25 November 2011


just a little addition to my last post...

1) I didn't even learn how to ride a bicycle until I was 10 years old. I never got the hang of the balancing part, so once I got too big for training wheels I gave up on it. By the time I was 10 my sister couldn't stand it anymore so she dragged me up hills and made me ride down them till I fell. Then came the magical moment when I didn't fall. I rode all day until I was stiff as a board. Today I rode until my calves started to cramp.

2) I am pretty sure that the blinking lights I bought for my bike have already saved my life. Probably more than once.

on a very unrelated note:

D. F. -- Rest in peace, and memory eternal.

bits and bobs


Would you believe that I've been living in Ireland for almost three months and I only just now bought a waterproof jacket?


Well, I got my tax back today, which I wasn't expecting and which essentially doubled this week's paycheck. So I bought stuff.

First thing I did was eat a huge meal at Cornucopia, which is the only restaurant in Dublin that I will actually get food from--and it's SO GOOD! They cater amazingly well to food allergy people, and every dish and combination there is pure imagination. I got a fruit salad to take home, then ate a pear, hazelnut, and vinegar salad along with a huge serving of spicy vegetables/chickpeas over rice. Then I went to a little market next door and got the first of my Christmas presents for people! (besides postcards, which I've slowly been collecting.)

After that I went to an outdoorsy store called Port West, which I'm pretty sure originated in Ireland. Everything was on sale to some degree. I got a purple waterproof shell jacket (30 euro), a short-sleeve underlayer for cycling (25 euro), and a pair of bike shorts with the pads in 'em for bony arses like mine (15 euro). I was like a kid in a candy store at that place. Even tho 70 euro is a lot to spend on, like, three things, I've seen padded bike shorts on sale for 50-70 euro in bike shops, underlayers on sale for 40-50 euro each in other outdoorsy stores, and similar jackets for twice as much. I'm very pleased.

Then I went to the Catholic bookstore everythingstore Veritas and got me some advent candles. I only have a single candle stand, tho, so I'll have to burn them one at a time, rather than all at once. But that's okay; I'll just make sure I use the right colours in the right weeks, and if I still have purple candles left over after Christmas I can save them until Lent.

Also, I started buying meats at Irish butcher shops, and I can't believe I was wasting money on Tesco meat... shopping at Tesco is basically like shopping at Wal-Mart in the States, it's propping up a huge industrial machine that is slowly eating up small businesses, and supports the UK economy much more than the Irish one. I tho't the meat there was extra cheap so I was buying it, but man... I got a huge ham hock today for 3 euro--I swear it weighs like five pounds--and the other day I got three lambs' livers for a quid and a half. I can also get half a trout at the fish stop on Phibsborough road for 3 euro, which makes 2.5 meals with rice.

I'm gonna make a cabbage and ham stew with bean sprouts and chunks of rutabaga. I should probably simmer my stock tonight and make it in the morning. I won't be hungry again after all that food in Cornucopia... *clutches stomach*



My two new hobbies: cycling and collecting churches. By "collecting churches" I mean taking pictures of as many as I can. A lot of the churches in Ireland are open to the public during the day, all week, so I take pictures of the outsides and then the insides if I can. There is so much amazing architecture  here, it blows my mind... so many gorgeous Catholic churches... too bad the corruption of the clergy here has had to mar it and empty so many of them out. I like to pray in the empty buildings, but I don't go to Mass in them anymore. It's unfortunate, but the Masses tend to be very shallow and ill-suited to the majestic buildings they inhabit... I prefer to pray and imagine in peace.

I don't only take pictures of Catholic churches, of course. Any churches that catch my eye as being particularly interesting or pretty.

As for cycling... I feel more alive than I have in forever. I'm shite at riding up hills, but I'm getting better. I love my suicide gears and my hybrid frame and wheels. I bought some blinking lights for riding at night, too--red for the rear, white for the front. Apparently the blinking helps cars gauge how fast you're coming at 'em. I didn't know that before.

that's all for now. thanks fer readin'.


21 November 2011

rothar -- my new best friend

I just got my bike from the nonprofit recycle bike place today. It is a blue ladies' hybrid, most parts recycled, a tad rusty but in perfect working condition. It has suicide gears, which I am new to but already love. I am the happiest person right now.

I named him Rothar, which is the name of the bike shop and basically means bicycle in Irish (pronounced ˈrohər according to wiktionary, but I just say "rahthar" 'cause I'm a dumb American). 

He's a very good bike. I bought a 45 euro lock for him, already have a helmet, and just got a high-visibility vest from this abandoned plant that I found a few weeks ago (funnily enough, I got the vest with permission from the guy who is only just now letting the property... I first found it whilst trespassing, haha. Didn't tell him that, tho. And he invited me back to their grand opening night on Dec 1st!). The vest is in the wash right now. Used to belong to a construction worker. Might be decades old... no way of telling.

I just rode to work and back, trying to get a feel for the route, and even while getting lost a few times (having to follow the flow of traffic, with all its one-way streets, rather than footpaths), I did about 8-10 km in the hour that it normally takes me to walk 4.5-5 km. I'm SO ready to start riding this bike 10+ km a day on top of my work commute. Dublin traffic may kill me, but there's a lot of cyclists and we're travelling pretty much the same speeds as the cars in most cases, traffic is so slow. Bike lanes in Dublin are a joke unless you're travelling in a straight line beside a waterway (the Liffey or one of the canals). I'm getting used to being on the left side of the road, too. And dodging buses. Taxis are worse than buses, but buses are SO BIG.

