The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

IRL IRL Day 6: 30,000+ Steps in Dublin December 13, 2016

Filed under: Food,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 11:33 am
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We began our final full day in Ireland with breakfast at Herbstreet in Dublin. My waffles with fresh berries and clotted cream were delicious, despite the fact that I strongly feel that clotted is one of the least appetizing words in the English language and really has no place on a menu.


I dig the Dublin doors.

After breakfast, we went to Trinity College, where we saw the Book of Kells, which was pretty amazing and a tough act to follow. But I could have sworn I heard a choir of angels singing as I entered the Long Room and beheld more old books than I could likely read in a lifetime…although I do enjoy a challenge.


 I would like to live here, please, thx.

Our self-guided walking tour of Dublin continued with stops at Christchurch Cathedral and Dublin Castle. We intended to visit the Jameson distillery, but it turned out to be closed for re-development.


Christchurch Cathedral


Dublin Castle


Bridge on the River Liffey

We had also planned to tour the Kilmainham Gaol, but we didn’t plan quite well enough–tickets for the day were sold out by the time we arrived. Since we were all ready there, we  perused the museum there for a while, and that was quite interesting.


I have so many questions.

From there, we headed to the Guinness Storehouse, where we took a tour and had drinks in the Gravity Bar, which offers 360-degree views of Dublin. I’ve taken quite a few brewery tours in my day and the brewing of beer occurs regularly in my kitchen, so frankly, learning about the brewing process is not all that interesting or novel to me. That said, I really enjoyed the Guinness tour. The building itself and the exhibits are impressive, and the tour was structured so that, for the most part, you could go through at your own pace.


View through a waterfall or impressionistic painting?


Ian wished this was a real beer. I wished it was a real turtle.


Tiny Guinness is adorable!

At the conclusion of the tour, you have the option of (after brief instruction) being able to pull your own pint or to have one pulled for you in the Gravity Bar. We opted for the latter, mainly because I figured (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the bar might have options other than Guinness. Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of Guinness (*gasp*!). I don’t hate it–it’s just not my thing. I think it has something to do with the fact that when I look at it, I expect something chocolate–not something with hints or notes of chocolate but rather some serious, deep, dark chocolatey goodness–and am invariably disappointed. And frankly, the assumption that everyone who takes the tour and is not a child would want a Guinness seems a bit short-sighted, but oh well. I drank a little, and my companions finished my portion.


In my experience, it’s the other way around.

After loading up on Guinness-themed souvenirs, we sought out food at Against the Grain and then headed back to the apartment to pack up. Packing is never particularly fun, and according to my FitBit, we had racked up more than 30,000 stops that day, so a couple of beers seemed well deserved. As we drank and packed, we pondered exactly what had compelled us to buy quite so much beer. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, but there was no way we were going to finish it all. Ah well, hopefully the next occupants of the apartment enjoyed it.


It’s true–the streets in Ireland are paved with potatoes!



IRL IRL Day 4: Goats, Gaps, and General Gaiety October 14, 2016

Filed under: Food,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 3:33 pm
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I started my fourth day in Ireland with a nice wine glass full of coffee. Why a wine glass? Well, I searched the cupboards for coffee cups but found none, so I had to make do with what was at hand.


Breakfast of champions

Fortified by breakfast, I readied myself for the day ahead, which included using the weirdest hair dryer in the world. I’m pretty accustomed to hair dryers that are attached to walls, but this one looked more like a central vacuum than a hair dryer. It did blow hot(ish) air, but there was no way to properly direct the flow. Plus, all but the slightest move would trigger the dryer to automatically shut off.


What the what?

But anyway, I survived this hardship, and Michelle and I walked into the main part of Killorglin to explore, pausing on the way to take selfies with the statue of King Puck because who doesn’t love a selfie with a bronze statue of a goat wearing a crown?


All hail his goaty graciousness!

Having been on vacation for a while, we’d sort of lost track of what day it was, but we were reminded that it was Sunday upon seeing that the only things open in Killorglin were a grocery store and a lamb farm supply store. Priorities, you know.

