Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trip To Springfield, IL

Lincoln's Springfield Home

Lincoln's Tomb

Old State House
Lincoln Museum
Court House Where Lincoln Practiced as a Curcuit Rider

Just a quick post to tell you about a recent trip we took to Springfield, IL to visit the A. Lincoln historical sites.

Dona's sister Ann flew to Wisconsin to spend some time with us and we took a 3 day weekend to Springfield. Our group included; Dona, Ann, Connor and myself. We got off to a pretty good start by being able to leave town by 10:00. The only significant stop that we made on the trip was in Lincoln, IL. Here we saw one of the court houses where he practiced law while he was a Circuit Rider. This was very interesting and well worth a stop for anyone planning on visiting during this bi-centennial celebration.

When we got to Springfield we visited the Lincoln Tomb and also visited several other memorials that were in the cemetery, including: the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial.

On Saturday we visited the Lincoln Museum and Lincoln Library. I don't know how to express how impressive the Lincoln Museum is! If you ever have a chance to visit, but you only have time to visit one place, this is a must see. Dona, Connor and I have been there twice and both times were just blown away. On that same day, we visited the "Old State Capital" building which is also a very informative visitor site. this is of course where Abe did a lot of work while he was a lawyer in Springfield. It is also the location that Barack Obama choose to announce his campaign for President.

Right across from the Old State Capital is the office where Lincoln practiced law before he was elected President. We had not visited or taken the tour of this location before, and found it to be very informative and worthwhile.
The next morning, Sunday, we started our day at the National Parks display of the Lincoln Home where Abe lived with Mary and his boys until his election to President. In addition to Lincoln's home, there are many other homes from the period that have been restored. There are three homes that you can go into for interior views, including Lincoln's home. We spent most of the morning here.

Our last activity in Springfield was to visit the Dana-Thompson House. This has nothing to do with Abe Lincoln, but is one of the finest examples of a Frank Loyd Wright Prairie Style home. There was a wonderful tour of the interior and then you were free to explore the exterior of the house.

A long trip home (It always seems to take longer going home?) and our weekend was complete.

Monday, July 13, 2009

We Are Back!

Let me tell you how sorry I am that we have not used this blog for over two years!! I will be trying to post on somewhat of a regular basis from here on out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

"The Irish Kitchen"

The other night for my birthday, Anne, Michael and the boys gave me a wonderful book titled: "The Irish Kitchen". This is not only a great cook book of authentic Irish foods, but a wonderful narrative of how the Irish choose, catch or raise the food that they use in their traditional dishes.

As I've been reading through this book, I've been thinking of the menu I will be putting together for a St. Patrick's day dinner. This has been a great present for me because of the appreciation we have for Irish cuisine and my general love of cooking.

As I look through the book and think back to the food that we were served, mostly in the pubs, it is clear that the Irish have a love for simple, hardy, basic food that is well prepared using mostly natural or organic sources.

Being an island country, the Irish diet is heavily influenced by the sea and the rivers that flow into the sea. Since I love to eat just about anything that swims or lives in the water, this is a diet that is made for me. Luckily, the Milwaukee area has a couple of seafood outlets that make it possible to obtain fresh seafood even though we live in the center of the country.

One aspect of Irish cooking that I have never done much with, is Lamb or Mutton even though I enjoy the taste of Lamb. Certainly, the American diet does not incorporate as much Lamb as does the Irish diet. In addition, the rest of the family does not particularly enjoy Lamb.

As we get closer to St. Patrick's day, I will share with you what we have chosen for the menu. The only thing I know for sure is that it will include Dona's soda bread!

Monday, March 5, 2007

March Madness, Quimby Style

Normally when you mention “March Madness” you’re talking about basketball, however in the Quimby family, it has to do with all of the family celebrations that happen in March.

It starts with Anne & Michael’s wedding anniversary on March 4th, then Ron’s birthday on March 5th, Anne’s birthday on March 8th and finally Scott’s birthday on March 16th. Normally we pick one day during this time period to do one big family celebration.

