Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tom's Take: Next Challenge: The area of public accommodation

Today we're pausing from the Ireland trip so that Tom can share these important thoughts: 

Without a doubt, last Friday was a momentous day.  It happened to be our 6th wedding anniversary.  It coincided with the anniversary of two other significant SCOTUS decisions – the right of LGBT couples to privacy, and the right of gay couples to receive federal recognition (e.g., the right to inherit property without incurring a huge tax liability).  Now, it will be remembered as the day that LBGT couples were granted the freedom to marry the one they love.  We’ll see if someday in the future June 26th becomes some kind of officially recognized day because of these three monumental decisions rendered by the SCOTUS securing the rights of LGBTs.  But the fight is far from over.

An example of the next hurdle in equality

In between the tears welling up in my eyes, as I watched the commentary on last week’s historic decision, it seems the next apparent fight for equality for the LGBT community to take up will be in the area of public accommodation – in other words, the right for LGBT individuals to receive service from a business operating in the marketplace without being discriminated against.  Many people on the right believe they indeed have the right to turn down service to gay people because it violates their “religious freedom.” 

While you’re never going to overcome such stupidity with reason, I’m not so sure the answer is to clog up the courts with lawsuits.  Rather, I’m advocating that we should let market forces determine whether or not a business owner should be allowed to remain a bigot and stay in business.  I mean, at fifty-cough years old, I’ve gotten so used to being discriminated against, that I’m getting more adept at just shrugging it off.  I mean, I’d rather just take my money to the next guy rather than stand my ground and confront an ignorant closed minded individual. 

Remember these signs?
 For example, last fall Rob and I needed a new car.  After doing our due diligence, we drove to Apple Ford in Columbia.  Right away, I detected that we were getting the brush off.  So we went to Koons Ford in Annapolis.  A totally different buying experience.  In the end, Koons got our business, Apple did not.  So eventually when enough stories like this leak out, bigoted businesses will close up without the need to drag the offenders into court.

Another example.  When my sister and I were growing up, my parents took us to Rehoboth Beach for vacation.  I still remember seeing the signs posted on hotels and motels: “We rent rooms to families only” as a way to deter gays from even bothering.  Today, gays have pretty much overrun the whole town.  So I suspect that in the short run at least, we will see an uptick in the anti-gay sentiment as very vocal sore losers are paraded in front of a microphone for comment.   

Their rhetoric is going to sting, no doubt, but we just need to push through the ignorance to get to a better place.
As President Obama said in his statement last Friday, this was a win not just the LGBT community, but for America as we begin to witness a new generation of Americans starting to reshape the country into the image that they want, and we see the old die off.    

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ireland Trip Part 30: Bunratty Folk Park &The Farmhouse Fun!

The fun farmhouse baker and Rob
This part 30 of our Ireland Trip where we will walk you through Bunratty Folk Park where we had some "farmhouse fun."
  Bunratty Castle sits in the park which consists of buildings from the time of the castle, (15th century) that recreates shops owned by certain craftspeople of the time. Basically, we'll walk you through history.

Goldenvale Farmhouse
  The farmhouse was actually a small house with a big kitchen. When we walked into the kitchen, there was a woman working there, baking soda bread. She was talking with two other tourists so we walked around the edges of the room. Tom was trying to avoid her attention, and she noticed, so she said loudly to him "Are you right in there, sir?"  
(I was wondering if she thought he wasn't "right in the head!" LOL).  Tom looked at her oddly. She then looked at me and said "Would you like to try a piece of Irish Soda Bread I just made? There are several pieces with butter here." I told her that I'd prefer a plain piece - and she left the room and came back with one!  
  We talked about food, Ireland, and dogs. She was a big dog lover and has two dogs. She was a lot of fun and really made the walk through Bunratty Folk Park very memorable for us. 
A tradesman's cottage
  As a side note, her fiesty-ness reminded us of our friend Mom F. in Maine, so when we were talking with her, we were waiting for her to call us "two old gits" (Like Mom F. does!).
A 19th century house

Boy looking at his foot statue
BOY LOOKING AT FOOT STATUE- Sometimes the oddest things will catch your attention. I caught Tom taking a picture of a small marble statue of a boy looking at his foot.

