The Things We Want To Have

19 July Tuesday

The high temperatures continue.  Half the county is paralyzed by the heat. The other half rushed down to the sea.  They came home disgusted. The coast is completely fogged in and it is not warm.  It is chilly.  In the village, boys are jumping off the hump-back bridge and into the river.  After they come out of the water, they hobble over the rough field and onto the dirt path. They climb over the wall and out onto the road and up the hill that is the bridge to cheer on the next boys and then to do it themselves again. There might be girls down below but there are no girls on the bridge. I do not know if the water is deep enough to be jumped into from that height.  The current is fast. There are a lot of big rocks.  People often drown in this river but usually they drown at night and in winter and mostly after taking drink. Now it is as much summer as it ever is.  The boys are hopping up and down on the hot tar with their bare feet.  They are waiting for their turn.

18 July Monday

Silence hangs over the land.  I can hear tractors in a far field, but just barely.  Even from this distance, there is a sort of rushing intensity about the sound because there is the need to get the hay in. To get the silage in. To get the grass cut. Or the barley. Or the corn.  Sunshine brings imperatives.  Being a far off muttering of machinery, the sense of imperative is not my imperative. I scarcely hear these sounds unless I really really focus my attention in that direction. Everything close by is quiet and motionless. There is no reason for me to seek out noise and activity elsewhere, but I like to know that it is there.  There are few birds making any sounds at all.  Bees and flies are barely audible. The heat has silenced everything.

17 July Sunday

The dead bird is gone.  I saw him yesterday from inside the barn.  The long window is waist height for me, but it is on even level with the ground outside.  I was inside and the bird was just outside. We were very close to each other with just the glass between us. I was certain he was dead and not simply stunned from crashing into the glass. He had flies all over him.  He was lying face down so I could not tell what sort of bird he was.  This morning he was gone.  There were no feathers or boney bits to be seen.  Maybe he was indeed only knocked out and he recovered and flew away.  Maybe he was eaten.  I do not think foxes eat things that are already dead. They prefer to make the kill themselves.  Maybe it was a sparrowhawk.

16 July Saturday

This might be the best ever year for figs.  The branches are heavy with them.  If the heat continues I think there will be loads.  I check them every day because I know the birds are checking too.

15 July Friday

They say that the recession is over and that employment is picking up all over the country.  John told me that the truth is a different story. He told me that he does not need a bulletin off the radio to tell him how things are.  His voice while he spoke was loud as he got angrier with the telling. He told me that Gerry had a robbery in his workshop last week.  He said the only thing stolen from the workshop was some lengths of copper pipe.  John said copper is easy to resell.  He said that copper gets a good price.  A lot of Gerry’s tools were lying around but none of his tools were stolen. One of the drills was new and another nail gun kind of a thing was not only new but it was German.  John assured me that it was a good brand.  John said it had been Savage Dear to buy. He said he knew that For A Fact.  The tools were not stolen and John said that that tells him more about the lay of the land than any words the politicians are telling.  He said that no one is stealing tools because no one is buying tools.  No one is buying tools because there is no work.  He told me that if there is no work there is no need for tools.  He told me these were the facts. He told me not to waste my own time listening to any news off the radio or on the paper.

14 July Thursday

Two small boys were in the shop. They were together in the little toy section which is behind the vegetable section.  They were examining the bags of plastic farm animals and the fencing and the various tractors on display. They were looking at all the things that they see in their lives everyday.  In the toy section of the shop everything is the same as it is out of doors but it is all on a smaller scale.  One boy said: Here we have all the things we want to have.


The recipe for the elderflower cordial, as requested

20 June Monday. The Longest Day. Full Moon. Lashing Rain.

ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL

20 large elderflower blossoms

(Best gathered in the sunshine, as if they are collected on an overcast day, your cordial may taste like cat pee.  I have never checked to see if this is true but I am not willing to take the chance.)

4 lb. (1.8 kg) sugar

2 ¾ oz. (75g) citric acid

2 lemons

Put the flowers into a large bowl (remove all leaves first)

In a saucepan, bring the sugar and 2 pints (a generous litre) of water to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the liquid over the flowers and stir in the citric acid.   Add grated zest of lemons, then slice the lemons and add them to the bowl too.

