Claude Nicolas Ledoux’s Rotunda, finished in 1788 and now marooned between the overhead metro, the boulevard and high-rises at Paris Stalingrad, has been restored in recent years. It is a very elegant neo-classical building of utopic pretension. There is a curious two-thirds scale about it, and at the same time almost all exterior, with inside, a deeply internal squat column of a space, which is now a cafe. The circular column leads upwards to the flat lantern of light that illuminates it. From the piazza in front of it, there is that silence of newly-arrived architecture, only just implanted in its space, that you feel in paintings by de Chirico. SC
31 January Sunday
I am just after putting that in the oven.
I am just after getting that up on the screen.
I am just after visiting my grandmother in hospital.
I am still unable to use the word After like this. And I am not fully able to understand the function of the After in the sentence. In any of the sentences.
27 January Wednesday
Vans and vehicles with the names and faces of politicians are appearing here and there. Someone told me that these vehicles cannot be parked for more than two hours in any single location. After two hours the vehicle must be moved. I am not sure if maybe this is just to give someone else a chance to use the spot, or maybe it is simply to stop one corner becoming the the Fine Gael corner or the Labour corner. It would be easy to tow a non-functioning something to a spot and just leave it there for days or weeks on end. News and conversations about the upcoming elections are building up. Posters are not allowed to be posted on trees or poles until thirty days before the actual day of the election. These shifting vehicles as advertising remind people that even while everything is getting maneuvered into place, it is not really happening yet.
23 January Saturday
The whole thing is made of heavy cardboard. It had been part of the 2013 Gathering which was an attempt to bring increased tourism to the country. It seemed to be a popular thing so it was left standing in Cork airport. The front of the cardboard has a shiny photographic image of a girl in Irish dance costume and beside her a man sits on a stone wall holding a fiddle. The colours suggest the bright sunlight of a John Hinde postcard. Neither the girl nor the man have heads. The idea was for people to put their own heads on the neck position and then to have their photograph taken. The whole thing is not very tall. Children can easily stand up to be photographed. Adults have to lean or squat down behind the cardboard. It has obviously been a popular as it is now 2016 and it is still there. It has been moved all around inside the main hall of the airport. The area around the necks of both the dancer and the musician are badly frayed. The exposed grey cardboard looks shabby and distressed. Each time I see it I think it must be nearly time for it to be retired, or at least to be replaced with a new version.
Source: Just After
Tomorrow is the last day for the SuperValu in town. It is closing down for good. It has been closing down for several weeks now. Each time I have been in there were fewer and fewer things on the shelves. Then there were fewer and fewer shelves. The top shelves were removed first and then the bottom shelves were removed. Soon there were three and then only two shelves along a long row with the remaining products lined up. There were large areas along the walls which were completely empty and all of the shelves taken away. The shelves were being sent to another branch of the store in Dublin. We stopped in last Saturday for a few things and the place looked nearly empty and there was still a week to go. The very few customers walked the aisles looking at the very few products for sale and we all commented to one another what a pity it was that the shop would be closed and that yet another shop in the town center would sit empty. Vegetables were spread out in a way to make them look appealing but there were so few of them that they all looked like leftovers. Two older women stood in front of a display of two wheelbarrows which had been brought in to take up some of the empty space. Each barrow was tilted at an angle and there were loose potatoes and some soil in the bottom of each. Not many potatoes and not a lot of soil. The women were happily remembering themselves bringing in potatoes from the field when they were children. After a bit of chat they both agreed that their families had never actually owned wheelbarrows and that the potatoes at home were carried in buckets or baskets but still it was nice to see the wheelbarrows in the shop. One man wandered around and around the aisles with his trolley. Each time he met another person he moaned “Oh, it is a sad day indeed. It is our Last Saturday.”
20 January Wednesday
The rock on the side of the pub has been painted a shiny black. It is painted with the same enamel paint that is around the window frames and on the door. The rock is big. It is about the height of my knee off the ground and as wide as it is tall. It looks like it is growing out of the side of the building. It might be that it was once part of the foundation. Or maybe the building had another section built onto it at one time. That does not really make sense because the road exactly there beside the pub and beside the rock. Where could more of the building have been? Over the years the rock has been painted a different colour each time the pub has been repainted. This shiny black is very nice.