NEXT: Ireland Trip Part 31: Tom's Funny Quote of the Week

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Serious Note about Some (Awful) Dog Rescuers

     Since Marriage Equality became a reality on Friday in the U.S., there have been a number of incredibly hateful people posting things even on DOG RESCUE facebook pages who have put up rainbow colors to show support and congratulate all people for being equal.
   It astounds me of how hateful religions have made people - and yes, I know that some religions and churches accept marriage equality. The vitriol spewed by people who claim to be "religious" and "godly" is astounding. From nasty posts of self-proclaimed church-goers" to former Arkansas governor Huckabee who is rabid in his rants to deny and overthrow the Supreme Court.
  Right now, more laws in conservative states are being drawn up to block services to gay people under the guise of "Religious Freedom." In 31 states people can still be fired for being gay. So, there's a long way to go.
  To keep this short and come full-circle,  there is no place for hatred of anyone in dog rescue. We have been working in dog rescue for many years and we don't discriminate against any dog! So why should anyone discriminate against any person?
 People can learn a lot from dogs- because dogs love EVERYONE!

Video tour! Crusoe the Dachshund Goes to Europe

We love Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund!  He looks (and acts) like our Tyler. His parents come up with the greatest costumes for him (like the running Mickey Mouse outfit you may have seen him in). Earlier this year, he went to Europe with his parents and Crusoe had his own adventures!
Crusoe comes from the award winning blog at http://celebritydachshund.com - which details all his antics, exploits, and adventures in photo, story, video format.   Find more of Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund's travels in his new book available at http://celebritydachshund.com/book
  Meanwhile, enjoy Crusoe's vacation!!! (Our vacation blog resumes tomorrow).

Crusoe the Dachshund Goes to Europe - 2015 Full Video 

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/K4KLVCBx1jU


Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Physical World Catches Up with Spiritual World #LoveWins

Yesterday, in the U.S., the physical world finally caught up with the spiritual world. Love won. Love is the only emotion that really matters in this life and the next life.
    Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is the law of the land for all 50 U.S. States and U.S. Territories. Finally, the U.S joins so many other progressive countries who understand that all people are created equal and deserve the same legal protections, rights and security. Before today, gay people who were married in one state could not visit their dying spouse in a hospital in another state. One friend of ours could not even claim his husband's body and had to call in an estranged relative not seen in 20 years. How horrible. That's all changed now.
Places around the U.S. lit in rainbow colors to celebrate equality on 6-26-15

     As a medium, I can tell you that that just as people in SPIRIT are all equal, so should all people be equal in the physical world. 
  For those who don't believe in equal treatment of others, no matter what their race, color, creed, non-religion, class, sexuality, social status, etc. you will understand that once your physical life is over and you transition to ghost or spirit, you will realize that we are, in fact, all the same. 
   If you have dislike in your heart for gay people, then get to know a gay person and show them patience, understanding and love. Gay people don't hate all straight people, so straight people should not hate all gay people. If you think that being gay is a choice, try to remember when you decided to be straight. You didn't- and neither did they.
   We all deserve the same opportunities, rights and protections in this life as we get in the next life. If you don't understand that now and you think you are better than others and deserve more than others, you may learn it the hard way in the afterlife- being trapped on Earth as a ghost, never to see your family and friends in spirit. 
  So, don't make that mistake. Instead, celebrate that others now have the same opportunities and protections. For in spirit, love is the only power that matters. In the physical, love should also be the only "power" that matters. So be loving, accepting and welcoming to people who are unlike you. We are all here together. Celebrate this day that people are now more equal. 
   After all, if there is one thing that is important in life and the afterlife, it's love. Today, #LoveWins and hatred loses. It should be that way every day.

Another outstanding Murder She Wrote Book: Aloha Betrayed

"Aloha Betrayed" by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain is another great book in the Murder She Wrote series and I highly recommend it.
It's a great story, characters, with a feel for Hawaii ! 
  I (Rob) have read almost all in the series and this is yet another outstanding story with great characters that will keep you guessing until the end. Jessica Fletcher finds herself investigating the murder of someone she met briefly and thought highly of.  There are a number of possible suspects all of which will keep you guessing. As always, the author(s) make you feel like you're in the setting (of Hawaii in this case) and give you a taste of the culture, too. The characters are well-developed, too. You can never go wrong reading a Murder She Wrote book in the entire series and this is confirmation of that.

