Tag Archives: Ireland

My Name is Karen and I am A…


Ha! You thought I was going to say an Alcoholic. Not!

And I’m not really a McFarland either. I only married into the name.

Yet, even though I wasn’t born a McFarland, the name I have to say is kind of special.

Why do I say that?

To begin with, the McFarland’s come from Scottish descent. They not only have they’re own tartan, a family crest and coat of arms, they own the island that’s in the middle of notorious Loch Ness.

That’s special, isn’t it?

Turns out, not so much.

According to Wikipedia, the clan McFarlane, which is the original form of the McFarland name, was denounced for committing theft, robbery, murder and tyranny. Several members of the clan were tried and convicted, some pardoned, some executed. Many dispersed throughout Scotland while others fled to Ireland, and with the potato famine, emigrated further to America where the surname would then evolve to McFarland.

Ah, the McFarland’s. The clan it seems were a rowdy bunch of rebel rousers. So much so, they got their “A” kicked out of the country. Without the “A”, the Mac turned into a “Mc”.

Kick that “A” out and no one will know the difference, right?


So then, what’s the story with McFarland in the USA?

About a month ago, I received this text and picture.



“You have your own “world” at Disney?”

My cousin Craig. He thinks he’s funny.

My response?

“What can I say? When you have it…”

I really had no idea what he was talking about. But I wasn’t about to tell him that.

Oh, hi Craig. *Waves*

But this little prankster got me going. I had to find out what he was talking about?

I have my own “world” at Disney?

What does a small Hispanic town in central California, USA, have to do with McFarland?

Well, here’s what I found out.

McFarland is where two world record Olympic medalists attended high school and the place that inspired the 1987 true story into a movie.

“McFarland, USA.”

It’s about a group of novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White, played by Kevin Costner, a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change.

Soon something beyond their physical gifts becomes apparent—the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.” (Disney.com)

Well, what do you know. I do have my own “world” at Disney!

Yet, this is no small world. For a number of years, hubby and I lived near the town of McFarland. In fact, we were constantly asked if we were related to the McFarland’s of “McFarland”.

Considering their founder J.B. McFarland was Scottish, for all we know, he could be a long lost relative. Stranger things have happened!

And that my friends is what makes the name McFarland so special.

At least in central California.

Here’s the preview. I hear it’s pretty inspiring. Take a peek!

So what do you think? From what country does your family’s ancestry hail? Has your family ever had a town named after them? Had you ever heard of McFarland, California or the movie that bears its name? Are you a fan of Kevin Costner? If so, feel free share your favorite Costner or Disney film with all of us!

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!


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The Long and Winding Road

Long and Winding Road

(Photo provided by Ireland of the Welcomes)

Ah, Ireland. Look how green you are. The clear blue sky brightens the spring-green grass after a recent rain. Makes me want to jump right into one of those puddles. How about you?

Yet, while I allow my eyes to peruse over the picture, I wonder where that long and winding road will take me. It may be clear and sunny now, however if you’re familiar with the Emerald Isle, you’re aware of the reason why it’s so green. It could very well rain by the time I reach my destination.

The good news is I see a measure of shelter in the background. It’s always a good thing to have an alternative option should something divert our plans. Yet, in order for me to get there, it looks like I will have to dodge the many potholes and bumps on the road along the way.

That sounds like too much of a hassle, doesn’t it?

I mean, who of us wants to walk through a bunch of puddles and pebbles?

I know. Maybe I should take a short cut. Yes, that’s it. If I leap over the stone wall and cut off some time, I’d alleviate a lot of aggravation that comes with a long walk on a bumpy, winding road. After all, it would get me to the same destination in quicker fashion, right?

Well yes. And no.

By taking the short cut, I might arrive at my destination faster than taking the long road. Sure, that might work. I could hop over the fence, run like the wind and get there in record time. I’ll admit there could be a few hills and valleys. Then again, I may just be ahead of the curve. It could be a whole lot easier. At least it looks that way.

But looks can be deceiving.

What if I missed something along the way? Indeed, from the appearance of things, the scenery may look the same. Yet, by taking the short route, I very well may rob myself of vital knowledge and experience that would help me during the course of my journey. And by doing so, I could miss an important step that would have a bearing on my progress as I strive to reach my ultimate goal, which is at the end of the long and winding road.

Do you see the dilemma?

Life is like that. There are so many peaks and valleys, bumps and potholes; our path may not always be straight. And the longer we live, the worse it can get. Unless we take a more positive approach, that would require we learn from past experience, which may or may not include any short cuts during our journey.

This is also true with writing. In my case, I have chosen not to leap over the fence and take the shorter route. And not unlike that road above, my path has included every bump, pebble and pothole you can imagine. There are times when all I want to do is give up and cry. I feel like I’m in a foreign country and do not yet fully understand the language of its people. I, like Ireland, am an island, yet the only green we have in common exists behind my two ears.

Yes, it’s a long and winding road.

