All who wander are not lost (mostly)

Bridge St. In Carrick-on-Shannon

We’ve seen a lot of charming public houses in Ireland, but we always seem to end up in a tea room. After a long morning of wandering in the Irish countryside, we stopped in historic Carrick-on-Shannon for refreshment. We walked up Bridge St. past a pub, which had mouthwatering savory aromas, and crossed the street to get to Tegi’s Tea House. We felt immediately at home with the tufted velvet chairs and floral wallpaper. The display cases were filled with sweet delights as well as fresh salad ingredients and savory croissants. We ordered roasted vegetable soup, a ham and cheese croissant and a salad bowl.

Tegi behind her stunning display case

For dessert, we had bread pudding with custard and cream and a coffee Swiss roll. The cream in Ireland is magical and has no ill effects on the body. Same with the butter and cheese.

A gentleman at the next table kindly pointed out that the Earl Grey was better without milk. We chatted about our travels so far and he asked if we had read a little Yeats at Glen-Car Falls. I proudly replied that I had indeed read Stolen Child aloud to Nancy before we set out. He shared some additional insight into Irish history and culture, thank you Nile from Sligo.

See pictures below of our stop at St. Columba’s Church in Drumcliffe to pay respects to W.B. Yeats.

Simple farewell to a legendary poet
Bluebonnets near a gravestone at St. Columba’s
Sheep meadow on the walk to Glen-Car Falls.
Glen-Car Falls, just East of Sligo
Last tea party of the day

We wrapped up the day with a tea party in our room. Locally made brie , Carr’s cream crackers, impossibly crisp Pink Lady apples and pears, Java Republic Morning Dew green tea.

Lost in Fairy Land

Day 4: April 22, 2022 : Burren Nature Sanctuary in Kinvara, Co. Galway. (https://www.burrennaturesanctuary.ie/). We relocate lodging to Sligo from Ennis, throwing in a side trip to the Burren Nature Sanctuary.

We were looking for a simple hike to enjoy wildflowers and a little nature. We arrive to find the sanctuary to be a teaching and play center for children. Excellent program: activities and pictures of different flowers/plants; their health/herbal benefits.

Thinking it was only for children, we decide to leave. A guide convinces us to take a walk through the fields and wooded area.

Beautiful. So glad we did. Many beautiful wildflowers, singing birds, blooming bushes and trees and…. the fairy garden!!

We wander into the Fairy Garden and ….and get lost! Help! Totally turned around and wind up on one of Burren ‘s National Park trails. We finally hear children in the distance and asked their teachers for directions back to the main building. We were only 10 minutes away once we got back on track.

So next time you get lost in a Fairy Wood, remember that you’re closer to home than you think and to listen for the voices of children.

A Call to Help the Homeless is answered by local musicians in County Clare

April 21, 2022: After a leisurely satisfying breakfast at the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, we headed to Doolin to catch the ferry to see the Cliffs of Moher (see https://kindredspirits.community/2022/04/21/day-three-on-the-wild-atlantic-way/)

After being tossed about by sea waves of the North Atlantic ocean crashing into the cliffs (having a delightful time), we rested a bit and then walked a few blocks from the hotel to the Glor Theater for the Clare Easter Choir concert.

We were totally blown away on two counts: the musicians plus the event organizer. Many good acts. Two clips below of Adam Shapiro, from the Fiddle Case (https://www.thefiddlecase.com/band). The performances by Luka Bloom and Mike Hanrahan were equally outstanding. One could tell The Fiddle Case band and Bloom and Hanrahan were loved by their country men.

Martina Corry’s photograph of her grandmother, Josie O’Brien, at her home in Tulla, has been selected as a finalist in a nationwide photography competition.
https://clarechampion.ie/martina-puts-granny-in-the-frame/

One could also tell that the organizer of the event, Josie O’Brien, was well respected . As the musicians said – if Josie ask them to play, they would drop what they were doing to support her request.