This year the celebration was yesterday evening, March 4th. We started by meeting at Pizza Man, Ron’s choice, but perhaps not the best one because of the crowd and our need for a table for nine. We got in after an hour wait and had a great meal with some shift eating to help take care of the younger boys.

Then it was off to Anne & Michael’s to open presents and enjoy Dona’s excellent carrot cake. Henry had a hard time understanding why so many of us were getting presents and he wasn’t. It must have looked like Christmas to him, but he wasn’t included. In the end he was happy to help everyone else open.

One of the highlights for me was receiving a new Fly Rod which was hand made by Scott. He also included a number of flies and streamers that he had tied. I haven’t used a fly rod in way too many years. It’s a good thing that Scott has become the expert that he is, because I will need his help. Sounds like some father/son bonding time.

Scott Gets Ready To Open Gifts

Anne Opens A Present

Anne & Michael Receive Anniversary Gift

Papa Ron Gets Help From Henry

Papa Ron With Lots Of Help

The Birthday Celebrants
Ready To Blow Out Candles

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Our Dining Experience In Ireland

Gallagher's Seafood Restaurant

Murphy's Ice Cream Shop

John Benny's Pub Music Session
Tommy O'Sullivan, Eilis Kennedy, John Benny

Spending ten days in Ireland, the majority on the Dingle Peninsula, we have gathered some thoughts on the Irish dining experience.

First, let us say that the pervasive impression that Irish food does not equate well with other culture's offerings just didn't hold true for us. We found that our dining experience was very enjoyable over all.

Ron made it his personal quest to identify the best bowl of Seafood Chowder available on the Peninsula. After many tastings over the 10 days, his number one choice was the chowder at John Benny's Pub, followed very closely by the offering at Ash's Pub.

Ann was up to her challenge of identifying the best slice of Irish Brown Bread. (Always served with soup and breakfast) Her favorite was served at a small pub in Ballyferriter. She claims her decision was based on their bread's sweetness and moist texture.

Hands down the best Ice Cream was served at Murphy's Ice Cream Shop. Only the freshest natural products go into their multitude of available flavors. Dona and Ron both found the "Cardamom Honey Ice Cream" to be unique and delicious! The ultimate test of any Ice Cream is Vanilla and Murphy's passes this test with flying colors.

All three travelers found that the best overall Pub dining on the Peninsula to be at John Benny's Pub. Their seafood offerings were particularly good. The two primary hits were the fish & chips and the lightly breaded pan fried Plaice (A flat fish similar to Sole). Add to the food, the pub's friendly service and the music of Eilis Kennedy & John Benny and you have a dining experience that is worth coming back to many times. And we did.

Best Meal In Ireland The best single meal we experienced was on our last evening in Ireland at Gallagher's Seafood Restaurant near the Bunratty Castle at Shannon, Co. Clare. This was continental style dining with superb fish and meat offerings served in French style sauces with delightful presentations. For dessert the Sticky Toffee Pudding was to die for.

The Travelers Are Home!

Bunnraty Castle Near
Shannon Airport

Leaving On Aer Lingus Flt 125

Hi to everyone. We got home without incident yesterday about 6:30 pm. Anne picked us up and we went to their house to share some goodies from Ireland with the boys. I'm sure we have never been away from our grandsons for this long. Anne had a nice dinner ready for us.

Got to bed about 9:00 pm and then woke up about 3:00 am (jet lag, time shift). We laid in bed until a more reasonable time of 5:30. Our cat was all over us during the night, not at all happy that we had left her for 11 days.

Of course we are now back in reality! We have 12" of snow on the ground and I am heading out for work in just a bit. Ann leaves for Oregon tomorrow around noon. (Ann's plane was canceled due to weather, so she didn't get away until the next morning.)

However, we are already thinking about how we can go back to the Dingle area and perhaps set up a seasonal business. More information to come.

