SUMMER'S END

ennis at night

It starts before it even has a chance to end. The signs and advertisements informing us of summer's end and of the impending return to a school schedule. Shopfronts display posters informing parents to shop for back-to-school items though we would rather enjoy the last few weeks before the early morning schedules.

Looking around O'Mahony's bookshop, I decided to finally get a few things for my three children. Supplies which they have been asking for at my place since everything was left behind at their other house. There are a few more items which they will need but a coloured pencil set for each of them, and for myself, was one of my purchases of the day.

It will take a while for me to get past the 'starting over' phase, but in a sense we all start anew at some point in our lives. The weeks ahead will be filled with planning and organising and wondering how summer ended so quickly this year. The memories made with the experiences we have gone through will be with us forever as we look forward to next summer where we get the chance to make new memories.

 

INEVITABLE

yellow windows

This time next week, I will be landing in Austin and returning to The Cave. Though neither of us wants to think what this means for us, it is inevitable. It is also uncertain when the next time will be when we see each other again as school is starting and employment needs to be found. For now we savour the few days we have together.

Today was like other days. Coffeehouse, shop for more food, then back to the flat to await his return from work. For dinner, I made a vegetarian chili that I intend to make into enchiladas as soon as he gets home. I know there is nothing in his power which he can do to come home earlier but I hope in the future we get to see more of each other and have similar working schedules.

Tomorrow he will find out which days off from work he will get before I leave. I can only wish for the last three days before my departure. After that we will have to rely on Skype once again and the odd hours for both of us. If all goes as planned, we just might see each other again for Christmas.

RAIN THEN SUN

sewing shop ennis

Without a doubt, this time around my luck with the weather was nowhere to be seen. Today was no exception. From the time we awoke until the end of the day it is as if someone was flipping the rain switch on and off which made my morning jog not possible without risking getting soaked at some point.

Instead of the park, I walked to Dunnes for smoothie ingredients as the two peaches intended for this morning's smoothie had gotten a bit warm whilst sitting on the counter for the past few days. When I left the flat, the sun was out and I walked the three minutes it takes to get to the shop.

Noticing the lack of frozen berries, I grabbed diced pineapple, milk, and cream instead for a tropical smoothie. As I was leaving the shop, the rain poured overhead and people waited at the entrance for a break in the rain. I waited a minute then decided to walk home in the rain. By the time I climbed the five flights of stairs, the sun returned.

The day had already started out better than yesterday as we had time to talk things over late last night when he returned from work. We enjoyed our smoothie this morning and realised we both missed our new ritual yesterday. New rituals take time to establish as does abolishing the old habits which are not always good for us.

I know that my going to the coffeehouse most mornings will come to an end soon enough but it is not something I do back in the States so I indulge in this temporary ritual for the time being. Today he wanted me to leave for the coffeehouse before he left for work so that he could meet me there a few minutes before he had to walk to work.

The coffeehouse was full so I waited for a table. Once seated, I eyed the carrot cake on the counter wondering how it fared with the ones I have tasted before and my own recipe. By the time he arrived, I was already finished with my cappuccino, scone, and the small slice of carrot cake which I later thought I should have foregone. I then walked to work with him and browsed two shops looking for something for my children.

Before I went to the pub to see him and to eat an early dinner of veggie spring rolls, I had time to read my book as I listened to the intermittent rain outside. Rain, as the difficult times in life, comes and goes but the sun eventually emerges through the clouds and makes us appreciate the sunny days even more. If all we had were good days, we would never learn how to value them without the bad days.

WITHOUT END

key ennis

Sleep left me somewhere around 07,00 but I stayed in bed for another two hours before going for my morning jog at the park despite the drizzle once again. The morning was unlike other mornings which made the day seemingly without end.

There was no smoothie. No sitting together before he left for another long day at work. I showered, dressed, and left for the coffeehouse but wished for once he would have joined me for at least ten minutes.

