# Monday, August 14, 2006

One month and counting

I can't believe it has now been a full month we are here.  In some ways it feels like forever since we were in San Jose and others, it can't possibly be a month since we moved in....very weird state of being.

 

It has been a couple weeks since I posted here for a couple reasons…

1)       We just got broadband access as of Friday (after 'borrowing' our neighbor's unsecured wireless access until they left on vacation and turned off their computer, the nerve of them! :) )

2)       Amy was visiting for 2 weeks and we spent time in Scotland while she was here

 

I will start putting up some more posts soon, but today, after spending almost 6 hours online looking for jobs, I am a bit exhausted with the computer and will post more about the past couple weeks in the next few days.  

 

However, here is a link to some of the pictures from Amy’s visit.

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# Friday, July 28, 2006

A picture is worth a thousand words....

...or at least a few hundered.  I haven't written in a couple days, so I thought I would add a few pictures, expecially since Trina and Mike have both requested them. :)

 

  Here is a passenger's view...from the left!

 

  ...and, Reeves, driving on the left.

   Our empty living room....

  ....expecty for a few empty boxes from the first few essentials.

  Our lovely sitting room, complete with lawn chairs and TV/PC and laptops.

 

  A view to our back yard from the kitchen.

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# Thursday, July 27, 2006

260706 P ClassMsoNormal Sty

26/07/06

 

Day 13 and I still can’t believe I am in Ireland.  Since we still don’t have our stuff, I guess it still feels like we are on ‘vacation’ like everyone said we would.  However, if this is vacation, it is a really exhausting vacation! J I started to muse about what makes one feel ‘at home’ in a place.  (yes, I have had too much time on my hands) As much as I have professed I wanted to purge our life of too much ‘stuff’, I have to admit I really miss the stuff we don’t have.  It is not so much the physicality of our stuff (although I really have wanted to curl up on our couch in front of a movie in the evening) but what I really miss is the idea of ‘us.’  ‘Us’ being the home we have built together, the choices we have made to create a unique and comfortable home which reflects the memories and choices we have made over the years, and in some cases, the items passed down the generations. Still a month till our stuff arrives, but it gets to take the scenic route and will see the Panama Canal, something I have always wanted to do! :) 

 

I found another new store today which I really like.  It is called Habitat and the American equivalent would be if the high-end stuff at Ikea merged with Crate and Barrel and then had smaller babies.   It has more modern looking items in addition to having a section where they do sales of vintage Scandinavian furniture, something I am very excited about purchasing.  It is located in city centre right across from a 19th century church converted into the Dublin tourism center.  It is the most beautiful center you could ever image and very apropos for the surroundings.  I picked up a good 2-inch stack of free brochures for Amy’s visit next week and for our further enjoyment of the greater area. 

 

Once again, it was a glorious day and I did an hour and a half walk in the morning through Ranelagh, over to Rathmines, and down through Beechwood, three of the closer villages to our Milltown.  

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# Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A few more "firsts"

It is Sunday evening and Reeves and I are sitting with our respective laptops in front of the TV-PC watching Sex and the City dvds.  Since we still don’t have internet access or cable, I am a bit starved for access and entertainment.  I can’t believe how much I depend on having access to organize and live my life.  It seems everything I want to “research” to do needs the internet – wow, I am a geek and didn’t even know it! 

 

We just got back from walking to dinner in Ranelagh (again J ), this time it was at a different Italian place which was very yummy.  We sat outside and did a little people watching since it was such a lovely evening again.  An interesting practice which I have noticed at restaurants is Dubliners have a tendency to just sit at any open table, without checking with the host to see if there is a wait. I have now seen at least three couples sit down only to be shooed away by the hostess.  I am curious to know if the practice was the acceptable norm until the population expanded to the point where the seats became prime real estate, much like the houses around here.

 

The weather is perfect here for outdoor dining right now.  We really have very little humidity (about like San Jose) and the evenings are pleasant.  Compared to what I have been reading about the bay area and the tremendous heat wave, we are blessed!

 

It has also been a weekend of Dublin firsts for us.  On Friday I took the LUAS in the city center to do a little shopping all by myself.  It is so fun to realize we finally live close to a major metropolitan area which is interesting, exciting and close enough to use public transportation to reach!  I had a lovely afternoon at Brown Thomas shopping for some new linens for our soon-to-be house guest, Amy.  En route home I stopped by Mark & Spencer’s café for an “organic egg and watercress sandwich” and a lovely glass of white wine.  You gotta love a country where the ‘cafeterias’ serve nibbles like this!! 