Nevertheless, I am determined not to give up, not to cave in when I hit the proverbial stone wall. I am going to stay on that long, winding road, keep jumping into puddles, and make a splash no matter how big or small. Because it’s the end goal that matters, not the bumps in my way while still on the road.

So what do you think? What has been your experience while on the Long and Winding Road? Does it ever get better? Or do you still struggle? What has helped you to keep your enthusiasm during your personal path to publication? Have any sage advice you’d like to bestow upon a newbie novelist? I’m all eyes and ears!

Cheers everyone! Thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!

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Have It Your Way—It’s A Whopper!

After last week’s post I don’t know about you, but I feel invigorated. I have taken in a deep cleansing positive breathe, embraced the circle of life and released all negative thoughts.

Well, not exactly. I was doing great by the way until the very next day when I read an article on Yahoo about horses in Ireland and Great Britain. Oh, and it’s a whopper! I truly think that I am going to stop watching and reading the news. Things just get crazier by the minute.

Do y’all know about Mister Ed?

If not, I think you can still catch reruns on Nick at Nite or somewhere on the internet. It’s an old comedy series, but it came to mind after reading that Yahoo article. Its jingle went like this:

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course

And no one can talk to a horse of course

That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.”

You’ve got to admit that’s catchy. 🙂

Anyway, the Golden Globe award winning television series was based on a short story written by Walter Brooks in the 1930’s called, “Ed Signs the Pledge.” Now you have to know that “Mister Ed” had an opinion for everything. If Wilber, his owner, got into a pickle about something, he always walked out to the barn and talked to “Ed”. Of course we realize that horses can’t talk, but if they could, I’d hate to think what Mister Ed would say about this.

Apparently, Burger King is huge in the U.K. and Ireland. In fact, they love their burgers as much as we do in the U.S., if not more. But it was announced last week that they’ve stopped using one of the firms caught up in a scandal of supplying grocers with beef that contained horse meat!? And not just a little horse meat. The hamburger contained twenty-nine percent horse meat.

Okay, does this…


Look like this…


No? Oh good, because I thought I was losing it for a minute!

I recall an incident in U.S. history when the Donner Party resorted to eating horse meat. But they were at the brink of starvation during a blizzard while crossing the Sierra Nevada mountain range in northern California in 1846. Granted, this example may be way over the top since there was a little cannibalism going on. The point is it wasn’t a pretty picture.

All we want is a good healthy burger. It that too much to ask? But horse meat?

Really? Are we that desperate?

The British food industry was rocked by this revelation—a $2.6 billion dollar scandal that has left them reeling with the aftereffects from the first major shock-waves after its discovery. Food safety experts say the horse meat posed no added health risks to consumers, but the discovery has raised concerns about the supply of our food chain and the ability to trace meat ingredients.

Well that’s interesting, because as you may know, the U.S. has had its own ground beef concerns with E. coli and Salmonella. Should we also be looking for horse meat in our ground beef too? Uh, this is not just a bunch of hamburger. This is a real concern, especially if you’re a beef eater, which accounts for most of the kill ‘em and grill ‘em population.

You see the vast majority of ground beef we purchase is from a few enormous meat-packing corporations that sell beef through gigantic supermarket chains. These meat-packing plants butcher thousands of cattle every hour. Meat and trimmings from all that cattle are combined, so any random package of commercial ground beef could include particles of meat from hundreds or even thousands of individual cattle. This, as you can imagine, makes it much more difficult to monitor the source of contamination or in this case horse meat.

So what can we do?

Well, as you know, I am into healthy and natural. Hello Sexy Kale! But, I too like a good juicy hamburger straight off the grill. Mmm, yummy!

Now that’s my kind of whopper!

Here’s what is suggested:

If you’d like to have it your way, buy food that is free of synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or other chemicals. Thus, the best approach to buying ground beef is to go directly to its source. Buy meat that is ground at the facility where you purchase the meat. That way you are assured of its quality and that the ground beef you purchase comes from one head of cattle, verses several thousand individual cattle. (And yes, that number is correct.)

I can’t tell you how much better organic beef is over non-organic. But this of course is a personal preference, although hubby and I have taken this one step further buying grass fed organic beef.

Now grass fed beef is a horse of another color. Please pardon the pun. I just couldn’t help myself. Yet, this is a subject I’d like to explore on a later post.

So until then, remember this:

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course

And no one can talk to a horse of course

That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister Ed.”

If you want a “Whopper”, have it your way!

And that does not include eating a horse!

Of course, of course!

Hmm, I still wonder what Mister Ed would have said about this?

So what do you think? Do you enjoy a nice thick juicy Hamburger straight off the grill? Or do you lean towards vegetarianism? Does the safety of our food concern you? Do you grow some of your own food? What measures to you and your family take in order to eat healthy?

Thank you so much for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!

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O’ Money Ain’t For Nothing!

 I think it is safe to say that most of us have been hit by this recession in one way or another. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to have our jobs in tact, our money isn’t going any further and with inflation we might be trying to cut back on some of our expenses. Maybe we hold off on certain unnecessary purchases. It might mean we may not go out to eat as often and take fewer vacations. We may be cutting out more coupons in the newspaper or watching for Groupon specials. We might even stretch out the number of times we get our hair cut, go to the movies, or take the kids to the toy store.