BOOK SUMMARY: Jessica is on the Hawaiian island of Maui, giving a lecture at Maui College on community involvement in police investigations—a subject she knows well. Her co-lecturer is legendary retired detective Mike Kane, a behemoth of a man who shares his love of Hawaiian lore, legends and culture with Jessica.
   Sadly, all the talking stops when the body of a colleague is found at the rocky foot of a cliff.
   Mala Kapule was a botanist and popular professor at the school, known for her activism and efforts on behalf of the volcanic crater Haleakala. The high altitude crater is already the site of an observatory, but plans to place the world’s largest solar telescope there split the locals, with Mala fiercely arguing to preserve the delicate ecology of the area. Was someone trying to muffle the protestors? Or was Mala’s killer making a more personal statement?
   Now, it’s up to Jessica, along with Mike, to uncover who was driven to silence the scientist…and betray the true meaning of Aloha.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ireland Trip Part 29: Bunratty Castle's Banshee

Banshee . Credit: http://www.fairyist.com/
This part 29 of our Ireland Trip and we'll cover the legends of a Banshee, one of Ireland's mysterious creatures - because one is tied to Bunratty Castle. 
WHAT IS A BANSHEE? - A banshee is a "spirit" of a wailing woman who is heard preceding the death of someone. Sometimes they can show up for several nights in a row until the victim passes.

WHAT IS THE BANSHEE OF BUNRATTY CASTLE? - According to the book "Haunted Ireland" a book published by "Picture House," the name of the Banshee that "haunted" Bunratty Castle was named "Aibhill." The first banshee attached to Bunratty was heard around 1014 before the death of Brain Boru, who lived in the first castle on the site. 

WHO IS "AIBHILL"? - She's a druid goddess of the kings of Dalcassia, who were ancestor of the O'Brien family - the family that lived in the fourth castle on the site. Aibhill was known to live in a cave about one mile north of Killaloe in County Clare. 

THE HISTORIC ENCOUNTER - One encounter with hearing "Aibhill" was written down in 1649 by Lady Anne Fanshawe who was a guest in the Bunratty Castle. She described being awakened at 1
Bunratty Castle
a.m. by a woman in white who stood outside her window. The woman, a Banshee,  had a pale complexion and red hair.  She said "Ahore" three times (I have no idea what that means). Later that morning the lady of the house came to Lady Anne and told her that a cousin of hers passed away at 2 a.m. that morning. 

ANOTHER RECORD - Paranormal database.com cited an occurrence in 1956:
Location: Bunratty - Rathlaheen Cottage, near Bunratty Castle
Type: Crisis Manifestation     Date / Time: 1956
Further Comments: The wails of the banshee were heard within this building just before a death occurred


Today marks our 6 year Wedding Anniversary! /U.S. Supreme Court Rules for Marriage Equality!

An anniversary card we like
Today, June 26, marks our 6 year Wedding Anniversary! 
**UPDATE- Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is the law of the land for all 50 U.S. States and U.S. Territories. What an amazing Anniversary present. We can now move/live anywhere and have security**

Because our marriage wasn't legal in Maryland at the time, we had to go to Connecticut, the nearest state where it was legal. My (Rob) brother Doug suggested Bridgeport as a good city to get married in, and the restaurant he was recommended became the place we took our vows (instead of outside in a park). Our friend Jeff was our best man and came up with us. Our friend Mike married us! 

It's been another year of dog rescue work, ghost investigating, book tours, gardening, dog training, Dunkin' Donuts, weather watching, reading U.K. history and mysteries, a great Ireland vacation, and lots of blogging. :) 

Tom and Rob in Dublin, Ireland - May 2015


 Our wedding 6-26-2009

Last Year's Story/Wedding Recap: http://rob-tom-dolly-franklin.blogspot.com/2014/06/today-is-our-5th-wedding-anniversary.html

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ireland Trip Part 28: An Inside Look at Bunratty Castle

This dining hall was refurbished
This is part 28 of our Ireland Trip, and we'll give you an Inside look at Bunratty Castle. In the previous blog, we gave you a history of the castle and told you that the castle we walked through was actually the fourth one that stood on the lot. This blog will give you a look inside the structure, explain what happened to it over time, and how it's now being used. There were some specific rooms that were refurbished. .

A refurbished fireplace
It's always interesting to learn how these castles were used over time, and why they were abandoned and re-discovered. Here's the story of Bunratty Castle: 
A short video tour around the Dining Hall of the Castle
Tom in the dining hall
   For some time in the mid-19th century, the castle was used as a barracks by the Royal Irish Constabulary. In 1894, Bunratty was once again used by the Studdert family, as the seat of Captain Richard Studdert. In the late 19th century, the roof of the Great Hall collapsed.
Tom and Rob at one of the towers
    In 1956, the castle was purchased and restored by the 7th Viscount Gort, with assistance from the Office of Public Works. He re-roofed the castle and saved it from ruin. The castle was opened to the public in 1960, sporting furniture, tapestries and works of art dating to around 1600.