Cover and leave for 24 hours.

Strain through double muslin.

Pour into sterilized bottles and make a label.

Store in a cool dark place.

Makes about 1 1/2 litres or 2 ½ pints.

Serve a small amount of the cordial with sparkling or still water, with or without or ice.

18 June Saturday

I love to look into the eyes of dogs.  My preferred way to look into the eyes of a dog is to lie down on the floor.  Some dogs are uncomfortable with a human lying beside them.  Even if I am not touching them, some dogs do not feel happy. Some dogs get up, walk away and throw themselves back down onto the ground at a little distance.  Some dogs stay right where they are and they look right back into my eyes.  If the grass is wet or the area muddy I do not lie down with a dog.  In a house that is not my own, I try to pay attention to whose house it is and if it might seem rude to lie down with their dog. It is more often than not a bad idea.  I do like looking at another person’s home from down on the floor, looking up and seeing their world as I think their dog might see it.

17 June Friday

Joe’s cows eat the grass in the field but no matter how flattened it all is by their tearing, they always leave some tufts and thistles and things.  When they walk off the field to go for milking or just off to a different field, the crows come swarming in looking for worms  and other things that they might want to eat. I think the crows have easier access to these things because the grass is low. All of the recent rain can only make it easier to find the things they seek too.


Not oats.

15 June Wednesday

Rain. Hail. Thunder. Sun. Rain. Hail. Thunder. Sun. The weather is completely exciting.  We just do not know what will happen next. The order changes but it all keeps happening.

14 June Tuesday

There is a strange sort of kindness built into life here.  People seem eager to tell you the thing that you want to hear.  They will tell you that you can get a bus connection even if it is not true and if in fact the very bus you want will be leaving three minutes before your own bus arrives. Maybe they tell you this  because they do not want to disappoint you.  There is no thought that you will be disappointed later on when you understand that you missed a bus which you were never going to catch anyway.

Simon went into town early this morning.  He went into town to do a few errands.  He likes to eat breakfast out so he left even earlier than he needed to. The girl in the restaurant gave him a coffee and took his order.  He feared that because he was the first customer of the day he might have a long wait. He did have a long wait. It took twenty minutes for the cook to come out of the kitchen and serve him a big bowl of porridge that was dark and thick and had strawberries stirred into it. He began to eat and realized that what was in the bowl was not porridge.  It was not oats. What he was eating was a kind of bread flour stirred up and served as if it were porridge.  Perhaps the strawberries were added to distract him.  He called the girl over and explained that he had been given a bowl of partially cooked brown bread flour mixed with water and berries. She went into the kitchen and returned saying that the cook had no oatmeal yet as he was waiting for a delivery.  She said that the cook did not want to be the one to disappoint so he made the bread mix hoping that Simon might not notice that it was not oats. She offered something else to replace the lack of porridge. Simon asked for a croissant so she brought him two croissants.  Then she returned to his table with a huge handful of small change.  She apologized and said he must be refunded for his lack of porridge.

13 June Monday

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12 June Sunday

I picked my elderflowers on Wednesday evening in bright sun. It felt a bit early but I wanted sunshine for the picking and we are promised a continuation of rain and overcast weather in the coming week. There were thousands of the creamy flowers to be seen in every direction but it was not easy to find many that were low enough to pick from the ground.  I did a lot of struggling through nettles but finally got my forty or fifty blossoms.  I was aiming for forty but I lost count and I always think that more is better than too few. I made the cordial.  It is a light brew. I am wondering if it will get stronger and maybe a little darker as it ages.  Today I put my labels onto the twelve bottles. The label with my same drawing changes a bit every year.  I am not sure how much I like this label. It is so good it nearly looks like a commercial production.