For the next ‘first’ we met up with Lawrence (who also works at MS and will soon be moving into the office next to Reeves) and his girlfriend, Fiona, at a local pub/restaurant to enjoy our first Friday night at the pubs! We enjoyed a couple bottles of wine here before we went to another more ‘traditional’ pub and happen to run into a couple more MS people and one of their friends.  We had some fun conversation and more wine and Bulmers cider (sp?) which Reeves actually had almost a whole bottle.  The cider is a malt beverage which is sweeter and it a ‘lighter’ fair than the average beer.  We closed down the place and didn’t get home till 1:30am – pretty late for us old folks.    

 

Saturday, I nursed a pretty good hangover, one the likes I haven’t had in a very long time.  I learned my lesson in trying to keep up with the locals and drinking!  That day we had brunch with Susan (a MS employee) and her Fiancé, Olivier, for a late brunch at noon.  We met them at the Dundrum Shopping Town from which they live walking distance.  They are a fun couple and we are glad to have them to help us become acclimated to the community.   Olivier works for Dell, so we all have lots in common with the technology industry as our focus. 

Bunch unfortunately was not serving breakfast when we arrived so I was still craving my greasy hangover food when we walked by McDonalds en route home later in the day.  I really didn’t want to give in as there is so much wonderful food out there we want to try, but this was an emergency situation.  I have to say, however, that was the best damn McDonalds I have had in years! J 

 

Back to Sunday the 23rd  - it was another first for me, driving on the other side of the road.  I wanted to practice with Reeves in the car so he could help look out for things and help me with judging distances.  I have to say that driving on the left is pretty easy to master compared with judging the distance to the curb on the other side of the car.  What makes it even more disconcerting judging distances is the lack of space here and the very narrow roads. In some cases there will be cars parked on both sides of the road and a very large double-decker bus coming at you with what seems like one room for one of us to pass through.  At this point both Reeves and I come to almost a complete stop and let the bus pass because it is better than taking a side mirror off the rental car! (especially since Reeves has already managed to blow out a tire from hitting a curb on the left side of the car, which just as easily could have been me doing it!)

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# Monday, July 24, 2006

A few updates

I haven't had Internet access again untill today so I have a few posting I have been saving....

19/07/06

 

Today was a meeting with our tax consultant with KPMG who helped us sort out the Irish tax schema.  It actually is much simpler than you would imagine and much simpler than the United States.  In fact, what you get every month is what you get, the taxes are deducted right away and there is none of the wondering about if you will need to pay or get a rebate – great system!  The only downside is the taxes are higher here, so we are still waiting to see what our ‘take-home’ is each month and hopefully it will leave a little left over for traveling! 

 

After our consultation we did a quick browse of Brown Thomas (the Irish equivalent of a Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman) a lovely little lunch at an outdoor table at a café off of Grafton Street and then the LUAS home.  This afternoon I have spent several hours trying to keep my promise to myself and our blog of Ireland.  Additionally, I have been updating my resume, and replying to a few e-mail before the neighbor, whose wifi I have been camping on, logs off.    

 

For dinner we went into Ramelagh for dinner again, this time for Indian at The Punjab Balti.  What a yummy place – the saag paneer was divine and although the naan was much thinner than we were used to, it was quite yummy.  I am looking forward to the future take-away from this new restaurant.

 

 

20/07/06

 

It is about 5 pm and about 85 degrees out – ugh – and very few places here have air conditioning.  I have not been dwelling on ‘what we left behind’ but right now I would kill for the a/c in out house!!  The week has been lovely without a drop of rain in sight, but I am ready for a few cooler days soon.  I really didn’t pack the right clothing for this warm of weather, so today I went by the Dundrum shopping town, a very familiar place to every American mall rat out there, and bought a pair of longer shorts and a couple linen tops at the department store The House of Fraser (a little nicer than Macy’s but not quite a Barneys).  They are having their summer sales right now and I have to say they are much better than the US.  Things were between 40-70% off and a great deal of the store was on sale. 