It's actually used to hold banquets today and we imagine that weddings are also held there. The castle is famous for its medieval banquets, offered since 1963, at which the "Bunratty Castle Entertainers" perform today.

Our friend Merle and her late husband visited the castle and experienced the dining adventure. Here it is in her words:
We also experienced a wonderful dinner at Bunratty Castle - where we were chosen “King & Queen” for the evening. 
Whatever food was to be served to us had to be eaten by “lesser, low-life” individuals first and if they didn’t die from a poisoned meal, then we’d get fed.  I got to throw a guy {another tourist} in jail because he was “trifling” with M’Lady!  


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ireland Trip Part 27: Storming the 4th Bunratty Castle?

This is the 26th blog of our Ireland Trip, where we visited Bunratty Castle. Bunratty Castle is a large 15th century tower house in County Clare, Ireland. Bunratty castle in Gaelic is Caisleán Bhun Raithe, meaning "Castle at the Mouth of the Ratty." The castle is part of a large folk park called "Bunratty Village" that reconstructs a village from the period. It is located between Limerick and Ennis, and very close to the Shannon airport.

ORIGINALLY A VIKING SETTLEMENT - The first recorded settlement at the site of what now holds Bunratty Castle may have been a Norse settlement/trading camp. In the "Annals of the Four Masters" the settlement was destroyed by Brian Boru in 977.

Bunratty Castle
Tom and Rob outside Bunratty Castle
One of Bunratty's towers
A view at the inside of the tower
4 CASTLES ON THE SAME SITE! -  Around 1250, King Henry III of England granted the district of Tradraighe (or Tradree) to Robert De Muscegros, who in 1251 cut down around 200 trees in the King's wood at Cratloe to build the first castle. These lands were later taken back by King Henry III and granted to Thomas De Clare, a descendant of Strongbow in 1276. De Clare built the first stone structure on the site (the second castle). This castle was occupied from ca. 1278 to 1318 and consisted of a large single stone tower with lime white walls.  In 1353, Sir Thomas de Rokeby led an English army to conquer the MacCarthys. The third castle was built at Bunratty, but once again, its exact location is unknown. Local tradition holds that it stood at the site where the Bunratty Castle Hotel was later constructed. The fourth castle, the present structure, was built by the MacNamara family after around 1425.  THAT"S the castle (ruins) that we got to walk through.  At around 1500, Bunratty Castle came into the hands of the O'Briens (or O'Brians), the most powerful clan in Munster and later Earls of Thomond.

A 17 Second view from the tower

a residual haunt
GHOST OR NO GHOST? We didn't find any ghosts at Bunratty Castle. However, when we went into the storeroom in the basement of the castle, we both got the sense of a stable, and work being done, things being carried, etc. There was nothing stating that it was used as a stable, but that's the residual impression it left with us.  


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2 Signs from My Mom Around her Birthday!

For those who know me (Rob), you know that I get signs and messages from people who passed away- and either remain  Earth-bound (as a ghost) or cross over into the light (as a spirit). Usually they give us signs around birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. (You just need to look for them).
  Well, my mom was no exception. She gave me several signs she's around - and this is the week of her birthday and what would've been her and my dad's 60th wedding anniversary.
  Spirits can come in many ways, like through dreams or music. My mom came through in both ways. 
Rob's mom in 1955

A VIVID DREAM / VISIT - This morning, I awoke from a dream of walking into a brightly lit room that had huge windows with the sun poring through, and my mom was sitting down with our (late) poodle, Gigi, who was her favorite dog in the world. My mom appeared as she did when she was in her late 20s/early 30s!  She was young and vibrant, and smiling.  (She looked like she did in the picture here)
  She was sitting on a large white couch or bed and Gigi, her poodle was curled up with her. She was very happy and content. The next thing I noticed was that a Weimaraner was walking next to me- and I think it was Buzz, my weimaraner who passed in 2005. It was all so very real. That's the difference between a visit and a dream. This was definitely a visit and I got to see mom, Gigi and Buzz. How cool.

