Dressing the Bed

by ericavanhorn

24 January Monday

The first time I saw the fox, it had been freshly killed by a car. It was splayed across the road close to the grassy verge. Every day since then, the fox has been pushed more and more off the road and into the rough grass. Day by day the body is more damaged. I think birds have been pecking at it. I do not want to look at the fox but it is on my regular route and I cannot stop myself from turning my head to see where it lies. It has gone from being a fox to being a corpse and now it is simply remains, lying stretched out in a bedraggled fox shape in bright green grass.

25 January Tuesday

Seeing the Galtees covered with fresh snow this morning made me feel like I have woken up in Switzerland.

26 January Wednesday

The eye surgery is located in a bungalow. For years, there were two doors for entering the building. The right-hand door was for the eye specialist and the left-hand door was for her husband’s practice. He was a General Practitioner. There was one desk in the middle of the first room entered. The woman who sat at the desk had two big black books open in front of  her. If you entered by the left hand door, you were there to see the doctor and the receptionist noted your appointment in one book. If you entered by the right hand door you had an appointment with the eye specialist. Her appointments were listed in the other book. The system worked fine. The system worked perfectly until one day the receptionist was out walking and she was hit by a car and killed. The replacement receptionist never juggled the two books with the same ease.

I had not been for an eye check-up for three years. I was surprised to see only one entrance. The front of the building had been re-done, as had the interior. The GP died and his wife, the eye specialist, retired. There was no longer a GP sharing the bungalow and except for all of the small rooms and funny turns, the inside looked like a different place. Everything was painted white and new lights had made the whole place bright but evenly dull. There were no rows of old dining room chairs in the waiting area. It is now more of a regular optometrist’s office with an eye specialist as an extra part of the operation.

When I went to pick out some frames for my new driving glasses, I was not allowed to touch the frames randomly. Everything had to be overseen. Any pair I touched had to be set aside for Covid disinfecting. The optician assisting me pointed to things but she did not touch anything herself.  I mentioned to the woman how Dr. Bernie, the previous occupant of the practice, always told me to bring in any old pair of spectacles I had lying around and they could put new lenses into them. She felt that there was no reason to buy new frames, especially for reading or for driving, if you had perfectly serviceable ones laying around in a drawer. The optician said nothing but looked horrified by this idea.

27 January Thursday

Margaret took her aunt out for a drive. It was a way to get the ninety year old Lillian out of the house and into the fresh air, and of course, it was a chance to see what was happening in the world. The primary purpose of the drive was a hunt for Whooper Swans. This year the Whooper Swans have not been as visible as they usually are. Often we see 40 or 50 of them gathering in the middle of a field looking from a distance like white plastic carrier bags tied at the top, full and heavy and  slumped on the grass. Then  a few days later the whole flock will have moved to another field.  I have only seen two of the migrating swans this year and that is not normal. Lillian has always harbored a great love for Whooper Swans. She loves the way they cheer up the winter. She knows all of the places where they stop to rest. Margaret drove in and out of small quiet roads for an hour before they found a sizeable flock. Then they went home, drank a cup of tea and discussed their find.

28 January Friday

The radio up-dates throughout the week gave us more and more details of the young man in Carlow who went to the post office to collect the pension of an elderly neighbor. He was told that the man himself had to come in to collect his own pension. The post-mistress said that the young man could not collect unless he was officially registered to do so. He went away and came back later with another man. They walked into the post office holding both arms of the pensioner. When the pensioner did not respond to questions from the post-mistress, the two men propped him up against the counter and they ran out of the post office. An ambulance was called but the man was already dead. He had been dead for several hours. He was not elderly. He was only 66. He had had a heart attack and died. The man who tried to get his pension is in jail. Had he succeeded in his fraud he would have received only 240 euro for all of his trouble. Adrian is threatening to put up a sign at his own post office counter announcing: No Pulse. No Pension.

29 January Saturday

The act of making a bed look fresh and tidy, with clean sheets, or simply with some pulling and tucking and smoothing, is To Dress The Bed. When someone has been sleeping in a bed and it has not yet been dressed, the expression to describe the disheveled bed is that It Has Been Tossed

30 January Sunday

Around mid-day I went to meet Breda, Fiona and Siobhan at the boulders for a walk on Barranacullia. There was a lot of mud underfoot and a steady  drizzle. It was not enough to call real rain but it was soaking and it was miserable. it was miserable but we had met up to walk so we walked.  It looked like there were even more sheep up on the top than the last time I was up there and the farmer had once again spilled out a long path of smashed root vegetables for the sheep to eat.  Once again I wondered what it was. Mangel is what it is called. Mangel beet is a kind of beet grown for wintering animals so calling it mangel might mean that is exactly what it is, or it might be a generic term for whatever kind of root vegetable is being used today.  The sheep were enjoying it.

31 January Monday

The birds cannot get enough nuts.  I fill the feeders and they empty them.  I fill them again and they are emptied immediately.  I mentioned this to Tommie when we spoke this morning. He is scornful about feeding birds. He says you should never feed a bird unless you are planning to eat it. In his opinion anything else is a waste of food and time.