Ending and Beginning

In Shipbuilder, a scene in chapter 9 starts like this:

Sam had warned her the shipyard was a dangerous place, but the danger did not always come from lax employment laws. Sometimes it came from nature, like when the fetch out on the Irish Sea was strong and fast, and Belfast would experience nearly gale force winds blasting through the channel and city toward the hills. The only thing to do during these days was to wrap up and hold onto your hat. Moving from one place to another took a lot of determination. 

I don’t know if we’ve been experiencing winds this bad, but Belfast has given us a good demonstration. It’s been cold, but the wind gathers the cold into wicked fairy knives that slice right through your three coats and scarf to reach your skin. I’m sure it would be worse without the coats and scarf, but still.

Today however, (our last day in Belfast), the sky is bright and there’s a pleasant warmth when you step out of the shadows into sunlight.  Belfast just wanted to make sure we know what we’re leaving behind.

Weather is always tricky, but we do know we’re leaving wonderful people behind. I don’t know if we’ll ever make it back, but we’ll treasure the craic we had here, and stay in touch on Facebook. Of course!

We have a few hours of tourist wanderings to do, then on to Venice via London. The adventure continues….

A Few TMC Pictures

I’ve been too impatient to deal with slow internet, but here at last, are a few photos to prove I’ve been busy.

Here’s the whole gang on the grand staircase at Titanic Belfast:

TMC Reunion Grand Staircase

Here, I’m in Thomas Andrews’ office at Harland & Wolff:



Marlene in TA office


Okay, I wanted to show you more, but it’s just too slow loading. Trust me, we’re having a blast! The reunion is officially over now, and most people are beginning trips home. Rick and I have a couple more days in Belfast, then we’re off to Italy. Another great adventure!


Snippets on the TMC Reunion

I wrote this entry last night, but didn’t get a chance to post it until now. Have lots more to tell you, but I need to rest a bit!

Two days into our TMC reunion, we are having the best time! It’s been so much fun to see everybody. There were 1300 people on the TMC in 2012, and we only met a small fraction of them. There are 55 of us in Belfast now, and I’m looking forward to catching up with those I already know and getting to know the rest. Fifty-five is a manageable number. I have a goal to get personal pictures of each person, along with his/her name, so I have a permanent record.

Our flights went off without a hitch, although Heathrow Airport did all it could to confuse us. We persevered though, with the happy coincidence of running into Heather Hutchinson and her nan, Sandra, who were coming from Australia. We joined up with them to hitch a ride to the hotel with Claire Nightingale, Belfast hostess and organizer extraordinaire. Claire’s husband, Denis, came along in a separate car to help handle luggage and provide an extra seat. With such personal service, we easily made it to our hotel!

We had a fun-filled welcome meeting on Friday evening, then the young folks settled in to party the night away, while the older and more timid of us tried for sleep. Despite having been awake for over 36 hours, sleep completely eluded me. That did not stop me from shivering excitement on Saturday, as it was Thomas Andrews Day! We visited Dunallan, his home in Belfast, where an actor performed a skit of Thomas leaving home for Titanic’s maiden voyage. He was so kind to take a picture with me.


We left Dunallon for Comber, the town where Thomas grew up. I was in awe to actually be there. I had to keep pinching myself to prove it was real!

At the Thomas Andrews Memorial Hall, which houses an elementary school, we were treated to a lovely program by the students. They’d made several displays showing their work to tell us about the history of the building and their town. They were all very cool kids – we had a blast talking to them.
0412141040a 0412141047 0412141125

After the school, we went on to the church the Andrews family attended, where we got to see the graveyard. We had a huge treat waiting for us there, as we met John Andrews, great-nephew of Thomas. That required a huge pinch, as I could hardly believe it!

We had lunch in the church’s hall, served by several of the women. Everyone was so friendly and obviously very proud of their charming little town. I’ll never forget this chance to actually be there!

Last night, we at last met up with late arrivals and good friends, Rikke and Lars, from Denmark. Rick and I joined them in an impromptu pub crawl as we tried to find someplace with a spare two inches where we could squeeze up to the bar. Not on a Saturday night in Belfast! We ended up back at the hotel, where the Guinness was just as good, and we had a chance to catch up on our lives for the last two years.  We had a great time and the fun continues today!

New Study: Autism and Pregnancy

Autism begins in pregnancy, according to study: Cortical layers disrupted during brain development in autism


There’s nothing yet on what might cause this disrupted development during pregnancy. Environmental pollutants? Insufficient protein?

I dunno. But we do seem to have an increase in children with autism that’s not just related to increased diagnoses. We should insist on further studies that attempt to discover causation.


Adventures in Living

Luggage has made an appearance around here, waiting to be filled. We’re starting another adventure. This month marks the second anniversary of the Titanic Memorial Cruise in 2012, which marked the hundredth anniversary of the sinking. Long-time friends of this blog know I was on that cruise and that it was a rare and wonderful experience.
2012 TMC 4 030 Marlene and Rikke TMC

We shared that experience with many amazing people, and we’ve kept in touch, thank you, Facebook. The cruise was one part solemnity and two parts fun. So much fun in fact, that we’re getting together again, this time  on land. We’ll converge on  Belfast, Ireland to partake of all the amazing Titanic sites in and around the same, raise a few pints, dance to Irish music, gambol around the Giants Causeway, and clamber across a rope bridge.

For starters.

Having thus taken care of one half of my heritage, Himself and I then make our way to Italy, to pay homage to the other half. We’ve never been to Italy, so we are pretty excited.

I’ll post pictures when I can!

Public Service Announcement: My Two Cents

How about if the American people invest in ourselves? Use our tax dollars to put all the unemployed to work, with real wages so they can support their families, pay for health insurance, and have paid time off for sickness or vacation. These people can then pay taxes, buy food, clothes, cars, etc., and put the money back into their communities. Our original investment gives us repaired infrastructure, clean cities, safe streets, adequate public transportation, and only the hard cases (elderly poor, disabled, etc.)  still on welfare or food stamps.

The employed population creates more jobs as they have the energy and time to get further education and start new businesses to meet the needs of their communities.

We need to get serious about solving our problems as a nation – together. We need to demand that Congress act in our interests and release our tax money to serve us. We need a proactive program of ACTION that hits the problem head-on and puts people to work.




What America Isn’t, Or Anyway Wasn’t – NYTimes.com

We need to remember that for all (pretty much) of human history, the wealthy have always horded their money and used the poor as serfs to increase their own profit. There is absolutely no proof to be found that money trickles down. The American experiment of taxation, with high taxes on the wealthy used to improve infrastructure and education, resulted in the strongest economy the world has ever seen.

What America Isn’t, Or Anyway Wasn’t – NYTimes.com.


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