white rose bay willow herb

12 July Sunday

There is a large clump of white rose bay willow herb in bloom beside the round topped shed. I had never heard of nor seen the white version.  Laurie sent me some from Scotland.  She wadded wet paper towels around the roots and loosely wrapped it all in a plastic bag.  It arrived through the post in a padded envelope in only a few days.  It survived the journey well.  The plants have taken a few years to root and to settle.  This year is the best it has ever been.  The white blossom on tall stalks against the stone wall is beautiful.   Today’s watery grey light makes the white look whiter.

11 July Saturday

I met the man who walks down the river every Saturday morning. I do not see him every week but I know that whether I see him or not, he does the exact same walk every Saturday.  He told me that he walks every single day and that where he will walk that day is the first thing he thinks of when he wakes up.  He gave up smoking five years ago and started to walk daily. Now he cannot live without his walking.  Most of his walks are circular walks but on Saturday he walks the road from his house and drops down through the woods and then he walks the river path. He walks into Cahir and does an errand and then he turns around and walks home with his single purchase in a white plastic bag.  He brings the white plastic bag in his pocket.  The walk takes him exactly two hours.  Today I asked him why he does not try using a small back pack so that his hands are free when he does his return journey.  He said that he has a backpack at home but his wife will not let him use it here close to home.  She says that people will think ill of him if he uses a back pack in the local area.  She said that people will think that he has some sort of attitude.  She only allows him to use the back pack when they go away on holiday.



Source: somewordsforlivinglocally

A Cold Kettle.

 

 

 

 

photo10 July Friday

Simon has been lightly cooking gooseberries with a few elderflower blossoms.  The perfume off this combination is wonderful.  It is more like muscat than like what it is. The blossom is just about gone now.  We are hoping that later in the year we will be able to recreate this taste of summer by using my elderflower cordial in place of the actual blossoms.  There is a good supply of gooseberries stored in the freezer.  I feel wealthy when I see them in there.

9 July Thursday

Margaret noticed that a fox was coming to eat the food that she had placed out for her dog.  She started to put extra food out when her dog was safely inside the house.  She kept a watch and saw the fox arriving and gobbling the food.  She changed the position of the bowl so that it now sits up on her wall.  She no longer has to worry about the dog getting the foxes food.  She is also able to watch the fox easily from inside her house.  She can not go too near to the window as the fox will sense her presence.  She stands back in the room a little ways.  She can look out but the fox can not see her.  Margaret tells everyone about her fox.  She has started to speak of him as her pet fox.  People are discussing this among themselves. The Knocklofty road is a busy road and the bend where Margaret lives is a bit of a blind bend.  People zip around there quickly in their cars. Some people think that it is wonderful that Margaret has this pet fox to feed and to watch and to think about.  Other people think it is an accident waiting to happen.  Either the fox himself will be hit by a car or else a car will swerve to avoid the fox as he jumps up or down from the wall directly into the road and there will be some sort of a crash. They shake their heads and make distressed sounds when they discuss the potential disaster.  There is not one person who does not have an opinion about the feeding of this fox.  I am wondering if this fox is the fox who lives up in Scully’s wood, or if it is a completely other fox who might live down in the quarry.

8 July Wednesday

First I learned the word Perisher.  I learned that I am a Perisher.  Being one who feels the cold and is always taking my sweater on or off, I am pleased with this new word.  I often find myself telling people that I am a Perisher.  I am interested to know if absolutely everyone else knew this word long before I ever even heard it. I mentioned it to someone recently and she said “Ah, you mean to say that you are a Cold Kettle!”  This is another way of saying the same thing, but these are words that belong to a different part of the country.

7 July Tuesday

We do not have mosquitoes.  Summer guests are always surprised and even a little confused that we have no biting bugs of any sort. We have no screens on our windows.  The only reason we ever close our windows in summer is if it gets too cold, or maybe if the rain is being blown in a particular direction.  I can feel smug about the lack of biting insects but I am less self-satisfied when I think about the slugs.  This has been a bad week for slugs.  There is always a slug in the bathroom at night.  I have taken to closing the window tightly quite early in the evening.  I have put the plug into the bathtub.  Now I am thinking that maybe I have not been keeping the night slugs out. I am not stopping a slug who might have oozed up the wall and in through the window.  I fear that they are already inside and that during the day they are simply staying out of sight under the tub or somewhere dark.  At night they come out and travel around. A few nights ago, I picked up my glasses and touched a slug that was draped around the bow.  I dropped the glasses with a little shriek.  I am lucky that they did not break on the stone floor.  I am not afraid of slugs but I find them horrible to touch.  I do not wish to be surprised by the feel of a slug.  The next night I found a medium-sized slug stretched out on the side of the sink as though it were sunbathing.  It had a little curve in the body which suggested more than just sleeping.  I threw that one out the window.  Last night I found another slug curled around my toothbrush.  It was not on the bristles.  It was down where my hand holds the toothbrush, but that does not mean it had not already crawled over the bristles. I used to dread stepping on a slug in my bare feet in the night.  Now I feel I am under attack.

