some words for living locally

Erica Van Horn

The Dancing Place

12 March Sunday

Two black bulls are in Joe’s front field. They were standing around there like cut out silhouettes in January before I went away and they are still there. As if they have never been anywhere except there.

13 March Monday

On inquiring in the shop if they had any brown shoe polish, the woman and I began a conversation about the reduced availability of shoe polish and about the general lack of shoe polishing done by anyone these days. We agreed that the disappearance of shoe polishing activity probably is largely to do with people wearing sneakers or trainers, soft shoes that never needed polishing. She apologized for her own lack of shoe polish to sell to me and then she suggested, in a whisper, that I might try using Spray Furniture Polish. She said that she has used this method herself in the past and assured me that it works well. Still in a hushed voice, she said, “If I were to see you out and about with well polished boots, I would be the last person to question whether the shine came from shoe polish or furniture polish. The question would never cross my mind.”

14 March Tuesday

When Liam Harper needs an updated reading of our electricity consumption, he sends me a text and requests it. This happens several times a year. He used to leave a telephone message on the land line. Some weeks ago he sent a text and I told him that I was out of the country and that I would send the reading along as soon as I got home. He sent back a message saying Lovely! Enjoy! With little glasses of champagne scattered about. Back at home, I sent him the current reading: 81668. Smart Meters have been installed in local homes recently but we do not have one yet because we were not here when the men were going around doing the installations. For at least twenty-three years, we have reported our readings to Liam Harper, either by telephone or by text. I would not know Liam Harper if I met him on the road but I feel we have a certain amiable friendship. I asked Liam if the installation of a Smart Meter would spell the end of our regular chats. He texted back No More Reading with the Smart Meters! So, this current reading was our last. He added that he was delighted that we had a great holiday.

15 March Wednesday

There are daffodils everywhere. Daffodils. Narcissus. Crocus. Hyacinths. Forsythia. It is cold and often wet but it looks like spring, even when it does not feel like spring.  Primroses are blooming on the way up the boreen. And the wild garlic has arrived.

16 March Thursday

Ned arrived with a supply of fuel. I opened the window to pull in the extension lead and I plugged it in to the wall socket. Ned brings heating fuel on a small truck with a generator. The generator needs to be plugged into an electricity source in order to function. It is not possible for a normal size oil truck to come down the boreen so we always need to wait until Ned can come and then we must always be at home so that we can plug in the generator for him. We do the same ritual every time. He told me that he needed the ladder, so I went to the lean-to and dragged three ladders out and onto the grass. They were kind of tangled into each other and there were lengths of timber on top of them, so it was a struggle.  I could not pull only one out. I had to pull all three at the same time. The step ladder was too short. I took him one of the taller ladders, and he climbed up the banking to the oil tank where he cut away brambles with clippers before he started to fill. When he was finished, I unplugged the generator and handed the plug back out the window to him. Then we had tea and discussed the world. And we discussed Simon’s uncanny ability to measure volume. Before we ring Ned, Simon goes outside with a stick and he climbs up the banking and makes a measurement of the contents of the green plastic tank. There are no markings on the stick, nor on the tank. This time he did not even use a stick. Instead he just tapped the tank and listened to the fullness. Or the emptiness. When he arrives at the number of litres he thinks we need, he asks Ned to bring that amount. Today it was 750 litres. So far his estimate has never been wrong. Ned swears he has never known anything like it for accuracy. Before he left, Ned shouted to me that he had put the ladder away. When I went outside later, I saw that he had done so. Sort of. He threw the ladder down onto the grass with the other two, leaving them all for me to put away. It was even more difficult shoving them back into the lean-to than it had been to get them out.

19 March Sunday

I waited at Flemingstown Cross for the cows to pass. Flemingstown is not a town. It is just a name for a short area of road and land. It is a townland. There is no sign for Flemingstown. It is just a place with no specific edges, and we all know the name of it, which is how we are able to tell someone where we are or where something else is. There were two white tapes stretched across the road, one blocking my direction and another blocking the cul de sac to my right. The white tapes were tied onto bushes and even though they had no real physical strength or authority they were enough to let the cows know that they had to take a right, or my left, down Flemingstown. The cows plodded along single file to where they were being directed by this lack of choice. The boy on the quad bike following the cows looked very young. He dismounted to untie the white tapes and free the road again for traffic. I recognized that the cows belonged to Tomás O’Dwyer but I knew this boy was not a son of Tomás. He has five daughters.

20 March Monday

I walked down the street from Mike’s garage after leaving the car to be checked out. There is a gate in a break of the stone wall that leads into a field and often there is a small horse eating in the field. Maybe it is a pony. Today the horse was at the gate looking in the opposite direction from me as I approached on the sidewalk. I called out a cheerful Hello Horse! and he turned his head around and bit me on the shoulder. It was not a hard bite and it did not go through my coat. But it hurt and  it surprised me. I think it surprised the horse too. When I walked back the same way a few hours later, I had cleaned the horse saliva off my coat and I thought I might make a photograph of The Biter. He was no longer at the gate. I could not see him anywhere far down the muddy field.

21 March Tuesday

A elderly man stood in the center of the door to the shop.  Each time someone approached him to go in, or to come out of the shop, he made moves first left and then right and then left again.  He blocked the way in a kind of false confusion, threw out his arms and jiggled his hips back and forth. Each time, he announced with glee, “This is The Dancing Place!” I have heard this expression used before. It is used to define a busy doorway where people bump into one another as they try to go past one another or around one another. The idea of it being a Dancing Place is about the unintentional movement of two people together trying to move around one another. it suggests a dance. The man was reveling in the chaos of making a normally efficient doorway into a party. He was having a wonderful time.

22 March Wednesday

The top blew off one of the nut feeders. It blew off and it blew away. I cannot find it anywhere. I have now secured an oyster shell on the top of the feeder with the help of an elastic band. I may never find the original top but that is no longer a worry. This one is working well.

That Drainpipe of a Man

12 January Thursday

A commemorative stamp has been produced to celebrate the fifty year anniversary of Ireland joining the European Communities. There have been many articles in the newspapers and on the radio discussing the subject. There are a few gripes about the long arms of European regulations, but after watching the UK since Brexit, no one doubts that the decision to join was a wise one. Finding this glorious stamp at the post office today cheered up a gloomy grey and wet day.

13 January Friday

The rains have been torrential. The river has swollen hugely and fields are full of water. The road approaching the village is no longer bordered by fields. It looks like the mountains come right down to a lake.