The four of us then set off to do some sight seeing by car, giving Friday his first driving experience in Ireland. Nobody threw up, and we all lived to tell about it, so we’ll call it a success. We thought we had seen some narrow roads before that point, but those were nothing compared to the ones around the Lakes of Killarney. The roads were also quite twisty, so it wasn’t actually possible to go very fast, which is good because there were plenty of hikers, bikers, and sheep about.


Gap of Dunloe


House in the Gap of Dunloe–it’s a bit of a fixer-upper


Does it get any more Irish than this?


Ladies’ View, Killarney National Park

I absolutely must mention Jarvey’s Rest, where we ate lunch and I had, by far, my best meal of the entire trip—a wild mushroom duxelles and spinach filo strudel served with red onion compote and a leek cream sauce. YUM.


Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park


Muckross Lake


I’ve heard of tree huggers, but it seems that this tree would rather have a kiss!


Ross Castle


Look, mom–I’m in a castle!

Later on, we returned to Bunkers Bar in Killorglin, for dinner, drinks, and a traditional Irish music session. At one point in the evening, Ian came back from the men’s room to report that the man who had stood next to him at the urinal was quite drunk…but had a lovely singing voice. Apparently, he had just been warming up because not long after that, he joined the session and graced the entire bar with that voice. Finally, we felt like we’d gotten the true Irish pub music experience!


Julaiku 2, Day 24 July 24, 2016

Filed under: Food,Poetry — lizardesque @ 2:16 pm
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July 23, 2016

Yum, pancakes and a

Couple of bloody marys

Hence, the food coma


Julaiku 2, Day 21 July 21, 2016

Filed under: Food,Poetry — lizardesque @ 5:50 pm
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Not enough syllables to mention the humidity…

July 21, 2016

It is way too hot
To even think of ovens
Smoothies for dinner


Julaiku 2, Day 17 July 17, 2016

Filed under: Food,Poetry — lizardesque @ 2:16 pm
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July 17, 2016

Excuse to indulge:
It’s National Ice Cream Day!
Om nom nom nom nom


Hawai’ian Holiday Part 2: Sun, Snorkeling, and SNAFUs in Paradise (but I am a Valued Customer) April 3, 2015

Filed under: Food,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 5:24 pm
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Friday morning, we headed for Hilo. Our first stop there was Two Ladies Kitchen, where we tried some mochi. These chewy, elastic confections seemed to me a cross between dumplings and fondant. I’m glad I tried them, but they’re not something I’d be likely to seek out again.

Charming graffiti in Hilo

Charming graffiti in Hilo

It was time to see some waterfalls, including the aptly named Rainbow Falls (we did, indeed see rainbows). On approaching Pe’epe’e Falls and Boiling Pots, we were rocketed back to adolescence, gigglesnorting at the street sign that, without the ‘okinas, read “Peepee Falls St.”

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Boiling Pots

Pe’epe’e Boiling Pots


Still giggling about “Peepee Falls”

Next on our agenda was to purchase beach towels and snorkeling gear. We’d been advised that doing so would be cheaper and more convenient than renting, even if it meant going to Wal-Mart. There, we stood momentarily paralyzed by the options. Snorkeling accouterments occupied a full aisle and then some, and we discerned few obvious ways to narrow down our choices. Eeny meeny miny moe… And I had thought that selecting a beach towel was going to be the more difficult decision! Four years ago when I was in Honolulu, I could swear there was an ABC store every 20 yards, each of which stocked at least 6 dozen types of Hello Kitty beach towels, along with myriad other motifs. The Hilo Wal-Mart had but a single Hello Kitty beach towel! Then again, it made my choice easy. Yes, I’m a 40-year-old childfree woman, and I am unapologetic about my fondness for Hello Kitty.

Snorkels, towels, and a few other items in hand, we entered what did not seem to be a particularly long line, but by the time we got to the front of it, I’m pretty sure my hair had grown about an inch. When I went to pay for my purchase, my credit card was denied. I tried a second time. No dice. I shrugged and used my debit card, figuring that my bank was being cautious. It’s not that my traveling to Hawai’i should have raised any eyebrows, but I can understand how my shopping at Wal-Mart would be cause for red flags.