19 January Tuesday
It was a petrol station and like all petrol stations it now sells lots of things besides petrol. Displayed outside along the windowsill were bags of potatoes. There were ten bags all standing at an angle. The bags were from several different producers but all of the potatoes were the same kind of potatoes. They were all Golden Wonders. Only the colour of the bag and the name on the bag offered choice.
18 January Monday
I just cleared a blue tit off the step in front of my room. They are flying in wild sweeps all over the place. The weather is confusing so maybe they think it is springtime in between the very cold nights and the rain. Three times last week I picked up birds who had flown into windows and knocked themselves out. I picked them up gently and placed each one in a sheltered spot under some leafy boughs or on top of a mossy rock. When I checked later they were gone. They had simply been stunned by smashing themselves into glass at speed. The one I gathered up today was dead. There was no soft heartbeat to be felt, and its neck was bent at an impossible angle.
17 January Sunday
It is not uncommon to hold a funeral on a Sunday. We were walking up from Molough when a car stopped. A man rolled down the window and told us he was looking for the funeral of Betty Something. We did not recognize the name. We knew of no one named Betty who had just died. He gave us a second surname. Maybe the second name was her married name or maybe the first name was her married name and the second one he told us was her maiden name. Neither of the names meant anything to either of us. She was obviously local or had been from the area originally. He was looking for the church where the funeral was being held. He said it was the church at Knocklofty. We knew there was no church at Knocklofty and we told him that. Simon suggested Tullameghlan because there is a very small old graveyard there but no church. The man was pleased. He said ‘Yes that is the place. That is the name. How can I get there?’ It was not easy to give directions from where we were standing. I do not think I could have done it. Simon gave the man careful instructions. A little while later we had finished our walk and we drove down to buy the newspapers. We detoured around some tractor activity so we ended up on the Knocklofty road ourselves. On passing the tiny Church of Ireland there were people were standing outside. We saw the man who had asked for directions. We had not given him directions to that church which is called Tullameghlan Church because we had forgotten that it is spoken of as Tullameghlan Church or maybe we never knew that because the church is not anywhere near the Tullameghlan graveyard. There is no sign that says Tullameghlan Church. Had he said that Betty was a Protestant we would have known that the funeral must be at that church. It is the only Church of Ireland church in the area. Since we did not know Betty, we had no way to know that she was a Protestant.
16 January Saturday
The one hundred year anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising has been discussed and planned for and anticipated for ages and ages now. The whole of 2015 was a build-up to the events taking place this year to commemorate The Rising. There are references to The Rising everywhere we go. Jim said something to me today and then he saw my blank face. I did not understand what he was saying. I did not understand at all. He said “Sorry sorry— It’s okay. I was only Rising you!” Then I was even more confused. I have gotten so used to The Rising being always and only about 1916 that I forgot about Rising being another word for teasing.
15 January Friday
An old man stood in the little entry porch of the shop. His wool jacket was wet with rain but the rain mostly sat on top of the wool in drops. The jacket had a lot of grease and lanolin on it, especially down the front where his hands had been wiped again and again. It shone black with the oiliness of whatever was on it. There was no way water could seep into the wool. The man did not lift his head. He was very stooped over and his head looked down at the floor. Each time someone walked in, he shook his head from left to right and intoned ‘Desperate Day. A Desperate Day altogether. Desperate.’ He repeated this in the direction of every single person who entered the shop, even though the rain was merely a drizzle and not at all desperate by local standards. To each person leaving the shop he said ‘Mind How You Go’ and he nodded his head up and down while he said it. He repeated these two things again and again. Desperate. Desperate Day. Mind How You Go. Desperate Day Altogether. Mind How You Go. Since there are never people going in nor leaving at the same time he did not get confused with his head wagging for one comment and nodding for the other. Nor did he confuse the two greetings.
14 January Thursday
Is He A Good Grubber? This was the question I overheard the pharmacist ask to find out if someone who was not well was taking his food in a normal and robust way.
13 January Wednesday
There was a hard frost last night. Everything is white this morning. The roof of the barn is completely white. It is good to see the roof all coated with ice because that means it is well-insulated. If it were less well-insulated the heat inside would be making areas of slate look melty and unfrosted. I suppose the fact that there is not much heat at all in the barn is another reason why the white stays white for so long.