15 January Sunday

If someone says she will meet me on Monday Week , she is not talking about tomorrow, the day after today, but the Monday after that. It is never Next Monday but always Monday Week.

16 January Monday

Joe has put numbers on some of his fence posts. Relief Farm Workers help him out for two or three weeks or months at a time. I assume the new numbers are helpful when he asks a lad to spread slurry on Field No. 8 or to move the fence wires to direct cows into Field No.12. When I think of it like this, the numbers make good sense. Each red number has the word PADDOCK printed above it. I hear people speak of fields and meadows but paddock is an alien word. Paddocks are not a word used in dairy farming. Paddocks are for horses not cows. Nevertheless, I am happy to have something new to look at and to read as I walk out. There is not much by way of print to read in nature.

17 January Tuesday

The top shelf in the Cahir library was not tall enough to put the books in right side up so they have just been crammed in with their spines at the top, and all I can see are the bottom pages. No titles are visible. It is no way to look for a book.

18 January Wednesday

Tommie went to Dublin once. He has never traveled any further from home, but he likes to tell me about Paris. He considers himself a bit of an expert on Paris. John is Tommie’s nephew. He is a long distance lorry driver and he rings Tommie from wherever he is. Wherever John is, if he is abroad for his work, according to Tommie he is always in Paris. He is in Paris if he is loading up with chocolates in Belgium or unloading his consignment of beef somewhere north of Paris or waiting to board a night ferry in the port of Calais or Le Havre. Whenever John is on the road, he is always in Paris.

Tommie tells me that John is a homebody and that he frequently bemoans the fact that he would prefer to be down any old muddy boreen than unloading his truck in Paris at five in the morning. Tommie does not have a mobile telephone.  He does not know anything about mobile telephones. When he speaks on his telephone he sits in the upright red chair right beside his small telephone table.  Even though he knows next to nothing about mobile telephones, he assures me that John has a really good mobile telephone. He is certain that it must be a very fine top of the range telephone because when John talks it sounds like he is right there in the room with Tommie.

Last week, John could not board the ship because the storms were ferocious and the seas were rough. That meant that he could not eat nor could he even go to the loo. He had to wait in the queue for hours and hours just in case they started to load the lorries. He did not want to be left behind. Once the lorries board the ship, there is hot food and a bed and a shower waiting for the freight drivers. Everything is included in the cost of crossing. Because of the storms, it took thirty hours before they could get onto the ship and when John returned to Ireland and unloaded his goods, he had to load up again and leave immediately because there was a schedule to be met. Tommie says that John is needed in Paris and that is why he is rarely at home.

20 January Friday

My workroom looks and feels like a storm has passed through. It has been far too cold to stay up in that barn or down in the book barn for long so I rush in and look for something and then I rush out again, leaving opened folders and boxes and little stacks of objects  and chaos in my wake. It is too cold to sit down for any period of time. This week I installed some pages of a book. I thought if they were up on the wall I could not avoid filling in the gaps of what I need to do to pull them all together. I thought I might trick myself to ease back into the project. These are the pages of An Inoffensive Man. An Inoffensive Man is an expression often used at funerals by a priest. I can never decide if it is a compliment to be called an Inoffensive Man, or if it suggests a dearth of admirable and noteworthy characteristics.  I put this book away a few years ago with good intentions but at this moment it is still nothing more than a series of disconnected stories about people I have met and about whom I know very little because I did not grow up here so I only know these mostly men at the end of their lives and what I know is what they have told me. It could all be lies.

21 January Saturday

The day was bright with watery sunshine. It was not really bright but it was not raining either. Two women stood on the footpath. One was giving out about the British Monarchy and the other one was her audience. The one said, “Those English people they loved their Queen. And oh, but then there was Poor Princess Diana. They loved her too, but Poor Diana was married to That Drainpipe of a Man. And now don’t you know but that Drainpipe is the King.”

23 January Sunday

Snowdrops are pushing up. I have been watching for them and today I see two have come into flower. I like the French word for snowdrops: Perce-neige which means to perforate or pierce the snow. There is no snow here for the green shoots to perforate, but the idea is the same. Snow. Mud. The promise of springtime is made visible in each green shoot.

A Butty Yoke

22 December Thursday

Tommie and I went to Dunnes’s Stores for his pre-Christmas shop. We drove into town early to avoid any crowds. His knee was paining him so he did not enjoy the trip as much as usual. He was glad to have traveled out, but he was gladder still to get home. Once he was settled back in his chair, he was eager to tell me about those people he had met and spoken to in the supermarket. He met one man he used to know through hurling matches a long time ago. He said the man had played for a competing team. He said being on opposite sides made no problem for either of them. The matches had taken place more than seventy years ago.  He was happy enough to converse with that man today. Before I left, he told me that he was glad to be back at home with his dog.  The dog is a needlepoint that Margaret did many years ago. It is used as a fire screen in the daytime when the fire is not yet lit.

23 December Friday

The Farmers Market took place this morning rather than tomorrow, which is Christmas Eve. It was busy with an air of excitement although we were sorry that the cheese woman was not there. Keith had very little on his stand. He had a few boxes of eggs and some apples and a lot of beets. The beets looked shiny. I went closer to take a look. I thought perhaps he had polished them but even as I thought it I could not believe that was possible. They were not polished but they had been scrubbed clean. They had been scrubbed so hard that the skins were rubbed off and the beets did indeed look polished. He said that the beets had been heavy with clay and barely recognizable as beets. He said they looked like clods of earth, so he washed them to make them look better. Three years ago, Keith was selling beautiful tulips grown by his wife but he had cut all of the leaves off every stem. He said cutting off the leaves made the tulips last longer. I said that I wanted leaves on my tulips and I suggested he could just let people make their own decision about leaves or no leaves.

Keith has been selling flowers and vegetables and eggs at the Farmers Market for more than ten years. He works very hard but he is not a natural. He is not a natural grower, nor vendor nor raiser of chickens. He is always the last one to arrive at the market and the last one to get his tables set up. We all bring our egg cartons to him for re-use. He and his wife make a tiny little printed label to put into each box of eggs that he sells. The label is made of two small pieces of paper, cut carefully with pinking shears and glued together with the date hand-written. The printed note may give the Best Before date, or it might be the day that the eggs were laid. It is not clear what the date represents. Making a tiny label for each box, one at a time, is at least as labour-intensive as the one-on-one visiting time he tries to spend with each of his chickens every single day.