6 July Monday

It was all day wet today.  The rain varied between lashing and just coming down.  It was never a mere drizzle and it was never warm.  It is July and it is chilly and wet and hateful.  I spoke to Marianne who was pleased that it was raining because she felt she now had an excuse to stay inside and watch the afternoon match at Wimbledon.  She was delighted with her change of plan until she remembered that their television does not work properly in the rain. The screen shows nothing but static when it rains which is not very good for tennis.  I set off for a walk at one point because I felt I just had to move.  If Em were still alive, I would of course be going for a walk.  She was not bothered about the rain.  If we all stopped everything in this country every time it rained no one would ever get a thing done. I dressed in full waterproofs and headed off and up the Mass path.  I did not get any further than the stream.  Branches have fallen and brambles have thickened and there was no way I could push my way through.  I got down on my knees to crawl but even that did not work.  I was trapped.  The growth was dense and clawing at me.  Everything was dripping.  The only way through will be with a saw and some secautars. That was not a job to do in the rain and that was not a job to do when what I wanted was a walk. I went the other way, up the boreen and out onto the road and once I met Oscar, we were both happy to march along in the gusty rain.  I wondered if maybe walking with a dog was even more of what I needed than simply walking.

5 July Sunday

A sign on a tree is advertising A SILAGE EXTRAVAGANZA — Family Day. I have no idea what a Silage Extravaganza might entail, but I assume the farmers will be cheerful to be celebrating.



Source: somewordsforlivinglocally

Bottling

photo

4 July Saturday

I finished bottling my cordial just minutes before the rain came lashing down.  Everyone has been wanting this rain.  The gentle rain of last night was perfect for sleeping, but everyone at the market today agreed that such a gentle rain was tantamount to useless for gardens and crops. This loud beating rain is bound to cheer everyone up as long as it continues for more than a few hours.

Four Bianconi horse-driven carriages traveled from Clonmel to Cahir this morning in a re-creation of their historic journeys.  People were lined up waiting for them.  They were expected at 11 am and they arrived at 11.45.  One man told me that that was spot-on for Irish timing.  One side of the usual market area was cordoned off so that the horses and carriages could be on display there when they arrived.  It meant that David the egg man, Pat with his vegetables and the English man who sells potted plants all had to relocate for the day.  One man walked into the market and exclaimed “You’re all to one side like the town of Fermoy!”  It was good to hear the expression.  I had only heard it once before many years ago when Rose said it to someone who was walking with an exaggerated  limp in order to get sympathy.

3 July Friday

I went out last night in the early evening sun to pick elderflowers for making cordial.  I was really tired and it was really hot, but I had to do it.  The blossoms are starting to go over.  I knew if I did not gather them then, I might just miss them for this year. They looked so plentiful and big and round and creamy in the distance but getting up close to them was not easy.  It was still hot but I put on long trousers and long sleeves and welly boots and took a basket and some scissors.  Not one of the easy to reach trees had any useful blossoms left anywhere low enough for me to reach.  I walked up the boreen and then I walked down again. I went out into the fields and all around the edges of Scully’s wood.  Wherever I could see good blossoms I had a struggle to get close.  Most of the trees had deep swathes of tall nettles growing right in front of them.  In some places there was two metres of nettle between me and the tree.  The top of the nettles was as high as my face and wading through the dense growth was hard. My face and neck and hands were thoroughly stung.  Not one of the several paths made by the fox to go in and out of the wood from the field was of any use to me.  It took me a ridiculously long time to collect my forty blossoms.  But I did it.  The cordial is made and is now it is infusing for 24 hours.  Later I will no doubt be glad that I did this, but when I finished last night I was only annoyed with the whole process.