That made us wonder why, so we asked a few questions; also did a little research to find she is a campaigner for the homeless. (https://clarechampion.ie/tag/josie-obrien/)

We had purchased tickets online before we left the States and were gratified to find that we had participated in such a wonderful benefit. Another delightful day and evening in Ireland experiencing the open hearts of the Irish.

Adam Shapiro, a band member of the “The Fiddle Case, “playing traditional Irish music.
Adam Shapiro, a band member of the “The Fiddle Case, “playing a piece he composed while in Holland.

Day Three on the Wild Atlantic Way

Today’s adventure is a day trip to Doolin to see the Cliffs of Moher via the Doolin Ferry. Our tour guide Tony provided a short history of the cliffs and pointed out the varieties of seabirds diving for fish in the churning Atlantic. Nancy is prone to motion sickness and the ferry rocks like a cradle at the dock. She soldiered through in the hope of capturing the Puffins gathering for spring breeding season with her new Sony lens. She’ll share her photos in a separate post.

Nancy braving the Ferry ride to the Cliffs of Moher

Before we set off, we carbo load with pancakes for Nancy and a full Irish breakfast for me. Not pictured is another plate heaped with croissants and scones in service to sweet Irish butter. So far, I’m still squeezing into my Columbia travel pants.

Breakfast at the Old Ground Hotel
Full Irish breakfast at the Old Ground Hotel

After a thrilling ferry ride, we followed the Wild Atlantic Way to Ballyvaughan. The road takes us around the Burren, another UNESCO world heritage site.

Cows and rocks in the Burren

We happened on a tea garden in Ballyvaughan called An Fear Gorta, which translates from the Irish to the Hungry Grass.

An Fear Gorta tearoom, translation The Hungry Grass

Another delightful meal with a savory tart and butternut squash soup followed by a pear and almond tart.

We’re sitting overlooking the back garden with a view of the Burren. We met two delightful women, Merrie O’Higgins, who used to live in West Palm Beach and her sister Sallie O’Sullivan visiting from Dublin. They described Dublin so lovingly, we want to include in our next tour, at least to visit the art galleries. Sallie is a retired professor and photographer and suggested we continue on to Black Head if we want spectacular shots of the shoreline with the ancient limestone steps of the Burren leading to the edge of the earth.

Merrie O’Higgins with her long haired collies and her sister Sallie visiting from Dublin
More cows and rocks with ocean background

On our way back from the edge of the known world, we see a blue and yellow sign. The Hazelwood Hotel is closed to tourists in order to house Ukrainian refugees. In a world feeling helpless from this senseless tragedy, they sacrificed their profits to make a difference.

We’re off to Sligo for the weekend for sacred sites and more natural beauty. We hope to see Glen-Car Falls described in Yeats poem Stolen Child. Check back for more of our adventures in Ireland.

What not to do when traveling to Ireland

Crossing the rift where the Appalachian chain separated from the Motherland
Sunrise on the Irish West Coast

It’s our first day in Ireland and we already have many stories to share. Our flight from Florida with a stop in Boston left at 7.15pm so as we flew East over the Atlantic our view from our window seat morphed from an eye level view of Orion’s Belt and the setting of the pink moon to lakes of fire shimmering on the horizon. We arrived at Shannon airport at 5.30 am so all was quiet as we skipped through customs and retrieved our baggage. Luggage carts are free to borrow if you return them to the corral outside.

Shannon airport at dawn

They say there are two kinds of travelers, those that travel light and those that wish they did. We, of course, brought too much and still didn’t have what we needed handy. Nancy needed first aid supplies for a wound on her hand and they were already stowed in the overhead compartment. We always have mints or gum in our purse, but we both had changed to travel purses and mints didn’t make it to the checklist. So checklist for next trip starts with first aid kit in personal carry on and refreshing mints for a long masked night on an airplane.

On a happier note, we recommend flying into a smaller airport. Fewer people seems to translate to a more relaxed atmosphere. Also our choices in clothing kept us warm and dry through intermittent showers. My Columbia hiking pants also made good traveling pants, impervious to coffee spills and comfortable enough to sleep on the plane. Our Columbia waterproof hiking boots allowed us to tromp around country lanes to get todays treasured photos.

