Rain. More rain.

14 December Monday

Rain. More rain.  Rain all night.  Rain running down the wall in the bathroom again.  Water is rushing down the the boreen like a stream. Wind. Rain. It is desperate, this rain day after day.  The fields which have become lakes get bigger and bigger. The greyness never lifts.  There is barely any reason to get out of bed.  But I am out of bed and there are endless things to do.  All of them are connected to rain.

13 December Sunday

We walked in the mountains.  It was soggy underfoot but we were ready for the wet.  We were fully expecting rain but we went anyway.  And instead it was  wonderful to be out for a few hours without being rained upon. In some places, there were torrents of water running down off the tops.  The streams we crossed were full and fast moving. Breda has named this walk The Cottage Walk as we begin and end near an old cottage.  She likes giving each walk and each place a name. Anyone who walks with her is quick to take up the use of the name so that we all know exactly where we are talking about.  We used to go in the same vicinity for The Mass Rock Walk, but now we are hooked on The Cottage Walk.  Even though we start this walk quite high up, there is still a good climb in it and as usual we did not see a single human.  Even the sheep were absent today.

12 December Saturday

We walked up the path, around and back down the boreen. We wore rubber boots as the bottom was flooded again. The little bridge made of a wooden pallet has been swept away by the rushing water. There has been astonishing force in the rushing water from the not very large stream overflowing.  The water was deep.  We walked very very slowly through the water so that it did not spill into our boots.  Moving in our boots was a sideways movement rather than an up and down movement. The mass path was full of mud.  Everything was slippery. Many things have died back but the ivy and the ferns and the Hart’s Tongue are rampant and lush.  I have never seen so much Hart’s Tongue.  I like it as a name and I like it as a plant and I like that it is taking over the path this year.

11 December Friday

On Friday nights bread is delivered to the bar.  Usually the two women who make it and deliver it arrive at about 5.  Tonight it was nearly 5.30 before several of the regular customers started to ask one another where the bread was and if it was coming tonight.  Finally somebody said that they thought that Carmel had a new job and that she did not get out of work until 6 so tonight the bread would arrive sometime after 6 o’clock.  This news made all the bread buyers relax and most of them opted for another drink as they waited.  Once the bread arrived, there was a feeling of calm in the bar.  One man left right away as soon as he received his loaf.  Otherwise the big dark loaves of soda bread wrapped in cling film sat on tables and on the counter right beside pint glasses. Each person seems to keep their loaf near.

10 December Thursday

Oscar walked home with me as usual. He flushed seven pheasants just near the entrance to Scully’s wood. It was not a proper flushing. I think that would imply intent.  Oscar did not really know what he was doing.  He just walked close to where the pheasants were and they all fled. The woody clattering sound as they rushed up and into the air en masse startled us both. They were such a crowd.  They made such a racket as they lifted.  Oscar did not know where to go or what to do.  He stared at the place they had come out of and then dashed into the undergrowth as if perhaps there were more in there.

9 December Wednesday

I am certain it would be different to live in a house where we did not hear the rain.  We could live in a house which was well sound-proofed from above and we would not be aware of this endless beating down of rain. In most of the house the sound of the rain only comes in through an open window but in the big room, the sound is present all day.  When it rains all day long the rain is in our ears all day long. To go outside means the rain is on us and all around us but somehow it is quieter than being indoors with this desperate noise.

8 December Tuesday

I walked into the hardware bit of the shop and asked Kieran a question. The fellow wearing a wooly hat much like Kieran’s wooly hat looked up at me said “I am Kieran but I fear I am not the Kieran you are looking for.” He was right.  He was the wrong Kieran.  He was only a customer like myself and his name happened to be Kieran. It took a while to get anything done while down there  today. The things I needed to buy were behind some plastic coal bunkers and some signs and a bunch of leaning Christmas trees.  There was a lot of lifting and moving around of things before anything could be reached and moved and carried into the back of my motor.  One of John’s daughters was behind the till. I think she is only 12 or maybe 11.  I asked why she was not in school today.  She said there was no school because there was some kind of religious thing going on. Outside there were a lot of cars arriving and turning and parking in lumbering kinds of ways.  None of the movements was fluid nor easy. Any vehicles passing up or down the road had to wait.  People were going in and out of the church. Most of them seemed to be elderly. I could not tell if they were settling in for a Mass or if they were just popping in and popping out. As I was leaving someone told me that today was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I do not try to keep up with church activities but I was surprised to learn that this one was important enough for the schools to be closed for the day.

7 December Monday

More rain. More wind. More reports of disaster in all directions. The lakes around the village are getting bigger.  The lakes around the village look normal.  They look like they have always been there. The swans swimming around in the lakes look like they have always been there too.  Nothing is as it should be.  The day is mild and strange.  Roses are blooming. The blackcurrant bushes are sprouting buds.  Trees which should have lost all of their leaves by now are still covered with leaves. The grass is growing.  There are lots of flying and biting insects. December is rarely a month for insects.  The weather is the only topic of conversation.