26 December Monday

Whenever I open the kitchen door, Mary tumbles into the house. She sits out there pressing her entire body into the wood of the door. If it were sunny, I would think she is basking in the reflected heat of the door, but it is grey and bitterly cold. There is no warmth to be found from the wooden surface. I think instead she is listening and trying to be ready for when and if we remember to feed her. She does not appear every day now so I am not so regular about putting food out for her,  but if she does not eat it, the fox does.

28 December Wednesday

29 December Thursday

I have been keeping an eye on the Historical Society’s postcard supplies, purchasing a new one almost every time I visit the shop. I was delighted to buy two new ones today. One card shows Rose in front of the pub with some Scottish tourists and other one shows her with a crowd of local bikers.  They all like to stop there when they are out for a spin.

30 December Friday

The ground has thawed and there is mud everywhere. The bull in Joe’s front field stands for hours and hours ankle deep in the mud. If bulls have ankles? He does not seem to mind the cold mud.


3 January 2023 Tuesday

Breda’s horse died last night. His name was Levi. He had a stroke and he could no longer walk. He could not stand. They called the vet and she came to give him an injection to put him to sleep. Breda is heartbroken. Levi was a member of the family and he stayed on and on while various other horses and dogs and cats came and went. He was 36 years old and had been living with Breda for 25 of those years. I never knew that horses could live so long but I guess if they are healthy and well cared for, they do.

5 January Thursday

We had a bonanza load of post delivered today.  It is the first time we have had a delivery since 23 December.

6 January Friday

Epiphany. Twelfth Night. Little Christmas. Women’s Christmas. Nollaig na mBan. Today is the last day of Christmas and the day when all decorations and cards and trees and wreathes and lights and every single sign of the holiday period is supposed to come down and be stored away or thrown away. In counties Cork and Kerry the women go out to dinner together to celebrate all of the work they have done over the holiday. In the village, Anthony will move his Tyre Tree on its pallet into the back part of his yard and the greenery draped around it will die. It is the same this year as it was last year and it will be exactly the same again next year.

7 January Saturday

Teresa said her newly married grandson had traveled to Rome for his honeymoon and then got caught up in the Pope’s funeral.  She said it was not what he and his wife had planned for themselves.

8 January Sunday

A Butty Yoke is a short stubby kind of a person. It is not a complimentary way to describe someone but the description makes for a clear picture.

Ted Swallowed a Sock

8 December Thursday

The Newcastle Historical Society has produced a series of postcards to celebrate their ten year anniversary. The series is called A Snapshot in Time. Each card is a portrait of a local business. All of the businesses are small businesses. The cards seem to have been produced in tiny batches-maybe only 5 or 6 of each. I would like to have all of them but some of the images have run out already.  There must be 40 or 50 different cards. They tried to think of everyone.

9 December Friday

It is icy and it is cold. Such very low temperatures are not normal here. When these old houses were built the water pipes were not buried very deeply in the ground. I guess the trench for the pipe was dug by a single man with a shovel. The ground is full of shale so it would have been hard and slow work. The well is about sixty-five yards from the house. Digging a trench six to eight inches deep must have felt like it was deep enough. These days it is recommended that pipes be buried at least two feet down. I have filled 5 litre bottles with water in anticipation of the pipes freezing between the well and the house. It will not be the first time this has happened. I am filling bottles in readiness for the end of our water supply.

10 December Saturday

Pat the Fishmonger and Barry, who makes humus, and salsa and vegan peanut butter cookies, played music at the market this morning. They had never played together before, but they had a lovely time. In between numbers, Pat joked that everything at the fish stall was free while he was playing the music. He told people to go and help themselves. Barry needed a female voice at one point so he asked if anyone could sing the part. A woman stepped out from the audience and sang the song with him and then she went back to complete her shopping. It was cold and there were very few people at the market. The music made it feel like there was more going on.

11 December Sunday

The two black bulls were in the front field. The field rises uphill immediately so the bulls stood proud and tall above the ditch. Because of the added height of the steep field they look even more enormous than they are. From a distance they sometimes look like black silhouettes cut into the grass. Up close they look gigantic. As I walked towards them, there were 15 or 18 cows jostling against the bushes and against each other directly opposite the bulls on the other side of the track. They formed a long bumpy line. The cows were mooing and moaning and grunting and lowing in the direction of the bulls. The bulls were bellowing back across at the cows. It was loud and it was exciting to approach the conversation which was separated by a very short distance. All of the noise stopped as I walked down the boreen between them. It started up again immediately after I passed.

12 December Monday

Mary is looking well. When she first started hanging around she was scrawny and her coat was matted and dull. Now her coat is shiny and she is fat. Maybe she is pregnant. Or maybe she is just looking good on the extra food. For a few days there was a second cat. He sat up on the window sill and watched through the window at the movement on the television screen. He was hungry, too but Mary saw him off and he has not been back since.

13 December Tuesday

I had planned to take Tommie into town today to shop at Dunnes’ Stores. The fog is white and thick and visibility is poor. The roads are icy. Temperatures continue to be well below zero. We spoke on the telephone and decided that it was best to stay at home and to wait for better weather. Tommie says he is Kept Going watching the World Cup matches. He is enjoying it. He says that if he were a betting man he would put his money on France to win overall, but he says his favorite team so far has been the Japanese. He admired their speed. After talking about speed, he immediately changed the subject and discussed the merits of his walking stick and the security of using it. He has no doubt that triangulation is the best form of support.

14 December Wednesday

Ted was unwell. He was not eating. He was simply not himself. After a few days, he was taken to the vet. The vet took an X-ray and suggested that maybe Ted had swallowed a sock. She said it is not unusual for a dog to get a wad of fabric caught in his stomach and that it can be painful. She said that if Ted did not pass the sock in the next day or two they would need to cut him open and remove it. It seemed a drastic solution. We have all been worrying about Ted and the sock but today the sock appeared in a bowel movement. The news spread along the road. There is great relief all around.

16 December Friday

Usually when I take the compost out to empty, I rinse my bucket in the nearby water butt. In this deep cold, the water is frozen solid. I may not rinse my bucket again until spring.


Saving power

Saturday 12 November

There was a musical performance at the market this morning. It was cold and damp and the children playing the instruments did not look very enthusiastic. They had been drafted in to perform as a way to raise money for the local hospice.