 

Today we also went to get our PPS number, the equivalent of a Social Security number which you need when you are employed and paying taxes.  Even though I don’t have a job yet I was able to get one since Reeves was doing his. The office was near Dun Laoghaire, which also happens to be the dock from which the car ferry leaves for Wales and England.  I really can’t wait to take that trip, but I think we need to be here a bit longer than a week. J

 

Right now I am just waiting for Reeves to come home from work so we can sup.  I am really glad I brought along my Sex and the City dvds.  They have been a great source of entertainment, especially since we can’t use Irish dvds in the computer till Reeves works his magic with the regional codes. 

 

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# Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A few bumps, but all is good in ‘ole Dublin

We arrived safely Friday morning Dublin and after a ride in a hired car with WAY too much luggage.  We stayed at the Beacon hotel which we called home for two nights in order for us to get settled in and get our new house set up.  We started the day off with a very quick shower and went straight to the bank to get our account set up. (MS has really had some great relocation services including someone to take us around to do all these ‘administrative’ issues who is local and knows the process.) Since Ireland has so many of the utilities paid by direct debit only, this was very important to set up quickly so we could have the utilities set up in our name. I however could not sign up for account or even as a joint account since I did not have proof of residency (i.e. lease with my name on it, utility bill, etc. There is so much of this circular proess it is amaizing - can’t get an account without a proof of residency, but can’t get residency without proof of an account - I don’t know how the average person does all this without a large company to vouch for them) so Reeves said I have to be really nice to him. J  After the bank we headed to the Garda Immigration Office (The Garda are the police here - from the Gaelic) This is where we get our “official” card to state we are in the country legally and are able to stay (equivalent to the American Green card).  That took a couple hours since it is first-come, first-served system and is as slow as most government offices, for which America does not have a monopoly on!
End of Day one in Dublin……

Day two started early with a retail spree spending all the money we earned selling off everything in San Jose.  We knew we were going to need to replace many things (everything you plug in to start with) so we started with stuff like a convection microwave oven, toaster, iron, etc. in addition to things like paper towels, laundry detergent, and dish soap.  It is amazing how many things you forget about which take to start a household!  Every time I go to do a task I have to think through what it is going to take and if I can do it or not!  One important item I had forgotten the first night was a wine bottle opener, but thankfully with the Irish drinking laws being what they are, the Italian delivery delivered my bottle of wine already corked! J  We have purchased a couple more ‘fun items’ including a really great sat/nav system which has all the maps for IE/UK and the whole of Europe.  I hope we put it to use very soon! Additionally, since we want to have a TV in the kitchen and eat-in area, we decided to purchase a windows Media Center edition computer with 19 in. screen to eventually keep in the kitchen for me to use while I am cooking and if we want to watch something while eating dinner.  We have it in the living room right now, with 2 lawn chairs in front of it, and we are watching dvds since we won’t have cable till next week.

Our new little home is very cute and has many of the things we wanted including character.  We have gotten a few more things than we wanted, however, including an army of spiders!  If you know me you know I don’t do spiders – bugs yes, spiders no.  Since the house has been sitting for several months it was needing a good shaking and we have shaken out more than our share including one last night that was actually big enough it audibly bumped its way down the death-tube (aka vacuum) – yuck!  So this morning we looked up exterminators. Interesting note, there is not a single pest control company in the yellow-pages which lists “spiders,” nor, when we looked for our own spray, did any of the products list spiders, just “crawling pests”.  I don’t know what the issue with killing spiders is, but I am not going to be shy about this one. :)

We have also been getting used to new appliances and new ways of doing things.  So far I have managed to turn some of our whites grey in the washer.  Weird thing however is that it was not the whole load, just certain pieces and certain parts of clothing.  From what I can tell it was certain synthetics that reacted with some process/chemical in the washer.  For example, a pair of Reeves underwear (which was white cotton) had just the inside of the waistband turn grey and the rest just fine and a pair of my underwear which were beige turn a strange light grey-green.  The plane white t-shirt and a button-down turned out just fine….hmmmm…..if anyone out there has a solution please let me know as I am scared to do any more “good” pieces for fear of ruining them!

