Milky Tea

by ericavanhorn

13 October Saturday

It rained all night and it has been raining all day. I took off for a walk in a gap between showers. I thought it was a gap but it was not. The rain just went from hard downpour to steady soft drizzle. I started up the mass path in the few minutes when I believed the rain had ceased. About halfway up, a tree limb had fallen from the left and it blocked my way. It was tangled with another big branch that had fallen from the right. I think these were branches that had been cut or broken earlier and last weeks wind just knocked them around. They were too entangled and too heavy for me to move, so I began to push and struggle through them. I broke off bits and pushed my way through. When I was right in the middle of the two branches I realised that I was caught. I could not go forward and I could not go backwards and the brambles had grabbed onto my jacket too and the rain was falling harder. I stood for a while at a funny bent-over angle and wondered what to do. I was sort of resting. I listened to the rain on my jacket. After a little while, I continued with my struggle. Eventually, I broke more branches and dropped to the ground. I crawled out of the mess through the mud and the moss on my hands and knees and continued up the path in the rain.

14 October Sunday

After all of my despair about our apples ripening too early and falling off the trees and about the apples ripening early but not ripening sufficiently and being all dry and too tasteless to eat, the Bloody Butchers have come good. They are delicious and plentiful and huge and falling off the tree by the bushel. I cannot collect enough of them. The ground underneath the tree is a mass of apples. I have filled boxes and buckets and bags and I have given many apples away. The leaves are falling off the tree and there are still more apples.

15 October Monday

The morning is full of mist. We cannot see the fields nor the hills. We cannot even see the fence. There is a cold whiteness over everything. The sun is going to break through. There is a bright white glow in the midst of the dull white mist. The combination of the bright sun and the dull mist makes everywhere that is near and visible look creepy. The out of doors is full of spider webs all being caught by the strange light. The hedge looks like it is wearing a hairnet. The rosemary looks like something captured.

17 October Wednesday

There is a new system for checked out books in the library. Maybe it is not new. I do not know how long it has been in effect. It can all be done with computers, so it is considered good for the library. No doubt anyone in a branch library all the way up in the north of Tipperary can know when my book is due back. Everyone can know when my book is due back except for me. The book still has its usual lined piece of paper stuck into the front of it. There are three columns printed on the piece of paper. Each column is headed with DATE DUE. DATE DUE. DATE DUE. All of the columns are empty. The paper tells me that I will be charged 5 cents per day if my books are late but that never happens. Even if my books are late, I am not charged. I am told by the librarian that my books are due three weeks after I take them home. Why must I be the one remember when I took the books? Sometimes they stick a sort of receipt that is like the long thing from a cash register into the front of one book. Sometimes they do not include this slip. I cannot decide how a piece of paper which is not physically connected to the book is an improvement on a date rubber- stamped into the waiting column. With this new system, I rarely have any idea when my books are due.

18 October Thursday

Simon rushed off to have the National Car Test done this morning.  We had done all of the various things to prepare for the test. The last thing was to have the car washed by the lad at the petrol station. It is important to catch him in between his other job which is delivering things for the motor factors shop next door to the station. It is imperative for us to have to have the car washed underneath with a power hose as the daily driving in and out through the farm means that there is a lot of muck caked up under the wheel wells.  We would fail the test immediately if heavy clumpy chunks of manure and mud fell down on the men while they were testing the car. Town people have it easy.  These are not problems for them. Luckily all of our preparation paid off. The car passed the test. The officials are trying hard to get twenty year old vehicles off the road, but we have been spared for another year.

19 October Friday

A man sat down beside me on the bus. I was trapped between him and the window. I always sit near the window if I can because I like to look out. I sit by the window but I always hope the aisle seat will not be occupied. Today this man sat beside me. He was a large man. I was trapped. There was no where to go anyway except where the bus was taking us but having such a sizeable presence so close made me feel trapped. He flipped out the little tray table on the seat in front of him. The table pressed into his tummy. He placed two enormous cups of tea on the tray. He was lucky that there was a tray table for his two cups. Some of the new buses have little tray tables and some of the old buses have little tray tables. But not all of any of the buses have the little pull down tray tables. I would say maybe one bus in six has them. The man was lucky. I am not sure what he would have done with two cups of tea without a place to put them. The man’s name was Tim. His friend sat a few seats up ahead and he shouted down to the man calling the name Tim and Tim answered so I knew he was Tim. He chatted away to me as he settled in. I could not understand what he had said or what he was saying, but he said it all with a Cork accent. He sipped his tea quietly for a while and then he started to lick his arms. Tim had terrible flaking skin on his forearms. He had dry flaking skin and where the skin was not flaking or where it had already flaked off his arms were raw and red. They looked painful. Tim began to lick his forearms methodically. Up and down. Up and down. It took me a while to realise that before each long careful licking, he filled his mouth with milky tea. Tim was using the tea to sooth his painful arms. In between the licking he stopped and looked across me and out the window at the passing scenery. Sometimes he shouted something up the aisle to his friend. Sometimes he just stared straight ahead while he drank tea from one of his big cups.

20 October Saturday

The one woman said to the other woman: “I believe it because I was told it by my cousin who is related to me.”

21 October Sunday

Walker hates Tom Cooney. Tom Cooney does not like Walker.  It might have to do with the fact that Tom Cooney always wears a big black hat.  Maybe there was a bad or violent person in Walker’s past who wore a similar hat.  No one knows what Walker experienced in his life before he was rescued. He found a good home with Fiona and PJ, but he does have a tendency to take against certain people. He can be a vicious and scary dog. Mostly he is a gentle and friendly dog. Tonight I saw a sign on the gate into one of Tom Cooney’s fields. It is on the gate exactly opposite Fiona and PJ’s gate.  I assumed it meant that the field had been freshly planted or maybe that poison had been put down. I assumed that the person who made the sign forgot to put an S on the end of DOG when he or she wrote KEEP DOG OUT. Then I realized that the sign is meant just for Walker. Any other dog is welcome.

24 October Wednesday

Friday is voting day. We have two things on the ballot. The Referendum on Blasphemy is being offered to the people to decide if it should be struck off the books.  It is basically an out-of-date law on censorship.  There is not a lot of discussion about it either way.  I should think many people will arrive in the voting booth still not sure if they should vote with a Yes or a No. This is the 21st century, so I hope people will vote Yes. Until this referendum came along, Blasphemy was a word rarely used on a daily basis. It sounds both old-fashioned and important at the same time. I have enjoyed hearing it said out loud again and again.  On the same day, we will be voting for the President. There are six candidates running. Michael D. Higgins, the current President, is miles ahead of anyone else. We all speak of him as Michael D.  No one ever bothers with his last name. And we do not expect anyone else to win.