We’ve Run Away



Maryland has had terrible weather in recent days: record-breaking cold and unexpected snow. It’s been a total drag.

Least that’s what I’ve heard.

I wouldn’t know firsthand since I’m in Ireland… pulling off a repeat performance of last year’s trip.

I didn’t plan my Irish return so soon. The plane ticket was an impulse buy, in the midst of mid-winter malaise. I was bummed out and blue for a few days.

Some people seek prescription treatment for depression. Others self-medicate with booze. There are those who find solace in shopping — watching the QVC network, or bidding on eBay items.

Me? I troll airline websites.

Still, looking at flights is one thing and buying is another. But one dreary day I was feeling exceedingly gloomy — trapped in that endless winter cycle of farm care, kid care, horse care — forever housebound. I needed to get out.

I tried rousting a few friends to grab lunch. But when no one responded, I cracked open my laptop and clicked on the Aer Lingus website. Then I barreled into Martin’s office.

“Can I go to Ireland?”

“Yes,” he answered.

“Are you sure? I mean, are you really sure? You’d have to take care of everything — kids, horses, farm… I’d don’t have to go but I was thinking maybe a week–”

“Yes, please, go.”

“Are you positive?”

“Yes, go! Farm, kids? I can handle it. Go. I want you to go.”

Translation: “You’ve been a moody cow lately. If Ireland’s the cure, I’m all in.” 

So that’s how this trip happened.

One “buy now” click later and I was booked for Ireland — departing the same day that I traveled last year. Afterward, Mom took care of Brynn’s plane ticket, and my friend, Sarah, decided to tag along, too. The three of us flashed our passports in Shannon before sunrise on Thursday morning.



Castletownshend, Co. Cork


So far we are four days into this trip, and I’m feeling pretty happy. No longer blue.

Also I can report: there’s no buyer’s remorse, either.





Surf and Sand


Last weekend we returned from our annual pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard, and I’ll let these photos and captions sum up the highlights. (Stay tuned for a farm-related post tomorrow.)


Kids confined:



Obama’s Vineyard vacation? Presidential presence was far less intrusive this time around.



Maisie stowed away and joined us.



With Crazy Maze and my cousins’ dog, Sally, our crew hiked every morning, exploring varying island terrain.



Some trails were more inviting than others.



Midweek Brynn decreed: manicures for everyone.




In a blink, the trip was over. One final swim. Then goodbye, MV.

Til next year.


A Land Far, Far Away


Last weekend the girls and I deposited a suitcase, a sleeping bag, a pillow, and Cayden, in front of a plywood cabin in somewhere, West Virginia. This marked The Boy’s first foray into the world of sleep-away camp.

Cayden was blase about our departure, waving a hasty goodbye as he joined his bunkmates.

I wasn’t too emotional, but I did feel as though we’d off-loaded him far from home. That’s the thing about West Virginia: invest a few hours behind the wheel and it’s another world. It’s incredibly mountainous and beautiful, but also remote and sparsely populated. And poor.

After we ditched Cayden, we stopped for lunch in a nearby town (and I use “nearby” and “town,” loosely). The restaurant, which also sold mattresses and appliances, was cluttered with random decor — firemen garb, Jesus loves you signs, tractor parts, military placards and framed newspaper clippings of the town’s claim to fame: a disastrous collision between a logging truck and a passenger train last year.

And as I paid our tab, I couldn’t ignore the sign at the candy counter. My first thought:

One-stop shopping for kids.


Then again, there isn’t a library or a movie theater or a Redbox kiosk for miles. When it comes to entertainment, eating chocolate while shooting things is probably the best gig in town.

Fortunately, Cayden’s camp is chocked full of activities like hiking and swimming. Archery is the only weaponry offered on site.

I think.