On the upside of our house is the location – we are about ½ block from a small row of shops which includes a dvd rental store, cleaners, pharmacy (which carries some fancy products like Dior makeup/skin care), the very cute little fancy café Inna run by a young German woman and the best of all, a day spa with mani/pedis and salon!  Right next these shops is a Spar shop which like a cross between a 7-11 and fancy specialty market.  They have a full wine collection, made-to-order deli in addition to the selection of other groceries and small sundries. It is a very handy corner and on the way back from the LUAS (Dublin’s light rail system) to our house!  In addition, we are only a 10 minute walk from the village of Ranelagh. For those from California, it is like a little downtown Palo Alto or Los Gatos, but older and with more pubs! We have eaten at a few of the restaurants and like what we had had thus far, including the take-away Chinese we walked to get last evening.

One of my favorite things about visiting, and now living, in a different country is the comparison/contrast with all aspects of life from how you order coffee to driving on the other side of the road.  I am going to try and keep track of these and share them as I guess I am a sociologist at heart! �
A few I have noticed so far:

  • You can’t buy a blanket to go on your bed.  Everything is duvets, coverlets (to put on top of your duvet) or small throws.
  • People don’t have screens on their windows – there are still bugs, but no screens
  • The smart card is king & your credit card never leaves your sight which is great for security
  • Shops close quite early and even the main phone company that owns all the telephone lines, isn’t open on Sundays to open a phone account.
  • There are few to no street signs on roads so finding your way without a map or sat/nav system is nearly impossible
  • You rarely get a bag to put your products in when making purchase at grocery stores, diy stores and the like
  • Every shopping cart we have used thus far require a 1 or 2 euro ‘deposit’ inserted into the handle (which then releases the latch which holds it onto another cart) You get it back when you return the cart and re-latch it to the other carts.

The weather has also been unseasonably warm – into the 80s (low 30s Centigrade) which means you sweat a lot here since very few places have air conditioning.  It has been great to get us eased into the climate here, but I am afraid it is lulling us into a false sense of security! J

Enough for today, I am afraid I need to return to cleaning and updating my resume.  I have started submitting my resume, but need to really get serious about it so I can have some other distractions outside of the house.  Until next time…..

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A few bumps, but all is good in ‘ole Dublin

We arrived safely Friday morning Dublin and after a ride in a hired car with WAY too much luggage.  We stayed at the Beacon hotel which we called home for two nights in order for us to get settled in and get our new house set up.  We started the day off with a very quick shower and went straight to the bank to get our account set up. (MS has really had some great relocation services including someone to take us around to do all these ‘administrative’ issues who is local and knows the process.) Since Ireland has so many of the utilities paid by direct debit only, this was very important to set up quickly so we could have the utilities set up in our name. I however could not sign up for account or even as a joint account since I did not have proof of residency (i.e. lease with my name on it, utility bill, etc. There is so much of this circular proess it is amaizing - can't get an account without a proof of residency, but can't get residency without proof of an account - I don't know how the average person does all this without a large company to vouch for them) so Reeves said I have to be really nice to him. J  After the bank we headed to the Garda Immigration Office (The Garda are the police here - from the Gaelic) This is where we get our “official” card to state we are in the country legally and are able to stay (equivalent to the American Green card).  That took a couple hours since it is first-come, first-served system and is as slow as most government offices, for which America does not have a monopoly on!

End of Day one in Dublin……

 

Day two started early with a retail spree spending all the money we earned selling off everything in San Jose.  We knew we were going to need to replace many things (everything you plug in to start with) so we started with stuff like a convection microwave oven, toaster, iron, etc. in addition to things like paper towels, laundry detergent, and dish soap.  It is amazing how many things you forget about which take to start a household!  Every time I go to do a task I have to think through what it is going to take and if I can do it or not!  One important item I had forgotten the first night was a wine bottle opener, but thankfully with the Irish drinking laws being what they are, the Italian delivery delivered my bottle of wine already corked! J  We have purchased a couple more ‘fun items’ including a really great sat/nav system which has all the maps for IE/UK and the whole of Europe.  I hope we put it to use very soon! Additionally, since we want to have a TV in the kitchen and eat-in area, we decided to purchase a windows Media Center edition computer with 19 in. screen to eventually keep in the kitchen for me to use while I am cooking and if we want to watch something while eating dinner.  We have it in the living room right now, with 2 lawn chairs in front of it, and we are watching dvds since we won’t have cable till next week.  

