Coumeenoole Beach

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Visiting Coumeenoole Beach Saturday afternoon was amazing! I was already excited to have learned, the night before as I was browsing online, that parts of the movie Ryan’s Daughter had been filmed on this beach. This brought back to me a distant memory; Ryan’s Daughter was the first R-rated film my parents allowed me to see. And I was in awe of the cinematography.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

We stopped first at the top of the bluff to take in the breathtaking scenery from above. You’ll have to forgive me for posting so many pictures! I took hundreds and it was impossible to choose just a few.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Then Tim and Larisa drove down the steep road (see below) from the bluff to the beach. Dima and Katherine decided to walk down the path and stairs and I followed them with the camera.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Oh what a wild and free Atlantic Ocean!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the family looks down to the beach below
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ father and daughter share a love of adventure
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ those were some huge waves down there!
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ almost down to the road
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ the road from the steps down
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ look at those tiny people down there!
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I finally make my way to the sand
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ my liittle explorer
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ tide is coming in, rather quickly

I learned later that at low tide the beach goes much farther out. The tide continued to come in. I’m not sure how many hours we spent there enjoying all the nooks and crannies in the rocks.

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I was worried the tide would catch Tim over there
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ late afternoon sun
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Katherine never tired of exploring ~ she has always loved the great outdoors
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ having people in the pictures helps to get a sense of scale here
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I’m pretty sure this was Dima and Katherine’s creation
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ I took lots of close-ups of the rocks for my sister, the geologist
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Larisa and Katherine, still moments by the sea
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ Dima sets off on his own adventure ~ he disappeared around the corner and I have to admit I was a little concerned for his safety
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ my darling little Katherine
2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland

Even though I loved climbing trees as a child I still cringed when my kids started climbing trees and rocks. I never stopped them but I couldn’t look. After I grew up my mother told me she couldn’t watch my sister and me climb trees either. That feeling rose up again watching some of the rock climbing Larisa and Katherine did. Eventually I turned away… The rocks my kids climbed on at our local beach look pretty tame now after seeing the young ones taking on these rocky cliffs!

2.3.18 ~ Coumeenoole Beach, Dingle, Kerry, Ireland ~ tide looks like it might be in

So that ended my picture taking. Well, I also used up both camera batteries. 🙂

I watched Ryan’s Daughter again one afternoon this week. (It’s a very long movie with an intermission.) It was fun recognizing Coumeenoole Beach in parts of the film. The storm scene was shot during an actual storm on this beach. The waves were about 20 feet high. Tim guessed the waves were about 8 feet high the day we were there.

What wonderful memories I will cherish of this awesome afternoon by the sea…

Conor Pass (An Chonair)

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

Saturday morning Dima, Larisa, Katherine, Tim & I piled into a rented car and took off for the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast of Ireland. Larisa drove.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

Going through the mountains of the peninsula we traveled on a one lane road and frequently had to pull to the side to squeeze by cars coming from the other direction. Had to remember to pull to the left because they drive on the left side of the road in Ireland. This took some getting used to.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ Tim

We finally came to a rest area with parking and got out to take some pictures of the breathtaking scenery.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

It was a grey, damp and chilly day.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland
2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ mountain in the distance with snow cap
2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland ~ two cars squeezing by each other

And then we headed down to the town of Dingle where we found a place for lunch. The rest rooms were so cold! But the food was yummy and I learned what a standard breakfast in Ireland consisted of. (I ordered breakfast because they served it all day and with a wheat allergy it can be difficult to order a sandwich without bread.) Only one egg! Two huge pieces of ham, two huge links of sausage, and the option of adding on blood sausage (in addition to the regular sausage) which they call blood pudding.

2.3.18 ~ Conor Pass, Kerry, Ireland

While we were eating the sun came out and we decided to go to Coumeenoole Beach for the afternoon.

fatigue

2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ Lar gibbon (?)

My goodness I am so very tired. A side effect of the radiation that might last up to three months. So I am trying to go with the flow… Radiation seems to have lowered my immunity and I came down with yet another cold while in Ireland. All the same, I’m so happy we went!

One amazing positive thing has happened since my ovaries were removed: I haven’t had a migraine since the surgery. It may be too soon to jump for joy but I’m keeping my fingers crossed and keeping a small supply of Zomig on hand, just in case.

After my second dose of radiation on a Wednesday we hopped on the plane to Ireland. I slept most of the trip over, the first time I ever fell asleep on a jet. We arrived first thing Thursday morning, Ireland time, and after the hellos we both took a nap. When we came downstairs we had lunch and then Larisa and I walked Katherine to her afternoon Montessori school. It felt so good to stretch my legs and breathe in the fresh air.

2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ bundled up Katherine

On Friday Katherine skipped school and Tim, Larisa and I took her to Fota Wildlife Park in Carrigtwohill, County Cork. I think I will save most of the animal pictures to pair with quotes but will share a few here.