Hours passed by slower than any day so far this trip but I would have preferred this slow pace on a day when we had time together. Though we both knew this trip would be different, it is still not a true depiction of everyday life, at least not for me. 

I considered taking a bus ride to Limerick today just to give me something else to do but the wind and rain earlier today was the reason I did not go. Reluctantly, I watched a few Krimis on ZDF to pass the time as I did not feel like reading today. At one point I had considered going to the pub to eat then changed my mind as I would be alone there as well.

Every day we get the chance to make things better than they were the day before. As this day without end draws to a close, I look forward to a more desirable tomorrow.

 

 

DRIZZLY SUNDAY

cloudy sunday

It had rained all night long and was still drizzling this morning when I left for my jog at the park. Besides the old lady walking her dog, I was the only other person at the park. Sundays are more quiet than any of the other days during the week and today was no exception on this drizzly Sunday.

The days seem to pass by much quicker this time around and we are both becoming increasingly aware of my impending departure next week. Though we had no planned holidays this time we at least had precious hours to spend with each other before and after he went to work in addition to the two days off per week he gets.

After he left for work, I read until the time the coffeehouse opened which was at 13,00 today. My intention was to be the first one there so I can finally sit at 'my' table by the window and I had been successful in my endeavour.

The scones were still sitting on their baking tray, fresh out of the oven. Once again, they were lovely and I almost ordered another but vowed to return tomorrow. I have yet to try their carrot cake and will have to do so before I leave. I enjoyed my coffee and scone and went to Aldi for cheese and bell peppers before going to Dunnes for avocado and baby tomatoes.

Once home, I wanted to read some more but decided to take a nap instead. It was a rather long nap as when I awoke and glanced at my phone for the time it was 20,50. I went into the kitchen and chopped the vegetables for the potato leek soup. Now I await his arrival from work so we can sit down to dinner together once more.

A LEISURELY SATURDAY

statues river fergus

Today was the one day during the week I took a break from my workout. Sometimes the body needs a day to recover and this Saturday proved to be a day of leisure.

Last night as we set out for a walk around town, we ended up at Knox's for two pints of Guinness. At a table near us were two guys and two ladies who were loud and boisterous and quite annoying at times. One of the guys was bragging how he never paid taxes in the past ten years. My boyfriend thought they might be from out of town based on how they acted as some sort of big shots in a little town. We minded our own business and enjoyed our evening together.

Today being his second day off from work, it felt like Sunday just as yesterday felt like Saturday. As we crawled out of bed, I set about getting ready for the day. We decided to meet up at the coffeehouse and have our usual smoothie afterwards. Knowing it would take him a while to meet up with me, I strolled into Eason's bookshop for five minutes.

I had hoped to get our usual table by the window at the coffeehouse but was too late as two old ladies seemed to have sat there minutes before I arrived. I ordered a cappuccino and scone and waited for him to arrive. The scone today was lovely. As my coffee was getting cold, I decided to finish the one before me and simply ordered another when he arrived.

I was happy when I saw him behind me at the coffeehouse as he arrived and thought how wonderful it was to have another day with him where he did not have to go to work. This trip we already decided would be without holidays but an extra one or two days would have been nice.

Tomorrow he returns to work for seven days straight before my final three days this summer. It seems this time has gone by too quickly and I am already wondering when we will get to see each other again this year.

The rest of the day we spent doing the normal things we would do if we lived together every day. Shopping for food, eating together whilst watching movies (today's movies were Dracula and The Beach), talking a walk by the river, and taking a nap which turned out to be much longer than intended. All in all it was a lovely leisurely Saturday.

LOVE IS

swirling clouds

Love is many things but is mostly composed of those little things we often take for granted.

Love is when your chef boyfriend, who loves to eat meat, sits down with you after ten hours at work and eats the somewhat warm crust less vegetable quiche you prepared despite it being as salty as sea water.

Love is eating a frozen pizza together whilst watching the end of Frozen together though there are no children around.

Love is simply lying in each other's arms on a day off from work and saying nothing.