 

Our new little home is very cute and has many of the things we wanted including character.  We have gotten a few more things than we wanted, however, including an army of spiders!  If you know me you know I don’t do spiders – bugs yes, spiders no.  Since the house has been sitting for several months it was needing a good shaking and we have shaken out more than our share including one last night that was actually big enough it audibly bumped its way down the death-tube (aka vacuum) – yuck!  So this morning we looked up exterminators. Interesting note, there is not a single pest control company in the yellow-pages which lists “spiders,” nor, when we looked for our own spray, did any of the products list spiders, just “crawling pests”.  I don’t know what the issue with killing spiders is, but I am not going to be shy about this one. J 

 

We have also been getting used to new appliances and new ways of doing things.  So far I have managed to turn some of our whites grey in the washer.  Weird thing however is that it was not the whole load, just certain pieces and certain parts of clothing.  From what I can tell it was certain synthetics that reacted with some process/chemical in the washer.  For example, a pair of Reeves underwear (which was white cotton) had just the inside of the waistband turn grey and the rest just fine and a pair of my underwear which were beige turn a strange light grey-green.  The plane white t-shirt and a button-down turned out just fine….hmmmm…..if anyone out there has a solution please let me know as I am scared to do any more “good” pieces for fear of ruining them!

 

On the upside of our house is the location – we are about ½ block from a small row of shops which includes a dvd rental store, cleaners, pharmacy (which carries some fancy products like Dior makeup/skin care), the very cute little fancy café Inna run by a young German woman and the best of all, a day spa with mani/pedis and salon!  Right next these shops is a Spar shop which like a cross between a 7-11 and fancy specialty market.  They have a full wine collection, made-to-order deli in addition to the selection of other groceries and small sundries. It is a very handy corner and on the way back from the LUAS (Dublin’s light rail system) to our house!  In addition, we are only a 10 minute walk from the village of Ranelagh. For those from California, it is like a little downtown Palo Alto or Los Gatos, but older and with more pubs! We have eaten at a few of the restaurants and like what we had had thus far, including the take-away Chinese we walked to get last evening. 

 

One of my favorite things about visiting, and now living, in a different country is the comparison/contrast with all aspects of life from how you order coffee to driving on the other side of the road.  I am going to try and keep track of these and share them as I guess I am a sociologist at heart!  

A few I have noticed so far:

  • You can’t buy a blanket to go on your bed.  Everything is duvets, coverlets (to put on top of your duvet) or small throws.
  • People don’t have screens on their windows – there are still bugs, but no screens
  • The smart card is king & your credit card never leaves your sight which is great for security
  • Shops close quite early and even the main phone company that owns all the telephone lines, isn’t open on Sundays to open a phone account.
  • There are few to no street signs on roads so finding your way without a map or sat/nav system is nearly impossible
  • You rarely get a bag to put your products in when making purchase at grocery stores, diy stores and the like
  • Every shopping cart we have used thus far require a 1 or 2 euro ‘deposit’ inserted into the handle (which then releases the latch which holds it onto another cart) You get it back when you return the cart and re-latch it to the other carts.

 

The weather has also been unseasonably warm – into the 80s (low 30s Centigrade) which means you sweat a lot here since very few places have air conditioning.  It has been great to get us eased into the climate here, but I am afraid it is lulling us into a false sense of security! J

 

Enough for today, I am afraid I need to return to cleaning and updating my resume.  I have started submitting my resume, but need to really get serious about it so I can have some other distractions outside of the house.  Until next time…..

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# Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Time to go

It has been almost a month since my last post, but so much has happened it will take a bit to get it all in here, which will happen over the next few postings.  In a nutshell, however, we sold our house, our three cars and about 1/2 our possessions. Had the rest packed up and it is right now on a boat somewhere in the Pacific ocean on its way to Ireland. Right now we are about to shut up the house for the last time as owners and leave it to its next chapter with the new owners, Michael and Gayle. 

Our new life starts tomorrow and with a wonderful forecast to greet us when we arrive on Friday morning in Dublin!

 

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Time to go

It has been almost a month since my last post, but so much has happened it will take a bit to get it all in here, which will happen over the next few postings.  In a nutshell, however, we sold our house, our three cars and about 1/2 our possessions. Had the rest packed up and it is right now on a boat somewhere in the Pacific ocean on its way to Ireland. Right now we are about to shut up the house for the last time as owners and leave it to its next chapter with the new owners, Michael and Gayle.

Our new life starts tomorrow and with a wonderful forecast to greet us when we arrive on Friday morning in Dublin!

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