How could I not reblog this? Thanks, Bassam. Good stuff.
Surrounded by some of my most trusted friends, I asked the following question: “if you could distill your top relationship lesson into a one-liner, what would it be?” A passionate, sincere, and admittedly sometimes humorous discussion ensued between a group of men whose ages ranged from twenties to sixties, some of whom had been married for decades, some recently divorced, and others newly-minted husbands. It was a diverse set of perspectives. Out of respect for them, I’ll keep the content anonymous; out of respect for you, the reader, I’ve distilled them to ten brief tips.
1. Learn to listen
“It’s easy not to be present when reading a book or watching a sports event; but being present for one’s spouse when they’re talking to you is key to their feeling that they’re a priority. Learn to listen to them.”
2. Stay interesting
“The stories came easily in the beginning; we were both…
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That’s the subtitle of The Professor and the Madman, written by Simon Winchester in 1998.
The madman is William C. Minor, a Civil War surgeon. His latent madness may have been triggered during the two days of the stunningly bloody encounter known as the Battle of Wilderness, which occurred in Orange County, Virginia in early May of 1864.
Later, in London, he commits murder, is arrested and incarcerated, and spends the balance of his life in asylums for the criminally insane. What is remarkable is this astonishingly gifted man’s decades-long contribution to the compilation of the OED.
A friend who lives in Oxford and whose work is involved with the OED told me that Winchester–the author of a dozen books on various other topics–wrote a second tome about the famed dictionary in collaboration with a friend of hers. Written in 2004, The Meaning of Everything has been touted by The New York Times Book Review as “supremely readable.”
That’s next on my list after finishing Deborah Devonshire’s memoir, Wait For Me! and Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday. More on those in a future post.
In the meantime, happy summer reading to you.
P.S. Speaking of reading, I am thrilled to announce that my second memoir, published earlier this year, is a semi-finalist in the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Award Competition.
You can get your copy on Amazon by clicking here: amzn.to/1RtRBwp.
See you next time!
Yesterday I published a link to an NPR article about bats (n.pr/1Y5gN2X). I also wrote I had not realized the trouble we really were in when we lived in a log cabin in the woods in New Hampshire.
Here are two related excerpts from the chapter “Pollyanna-ville” in my memoir, A Movable Marriage.
“Another swoop, another scream, and I was in the bedroom with the door closed. The problem with the bedroom, however, was the door would not latch. How could I rest thinking the bat might come in there, too? In a flash I envisioned a dreadful scene. I would be sleeping—fitfully, no doubt—and a bat would become tangled in my hair.”
“When (the Bat Man) did arrive, the first exciting news was, he estimated we had as many as eighty of the critters hanging around above us in the center rafter.”
Now here’s an excerpt from the NPR piece:
“Public health officials say that another human rabies death back in 2011 involved similar missed opportunities. In that case, a South Carolina woman woke up to a bat in her bedroom and shook it out of curtains through an open window. She believed she’d had no direct contact with the bat, and did not seek medical attention.”
Yet she later died. Talk about counting our blessings!
We have bats here in Portugal, too. When Keith and I took an intensive course in Portuguese at the University of Coimbra, we learned about those inhabiting the Joanine Library.
The article reports that bats are also in the library of the Palacio Nacional in Mafra, less than ten minutes from where we currently live. We’re not in the rare book business, though, so I feel fairly safe.
Of course, it’s not over ‘til the bat lady sings.
We’d had typical weather for Ireland this time of year: partly cloudy, cloudy, mostly cloudy, and rainy. Temperature ranged from only forty to fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, I laughed when I saw the “Spring Arrivals” at Ashford Castle when we were there.
Yet for the past seven straight days the sun had shined brilliantly. We knew it had to end. Sure enough, snow began to fall from a slate gray sky as we taxied down the runway at Dublin Airport. That was fine. Nothing could detract from the vivid images fixed in my mind.