11 June Saturday

The two narrow strips where the tyres travel are indeed nicely tarred and patched but the grass down the middle of the boreen is growing like mad.  It is the combination of so much rain followed by hot sun.  The grass scrapes the bottom of the car when we drive up or down.  It is much too wet to mow. If the grass gets much longer we can hope that maybe it will weigh itself down and lie flat.


a Relic

10 June Friday

We woke to the sound of rain.  It is at least three weeks since we have had any rain at all.  Maybe it has even been longer.  To live in this hot summery world has been wonderful but in the last week there has been increased grumblings about the need for rain. Now that we have rain, new complaints will start.  There will be a lamenting that our summer is over already and really it was not nearly long enough.  Meanwhile it is lovely to watch the world turning greener by the minute. Heavy rain on the roof is a good sound.

9 June Thursday

I drove into Cahir and saw bright orange cones all along by the church and the playing field. There were about six men in reflective vests directing  a very few cars. No one was allowed to park on either side of the road for quite a distance.  On my way back out of town a man in a reflective vest directed me in to the second left.  I asked why and he shouted The Relic!  A little farther along another man in a reflective vest stopped me.  I asked what was going on.  He was very excited.  He stood very near to my open window and he shouted “We have A Relic of Saint Anthony of Padua here and we have it here all afternoon!  We have it here until 9.30 tonight!”

8 June Wednesday

The milk trucks are too big for the road.  It does not matter if the milk truck is a DairyGold truck or a Glanbia truck. They charge right down the middle of the road and the middle of the road is the whole road. There is no where to go to get out of their way when they are racing towards you. Even when I am on foot they seem to leave no space. To meet them in a car is terrifying.  Now the roads are full of more big things. Every turn is a confrontation with a tractor pulling some enormous machinery sticking out both behind it and above it.  Sometimes the tractors slow down because they are so high they can see over the ditch and they can tell if a car is coming but most times they just bomb along. Silage, haying, and any kind of harvesting activity that needs doing while the sun is shining is being done right now and it is all being done at top speed.  It is a good time to stay home.

 

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7 June Tuesday

John the Post arrived early.  He jumped out of his van in great excitement about the freshly repaired boreen.  He was so happy with the filling in of all of the terrible holes and gashes that he could not say enough.  He already knew who had done the work. The man who had done the work was known to him.  He said we had found the exact right man for the job. We could not possibly have had anyone better unless we had had that same man’s father-in-law who had taught him every single thing he knew about tarmacadam.  John was also thrilled with yesterday’s cutting back of all the drooping cow parsley. The cow parsley and all of the nettles and tall things growing with it had been making the track narrower and narrower almost by the hour. He said he would happily drive up and down our boreen all day long.

6 June Monday

Andrzej was explaining some of the surgery his sister has been going through.  She had a tumour in one part of her head or neck which had grown quietly inside her ever since she was a child and the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded.  Almost everyone in their part of Poland had been affected as children but only now are the problems manifesting. It took this long for the tumour to grow and become something which anyone could find and identify.  Andrzej was trying to explain the situation of his sister’s neck and her surgery but because his English is not great he often has to resort to peculiar uses of language.  Today he spoke of the doctor who is going to fix The Yoke in the neck of his sister. Yoke is a catch-all kind of word.  It is a word which is used to name something or anything instead of using its proper name.  Yoke is interchangeable with Thing. Yoke is a thoroughly Irish bit of slang. It was fine to hear it coming from Andrzej with his strong Polish accent because I am sure that even if he had known the correct word for the part that was being fixed in his sisters neck we would not have known what it was anyway.  We would not have known the word in English nor in Polish.  It was just fine for him to call it a Yoke and for us to think of it as a Yoke.

5 June Sunday

Yesterday TJ installed a hand rail on the side of the barn. We were not allowed to touch it while the paint was wet. Today I have been up and down dozens of times simply enjoying the fact that it is there.

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4 June Saturday

TJ the blacksmith spoke about the apple tarts that his mother made.  There were a lot of children to feed so his mother never made a tart with a top crust. Instead she made her apple tart on a large rectangular baking sheet.  There was a crust on the bottom with sliced apples and sugar and butter spread over the top.  When the children saw that their mother was preparing a tart they tried hard to be helpful by setting the table or doing some small job that she would notice.  They were eagerly competing to be one of the four chosen to receive a corner piece.  The corners were the best and sweetest pieces. The children were convinced that the sugar oozed down into the corners. Unless the baking tray was quite misshapen I do not think that the corners would have more sugar in them than any other portion of the tart, but TJ was so happy remembering the sweet corners that I said nothing. Or perhaps his mother piled extra sugar in the corners just to maintain the excitement.

