your fingers crossed for the folks there!



07 January 2015

Signing Up to Be an Organ Donor

We got our organ donor cards in the mail today.
Bill had requested them from the Irish Kidney Association website. Once they arrived here, all we had to do was sign our cards and then sign the other person's card as next of kin. Now we will carry them with us. That's it. Very simple, very quick, and possibly very important to someone someday!

03 January 2015

Day, Month, Year

On Christmas Day, Bill told me that there was one more thing on the way, but it hadn't arrived yet. Yesterday, it did. He got me a secondhand, simple, small camera! Guess he got tired of me waving him over on our walks and giving him instructions for a photo that I envisioned--LOL. So if you notice that some of the photos on this blog are not up to the previous standards, it will probably be because I took them instead of Bill. I have no idea what I am doing, but I will have fun being creative and I already have ideas for art projects.

This calendar has been up for a few days. We picked it up at the library last month. It was only this morning that I noticed what was odd about it!

I shall have to remember the order of the days when I look at that one!

I am also careful about dates here. Today is 3/1/15, not 1/3/15. I have taken to writing or saying the month when I need to--Jan 3, 2015. I think many or even most people here would write 3 Jan 2015, but at least there's no misunderstanding there there, either way it's written!

01 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2015! May it be a wonderful year filled with lots of love, joy, laughter, curiosity, kindness, health, and happiness!

This is how the sun set in Ballinrobe on the last day of 2014. Since it's raining and quite windy today, we may have to wait until tomorrow for the first sunset of 2015 :-)