2 July Thursday

We had the big table all lined with books and cards.  Every pile of publications had a little piece of paper on it with the year.  The earliest year was 1964.  We had twenty five years spread out.  We could not fit everything on the table up to the present day. That will involve a second laying out.  This was the first installment of sorting.  The three of us were organizing, placing, re-positioning and listing the books and cards for several hours.  For the entire time we were working the door to the barn was wide open.  We needed the air.  The upstairs door was open too.  We had a nice little cross breeze keeping us from being too hot.  Suddenly a big gust of wind blew in.  Every little piece of paper with the dates written on it blew off the table.  I had jiggled the piles around at one point to make them fit the table better.  Sadly, that meant the piles were no longer in chronological order.  Getting the piles re-identified was frustrating   It all took far longer than we would have liked.

1 July Wednesday

As of today, the cost of postage has gone up. It went up last year at the beginning of July too. I do not know if it also went up the previous year.  An International letter stamp, which is for anywhere outside of Ireland, was 1 euro yesterday.  Today it is 1 euro 5 cent.  The domestic, or National, stamps have gone from 68 cent to 70 cent.  There are two ways to buy stamps.  If the postmistress sells them to me directly, she prints the stamps out from her computer and each stamp has a different picture on it.  If I buy a book of stamps the pictures will be the same for all ten stamps. The new National stamp has the head of a handsome red fox.  The International stamp has the head of an otter.  I would prefer to be using the fox but unfortunately the majority of what we post is going out of the country.

29 June Monday

Mary’s mother wanted to know some things about us.  She wanted to know how it was for Mary to work with us.  She wanted to know more about who we were than simply being two names.  Mary told her a few things that she hoped would help her mother to form a picture.  She told her mother that we had walked to Dublin a few years ago. She told her mother that we walked to Dublin because that was our idea of fun.  She explained that it took us ten days to get from our house to Dublin.  Mary’s mother asked “Do they not have a car then?”

28 June Sunday

We went to Veronica’s funeral today.  She died on Thursday.  She had been ill for a long time but her death still took a lot of people by surprise.  The funeral was at the church in Fourmilewater which was where her husband Tom was buried five years ago.  Tom’s funeral took place on a bitterly cold winter day.  That day the priest rushed both the service and the burial because snow was falling heavily and everyone was eager to get going before the roads got too slippery.  That day the altar girls wore winter coats over their robes and so did the priest.  In contrast, today was a glorious sunny day.  The church was full.  The community really turned out.  The funeral mass took place at the same time as the usual morning mass so I do not know if everyone was there for Veronica or if they would have been there anyway.  People were wearing sleeveless dresses and light summer shirts.  I think she would have enjoyed the light and bright clothing of the crowd. The priest kept calling her A Gentle Woman.  I think that must be the female equivalent of An Inoffensive Man.   A dead man is often described as An Inoffensive Man.  I am always unsure if this is a compliment or an insult.  I wonder if being described as A Gentle Woman is a similar way to say something without saying much. When the coffin was led outside to the grave, everyone followed.  Some people walked right down the hill and into the adjoining cemetery.  Other people lined up along the concrete wall between the church and the cemetery.  Some people leaned against the wall and others stood right up on the top of it. There was a lot of quiet conversation and even some giggling as we waited for the burial.  People exchanged little anecdotes about Veronica. Everyone who had ever met her knew that she was a great talker.   The consensus seemed to be that she was well able to talk for all of Waterford. The view out across the hills was south east towards the foothills of the Comeraghs.  The hills looked stunning in the bright sun. It looked like the entire congregation stayed for the burial.

27 June Saturday

Everything looks dry.  The grass roof on the book barn is completely brown and dead looking.  Fields are full of bales of hay scattered around or piled up. Other fields have black wrapped plastic bales full of silage lined up or clumped in a group. The freshly cut fields are all golden.  The fields full of things like barley, and potatoes and corn are still growing.  They remain green but still there is an overall look of dryness over everything.   The boreen is lined with long meadow grasses.  There are very few scratchy things.  It is just grass. The cow parsley is either completely gone or it is just a skeleton plant now.  The grasses have never been so long in the boreen.  It is necessary to close the car windows on both sides to prevent the grasses slapping us in the face as we drive down.  It is better than the brambles and the wild roses which have grabbed at me in other years.  They tear and scratch at the skin whether I am walking or driving. I should enjoy the softness of these grasses fluffing against my face.



Source: somewordsforlivinglocally

Good-looking to talk to

13 June Saturday

I overheard one man saying to another  “She is very good-looking to talk to.”