The snowdrops are coming up. Most of them are only in bud now but there are two in full bloom beside Em’s stone. I am happy to see them. I like to think she would have been happy to see them but usually she just walked around them. Oscar steps on flowers. He never walks around them. I saw one primrose in flower in the boreen.
12 January Tuesday
An elderly man came into the barbershop and he told the girl that he wanted A Zero and A Close Shave. A Zero is a number on the scale of haircuts for men. I think the numbers match settings on the cutting device. The man was very old. The couple who run the shop are Serbian. The girl was very nervous to cut the man’s hair because he was so old. She was even more nervous to shave him. She cut his hair very short with the zero setting and then she gave him a shave with a cut-throat razor. When she was finished he said the shave was not close enough. He insisted that she do it again. She was terrified to cut closer but she did it. Everyone in the shop, which included the husband and three people, was watching. I was one of the people. I had never been there before and I was only waiting so I was watching every single thing. The old man announced that he was going to the Tropics. He was going to Africa. He said he was 94 years old and he wanted a short haircut and a close shave because it was going to be very hot where he was going. She asked which country he was going to but he would not say. He said it was a secret. After he left she laughed out loud nervously. She announced to the shop that maybe he was like an elephant and he was going to Africa to die.
11 January Monday
I am not afraid of mice but they can make me jump. They move quickly and so suddenly. Tonight I went out to the shed in the dark. I was wearing my head torch. I was carrying an enamel cup in order to bring back peas from the freezer. It is easier to carry the cup to the shed rather than to bring the bag of peas into the house and pour some out and then return to the shed to put the rest of the peas back in the freezer. Especially if it is raining. Tonight it was not really raining but it was drizzly and it was cold. And it was very very dark. Just as I was pouring my peas into my cup a mouse rushed along by my feet. I squealed in surprise and spilled a lot of peas. I left the peas on the floor and returned to the house with my cupful. If the mice don’t eat them, I can sweep them up in the morning. They will stay just as frozen on the floor as they were inside the freezer.
Source: A Good Grubber
10 January Sunday
We can hardly believe this brightness. It seems like ages since we have seen such sun. No doubt there has been sun here and there along the way in recent weeks but it has been moments not hours. Today is that wintery kind of crisp hard bright light. There is snow on the mountains in all directions. We walked the Long Field facing towards the Knockmealdowns and then we made a loop up and around by road which aimed us at the Comeraghs and we ended by facing the Galtees. Everything looks great in the bright light, even though everything is still squelchy underfoot.
The market yesterday was just David and Pat, as promised in Pat’s email. The two of them set up their stalls in the far corner probably trying to stay out of the wind. David had his eggs and Pat had vegetables and jams and rape seed oil. They were both chilled to the bone. The wind was vicious. David said his hens have been laying like crazy. He said that two weeks ago he had 90 dozen eggs. Maybe I heard that wrong? 90 dozen is a lot of eggs. 90 dozen is 1080 eggs. That is a LOT of eggs. Maybe it was 90 dozen over a two week period. That is still a lot of eggs. Anyway, he had so many eggs that he had to give them away. He gave them to a man who raises greyhounds. The man was happy. All the greyhounds had eggs to eat. I went away wondering how the eggs were served to the dogs. Were they broken open and dropped into a dish raw, or were they lightly scrambled? I have no idea how a greyhound eats an egg.
9 January Saturday
Market restarts Sat 16th.
But egg man David O’Donnell started last Saturday.
I will start tomorrow.
Jim and Keith will start in Feb.
8 January Friday
I spent some hours down in the barn numbering my new book MY IRONMONGERY. There are 100 books. I wrote the numbers with a red Bingo pen. I had never seen nor used a Bingo pen before. The thick line was just right. After I wrote my numbers inside, I wrapped each book with paper and then I stuck on a red dot with the same number written on the wrapping. I do not know if Bingo pens come in other colours. I wonder if everyone at a Bingo Hall brings a Bingo pen with them for an evening of bingo. Does any old pen work just as well? I had a lot of time to consider these questions as my work was slow and the barn was cold. I had to interrupt myself often to go back up to the house to get warm.