Source: Rain. More rain.

Firelighters

6 December Sunday

Thursday was a terrible day and then Friday was fine.  The world was very squelchy underfoot but it was clear and even sunny for a while.  Friday night the winds started up again. Saturday was terrible.  The wind was fierce and the rain lashed and beat down for a straight 36 hours.  We were promised a months worth of rain in that 36 hours.  All of the places that were badly flooded on Thursday are now even more flooded. Flooded fields have joined with other flooded fields and the new lakes are enormous.  The landscape looks like it belongs somewhere else. We did not lose our power but a lot of people did.  After having the loud noise of wind in our ears all day and all night, today’s silence over the land is spooky.

4 December Friday

The woman ahead of me in the shop was old.  She was old and she was distressed.  The woman wanted to buy some firelighters.  She wanted to buy firelighters and she wanted to buy the kind of firelighters that are individually wrapped in paper.  She knew that they were a bit more expensive but she did not mind.  She explained that if she bought the unwrapped kind, she was then required to break off a piece from the big slab of firelighters and she always ended up dropping bits onto the floor while breaking off a piece that was too large.  If she broke off a piece that was too large, she then had to break it again. Her hands were swollen and stiff with arthritis. There was a good chance that she would end up with two pieces which were both too small rather than one the right size and one small one.  She wanted to buy the wrapped firelighters because with those she was able to start her fire without needing to go and wash her hands after touching the smelly firelighters.  She hated how the smell lingered on her hands for hours even after the washing.  She wanted to buy the wrapped firelighters and there was only one box on the shelf which had wrapped firelighters in it.  The box had been opened and some of the contents had been taken out.  The girl at the till offered to count what was left in the opened box and to then charge the woman only for the number remaining in the box.  The woman was frustrated with the effort of explaining and frustrated with the opened box. She became querulous. She was prepared to buy a box of wrapped firelighters which she needed and wanted.  She did not want to buy a partially full box of firelighters as then she would need to come back soon and buy another box.  She felt like she was being tricked and this made her angry.  I felt sorry for the woman.  I felt sorry for the girl behind the counter.  I left before the issue was resolved and now I find myself worrying about it.

3 December Thursday

The rain is lashing down.  It has been raining all night. The rain has pounded down without even a small break.  This rain is a steady beating rain.  There is no wind and there is no changing of direction.  It just rains, hard and without cease. There is a leak in the bathroom where we need to fix the flashing on the roof.  We have known about the need for this repair since last winter.  We have known about the need for this repair since the last installment of relentless rain. This is not the weather for climbing up on a roof to do it but it is certainly the weather for being reminded that it needs doing.

I drove to the village.  There are huge flooded sections of road everywhere. The grass that grows down the middle of the boreen is underwater. The river is overflowing in all directions.  There are lakes in the middle of fields. There are swans swimming in the lakes.  The entire landscape has changed. There is no place for the water to go. It is bucketing down from the sky too fast and too hard. When I returned from the shop, I thought to go for a walk just to be out in the weather rather than just continuing as a prisoner of it.  It was all so awful I kind of wanted to be outside with it.  I dressed in full waterproofs and got as far as the stream.  The stream had overflowed and there was now a large deep lake which I could not wade through.  I came back home and made a cup of tea. Probably it was a bad idea to go for a walk anyway.

2 December Wednesday

Will I put your name in the pot?  is the question, or I’ll put your name in the pot as a statement.  Both function as a way to know that one is being included and expected at the supper table.

1 December Tuesday

Yesterday Liam Harper phoned and asked for the electricity reading.  Simon was standing nearby so he went up on the step stool and shouted out the numbers to me.  I then repeated the numbers to Liam Harper. I guess I was sort of shouting because Simon was shouting so Liam shouted back to me.   He shouted thank you and then we shouted good bye.  Today he phoned back because he was worried.  He said our reading had gone up really fast in just 24 hours.  He was worried that something was wrong or why would we be going through so much power? We had no answer and neither did he so he said he would keep his eye on it.  Today Simon spoke in a normal voice so Liam did too.  There was no shouting.

30 November Monday

Non-alcoholic beer is not sold before 10.30 in the morning because regular beer is not sold before 10.30 in the morning. They both come up as beer on the till even though one is not an alcoholic drink.  It is still called beer. There is no logic in this but it is not possible to challenge it.

29 November Sunday

Fiona told me that there used to be a Pet Mass each year.  People could bring their dogs and cats and even their birds in cages into the church and the priest would say a special group blessing for the animals. It was a day when the church would be full and every single person there would have a pet with them.  She told me that the animals were always well behaved and that everyone looked forward to that particular Sunday.  She could not remember when this special Mass stopped.