13 November Sunday

Dogs were swarming everywhere. It is as though they were not separate four-legged beings but one single mass, like a liquid pouring across the grass and oozing this way and that. At first it was only about ten or twelve dogs. I saw them run up the track and then they came running back. Then they were rushing across the lawn and under the fence and into the field and back again. I ran out and shouted for them to GO HOME! GO HOME! GO! GO! GO! They heeded my voice and left as a pack rushing back down into the meadow. I could hear the noise of shouting up the hill. I could hear the sounds of the fox hunt. I hate the hunt and I hate how it spills over into our lives whether or not we like it. We have no choice about being surrounded by the mayhem on a quiet afternoon. I could not believe that horses and riders could even be moving up or down the Mass Path. The last time I tried to go up there it was completely impassable with overgrown vegetation. I was a small person on foot and I couldn’t get through the tangle of nettles and brambles. A horse with a rider upon it would have no chance. I went back into the house and suddenly there were horses in the yard, and riders running around and a pick-up truck arrived. There were six or seven men milling about and a few mounted riders and horses in Joe’s field. Some of the men were the ones in rough clothes: fleeces and jeans and hoodies with shovels or some other tools. These are the ones who clear the way and control the dogs and rush about. Others were the riders dressed up in full hunt kit with their little helmets and fitted jackets. The dogs were back. There were more dogs. Maybe forty of them. Maybe more. Maybe fifty. They were everywhere. There were no individual dogs just an oozing liquid mass of barking and baying. I ran outside and shouted at the dogs again while the riders in the field tried to direct the dogs to leave our yard but they were everywhere and the noise was getting louder. I shouted a lot and a man in a snug green jacket who was not on his horse explained to me calmly that they had not intended to come down this way but it is where the scent of the fox led them. I told him that the fox is wise and quick and that they will never catch him in such chaos and I said they should let us know when they were going to be in the area so that we do not feel like we are being invaded. He said the next time they might be in the area he would call and let me know. As he ran off, I shouted, “Well, don’t you want my phone number then?” And he shouted back “No. No. I will call!” meaning that he would drop by, of course, because no one says call when they mean to use the telephone because then they would say ring not call, and I know that but I was so cross that I forgot and anyway I doubt that he will call or ring and I will be angry and surprised again on another Sunday afternoon when the invasion happens all over again but probably with a different hunt.

Monday 14 November

We are being instructed by the government to think carefully about when we use electricity. The radio is full of helpful hints. The hours between 5-7 are to be avoided as much as possible which is difficult because that is when everyone is having their tea and children are being bathed and put to bed. We are also being told that it is bad to run the washing machine between those hours, but it is good to run the washing machine if it is a windy day because most of our energy will coming from the wind. This is silly. Wind turbines might be spinning like mad on a gusty day, but the electricity they produce is saved in batteries. Wind turbines do not provide electricity only when the wind is blowing.

Tuesday 15 November

We had finished our supper when the lights went out. The lights and all things electrical were gone. We lit a few candles and felt glad for the fire in the wood stove. There were texts flying back and forth between neighbors anticipating and predicting when the power would return, but then the telephone signal was lost too, so we decided that it was time for bed.

Wednesday 16 November

Today the entire world beyond the fence was completely white. The fog never lifted all day. It was bright but closed in all at the same time.


Thursday 17 November

Mary the Black Cat follows me. I think she believes that she is a dog. If I leave the house by the kitchen door, she moves away from the door quickly, and then she watches to see which way I am going. She reads my direction and bounds off across the grass in a bouncing kind of up and down movement. As she runs, she is less like a dog following me and not at all like a cat. She is more like a rabbit. She keeps her distance but travels with me in a parallel movement. When I am headed to the book barn she rushes off to the right to go down the high steps while I tend to turn left to go the longer and less steep route. We always arrive at the door at the same time. I go inside and she waits outside for our next movements.

Friday 18 November

I forgot that Friday morning is the day for many elderly people to collect their pensions at the post office. I heard two women talking and one said to the other that it used to be if she saw a man with a shaved head and tattoos she would be frightened half to death. The very sight of a tattoo made her fearful. Now she knows that it is probably just one of her grandsons and if it is not her grandson, then it is someone else’s grandson. Tattoos and shaved heads no longer scare her one tiny bit.

Saturday 19 November

I interrupted Tommie while he was listening to the 4.30 Public Service Announcements on Tipp FM. This is the daily report, accompanied by tolling bells, that announces any and all deaths in the entire county and lists details of when and where both the wake and the funeral will be held in the next few days. When he had finished listening, he crossed himself, and then he told me that he was warming a pie for his tea. It was balanced on the top of his radiator.


Mary on My Mind

Thursday 3 November

We were unable to land at Cork Airport. We tried. The pilot tried. The plane circled for thirty or forty minutes, bumping and thudding through clouds while waiting for the high winds to drop. The winds did not drop. Several passengers turned green. Cork Airport is located on a hilltop beside the sea. It is always windy. It was a terrible place to build an airport. After several announcements and a lot of circling, we were diverted to Shannon Airport. The landing there was wild and scary and bumpy. We all had trouble walking down the steps to disembark because the cross winds were pushing and gusting so hard against us.

Shannon Airport is a large, mostly empty, space. There is one shop and one restaurant/bar. The restaurant is not big. The rest of the building, on two floors, consists of cavernous unfilled spaces. Shannon never became the busy hub it was planned to be. There are few flights in and out of the airport. It is a two hour drive to Cork Airport. 130 kilometres. Coaches were being arranged to transport the passengers off our flight from Airport to Airport, but it was going to take a little while to get the two or three coaches organised. Everyone was hungry or thirsty or else they needed a strong drink to settle their nerves. Everyone from the entire flight went to the little restaurant. The restaurant was not expecting such a crowd in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. There was very little food left. All of the tables filled up with people drinking tea or pints of stout. Some people stood up and some went to sit outside in the smoking section which was in the howling wind. No one stayed outside for long.

We did not avail of the Cork coach. We caught a bus to Limerick bus and train station, and then another bus to Cahir. We were about three hours later than planned getting home. As the bus dropped down the hill into Cahir, we saw Breda through the window at the SuperValu check-out. We knew what she was doing. She was buying milk and a few things to make our arrival more pleasant. She delivered us home to our cold damp house. The door was swollen and difficult to open and it was difficult to close. The Black Cat was waiting for us beside the kitchen door. I greeted her as Mary and I have been calling her Mary ever since. There were a lot of people named Mary on the Limerick bus. They called out to one another and always used each other’s names which was usually their own name too. I had Mary on my mind.