3 June Friday

Sewing books in the barn on a hot day is tricky.  I need to leave the door open for air but the birds are swooping and dashing around especially the swallows who are nesting in the roof.  They consider the entire area of the barn their own world both inside and out. Once they fly in it is hard to get them out again. It is hard to get them out and they poop on everything in their rush and panic to find an exit which is not glass. Sometimes they knock themselves out flying into the windows. At least then it is easy to pick them up and take them back outdoors. In the past three days I have had three swallows, a starling and a wren in the barn.  Two knocked themselves unconscious and two I captured in a colander. One found the door and flew out by herself.


When the animals bar my way

2 June Thursday

When the animals bar my way, I turn off the engine and wait.  If I am not in a car but I am walking I hop up on a gate to be out of the way. It is silly to get impatient. Today there was a great waving of arms by the farmer on the road. I was driving so I pulled off a bit to the side and waited. The farmer had a huge smile on his face.  Within minutes I understood his amusement. It was not just the sunny day.  A crowd of very young calves were rushing behind him.  There were about thirty of them. They were sort of high stepping in their eagerness.  One of them would turn its head to look behind him and very soon he had changed direction.  His body had unexpectedly followed his head and he was crashing and bumping into the other calves.  Because one changed direction another one would change direction too. They were all stumbling and bouncing off one another.  It was a thrilling time for them to be themselves. They did not know where they were going and it was obvious that it was the first time they had gone anywhere in a group. They had very thin legs and they were wobbly. As always with very young heifers it is difficult to use the word herd.  Herd suggests a kind of group sense and a comprehension of group movement.  This was just chaotic bumbling exhilaration while running along.  The farmer’s wife came up in the rear flapping her arms up and down and smiling with the same big smile on her face. It was impossible not to smile. The thrill of this small movement from one field to another field in the sunshine was infectious.

1 June Wednesday

Paudie’s brother died four years ago. He remembers the date exactly but he told me that he himself does not actually need to remember the date. He knows that the anniversary of his brother’s death will be marked by his parents in the same way each year. The Mother will be wearing one of The Brother’s hoodies all day. The Father will walk the dog while wearing The Brother’s favorite track suit. No one will say a word about the clothes being worn. Just seeing them will be enough.

Paudie says that the second year was the worst because that was when they lost telephone contact with The Brother. Up until then they had his same phone number and they rang whenever there was something to tell. They reported births and deaths and marriages and new jobs and funny stories and christenings and just any old thing that they knew The Brother would want to know. Everyone in the family rang him. They rang and they heard The Brother’s voice telling them to leave a message so they always left him a message.  His parents and his cousins and his Nana as well as Paudie himself and The Young Fella.  Even some of The Brother’s friends called to let him know when there was to be a big party or when someone had passed their driving test. Everyone left a message. No one wrote a text.

It was a shock on the day when The Mother rang with some bit of something to tell and to leave on the answer phone and she was informed by a recording that the number was no longer in service.  It took them a while to get through to each other and then to the phone people who said that the money in the mobile phone had run out and there was a limit to how long a telephone could still be considered active if it was not active.  The Mother wept and explained that it was indeed active.  She explained that they spoke with The Brother every day or almost every day and she asked how could they take his voice away.  Well, they did and it was too late to connect that same number again and so they lost the voice of The Brother and Paudie said that was the hardest thing after having already lost him once.

31 May Tuesday

Tommie was told to drink more water.  He was told that he needs to hydrate himself.  He needs to hydrate himself on a regular basis but especially now that the days are warm and the sun is high.  Tommie was told that hot sweet milky tea is good but it is not the same as water.  He was told to drink water.  He complained about this to everyone he met. He asked me if I drank water myself.  He said he was too old to start drinking water. He said Why would anyone drink water? It Carries no Flavour.