Cows and rocks and weeds!
Our friends that provide Irish cream and butter!
Spring lambs at play

Thanks also to the lovely Mr. Lyons , who allowed us to trespass at his gate. Instead of shooing us off his driveway, he stopped, asked us if we were ok and chatted with us about his travels to North Carolina, Alabama and Florida.

Mr. Lyons gate on the Burren Highway
A path for another day

A friend warned me to be leary of Irish men. As we were getting on the Aer Lingus flight, a gentleman in business class started a banter with us and said you just had to look at Nancy’s twinkling eyes to know that she was trouble. When I replied that I had been warned off talking to charming Irish men, he said that he had been given the same advice. He said that not only did he not heed the advice, but he ended up marrying one.

So lots of lessons today. Take what you need, but not too much. When you get into a car and there’s no brakes or accelerator pedal on the left side, move to the right side. Hug the middle line so you don’t lose the left side mirror of your rental car and frighten your passenger. Yield to the right in a roundabout. Stop and talk to cows and watch the calves and lambs frolic in a spring meadow. Don’t pick the dandelions, the bees need the food, although we considered pulling the young leaves for a salad. Do talk to strangers and allow them to be a blessing to you.

Drive on the left, sit on the right!
Conquering the world one photo at a time
Foodie heaven

We hope to get back and see more of the Burren, but made sure we got some hot smoked Atlantic salmon, local cheese and soda bread crackers from the Burren Smokehouse. For nature lovers and foodies, it was a good start of our tour of the West Coast of Ireland. We started in the Midwest and will head to Sligo this weekend . Come back and hear the rest of the story.

Women in Jazz

We were privileged to attend an event at the Palladium last night that featured world class musicians. All were women with the exception of special guest Michael Ross on bass. Other special guests included jazz legend Rose Bilal, who wowed us with her performance of All of Me and Satin Doll. Rose’s long career includes opening for Gladys Knight, the Delphonics and Wilson Pickett. She toured internationally with John Lamb, bassist for Duke Ellingham and Kenny Drew, Jr. She is also known for her paintings and sculptures. Her book, A Stroke Saved My Life, is available at Barnes and Nobles.

Smooth vocals of Rose Bilal

The band was led by saxophonist Valerie Gillespie, adjunct professor at USF and frequent soloist with the Florida Orchestra. Her extensive CV includes playing with jazz greats Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin and traveling with Xavier Cugat Orchestra.

Saxophonist Valerie Gillespie
Armando’s Rumba by Chick Corea featuring Saxophonist Valerie Gillespie and Jazz pianist Judi Glover

You might also catch Judi Glover playing in a band with her husband Alex. We were inspired to attend this concert after seeing her play with Scotty Wright at an event on the grounds of the Carter G Woodson Museum.

Patricia Dean on drums and vocals

Patricia Dean is one of the few performers who sings and plays drums. She has played with jazz legends Nat Adderley and Ira Sullivan.

Lorri Hafer of the Hillside Singers

Lorri Hafer, best known as the vocalist with the Hillside Singers who charmed us with the song I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing

Belinda Womack singing Ms. Celie’s Blues

The Full Moon Enters Amongst Nature’s Fireworks

March 18, 2022: Worm Moon- Last Moon of Winter; First Moon Signaling Return of Spring

It was a good night to view the Worm Moon. We load snacks and gear and head toward downtown St. Pete to await the rise of moon over Tampa Bay.

Looking out to Tampa Bay from the Flora Wylie Park Section of North Shore Park in St. Petersburg, FL

It’s a pleasant breezy evening. The sky on our side of the bay is clear, but clouds are forming along the horizon on the Tampa side. Fragmented strains of Reggae music are carried on their waves toward us from Rise up Florida festival at Vinoy Park. Explains why it was difficult to find a place to park. Bugs seem to be asleep. Birds are gathering their last nibble of the day. Kayakers and boaters are grabbing a few more minutes of daylight to enjoy the Bay. Crickets and nature’s night sounds start to come alive. The clouds across Tampa Bay take on a sunset glow. We nibble our snacks and await the rise of the full moon.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

In the distance, more clouds move in. The sky in the east where the moon is to appear, comes alive with sound, flashes, strikes.  We watch the firework beauty. Rain is too far away to be of concern. 