There was a small hammer in a holder above my head. Below the hammer was a sticker announcing the presence of the hammer. In an emergency, the hammer should be used to smash the glass.

Friday 4 November

I have spent most of two days in Cahir. The car needed work before I could have the yearly inspection done. The library was closed and the second-hand book shop run by the Lion’s Club was closed. There is one cafe and it is cold in there. They are economizing by keeping the heat turned off. There is no where to wait at Mike’s garage. It is open to the elements and it is cold. He left me there while he went to take care of the first of my two flat tyres. He asked me to Woman the Fort so that he did not need to lock the place up. I thought to make myself useful while he was gone. I asked if I should answer the phone while he was away, but he no longer has a land line. A small economy. He does everything on his mobile phone now.

Saturday 5 November

It has been raining for weeks. Lakes have replaced fields and the river is swollen wide and running deeper and faster than ever. Everyone is weary of the non-stop downpours. The word Desperate is said a lot. Even when the sun comes out and the sky is blue, the sun does not last long enough to dry the land. I was in the shop and I heard one woman asking another: “Sure, could we be any more depressed?

Monday 7 November

Slugs usually disappear as the weather gets colder. But this November is not cold. It is mild and it is wet. It feels cold but that is not about the temperature. It is because the dampness gets into our bones and we feel chilled. When I put out a dish of food for Mary, the slugs are quick to climb up and over the plate. She is not bothered and seems well able to eat around them.

Tuesday 8 November

The waiting area for the NCT test is all new since last year. It is much bigger and there are large windows looking both into the inspection bays and out doors. There are three banks of four chairs each bolted to the floor. The seats are wide and long. The seats are too big for me. If my back is up against the backrest, my knees are unable to bend. My legs stick straight out. If my feet are on the floor my back is slumped awkwardly against the backrest. We can all sit at a safe distance from one another and if there is a toilet for use by the public, it is out of sight. We no longer have to sit gazing at the toilet and the sink if the last user fails to pull the door shut. We no longer sit knee to knee, but we remain as curious and alert to the goings on of everyone else’s car as we are to our own.

I forgot to bring my Drivers License or any other form of identification. I told the man that I had my library card with me. He sighed and said okay to that even though it has no photograph and it is not really an ID card.

The car failed the inspection test, so I spent another half day in Cahir. Once again the library and the book shop are closed. The river path and Inch Field remain flooded. I could not walk far in the sideways rain even if I wanted to. Mike replaced a wishbone on the right front side of the car and the suspension has been corrected. The re-test is scheduled for Tuesday.

Friday 11 November

It is so mild that the raspberries continue to ripen. There are not a lot but I gather a handful every day, between downpours.

All Asunder.

1 October Saturday

Jim has a way of presenting his vegetables at the Farmer’s Market. He makes them look like exactly what we want.

2 October Sunday

Sorting out the freezer is a job best done before winter sets in. The freezer is out in the shed so if I do not get an idea of what is inside it now, it will be too cold to spend time out there. Trying to figure out what is inside is more difficult when I walk across to the shed with a torch in the darkness. All frozen parcels look the same in the dark. Today I made a list of what is in there and I hung the piece of paper in the pantry, but I know that after a little while we will no longer look at the list. We will not cross things off the list as they are eaten nor will we add more things to the list. Soon there will come a point when the whole freezer must be emptied, scraped of ice and ancient food tossed or moved to the top and a new list made. It is a job I always approach with optimism. Carmel told me that the last time she cleared out her own chest freezer was in 2013.

4 October Tuesday

I met Tomás coming up the road on his quad bike. His herd of cows were plodding along behind him. They were going to his far field which is a one kilometer walk by road each way. I marveled that cows are such large animals to be walking such distances with ease. Tomás said, “If they are allowed to go at their own pace, they can just go and go.” I pulled over to allow them to pass. In truth, I did not have a choice. The cows took up the whole road. It is the kind of waiting in the car that I am required to do frequently.

5 October Wednesday

There is a hole dug deep into the grass of the meadow. The hole has been made by a swarm of wasps. There are hundreds of them swarming around the apple trees, making the path feel dangerous and impassable.

6 October Thursday

I pick apples and I make applesauce and I pick more apples and I make more applesauce. A pie. More applesauce.  I give apples away.  I give applesauce away. A good year for apples. Not so good for figs or plums.  Apples. Raspberries.  They just keep coming.

7 October Friday

I often use the word Doctor when I should be using the word Mister. I always call a dentist Doctor, but a dentist is not a Doctor. A dentist is never a Doctor. A dentist is a Mister. Some Doctors are called Doctor and some are called Mister. The Surgeon is a Mister but the General Practitioner is a Doctor. I am better at using the right form of address than I used to be, but I continue to get it wrong more often that I would like. Some of these people do not mind but some get upset and they correct me immediately. These people say “I am not a Doctor. I am a Mister.” They correct me so quickly that it is as if they fear someone will overhear them accepting a title which is not rightly theirs. I have never learned definitively who is who nor when who is who. And because everyone in this country is quickly on first name basis, the medical person very often becomes someone with a name rather than a title. My dentist’s name is Ryan.

10 October Monday

The sheep farmers who come down from the mountain always take time to chat at the petrol pumps in the village. These older farmers from up the mountain are never in a rush. They spend a long time talking to anyone they meet. Farming on the open expanse of the hills can be a lonely life. Traveling down to fill up a tractor and various containers with diesel is a Day Out.

11 October Tuesday

I drove Tommie into town for his shopping at Dunnes’ Stores. He likes our Tuesday trips and he likes that I collect him at 9.30 sharp and that we are back at his house with his bags in the kitchen to unpack in his own time well before twelve. He likes the pattern we have developed together. He likes suggesting which roads we travel and whose farms to drive past. Today he did not have so many standing up conversations with other customers in the aisles of the store, but on the way home he remarked that when you go to Dunnes’ you feel like all of the people who work there are happy that you are there. He punctuated every sentence with the expression You Know Yourself, which is just his way of saying You Know What I Mean.