12 June Friday

A car was left with the motor running right in the center of the completely empty car park at the graveyard.  It is a very small car park so being right in the middle of it meant movement was pretty well blocked by this car.  The driver of the car was down in the graveyard visiting with someone who is buried there.  I mentioned this to a friend.  I said I found it odd.  She said it is a normal thing to stop on a daily basis to to visit your mother or whoever is buried just so that you can say whatever it is you need to say.  She said that just because someone is dead you do not need to stop talking to them.  I agreed that that is fine and I agreed that it was not unusual,  but what I wondered is wasn’t it strange to leave your motor running.  She could not agree that it was strange.  She said, Well, sure aren’t we are all in a rush this days?

11 June Thursday

There is a big machine doing this particular job.  All of the farm machines are big now.  It is silly to comment about one of them being big.  Driving on these narrow lanes is getting more and more dangerous especially when everyone is getting the hay and the silage in. The machines are as big as the road.  More and more often the huge machinery coming at us will be preceded by a car or a truck with lights flashing.  We see the lights and we slow and we salute but still sometimes there is no where to go.  Pulling off the road is not always easy as there is no where to go except into some bushes but the bushes won’t let us in even if we wanted to drive into them.  A few days of good weather means nothing stops. The weather has been good.

The big machine I am currently most interested in lays out long strips of plastic.  After this machine has been in it, a field looks like corduroy.  There are brown mounded rows of earth and then there are long parallel strips of plastic which look white or silver depending on the light.  This method was first used for carrots but now it is used for corn and maybe for other things too.  The plastic heats up the earth underneath it and the seeds germinate faster and the plants grow faster.  This machine unrolls strips of plastic which work as incubation. As the plant grows, the plastic, which I think is biodegradable, breaks down to let the plant through.  Maybe there are little slits in the plastic to let the plant grow up.  I do not what happens as the plant grows more.  Maybe the plastic breaks down in the sun and the weather. Maybe the plastic gets ploughed back into the soil. I need to find out more about the corduroy method.

10 June Wednesday

The man on the radio said that the livestock population of this country is larger than the human population.  I think that the human population rests at about 3.8 million.  I wish he had given a number for the livestock.

9 June Tuesday

Flower boxes are now in position on the long sweeping corner out of Ardfinnan.   There are thirteen of them.  They are freshly coated with red gloss paint.  The arrival of these boxes along the low concrete wall on the edge of a potato field is a sign of summer.  I think they are attached to the fence so that they won’t topple into the road.  Each box is about three meters from the next box.  The boxes are densely planted with petunias, geraniums and something white which I cannot quite identify while driving.  I will be better able to name the flowers as they grow a bit bigger. It is not a place where I would ever be walking.  I do not think it is a corner where anyone would be walking.  These flowers are for viewing as one passes in a moving car.  They are also for viewing from the four of or five houses across the road.  I think they are mostly there for viewing by the Tidy Towns Competition Committee who will be around later in the year. As a village,  Ardfinnan is very competitive in the world of Tidy Towns.  It took me three times going by in the car before I was able to be certain that there are thirteen boxes.



Source: somewordsforlivinglocally

The Fox & The Fox.

8 June Monday

A baby fox came to the kitchen door this morning.  The door was wide open. He was just walking into the house when I  appeared.  We were both startled.  He was gone almost before I had a chance to register his presence.

6 June Saturday

I was pleased to meet John as I walked through the woods on the river path in Cahir this morning.  He is walking a bit slower but he still has a steady pace. He continues to do his five mile walk but since March he is no longer doing it every day.  He now walks five days a week. He is feeling bad about not doing the full week but he said that he is feeling tired.  He is nearly 92.  He told me that he will never see 91 again and that indeed he does not feel certain that he will make it to 92.  Two weeks ago he traveled to Istanbul with his daughter.   He liked the architecture very much but he did not like the food.  He said everyone there had a new car. There was not an old car to be seen.  He would have liked to have seen a bit more of the traditional building methods but it was too difficult to go out into the countryside.  He said he was glad to have gone but he was more glad to get home and to have some normal food.  He was glad to return to his walking schedule.

5 June Friday

I am sitting upstairs in the cafe looking out at the ducks and the river and the castle.  I have the newspaper.  I have a coffee and a scone.  I have five new books purchased for one euro each from the Lion’s Club fund-raising bookshop.  I am waiting while Mike gives the car a service.  Another customer arrived with a problem before I did so he needs to take care of that car first.  I will have a longer wait.  The bookshop and the post office were my first stops.  Now I am here.