7 January Thursday
Simon and I walked up the Mass path. It was the first time in a long time that we could even get through. The lake at the bottom remains huge. We went around the edge but even then we were slogging in deep water and mud. The grasses are all flattened down where water has flooded over the top. Trees and branches are down all the way along the path. We had to crawl under fallen trees on our hands and knees in two places. Hand and knees meant we were very wet very early in the walk. We kept going even though there was a torrent of water right down the middle. There has never been so much water. The path was a river bed with the river flowing and the whole bottom was sandy. We could not decide where the sand came from because usually the path is just muddy and rocky and mossy. Suddenly it has become a sandy bottomed river bed and even at the very top up near the orchard at Johnnie Mackin’s the bottom is sandy and still there is no logic nor understanding of where this sand has come from.
6 January Wednesday
So many fields have been lakes for so long now that it is hard to look at them as anything but lakes. Will the rains never stop?
5 January 2016 Tuesday
The woman on the bus spoke in a loud and constant ramble to the man next to her. No one sitting nearby could fail to hear her. She said that her grandmother had taught her how to forecast the weather and she reckoned it would be dry tomorrow even though the weather man had said it would rain. She said I do not care if it rains because I am going to be at home anyway but my grandmother’s method tells me that it won’t rain. She said I know how to tell but I won’t tell you because I do not know you. I am just sharing a seat on a crowded bus with you. It is not like I know you.
4 January 2016 Monday
I have never lived anywhere else where it is normal to see young men drinking milk from bottles or cartons. A street corner with four or six lads slugging down milk while laughing and talking is not an unusual sight.
Source: Open this Saturday?
24 December Thursday
The brother and sister have been spotted again. I have not seen them for months and months. Someone told me they had seen them but I had not seen them myself. They are no longer parking on the road into the village. The brother always stood leaning against his car in the tiny lay-by, smoking and saluting anyone who passed. His sister walked on the narrow stretch of road with her dog on about two inches of lead all the while holding a huge fat stick just above his head ready to whack him if he made a wrong move. It made me crazy to see them. I assumed the terrible choice of a place for walking a dog was just because the brother needed to be able to watch a bit of traffic while he waited for his sister. I thought that was why the location was chosen. Now the brother is parking way up the mountain on the New Line. He parks near The Boulders which is just about the only place to pull off. The sister walks along the road with the dog still held close to her body and still with the dreadful heavy cudgel hovering over his head. This spot cannot be chosen for waving at passers by. It could easily be an hour between passing vehicles up there. I still wonder why the sister does not take the dog to walk on the mountain instead of on the hard road. Today the brother was not outside smoking and waving. He was sitting inside the car smoking with the windows rolled up tight. That might just be because of today’s soaking drizzle.
23 December Wednesday
The remains of one dead bird near the compost heap. Feathers are scattered in a tidy circle from a central point. There is nothing left, not even any blood. Small white feathers are in the center and longer grey feathers make a secondary circle. It was a pigeon.
22 December Tuesday
I stopped by to see Bea. Her motor was parked very close to the house. There was an extension lead out the open window of the car and in through a window of the house. Bea came to the door and explained that she had taken the car to the car wash but she left the back windows open during the washing. She now has a heater going in the back seat to dry it all out. The heater was plugged in inside the house. She explained the situation by saying that of course the car had to be washed before Christmas. It is one of many things which are deemed essential to do before Christmas.
It is essential to have one’s hair cut before Christmas. It is essential to go to the hygenist and have one’s teeth cleaned before Christmas. It is essential to have the windows of the house washed, both inside and out, before Christmas. It is essential to go to and tidy around the graves of family members before Christmas because other family members might be visiting from far away and they will of course make a visit to the graves and so the graves must be looking good. The people who live in the area are sort of responsible for the upkeep of the graves or at least they are the people who will be blamed if the graves are found to be in disarray. Now I learn that going to the chiropodist and getting toenails clipped and any hard skin scraped off the feet is yet another job which must be done in anticipation of Christmas.
I would not have remembered this list nor its newest addition if Bea had not washed her car and left the windows open.
Source: Deemed Essential
20 December Sunday
There is a green smudge down the center of the road. It’s there every winter. Dampness makes a little low moss grow down the raised middle of the road. Car tyres straddle the smudge because we all drive the narrow road as if the road was only ever meant to be a single lane. I love the smudge. I love how it glows from afar. I enjoy the smudge as I am walking along. It has one kind of brightness from a distance and another kind of brightness when I am just upon it. The smudge cheers up the greyest of days.
