Newness, Nettleness, N. Irishness

My Room's View!

Overdue! I’ve been procrastinating on this post for a number of reasons. I love that it’s free to self-publish on the internet, but I’ve got this gnawing fear that I’m just one more person diluting the potency of the written word and polluting the internet.  But here we go anyways!

Work-wise, Reid and I are learning that no matter how prepared you try to be, you just can’t skip the awkward incidences of being in a new place. The more seasoned volunteers say, “Learn by doing,”  but all too often to me it seems that the reality is “Learn by screwing up and getting called out for it.” Maybe I’m just sensitive? There’s a mammoth amount of cleaning to do and many adorably mischievous little scamps. We’re still meeting new munchkins everyday–I’m going to be glad when I know them all and am more versed in how to best interact with them. Now that it’s Tuesday, I’ve worked with all three ages. Friday was a jet lagged trifecta of babies, toilet scrubbing and hoovering! Reid and I have a new expression for end of the day harriedness: one nods empathetically and the other says “Babies.” That’s all it takes. Next I had teens where we fished and discussed American movie stars, models and the extraordinary amount of fast food restaurants in Texas. Today I ran amongst the after-schools (or 5-11 year olds). They were rambunctious, precocious,  cute and we got to meet a domesticated fox!

I also have accumulated a few Northern Irish-isms:

What’s the crack? =What’s going on? What’s up? How are you?

Wee=small–very popular; try work it into all sorts of sentences to impress the natives

Cheeky=smart aleck in a negative sense (learned that by doing…whoops)

Class=cool, legit, very positive

[to] Brush= to sweep (but strangely enough you brush your hair and teeth still?)


Trousers=pants (as we’d think of them)

Pants= underwear (if you mess this up the kids seize upon it and laugh mercilessly!)

Dummy/Dodie= pacifier (complimentary of babies)

There are loads more but I can’t remember them. Oh here’s a pic of la Villa de Babykins. They seem to like it lots and lots.

Intrepidly climbing into unknown evil nettles

Un-nettled Reid thanks to trusty cargo pants

Here I am going on our hike up Black Mountain behind our house. It was beaaauutful but absolutely excruciating! There are loads of blackberry bushes (yum) on the mountain but these succulent berries have a dark side. The bushes are loaded with eeeeevvvvviiilll thorns. Plus there are thorny bushes, thorny vines, stingy bees, midges and my arch nemesis: NETTLES!  I kept whining and crying to Reid about how much my legs hurt, and about each mean pokey thingie shrub-majigger until we turned back. Thank goodness we did because when I got back and checked under my leggings I had a horrid nettle rash! Don’t worry I’m all better now.  Cheers to you Benadryl cream.

Lastly then a word or two on Belfast. To me Belfast is like a broken arm not set properly; in that though it’s healed it’s still jostling all out of wack. Geographically the city is gorgeous–sea to the east and mountains to the west–but I cant help but feel there is something  palpably simmering beneath the surface. Belfast seems to wear its heart on its sleeve –I can see the struggle in obvious places like the murals and peace walls, but also in the tall spiky fences, the barbed wire, graffiti, and in their own Town Hall where their assembly is evenly split between Nationalists and Unionists. Kids just seem to roam the streets in packs– some even aggravate old sectarian wounds for reasons they don’t understand. Perhaps their parents thought that way and so they just follow along. It truly is heartbreaking. Belfast has so much to offer and they’ve got to find common ground in order to move their city forward. I’ve got sooo much more swirling in my head, but that’s all for now. I’ve got a wee nice douvet softened beddie boo calling my name!

Protestant Mural on Shankill Road.

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1 Response to Newness, Nettleness, N. Irishness

  1. Bethany Mavis says:

    So excited for you — this is going to be like reading a year-long travel feature! It looks like you’re going to have a fun, picturesque year 🙂 *

    *typed from my cubicle

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