But for the unfortunate ones that have been hit the most, this might mean the loss of a job, living on one income instead of two or possibly with no income at all. They might be eating more rice and beans than hamburger or chicken. Perhaps they’ve been forced to play “Go Fish” when it comes to paying their bills. They are unable to afford new clothes for the children, let alone buy new toys. And like so many today, they may be upside-down with their mortgage, which in the state of California is hovering over 44%. They may have had to move in with a close family member or friend when the bank decided to foreclose on their house.

Whether it is a relative, neighbor or friend, at this point we all know someone that has been affected by this extended economic downturn. And as it rolls over from one year to the next, it can be inspiring to watch the fortitude and resourcefulness for which through the ages has strengthened our fellow man around the globe.

Take for instance a certain Irishman in the city of Dublin. As we all know Ireland has had its share of financial woes throughout the years or perhaps even for centuries. They did have a slight glimpse of economic sunshine during the 1990’s until its intensity dimmed during the world monetary banking crisis that started in 2008.

What did this unemployed Irish artist do when push came to shove? Well, what would any unemployed creative person do?

Use his imagination!

Frank Buckley had originally wanted to create a gallery for his mixed-media artwork called “Expressions of Recession”, but he ended up building a house instead. What would you do if someone handed you $1.4 billion euro dollars? In Ireland, people build houses out of it.


It seems that Ireland’s mint has lent their shredded money to Mr. Buckley. And for roughly 12 hours a day, every day since the beginning of December, he has been fast at work laying 50,000 decommissioned Irish Euro bricks into the construction of his house that contains a bedroom, bath, and living room. He plans to continue expanding the house that sits in the lobby of an empty office building to include a kitchen, shower, and patio.

If you’re wondering how it feels to live in a house made out of paper currency, this Irish artist said that it’s quite warm inside: “Whatever you say about the Euro, it’s a great insulator.” Mr. Buckley is one of countless amount people from all over the world that have been affected by this recession.

“It’s the reflection of the whole madness that has gripped us,” he said. “People were pouring billions into buildings that are now worth nothing.” So the reason why he built the house was because he “wanted to create something from nothing.”

It will take about two more months to complete the building of his new home, but Frank Buckley welcomes any visitor who wants to take a look at his billion-dollar masterpiece.

Yes optimism is alive and well and has always been in the hearts of the people of Ireland and the rest of the world. It just shows that with a little ingenuity and imagination what we can all recreate in our own hopes and dreams. You see, a little bit O’Money Ain’t For Nothing! 🙂

So what do you think? If you were to go through an economic crisis, would you have been that ingenious? As an artist, what would you do to make a statement about your predicament? Are there some fun ideas that you and your family or friends have found while helping to cut back on expenses that you would like to share?
Thank you everyone.
Now if I may I would like to change the subject.


I finally have the results from the drawing at Diane Capri’s launch day party for “Don’t Know Jack!” Thanks for your patience. It took some time, but I worked Diane over for extra prizes and I think all of you will be pleased!

First, we have five winners from the first day of the drawing!

These five winners will receive a FREE Kindle copy of “Don’t Know Jack”! But that’s not all. You will also receive a FREE Kindle copy of EITHER Lee Child’s “Killing Floor” OR Lee Child’s “Bad Luck and Trouble.” In order for you to receive your prize, you will need to leave your email address at Diane Capri’s website, http://dianecapri.com/contact/ . And don’t worry if you don’t have a Kindle because Diane can help you convert her books to a format of your choice.

See, I told you it would be good! You not only receive one book, but two FREE books!

Ready? Here are the winners:

1- Prudence MacLeod

2- Debra Kristi

3- Diana Murdock

4- M. G. Miller

5- Pat O’Dea

But that’s not all!

For those of you who commented on the first day of the launch, Diane has decided to award the rest of you with a FREE copy of Lee Child’s book “Killing Floor” OR “Bad Luck and Trouble.” This will be of your choosing, but you must purchase a copy of her book, “Don’t Know Jack” and the Lee Child book will be gifted to you through Amazon. (A proof of purchase will be required.)

Then for those that arrived fashionably late for the party, that is after her launch date of February 1st, Diane has also decided to award you with a FREE copy of Lee Child’s book “Killing Floor” OR “Bad Luck and Trouble”. This will also be of your choosing, but you must purchase two copies of “Don’t Know Jack” and the Lee Child book will be gifted to you through Amazon. (A proof of purchase will be required.)

The winner’s of the prize for naming a character in Diane Capri’s new book in the “Hunt for Reacher” series “Get Jack Back” are Fabio Bueno and Lynn Kelley! Diane will contact you both to finalize your choices.

Now wasn’t this exciting? I love it when everyone comes out a winner!!!!

Congratulations to all and thank you for making Diane Capri’s launch day of “Don’t Know Jack” a memorable one!

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Thank you for your many thoughts and fine comments everyone!


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