Thinking about Ithaca today

Thinking about Ithaca today

It has always been one of the hardest questions to answer. Shortly after we moved to Dublin we would be asked,

What do you miss most about the States?

It would specifically be asked by people who were heading over and wondering what they can bring. The fact is we moved to a major city in a first-world European country, so there’s not too much we can’t get if we want. Even most American TV is here within a week or two after it airs there.

But over the past 4 years, there have been a few times where I’ve said, “that’s one thing I really miss about the States.” And then recently someone posted the question, “What are the essentials to live in Ireland?” on an ex-pat blog, and it got me thinking. While none of these would qualify as essentials, I thought I’d share.

Basically, they break down into 3 areas: work/office related, food, and shopping. What I didn’t include would be things that are vastly more expensive here, but still readily available. So, nothing like. “I miss cheap gas…” Also, there is a store in town that sells “American” food…sugary cereals, A & W Root beer, etc… So even though it is much more expensive, we can still get it if we want it.

So here’s my list:

Office/Work Related:

Yellow Legal Pads:

I use legal pads for almost everything. Taking notes. Making lists. When I’d be writing sermons, I’d put all my ideas on yellow legal pads. For me, they are an important part of the creative process. I can’t find them here. Thankfully I still have a bunch on hand.

Various weights of paper.

When you came to the church I was leading in Ithaca, your bulletin/program would be printed on 24# paper. 28# would be used for certain things that were more important, and 20# was only good for generic printing.

The vast majority of people reading this, probably think that is one of the weirdest things they’ve ever heard. But those of you who know what I’m talking about, know exactly what I’m talking about.

More specifically, I really miss being able to order paper from this place. The Speckletone Oatmeal was my favourite. I still haven’t found a place to get nice quality paper. And since French Paper doesn’t do A-4 as standard, it doesn’t really work here.

Pilot Gel Pens

You can get really nice, expensive pens here. You can get cheap crappy pens too. But no Pilot Pens. In fact, go to their website, and select the “your country” link, go down to the ‘I’s’ and notice which country is missing.

Thankfully a regular shipment of Pilot pens keeps showing up at our house.



We were never big Mexican food people. When the debates would start about where you could get a “real” Mexican burritos as opposed to, I guess “fake” Mexican burritos, I always dropped out…it all tasted okay to me. But I really like salsa. Now you can get salsa here, but the options…meh. Liz and I decided recently we are going to try making our own. So, if you have a salsa recipe you love, send it to us and we’ll try it. (Just a hint, we tend to prefer chunkier salsa. Perhaps for the aficionados that means it isn’t real Mexican salsa…oh well.)

Hot Sauces

I remember walking down the aisle of Wegmans (speaking of things we miss) and the options for hot sauces were amazing. Here…Franks Red Hot…Nandos…and beyond that again…meh…(I’m thinking about the Dinosaur BBQ Wango Tango right now…oh, and this).

Frozen Vegetables

Okay, this probably sounds weird. But I ate a lot of frozen vegetables both supermarkets in Ithaca had all kinds of blends and mixtures…here, a mixture is carrots in your peas. I was looking online today and saw that Tesco had a bunch of the stuff I’d been missing. I got all excited, showed Liz. She said that is Tesco UK, you need to look at Tesco Ireland. I’m still sad about that.


Trader Ks & Library Book sale

These go together as they are Ithaca only. So if I moved anywhere else in the States, I’d be missing them too. I sometimes wonder if it’d be worth it to buy a plane ticket during the book sale…but since I’d then have to transport all my books back to Ireland, that probably won’t work.

Amazon Prime

Now to be fair, you can pay for Amazon Prime in Ireland. You just can’t use it. You can get free one-day shipping if you live 90 minutes north of us in the UK…but a good chunk of the stuff they sell, they won’t even ship to Ireland…let alone for free.

Thankfully about a year ago I discovered and getting books has gotten much more convenient.

But, it still isn’t the Ithaca Library Book sale.

So, that’s my list. What did I miss?