Lovely soft, rainy day today—spent most of the morning reading and watching the rain, since Tom chose to sleep in.
Taking onboard the counsel of the wise and experienced Marie Ennis-O'Connor and Ann Brehony (NB: Ann's the creator of the excellent Ireland: Are We There Yet? app), we opted to prowl George's Street Arcade, in George's Street Great South. (Well, that's what the street signs call it; makes me want to march into a café and order 'Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.') The Arcade is a warren of small shops and stalls, filled with everything from vintage clothes to used books to vintage records. One used-clothes shop looked like Jimi Hendrix would have been right at home there—it had just the right head-shop ambience, minus the suspicious scent of burning incense to cover the even-more-suspicious scent of burning hemp.
We spent a happy hour trawling the used-book stall—I very nearly bought a copy of Graves' translation of Suetonius' 'The First Twelve Caesars'—and then went to take in Powerscourt Townhouse, which is built around an 18th century courtyard, and makes shop space for a good number of antique shops and Irish clothing designers. I get the feeling I'm going to regret not buying a Georgian silver mug (Lordy, what a beautiful shape!) as much as I still regret the gate-leg table I passed up in Ludlow 25 years ago.
After several hours' dedicated poking around in shops, sustenance was in order. Marie's suggestion of Simon's Place was spot-on, since we didn't want anything fancy. It's a small place at the George's Street end of the arcade, with a very casual coffee-shop ambience. Papered in movie posters and flyers for events, it serves a limited variety of sandwiches, pastries, salads, tea, and coffee. Seems to me the salads are overkill—get a sandwich, and you'll find it's got enough salad built into it you don't need one on the side! Tom's ham sandwich came on thick-cut artisan-style wholemeal bread, and was really good, and my mocha left Starbucks in the dirt.
We were the only foreign folk in the place, though whether because it's off the beaten track or thanks to the rain I've no clue. There were older guys in flat hats, taking their time over tea; ladies of a certain age pausing from shopping expeditions, and determinedly Bohemian kids from the neighborhood's music school.
Done refueling, we split up—Tom had had enough for one day, and went back to Patrick Street to put his feet up. I wanted to walk through the city, and enjoy it in the rain. George's Street, Stephen's Street, Golden Lane, White Friar Street, Peter's Row, Kevin Street (Lower and Upper), The Coombe, Ardee Street, Cork Street, Marrowbone Lane, Thomas Court, Thomas Street, and back around via High Street to Patrick, I meandered til I was sodden well above my knees, seeing and feeling the city. The rain-washed pavement had begun to fill up with people rushing home from work, by then—no offense to the good citizens of Dublin, but walking in the rain is much more pleasant with a bit less company, so I got out of their way.
We've eaten enough for a regiment, since we've been here, so we ate in tonight—an omelette, stuffed with Dubliner cheese (yes, yes; I <know> the stuff's made in Cork—I don't care if it comes from Mars, I like it!), with a reasonably good South African merlot/Shiraz blend.
An email arrived from Erik as we were finishing. Neither of us had any qualms leaving him home by himself for two weeks; since he's cramming for finals, he hasn't time for shenanigans anyway. Erik took his brother's cat to the vet yesterday: when Christopher left home for grad school, he couldn't take Shadow, from whom he'd been inseparable since second grade. Erik (to his own cat's displeasure) 'adopted' his brother's cat, and has looked after him devotedly, so he was quite upset to be told that Shadow has either some kind of cancer, or diabetes. For a feline of 15, that's not really surprising, any more than how much it upset Erik.
Odd, isn't it, to find that life other places keeps going, even when you're not there to see it doing so? Somehow, my boys had both, in Sullivan Ballou's memorable phrase, 'grown to honourable manhood' while I was busy doing the grocery shopping and scrubbing the bath tub. Life keeps muddling along one way or another in St. Louis, even though I'm in Dublin; Dublin's going to be here, doing its own thing, after I've gone home again. And life in both those cities, like all the others on the globe, will likely keep on moving—long after all of us have vanished from time and memory.
And all that is as it should be.