Onward we went to seek lunch at the Hilo Bay Café, which, according to our guidebook was in the same strip mall as the Wal-Mart. Turns out, it had moved to a much nicer, more scenic location that we had actually passed earlier during one of the many times we got confused as we navigated Hilo and had to turn around. Service was on the slow side, but lunch, which included two blueberry-jalapeño margaritas, was delicious.

We then set off for the Kapoho Tide Pools to put our newly acquired gear to use. During the drive there, I called my credit card company to deal with that situation and was placed on hold for 15 minutes, during which time an automated voice repeatedly assured me that I am a valued customer. When, at last, I made contact with a real live person, I accidentally disconnected the call as I tried to switch my phone off of speaker mode.


Sorry, had to get that out of my system. I called again, was placed on hold again, was assured I am a valued customer again and again. Another 15 minutes or so, I connected with and did not hang up on a real person. “Hi, I want to use my credit card, and you won’t let me,” I said. A few minutes later, when I realized that there actually had been some fraudulent charges on my card, I felt slightly bad for beginning the call that way, but I don’t think I was capable of not being snarky at that point. What happened next may have been mere coincidence or karmic retribution for my snark. Just as I was in the process of discussing the best course of action with the phone representative, my call dropped.


This was just about the time we arrived at the tide pools. I had no cell service there, so all I could do was tell myself I’d get it all worked out later and go snorkeling. We parked and walked the quarter mile to the pools. On the way, we passed a cat lounging in the grass next to a sign for Winston Churchill Real Estate. Naturally, we decided that the cat’s name must be Winston Churchill.

The tide pools were beautiful, but actually getting into them was tricky, as the water and lava rocks made for a perilous combination of slippery and jagged. The mixing of salt and fresh water resulted in suboptimal clarity at times; nevertheless, the snorkeling was enjoyable, albeit brief. The daylight was waning, and the last thing we wanted to do was navigate the treacherous rocks in low light.

Kapoho Tide Pools

Kapoho Tide Pools (Photo credit Lindley Ashline, Creative Commons License)

Later, back at the condo, the boys grilled dinner while I, once again, called the credit card company, this time from a land line to assure there would be no call droppage. Much to my dismay, several minutes into my holding and hearing that I am a valued customer, the cordless phone (the only one in the condo) began to beep, alerting me to a low battery. “You were sitting in the base all day. You better not die on me!” I growled at the phone. Mercifully, the phone hung in there.

When I was allowed to speak to a person, she arranged to have the new card shipped to me at the next place we would be staying, and I thought things were cleared up. However, just as we were ostensibly wrapping up the call, she said, “Okay, you should have that card on Monday or Tuesday at the latest.” Considering we were leaving for home on Tuesday, that was not going to work. Instead, she arranged for our present card to work only in Hawai’i for point-of-sale transactions and to have the new card shipped home. Wonderful.

“So the card will be delivered to your home on Monday, and someone may need to sign for it.”

Ugh. No. We would still be in Hawai’i then. Had she been paying attention? She then arranged an extra slow delivery method for the new card. When the call concluded, at long last, all I could do was cross my fingers and hope that this was all over, also, eat dinner and drink wine.




Boston or Bust Part 2: Days That Begin With a Ride From Vision-Impaired Troglodyte Taxi Driver Can Actually Turn Out OK! September 24, 2014

The morning after my interactive disco Shakespeare adventure with my brother, I checked out of my hotel and caught a taxi to take me to his apartment, where I would spend my last night of the trip. Upon getting in the cab, I was immediately struck by the fact that my driver was a woman in perhaps her mid/late sixties. It’s not that this is a problem, it’s simply unusual. At first, I thought it was unusual in an awesome way–good for her! Also, there was something comforting at the thought of possibly getting a ride from someone’s grandmother. Perhaps there would be cookies.

I told the driver the address, and some confusion ensued. As it happens, there is a street by the same name in Boston, and it is near Cambridge Street. The driver asked if I was sure of the address since she didn’t know a street by that name in Cambridge. I told her I was certain.

“OK, I’m going to have to look it up,” she said as she picked up a large book and began to flip through it, repeating the street name to herself. “Ah, here it is,” she said and then handed the book back to me. “Can you read what it says there?”

Bewildered, I took the book from her. “My glasses are on the floor somewhere,” she said.