30 May Monday

The heat continues. No one can believe it.  It goes on and and and it does not rain and everyone is happy although now they are starting to worry for the crops and if it might be getting too hot.  We cannot walk up the Mass Path because it is so overgrown with the cow parsley and other stuff and the only way to walk through all of that is to wear long trousers and long sleeves and since it is too hot for that much clothing we have to do our walking elsewhere.  We decided to meet and go up along the waterfall and then cross the river and cut back on the ridge, over the side of the mountain and then drop down the fields. It was a large loop and maybe a bit hot and exposed for the time of day. Breda had sort of invented this walk and she was eager to do it again.  This would be her fourth time and each time she was refining and varying the route a little bit.  I had done it with her the other day when it was equally hot so I knew I was foolish to do it again in the sun.

Before we set off we saw Michael Kennedy.  Breda called out to him Hello Michael to get his attention because when we had been out the other day we wanted to ask him about the nearby Holy Well.  He came over and I saw that it was not Michael Kennedy but Breda kept talking to him and using his name and he kept answering.  I was sure it was Jimmy Dunne but I could not say anything because I felt like I would be interrupting.  He went down the narrow path with the four of us.  He showed us that there were actually three wells in that place and he said that they were all considered Holy. He said that all the local babies had been dipped into that water no matter how cold it was nor what time of year.  He told us that the small field just beside was called a chapel even though there had never been a building built on it.  It was just a gathering place for any mass held at the holy well so the field got called The Chapel. We walked back to the starting place with the man who was not Michael.  Then we saw Michael himself walk down from his farmyard and Breda recognized her mistake. It was not Michael she had been talking to but his brother Jimmy.  It was not Jimmy Dunne but Jimmy Kennedy.  Jimmy did not mind being mistaken for Michael.  He did not mind being called Michael.  He had simply answered her questions the best he could.

29 May Sunday

I was sitting outside with a book and a cup of tea. It is too warm to do much except to enjoy this weather.  I looked up from the page and saw the fox standing a few feet from my chair. It was the young fox, the one with the bright red shiny coat.  He looked at me and I looked at him.  Neither of us moved. If I had stretched out my leg I could have touched him with my foot.   I went back to my book.  He sat down for a few minutes and then he got up and quietly continued off down the field.

28 May Saturday

David the Egg Man made a visit to the market today.  Everyone was happy to see him. It is maybe two months since he gave up the market.  As always, his leather shoes were well polished.  His eyes were bright. He did not look like someone who had just come out of hospital. He did not look like someone who was almost 85 and just out of hospital.  He explained to each person who greeted him that he had found homes for all of the Laying Hens and he had only kept eight back for himself.  He was wondering if he had been a bit hasty as the eight he had kept did not even lay enough eggs for his own use.  Both of his sons stopped in nearly every day still expecting to find eggs to take home for their families.  Neither of them had adjusted to buying eggs in a shop.


Visiting Dogs

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27 May Friday

Cow parsley is everywhere.  It is the time of year when every road and field is lined with it. Everything everywhere has frothy soft edges.  I struggled up the path through much too much of it. I am too short for the cow parsley.  It has grown up high.  It has grown up over my head. The only way I could keep going was to hold my arms up in front of my face.  My elbows were at chin level and my fingers were pointing straight up.  I was looking out through a narrow slit between my forearms which was just enough for me to see what was ahead but not wide enough to allow any of the blossoms and stems to slap me in the face.

26 May Thursday

Greg’s rubbery wet suit hung on a curtain rail suspended by two ropes from a tree in the rain.  It was flesh colored because it was turned inside out. The flesh color made it look exposed and very naked. It was sort of a surprise but not really a surprise.  Wet suits are everywhere on this island now.  Everyone can swim in the freezing cold sea or they can go kite surfing all year long because having a wet suit makes it possible. Not long ago it was unusual to see a wet suit anywhere at all.  Today wet suits are sold in supermarkets, which is the most surprising thing.