I am taking a closer look at the books I bought.  Two women sat across from one another at the little table in the bookshop.  There was a tablecloth and a small money box on the table.  One woman sat behind the table and the other sat across from her blocking all movement on that side of the shop. They each had large cups of tea. They never stopped talking for one second.  They went on and on in minute detail about anything and everything.   Actually one woman talked and the other just repeated things back to her like an echo. Everything was imperative. I was the only customer.  It was difficult to focus on the books in such a small space with so much talking. I do know quite a bit more than I want or need to know about the woman who was doing the talking.

There is one other table occupied up in this part of the cafe. It has been lovely and quiet while I have been sitting here.  The silence was just interrupted by a woman at the other table.  She made a phone call to a man named Frank.  She cancelled her twelve o’clock appointment for getting a tattoo.  She told him she was chickening out.

4 June Thursday

I learned a new word today. Perisher.  I am a Perisher.  I am someone who feels the cold.  I spent all day today pulling my sweater on and off.  It is not only the unseasonable strange weather, it is me.  It is normal to hear someone say that they are Perished With The Cold.  The word Perisher is a new to me.  Now I have this word so even if it does go from sun to cold and cloudy several times an hour, I can enjoy my new word.  Everyone else can wear T-shirts but as a Perisher I will always keep something warm near.

3 June Wednesday

It is still colder than it should be for this time of year.  The greyness is the depressing. Walking across Joe’s field, I saw The Fox outlined against the flat colour of the sky.  He was very close to me.  I stopped and he stopped and we looked at each other.  After a few minutes he moved off slowly up towards his woods and I continued over the hill.  When I mentioned this casual meeting with the fox to a neighbour she immediately wanted to know if it was Her Fox.  She has been worried about a fox loitering near her ducks and geese.  She described the fox to me.  She said Her Fox had a light coloured tip at the end of his tail.  I do not think Her Fox is the same as The Fox.  I always call the fox The Fox. I never call him mine.  Yesterday there were two foxes walking up the boreen just beside the house.  When they saw movement through the window one ran off in one direction and one turned and went back the way it had come.  I shall still call each individual fox The Fox, but I am happy to see that there is more than one.

2 June Tuesday

It used to be normal that if a person was at home, the door of the house was open. It was mostly the kitchen door that was left open but it could be another door.  It was a way of letting passing people know that there was someone there.  It was also a way of letting air into the house. It is not such a common thing now for lots of reasons.  Most people do not want to let all of their heat out.  Nor do they want passing people coming in.  It is not such a friendly world and not everyone who passes is someone that one knows. Most people are off at jobs so there is no one at home in the daytime anyway.

Today I went to the Breast Check Mobile Unit.  Every two years we women are sent an appointment for an X-ray.  The Breast Check Unit is a long trailer which is driven to the grounds of the hospital and parked there for a few months.  The truck part of the trailer drives away, then metal steps are put in place and the unit is open for business. Everything needed is inside. The big machines, the curtained changing rooms, waiting benches and a desk.  Everything is attached to floor and walls, so that when the unit is moved somewhere else nothing will be disturbed.  When I arrived this morning the door was closed.  The keys were hanging in the lock.  I opened the door and walked in.  Two women were there putting on their uniform tops.  They were not fully dressed yet.  One of them snapped at me and said that they were not open yet.  I said that the door was unlocked.  She said “Unlocked yes. But Not Open.  When we are open, the door will be open.”  I went back outside to wait for the door to open.

1 June Monday

The rusty metal things which the blacksmith scraped and prepped were all mounted on wooden blocks by Simon.  Sadly, not one of them is a success for printing.  Each piece looks fine on its little block.  To the naked eye they look flat and smooth, but as soon as we tried to print them the defects and the unevenness were all too evident.  After work on the Adana failed, I tried hand-rolling them with ink and doing individual prints by rubbing on the back of a sheet of paper.  That was a failure too.  They might have been interesting in any of these methods even with all of the defects.  They might have looked fantastic with all of the unevenness and bumps but instead they just looked messy and kind of ugly.  We are disappointed.  So far we have not found a new solution.



Source: somewordsforlivinglocally

Rainsunrainwindsunrainsunwindcloudrainsun

31 May Sunday

We walked to the Abbey and down toward the river.  Wild wind sun rain wind sun cloud rain sun rainbow rain sun kind of weather continued during the whole walk.  The barley is thigh-high on both sides of the track.  At the bottom gate we spoke with four Frenchmen in full fishing gear.  They were getting ready to cross through the field full of calves to the riverbank.  They were surprised to see us.  We were surprised to see them.  We never see another person down there except maybe the farmer who owns the fields. They had extremely long fishing rods which flapped about in the wind.  They knew the rain was coming again. They spoke no English. We discussed the weather in French and then we all continued with what we were doing.  We all knew we would get drenched.  I had to change my trousers when I got home.