Love is when you can make each other laugh even at the end of a difficult day and despite the circumstances which work against you in keeping you apart from each other for months at a time.

Love is knowing the other person will be there for you during good days and bad days and knowing they will never give up no matter how crazy or difficult you may be.

Love is to be cherished when you find it and vowing to do whatever it takes to keep it going.

TO WONDER

river fergus seagull

The sun still shines at 21,15 on this summer night in July. It will be another half hour until the sun dips behind the hills to make another appearance tomorrow. The quiche is in the oven and I am awaiting his return from work so we can eat together and find out if he has the next two days off from work.

Oftentimes I wonder how different things would be if I could live here with the children. Certainly our schedules would be different and there would be an adjustment for all of us but at this point it is merely something I think about though I realise it is close to impossible to make into a reality. Life, though, has a way of surprising us at times.

I wonder how the children would adapt. Being children, I am sure it would not take them long to adjust to a new life in another country. They have already been to Germany several times and are thus used to another way of life. Also, there is no shortage of children here in Ireland for them to play with as families here consist of at least three children.

For now we have to make do with the circumstance as is, with him living in Ireland and me in the States and seeing each other two or three times a year. The situation is far from ideal but we are both determined to make this work as we know it is merely a matter of time and patience until we are able to live in one home.

To sit and wonder passes the time but life is lived now and we somehow have to determine our next step to take as we enjoy the present moments.

TO DINE TOGETHER

by queens ennis

Of the many things important in a relationship, one of them is being able to dine together as often as possible. There is something rewarding about getting to sit down and dine together at the beginning or end of the day to share both food and conversation. Certainly there will be times when work or other obligations get in the way of this but making every effort to do so is of utmost importance.

Such was the case last night when I informed him I was making a 'surprise' for dinner. As he walked into the flat, he thought for a moment I might have made something with meat as it smelled as such. I prepared our plates and set them on the coffee table in the living room. He wondered what it was that smelled so good but which contained no meat whatsoever.

It was meatless loaf which I had made countless times before, and something which is my oldest daughter's favourite dinner, so I was able to make it from memory. I resolved myself to the fact that one of the main ingredients was different than in the States, but I made it work and it tasted good. He commented that it even tasted like meat and he really liked it which was surprising coming from someone who eats meat for practically every meal.

Alongside the meatless loaf we had an assortment of raw vegetables to include baby tomatoes, cucumbers, and yellow bell peppers topped with Greek feta, sea salt, and fresh basil. The other item on the plate was a potato gratin. We enjoyed our meal together and caught up on our day.

Tonight there will be more of the meatless loaf along with something new I made with whatever was leftover in the small refrigerator. Sliced onions I sautéed in olive oil with shallots and red and green bell peppers. I then squeezed in a quarter of an orange and added Urfa chilies and sea salt. To that I will add the leftover plain spaghetti and will wait for his return from work tonight as we sit at the table and dine together once more.

TIME NOT TO WASTE

window on fergus

We walked together this morning, I on my way to the park and he on his way to the doctor's office. He made it home shortly before me and we then continued our morning. After my shower, I made our breakfast smoothies. Bananas and pineapple with yogurt and milk was the blend of the day.

The morning was a bit strange as I felt we should have been taking more advantage of the few hours we have before he leaves for work. Instead, the usual rituals continued which meant time for each other was not used as well as it could have been. I then decided to leave before him and went to the coffeehouse.

As much as I wished he was there with me, he was not though there was plenty of time to sit for coffee before he left for work. I had already finished my macchiato and scone by the time he left the apartment.

I continued on with my day and went to Aldi for a few ingredients needed for tonight's dinner. Then I returned home intending to read for an hour before going out again to Dunnes for the rest of the ingredients. Instead, I found myself tired again and slept for two and a half hours before leaving the apartment.

Time is something we often wish we had more of and oftentimes we find ourselves frustrated when it seems to pass by so quickly. Time is precious and not to be wasted on trivial things for one day we will look back on the time we lost and wish we have used it more wisely.