28 November Saturday

Are You Feeling Alright in Yourself?  This is another way of asking How Are You?


Source: Firelighters

The Last Apples of Tullaghmeelan

27 November Friday

Today we are promised an end to this crazy balmy spring like weather.  I walked out early to miss the rain.  We are promised rain and wind and maybe even snow in high places. We are promised the low temperatures which are normal for this time of year. Knowing it is November while marveling at the small buds appearing on trees which have not even lost all of their leaves yet is unsettling. As I write, the winds are gusting.  The rain has begun. I have had to drop the latch on the top part of the kitchen door as it keeps blowing open.

26 November Thursday

I asked for ten stamps.  The post mistress offered me the yearly Christmas bonus book of stamps.  For the price of 25 stamps I would receive 26 stamps. This extra stamp is our annual gift from the government.  I never refuse it.

25 November Wednesday

I went up and gathered The Last Apples of Tullaghmeelan.  I took a large backpack and a big bag.  I filled the bag and left it in the path.  I walked through the orchard thinking that there might be some other drops off other trees but there was not one entire apple left anywhere on the trees nor in the tall grass. There were some chewed and mushy ones, but not even many of those. I went back and filled the backpack and topped up my bag from the ones on the path.  There were still many left on the ground. I walked back down the path slowly.  I could hardly walk with the weight. The backpack was far too big, far too full and far too heavy. I had to rest five or six times. I have gone from feeling pleased with myself for getting all of this free and unexpected bounty to realizing that I now have to do something with it.

24 November Tuesday

I walked up the boreen noting the many branches blown down by recent winds.  There were a few new wiggly turns through narrow places where the places were not narrow before.  A length of the path up beside Johnnie’s orchard was full of large yellow apples.  They turned the path into the deadliest apple walk ever.  They have fallen into a sort of gully and the gully is the path. Or the path is a gully.  There was no where to put my feet down except on the apples as the undergrowth was thick on either side.  It was a matter of walking on the apples or turning around. I examined the apples which were some kind of mix from Johnnie’s  experiments with grafting.  These had a bit of russet mixed with whatever they were.  The majority of the apples were freshly fallen. They were not yet squashed or rotted or eaten by animals or insects. The taste was not great for eating but I knew they would be good for cooking. I picked up three apples and then I had to make a decision.  The apples were big and there was no way I could carry more than four using my coat pockets.  I could either walk back down and fetch a bag from home or I could continue on my walk and come back tomorrow.  The light was dropping by the minute.  I chose the walk hoping the apples would still be good enough for the gathering tomorrow.

23 November Monday

Everyone was wearing new shoes.  A lot of the shoes did not look comfortable. Most of the shoes did not look comfortable.  The newness of the shoes was evident. Everyone was wearing new coats.  There were new scarves, new sweaters, new trousers and new hats. There were lots of new suitcases and every suitcase was loaded and heavy. One woman wore a bright orange coat and had a matching bright orange handbag and a small bright orange suitcase.  She wrestled two enormous bright orange suitcases off the luggage round-about.  It was a plane load of shoppers. They had flown off on Wednesday and caught their return flight on Sunday for a marathon of manic shopping in America.  Flights are cheap in November. What was saved in airfare was spent on shopping.  The entire journey was full of loud and boisterous discussion about who shopped where and who had bought what.  The women, and it was mostly women, talked to the people they were traveling with and they talked to everyone else. There was a strong air of competition. When the duty-free cart rolled along, everyone did a little bit more shopping.  The frenzy and the excitement of so many new purchases was dampened as everyone walked out into the bleakness of Shannon Airport at 5.30 in the morning.  There was no one to admire all of the new stuff.  It was damp and dark outside and the terminal was devoid of people.


Source: The Last Apples of Tullaghmeelan

Not Kevin

 

IMG_2334

3 November Tuesday

Numbers have been sprayed onto the road with white paint.  100.  200.  300.  I am not sure why.  There might have been a race.  There might have been some digging to be done.  The numbers probably represent metres but I have not paid enough attention to the distance between them to know if that is the case.  They are far enough apart that I can forget about them and be reminded and then I can forget again.  They are not near to any buildings nor any gates. I have been waiting for their meaning to be revealed to me. I have been waiting but I have not done one single thing to find out what the numbers mean.  It is not pressing. They are no longer freshly painted.  The numbers appeared sometime in the spring. 200 is still clearly visible.  100 is faded and I can no longer locate 300.