13 October Thursday

Richie came to service the Stanley stove. He said he had To Take It All Asunder. Which he did. While vacuuming out one red box from within he found the messy remnants of a mouse nest. He thought the nest was old, and from well before the stove came to us. He thought maybe the stove had been in a shed for a while. He said Taking It All Asunder was the only way to learn everything about the insides. Before he left he asked us to keep an eye out for a woman who might like him. He said he is a good cook and he is handy with the jobs about the house, but he finds the long dark winter nights lonely ever since his daughter moved out to make her own home.

The Fever Hospital

9 September Friday

I overheard the woman as she explained to someone on the telephone that a boreen is a small road that ends at a single house. I do not think this is correct but I felt it was rude to question her. She was not even talking to me. To be considered a boreen, a road or path should not be wide enough for two cars to pass and it should be unpaved. Usually it will have grass growing in the middle. Basically it is not much more than a cow path but it should be no wider two cows, or one cow standing sideways from nose to tail.

10 September Saturday

I tried to walk up the Mass Path to Johnnie Mackin’s, but one third of the way up, I was met with a complete blockade of growth. Nature has taken the path back. It will take more than me and my hand-held secauters to clear it.

12 September Monday

A man named Free was bemoaning that he misses going out for a pint. Free is short for Geoffrey. Free said that he likes to go to the pub. He likes drinking a pint in the company of someone he meets at the pub. He likes the meeting up with someone he did not know he would be talking to when he left home. He said that he cannot go to the pub anymore because the Guards are everywhere and he might be stopped after only one pint and then where would he be with no car and no way to get anywhere at all? He said that almost more than drinking a pint, what he likes is the chance to hear a bit of a story or maybe a lie. He claims that a lie is just as good as a true story, if it is told well.

13 September Tuesday

I drove Tommie to town and deposited him in front of the door at Dunnes Stores. Dunnes is his preferred shopping destination. I parked the car and fetched a trolley for him. I left him in the fruit and vegetable section. When I returned with my own trolley and with both my shopping bags and his own shopping bags, he was still standing where I had left him. A woman was talking to him intently. His walking stick was in the trolley and for now the trolley was his support. He introduced me to the woman and after a polite amount of time, I set off to do my own shopping. I peeked back at his location a few times. The woman was a real talker. He finally broke loose from her and started on a slow trawl for his messages. I caught sight of him here and there down the length of an aisle and I saw him chatting with other people. Before I got to the cashier with my finished load, the woman who had trapped Tommie for so long stopped me and started to talk. She told me everything that she and Tommie had discussed and she explained how she knew him and she kept me standing listening for too long too.
Eileen Condon cooks and delivers Tommie’s dinners to him every day. She provides mighty portions so he usually has enough left over for his tea. There is not a lot he needs at the supermarket but he likes to go because a trip to the supermarket is social as well as useful, and now, without a car, it is more important than ever for him to get a trip out of the house. He buys boxes of chocolates in case any children come to visit. He has developed a taste for smoked salmon so he buys that along with razors and laundry soap. Every purchase is carefully considered. I took our messages to the car in two trolley loads, first my trolley and then his trolley.  Then I drove over to collect him in front of the doors. He and another man were talking animatedly and blocking the way for anyone going in or coming out of the store.
On the drive home he told me that talking so much at the beginning of the shopping had confused him and he claimed that because of that woman, he lost his stride. He described each person he had met and how he knew them and he said that the last man he spoke in front of the store had been an Irish language teacher in the village and later at Rockwell College. He was happy to have met that man. Now that he was sitting down again, he said he was pleased to have had all the conversations and he was pleased to recount everything to me.

15 September Thursday

The Black Cat spend a lot of time up on the table outside the kitchen door. She no longer runs away each time I go near, but she always remains alert and ready.

19 September Monday

Greville came to visit us in his Ex-Library Van. It was de-commissioned from Leeds City Council. He bought the van and tore out the shelving and raised the floor inside for maximum storage. The outside of the van still advertises itself as a bookmobile. The inside is a work-in-progress but mostly it is woody wood tone rustic. He has a wood burning stove and a shower and a loo and a bed that flips down from the wall. He has a table with two benches salvaged from a London bus. The benches and the table are screwed into the floor.  Everything is either built in or made to be secured when the van moves. His son is attending the cooking school at Ballymaloe in County Cork.  He could not carry his special knives on the airplane, and he did not want to check them in with luggage, so Greville took the ferry and drove the knives over from England in his van. The van is too large and too low to drive down our boreen, so he parked up at the farm and slept there.

20 September Tuesday

After the many months waiting for my fractured foot to get strong, I have missed many regular walks. Now it feels like every walk is a new walk.  I still favor walking on hard even ground. We walked out the narrow lane toward Lady’s Abbey. The sun was warm. It has been a long time since I had been out that way. There was a lot of change to catch up on. Someone has cleared the land all around the the ruin of the old Fever Hospital. Someone else has thrown the old chair with the red velvet seat into the compost heap with dead flowers and other redundant grave offerings at the Abbey. All I could recognize was one leg and a bit of the old seat stuffing.

21 September Wednesday

Everywhere there are conversations about the economy and about the fearful shortages to come. The winter hovers ahead as a threat. People talk about The Squeeze. They also talk about squeezing their teabags to get an extra cup of tea out of every bag. It is kind of a joke but it is kind of not a joke. Dijon mustard is disappearing from the shelves of the supermarkets. I do not want to live without Dijon mustard. I love it.  I do not want bright yellow American mustard, nor do I want hot hot English mustard. I want French mustard. Dijon mustard. I want it for my salad dressings and for sandwiches. I need to know it is on my shelf. Between the pandemic shortages and the war in Ukraine, fertilizers have been in short supply. Who knew that most mustard seed is grown in Canada? Canada has been unable to produce the seed so there are empty shelves where there used to be jars of mustard. Not long ago I paid 45 cent for a small jar. Now, if I can even find a jar, it costs 2 euro 60.

22 September Thursday

I went for a walk after a morning of torrential rain. The afternoon was clear and bright. I found a puffball and carried it home. We ate it.

26 September Monday

A small van was delivering milk and dairy products to the shop in the village. The man unloaded some products out of the side sliding door and some from the back.

27 September Tuesday

I went out to pick raspberries for breakfast in a soft drizzle. I tried to pick quickly but the drizzle was deceptively heavy. I came in when I noticed my dressing gown was drenched right through to my pyjamas. I only managed 16 raspberries. Eight for each of us.

