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

Cluain Meala

photo

20 September Sunday

Today I am going to The Honey Show in Clonmel.   Cluain Meala in Irish means Honey Vale.  I am not sure if the Honey Show is located in Clonmel because of this name or if Clonmel is simply a convenient and central location.  The Honey Show is organized each year by the South Tipperary Beekeepers Association.  It is a two day event.  I do not know exactly what happens at the Honey Show.  I understand that there are competitions for wax and honey and mead and other things.  There are classes, presentations and discussions on all kinds of topics.  I cannot really say what the topics are as I have not been there yet.  No doubt one topic will be hives.  Every year I mark the show on my calendar and every year I miss it.  The paying public is allowed in to The Honey Show between 2 and 4 o’clock on the Sunday afternoon.  It is a narrow window.

19 September Saturday

I passed a field with about fourteen cattle in it. Each one had a wide white stripe around its middle.  The rest of the animal was black. The hair was very fluffy.  It was almost more like sheep’s wool than the usual cow hair.  These are obviously some special breed.  Maybe they are not special at all but they are new for around here.  Maybe they are not new for around here but they are new for me. They were so odd to see that I had to turn around and go back to look at them again. One of these heifers alone looked odd but in a group they were difficult to read.

17 September Thursday

The fields are all full of stubble.  They have changed in the last week from golden stubble to brown stubble.  There is no longer a glow off the fields neither from a distance nor close up.  There are still a lot of hay in bales spread around and waiting for pick-up in fields.  Some is in big round bales and some in the big square bales.  Sometimes in small fields there are very compact rectangular bales which are leaned up against one another to let some air move through in between them.  There are also the black plastic bales from the second cutting of silage.  I keep thinking that we should be at the end of the season of dangerous driving and ferocious roaring farm machinery rushing up and down the roads.  There is always another enormous machine roaring toward me whether I am on foot or in the car.  The driver is always on the phone with his head bent sideways to keep the phone wedged between his ear and his shoulder.  The drivers are often smoking and drinking minerals from two litre plastic bottles and mostly they look very young. Mostly they look too young to be driving.

16 September Wednesday

I walked out into the darkness before bed. The sky was clear.  It is unusual for the sky to be so clear and perfectly cloudless.  There were millions of stars.  The large constellations were all easily visible and zillions of little tiny far away stars were visible too.  The sky was bright with stars but it was extremely dark on the ground.  I could not see my own hand.  I lay down on the bench in the meadow and looked at the stars until I got cold and I had to come in.

15 September Tuesday

The man who is camping beside the road in Marlfield is not camping for a holiday.  He is living in a tent because he has been evicted from his home in the village.  I am not sure why he was evicted.  His presence beside the road is a protest. As soon as I mentioned him, people have been telling me things about him.  His name is Tommy.  He has been living in the tent all summer but at first the tent was inside the gate and near to the boundary wall of the big house.  That is why I never noticed it.  Someone advised him to move out into this new and more prominent location so that people like me will wonder about him and wonder why he is there.  He is waiting to be re-housed by the council. The area around the tent is spotless.  I still wonder where and how he eats.  If he were to make a mess around the tent, I suppose he could be removed as a public nuisance.  He is so tidy that he is almost not there.  Maybe someone is feeding him at their house. There is neither a restaurant nor a shop in Marlfield.  Tommy has a long way to go to get anything at all, and he would have to go wherever he goes on foot. I do not see  a car or a bicycle near his tent.  As far as I can see there is only the aluminum lawn chair and his umbrella for equipment.

14 September Monday

It poured with rain all night and all day.  Larry Doocey arrived in his red tractor and trailer bringing us a load of pebbles.  He was not bothered by the rain except that he had to take a different route to get here. He told us that he drove over to Silver Sands on the windy hilly road to Cahir but he drove back to us on the flatter route through Grange. He needed to compensate for the 6 ton of stone in his trailer and he needed to compensate for the slippery wet roads while towing such a weight. His journey was slow.  He was ready for a cup of tea when he got here. He had several cups of tea while he talked.  We all ate biscuits too.  We had always assumed that he was a native of Newcastle but he told us that he had moved down from Ballinamult to live in the village.  He said he did not miss it up there.  He said “There’s nothing exciting to me about a mountain.”