SOMETHING NEW

ducks on fergus

It was a warm day in Ennis today. Running resumed this morning though I am guessing it will take some time for my body to get used to something I do not do often. The same goes for my getting used to wearing my new reading glasses as it is something new for me. Forming new habits and takes anywhere from two to eight months. Setbacks are to be expected but continuing on the path to change is key.

He returned to work today after two days off. We parted ways at the bookstore by the apartment and I continued on my way to the coffeehouse. I walked up the stairs intending to sit and enjoy my usual cappuccino and scone but noticed there were people waiting at the entrance. I walked back down the stairs and decided to check back later.

Wondering where to go, I started walking in the direction of the Ennis Bookshop when I ran into a friend of my boyfriend's. We said 'hi' and chatted for two minutes before saying 'bye'. This is the kind of town where you will inevitably run into at least one person you know every time you go out.

I walked into the bookshop and looked around for ten or so minutes wondering if the sales people notice me from previous days. Afterwards I returned to the coffeehouse and sat at a small table on the side away from the windows whilst waiting for my coffee and scone. When I left, the Polish waitress informed me that Conor would be back tomorrow though I am not sure why since I did not inquire about his whereabouts.

For the remainder of the day I stayed home and forced my eyes to adjust to the new purple reading glasses as I continued the story of Alice in 'Who is Alice', a story which takes place in Galway with a mention of Ennis in one of the chapters I read today. As the day draws to a close, I am happy to see him home and know we have an evening together to enjoy.

HAPPY SUNDAY IN ENNIS

ennis walk

Today was a happy Sunday as we were able to spend the day together. He had a day off from work today, as he did yesterday, so we spent quality time doing things we otherwise are unable to do both during the week when he is at work and whilst living apart.

We awoke before 09,00 shortly before the church bells chimed. I took today off from running but made our breakfast smoothie as I have every morning thus far. We had the same one as yesterday made with bananas, pineapple, vanilla bean yogurt, milk, and a splash of cream. Afterwards, I made another batch of scones.

This time I used the recipe for the plain scones on the flour package. They were not too bad, but I preferred my recipe for the lemon poppy seed scones I made Friday. He commented on how they would taste better with jam so we returned to Dunnes to buy a local raspberry jam. Tomorrow I work on another recipe for plain scones with the intent on getting fluffy and light scones one day.

After our walk this morning, we returned home and did a few random things whilst waiting for the coffee house to open at 13,00. Debating whether or not to have coffee today as we remembered the 'not-so-cappuccino' cappuccino we asked to have remade, we decided to go anyway and enjoy the time we had together. As he knows well, I could sit there for hours talking with him but we decided to return home.

We started to watch the movie we did not get to watch last night but turned it off at some point to do other things. In the evening we made and ate dinner together and then went on one more walk before settling in for the night. As we reminisced on both our pasts, we realised how all things happened for a reason in order for us to be together at this point in time. Though we wished we could have met years earlier, it is better we met now than not at all. It was indeed a happy Sunday in Ennis.

DEAR CHILDREN

rainy sunset

Hello my three children. I am writing to you via my blog since this is the only way I am able to 'communicate' with you at this time. I have sent you, Saffron, four emails so far whilst I have been in Ireland but I am guessing you do not have access to your iPhone. My phone does not work here but we can see each other on Skype. We both would love to see you three.

Though I have asked your father to keep me informed as to where you are going this summer, he refuses to answer my emails and multiple inquiries about your summer plans. I do not want you three to think I am not thinking of you or that I do not wish to speak with you. I think about you every day and wonder what and how you are doing.

For weeks before school was out for the summer, I have asked where he plans on taking you three during these five weeks you are away from me. As your mother, I believe I have a right to know. For some reason your father believes this is an intrusion into his personal life and refuses to discuss anything with me including my pleas about not sending you girls to cheer camp.