Kayakers grabbing a few more minutes.

We’re curious why the eastern clouds have a light upper edge, like a halo. Pretty. We stare at the light rim, as the clouds continue to explode with bursts of light.

Moon glow – the reason for the halo rim on the clouds

Then amongst the flashes —the moon rises in its full glory! Nature provided a grand entrance for the Worm Moon.   A moon that is the last full moon of winter and the first moon that says spring is returning. Google the name to see the association with it signaling the return of spring.

March 18, 2022: Moon rising over Tampa Bay among Nature’s fireworks

Enjoying the Richness of Black History

February has been set aside as the specific month (Black History Month) to pay tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve citizenship and equality in the USA. February is a time to turn the spotlight on the contributions, triumphs, and sacrifices of African Americans. It is a time to pause, to reflect, to recognize and understand how the injustices imposed on the Black population have become ingrained within and shaped our nation’s history, with adverse effects. It is a time to look at our prejudices, our racial biases of peoples other than those from our “clan.” A time to consider the importance of diversity and how closed hearts limit the appreciation of the uniqueness of an individual or ethnic group of people.

Today (Sunday Feb 28) was a day of joy, a day of savoring the richness, the uniqueness, the essence, the flavor associated with black heritage. After church, we lunched with friends at a Louisiana Creole Café that served Southern and Creole food. Conversation is always thought provoking with this group.

Eating Southern Soul and Creole.. Even-though I enjoy food, the lively conversation was better.
At Woodson African American Museum listening to jazz

Next, we headed to the Woodson African American Museum of Florida, previously called Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum) for an outdoor Jazz concert presented by the Scotty Wright Quintet. Could not have been better! The program included the music of B.B. King, Charles Brown, Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Buddy Johnson.

Terrific performance in a beautiful outdoor venue, where music, weather and the social atmosphere of attendees spoke to one’s soul with an inviting whisper. So enjoyably refreshing and invigorating! Think of our loss, without the past and present great African American musicians.

Enjoying the finesse of piano player Judi Glover
The band pulls out all the stops in a soul-stirring blues
Amazing talent of trumpet player James Suggs

A brief on the Woodson Museum of African American Museum: The Museum celebrates local Black history as well as the accomplishments of African Americans. Under the executive director leadership of Terri Lipsey Scott, an exuberant influencer, the Museum seeks to present African American history to a broad diverse audience through activities that will aid in the understanding, respect, and appreciation of African American accomplishments in art, culture, history, music and literature.

Terri Lipsey Scott & Scott Wright at today’s event

An end goal is to present, protect, interpret, preserve history and to enhance our ability as a society to respect, value diversity and foster equal rights and social justice. Additionally, the Museum provides educational scholarships for Black students.

The Woodson Museum is named after Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950). Woodson was the second African American to graduate Harvard with a doctorate degree and the only person of enslaved parentage to earn a PhD in History from any institution in the United States.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950)

Woodson believed it was critical to teach the history of Black Americans to the public to ensure intellectual survival of the race within broader society. Otherwise, they would become a negligible factor in the thought of the world and be in danger of being exterminated. Woodson is known nationally as the “father of black history”.[2]

The Journal of Negro History was founded in 1916 by Woodson. In February 1926, he launched the celebration of “Negro History Week” to talk about the contributions that Black people had made to America. Negro History Week is considered the precursor of Black History Month[3] which was founded in 1970.

A couple of summaries on Woodson can be found at:

Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site

Wikipedia

Habitat for Humanity: What I learned today

UP EARLY for an Event that was ……

For me, an extra effort is required to arise before the sun appears. I do well to put my feet on the floor by 7am. But this morning, with intent, my feet touched the floor to get ready for a volunteer day with Habitat for Humanity. Rather than just financially supporting Habitat for Humanity, both of us had been wanting to physically support the cause. Unity of Gulfport provided an avenue by being one of the volunteer groups for the Pinellas County area.

