Tuesday Nights at the Cobblestone

The dim light of the Cobblestone on a Tuesday night.

I love stopping by the Cobblestone on Tuesday nights after yoga class.  Tom Mulligan (the proprietor), his son Tomas, and some of his nephews play on Tuesdays.  The crowd is small on Tuesdays and the tone of the place is very relaxed.  I alway find a good a seat right in the musicians’ corner.

Irish musicians often play more than one instrument. Here you see Tomas on guitar and his cousin playing flute with a set of uilleann pipes on his lap.

Whenever I come in on Tuesday, Tom’s playing his flute.  When the song ends and he looks up, recognizes me, and exclaims “Shannon!” in the most lovely Kerry accent I’ve ever heard.  That warms my heart!

Of course, dropping in on the way home from yoga leads to some misconceptions as well.  Many people assume that my tall, green bag holds a musical instrument.  The musicians and audience alike ask me to join in.

Unfortunately, it’s been years since I played the oboe. But with six years of that under my belt, I know that playing well takes tremendous time and dedication.  Were I to take up an instrument, it would take years before I’d be ready to play for an audience.

Echelons of Third Space

The Cobblestone made complimentary mention of an earlier blog on “third spaces,” so I’ve decided it’s time to write the sequel I promised.

A couple of weeks ago, after sequestering myself in my apartment for two days to write, I need a brief respite and some healthy food.  I headed to Third Space–Cafe and Social Space on the nearby Smithfield Plaza.

After placing an order at the counter, I realized I’d forgotten my wallet.  You see, I’d given a new purse a whirl the day before and accidentally left every cent in that handbag rather than the one I now carried.

The young man behind the counter could have easily cancelled the order.  He’d probably not even hit the enter key at that point.  But instead he said, “It’s okay.  You’ve been here before. You can pay later.”

Wow!  I’d been there twice.  Once was with Esther about four days prior.

This guy had rendered excellent service on that outing–and that was one reason I returned again so soon.

Now I’d normally have trouble accepting such an act of kindness, for fear something might go wrong.  But this time I admitted to myself that his was a much better option than trudging home hungry–particularly when I had so much to do.

So I stayed put and enjoyed a tasty slice of quiche with a side of grilled vegetables.

While eating, I devised a plan that required asking for more leeway than the kind cashier had actually offered.  When I got up to leave, I approached him and asked, “Is it okay if I come back to pay tomorrow morning? That way I can get breakfast while I’m here.  Will you be working tomorrow?”

He said yes and indicated the plan was acceptable. And I went on my merry way.

At home, I made sure to set an iPhone reminder.  I wouldn’t run the risk forgetting a responsibility as important as this.

I arrived back at Third Space around 8:30 the next morning.  After greeting the cashiers, I ordered a “mini veg” and asked to pay for both meals. The young woman who was ringing me up thanked me for returning to pay. And the young man was visibly relieved to see me.

“Isn’t it nice that we can trust each other?” he asked.

Yes, it surely is!

The Third Space offers shelves of books and an upper tier where the sign says, “here, it’s okay to talk to strangers.”

I must say, though, that he had to extend much more trust than I, since I know I’ll certainly follow through!  But what let him know I would?

In my mind, there was no way I would ever shake his faith in humanity by not meeting our agreement.  Such breaches have happened to me before, and the scars have left me far less generous to strangers than I’d like to be. But this particular story has a happy ending.

This young man has provided a glorious example of generosity.  He has demonstrated what a true “third space” is all about.

The website of the place he works, the “Third Space–Cafe and Social Space” claims that the founders wanted to provide a comfortable space for all, where people could feel included without having to spend much money.  This example proved to me that they have succeeded.

From Across the Atlantic

Dave sent me a view of our weekend FaceTime session–as seen from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

This is Christopher Chance, our very energetic three-year-old nephew.  He was quite enthusiastic about talking with me, and I have to say his speaking abilities have developed at warp speed while I’ve been away.

Christopher on FaceTime

Meet Dave Jetson!

Callista Brien’s talk on Social Media for Engineers Ireland.

Meet George Jetson! (Image from the blog Dark Horizons).

Meet Dave Jetson!

His nephew David!

Luc, his sis!

Whoever though that we’d live the Jetson dream so soon in history?  Certainly not I!

A few weeks ago, at an event hosted by Engineers Ireland, Callista Brien discussed how social media is changing the way we think and act.  This was part of a seminar about project management.

And Callista was right.

FaceBook and FaceTime are amazing and they’re making my life richer.

Look how excited Lucy’s kids got when I rang in using FaceTime a couple days ago.

The Chance family keeps in touch with me via Facebook, iMessage, and the occasional FaceTime call.