2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ a rook introduces itself

Ubiquitous in Ireland: brown sugar for your tea; greenery; unheated bathrooms; sinks with two faucets, one for cold and one for hot; sheep; and rooks. A rook is “a gregarious Eurasian crow with black plumage and a bare face, nesting in colonies in treetops.” Of course one found me and insisted on telling me its story. 🙂

2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ the rook certainly had a lot to say
2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ in the gift shop I bought a book on Irish birds and identified the rooks we saw every day and everywhere
2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ the rook seemed to be wondering if I understood now…
2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ Katherine excited to see penguins!

As many of you know, Katherine adores penguins!

2.2.18 ~ Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland ~ Humboldt penguin

A wonderful time was had by all!

persistently, abundantly, miraculously

1.22.18 ~ Cork, Ireland ~ Katherine has been taking good care of her beloved Purple Penguin ♡ photo by Larisa

One morning you might wake up
to realize that the knot in your stomach
had loosened itself and slipped away,
and that the pit of unfilled longing in your heart
had gradually, and without your really noticing,
been filled in — patched like a pothole, not quite
the same as it was, but good enough.

And in that moment it might occur to you
that your life, though not the way
you planned it, and maybe not even entirely
the way you wanted it, is nonetheless —
persistently, abundantly, miraculously —
exactly what it is.

~ Lynn Ungar
(The Way It Is)

After recovering from surgery and the bad cold I then had about a week of feeling good. I couldn’t wait to get back to my chores and even happily spent a morning giving the bathroom a thorough cleaning. It was fun to go food shopping with Tim, run errands together, cook a few meals, do some laundry, and enjoy a lovely long walk on the beach.

Then Wednesday I had my first radiation treatment and it went very well. But the predicted side effect of fatigue hit the next morning and I wound up sleeping most of the day. If that is the only side effect, though, I am grateful. I still feel sapped. Being a morning person usually full of vim, vigor and vitality, I woke up this morning wondering why on earth I felt so sluggish and it took me an hour or so to figure out that it must be lingering fatigue from the treatment. (And why was I looking for the eggs in the dishwasher?)

So Tim volunteered to do some food shopping today. And I am going to make a packing list!

Tim and the kids planned visits to fill the two week period between my 2nd and 3rd treatments! I will be getting my 2nd treatment (at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven) on Wednesday and then going straight to Providence to catch a flight to Ireland to see Larisa & Dima and Katherine!!! And then the next week we will go to Georgia to see Nate & Shea!!! We will arrive home the night before my 3rd and final treatment.

I may be a tired blob but at least these trips will help pass the time and my radiation oncologist thinks they are a great idea. I do hope I get to see Blarney Castle and more of Cumberland Island National Seashore. But whatever happens it will be wonderful seeing the kids again. ♡

endometrial cancer ~ workforce reduction

12.16.17 ~ Katherine and Dima in Ireland ~ photo by Larisa

So, we’ve had a couple of nasty surprises in the past few weeks.

It turned out that my uterus was not only full of pre-cancerous cells, but also was harboring endometrial cancer that had spread more than 50% into the myometrium layer. So while I was still under anesthesia the surgeon took some lymph nodes to be examined to determine if the cancer had spread any farther. We had to wait two weeks for the lab results. Thankfully the lymph nodes were negative. Good news. Hopefully all the cancer has been safely removed but I will have to have two weeks of radiation in January out of an abundance of caution. Meanwhile I have three and a half more weeks to heal from the surgery. I’m not allowed to lift anything over 5 lbs. but have begun puttering around the house between long naps.

My sister-in-law came for the first two weeks and took very good care of me and cooked all of our meals. Tim’s brother came after the first week ~ it was fun having both of them around and helped the waiting-for-lab-results time to pass more quickly. Thank you, Dan & Fran!!!

They say when it rains, it pours. Well, Friday was Tim’s last day of work. “Workforce reduction” to use corporate-speak. What a “thoughtful” Christmas gift…

Time for another nap. I understand fatigue is par for the course, all energy going to healing. But I wanted to let my readers know how I am doing. Hope to be back visiting blogs soon. Steady as we go.

new adventures

10.20.17 ~ Katherine loves reading her books

Katherine and her parents have moved to Cork, Ireland!!! For a year or two. It’s been an exciting summer and autumn as Dima & Larisa have been preparing for this grand adventure. Happily all of Katherine’s living ancestors, four grandparents and two great-grandmothers were on hand in North Carolina to celebrate her 3rd birthday in September. Grandpa Tim has discovered that flights from New England to Ireland are cheaper than flights to North Carolina so we surely will be visiting them soon. 🙂

new adventures

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine still loves music. So, after dropping off her papa at the airport for a 2-week business trip to Ireland, her mama and I took her to a cool place in Durham called Notasium, a music-based indoor play space. The heat and humidity outside was unbearable the first week of my visit.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine ran and danced with joy. She loved pressing the buttons to hear music from different cultures (Mexico was her favorite) and then running over to the bouncy house to jump with her mom and look out the screen window. Then back to the Touch Notes and repeat.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine had agreed to the rule to wear socks in the play space, but after a while, since she prefers going barefoot, she decided to remove her socks. Her mother gently reminded her of the rule.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina ~ waiting for mom to come out of the bouncy house

Then on to a giant slide. One is supposed to climb a giant guitar fret-board to get to the top of the slide!