One day I hope you three will understand why I did what I did. I did it for you mostly as I did not wish for you three to grow up believing what you witnessed whilst we all lived together was the model of a loving relationship. Though things will be difficult for some time with my finding work and a new home for us all, it is much better than having to live as we did.

One thing to remember, my dear children, is that family always comes before money. Money helps, but it is not everything and should not be the reason to stay in any relationship. Love is the reason to stay whilst the lack of love is reason enough to leave even if it means we are not able to buy all the things we think we need.

We have each other and that is more valuable than anything else. As long as you have love, laughter, and happiness the details will be figured out in time.

Keep safe, my dear children, and I will see you in three weeks. Love, mama.

THE SEVENTH DAY

ennis after 6pm

It is my seventh day here in Ennis living a somewhat normal everyday life. I can hardly believe last month I stayed a mere nine days as it seemed too short a time for a visit but any time we get to spend together is better than no time.

Contrary to last month's visit when there was no rain in sight, the days without rain are rare this time. I keep thinking how lucky I was with the sun on Wednesday on my trip to Galway. Today the wind howled from morning until evening and was accompanied by the occasional downpour which lasted less than five minutes at times.

He suggested I skip my workout this morning which was good since my back was aching from all the days running. It is not something my body is used to doing on a regular basis so a day off was a good decision. Instead we went to Dunnes for a few items we needed for smoothies and such. It was nice to spend the morning together before he left for work.

As he went his way, I went to Aldi and later back home. Tired once again in the early afternoon, I slept two hours before going to The Poet's Corner for spring rolls and chips which he prepared for me. This time I remembered that 'fries' are called 'chips' in Ireland. The food was tasty as always and enough that I did not have to eat dinner.

When I returned home I made lemon poppy seed scones and washed one of his uniforms. He let me know I should have waited for him to bring the other one tonight as he has the weekend off. It was a time I should have listened to my instinct as it told me to wait but I did not. Lesson learned and not a mistake I will be making again.

Walking the streets of Ennis, one notices they are bare at six in the evening when all of the shops have closed but come alive later in the evening as people frequent the bars. I am glad he came home earlier today. After six days of hard work, he is ready for two days of not having to stand on his feet all day in a hot kitchen. It will be a 'normal' weekend living a family life.

THERE WILL BE CLOUDS

dark clouds

Despite the sprinkling of rain drops this morning and my feeling tired, I made it to the outdoor gym for my workout as yesterday. Our morning did not start out as previous mornings as we are both adjusting to what life would be like if we were living together in one home. But we are not and know that the time when we will be together is further away than we would like it to be.

We did manage to have our morning smoothie with whatever ingredients were leftover. Tomorrow will require another trip to the shop for more food but the last two peaches, one banana, milk, and a splash of cream was the healthy breakfast we shared for a brief moment before I left on a walk around town. After my return, he left for work and I stayed home the rest of the day.

There was no visit to the coffee shop today. No coffee. No scone. I had intended on buying what I needed for making scones today but instead felt I needed more sleep. I slept for four hours this afternoon and missed the time I could have gone to eat spring rolls and fries at his work. Afterwards was too busy at the pub, I reasoned, so I would see about going tomorrow.

Relationships are challenging but also rewarding. There will be days filled with sunshine and happiness but there will also be the days with clouds looming over us as we go about our way attempting to figure out our next steps.

As long as we make an effort to see past the clouds and take one step at a time, we will be able to enjoy the life we have today without waiting for tomorrow.

FLEETING MOMENTS

bubble in galway

Moments in life come and go as do the people we meet. Sometimes we might be fortunate enough to come across those same people at a later time. Other times the encounters we have are meant as fleeting moments in our lives. The reason for such encounter might not be readily apparent but there is a reason for all things.

This morning it was not the sound of rain which jarred me out of a deep sleep rather the sound of a woman yelling outside our bedroom window. Most likely she was fighting with a boyfriend but I was mostly asleep whilst she continued to spew insults and hateful words as I drifted back to sleep.