2 November Monday

Margaret was out walking.  She was delighted with the warm bright day.  It was almost hot.   Her delight was over-shadowed by her feelings of depression about the early nightfall. She said she feels a terrible pressure to get jobs done before the dark.  There are jobs to be done before the dark and then there are the jobs to be put off and done after the darkness falls.  She complained that the darkness comes so early and there is so much dark that she cannot get enough jobs done in the light and then when it is dark she does not want to do the jobs that she would have done in the light.  She said she spends a lot of the day saying that she will wait and do that job after dark or this job after dark but then she leaves too many things to be done.  Or maybe it is not true that she leaves too many jobs it is just that the days are shorter and shorter.  Really she just cannot stand it.  She decided to take a walk out today because the sun was shining and she knew that a walk was a thing she would not and could not do after the darkness fell.

1 November Sunday

Not very long ago the naming of dogs was simple.  It was all names like Whitey and Blacky and Partner. Increasingly the names for dogs are the names of people but they are not the same names that people here would name their children.  It is fine to call a dog Max or Oscar or Bruno or Zeke.  These are not the names of any people that anyone knows.  There are people names for dogs and then there are people names for people.  There is no one calling their dog Michael or Paddy or Seamus.  No one would call their dog Kevin because they no doubt know a Kevin and they would not want that Kevin to come to their house and take offense that the dog has his own name.


Source: Not Kevin

Jeep

31 October Saturday

HIs nickname is Bapty.  I am desperate to know what Bapty is short for.  I may have to ask Bapty himself what his name is shortened from.  I do not feel familiar enough to make such a query.

30 October Friday

This morning the world beyond our fence had disappeared, again.  I went down to the village and all of the mountains were gone.  The Galtees were gone.  The Knockmealdowns were gone and the Comeraghs were gone. Three mountain ranges completely disappeared in the mist.  It was a mist more than fog.  It was a wet mist.  It was almost rain but it was not rain.  It was just soaking wet air which could not be seen through.  Tommie shook his head as he told me “We are nearly lost in the wet.”

29 October Thursday

I walked into a shop at half ten this morning.  The door was wide open but the place was dark.  A boy of twelve was inside. All of the children are off school this week so this boy was spending the day watching the shop.  He told me that the electricity had gone off. It was not off everywhere on the street but it had gone off in this shop.  I asked if his mother was there.  He said she would not be back until two.  I said “So she’s gone and left you here in the dark?”  He answered “Yes. But it’s okay. There is no fear in me.”

28 October Wednesday

Kieran called out that he had put the box into the back of my Jeep.  I do not think of the motor I drive as a Jeep, but everyone else calls it a Jeep.  Any vehicle which is a little higher off the ground than a normal car is called a Jeep.  A People Carrier.  A Range Rover. An SUV.  A four-wheel drive.  There are a lot of names for these kinds of utilitarian vehicles.  Some of them are really working motors and some look like they are working motors when really they are just a version of a station wagon.  There are a lot of different brands and models of high up and off the ground vehicles.  There are many variations.  No matter. They are all called Jeep.

27 October Tuesday

This autumn is very yellow and very golden.  The wood road is lined with yellow leaves on the trees and yellow leaves along the edges of the road.  It looks and feels like there is special lighting in place.


Source: Jeep

Six drops are hard.

26 October Monday Bank Holiday

I walked up the boreen in a hard drizzle without much vision.  I pretended that the rain was giving everything soft edges.  Everything was fuzzy but it was fine.  I could see the path because I know it so well.  I could see the path because the yellow leaves on the ground have made everything look bright. The crabapples were a bit deadly to walk through. It was like walking on ball-bearings. The fallen trees across the path looked more like graceful arches with my impaired vision and I liked the little nod of my head which was needed to pass underneath them.  Anyone taller would need to duck but for me it is a nod.  The nod is an acknowledging that the trees have re-defined the path. I did not see any people.  Oscar joined me for the second half of the walk.  I did not need to see any more than I saw.

25 October Sunday

I have been struggling with my vision.  I am not allowed to wear my contact lenses. It has been a trying week. My ancient glasses are barely okay for distance but they are hopeless for anything close-up.  I have been wearing them for days now.  Yesterday I got an emergency pair of prescription glasses for close-up.  Taking one pair off and putting the other pair on has been a constant juggling act. That ended late afternoon when I sat down to put in my drops.  I stood up after I was finished and I stepped on the distance glasses.  They are completely broken. Now I can see up close but I cannot see anything in the distance. I will not be able to drive. I am not sure what I will be able to do.

24 October Saturday

David the Egg Man sold all of his eggs right away.  Once again his hens are suffering from the longer dark nights so they are not laying much.  He began to pack up his tiny table to put it into his motor and head home early.  His table was taken away from him and put into the exact center of the market.  A birthday cake was put on the table and he was given a card and a song.  Everyone was offered cake and everyone said Happy Birthday or Many Happy Returns.  David stood eating his cake and explaining again and again that he had been just about to go home because he had run out of eggs.  He was delighted to be the center of attention and everyone was delighted to help him to celebrate turning 84.