MUSICAL SIGNS - While I was teleworking later in the day, I was listening to WSM-AM 650 on-line. That's a radio station out of Nashville that plays classic country. Well, there were two songs in a row that my mother included in her favorites:
1) Dolly Parton's "Here You Come Again"  (that brought back memories from the 1970s of Mom and I sitting down facing each other, slapping each other's knees and singing the song)
2) Glen Campbell and Steve Wariner's "Hand that Rocks the Cradle (Hall of Fame for Mamas)" song came on second. Mom loved that song and said she agreed that there should be a hall of fame for mothers!
Here's the video of the song:  https://youtu.be/g6MGou_HzbM

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ireland Trip Part 26: Galway - Legend of the Ghostly Hand

St. Nicholas Church - Where hand was severed
This is our Ireland Trip blog, Part 26: Galway - Legend of the Ghostly Hand!  When we visited St. Nicholas Church in downtown Dublin, and our tour guide told of of the theft of a corpse's hand from that church. This gruesome story happened actually because a Protestant man hated the Catholics.

THE STORY BEHIND THE GHOSTLY HAND - As with the British, the Irish are not to be outdone with their gruesome urban legends. In St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church lie the remains of John Bodkins, the last Catholic Warden. Legend has it that before his death, Bodkins decreed that his right arm would not decay until the keys to the church were returned to the catholic diocese. 

THE CORPSE UNEARTHED - Sometime in the early 19th century the body of the last Catholic warden of St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church was dug up during renovations of the church. The 100 year old corpse of the Warden had been uncovered and was found to be uncorrupted; causing immense excitement amongst the Catholics of Galway.

CUTTING OFF THE HAND -   A family of butchers (who were Protestants) who ran the butcher shop located just outside the walls of the church at the head Bowling Green Street broke into the warden's grave. They were so offended by the presence of the Catholic man in the now Protestant church, and resentful of the attention caused by the uncorrupted state of the corpse, hat they cut off the corpse's arm and ground it up - thereby ensuring that catholicism would not return to Ireland. 
Another version of the story is that the stolen hand was later found discarded in a field in the western suburbs of the town where St. Mary's College now stands.That's where the hand "makes the rounds."  
LEGEND OF THE GHOSTLY RED HAND -  Junior boarders of nearby Saint Mary's College lived in fear of the annual appearance of the Red Hand. Junior Dormitory was in the old college chapel which was known to be haunted by a questing severed hand. 


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ireland Trip Part 25: A Look at Galway, Buildings, Story of the Claddagh Ring!

Original makers of the Claddagh Ring in Galway!
This is our  Ireland Trip Part 25:  Galway, Old Buildings, Story of the Claddagh Ring! 

THE CLADDAGH RING ORIGINATED IN GALWAY - Our tour guide told us that the first-ever Claddagh ring was designed and made in Galway. In fact, descendants of the family still make them today.  The exact origin is unknown, but it was one of two ways according to claddagh.kaijewels.com
 Mythic Origin: Margaret Joyce inherited a huge amount of money from her late husband named Domingo de Rona. He was a wealthy Spanish merchant trading with Galway in Ireland. She later married the Mayor of Galway in 1596 (Oliver Og French)and used her inherited wealth to construct many bridges in Connacht. The first Cladagh ring was supposed to be her providential reward and was dropped by an eagle into her lap
Claddagh Ring
Shop of the original family who make the rings
More Likely Origin: A native of Galway by the name of Richard Joyce was captured by the Algerians and sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith. Later in 1689 William III of England demanded the release of all British subjects and Richard Joyce was released from slavery, too. The Moorish goldsmith offered Richard Joyce a major portion of his wealth and also his only daughter in marriage, if he agreed to stay in Algiers.  Richard Joyce refused all the tempting offers and returned to his native city with the first Claddagh ring.

Historic building being renovated
MEANING OF "CLADDAGH" - The word Claddagh itself comes from the Irish term 'An Cladach' that means a 'flat stony shore'. This was a pretty and ancient village with winding streets and small thatched roofed mud houses.
wall of an old building in Galway
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE RING? - The hands of the ring are shown holding the heart and the hands denote friendship and togetherness, the heart itself signifies love and the crown in the claddagh ring stands for loyalty. The Claddagh ring is one of the most popular Irish Wedding Rings.


Buildings in a alleyway circa 1600
This is one shop we WOULD have gone into
HOW IT IS WORN MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS - Worn on the right hand, crown turned inwards, your heart is yet to be occupied.
  Worn on the right hand, crown turned outwards shows a special commitment to someone.
   Worn on the left hand, Crown turned outwards, means "let our love and friendship reign forever, never to be separated." 
 We couldn't find out what it means if worn on the left hand, turned inward.

NEXT: GALWAY'S LAST BLOG: Legend of the Ghostly Hand

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next