19 December Saturday
I locked Simon into the printing shed. I did not plan on locking him in. It just happened. It’s been another wild and blustery day. He was inside setting type for a small job and I went to ask him something before I left for the post office. He had the bolt closed from the inside and he let me in when I shouted. When I left I slid the other bolt from the outside. It was so windy that the door would not stay closed unless it was fastened from one side or the other. I went to the village and did my posting and bought the papers and dropped things off at one house and then at another house. I refused cups of tea and kept moving as I felt rushed. The incessant noisy wind made everything out in the world seem imperative and slightly crazed.
Simon was not in the house when I returned. Nor was he in the book barn. I went to the print shed. I saw his head through the small window. Then I saw the closed bolt on the outside of the door. I knew right away what had happened. He did not say a word. The situation was grim. There is not much light in the shed nor is there any heat. On a day as gloomy as today there would have been barely light enough to print. But, of course, he could not print anyway because the things he wanted to print were down in the book barn. He had the type set and the platen inked and ready but he was locked in.
The printing shed is about 6 x 10 feet and there is very little floor space inside. There is a tall unit full of drawers of type, a big cast-iron folding machine, a counter with shelves underneath, another homemade set of shelves and a wooden unit holding the small press and more type and print furniture drawers. When we cleaned out the book barn early in the autumn, we filled the print shed with big boxes of old cardboard and paper, all for a big bonfire which we never got around to lighting.
With all of the things that are always there and then all the boxes of things to burn, there was barely enough room to stand and print. There was no room to sit. Simon spent a lot of time thinking about breaking the door down but he spent an equal amount of time thinking about having to replace the door himself. He just did not feel like doing that. He spent a lot of time thinking about why he did not have a phone with him. He waited. He stood up and he waited. It was lucky for Simon that I was gone for not much more than an hour. It was lucky for him that the day was windy but not cold. I fear he has not yet had enough distance on the whole event to see either of these two things as lucky.
18 December Friday
Nora is outraged that those people in Paris think that they have the power to control the Elements. She said there is no kind of agreement they can sign that will stop the rain and the flooding. She said, “They can sign what they like but not one cow in the whole of Ireland will ever eat a single blade of grass off a field that has been flooded. It is a known fact. But sure how would people in Paris know a thing like that?”
17 December Thursday
She had to wait for her friend. It was raining hard and she was in a town she did not know at all. She said she needed to Put Down an Hour which was another way of saying that she needed to kill some time.
16 December Wednesday
I could not get into the village yesterday. The road beyond the bridge was completely flooded but that was not the reason. There were cars parked all along that bit of road. They were parked in the knee deep water. When I got close enough to see the church I could see that the road in front of the church was blocked by a hearse with a coffin being unloaded and dozens of umbrellas and lots of flowers. A man in a reflective vest was signaling for me to turn and go away or to stop and just get out of my car. He did not know if I wanted to attend the funeral or not. There was no traffic moving through the village. I returned an hour later and there were still many cars. The service had ended but the burial had been right there in the churchyard and now everyone was walking up to the hall for refreshments. Cars were still parked everywhere. The cars were parked and they were double parked. I did not know the elderly woman who had been buried. Pat said that the reason there was such a crowd was because she was being laid to rest in a fitting way by A Lifetime of Family and Neighbours.
15 December Tuesday
I sat in the waiting room with two extremely old people and one older man and a youngish man. The five of us filled all of the chairs. The older man was looking out the window and he commented on the big building across the road. He asked the room at large if the nuns were still there and if the convent was going strong. No one answered him, so I did. I told him that the few remaining nuns had gone off to a convent in Carrick-on-Suir or to residential homes and that the building and land had been sold. I told him an auction had been held and that the building had been bought by an order of Egyptian Coptics. He listened carefully. He said nothing but he listened. The two very old people said nothing. They were both badly bent over with some spinal deterioration but I could tell they were listening too. The younger man had drops in his eyes and had been told by the doctor to keep his head well back. When I finished telling all I knew about the former convent, the first man asked, “So, are you here on holiday then?”
Source: The Elements
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.
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?
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