Yes, Mama, I always wear my helmet, and always will. (NOTE FROM 2013: actually I stopped wearing my helmet in Dublin traffic a few months after this post, haha)


I've been having a lot of digestive issues lately, due to coeliac or damage from coeliac. Basically my chest has been aching like I got shot with a shotgun for a week or so, my acid reflux is so bad. I was so worried for a while there that I'd have to go back to the States to get hiatal hernia surgery. Well, I don't care if my stomach literally catches fire, you're not taking me away from Dublin and Ireland and my Rothar until my year is friggin' up.

Luckily, taking digestive enzymes with betaine HCl seems to be helping me out, as does laying off fats, which I don't think I'm digesting properly. I think I may have low stomach acid--hypochloridia. I've been talking to other coeliacs online and it seems to be common among us, along with a lazy pancreas that doesn't produce enough digestive enzymes. I just got super-duper enzymes with 600 mg HCl and 90 mg ox bile, so I will try those with some full meals tomorrow and see if they help or not. I've also been taking slippery elm bark, which is a wonderful supplement that coats the throat, stomach, and intestines to soothe inflammation. Taking it is basically drinking slime, but you do what you have to, ya know? I do plan on seeing a doctor eventually but I want to find the right one, given that I'll be paying 50-75 euro for the privilege. I don't want one that will just prescribe nexium et al. after a five minute conversation, because I tried taking over-the-counter ppi pantoprazole and it seemed to make things worse. Like, my stomach stopped emptying out after meals and I stopped getting hungry at all. I only made it about six days into the 14-day course of it.

But I still can't eat normal portion sizes, and since I have to lay off calorie-dense foods like nuts and seeds because of the high fat content, I got myself some hemp protein powder to mix into things in order to build myself some good biking muscles. I will also start eating a lot more fish and lean meats. I'm not sure how well I tolerate eggs. And I def. can't eat dairy, like butter and ice cream and stuff, or any candies or anything. Hopefully finding the right dosage of HCl will allow me more fats etc. so that I can build my body back up! 

I want to be strong and active, not weak and pale, sitting on my ass in an office all day. That's why I've been walking to work instead of taking the bus. Now I can go so many places. In a few weeks I will attempt to bike to Howth lighthouse--about a 20 km journey one way.


12 November 2011

imagery Jam likes

Here's a short list of things that I like to see, and that I tend to take pictures of. No particular order or reasoning. Once I start uploading the pictures I've been taking (I will eventually, I promise...) you'll start seeing this stuff a lot.

1. Stone churches. Catholic churches are the best for this, but any old churches will do it. I especially like taking pictures of Catholic churches at night, or pictures of them in interesting lighting. I love stone crosses with moss or ivy on them. I love seeing crosses contrasted against the sky or lit up by the moon.

2. Graffiti. I think a huge part of the personality of a city is expressed in its graffiti.

3. Lanes and roads stretching into the distance. I love to go on walks in the city, wandering down streets just to see where they go. I love trees and architecture. I love doors, arches, and gates--portals to other places, full of untold stories. I do take pictures of lanes all the time, lanes I wish I could walk down, or lanes that really lead nowhere in particular. But the pictures can't quite catch the essence of what it is like to walk past a road or lane and wonder about where it would lead you.

4. Interesting textures and shapes.

5. Urban decay. Especially abandoned buildings, or decaying structures juxtaposed against brand-new ones or construction. Buildings being swallowed by ivy are also fun.

6. Trees and water. Horizons. General nature-y stuff--the kind that ends up on postcards. You know the drill.

I've already filled up a 2G memory card with pictures and need to sort thru them and post some. I went on a day tour to Wicklow today and ended up with another gig or so of pictures (altho lots are duplicates that will be whittled down). Saw three lakes, went on a forested walk, wandered around monastic ruins and a 500 y/o graveyard. I'm proud of myself for leaving Dublin for the first time since I got here! Even if it was only for one day, on a silly tour that barely lasted as long as it should've. Next weekend I'm going to Galway :3

03 November 2011


Just paid a 50 euro deposit at Rothar for a hybrid/road bike they are going to rebuild for me. Frame is rusty and old but the rest of it will be fine and in working order. Cost: 165 euro, plus a 45 euro lock to keep it from getting stolen--total of 210 euro.

Pricey, for me. but you know what? I want a bike, and I want a decent bike for the first time in my life, rather than a stupid cheap wal*mart mountain bike or a 1-speed cruiser that I have to walk up hills. I could wait indefinitely for someone to sell a decent bike on gumtree (Irish craigslist) for cheap, or I can support a cool nonprofit bike shop in town and have a bike in 10 days. A bike that I know works and has a month of guaranteed servicing on it.

I've decided that I'm going to start biking out into greater Dublin on a regular basis, especially out to the sea. And I may take the bike on the bus eirann (for a little extra fee) so that I can explore other parts of Ireland on my bike as well. More of the country will be accessible to me this way, and it means less time spent walking from site to site if I take a day/weekend trip out anywhere.

Besides, as far as my health goes, the only time I truly and remarkably feel WELL is when I'm out walking. I don't feel the fatigue and headaches that settle in when I'm sitting still. So I walk for hours. Why not ride for hours and see more of the city and the country while I am at it?

I'm going to work myself up to a 17 km ride out to Howth light house. Then, who knows.

Next order of business is to buy a helmet, which I can get in a bike shop on parnell street, he said. Then a high-visibility vest (I know where I can get one for free).

I'm kinda excited now. Next Thursday I'll call them back ~

(plus, this is all gonna be paid for just from my paychecks since I got here. I haven't been able to rebuild my savings yet, but I haven't been spending from my savings since I got my first paycheck--except for medical supplements from time to time.)