30 May Saturday

It was cold at the market this morning, but it was dry.  I spoke with the woman who sells knitted things.  A few weeks ago she made a tea cosy that looked like the front of a Volkswagon camper van.  She was very pleased with it. Everyone admired it. Since then she has made two more versions of the camper van.  She says she is trying to get the windscreen wipers right. I like the early version where the wipers are made up of several little stitches but she is working on a longer loop which does look more like an actual wiper.   She has three camper vans and a beehive and little Aran sweaters with buttons up the front, as well as some other styles of tea cosies.  They are lined up on two levels on her table.  They look wonderful as a group.  She rarely sells one.  She says that she makes tea in a mug with a teabag herself.  Maybe no one is using tea cosies these days.  She said she won’t make another camper van until she sells one of the ones she has already knitted.

It has been trying to rain since 11 this morning.  The weather report promised that it would rain all evening and into the night.  Evening is anytime after lunch so we knew the afternoon would be a wet one.  After returning from the market, I stalled on going out to do anything.  Simon rushed outside to do some jobs immediately before lunch.   I stalled and stalled.  It was cold and windy as well as threatening rain.  Just changing into my grubby garden clothes was something I put off.  A few minutes ago I walked down to the book barn and a steady soft drizzle was coming down.  I finally have my excuse not to go and work outside. Now I can settle to something inside.  It is a real relief.  We are so weary of this cold and gloom and sun and rain and no sun and the never-ending chill over everything.  It is not so many hours before the month of June begins and it is not very nice.

29 May Friday

I followed a car pulling a horse box for about 20 kilometres.  On the back of the trailer there was a blue net sack with hay in it.  The sack bounced and twirled as the car and the horse box moved along.  Sometimes the wind caught the hay and made it spin even more than the bumping along on the back of the trailer already made it do.  I could not help but worry if the horse inside the box had some hay to eat during his journey or if his supply was what I was watching bouncing and blowing away in small bits all along the road.

27 May Wednesday

The posters have all been taken down.  The feeling of exhilaration and celebration after the successful YES vote has all settled now.  For the weeks and days before the referendum the topic was never far from our lives.  Directly after the results no one spoke of anything else. People flew from as far away as New Zealand and Australia just to be able to vote.  It was the Yes voters who traveled.  I do not think the No people were as committed.  There were many stories being told.  People were both thrilled and proud to have voted for equality. Now it seems that it is time to move on and to talk about other things.

26 May Tuesday

The driving entrance to some houses is called an Avenue.  I think an Avenue usually has a tarred surface.  If not tarred, it is at least a hard surface.  An Avenue is not a dirt track with grass in the middle. An Avenue simply by its name suggests something a little bit finer and a bit wider.  An Avenue implies something grand.  I never hear an Avenue called a drive nor a driveway.  Nor is a boreen an Avenue. A boreen is too rough.

Our own boreen has become a tunnel.  It is horribly bumpy underneath and it is wildly overgrown on the sides and the top.  The cow parsley has come into its largest and most frothy and effusive mode.  The cow parsley is meeting itself at the top and making a canopy under which we drive and walk.  It is a fluffy tunnel. The blossoms touch the car on both sides and on the roof as though they are some kind of car wash.  An Avenue would never have anything at all touching a vehicle as it drove along.



Source: somewordsforlivinglocally

Decided

21 May Thursday

Tomorrow is voting day for the referendum on Same-Sex Marriage.  Both radio and television have been full of discussions and arguments.  The newspapers have been teaming with articles and essays. There are posters up on trees.  Polls report daily on the swings of the Yes, the No and the Undecided.  It has seemed clear that the Yes vote is way out ahead but I think no one dares to feel certain.  The rural vote is less positive than the urban vote. And now we are dropping into this day of silence from the media before voting begins.  The referendum is a huge thing in this old-fashioned but strangely progressive country.  It is a huge thing, period.