And so, some days, life seems like a futuristic movie.

These tools keep Dave, Christina, Matthew and Lucy, David, Christopher, Tommy, Michael, Julia, Conner, and Evan Chance as central characters in my life, even when we’re far, far apart.

Dave with Lucy’s gang.

Awesome brothers!

“Aunt Shannon, I fell down!”

Chugging toward that PhD

Gavin Duffy and Rob Howard discussing Gavin’s conceptual framework.

We’re making definite progress on our research, Gavin and I.

Last week’s meeting with Dr. Rob Howard was a success, I’d say.  Gavin had a good “statement of purpose” to share with his dissertation advisor.  During our lunch meeting, the three of us were able to produce a diagram for the study (i.e., a conceptual framework model) that I hope will help speed the writing along.

It’s so inspiring to see Gavin make progress on his PhD!  Kind of makes you want to write a dissertation yourself, doesn’t it?

I wouldn’t mind writing another!  That lucky because my current research project actually feels like a dissertation study.  I’m happy to report progress on it as well.

Last week I emailed the outline, theoretical models, and introduction to my supporting authors and Dean Murphy.  I’m hoping to get feedback from them over lunch today.

Shannon Chance and Joe Dennehy at the Scholars Cafe on Aungier Street.

I’m putting the research to good use already, though.  Right after the meeting with Rob Howard, I was in the faculty cafeteria at the School of Business.

A very energetic professor, Joe Dennehy, bounded over to ask follow-up questions to the Teaching Fellowships keynote I delivered.  Joe wants to coordinate a group like the one I’ve been studying and asked my advice.

Every time I discuss the study I learn more.  And fortunately my graphic models worked well for communicating core ideas to Joe.

His zest for new ideas is contagious. How can you not love someone who writes of “the joyful serendipity of running into you on my way to see” the Head of School.

I plan to keep the conversation going with Joe… maybe I’ll soak up some knowledge about housing economics (which he teaches) while I’m helping him coordinate his faculty learning group in the spring.

Dave’s 40th Birthday

Our wonderful friend Annie Nichols posted photos from Dave’s birthday so I could partake in the fun.  I’m uploading them so you can see what such an event looks like in the Chance and Nichols families (there were two different parties–and thus many cakes).

Exploring Material Ethics

A progress review in Patrick’s 4th year studio at the DIT. Patrick, Shannon, and Connor are clearly captivated by this student’s presentation.

I asked the architecture students to tell me what interested them most from the lecture on Materials that I gave today in the studio coordinated by Patrick Flynn.  They said Dave Chance’s images!

I’d been asked to talk about materials in a way that would help students with designing schools.  So I started by downloading pages from Dave’s website.  He travels the world photographing materials in relation to light.

To prepare for this lecture I also attended a review of the class’s proposed designs last Friday.  Patrick invited me as a guest critic, but my primary goal was to find out how I could tailor today’s presentation to their needs and interests.

A slide using Dave Chance’s photograph from the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. (Copyright Dave Chance Photography.)

I decided to present my thoughts using: (1) Dave’s images to provide inspiration and (2) images of schools as a tool for conveying more pragmatic content.

I structured the talk around themes of Material Ethics, Teaching Capacity of materials, the need to Generate Knowledge regarding materials, Authenticity, and Sustainability.  I titled it “How an Architect’s Material Palette Can Enhance Student Learning” with the subheading “Cultivating an Ethics of Materiality.”

Sites and Sounds of Galway

The Dew Drop Inn… ah, the memories!  It’s the namesake of this pub in Galway (the brightly colored building to the left).  My grandfather (Layton McCarthy Massie) worked with the real Pa Walton once once a time, in Virginia. If you watched the show, you’ll recall Pa had to travel to find work a few times.  It was one of those times.  The family (upon which the TV series was based) lived in Skylar, Virginia, whereas my grandpa lived closer to the West Virginia line.

I had a ball in Galway this weekend, visiting Amanda Bernhard and her husband Jonathan Kennedy.  Here’s a glimpse of some of the things we did.

We attended the Fulbright Association’s Thanksgiving Banquet on Friday and the Irish Music Club’s singing event on Saturday.

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Just My Size

Chris in a box.

Shannon at work on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes you just need to find a comfortable little space where you can settle down and get some learning done.  That’s what I and my nephew Chris did today.

Here’s a photo of Chris in his little hide-away in Maryland today.

And a photo of me in my little hide-away in Dublin.

And the photos of the raucous that ensued in Maryland before quite time….

Looks like Uncle Dave has his hands full!

Dave under two of his nephews.

Uncle Dave with “little” David.

Chris reading.

Chris making mischief.