25 May Wednesday

I had a plastic container full of dog treats. It was labeled Visiting Dogs with thick black marker on brown paper tape.  It had all sorts of things in it.  Some were things that Em never liked and some were things she was unable to eat in her last months. There were sections of pig’s ears and rawhide chews and little straw-like things.  I kept the box around for a long time and whenever I remembered I would offer a treat to a Visiting Dog.   It took me forever to use up this mish-mosh of odd things because I usually just went directly to the big box of biscuits. I kept forgetting the plastic container. After a while I dumped the odd things in with the biscuits and that way whatever I pulled out for a dog is what he or she got offered. I removed the piece of brown tape from the empty container and stuck it up on a shelf.  The tape itself was not a reminder of Em. It was a reminder of life after Em. Now the tape is peeling off.  It is dry and the words Visiting Dogs are less and less visible as it curls up. The tape is peeling off the shelf and soon it will just drop.  I could pull it off and throw it away.  I should pull it off and throw it away.

24 May Tuesday

Arriving back from away is always new. The arrival itself and the place itself are completely familiar. The familiarity is both comforting and comfortable. Things are always changing. Things are the same but they are never exactly the same. We got home late afternoon. Simon kept repeating: It is so quiet here. It is so quiet here. It is so quiet here. I though it a bit noisy myself as tractors were racing back and forth up in Joe’s fields getting silage in and some cows were bellowing in another field and the birds, well, the birds were making a racket. But he is right.  It is quiet here.


Dusty Cards

 

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17 May Tuesday

Tommie described the new car which Jack had bought. He was impressed and excited about the car.  He was as excited as if the car was his own car. He said it was a great bargain. It said it was old, but it was perfect. He explained its level of perfection by saying that it was A Woman’s Car before Jack got it.

16 May Monday

Nine Egg Morning.  Eggs have been broken open all along the path. They are pale blue.  Every day there are more. This morning is the first time I have counted while walking.  Nine eggs seems like a lot.  Some are Thrush eggs and some are Blue tits.  Or maybe they are all Blue tits or all Thrushes.  The shades of blue vary from very light almost white to bright almost aqua.  I am not any better at identifying eggs than I am at identifying birds. I am most excited if I find a really large portion of the egg shell unbroken, or broken into two tidy  parts.

15 May Sunday

Cleaning The House has taken on a new meaning. We got out an extendable mop thing which I believe is intended for washing windows but which we have never used for washing windows. This is the first time we have used it for anything.  One side of the house was completely splattered with white bird excrement.  The windows and the walls were covered with enormous white splashes. It was not just six or eight splashes.  It was more like sixty.  All of the splashes hit the wall at the same diagonal. It looked like an enormous flock was passing and the wind was blowing and they all let go at the exact same moment.  Actually the splattering splashes did not all appear at the same time. I think they built up over a week.  It just looks like it all happened at once. And since the house is painted this peculiar pinky-purple color, which would perhaps look normal at the seaside but here looks a little strange, the white splashes stood out as very loud.

14 May Saturday

I went into the shop in Cahir looking for a newspaper.  The English paper I wanted was not there.  It had not been in the other two other shops either.  Either it was already sold or it had never arrived today. I knew that meant there was not one to be found in the whole town. I stopped to look at the postcard rack on my way out.  When I rotated it a little bit to get a more complete viewing, three large folders fell down.  They were leaning up against the back of the rack. The man at the counter whom I assume is Mr. Sampson because the shop is called Sampsons and I have never seen anyone but himself in there, said that it did not matter. He said everything was always moving and falling in the shop. I chose two cards of a pony named Bridge Boy who was three times adjudged Champion Connemara Stallion.  The information on the card also told me that the Connemara Pony is the only indigenous breed of pony in the country.  He looked completely unreal against a bright blue sky which looked equally unreal. I took the two cards up to the counter and the man who might or might not be Mr. Sampson commented on how dusty they were.  He pulled out a rag and started to wipe them off but then he stopped because they were kind of sticky.  He said he was not any better at cleaning than he is at making displays and if the cards were too dusty for my taste I need not feel obligated to buy them. I told him I have no problem with dust and I purchased both cards.