20 May Wednesday

Late afternoon sun.  Suddenly at 5.30 it is a beautiful day.  It is almost enough to make me forget the rain and hail and the broken heating system.  It is almost enough to make me forget how unpleasant it is to even be thinking about a heating system at the end of May.  We have had Thor staying for a few days.  It has been so nice to have a dog in the house again.  He is quite deaf so he follows us around because he needs to know where we are.  I find myself looking for him if I do not see him often.  I do not know who is following whom.  I took him out walking. We met Oscar.  Male dogs do not always get along very well but both Thor and Oscar are agreeable animals. They quickly fell into step together.  As a result of their exploring and sniffing, I made the walk much longer.  Thor would look back every so often to check if I was with them.  I could shout out a direction to Oscar and I could be certain that Thor would follow.  It is not possible to shout directions to a deaf dog but hand signals do work.  Oscar became the guide dog.  A guide dog for a dog. We all had a great walk yesterday.  We had another great walk today.  Thor is very small and Oscar is very big but somehow they managed to find a pace to satisfy them both. I was worried about Thor struggling through the cow parsley and the long grasses but he was so determined to keep up that no obstacle slowed him down.  It is so much better to walk with a dog.  Everything is better with a dog.

18 May Monday

Jo Hyland locks and unlocks the church and keeps track of the cleaning.  I do not know if she does the cleaning herself, but I think she does.  She is also the bell-ringer.  She pulls the thick ropes to ring the bells for Mass and for funerals.  She is a very small woman. She is described as being Low to the Ground. I just learned that she is 93 years old.  She will let her daughter or someone else unlock or lock the church if she is unwell or if the weather is wretched, but she will not allow anyone else to ring the bells.

17 May Sunday

We have eaten Lumpers!  Up until now my only experience with a Lumper was in reports of the famine.  It was one of the potatoes which suffered badly from blight. Because there were so many Lumpers planted at the time of the famine, they contributed to massive crop failure.  I understood Lumpers to have a bad reputation.  I have never seen a Lumper for sale in a shop nor at a market, so I was surprised when Simon arrived home with a bag of them.  He was excited.  My heart sank.  I feared that we were stuck with yet another bag of floury potatoes which would not behave properly. I feared that we would complain and moan through this bag of potatoes.  The Lumpers were ugly.  They obviously earned their name because of their bumpy and not beautiful appearance.  To our surprise, the Lumpers are lovely to eat.  They are a delicious potato with a great texture. They are not at all floury.  We cooked them in several different ways and each time the eating was pleasurable.  These Lumpers came from Antrim.  I wonder if we will be able to find them again or if their presence here was a freak.  If no one but us likes them, the shop where they came from might be tempted to say No when next offered a load of Lumpers.



Source: somewordsforlivinglocally

Stand clear. Luggage doors operate.

15 May Friday

I went to catch the 3.45 post.  The village was full of cars.  I parked at the bottom of the bridge and walked in. I thought the cars were lined up for a funeral but I knew that funerals are always always at 11 in the morning.  This was not the right time of day for a funeral.  People were standing in front of the church and across the street in front of the shop and facing the church.  Everyone was talking but there was not much sound.  It was quiet with the waiting.  I nodded and spoke to people as I went along and into the shop.  The entire side of the street in front of the church was blocked off with striped plastic tapes.  I went into the shop and posted my parcels.  By the time I had done that, the lights were turned off, the shades were pulled down and the door was shut.  Kieran pulled the grating halfway down.  I was trapped in the shop.  I did my photocopying in the dim light.  The three of us talked in low voices even though we were inside the shop and we could have spoken in normal voices.  The man who died was 85 or 86 and had been poorly for 14 years.  For the last 8 years he had been badly taken with Alzheimer’s.  He had a large family.  I did not know the man and I do not think I know his family.  I might know some of them by sight but this was not the time to find out.  He had six or seven daughters and one son and they all had children and then there were some great-grandchildren too. The reason that the funeral had to be so late in the day was because they were waiting for the sister of the deceased.  She was 84 herself and had to take several planes to get here from the western provinces of Canada.

When the hearse arrived all of the striped tapes were quickly removed and the family was able to park all along in front of the church.  We watched from a small unshaded area of the window.   Dozens and dozens of floral wreathes and bouquets were taken out of the back of the hearse.  Each one was handed to a young girl.  There were lots of little girls in bright outfits.  In no time they were each holding flowers.  When the coffin was carried into the church, the girls and their flowers followed close behind and then the rest of the family went in and then other people filed in.  Not everyone went into the church. There are always some men who stand outside and smoke and speak among themselves while the service goes on inside. Other people simply take their leave after the coffin has been carried into the church.  That was when I slipped out and under the grating and headed back to my car.  In the thirty minutes or so that I had been in the shop, another 8 cars had pulled in and parked behind me. Cars were parked right up the side of the narrow bridge.