Despite the disruption in sleep I awoke around the same time and left for my morning jog at the park. This time I pushed myself to do one more round around the park than yesterday. Somehow it seems to be getting a little easier but such is the way with building habits. Replacing the bad habits with good ones takes time but the key is consistency.

The forecast for today was sun which made it a good day to spend in Galway. I left the apartment before he left for work in order to make the 11,25 bus. It would be an hour and 20 minutes to the bus station in Galway.

The scenery along the way was beautiful. I smiled every time I saw the cows or sheep or horses but I knew if my boyfriend was with me he would have different words for the sheep and cows.

My first stop was Renzo Café for a cappuccino and scone with cream. Last month when my boyfriend and I were in Galway, we went to this café and had paninis which were very good. Afterwards I started my walk around the town.

There are many artists along the main street to include singers, magicians, and even a sand sculptor. I first encountered a man making large bubbles whilst a little girl tried to catch them. I watched as the bubbles floated away up into the sky and burst not long afterwards.

catching bubbles

A short way down the street I veered to the right to the craft market where I had purchased necklaces for my girls last month. I wanted to buy one for my son but none of the colours available called out to me as they did for my daughters. Just as I walked away a few feet I turned back for a moment and noticed a puzzle piece as a necklace.

I spoke to the shop owner for at least 15 minutes as she explained the colours she had available and how she procured the copper pieces from the States. Since she did not have a business card, I gave her my contact card so she would let me know when the custom piece I requested for my son would be ready.

Galway is a beautiful city with so much to see. I could have spent another day there but know I have time still to do so later this month if I wish to return. Perhaps I could return to spend a night there with my boyfriend as we enjoy one night away from Ennis.

galway 715

There were many people in the city today with most basking in the sun by the water. I walked over to the grassy area where the iconic row of buildings are located and wished to take a photograph with a reflection of the buildings in the water. However, the sun was too bright for such a photograph which is another reason I need to return to the city at night.

As I was photographing the scenery before me, to include the swans and boats, I heard pieces of a conversation behind me taking place between two couples. One was a young couple with the woman looking as if she was about to give birth at any moment. Her pregnant belly was bare to the sun as she basked in the warmth of the day. Her partner was listening as she spoke with the other couple.

The other couple was older with the husband being from France and the wife from the States. Both were now living in the countryside outside of Galway. They were discussing politics and the corruption in both Ireland and the States. Welfare and health concerns were topics and at some point New Zealand came up in the conversation. Pierre was saying how in order to live in New Zealand one needs to bring $350,000 with them in order to get to live in the country.

As much as I enjoyed the conversation I wished not to intrude so I packed up my camera and readied to leave. Deborah asked me if I was a photographer and if I sold my photographs. At that point, I decided to stay and join in the conversation. She told me her story of being a single mother in the States, first in Boston then having to move to Florida. She now lives in Ireland with her husband of six years and is writing two books.

I could have stayed at talked to her for hours longer as she was a free spirit as me but we both had to leave. The moments we are given in life as we meet new people though fleeting should be enjoyed. There is always a reason someone comes into our lives though we may not know the reason until much later. Sometimes the moments are fleeting as a bubble which we watch as it floats up into the sky and disappears. Other times we are fortunate enough to see them again.

EVERYDAY LIFE

ennis sunset 714

The last thing I wanted to do this morning was to get out of bed and go jogging. Rain kept jarring me from sleep throughout the night and into the early morning but once it stopped I believed it to be already past the time I usually go out for my workout. As I crawled out of bed to check the time, I could not make the excuse to stay in bed since it was still before 09,00.

We talked about whether I should stay or go and he convinced me to go walking instead of jogging. I knew I would feel better afterwards, so I got dressed and set out on my walk. With my headphones on listening to music, I felt energised once I reached the park and thus decided to jog my two rounds. The only stops I made were the two times I passed the gym equipment for a little weight training.

I returned in 45 minutes and showered before making our smoothies for breakfast. Two peaches, one half-frozen banana, vanilla bean yogurt, milk, and the spoonful of whipped cream which was left in the blender from last night's dessert made for a tasty meal this morning.