I will be working very hard over the next few days to set-up the photos from the trip. I only came back with 663 shots that I kept. I promise not to bore you with all of them!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Last Day In Dingle

Farmers Work With Their Dog

Finnbar, Tommy And Others

The Traveling Trio On Their Last Day

Well here we are on our last day in Dingle. We will be leaving soon to drive over to the Shannon area so that we can leave in the morning about 11:00 am.

Yesterday was another wonderful day, made more so by the first full day of no rain and mostly sunny weather. We went to church at St. James Church which is the local Church Of Ireland church in Dingle. A small group, only the vicker and 6 others besides ourselves. It is a great little church, very simple but just what you would expect in Dingle. This church hosts music concerts 3 times a week during the summer.

With the Sun out we took a drive out by Eagle Mt and down to Don Quon at the end of the peninsula. And then we found two archaeological sites just down the road from our cottage that were absolutely wonderful. While we were there our neighbors were out herding a flock of their sheep with their sheep dog, this was just a delight to watch and guess what? Ron got some pictures of the whole thing.

Last night we made it into town to hear one more traditional music session. This was a very large session with maybe up to eight musicians including a friend of ours, Finbarr Murphy. Finbarr is a man about my age who I have been blogging with over the last few months. His two sons own Murphy's Ice Cream Shop and the blog in the list of links for the Dingle Ice Cream Man is theirs. Finbarr, plays the harmonica, bones and botton box.

We made one last stop at the Kilmalkedar site next to our cottage this morning to commune with the spirits before we left.

We are all so glad that we made this trip and have had such a wonderful time. We are already planning our return and feel that it will probably be right back here in the Dingle area. We are thinking that we may change the time of year to September/ October.

Now it is on to Shannon. We are planning on going by way of Connor Pass one last time. The weather is a little iffy today, but we want to try it anyway.

We feel good that we are leaving the Dingle economy in much better shape than when we arrived!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Day Eight

Famine Soup Church

Irish Country Side Near Our Cottage

Gallarus Oratory

Rahinnane Castle

Dona & Ann At Rahinnane Castle

Ron & Dona At Rahinnane Castle

Today dawned mostly raining, but Ron went out on his own early to do a photo shoot at an old church just down the road from our cottage. This is a Church Of Ireland church that was in use around the potato famine time. They were called famine soup churches, because they would feed the poor farmers soup, but at the cost of committing the recipient to change their religion from Catholic to Church of Ireland. This church is no longer in use, but is for sale (400,000 Euros) and has had tenants other than the church recently.

While Ron was off taking pictures, Dona was busy making homemade Irish Soda Bread. She got her receipt from the library here in Dingle and said it was very similar to the one she uses at home. When I got home all wet and cold, she had warm soda bread and hot tea ready for me. Um, Um Good!

After breakfast, we headed to one of the most famous monastic sites in this area, Gallarus Oratory. A very early Christian church which was constructed of flat rock without the use of any kind of mortar. It has remained standing with almost no repair since the 8th century. While at this site, the clouds suddenly parted and it turned into a glorious sunny morning!

Next we went to the Riaisc Monastic Site which is another important very early Christian site from the same time period. All of these important sites are within 5-10 miles of our cottage.

Next it was on to perhaps the best site we have seen so far! The Rahinnane Castle. This was a 15th century castle built by Norman invaders by the name of Knight. They built and owned several castles in the area. This site is a ruin, that has parts of three sides remaining. The castle was destroyed during the Cromwell invasions by England in the mid 1600's.

After all of this it was time for lunch, so off to Dingle to guess what? Yes, a pub for Guinness and lunch. After lunch, the sky clouded up again and started to rain again, hard. We were on a mission to find one more castle, Minard Castle. This is another castle of the Knight family. We found it on the beach just south and west of Dingle, but did not take any pictures due to the weather.

We came back to Dingle to get food to fix dinner tonight and to update the blog. Now the weather is nice again.

Jean you asked about Irish Whiskey, well while we are not big whiskey drinkers, we have had a chance to sample a few. It appears to be somewhat of a custom here in Dingle that if you are a serious customer in some of the shops, they bring out a bottle of whiskey and small glasses and "share a taste" with you. This has been a very nice custom that we are sure would not be allowed in the States.