The Teeth in the Shrine

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13 May Friday

Sharon was outside.  She was outside wearing a fluffy pink bathrobe. Her two small dogs were on leads.  She never lets them run free because she knows they will take a scent and be off to who knows where.  The leads were the long kind which stretch as far as the dog wants to go.  Both animals were all tangled around her legs. She commented that I must be missing Em whenever I am out walking.  She told me how she still misses dogs from her past even thought she now has these two.  She told me that she has a small shrine on the wall in the house, one for each of the canine pets she has loved.  One includes the teeth of a particular dog.  She then told me that she and her sister are fostering a rescue dog which had been abused.  They took turns having him stay with them. She said he is a small Staffie. Horrific things had been done to him.  His feet are bent up in a forward direction. As a result, he can hardly walk but hobbles about and now seems to be in less pain and he is putting on weight and the terrible burns, probably from cigarettes, are healing.  She kept telling me more and more details about the abuse. I did not want to hear it but how could I not listen and anyway she barely took a breath in the telling.  It took me quite a while to realize that she was suggesting that I might want this dog to take the place of Em. I said that I was not ready to replace Em.  I said that I really did not think I could own a Staffordshire Bull Terrier no matter how desperately it needed a home.  I did not say that a dog who cannot walk is hardly the dog for me. I had said enough to refuse her kind offer. Oscar was waiting and we rushed off up the road together. I was happy to be with a dog who could run and jump with pleasure.  I have been thinking about the teeth in the shrine ever since.

12 May Thursday

I am curious about the Unemployed Workers Party.   I am not really curious enough to look it up nor to even ask anyone about it. I mostly just wonder if when a member gets a job does he or she have to leave the party?

11 May Wednesday

Johnnie Mackin’s orchard is looking fine. The trees are full with apple and plum blossom. The ground is completely covered with the long leaves of wild garlic and the garlic flowers are all in bloom so there is a twinkling of the white star-like blossoms against the dark green.  And in between and around the edges there are masses of stitchwort.  More white flowers. It is a world of white polka dots on a green backdrop. It looks planned. Oscar wading through it all is so very big and black.  He is like a cut-out shape of dog amidst the green and white. He makes it all look greener and brighter and whiter.

10 May Tuesday

I was having a cup of coffee and reading after lunch when I heard crunching on the gravel. Then I heard tearing and snuffling.  I looked out the window and saw a young cow on the lawn. It was one of the frisky teenagers. I ran outside.  There were five more young ones with the first one. They ran when they saw me running.  Simon rushed out too.  We both shouted and waved sticks. The heifers ran around behind the barn in a tight group. Then they were stuck because behind the barn was a dead end. They clumped together and could not figure out how to escape. The stone wall, the fence and the building had them trapped. It is not easy to get cows to change direction if you are in a position behind them. I climbed the fence into the field to encourage them from the side while Simon hid behind a bush.  When they saw there was no longer anyone behind them, they rushed out from their entrapment to escape my noise and waving arms and waving stick.  Simon stopped them from running down into the meadow with his flapping arms and flapping stick.  We got them onto the boreen and chased them off in the direction of the farm.  They did not go very far before they were distracted by edible young green things around them. I got into the car and drove up the track slowly with them scurrying and bumping each other along in front of me. It was lucky for us that they were young and not too heavy. The damage to the soft wet lawn was not too bad.  It would have been much much worse if they had been full-grown adults.  My coffee was cold by the time I got back.

9 May Monday

I drove down to the village just before noon.  Cars were parked everywhere.  Even as I crossed the bridge I could tell it was a funeral. Funerals are always held at eleven am.  This funeral had just finished.  Some people were disappearing around the corner on foot as they followed the hearse down the road to the graveyard.  I could not park. I could not stop because there was no where to stop without being in the way of  someone. The bread man had arrived to deliver bread to the shop. He parked in the only available spot which was directly in front of the church and which the hearse had just vacated. He was trying to unload his bread. There were people standing everywhere talking to one another. They were on the pavements and in the middle of the road. The day was warm and everyone was happy to be out and seeing one another for some conversation. No one looked sad.  Some cars were trying to pull out and some were trying to turn around. I could barely get through the cars and the people. I would not have driven to the village if I had known there was a funeral but I did not know there was a funeral, and I did not know the woman who had died even after I was told her name and where she lived.