At noon we walked out together and parted ways again by the coffee shop. I had a little time before my eye exam so I decided to have my usual cappuccino and scone. The eye exam was my first one ever and thus I did not know what to expect. My long-distance vision was 20/20 but my near vision was slowly deteriorating from repeated computer use. Thus, the optician suggested reading glasses which I have yet to choose from the great selection available.

The rest of the afternoon I spent walking around and buying more ingredients I needed for the carrot coriander soup I made for dinner. I was glad to be walking from store to store instead of sitting in a car even if it meant my having to walk for hours and make several trips up and down the five flights of stairs each time. I also wanted to make sure his laundry was finished so that we had one less thing to do on his days off next week.

We realise this time my trip here is less of a vacation and more of the everyday life we will one day have together though not as soon as we would like. Whilst he is at work, I am at home doing things I would normally do at home. Though our situation is unique in that we are together but apart, we somehow make it work and trust that one day our home will be on one continent instead of two.

As the sun set tonight behind the distant mountains, I marveled once again at the beauty of the colours. Tonight nature chose to display lovely pinks with grey and white clouds above. I now look forward to the next sunset to record on my camera so that I may always remember the summer I lived in Ireland.

DRIVEN TO HEALTHY

sunset ennis 713

The pleasant sound of rain we heard outside our window all night long. It was still sprinkling by the time I set out for my run this morning and I wondered whether or not I should go. Then I reasoned this is Ireland and waiting for the rain to stop is like waiting for cooler weather in Austin during the summer months. So, I went in search of the park I stumbled upon yesterday.

Somehow I made a wrong turn and ended up at the community college on the opposite side of where I should have been. I backtracked until I saw a sign letting me know I had one kilometer to the town centre. Once I saw the bridge by Rowan Tree hostel, I knew where I had to go and was on my way to the park.

Though I had already walked over two kilometers in search of the park, I did my two rounds of mostly jogging and stopped by the outdoor gym area to use the two pieces of equipment I used the day before. On my way home, I bought sourdough bread from the Polish bakery around the corner from the apartment. Such a thing I could never do at my home in the States but am glad I have the chance to do so here.

He was awake and had a feeling I might have gotten lost as I had taken longer to return home than yesterday. After a shower, I made us a smoothie from bananas, milk, and vanilla bean yogurt. When you have someone with whom to share meals, and someone who appreciates it, you are driven to a more healthy way of eating and tend to take care of yourself better than you would if you were alone.

Around noon we walked out together and parted ways by the coffee shop. I went upstairs for my cappuccino and he went to work. Later in the afternoon I went to visit him for a few minutes but not before my shopping for food at various shops.

The good thing about living in the town centre is that if you forget an ingredient, you can easily walk around the corner to the shop which has it. One of the several health food stores is located right outside the front door of the apartment building. It is where I bought the couscous for dinner and cinnamon and raw cane sugar for dessert.

I must have walked up and down the 61 stairs four times today with the various items I purchased throughout the day. The lift has been non-functional for the past three weeks and there is no sign of it getting repaired anytime soon. Yet another drive to be healthy and not something common back home in Austin as we drive around half the day just to gather our groceries. 

Dinner was an experiment. Vegetarian stuffed red and yellow peppers of which we were able to eat only one half each. Couscous with shallots, shredded carrots, cumin, fresh mint, and feta was the filling for the peppers which were baked for half an hour or so. The salad was composed of arugula, avocado, cucumbers, baby tomatoes, radishes, feta and was seasoned with Aleppo and Urfa peppers, salt, and balsamic vinegar.

Dessert was puff pastry with sliced apples, raw cane sugar, and cinnamon and was topped with freshly whipped cream. He had merely a bit of dessert as he was already full from all of the vegetables. Tomorrow there will be no need to cook as there was plenty left over for another meal.