Tomorrow brings our last day in Dingle, we will be trying to jam every last thing in that we can. We are going to be doing a quiet evening at the cottage tonight!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Day Seven

Diseart Celtic Cultural Center

Diseart Center Grounds

Diseart Center Chapel

Harry Clarke Window

Murphy's Ice Cream Shop

Music Session At
John Benny's

This morning the weather is just like yesterday, in and out of rain. Staying primarily around Dingle, doing shopping, eating lunch at one of the pubs that is suppose to have the best sea food chowder in the area.

One of the highlights of today's activities was a visit to the Diseart Celtic Cultural Center next to St. Mary's Church. The building is wonderful and the grounds are also special. This building was originally the Sacred Heart Convent and played a very important role in Dingle during the famine. The nuns in this convent were dedicated to serving the educational, spiritual and physical needs of the young people in Dingle who were ravaged by the famine. The building is no longer owned by the church, but there is still one nun remaining who will be allowed to live out her life at the center. In 1922, the nuns commissioned Harry Clarke to create a series of stain glass windows which are displayed in the chapel. This display is a major attraction for visitors to Dingle. The center is now being used to teach young women about the Celtic language, culture and history.

Tonight we are going to another music session at the little pub that is close to our cottage. This will be a "pick up " session with local musicians, Dona may even decide to sit in with them.

We need to say something about the people we have met here in Dingle. No matter where you go there is someone who is willing to just sit and talk to you about the area, their specialty or whatever. They really are living at a slower pace!

We are headed to Murphy's Ice Cream Shop next. One of the owners is a person who has been emailing/blogging with me for the past 2 months or so and has become a friend. His Ice Cream is heavenly!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Day Six

Old Church On Brandon Point

Dona At Brandon Point

Connor Pass

Ann & Dona On Connor Pass
Wet & Windy

Last night was a really wonderful night, a truly superb dinner at John Benny's and then the music session. There was Eilse, her husband John Benny and Tommy O'Sullivan. We found out that Tommy O'Sullivan has performed three years at Irish Fest in Milwaukee. Eilse was outstanding and signed two CDs for us, she told Dona that she should never leave home without her flute. Eilse is a flute, tin whistle player as well as singer.

Got up this morning to on again, off again sun, which was very nice. We decided that we needed to head for Connor Pass since we never know if we will have good weather. By the time we got to the top, the rain was coming and going, but it was tremendous anyway. The views were wonderful. Next we decided to drive out to Brendan Point which was also a treat, but the best part was that on our way back, I thought I saw an old church off the road a couple of blocks. When I explored, it was a very old, crumbling Irish Protestant church that had old tombs and was a ruin with untold numbers of photo opportunities. We were greeted by a local women who told us stories about the church and about her family in the Brendan area.

Jean, our next stop was at the South Pole Pub, the pub that had been owned by Tom Crean until his death in 1938. It was a very unique pub with lots of "snugs" (Little corners away from the main room). We spent time there having a pint and listening to the publican (pub owner) tell us about the history of the pub. At this time it is no longer owned by any of the Crean family. The owner of the pub, told us that his brother is in America, and for a while was the lead dancer in the Las Vegas River Dance!

A quiet night back at the cottage tonight, Ann and Dona are getting food while I keep all of you up to date. I will be practicing my peat fire skills again. While I have a ways to go, I am learning to build a good bed of coals with only 3 or 4 fire starters now.

The rain has come in again and we will have to see what tomorrow brings. Still have at least one more castle to find and explore and we want to go up on Connor Pass in the glorious sunshine.

We all say hi to everyone and we are all doing very well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Day Five

Dona At Beehive Hut

Gallarus Castle

Ann & Dona Taking Tea
At Bric's Pub

The Bar At Brics Pub

The Fireplace

The Sea And Rocks

Weather wise this was a real wind blown, wet one! Because of that we didn't do quite as much site seeing, but still had a wonderful time. Ron went out early on his own to look for a castle that we had read about, called Gallarus Castle. Not a real old one, 15th century, built by the Fitzgerald family and occupied by them until the 17th century.