8 May Sunday

Last week I went to Bob Fitzgerald’s.  It was just after nine o’clock. The outside shutters were still down. The door of the shop was open but there were no wheelbarrows or ladders or sacks of grass seed out on the pavement.  I was not sure if they were ready for business.  It was dark inside but the shop was full of tradesmen getting stuff for the day’s work.  There was a feeling of imperative and rushing in the place. That is why there was so little light.  Everyone was too busy to finish opening the shop.  They were too busy to open the shutters and they were too busy to turn on the lights.  I bought myself a pair of knee pads in the gloom. The knee pads are made of some heavy foam.  They are made for roofers and people who do jobs on their knees.  I felt very pleased with myself.  I wore my new knee pads around the house all day yesterday. The pads attached around the back of my legs with elastic straps and velcro. It rained all day so I did not even consider working outside for one minute but I wore the new knee pads just because I was so proud to own them. I only took them off when I went for a walk at the end of the afternoon.  I could not pull my waterproof trousers on over the new knee pads.

Today I strapped on the new knee pads and I went outside.  The morning was bright and sunny but that did not last. The rest of the day was overcast and balmy.  Even though it was grey, it was warm and after yesterday’s non-stop downpour, I can call today a fine day.  I worked away at this and that.  Clearing the scutch grass and the creeping buttercup from beds and edges is a thankless and never-ending job.  My new knee pads were a disaster.  They just kept slipping down my legs each time I walked.  I decided that they must be made for grown men.  I decided they must be made for grown men with thick legs.  I wondered about how to fix them. I wondered if perhaps I could make the elastic shorter.  I wondered if they were slipping down because my trousers were sort of slipping down.  I  wondered if I should just put the knee pads into the shed and pretend I never I bought them.  I adjusted them every so often and then they were great but they always slipped away again. I was disappointed and I was very very quiet about them. I had been so happy anticipating how good they were going to be.

Late afternoon, I went indoors to make a cup of tea.  I waited for the kettle to boil and I looked down.  I realized that I had been wearing the knee pads upside down, all day yesterday and all day today. I turned them around, re-attached the velcro and suddenly I had the knee pads I had been dreaming of.  I went back outside for a few more hours just to enjoy how well they worked.

7 May Saturday

The Emigrants Rest is painted in large letters on the the side of the building. The building is not attached to any other buildings and it is on a corner which forces a turn in the road.  The Emigrant’s Rest is the name of a bar.   The sign is visible while driving into town. If one is driving out of town on the same road the painted sign over the door on the front of the bar is Bernie Mac’s.  If a person is looking for Bernie Mac’s on the way into town that person will never find the place. If a person is driving out of town and looking for The Emigrants Rest that too will not be found. It is as if two different places exist in the same building. I cannot help but wonder if some of the customers go for a night out at Bernie Mac’s while others go to The Emigrants Rest.


Walking and Working

 

 

photo 1

We have been lucky to have had yet another Urban Hibernation. We have loved walking and working from this starting point. We have loved walking and working from the quiet and private sanctuary out and into the city, and then coming back in again.  I hate using the word bustling but cities do bustle.  There is so much activity which just goes on all the time and variations of activity which gets busier and quieter at different times of the day and night. It is good to know that it is all happening but I do not need to know all about all of it.  Or I do not need to know about any of it.  Just by looking out the window of the apartment, I can see the butcher shop across the street starting its set-up at 6 in the morning. It continues to do that, even while I am far from there.  I am absolutely nothing to do with their actions. We have left the city but the city does not note our absence. Very little happens here. From these windows there is not much action.  Yesterday Joe’s tractor crossed the near field bringing up the cows.  For a few minutes, I heard the engine and  I thought I was hearing the post man’s van. But it was Saturday and the post man does not even deliver on a Saturday. Here in Tipperary, we continue our Walking and Working. Otherwise not one single thing is the same.

EVH


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