23 October Friday

Six drops are hard.  Six drops are a lot harder than four drops.  Four drops was easy.  Morning.  Lunchtime. Six o’clock. Bedtime.  Six drops spread through the day needs more attention and more remembering. I dot the back of my hand with a marker pen.  By bedtime I should have five dots. I have the shadow of yesterday’s drop dots on my hand too. It does not matter at what time I do them.  I just have to put drops into my eye six times during a day.  The last one never gets marked.  There is no reason for me to take a marking pen to bed with me.

22 October Thursday

I went back to the Medical Eye Doctor.  A woman in the waiting room spoke about the weather.  She said it was a lovely day.  She said it was unseasonably warm for the time of year.  She said the SuperValu in town was having a Gala Opening on Friday. I did not want to talk and she seemed to run out of things to say after these three things. She did not seem to mind that I was not responsive.  I held my book two inches from my face.  It was the only way for me to read but it was very dark with my book held so close. When another woman came in the first woman said the same three things and then she went silent again. It was more like a recitation than making conversation.

21 October Wednesday

Next week the country is getting rid of little coins.  It has been costing more to produce the small coins than they are worth. One and two cent coins will no longer be made and they will no longer be used.  When we pay for something the price will be rounded up to the nearest five cents.  Or it will be rounded down to the nearest five cents. Eighty-seven will be rounded to eighty-five.  Eighty-eight will be rounded to ninety. Everyone seems pleased with this development.  I find it a little sad but no doubt I will get used to it and forget that it was ever different.

20 October Tuesday

I went to get my eye looked at yesterday. The specialist had a sign outside which announced her as a Medical Eye Doctor.  Her office was huge.  There were several different chairs in there as well as various stools on wheels and a bed.  There were many many different kinds of machines. There were many kinds of charts and posters about eyes and diagramming eyes. I had never seen so much eye-related paraphernalia.  I was in there for a long time so I had a lot of time to look around.  The doctor did lots of tests and when she was nearly done she asked if I had arrived by car.  I said that I had, so she asked where I lived.  She said that I should not be driving at all but since there were never more than a few tractors on that road, she would send me on my way without worry.

19 October Monday

I have been moaning. I have been moaning a lot.  The cows up in Joe’s field are moaning and I have become obsessed with trying to make the same sound.  I started to think of it as lowing but now I am convinced it is just a moaning.  I moan when I am outside and I moan when I am walking.  I moan in the house.  It is a deep in the throat kind of sound. It is a drawn out kind of sound. I think I am sounding pretty good.  I am now trying to get a cow to respond to my moan. I do not know what their moan means so I do not know if answering is even an issue.


Source: Six drops are hard.

Just the right wood

18 October Sunday

Simon’s  wooden gutters were taken down last year when the house got painted.  Slowly they have been getting re-used.  The treated Douglas Fir will last maybe forever, so it has been good for the wood to find new functions. It has been used to make new table tops on two outdoor tables and it has made a new bench just outside the sauna.  The props for the lean-to have been strengthened and replaced.  The broken fence where the cows broke through down below has been repaired with the gutter wood.  There is still more of the wood.  We are looking around not in any kind of a hurry but knowing that there will be another job needing to be done and knowing that this wood will be just the right wood when the time comes.

17 October Saturday

Every one of these sunny afternoons is full of activity.  Cows are out in fields which have already been cut or chewed short.  Hundreds or maybe thousands of crows are gathered on a freshly ploughed up field.  I think they are eating worms. They lift and they land in huge crowds.  They are too many for me to call them a flock. Young heifers rush along beside the stonewall.  The field where they are grazing is just above the level of my head as I walk.  They race along in a group jostling and trying to get as close to me as they can. They push each other as they follow and look over the wall to make sure that I am still down below but just beside them. They seem to just want to be going somewhere and they want to be going in a big excitable group.  Wherever I am going is just somewhere to be going.

16 October Friday

A Garda was buried yesterday.  He was shot and killed while trying to calm a domestic dispute.  The country is in shock.  The media keep reporting details of the attack and details of the funeral.  They list the objects which were lined up on his coffin. Alongside a family portrait were the things that he loved to enjoy in his relaxing time.  They included a shirt from his local hurling club, the remote control for the television, a can of coke, a chocolate bar and a bag of Hunky Dory crisps.

15 October Thursday

I sat in the small narrow room where everyone sits while waiting for their car to be inspected.  Some people were waiting for their turn.  Some people had their cars in the inspection bay already.  Some were just there to keep other people company. There are ten seats in the room, eight along one wall and two at the end.  The seats are close together.  There are three doors as well as a little counter space. It is a cramped room. I read a book while I waited.  All of the other nine seats were taken and two people were standing.  Every single person in the room was talking.  The room was loud and cheerful with the noise.  People talked to the person next to them and they called down the line to others.  They spoke with people they knew and they spoke to the people they did not know.  My book was the wrong sort of book to be reading in such cacophony.  I struggled to keep my focus.  I was just about to give up on reading altogether when the older man in the next seat nudged me and said “So, have you nothing to say for yourself then?”