As I looked outside our bedroom window, I was glad to once again be facing the setting sun. The bright orange sunset was a beautiful site and one most of us take for granted until it is something we no longer have as in my case of moving to the 'cave'.

For these next three weeks I will relish in nature's beauty and be thankful to be in a place where love abounds and where the drive to be healthy is much stronger.

SLEEPY SUNDAY

summer flowers ennis

I felt a bit like a local when a woman in her car stopped to ask for directions early this Sunday morning and I knew how to direct her to Dunnes store. It was not quite 09,00 as I set out for a walk about town. I made my way over the bridge of the River Fergus and ended up by the Ennis Courthouse where I saw a woman jogging in the nearby park.

The Tim Smythe park has a running track, soccer field, basketball court, a children's playground, and an outdoor of sorts. I took advantage of both the outdoor gym and the running track as I jogged two rounds.

On my way home, I stopped by Dunnes store to get shower gel, a shower puff, frozen berries, milk, and yogurt when I saw the lady from the car. We chatted for a few minutes as she let me know she is from Dublin but makes her way to Ennis once in a while.

Once home, I was glad about the smoothie blender from his roommate and set about making a frozen berry smoothie with a banana for our healthy breakfast. Having breakfast together was lovely and something we plan on taking full advantage of this month I am here. 

He readied for work and I jumped in the shower and got ready for the day after he left. The first stop was the coffee shop for my cappuccino and scone. The Nicaraguan coffee beans made for a lovely cup of coffee which I greatly enjoyed. Tomorrow we hope to make it to the coffee shop together before he leaves for work.

Afterwards, I walked to Aldi for a handful of items to include local strawberries, bell peppers, Edam cheese, and arugula and decided to go home after taking some photographs along the way. Tired from yesterday's trip and the jog this morning, I ended up sleeping the rest of the afternoon awaking after 18,00 to eat two veggie sandwiches and the tiny strawberries I bought earlier.

He arrived home earlier than he usually would if I was not here which was a lovely surprise. Tomorrow he plans to come home even earlier which means I will plan for a lovely dinner with the bell peppers and perhaps couscous. It was nice to be together in person at the end of this sleepy Sunday instead of on screens across the world six hours apart.

WELCOME HOME

birds on roof

'Tomi, what is marriage', my boyfriend asked his friend whom he called to collect me from the airport at 07,30h this morning.

'Marriage is the reason for divorce', replied Tomi half-joking I assume. We three broke into laughter as we knew this was partly true.

I had asked Tomi how long he was together with his girlfriend. 'Nine years', was his reply which led to my asking about their getting married. Certainly a piece of paper is by no means a necessity for a solid relationship. As Goldie Hawn, who has been together with Kurt Russell for 29 years without getting married, stated recently: 'A lasting relationship isn’t about marriage. It’s about compatibility and communication. And you both need to want it to work.'

We made it to Ennis in less than half an hour and went straight to bed. Though I wanted to stay awake, it took no time for me to fall asleep. By the time we awoke and glanced at the phone for the time, it was already noon. He made breakfast for us both: eggs, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, and bread with cheese. Eating together made for a much more enjoyable breakfast than it usually is when we have to eat alone.

The coffee shop was next on our agenda for a simple and relaxing day. I was glad he was able to get the day off today of which we both took great advantage. Though we had to wait ten minutes for our table and another 15 minutes for our coffee, the wait was well worth the great taste of the rich and creamy cappuccinos.

I skipped the scone for today as we had just finished breakfast. I was glad to hear Conor's plans for the new coffee shop across the street were underway though I will not be here when they plan to open next month. Tomorrow I will return and have my scone with a cappuccino as I sit at my table by the window.

The rest of the day involved walking, making a vision test appointment for me at Specsavers around the corner, more sleeping, and a visit to Dunnes store for provisions for dinner. The grilled vegetable frozen pizza I had was tasty as far as frozen pizzas go. I will have plenty of time for cooking in the following weeks. Our first day together again ended with a pint of Guinness at Knox's. 'Welcome home', he said as we clinked our glasses.