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina
6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Later, when we were looking over these pictures Katherine exclaimed, “My beautiful dress!” It is her favorite and she wore it quite often while I was visiting. 🙂 These were the only pictures I got during my two week stay. On the days when I had Katherine, while Larisa was at work, there was no way to pause and take pictures.

But they were delightfully happy hours. My heart melted when Katherine finally started calling me Grammy. And when she loved my (grass-fed beef, gluten-free) meatloaf and roasted baby potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts. (So I made it again the second week!) Most days we sported matching pony tails. 🙂

I also had a chance to visit with friends from high school living in the area, and family. Tim’s brother and his wife recently moved back from Germany to a place about an hour and a half away from Larisa & Dima. Fran and I had a good day taking Katherine to the Museum of Life & Science. It was a very busy, exhausting, but super lovely visit!

Farewell, Auntie Lil

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux (1915-2016)

Last autumn we lost our aunt, who lived to be 101 years old. The various stories behind the above drawing presented a puzzle for us but after comparing memories we finally decided that the sketch was probably drawn on one of Auntie’s cruises. She kept it hanging above her bed for as long as I can remember, flanked on either side with the senior high school pictures of my sister and me.

Following is the obituary I wrote for the newspapers:

Lillian Elizabeth (Chomiak) Rioux, 101, of Storrs, Connecticut, died on October 27, 2016, at Mansfield Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, after a short illness.

Lillian was born on January 30, 1915 in New York City, the daughter of the late William & Katherine (Fusiak) Chomiak, both immigrants from Ukraine. She married Leo Oscar Rioux on November 30, 1934 at Montville, Connecticut. Her husband died on June 5, 1957, leaving her a widow for 59 years. Lillian was predeceased by their two sons, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984) and Lance William Rioux (1950-1979).

Lillian was also predeceased by six siblings, Mary Riback, Jon Stephen Chomiak, Augustine Chomiak, Augusta Jean Hereth, Olga Chomiak, and Theodore William Chomiak. She is survived by her sister, Ludmila Sabatiuk of West Virginia, her grandchildren, Leo Rioux, Jr. of Montville and Sarah James of Tennessee, seven nieces and nephews, four great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandson.

Lil was a graduate of Norwich Free Academy and was a seamstress employed at Hendel Manufacturing Company in New London for many years. She was a long time resident of Montville and later moved to Juniper Hill Village in Storrs to live closer to her brother. An avid traveler, beach bum and shell collector, she loved to sew, cook, grow orchids, do jigsaw puzzles and work with her hands.

A memorial gathering will be planned for next spring. Memorial donations can be made to Mansfield Town Senior Center, 303 Maple Rd, Storrs, CT 06268.

We had our memorial gathering for her on May 6, spreading her ashes on the graves of her parents and her husband and two sons, as she had directed. My Aunt Em read to us her memories of Aunt Lil’s earlier years.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s parents, William Chomiak (1882-1965) & Katherine Fusiak (1887-1943), Comstock Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut

Every year on Memorial Day, my father would drive Aunt Lil to these two adjacent cemeteries, so she could plant geraniums in front of the headstones, each one a different shade of red or pink. When my father could no longer drive, my sister and brother-in-law stepped in to take her. As he has been doing for years now, John once again planted the geraniums that meant so much to her, this time with family spreading ashes and telling stories.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s older son, Leo Adrian Rioux (1936-1984), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

The story Auntie told me was that it was not permitted for her to be buried in the Catholic cemetery with her husband and sons because she never converted to Catholicism. But she married a Catholic and had her sons baptized in the church. It was her wish to join them in the cemetery by spreading her ashes on their graves.

Grave of Aunt Lil’s husband, Leo Oscar Rioux (1913-1957), and their younger son, Lance William Rioux (1950-1979), St. Patrick Cemetery, Montville, Connecticut.

At the last grave Tim read a poem my sister Beverly wrote in memory of Auntie for the occasion.

They were worker’s hands, never soft, never still.
It took me fifty years to catch them, hold them, keep them safe and warm.
A thousand times I watched them go:
knit and purl
peel and chop
turn the pages
stir the pot.

If hands could talk what would they say?
It took me fifty years to hear them, know them, find out how they spoke.
A thousand times I felt their love:
show and tell
hug and pat
acts of kindness
pet the cat.

I’d come to love her knobby hands
that always showed me what to do.
How those hands have touched my life!
They’ve one more job before they’re through:
stitch and mend
my broken heart.

~ Beverly Chomiak
(Her Hands)

Then we all went to eat at one of her favorite restaurants, Old Tymes in Norwich, finishing the meal with dishes of Auntie’s favorite black raspberry ice cream. ❤