28 September Wednesday

After five days, Tommie is still waiting for his nephew to ring and tell him when he is going to drive Tommie to Dungarvan to visit his sister in hospital. She is 90 and unwell. Tommie tells me that his nephew is a man who does not have a Good Word. I did not understand. I thought maybe this meant that the nephew was a mean-spirited man who said unpleasant things. I was wrong. To say He Does Not Have a Good Word means that his word cannot be trusted. His promises are not reliable.

29 September Thursday

Loading up for a dump run tomorrow, I noticed something brown and furry and small on the ground. It was in the open doorway of the shed. I knew I would probably step on in as I popped in and out of the doorway, so I got the spade and tried to pick it up and move it out of the way.  It opened a tiny mouth and screamed.  It was not a dead mouse nor a dead shrew. It was a bat. Another couple of nudges and a couple more screams with bared tiny teeth and it swooped upwards and flew away.

The Woman from Wexford

24 August Wednesday

Today a new runway opened at Dublin Airport. The work was completed both on budget and on time—which no one expected —so they had only one flight scheduled for the whole day: the 12 noon RyanAir flight from Dublin to Eindhoven. There was nothing prepared to celebrate the new runway. The last time the airport attempted to give an event some special attention, they did so by accompanying an incoming flight from Manchester with fire engines racing alongside the plane, sirens and lights flashing. The passengers on the flight had no warning. They were terrified. They assumed that their plane was on fire. Since today’s first flight was outgoing there was not much for the radio to report. They could not interview the first passengers to arrive on the runway. Instead an announcer talked to some of the Plane Spotters who were gathered near the perimeter fence. There were at least 100 people filming, recording and documenting the inaugural flight. The interviewer gave the Plane Spotters a good long stretch of comments and reactions because there was nothing else to report. They had quite a few complaints about the new viewing area, because there was too much traffic on the road. They felt they would have been better accommodated on the other side of the runway.

25 August

Everyone planted sunflower seeds this year. The seeds were sold by the Irish Red Cross as a way to raise funds and to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine. I was late getting my seeds started.  I planted them in three different locations, some in pots and in two different places directly into beds. Those in the pots are way ahead of those in the ground.



26 August Friday

I received an appointment for a mammogram. Today was the day. The Breast Check Unit moves around the country. It is a mobile department. Usually it is parked on the grounds of the hospital in Clonmel. This year it was in Cahir. Everything inside is built-in so that nothing will move when the unit is attached to a lorry and driven to a new location. Everything is basic and efficient. A desk and a narrow bench are directly inside the door. When a person enters, she gives her name to the woman at the desk. When a woman leaves the unit the next person is called to go from the waiting bench into one of two small cubicles with a curtain and a moulded plastic seat attached to the wall. We are told to remove our tops and our bras and to sit wearing our jacket or a loose top while waiting in the booth. There is very little room in the booth. My knees were right up against the wall and my face was nestled into my own shirt hanging on the single hook. I had my book to read but even so, I could not help overhearing the names of the other women as they were called, or greeted when they entered or exited the unit. In the short time I was there, three women named Geraldine were called, one woman named Mary and me. I thought this extraordinary. I mentioned this plethora of Geraldines to the woman on the X-ray machine. She made no comment.

28 August Sunday

The blade snapped off the Opinel this morning. It has been a favorite knife in our kitchen for years. It has never lost its sharpness. The wood inside the handle simply rotted away.

30 August Tuesday

Tommie was sitting in his narrow red chair. He told me that he had bad news. He had gone to his doctor for the required eye test to renew his driving license. The doctor said that she did not feel she could give him permission to continue driving a motor car. She suggested that if he wanted to challenge her decision he was welcome to pay for an inspector to come and give him a driving test. Tommie is of the generation who have never taken a driving test. He began by driving tractors as a young boy and then he moved on to cars. When the State decreed that a driving test and a driving license become a legal requirement, he and most of his generation were just given licenses. It was an amnesty of sorts. It was also a way to save on a huge backlog. There were hundreds of people who had always been driving and it seemed unfair to make them all take tests especially as so many of them would fail and then they would be stranded. So at the age of 88 or 91 or whatever age he now is, Tommie was given his first ever driving test. A woman came up from County Wexford. He had to pay her 300 euro for her time before they even got into the car. It was a lot of money but he felt that having the freedom to drive out in his own car was important. He said she was a big lady and she filled up the whole front of his car partly with her body and partly with her air of authority. He explained to her that he no longer drives into town nor on any busy roads. He also told her that he had a new clutch in his car. She instructed him to drive her out on those roads that were familiar to him. He drove her up the narrow mountain road as far as the Waterford border and then she asked him to turn around when there was a chance. He did just that. He did not notice the huge white truck bearing down on him. He told me that it was very unlucky to see any thing at all on that road. He told me that and he said he told that to the woman from Wexford. 1 time out of 100 he reckoned. It was a very unlucky event. The truck did not hit him and he drove back down the winding mountain road. He then drove out on the Goatenbridge road and stopped when some silage machinery was coming out of a side road. The woman from Wexford told him that he had the right of way and that he should not have stopped. He told her that he was trying to be nice. When they got back to Tommie’s, the woman walked into the house with him. She sat in the big chair and he sat in the narrow red chair and she spelled out his errors to him again. She told him that he had failed to use his mirrors even once. She stood up and said, “You are Off the Road. Forever. As. Of. Now.” And she walked out. She did not say goodbye. He is crestfallen. He says that he feels Marooned.

31 August Wednesday

As I walk out there is always a lot to look at: clouds, trees, fields, cows, moss, lichen, berries, blossoms, birds.  But when I come across something to read I perk up, even if it is just a few letters and no complete words. I like finding language in the landscape.

1 September Thursday

The gate at the farm was closed.  My passage was blocked. Cows were crossing slowly, one every few minutes. I had to get out of the car to shout and ask Joe to open the gates to let me through. He explained that he was scanning the cows individually to see if they were pregnant. He said most of them are pregnant and a few of them are not. He told me that the heat and the lack of grass make things more difficult for the embryo. It is not just the silage, and the haying and the grazing that are affected by these many weeks of hot rain-less weather. Fertility is a problem too. He explained that even if a few of his two hundred and fifty cows do not give birth there will be a few who will produce two calves. He feels both hopeful and certain that he will end up with 250 calves.