The contractors hit a delay in receiving their supplies. Hence, they were unable to provide us, the volunteers, with tasks of which we were capable. So, we were released from duty for the day.

Under construction in Largo

Not to be thwarted, we decided to do something else that would be fun and supportive of a cause. Since we were already in the Largo area, we called Kathlena, a friend in Largo to determine how to unfold the day. She suggested meeting at the Florida Botanical Gardens to see their “Arts Annual Exhibition” and to participate in celebrating African American Heritage. See Deidre’s blog “African American Heritage Celebration” for today’s switched event.

As we left the Habitat for Humanity site, I started to think a little more about the organization.  Something Jimmy Carter supports must be great – right?  But I still wanted to research the background of the organization. 

Habitat for Humanity is a global US non-governmental, nonprofit Christian based housing organization founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. They served in executive roles until 2005. Yes, review of the history of the organization indicates disputes and conflicts within the organization. However, overall, to me, Habitat remains a worthy nonprofit.

More about the Fullers: https://www.habitat.org/about/history/habitat-for-humanity-co-founders-fullers

Habitat’s timeline highlights:  https://www.habitat.org/about/history/timeline

To apply for a Habitat home: https://www.habitat.org/housing-help/apply Habitat’s homeowner selection is managed at the local level. For qualifications, requirements and volunteering, contact your local Habitat, or call 1-800-HABITAT (1-800-422-4828).

General requirements:  Lived and worked in area for one or more years, at least one year of steady reliable income, reasonable credit, attend 20 hours of home ownership classes, volunteer 350-450 hours of sweat equity and contribute $1,000 toward closing cost.

Completed home next door to the house we were to work on. This completed house belongs to a “sweat equity” individual that was in charge of organizing the on-site volunteers and provided us with alternative days and locations to assist.

Background history on the founder’s path to establishing Habitat: In 1965, the Fuller family stopped to visit friends at Koinonia Farm on a road trip from NYC. “After spending several hours with the intentional community’s founder, Clarence Jordan, Millard and Linda decided to stay and began a relationship with Jordan that ultimately led to the creation of Habitat for Humanity.”  Millard Fuller was a successful businessman and lawyer and was a self-made millionaire by the age of 29. In 1968, searching for a way to refocus their lives on Christian service, the Fullers gave up their wealth, moving with their children to the Koinonia Farm in southwest Georgia.

The Fuller’s move to the farm in 1968 brought renewed energy to Koinonia Farm which was suffering from the lingering effects of the 1950’s Jim Crow racial policies of Georgia.   Jordan and Fuller along with other members of the Koinonia community decided to change the Farm’s organizational structure to one of social services. Koinonia Farm became Koinonia Partners. Several programs associated with the construction of affordable houses for low-income families were initiated for families who had previously lived in dilapidated shacks.  Koinonia Partners built 194 homes from 1969 to 1992.

Believing the poor needed capital, not charity, the primary focus of Koinonia Partners was Partnership Housing and developing a revolving “Fund for Humanity.”  The Fund for Humanity would use donations to purchase building materials. Volunteer laborers along with the family that would eventually own the house would construct a simple, decent house. The homeowners would then repay the cost of the materials to the Fund for Humanity at 0% interest. In this way, the work was not a give-away program and the funds repaid were then used to begin work on additional houses.

The Fullers’ four years of guidance at Koinonia Partners was followed by three years of building “partnership housing” in Zaire/Belgian Congo (the Democratic Republic of Congo). These efforts helped model the structure of Habitat for Humanity and eventually lead, in 1976, to the creation of  Habitat for Humanity International  (commonly called Habitat for Humanity).  The international operational headquarters are located in Americus, Georgia and the administrative headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia. Habitat for Humanity operates in more than 92 nations.

