Ted Swallowed a Sock

by ericavanhorn

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.