Source: Cluain Meala

Five men named John

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13 September Sunday

Lambert’s garage has four floral displays on show.  The plants are each hanging out of a tyre.  The tyres have been painted different colours.  At intervals across the building the tyres are white, red, yellow and blue.   The paint does not work too well on the yellow one, but the idea is there.

12 September Saturday

There is stuff to collect. Apples have been disappointing.  I thought it was just our own trees, but I understand there are problems all around, even over at the Apple Farm.  Some varieties just fell off the trees early and unripe.  Others have ripened but lack flavour and texture. Our figs are doing remarkably well considering this is not really a fig-growing climate. I have to squeeze and test them at the end of the afternoon as the wasps are all over them in the daytime and birds get them in the early morning.  I do not like to compete with the wasps.  I gather most of the figs a little unripe and let them ripen inside the house.  The blotcheens are coming ripe but they are not plentiful.  Most plums have had a bad year.  The wild damsons sort of shriveled on the branches before they ripened. I marked three different puffballs with sticks in the ground and kept checking them every day.  They have shriveled up into nothing.  Raspberries and blackberries are rampant. I pick masses of them daily. And the Cavolo Nero, which is a glorious shade of green, just goes on and on.

10 September Thursday

The elderly lady at The Cross keeps an eye on the road.  I rarely see her.  I do not think she goes out often.  I saw her at the ceremony to install a commemorative stone for five local men named John who all fought and died in WWI. She was sitting in the front of the two short rows of chairs which had been set up for older people.  She was pleased to greet me.  She commented immediately that since we now drove only one car rather than two, it was easier for her to keep track of our movements.  I next saw her at her brother-in-law’s funeral.  She asked me why I do not wave to her as I pass the house.  She said that most people salute or sound their horn as they pass.  Now I wave each time I pass the house.  I do not know which window is the room where she sits.  Simon and I have decided that her room is the end room on the front of the house so I slow down and wave directly at that window no matter which direction I am coming from.  If it is late, we sometimes say to each other that she must have gone to bed so we need not wave.  We cannot see anyone through the window so I have no idea if she is waving back or if she is sitting there at all.  There is a fair chance that I am be waving at the wrong window. I just do not want to be reprimanded again.

9 September Wednesday

Someone is camping near the edge of the road as we drive through Marlfield. A brown and orange tent is set up just outside the big field on a small mown corner of grass. The tent is tidy and self-contained.  I have been noticing it for two or three weeks.  Today the man who lives in the tent was sitting on a lawn chair in the drizzle with a large umbrella.  He was facing out toward the hill.  Last week I saw him in the chair under the umbrella but that day he was facing the road.  When the man is not sitting in the chair the chair is put away inside the tent. There is not any of the stuff of camping visible.  There is neither a fire place nor a cooking stove. Nor is there a lot of passing traffic to watch.  There are no cattle in the field right now either.  The field was part of a big plan to turn the area around Marlfield House into a fancy golf course a few years ago.  The project ran out of money before it was finished.  Now all of the fields around the big house are back to being used for grazing cattle and for growing hay. It is an odd place to set up camp.  It is an empty and slightly lonely spot but it is not a very private spot.



Source: Five men named John

Desirable parking positions

8 September Tuesday

SuperValu is having a French Food & Wine Sale. There is a large handwritten sign outside the shop.  Beside the sign is a mannequin dressed up to look French.  It is wearing black trousers and a black and white horizontally striped shirt.  I think the striped shirt is supposed to look like a Breton shirt.  The shirt looks more like a shirt worn by a gondolier in Venice.  The very white arms and feet of the mannequin are visible but it has no head.  A black beret rests on the neck, nearly hiding a jaunty red neckerchief.

