Stone Walls and Sheep

Many times, I’ve heard people say things like, “The best day of my life was the day my child was born” or “My wedding day was the best day of my life.” Well, clearly those people have never taken a trip to Ireland because it was probably the best 9 days of my life. When I got home I told my family that there was not one minute of my trip that I was not having fun.

It took me a quite while to pack for the trip, I was afraid I was going to forget something. But I figured as long as I had the essentials-toothbrush, selfie stick, and various color headbands-I would be ok. I was very excited about my trip but I also felt a little guilty that I was going to miss Duke’s birthday. He was turning the big zero-seven. I mean, that’s 49 in dog years, it’s a big birthday to miss. I kept joking with him about how he’s getting old; I told him he’s already got one paw in the grave! He didn’t appreciate my jokes. But seriously though, he’s a Boxer and they have a short lifespan. I tried to make up for missing his big day by giving him a few pieces of Pup-eroni, so we were on good terms when I left. Oh, I also was going to miss my Dad and sister’s birthday while I was gone too. They got over it. I’m pretty sure I texted them.

I flew over with my sister and her husband, who were going to Ireland to visit some of his family. It was nice to have some company on the plane, even though I was a third wheel. The flight was long but I kept occupied watching some B list movies and eating the food they brought me every two minutes. I thought about reading but that was as far as I got on that one. Once we landed I met my cousin Molly, who I was staying with, at the airport. After a quick nap we met up with my friend Meg and hit the ground running with sight seeing and admiring the amazing architecture and decor of the inside of different pubs.

On the second day of my trip we went on a hike and the views were unbelievable. I’m so glad we had a selfie stick with us to capture the breathtaking scenery. While on our walk we encountered an Irish horse who literally thought he was the Beyonce of horses. He was totally posing and trying to impress us as we walked by. Molly and I fell for his charm and decided to take a picture with him. We couldn’t get a normal picture though because we kept trying to position ourselves behind the other. Everyone knows when you stand a little bit behind someone in a picture your head looks much smaller and daintier than the other person’s. I really tried my best to push her in front, I didn’t want people talking about how terrible I looked in pictures, especially if they were going to be posted on social media. I could almost hear the conversations that would ensue if I was in front, “Molly, it looks like you and your very large headed cousin had a great time while she was visiting!” No, I could not let that happen.

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Molly is really strong you guys.

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The horses pretended they didn’t know we were taking their picture.

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“I am the black stallion, bow to me!”-The horse (said in booming voice)

After the hike we really worked up an appetite. I suggested we hit up the KFC I spotted in Dublin, I had never been to an Irish KFC before and really wanted to experience all that Ireland had to offer, but instead Meg made us a delicious home cooked meal.

The next couple of days we were busy exploring Dublin. We did a tour of the Guinness Factory and became experts on pouring the perfect pint, went to a Gaelic football game, walked around a lot, and did some shopping. I treated myself and bought an Irish knit sweater. I was a little worried that if I wore it I would immediately be mistaken for a Dublin native and people would be stopping me and asking for directions and things like that, but I took the chance and wore it anyway.

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Just a kangaroo and her joeys at the Guinness Factory. As you can tell I really got into character, Molly was kind of half-assing it.

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We made some new friends at the Gaelic football game. Yay! go sports!

After we had our fill of Dublin we headed to Galway which was awesome. I was even lucky enough to celebrate my sweet 25th while there. Unfortunately, there was a little mix up on what age I was turning. You see, we were celebrating me being a quarter of a century old at a bar in Galway and there was a band playing. Molly decided to sneak up to the band and tell them it was my birthday. For some reason they thought it was my 16th birthday and announced that over the loud speakers. They then told everyone in the packed bar to wish me a happy 16th birthday, so everyone yelled “Happy 16th birthday Kathleen!” But don’t worry I played it off. I’m not sure why they thought it was my 16th birthday, maybe it was the green headband I was wearing. I knew I should have worn the white one that day. I also don’t know why people thought it was ok for a 16 year old to be celebrating her birthday in a bar on a school night. I guess that’s just the Irish culture for ya!

Then after two days of Galway and celebrating my 16th birthday, I headed to Roscommon to meet up with my sister and brother in law. While there I saw the countryside of Ireland, walked around some castles, visited with a cow, and even fed some lambs! I didn’t charge them for the feedings, I was nice and did it pro-bono since the sheep community has always been very generous in providing me with sweaters and warm blankets. Plus, I felt bad for the little lambs, it’s not their fault their mothers can’t provide for them. It’s really a shame, these young sheep women get knocked up, they have no jobs to pay for proper lamb care, no help from the sheep dads because they run off to lounge in the fields before the lambs are even born, and then they just expect the government to take care of them! It’s a vicious cycle.

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As you can see the sheep mom is swallowing her pride and letting me help take care of her triplets. 

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Me and Bessie the cow. Don’t worry, I asked and she is not related to that dumb cow of Mrs. O’Leary’s who started the great Chicago fire. That would have been awkward.

Once I was done playing Saint Francis of Assisi I headed back to Dublin for the last hurrah of my trip. I was very sad it was coming to an end, the days just flew by!

I learned a lot while in Ireland. I learned that it’s not only rainy there but it’s windy too. I also learned that they love stone walls in Ireland. I felt like every time I turned around there was another stone wall.

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We were really enjoying that ocean breeze and not uncomfortable at all!

Now that I’ve been out of the United States I cannot even begin to tell you how cultured I am. I’m basically an expert on world travel now so if anyone needs any advice just let me know. I left Ireland sleep deprived, dirty, and with a cold, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because it was time of my life! I can’t wait to go back!

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Me and my lovely hosts. Clearly I missed the text that said we were all supposed to wear white sweaters that day.

 

It’s a Duke’s Life

I vividly remember the day Duke became a part of our family. It was a warm spring day in April of my my senior year of high school. Some time had past since our family dog had passed away and we were ready to be dog owners again. My younger sister and I had spend the previous weeks researching where we could find Boxer puppies for sale and finally found some in Danville, Illinois. My Dad does a lot business there and is familiar with the area so we easily convinced our parents to make the 3 hour trek from Chicago to take a look at some adorable puppies. We were all very excited so the ride seemed to take forever. Actually, it did take forever since my Dad was driving and he is an extremely slow driver. I was beginning to worry the dogs would be fully grown by the time we got there. Had I ridden to Danville on a turtle, I probably would have gotten there faster.

Once we arrived all the puppies were sleeping outside in the backyard (apparently no one told them we were coming). We gave them some time to wake up, coast for a bit, maybe have a cup of coffee and read the front page of the paper, while we did the whole meet and greet with Duke’s parents. They were a nice couple, the father pretty big, looked like his nails could have used a trimming but I didn’t want to judge. Duke’s mother was a bit too much to handle; she was extremely hyper. I give her credit for her enthusiasm but dat bitch was saggy (Bitch is the term used for a female dog, I’m not being rude). Her tummy nearly hit the ground it was so stretched out. I politely suggested maybe she sign up for a few Pilates classes to strengthen her core after having all those kids and my mom quickly came to her aid. “Leave her alone she just had puppies!” That was 5 weeks ago Mom, stop making excuses for her.

The whole long car ride there my mom kept telling my younger sister, Jane, and I that we could pick out the puppy. She said we did all the work to find the litter of puppies (which we did) and that since our other 3 siblings were away having a grand old time in Ireland, we could represent the kids and choose our new family dog. We carefully inspected each puppy, spending time with each to see which one would be the best fit for our family. Finally we had picked out what we thought was the cutest puppy in the bunch. We scooped him up, and brought him over to our parents who were on the other side of the yard. “Mom, we picked out the puppy!” We said excitedly. Her back was to us at first but when she turned around I saw that she was carrying 2 puppies, one in each arm. Without hesitation she responded, “Mmmm no that’s a ‘flashy Boxer’ we don’t want that one. They’re cute when they’re puppies but once they grow up they aren’t as cute. Definitely not that one. But you girls can help me choose between the 2 puppies I am holding!” Flat out denied. Talk about an empty promise. After we got over the initial shock and picked our jaws up off the ground, we put our dream dog back with the other rejects and “helped” our Mom choose between the two identical looking puppies in her arms. One dog was sound asleep in my mother’s left arm, while the other was looking around and panting with it’s tongue hanging out of it’s month as if it was 120 degrees in her right arm. We decide the one with the huge tongue had more personality so we chose him. That big tongued dog became our Duke.

Young Duke and his big tongue

Young Duke and his big tongue

It would be an understatement to say that our first few years with Duke were ruff-whoops-I mean ‘rough’. That “personality” that first drew us to Duke turned out to be quite destructive. He chewed up furniture, stairway railings, and even tore down wallpaper in our hallway. In his defensive the wallpaper was out dated, very ’90s-ish’ and I agreed with him that it needed to go. I think he was inspired by the shows on HGTV we would watch together and was just taking some initiative in redecorating the house. He also chewed up a picture of me that was hanging on the fridge and tore up my 8th grade graduation video. I did not come to his defense on those occasions due to the fact that I felt personally attacked by Duke.

I remember my parents calling me a number of times while I was away at college threatening to send Duke to “the farm” after he had ruined something else. I knew that they were bluffing and didn’t actually want to send him away, they aren’t that heartless. I mean sure, yea, they would promise their children they could pick out a puppy and then break that promise without a second thought but they wouldn’t ever get rid of the family pet. Someone just needed to whip the little brat dog into shape. And I knew just the man to do it-my Dad. He had trained 5 kids, surely he could train a dog.

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Duke’s “Whoops, did I do that?” face. He puts it on every time he gets in trouble.

After many months of my Dad working with Duke things slowly started to get better. With lots of training and discipline he wasn’t nearly as bad or destructive as he used to be. And Duke turned his behavior around too (wink).  Although he still had a bit of an attitude and got into trouble every now and again, Duke was allowed to stay. He patched things up with my parents and they are closer than ever now.

While Duke may have a solid relationship with my parents, his relationship with me can be a little rocky at times. We love each other but we also fight a lot. We are both Aries (he March 26th and I March 29th) so it’s only natural for us to butt heads, we are the rams. Duke, like a typically boy, can always take things too far though. The other day, after we had a small quarrel, I was walking by while he was laying on the floor and he deliberately reached out his paw to try and trip me. I thought it was extremely immature of him. He’s 42 in dog years, when is he going to grow up? But at the end of the day we always apologize to each other and become friends again. This is mostly because we truly need each other. He needs me to feed him and to go on walks, and I need him for sending snap chats to my friends.

I just wanted him to look nice for Easter mass. He cleans up nicely,doesn't he?

I just wanted him to look nice for Easter mass. He cleans up nicely, doesn’t he?

I had to break the news to him that he didn't have thumbs when he tried to take a selfie. It didn't go over so well.

I had to break the news to him that he didn’t have thumbs when he tried to take a selfie. It didn’t go over so well.

Duke and his girls having fun on vacation.

Duke and his girls having fun on vacation. Duke was a little over served that night if you can’t tell.

Although he can be selfish and whines a whole heck of a lot, he is a part of our family and we love him. Sure he has an attitude and can act like a teenager, but he has more personality than any other dog we have had. We may not always get along but we have fun. Looking back now I am glad my mother broke her promise about letting my sister and me pick out the puppy. If she hadn’t done this, we wouldn’t have Duke, Moms do know best! Thanks Mom!

Roommates, siblings, pink robe wearing besties.

Roommates, siblings, pink robe wearing besties for life.

One is the Loneliest Number

As I sat in her room and watched her pack her things while I played Michelle Branches’ hit song, “Goodbye to You” on my phone for dramatic emphasis, I couldn’t believe it was true. My sister Bridget, a tenant of the Kelly house since 1989, was leaving the nest. I just couldn’t understand it, why would you want to leave an establishment that provides free doughnuts 1-2 times a week?! (Except during Lent of course)

Me and my roommate back in the good old days. Man, we were so Hawaiian Punch wasted in this picture.

Me and my roommate back in the good old days, before she wanted to leave me. Man, we were so Hawaiian Punch wasted in this picture.

Was I a little bitter that one of my roommates was leaving me? Hell yea I was. I thought she was going to be here for the long haul, especially since we made a very big joint purchase last year. It was a big step in our roommate relationship but we took the plunge and purchased a basketball from Target together. Why? I don’t know, maybe because we are 6th grade girls and like to practice our jump shot on the old b-ball hoop in the backyard. Plus basketballs are not cheap. I could never afford one on my own with my peasant’s salary my job pays me. What are we supposed to do now that we are living apart? Share joint custody of the basketball? She will get it every other weekend and holidays?! Does her new place even have a basketball hoop?!

Hard to believe I was a single woman back then. Most eligible bachelorette on the 7th grade girls basketball team.

The early days of my basketball career. Hard to believe I was a single woman back then. Most eligible bachelorette on the 7th grade girls basketball team.

Another reason why I told her she needs to stay is that she will miss all the excitement around the house. Let me tell you, her last weekend home was quite the exciting one. First we saw right from our own kitchen window a hawk trying to eat the birds that gather around my Mom’s bird feeder in the tree next door. It was like watching the National Geographic Channel Live in our own backyard! We were all scared for the birds but I think my Dad was secretly cheering for the hawk. He hates the birds that eat all the bird feeder. He refers to them as fat, lazy “welfare birds” that just keep eating all the bird seed he puts out. A couple of weeks ago he vented his frustration to me:
Dad (looking out the window): Look at those damn fat birds eating all the bird seed that I JUST put out! Sheesh I can’t keep up with them it’s like I put it out and I turn around and there they are knocking at the window like “(said in a deep bird voice) Hey Mike, where’s our dinner?! Where’s the bird seed?”
Kathleen: Wow, that’s pretty amazing that the birds are actually knocking on the window and asking you for more food. Do they use their wings to knock on the glass? Next time they do that would you come get me? I would love to see this for myself.
Dad: All those lazy birds do is eat! Damn welfare birds!
Kathleen: You do know you can just stop putting out bird seed, right?
Dad: We are trying to get rid of the stuff! Mom bought a huge bag and it’s in the garage taking up space and I’m trying to get rid of it!
Kathleen: Oh God, this is reminding me of the big box of Honey Nut Cheerios incident. I hope you know how ridiculous you sound. This is hysterical how much you are getting worked up.
(Yes, sadly that conversation actually took place.)
The evil hawk stalking the welfare birds, looking for a quick lunch.

The evil hawk stalking the welfare birds, looking for a quick lunch.

Luckily the hawk gave up and was never able to capture any of the birds. We think he ordered take-out instead. Then, as if the day wasn’t already exciting enough I nearly had to call the fire department later that day! I was trying to make some popcorn for myself as a healthy afternoon snack (Fit for ’15, still working on getting my Michelle Obama arms) and I burned it pretty bad. My two sisters were in the other room and I didn’t want to alarm them so I calmly said, “Oh, I think I overcooked the popcorn.” Then I opened up the microwave and smoke came out, “yup I burned the popcorn.” then I opened up the bag and even more smoke started billowing out, “looks like I’ll have to make a new batch.” As smoke filled the room I finally yelled, “OK YOU GUYS I BURNED THE POPCORN BADLY AND I’M GETTING SCARED SOMEONE HELP ME!!” at last they came to my aid where we had to throw the bag in the sink and run cold water over it. Smoke was filling the kitchen so we had to open all the windows. “Sheesh!” I said, “what does a girl gotta do to get some help around here, I nearly died!” “Well you played it off like everything was fine and then we saw smoke coming from the kitchen!” my sister said. “I was trying to remain calm! Hasn’t anyone ever told you the most important thing to do in an emergency is to remain calm and not panic?!” I replied. It took a few days for the burnt popcorn smell to leave the house, and our clothes smelled like smoke for a while but the main thing is I was able to make another bag a little while later after the smoke cleared and eat that. And everyone was ok, I guess that’s important too.
Even though I gave her many reasons to stay, she still decided to leave. Yup, sadly, all my roommates have been slowly leaving me these days. Pretty soon it’s just going to be me, the ‘rents and Duke. Talk about a recipe for disaster. I can already tell Duke and I will be butting heads. Duke is 42 in dog years but you wouldn’t know he was an adult because he acts like he’s still a teen. He has an attitude, sleeps ALL day, and has an endless appetite. “Why don’t you go out and get a job you lazy bum?!” I yelled to him one morning before work when he was sprawled out sleeping on his plush dog bed. We don’t always get along, me and him. In fact the other day, one of our arguments got so bad I called him an ass hole to his face! I felt bad later so I gave him a Pup-eroni and he quickly forgave me. I guess we will have to learn to get along because in the near future we will be the only siblings left at home.
Duke-my only loyal roommate left, bro-ing out in the backyard, basking in the sun.

Duke,my only loyal roommate, bro-ing out in the backyard, basking in the sun. Also elevating his legs to promote good blood circulation to the heart. So both smart and loyal.

I don’t hold a grudge against my sister for moving out. In fact, I have come to embrace her living in the city. I even offered to stay over a few nights to help her even out her queen sized mattress, wouldn’t want to get any lumps from sleeping in the same spot every night! That is just the kind of selfless person I am. Don’t worry Mom and Dad, the other 4 kids may be gone, but I am here to stay!