Later after lunch we all went out and stopped at a cute little store and bought peat and candy. Then to St. Branden's Creek, where St. Branden, the navigator, was said to have left to sail to North America. This is where a fairly large creek comes down and meets the sea. The wind was truly blowing a gale at this time. There were warning signs that during high tide and high winds people had been blown into the sea and lost at this place.

Next we went back to Gallarus Castle so that Dona and Ann could have a look. It is not open at this time of the year.

Next we found a wonderful little local style pub where Dona and Ann had afternoon tea and Ron had afternoon Ale. The name of this pub is Bric's Pub and was recommended as the cottage owners favorite pub. The women had wonderful stories to tell and we are planning to go back Friday evening for a music session.

Next we made a short stop at a monastic site called Raisc. This is a very important site in this area and we will be back during better weather.

Tonight we are in Dingle and we are going to dinner at John Benny's Pub and then we will be listening to Eilse Kennedy who is a very famous singer. Her husband is also very well know as a button box player and he will be performing tonight also.

Let the Guinness Flow!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Day Four

Irish Sea Gulls

The Waves Rolling In

A Typical Dingle Landscape

The Cliffs Along Dingle Way

The Blasket Islands (Sleeping Giant)

Sean Daly Shows How It's Done

Day four started with some clear weather and sunshine. It was our day to go to the Crystal shop and see Sean Daly work his magic. He showed us how he cuts the Crystal, polishes it and gave us an opportunity to buy as much as we wanted. And we wanted a lot!!!

After visiting a few more spots in Dingle, we headed around the Dingle peninsula drive and it seemed like we stopped every 10 minutes to see one more spectacular view of the Atlantic and the rocks. We also were able to see the Blasket Islands even though the fog and mist was moving in and out most of the afternoon.

Around 4:00 we found a nice pub in Bally Fueritor where we could get a bowl of soup and a toasted sandwich and a pint of Guinness.

In Ireland, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is called Pancake Day. Everyone fixes pancakes for dinner before the beginning of lent. The pancakes are more like a crape and filled with all types of goodies. We are heading home to our wonderful cottage with everything we need to follow the Irish way.

Tomorrow night begins our nights of traditional Irish music in the pubs! There is just so much truly world famous, but local talent living here in the Dingle area!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Day Three

" Home Sweet Home"


Let The Light Shine In

Living Room From The Loft

Living Room

Double Bed Room
(Ron & Dona's Room)

First Bed Room
(Ann's Room)

Kitchen And Sitting Room


Our Neighbor, Kilmelkedar Church

Today dawned very foggy and rainy. Really took our time lounging around during the morning. Left the house around 11:00 am and went into Dingle. Ron managed to drive the whole way without scrapping against the bushes along the very narrow road!

Today is just for shopping and seeing some of the shops and craft stores around Dingle. Spent some time at Dingle Crystal and have made an appointment for tomorrow morning to see a demonstration of Sean working. After that we plan to take the Dingle loop drive around the peninsula.

I would like to tell you a little bit about our house. The main part of the house has four rooms that are in a straight line. First is a small bedroom which opens out to the main living room. This living room has a peat burning stove which used to be a large fireplace. This was where all of the cooking was originally done, in what at that time was a fireplace. Continuing out of the living room, still in a straight line is the big bedroom. Going out of that room, still in a straight line is a very small bedroom. In the living room above the first bedroom is a loft that is large enough for two single beds. Miles and Connor would love this location. All of this part of the house was built sometime before 1847 (the year of the great famine). In 1960's a kitchen and bathroom were added to the house. The main house is constructed of slate and plastered over and whitewashed. The walls are about 2 feet thick.

As I look out the window here at the internet cafe, it looks like it may be getting lighter outside, maybe the rain is going away!!