I read the text to her and handed the book back, assuring myself that plenty of people had problems reading small print but could see just fine for driving. She flipped through the pages again. This time when she landed on the page she was seeking, she produced a large magnifying glass to read the entry. “OK, got it,” she said and discarded the book. She then told me that, since she was not sure of the fastest way to get there, she would charge me a flat rate for the trip.

That seemed fair, so I settled back into my seat as she commenced with the usual cab driver chit-chat. When she got around to asking what brought me to Boston, I told her I’d come for a conference but was staying a bit extra to visit my brother. “Oh, was it that neurology conference that was just in town?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Oh, well, I’ve got something for ya. It’s not exactly neurology, but…did you hear that there was another beheading?”

I hadn’t had time to keep on top of news during the preceding days, but I figured she was referring to another in a string of beheadings of journalists by ISIS. I briefly considered the odd train of thought that led her from neurology to decapitation, but I didn’t dwell on it. “No,” I said. “That’s awful.”

What followed was a tirade against Muslims and how, in her opinion, they should not be allowed in this country. At first, I tried to argue, saying that a small number of people doing horrible things in the name of Islam did not mean that all Muslims were bad, but it quickly became clear that I was wasting my breath. She continued to spew her hate speech, and I clenched my teeth and waited for the ride to be over.

Several minutes later, her diatribe ended when she announced that I would have to help her look for address numbers, as she suspected we were nearing an intersection where we needed to turn right.

This, combined with her previously revealed vision problems, made me suspect that perhaps she should not be driving a vehicle for a living, but I told her the first address number I spotted so that she could, hopefully, pay attention to traffic. “Oh, OK, I know where we are. Not far.” She motioned ahead and to the right. “There’s a resale shop up here. You can donate clothes and stuff, and they sell it. They give all the money to AIDS research.”

I cringed, fully expecting that this announcement would be a precursor to rant against another group of people she did not like. Thankfully, I was wrong, and she instead began to ramble about how another resale shop she had donated items to had mishandled her shoes, putting them into a large, jumbled pile. Really, the nerve of people.

We made the right turn, “I think your street is down a ways,” she said.

At the same time, I looked up and, almost immediately saw the name of street where my brother lives, “No, it’s right here!” I said, and the cab stopped abruptly.

“Geez, how did you see that?” she marveled.

Oh, I don’t know…I am sighted! I thought, as she answered her own question. “It must look familiar from last time.”

“Right,” I said, handing her payment, just relieved that the ride was over. I got out of the taxi and went to the back to retrieve my luggage, but instead of getting out to the car to assist me or at least popping the trunk open, she began to drive away. “Hey!” I screamed and pounded on the back of the cab as I chased it a few feet down the street.

The cab stopped again, and the driver got out. “Oops. Sorry about that,” she said, making a motion as she was going to help me with my bags.

“I got it,” I said, quickly grabbed my luggage, and closed the trunk.

I’ve had some unpleasant cab rides before, but damn.

I figured the day had to get better from there, and I was right. I reunited with my brother and before long, we took off on our first excursion of the day: a visit to the World’s Smallest Museum in Sommerville.

I only wish I had time to see the entire thing!

I only wish I had time to see the entire thing!

Of course, that didn’t take up too much time, so we stopped for lunch at the nearby Independent. As we ate and chatted, it occurred to me that Chris and I had not spent much time alone together in a very long while, and it was nice. It was also striking how many of our conversations began with, “Do you remember…”

We occupied most of the day with reminiscing, drinking my favorite blueberry beer, and strolling around town.

Selfie by the river

Selfie by the river

Around dusk, we headed to the Lawn on D for fun with glowing oval swings, enjoying a lovely sunset along the way.


Swings weren't this cool when I was a kid.

Swings weren’t this cool when I was a kid.

I like the way it makes his socks glow.

I like the way it makes his socks glow.

It was dizzying but awesome. We followed that up with more conversation and cocktails at Drink and a late dinner at Veggie Galaxy. As the thoroughly enjoyable day (well, except for the bit with the awful taxi driver) came to a close, I found myself wishing I’d extended my trip just a little bit longer and vowed not to let so much time elapse before my next visit.