14 October Wednesday

Another foggy morning.  Every morning is foggy.  It is no longer a surprise to not be able to see beyond the fence in the morning.  Every morning is the same.  Today there was bright sun.  It was bright and it got very high in the sky before it was able to burn off the fog. Through the white emptiness around us, we could hear cars on the Dungarvan Road.  It is rare to hear cars from such a distance.  The sound might have been from the Knocklofty Road.  The sound of cars on any road is not something we normally hear.  It might be the wet surface of the road but I think it is just the strangeness of the fog. It muffles and it amplifies at the same time.

13 October Tuesday

What brand of tea do you drink? This might be the question asked the very first time a cup of tea is drunk together.  Or it might not come up for a while. People are divided between being drinkers of Barry’s tea and being drinkers of Lyons tea. If you are one you rarely cross over.  If your family are all Barry’s drinkers you will be a Barry’s drinker too.  If your family have always been Lyons drinkers you will continue to be a Lyons drinker. The transition from loose tea in a pot to tea bags is not a much commented upon issue since almost everyone goes for the ease of tea bags these days.  Which tea you drink is always important.

12 October Monday

Each time I walk up the mass path and around is a chance to collect a few more horse chestnuts.  I pick up at least one at the bottom near the stream and at least one at the top near Maisie’s old house.  Sometimes I collect four or five in each place but one is my minimum.  I think of it as a kind of toll.  There is a bowl by the back door.  I put my chestnuts into the bowl before I enter the house.  The bowl is filling up.  Soon I will need a bigger bowl.  No one but me knows that I am paying into the bowl with each circuit of the boreen.

11 October Sunday

Trying to remember when a death had occurred, I asked Tommie.  I said “Wasn’t it nearly a year and a half ago?”  He thought for a moment and said “No, it was last May twelve months.” However I think about it Last May Twelve Months is exactly eighteen months ago.  Tommie just said the same thing in a different way.

10 October Saturday

A side plate is placed to the left of one’s dinner plate at the table.  The side plate is for potato skins.  Each person peels their own potatoes leaving the skins on the side plate.  Some men do not peel their own potatoes but wait for it to be done for them by their wife or mother.  The skinned potatoes are then ready to be eaten with butter and gravy.  No one seems interested that the skin is where the fiber and the vitamins are.  No one seems interested that the skins taste good.



Source: Just the right wood

Ducks with capes

Blossom

9 October Friday

There are apple blossoms on three of our apple trees.  All three of the trees have apples ripening on their branches.  The same branches have both blossom and fruit.  I feel confused looking at them. I feel disturbed looking at them. What will these trees be doing in the spring if they are in blossom now?

8 October Thursday

Jeri is making capes for his ducks.  He has a few capes left over from last year but he now has more ducks so he needs more capes. The ducks are white and the capes are black.  Each cape has a ruffle at the neck and a bit of red edging on the top of the ruffle.  The capes are held onto each duck with a little piece of velcro at the neck fastening.  The ducks wear these capes during Jeri’s Halloween Scary Garden.  They make little swooping flights from here to there.  The whooshing of their wings and their capes thrill and frighten the visiting children.  The children race about with torches in the darkness screaming and finding sweets.  Jeri’s ducks usually go to bed quite early but they  stay up later than usual on Halloween.  They seem to enjoy their capes and the company.

7 October Wednesday

When the sugar bowl is empty or almost empty there is the feeling that you should wash it.  There are always some clumpy bits of sugar at the bottom of the bowl.  Someone has always dipped a wet spoon into the sugar bowl.  There is sugar stuck to sugar and there is sugar stuck to the side of the sugar bowl.  It might always be like this but it is more noticeable when the bowl is nearly empty. So the normal thing is to wash your sugar bowl so that you can start fresh with a clump free offering of sugar.  The thing about washing your sugar bowl is that it is a known fact that if you wash your sugar bowl you will get visitors.

6 October Tuesday

A mean person is a stingy person.  A mean person is tight.  A mean person would not give you the steam off his porridge.

5 October Monday

I should know better than to drive down to the village anytime after five o’clock.  There are bound to be cows on the road.  There are three farms to pass.  Sometimes everyone is moving their animals so I have to wait for first one herd and then another and then a third.  They will be being driven back from some fields to the barn for milking.  After that they will be on their way to another field.  Some of the cattle are just being moved from field to field.  It is a foolish time of day to be on the road.  When the animals bar my way I have nothing to do but to turn off the engine and to wait while they amble towards me or away from me.  Sometimes they jostle the car as they pass.  It is a good idea to fold in the side mirror so that the weight of a cow swaying by does not snap it off.  There is no way to hurry the movement of the group.  Today as I waited I watched a cow jumping up on a gate in an attempt to get into a field where there was a bull. I have never seen a cow jumping at a gate to get out of a field so it is even more peculiar to see one jumping to get into a field.