11 May Monday

I am obsessed with the recorded announcement: STAND CLEAR. LUGGAGE DOORS OPERATE.  It repeats again and again for the entire time that the luggage doors are open.  The doors swing upward from the side of the bus whenever there is a stop and when someone needs to get something out or to put something in under the bus. Underneath is the storage place for baby prams, suitcases and other cumbersome packages.  Each time I listen carefully to the announcement.  There is something wrong with the sentence.  I feel certain it should say LUGGAGE DOORS OPERATING or LUGGAGE DOORS ARE OPERATING. I listen hard to try to hear if I am missing a syllable or a word.  I have listened so hard and so carefully so many times that I now find myself saying the words along with the announcement. I repeat the words at exactly the same speed as the recording.  It is more intoning than speaking the words.  If they are repeated ten times I chant them ten times.  I harbour a fantasy of everyone on the bus repeating the words along with me and along with the announcement.  It would be a quiet kind of joining in.  When the announcement stops and the doors return to their closed position, everyone will continue reading or texting or sleeping and not one of us will refer to the chanting which we did together.  The next time the door opens we will all do it again. And again.  All the way to Cork or Dublin or wherever the bus is going.

10 May Sunday

It is crazy weather.  The sun is out most of the time.  The rain is lashing down most of the time.  The sun does not disappear behind clouds.  The rain just falls hard and then not so hard and then just a little.  The rain continues without cease.  The birds keep singing.  Sometimes the noise of the rain on the roof of the big room is so loud that it is difficult to hear myself think.  But beyond the sound of the heavy rain the bird song breaks through.  The wind is gusting and blowing all the time.  The wind never stops either.  Nothing stops.  Rain. Sun. Birds. Wind.  Nothing stops so nothing else stops.

9 May Saturday

As I walked toward the entrance of the market, I saw a man walking away from the market.  He had four leeks in his left hand.  He had nothing else.  He carried neither a bag nor a basket.  I could hardly believe that he came to the market just to purchase four leeks.  I have been thinking about him all day.

8 May Friday

A cardboard box had been cut open and flattened out on the ground.  On top of the cardboard there was a brown rubber backed door mat.  and the whole thing was topped by an orange rubber traffic cone.  I thought it was all covering up a hole in the tarmac, but instead it was covering up a spill.  Someone had dropped a bucket of paint.  Sky blue paint oozed out from the edges of the cardboard.  The apparatus and the traffic cone were in place to protect customers to the shop from stepping out of their car and right into the pigment.  After three days the cardboard and the carpet have been removed.  What remains is a sky blue shaped mess with orange cones on either side of it. I assume that the cones are still there because if the paint was oil based, it might still be wet.



Source: somewordsforlivinglocally

Smokey Black Beans with Wilted Greens and Polenta Dumplings

drwg to 77526

This is my current favourite, ‘desert island’ dinner. It used to be a fast and lightly cooked vegetable couscous with harissa sauce to pour over, but this has capped it all. You could live on this with very minimal income, maybe costing a fiver to make a big pot for the week. It’s not that I’m a vegetarian, but if you can achieve this richness without meat, who needs it.

 

Braze six or so chopped garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until they’re brown or nearly burnt. Add a large chopped onion or two smaller ones, and let it sweat down. You can add a nub of chorizo if you believe that all bean dishes need pork, but you really don’t need to. Add two tins of black beans rinsed of their brine. Add two tins of chopped tomatoes. Grind two dried chipotle chillies and one large ancho chillie in a mortar, or cup them up finely, and add. You can get these from your Mexican shop, or on-line. Adjust the liquid level to just have everything covered. You can add a cup of freshly brewed coffee as an option for liquid, and two squares of dark chocolate. Let it simmer away for days, hardly bubbling at all.

Make a stiff polenta by stirring cornmeal into boiling water with a little oil. When it’s ready, take two desert spoons and make ovaloid dumplings and leave them to set further on a plate. When you’re ready to eat, add some of them to the beans and let them heat through and poach a little further. At the end add the greens, which can be spinach, the quickest, chard, kale or cavolo nero. Let it cook through and serve.

Of course, you can make this whole dish from scratch, but I think the quality of the tinned stuff is fine. This dish only gets better with reheating and more servings. There is some innate chemistry between the tomatoes and beans taking place, and eaten with the cornmeal dumplings, complete protein.


Stadt aus Glas

Stadt_aus_Glas

The apex of that summer of 1990 had been the making of Rüdiger Schöttle’s ‘Stadt Aus Glas’, the small houses for which were made by local glass craftsmen. They were covered in ultra-violet powder, the lights were left on, and we quit for the summer. It glowed from across the river Arno.


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