After spending thirty-six years in the working world, I am learning to "live outside the lines," become less regimented, and explore creative projects. This blog records my experiences with long-form writing, art, including stained glass and painting, and travel. I'm not a natural at making loud noises in today's "selfie" world, so making this public is a stretch. That's probably a good thing.
We decided to schedule one specific "experience" when
we were here and it wasn't the typical one. No fishing expedition cycling tour,
or boating trip. And especially no trips to Game of Thrones sites or the isle
of Skellig Michael (the final scene of Star Wars). Instead we went on a
We picked the Ireland School of Falconry at Ashford
Castle and scheduled an extended walk, which included a private walk with a
guide for an hour and a half. The castle itself is quite a setting, just
outside the village of Cong in County Mayo. Yes, it is a castle...a place that
Americans spend, at minimum $700 per night to say they stayed in a castle.
I can spend money very easily (e.g., business class plane tickets) but I had no
interest in staying at the castle with a bunch of obnoxious Americans. But we
got to visit the grounds to access the school of falconry, so win for us!
The school is set at the corner of the estate, in what appeared
fort-like with high walls and doors. We met Alec, our young guide, and he
introduced us to the two Harris Hawks we would be managing (with his help). We
were fitted with heavy leather gloves, given our orientation, and introduced to
Rua (me) and Kara (John). Alec helped us fly both females for the next hour as
we walked through the woods around the estate and it was so interesting! They
are motivated by food, so they would fly from our hands and then we would lure
them back with baby chicken parts hidden in our gloves (yum!).
They swooped away and came back many times, sometimes switching
to whoever's hand seemed to have better food. It wasn't the least bit
frightening, even when they would come in for a fast landing. Once we finished flying the Hawks, we were able to fly Dingle,
the woodland owl, in a large open space, for comparison. He was much bigger and
was such an exhilarating experience! So interesting to learn about the Hawks
and this ancient sport.
We thought we were going to have to say goodbye to our girl this week. She had a few terrible days and our hearts almost broke. A visit to the Vet turned her around. More pain meds, more often, to soften the pain and help with her arthritis. She's not a new dog, but she's clearly more comfortable. I'll take it, for now.
I decided to make a house-warming gift for Lauren, who was moving into her new apartment. This piece included several different techniques, including one I'd never tried before. I found a small sturdy stick, covered it in copper foil, and soldered it. Then, I integrated it into the piece. Fun!
I finally finished my largest project yet, a supersized window valence. I need to figure out how to take a better photograph, one that captures the movement in the clear glass. Master Bathroom Window Valence