4 October Sunday

Yesterday we visited the newly built extension to the SuperValu in Cahir.  It is not altogether complete but it is being shopped in as if it is complete.  A lot of areas are empty where the shelves have not been moved into them yet.  Other areas are crowded because there is so much movement of boxes and products and shelving.  Every single person in the shop looked confused.  Nothing was where it used to be and some things were not anywhere to be seen at all. There was a man painting the outside doorways with bright red paint.  Another man was sweeping up the area outside the doors.  His sweeping was sending great clouds of dust into the air.  The man painting the doors did not take any notice of the dust flying and floating and landing on his fresh paintwork.


Source: Ducks with capes

Nor the sky over him

3 October Saturday

Two women at the market were discussing someone who had returned after being away for a very long while.  They both agreed that this man had changed beyond all recognition.  To emphasize how different he was now from how he had been before, the older lady said, “I would not know him nor the sky over him.” The other woman said that she felt the same.

2 October Friday

We have not missed potatoes on our plates.  I guess it has only been about a week.  Oddly, there is a large potato plant growing in the compost heap.  Strange to see it when we did not plant any potatoes this year and we do not care if any are growing.   I shall have to pull it out and see what kind of volunteers are growing there.  I am not averse to eating whatever is growing.  I am only against the buying of potatoes for now. Several people are shocked with our decision not to purchase or cook potatoes.  Some people are disgusted.  One man said “Sure all the meat in the world wouldn’t fill you unless you had a potato.”

1 October Thursday

Thick fog this morning.  We could not see beyond the fence until after eleven o’clock.  The grass was wet with heavy dew.  Even while wearing short rubber boots my socks got soaked, and my hands were frozen as I picked the morning raspberries.  The leaves were wet and it was hard not to get soaked all over just from reaching in among the canes.  It is time to start collecting our fruit for morning the night before.  The postman arrived down the boreen while I was picking berries.  He had his headlights on but he said they were not much help in the fog.  He was not surprised to see me picking raspberries in my dressing gown.  He said the first days of back to school waiting for the bus are over.  The children now go out and wait by themselves.  The mothers in their fluffy robes and slippers are no longer standing with the youngest children by the edge of the road making sure that they get on the bus okay.

30 September Wednesday

Mornings are cold and a little foggy and wet.  When the fog burns off we have hot summer days. We have hot summer days every day. We have summer days which are better than most of the days we had in the actual months of summer. Everyone is enjoying the weather but they are all making noises about how it cannot last.  There is an ominous tone. We are promised or threatened that we will pay for this good weather.

The barn has been emptied out.  We moved things to the sauna and to the print shed and to the upstairs room.  The barn is clear and clean and it looks like a new place.  The man who came to put down some carpet for us said that what we had planned will not work.  We thanked him for his time and we thanked him for his honesty.  I did not really want so much carpet down there anyway.  I did not want the wide boards covered up.  I do want a workshop where the cold does not come up through our legs while we work. Already we have found a more flexible solution. We feel like we have had a lucky escape.

29 September Tuesday

There was a radio announcement from the horse races. I think it was from Leopardstown but maybe it was somewhere else.  The man said “We have a change to the Going.  The Going is now soft.”  He seemed very pleased.

Thor went back to his own home yesterday.  We miss him.  The house seems empty and a little bit lonely.

28 September Monday

I went to visit Pam in the Knockmealdowns.  She lives in a castle which is full of home-made solutions.  When she was a young woman, her husband was in the British army.  They moved frequently around India and the Far East as his assignments changed.  She said that is how she learned to make do and to furnish a home with things that did not need to last forever.  She said her curtains were never hemmed up with proper sewing.  They were always pinned so that when she got to a new home she could just unpin them and then pin them again to fit the next set of windows. The castle is full of these solutions even though she has lived there for a great many years.  She pointed to a large pouffe or hassock in the middle of a room.  It was covered with chintz and made a nice wide low seat or footstool.  She giggled when she explained that underneath the chintz was a tractor tyre. The pelmets around the top edge of most rooms are made with plywood.  They are quite roughly cut and then painted a bright red or whatever the colour the room is. They sort of blend in.  One staircase was rotten so they had a new one cast from concrete.  That too is painted red.  Pam likes red.  At the age of 90 she finds it a cheerful colour.

27 September Sunday

Jim announced that he is glad that the haying season is over so that he can stop Consulting the Glass. Consulting the Glass is often discussed as an essential activity before doing out of door jobs during hay and silage season. It is done at night and it is done in the morning.  I am pretty sure that what he calls the glass is a barometer.