Fleecy white sheep on verdant Connemara hillsides, many ewes bearing colors. Why? Rams are sometimes put into a harness at mating time. The harnesses have a colored, waxy block in them, which leave a mark on the ewe when mounted, so owners know which ewes have been mated with and which have not. After three weeks the color of the crayon is changed. Any ewe that is re-mated gets the second color on her. This one’s been busy.
And then the babies come.
Dazzling color came in the ubiquitous Western Gorse, an evergreen shrub prevalent in countries of Western Europe.
These vibrant hues of green, pink, blue, yellow all combined to lighten the gray days. The glorious red-orange of a Renvyle sunset completed the color spectrum.
Stay lovely, Ireland. Then again, I know you cannot help yourself.
Opening note: Kudos to golfer Rory McIlroy on capturing the Irish Open last Sunday. He will donate his winnings in excess of $750,000 to children’s charities.
Glendalough (pronounced “Glen duh lock” and meaning “Valley of the Two Lakes”) in County Wicklow had been on our to do list. A 6th century monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin, grand forests in the national park, and (surprise!) a distillery lure thousands of visitors each year.
Glendalough Distillery’s website has a short video that tops any Super Bowl ad I’ve ever seen. If this link doesn’t get you there, you can read the post on http://www.triciapimental.com and it will appear.
Unfortunately, with only one day remaining before departure for home, there wasn’t time to see it all. We opted instead to head toward Cashel by way of Macroom. After a scrumptious breakfast of porridge, eggs, meats, homemade breads and fresh-squeezed orange juice, we said good-bye to our new friends at Waterfalls Farmhouse. Meeting Nora May and Johnny had been a highlight of our trip. Peanut looked downright depressed as we packed our car, breaking my dog lover’s heart.
Macroom is about halfway between Cork City and Killarney. A 12th century castle stands in the “the town that never reared a fool,” as the legend goes. We weren’t fools, either. In search of some mid-morning java, we found it at Bean and Gone Mobile Coffee Bar in the town square.
Leaving County Cork for County Tipperary, we drove until we arrived in Cashel. There we found St. John the Baptist Anglican Church (foreground below, with the Catholic church in the background). Effigies dating from the 13th century of members of the prominent de Hacket family, of Norman origin, are set into niches in the town wall surrounding St. John’s and its graveyard.
The main point of interest that had drawn us to this town was the Rock of Cashel. According to local legend, the Rock came from a mountain called the Devil’s Bit, twenty miles north of Cashel. When St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave there, it resulted in the Rock’s landing in Cashel. Whatever the story, the Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for hundreds of years prior to the Norman Invasion.
On the way up the hill to the Rock, we stopped at Cashel Folk Village. Owner and operator Bernard Minogue spoke to us about the Great Irish Famine, the 1916 Revolution, and much more. The word “memorabilia” doesn’t come close to covering the scope of treasures housed in Cashel Folk Village, and the wealth of Bernard’s–whose family history is inextricably intertwined with that of the Rock of Cashel–knowledge is limitless.
The caravan on the property, more than ninety years old, was designed after those used by Roman Gypsies on the Continent. They were copied by the Irish Tinkers, who were gifted tinsmiths. Because they were also wealthy, when the Irish began to suffer the loss of their homes and land in the past, they were the first to be forced into a mobile lifestyle.
Living conditions were cozy. Inside there is a bed used by the parents. Underneath, smaller children slept in what looks like a cupboard, while older children slept outside on the road. A family of sixteen lived in this caravan until 1986.
One interesting note was the similarity in the colors on the caravan to those on the organ of the Catholic church in town. Nowhere else in Ireland had we seen such vibrant folk decoration.
We finally tore ourselves away from Bernard and the Folk Village, practically jogging to the Rock. Too late. The door had closed five minutes before we arrived. It was okay; we’d learned a great deal firsthand from a true historian and story teller. Missing Cashel Rock would be just one more reason to return to Ireland.
Next time: Farewell to the Emerald Isle