Back to Jimmy Carter: In early 1984, Millard Fuller courted President Jimmy Carter. Carter’s hometown is Plains, Georgia, which is only a few miles from Habitat’s headquarters in Americus, Georgia. Carter gave not only his name and reputation to the new non-profit, but also his own resources – making financial contributions regularly and participating in an annual week-long effort of building Habitat homes all over the world. “The Carters’ involvement with Habitat for Humanity propelled the organization to even faster growth. By 2003, Habitat affiliates worldwide had built over 150,000 homes and were active in 92 nations.[8]

Jimmy and Roselyn Carter at Habitat site

A little information on Koinonia Farm:  Koinonia Farm was established in 1942 by Clarence and Florence Jordan and Martin and Mabel England.  Koinonia members divested their personal wealth and shared a “common purse” economic system. The practiced vision was an interracial community where blacks and whites lived and worked together in partnership, sharing resources, being wise responsible stewards of land and natural resources.  In 1993, the “common purse” structure and organization structure was modified.

During the early foundation era of Koinonia Farms, one can image the open hostility experienced due to Jim Crow politics and philosophy.  In the 1950’s, the Jordan family and Koinonia residents were excommunicated from Rehoboth Southern Baptist Church for their views on racial equality, the local Chamber of Commerce requested that Koinonia sell its property and disband, a boycott of the farm was implemented and the Ku Klux Klan performed acts of terrorism and intimidation such as dynamiting Koinonia’s roadside produce stand and firing shots into the compound. 

As a way to survive in the hostile surroundings, Koinonia members created a small mail-order catalog to sell their farm’s pecans and peanuts around the world. The business’s first slogan was “Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia!” The business evolved to include treats made in the farm’s bakery.”

When I look back at the conflicts faced by African Americans as they sought racial equality and at the perseverance of Koinonia Farm to maintain their practice of equality. I love the Farm’s first slogan “Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia!” The Koinonia Farm Store business continues today. Click here for a pdf copy of their 2019-2020 catalogue which provides a brief of the Farm Store.

African American Heritage Celebration Feb 26, 2022

When we woke at 6 this morning to get ready for our volunteer assignment at a Habitat for Humanity site, we didn’t know that we would end up with a different assignment. We arrived with our lunches and snacks in our work clothes and closed toed shoes to learn that our tasks had to be postponed to next week. Such is the nature of the building trade, dependent on the shifting schedules of subcontractors.

Since we were already in Largo, we called our friend Kathlena to see what she had planned for her Saturday. She invited us to join her at the African American Heritage Celebration at the Botanical Garden in Largo.

Entertainment at the African American Heritage Celebration

We were able to engage with several local artists who were displaying their work.

We first met Chris Aikens, aka ROD for Rebel or Die, whose inspiring characters come to life with their piercing eyes and strength of spirit. His Wounded Phoenix again shows persevering amidst adversity. I also enjoyed his fashion sense and that of his wife, who was also beautifully dressed. Check him out on Facebook under Chris Aikens or Instagram @rebelordieart

Aikens’ gorgeous wife, Kim
Chris Aikens with his painting, Wounded Phoenix
Artist Brenda Bohannon with her work, Blessings

Another inspiring artist is Brenda Bohannon, who posed with her work, Blessings, an homage to her mother and her gratitude with being showered with blessings such as peace, love and joy. You can find her at http://www.bbotheartist.com.

Shanita Allen with her charming children’s books

I met a special lady named Shanita Allen, a children’s book author featuring a young African American girl named Ari. I bought Let’s go Dreaming into the Stars with the accompanying coloring book as a gift for my friend’s grandchildren. You can find her at shanita@letsgodreaming.com

The highlight of the exhibit was the works of local students. One of the first prizes was given to Josiah Brooks for his piece, Woven Together, and second prize to Bella Tolliver, both in grade 5 at Lealman Elementary

My companions, my sweet Nancy and our friend Kathlena, planting seeds in the virtual garden bed at the Tree, a life size tree woven with cloth. This was one of the fun interactive exhibits that you were encouraged to touch and share your reflections and wishes.