7 September Monday

I was on the road returning home.  A car came around the far corner just as a small rabbit ran out and ran diagonally across the road.  The other car accelerated and aimed at the rabbit.  He was racing toward the rabbit and he was racing toward me.  The rabbit jumped into the bushes just at the last minute.  The rabbit escaped. The driver swerved at the last minute and did not smash into me.  He passed me with a big smile and a wave.  If he had been a young man I would have thought he was a creep.  But he was an older man with white hair and a round cheerful face.  I still thought badly of him, but my disgust was mixed with shock.

6 September Sunday

Heading to the village to get the papers this morning, I thought I was early enough to miss the crowd arriving for mass.   A short wait behind Tomas’ cows on the road meant that I arrived exactly at the time as many others were arriving.  The desirable parking positions in front of the shop were already filled.  Every single car had backed in so that they could easily drive out after mass. This is a way for the people in the cars to stay sitting in their seats so that they can watch everyone else arriving.  They can stay in their cars right up until the last minute. This is especially good on a wet day. People were walking toward the church from all directions.  It was a lovely morning so people stopped as they met one another and they chatted on the pavement. There was no reason why people could not talk while they walked but every single person stopped walking to talk.  Some cars halted to let out an older person and then the car went off to park.  No one parks directly in front of the church. That is one space always left open. A lot of men have the habit of dropping their wife off and then they go to find a parking spot. This way they arrive separately.  They do not go into the church together.  They just meet up again when it is all over. The men were all tidy in their new sweaters and most of the women wore cardigans. It was a lovely morning but still there was a chill in it.

5 September Saturday

The big cow flap down near the stream has stayed in an unusually liquid state for a long time.  It was deposited by a cow during the break out or break in through the meadow.  That must be several weeks ago now.  Normally manure forms a crust over the top.  The underneath stuff remains wet and mushy but the top crust forms and then slowly the whole thing dries from the top down.  This manure has looked the same for all the time it has been there.  I think maybe the top crust has not formed because it is well shaded by the chestnut tree and other bushes.  I think there is not one bit of sun all day long in that spot.  I will continue to hop over it each time I walk the path but I will be glad when it has broken down into mud.

4 September Friday

I do not go to Dublin often.  I never want to go to Dublin.  I never have an urge to rush up to Dublin simply because I have not been there for a while.  I know Dublin is there but somehow I do not need it. It is not that I do not like cities.  I love cities and there are cities I look forward to visiting and re-visiting.  Dublin is not one of them.  For most people the capital city is the place to go because it is full of pleasures. I always feel disappointed after a trip to Dublin.

As a result of my foot-dragging relationship with this city, I have missed something I really wanted to do there.  Back in January, Donal told me about two short films which could be seen at the An Post Museum in the General Post Office.  One was of a postman in Donegal doing his rounds.  The other film was watching somebody sorting the post in the Athlone center. I put a reminder up on my wall.  I looked at it often. I have been to Dublin a few times but it was never the right time.  It was either a busy day for errands, or just passing through on the way to a plane or a ferry, or it was a Sunday.  For various reasons, I failed to get to the GPO during opening hours.

I finally got there this week. I finally made it a priority on my list of things to do. Unfortunately the museum has been closed.  It will not be re-opened until next year and then it will no longer be a museum but an Interpretive Center. The reason for the renovation and the re-naming is because of the anniversary of the 1916 Uprising.  Perhaps the museum will be exactly the same when it re-opens.  I will not know if it is the same.  The woman at the nearby Philatelic Counter could not tell me if the films will be included in the new Interpretive Center.  She was not even vaguely interested. Her job was selling stamps to collectors.  And because the museum had been closed she was required to sell a few of their souvenirs because her counter was nearest to the closed door.  I bought four postcards.  She was not happy with her added workload.



Source: Desirable parking positions

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