Source: Nor the sky over him

Poison

photo 126 September Saturday

Every Saturday morning Simon eats a bowl of porridge in the cafe in Cahir.  Some mornings I join him for the porridge and some mornings I do not.   The porridge is so slow to arrive that it makes me cross.  I prefer to breakfast at home and have a walk down the river instead.  Since the porridge is so slow, he is usually not finished by the time I arrive.  I have a coffee. Every Saturday we see a couple who come in and sit at the exact same table each week.  They arrive with photocopied crossword puzzles.  They work quietly and intensely on their crossword puzzles and then they switch pieces of paper.  There is very little conversation. They eat and drink but they never stop working on their puzzles.

25 September Friday

Joe has put up new signs at each of his gates.  The signs are white with printed black letters reading LANDS PRESERVED AND POISONED.  Preserved means that the lands are off-limits for any kind of hunting. I never really understand what poisoned means in this context.  I think there is law which says if poison is laid down on farm land it has to be a certain distance from a road so that dogs will not be killed by it. I do not know what kind of poison is being laid nor who the intended victims are.   Usually there is just a hand written sign which gets made with whatever is available around the place.  Joe’s signs are all new, all clear and easy to read and all very official looking. What they are not is friendly.

24 September Thursday

The tent is gone.  I am not certain if this means that Tommy has been been re-housed.  It might just mean that the recent nights of terrible torrential downpours were too much for him in his tent.  I hope that he is warm and snug in a new home of his own in the village.  There is nothing to show that anyone was ever there at all except for a slightly pale rectangle of flattened grass where his tent was.

23 September Wednesday

Thor was collected on Sunday on the way to the Honey Show.  He has come to stay for a week.  It is good to have a dog in the house again.  It is good to have a dog to walk with.  He is quite demanding about heading off first thing in the morning.  He has met the local dogs and he enjoys the rushing and sniffing which they all do together.  Each dog must sniff and pee and examine everything that the other dog has sniffed and peed upon. There is nothing new about this but since everything is new and exciting for the dogs, I find it is new and exciting for me too.  Being with a dog is a reliable source of pleasure. Most days I go for several walks with Thor. He knows our routes now.  He loves the Mass Path with the smell of foxes and pheasants.  He just looks around to make sure that I am still with him when he is rushing off ahead. For an elderly deaf dog he has a lot of energy.

22 September Tuesday

We have decided to stop buying potatoes.  We have decided to stop buying potatoes and to stop preparing potatoes.  If we are served potatoes elsewhere we will eat them but we are tired of buying potatoes because we are tired of being disappointed by potatoes. I heard on the radio that the government is thinking to offer an incentive for people to eat more potatoes.  I do not know why other people are eating fewer potatoes, but for myself I am just weary of floury, dusty, fall-apart in the water potatoes and I am tired of hard-as-rock salad potatoes.  The struggle does not seem worth the eating.

21 September Monday

The Honey Fair was much as I expected.  It was a grand event and it was a disappointment.  The room it was held in was not large.  There were four rows of things on display with three aisles for walking up and down and looking.  The aisles were not wide but there were not too many people there anyway, so it was not difficult to walk up and down.  The day was wet and windy which kept people away.  The All-Ireland Final kept a lot of other people away.  I am not certain that there would have been much overlap in the  audiences.

In one corner of the room there were some women pouring tea and serving big platters of sandwiches and cakes.  Nothing they were serving had anything to do with honey.  There were tiered displays of honey in jars all up one side of the centre aisle and there were large flat cakes of wax, as well as candles and little decorative objects made of wax. There were bars of wax which had come out of moulds so that they had the words Bees Wax on them.    All of the different categories had names of the winners noted on pieces of paper on the tables.  All of the displays had signs saying Do Not Touch The Displays.  There were bottles of mead and there was a long row of trophies along the edge of the stage at the far end of the room. One trophy was in the shape of a bee hive.

The judges were wearing long white lab coats with STBA (South Tipperary Beekeepers Association) logos at the pocket.  Five of the judges were men and one was a woman. They walked about talking to people and pointing at things.  Their white coats made them stand out and kept them looking very official.  There were photographs of bees and beekeepers and of beehives out in fields.  There were some live bees crawling around in a honeycomb safely behind glass.  I had looked forward to seeing a lot of kinds and shapes of bee hives but there was only one hive on display and it looked flimsy and cheap.  It did not look like it would last long in this wet climate.  Still there was plenty to look at. Everything in the entire hall was presented with equal importance.

One category was honey cakes. There were many honey cakes on display for the competition.  All of the honey cakes were round and all of the honey cakes were the same size.  The color of the cakes varied from bright golden to deep brown.  There were also honey cakes for sale.  The tea ladies were not serving honey cakes.  We bought one, which we ate with a cup of tea when we got home. It was very dry.


Source: Poison

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