3 September Saturday

The kitchen door is a stable door. In fine weather the top half of the door is held open with an old dog lead attached to a coat hook. The traditional reason for a half door was to keep chickens out in the yard and not allow them, nor any other creatures running low to the ground, into the house. That is why I was surprised to enter the kitchen and to see The Black Cat rushing around the corner into the big room. How had she gotten into the house? I opened the bottom half of the door before I shooed her out. This is the third or fourth time we have found her indoors. It appears that she must be jumping in over the door. It is a huge distance to jump up and over, and then it is a long way down. I have various theories. Maybe she jumps from the outside table which is off to the left side of the door and then on to the top of the door. The top edge of the bottom of the door is narrow. It cannot provide an easy landing. It is akin to landing on a tightrope. I think it would be easier to miss it than to land safely. Maybe the outdoor table is the launch pad and the leap is sideways across the door and then a long drop to the stone floor. I would like to catch the Black Cat in action as she gets over the door. It needs to be soon. Once the weather changes, the top half of the door remains closed during the day.

5 September Monday

There is non-stop talk about the energy crisis. The energy crisis and climate change. The rising cost of everything and the onset of cold weather seem to be the only topics. The radio. The newspapers. The discussion around parked cars. The four prizes for the raffle tickets being sold in the shop are all for fuel: heating oil, two different sized trailer loads of firewood and two bags of coal. The days of cars, television sets and hairdryers as prizes seem to be over.

6 September Tuesday

We had been promised rain for several days. And we have indeed had rain in small amounts off and on since Friday night.  Yesterday we had torrential downpours and wild thrashing winds.  There are leaves and branches strewn everywhere. One pair of sunflowers in bloom were beaten to the ground. Apples are falling off the trees. I went out to collect some and I got soaked from the rain and the wet leaves and the drenched long grass, but I came in with a bucket full of apples that had been knocked to the ground by the winds. Today the rain has set in as hard steady all day rain. No matter how much we get it will take a long time for it to be enough. The soil is gulping it down. The land has been parched for too long. It will take many days of rain to make a difference.


No Road Markings

6 August Saturday

There were only four cars, but we waited a long time to board the ferry.  The docks were in Bootle, north of Liverpool. Passenger cars were the least important part of the crossing. The ship was designed for freight and for trucks. Increasingly, trucks leave their loads at the dock and drive away with a different load. Perhaps this is a way to economize on fuel.  Innumerable long trailers were manoeuvred onto the ship by small vehicles in which the driver could swivel his seat changing direction to either push or pull the load. With no cabs to take up space, a lot more lorry loads fit onto the ship. We watched all of the loading and the skilled movements. Once we were on board, we went to a small window where we were given a cabin key. The small window was also the location for the duty free shop which consisted of a single shelf of quietly rattling bottles.

It was already 8.15 by the time we got to our tiny cabin. A loud-speaker announcement told us that supper would be served from 8-9 pm. Our food and our cabins were included in the price of the crossing. Everyone who was on the boat went to the small cafeteria line where we had a choice of four different main courses and one pudding. There were not many lorry drivers on the boat. Each of the few who were there sat alone at a table. The small dining room was quiet as each man fiddled with his phone or watched something while he ate. One man finished his food and telephoned his wife. I assume it was his wife. He told her that he had eaten chicken curry and rice for his tea. He told her this three times. He said that the company was paying and that No, he did not have any salad but he had custard and an apple tart. He then explained how far he needed to drive in the morning to make his delivery and how far he needed to drive to pick up his next load and he said he would be back on the boat the next night and he did not know what he would have for his tea tomorrow, but he said he would be home after the new load had been delivered. His name was Taggy. It was embroidered in white capital letters on his company shirt. A few men got drinks from the bar. One German driver drank three pint glasses full of tomato juice. At 9 o’clock the food was cleared away and the overhead lights flashed. Another announcement came over the loudspeaker saying that the bar would close in ten minutes. We were told that breakfast would be served at 04.15 and that unloading in Dublin would commence at 05.30. We were instructed to go to bed.  As we walked through the little lounge area, we saw the elderly man and woman and their middle aged son who was their driver. They had been in the car in front of us as we waited to load. The three of them sat in a tight little semicircle right in front of a small television watching the Commonwealth Games being broadcast from Birmingham. They waved to us and said they could not go to sleep until they had finished their final cup of tea.

We all ate breakfast quietly in the early morning.   We waited for a long time while the lorry loads were taken off the boat in the dawn. It was not fully light when we rolled off the ferry and drove through the empty streets of Dublin on our way home to Tipperary.

7 August Sunday

A message from Fiona alerted me to a huge rainbow. I ran outside to see it and I tried to take a photograph but it was too big. I could not see either end.

8 August Monday

I went into the shop looking for potatoes. I saw Roosters, Wexford Queens, and McGrath’s New Potatoes available for sale. I could not remember what Wexford Queens are like and I did not know what breed the New ones were, so I asked Laurence which potatoes were the least floury. He told me that the Queens were lovely and floury as were the New ones from his relations up the road. He promised me that the Roosters were the least floury and that they were maybe even a bit Soapy. He told me that his mother had always been scornful of any potato that was in the least bit soapy. He said that soapy was not a positive attribute. I told him that I called such potatoes waxy, and that for me waxy was good. I told him that I am always on the hunt for a potato that is not floury. He assured me that this was firm evidence that I have not a drop of Irish blood.

11 August Thursday

Several signs have appeared on the road where there has been some resurfacing. The signs tell us to be careful because there are no road markings. There have never been road markings on this road. This is not News. There have been no lines nor any kind of markings for decades, but now we have signs to announce this.

12 August Friday

The Black Cat continues to appear every day at 5 o’clock.  She waits close to the kitchen door and catches my eye.  She is bolder and bolder with each arrival and she will eat whatever she is given. I have not yet found one thing that the starving cat will not eat. She even ate some old hummus. She came into the house and walked around last night.  She did not stay long but she showed no fear inside the house and seemed interested to look carefully at everything before she left. I think of the cat as she, but I do not know for certain what sex it is.

13 August Saturday

The latch for the shed door has been adapted to fit the droop.  The hole for the latch remains where it was but the angle of the whole thing has changed to accommodate age.

16 August Tuesday

The figs are not ready to pick but the raspberries are. I have finished picking buckets full of black currants. The apples and plums are now demanding attention. I cannot keep up with the fruit harvesting. Already the freezer is full.

20 August Saturday

There is jumble of books for the taking in two wire baskets on the way into SuperValu. Sometimes the bins are full to overflowing. Sometimes they are kind of empty. A strangely worded sign invites us to help ourselves: