27 October Wednesday
Bees are still coming into the house on sunny afternoons. They come in and they often spend the night, but they are no longer buzzing around noisily in the afternoons. They walk. The bees walk or else they stand around in one place for a long time. They can stand in one spot for more than an hour. Then they walk to another place. There is not much flying. I think they are preparing for winter sleep. They are a lot easier to catch.
12 November Friday
Our compost heap is always evolving. It was once a disheveled pile of vegetables scraps and leaves. Now the heap is less of a heap. It is inside a wooden box with a lid on hinges. This is the latest manifestation. At some point, this will rot and the pieces of old pallet wood will fall apart and then the compost heap will be slightly different or a lot different. Again.
I have never found a rat in the compost. I have never even seen a rat in the compost, but I am always aware that there might be a rat in the compost, so I am always on guard. I used to talk to myself out loud whenever I went near to the compost heap with the idea that just hearing my voice would make a rat take cover. Rats are bold and brave. I doubt that my voice would frighten or disturb them. For nearly three years we have had the compost contained in this wooden box. Before I open the lid of the box, I knock on the top. I also keep a heavy stick nearby. The stick is not a weapon. I use the stick to make a few loud thumps on the wood. The stick makes a louder noise than my knuckles can make. I do not want to open the box and to have a rat jump out at me. Nor do I want to find a rat just looking at me without bothering to move. If a rodent is present and active inside I want it to run away so that I do not have to.
14 November Sunday
It is a very small shop. The sign requests that only two people be inside at the same time. I could see one masked man talking to Seamus at the counter. After waiting outside a few moments, I decided that there was no one else in there so I walked in the open door. The two men turned to me immediately. Seamus asked if I knew about Flax. I said that I did know about Flax and that I ate milled flax most mornings. Then he said: Walnuts. Do you eat Walnuts? I said Yes, I eat Walnuts. I love Walnuts. They are delicious and good for me too. He asked if I ate porridge. When I answered yes to that too, he turned to the masked man and said, “She is way ahead of us. She is doing everything right. We need to up our game.”
15 November Monday
Our well has been fixed and disinfected with an elaborate system that takes the water through a filter and then through an ultraviolet light and then through a salt water tank that also functions as a water softener. The complete apparatus is installed on the back wall of the shed, near to the pump, with a small tube emptying some of the salty water outside. It all looks very scientific. I go out to look at it several times every day. We should have done this years ago. The man who did the installation was named Gearoid. For me, Irish names are difficult to say and even more difficult to spell. His son, Aaron worked with him. Aaron made dozens of trips to and from the van to bring in the tools and to carry things away again. Each time Gearoid asked for something he used Aaron’s name in the request and each time Aaron did the job his father thanked him and used his name again. Gearoid would say, “Now Aaron I’d be hoping you could go out and into the van and find the drill with the long extension that we will need to make a hole through this stone wall. When you find the drill, Aaron, I would be hoping that you could bring it to me here now, Aaron. I hope you could do that for me please Aaron.” It was a very formal and quiet working relationship. On completion, Gearoid promised us that our water would be very different from now on. He was right. We now use less soap while bathing or doing laundry or washing dishes. The water tastes different. The tea tastes different and we use fewer tea leaves to make a good strong cup. We marvel and discuss the taste of the water endlessly. We have been buying bottled water to drink for years and have used the Brita filter for tea and coffee water. Now the water from the tap is delicious and it is no longer full of lime or bacteria. No more endless huge jugs of water to buy and lug in from the supermarket and no more plastic bottles to recycle. We should have done this years ago.
17 November Wednesday
Our friend Jim is in the hospital. First he was in Waterford, then he was moved to Clonmel and then he was returned to Waterford and now he is back in Clonmel again. It has been about eight weeks that he has been bouncing back and forth. Sometimes he has been in isolation due to hospital infections. He is old and in a fragile state. When I spoke to him on the telephone his voice was weak. He told me that the physical therapists are now building the strength in his legs so that he can walk again. He is not able to walk by himself yet but he is optimistic that he will improve. The hospital wants him to be able to walk with a frame before they will allow him to leave. Jim tells me that he may get some of the use back in his legs but he fears that he will never go home. One daughter has been named as the single visitor to go into the hospital. Because of Covid, other family and friends are not allowed to visit and because they never know exactly where Jim is, they send get-well cards and messages to his home address, with the understanding that Jim’s daughter will deliver the cards to him in whichever hospital he is in. Today we learned that the daughter has not delivered any of the cards to him. Not one. He has not received a single card nor note wishing him well. The daughter is saving all the cards in large box so that Jim can look at them when he comes home.
18 November Thursday
Jacinta asked me if I thought the new cleanser made the house smell pendy. I asked her what she meant by pendy. She said pendy was the smell of things being a bit musty or a bit damp and old smelling. I said that I did not much like the smell of her cleanser, but I would not call it’s odour pendy.
21 November Sunday
It has been an unseasonably mild autumn. The nights are cold but most days have been bright and sunny. 0n the 26th of October, Joe told me that his cows only had another six days to be eating grass out in the fields. He said the grass was not growing so it was time to bring them inside and under cover for the winter. Today is the 21st of November and the cows have been out every day since that conversation. They did not know they only had six remaining days of freedom so they do not know how lucky they are.