Bucket of Brains

by ericavanhorn

24 June Saturday

Tommie has been in the care home at Rathkeevin for two weeks. A second dose of antibiotics were not clearing his lungs and he was not getting better at home all by himself. Being cared for in the new environment seems to be helping him. He enjoys being served three meals a day and not having to do the washing up himself. He was looking much better today. There were two men visiting when I arrived, but after a short conversation to establish who I was, they left, one to visit his cousin Betty in another part of the home and the other to go and help his son with the milking. Tommie and I watched the last race of Royal Ascot together. The race was called The Queen’s Jubilee. He explained to me that it was called that still and probably would be called that forever, even though the Queen is dead. An outsider by the name of Khaadem won. The odds were 80-1 against him. Tommie asked me if I ever bet on the horses. He said he was not a betting man himself, and he never had been, but if he was that would have been the horse to bet on.

25 June Sunday

We woke up to find the big red umbrella blown off the pole that held it up. It was a mistake to leave it open overnight.

26 June Monday

I cannot pick the gooseberries fast enough. Between downpours the birds are stripping the bushes or maybe they continue eating the berries in the rain. I do not want to sit on my plastic box and pick berries in the rain. The birds have had a lot more than I have had so far and I do not think the berries are even fully ripe yet. The days have gone cool and damp. There is rain at some point every day.  Sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. On the one hand, there is Great Delight when a day is drizzly and grey and damp. People exclaim that they LOVE this weather, while at the same time there is a widespread fear that the summer might be over. Even while praising the soft damp weather the same people are moaning that the hot weather we have had is all we will get for this year. It is not even July and they are certain that the summer is over. Some people are even lighting a fire in the evening.

27 June Tuesday

We have had to restrict our driving to times when there is no rain. This is not easy because there continues to be some rain every day. Rain is not a surprise. A little or a lot, but every day there is rain and it rarely falls when expected. The tiny motor that makes the windscreen wipers work is broken. We need to have it replaced. Simon made a device for clearing the windscreen. He hoped that if he had a long enough pole, he could clear the screen with it while he was driving. It was not a good idea. The piece of wood on the device was rough and he got splinters in his hand. He would have gone off the road while trying to use it. Mike called today and said he has the new motor and can install it tomorrow, which is not a moment too soon.

28 June Wednesday

The house is in a state. Ollie buys the newspaper every day. He buys a newspaper and he reads it from front to back and then he lays the pages out on the floor. Day after day the papers pile up covering every inch of the floor in his small house. Ollie says that he spreads the newspapers around as a way to keep the floor clean. Rather than sweep up crumbs or muddy footprints, he just covers everything up with layer after layer of newspapers. He can no longer close the door in the sitting room because the papers are too deep. Walking across the floor is like walking on a mattress. The bounce of the many layers of papers makes every step into a bit of a wobble. Ollie is also a heavy smoker. His sitting room is full of large and deep ashtrays full of cigarette butts. He likes to smoke while he reads the newspaper and he likes to smoke while he watches television. He is rarely not smoking. The smell in the room is dreadful. Butts are piled like mountains in each ashtray. I cannot imagine where he might put another cigarette butt without the whole mountain tipping off and onto the floor.

29 June Thursday

A 25 kg bag of cow feed lay in the middle of the road. It must have fallen off a trailer. I could not drive around it so I got out of the car and dragged it to the side. The farmer who lost it will have to retrace his steps to locate where it fell off.

30 Friday

Tommy Myles’ butcher shop was hopping this morning. There was so much going on that I did not mind having to wait a long time for my turn. Tommy himself was standing at the little end table. He was in charge of taking the cash from customers while two other men cut up meat and chops and weighed things and then called out the prices to him. The three or four customers buying meat were all women. Four elderly men in the back end of the shop were talking and shouting at one another and at Tommy. I think the shouting was because none of them had good hearing. Three of the men were leaning heavily on sticks. One man said that he could no longer Stand For The Chat so he went outside and sat up high in his jeep with the window open. He pulled the jeep along the curb so that his open window was directly across the pavement from the open door of the shop. He tried to keep his part in the conversation going by shouting out his window but the men inside did not pay much attention to his contributions. They continued to talk loudly among themselves without him and every so often one of them would call out that he should ring up on his telephone if he wanted to talk with them.

1 July Saturday

Winnie works as a cleaner. She complained that she keeps losing jobs because she fails to dust anything up high. She says she is Not Able For It. Her customers cannot believe that she does not see the cobwebs or dust above her own chest level. She is oblivious to anything up high. She says that she does not look up because she gets vertigo and she thinks it is bad manners to faint in someone else’s house.

2 July Sunday

The three women were not traveling together but they were all three waiting for the bus to Waterford. When a bus pulled up, the driver let people off and then he closed the door and went into the back of the bus for a sit down. He did not let anyone onto the bus. Nor did he answer any questions. The sign on the front of the bus said Charleville which is in the opposite direction from Waterford. It is a long way in the wrong direction. The women considered the issue and then discussed when they had last been to Charleville. One of the women had never been there at all. They did not want go to Charleville, but together they worried the possibility until the driver roused himself from his nap and came to the front of the bus and changed the sign on the front to read Waterford.

4 July Tuesday

Two men stood outside the shop as they spoke about how very clever another man was. I did not know who they were talking about. They kept saying things about this man’s great knowledge and about his ability to solve problems. Each man tried to say something more definitive about the degree of smartness this man possessed. Each of the men was trying to be the one to have the final word. The last thing I heard as I walked away was that “He is A Bucket of Brains.

5 July Wednesday

Breda and I walked down through the Long Field in late afternoon.  There was a break in the rain but we did not trust it to last. We wore our rain jackets tied around our waists. There were tractors and machines rushing around and cutting the grain. The cut fields looked like corduroy.

6 July Thursday

Torrential rain has been falling all day.  The slugs are out in force. Every evening, I find one or two creeping around the bathroom. And those are only the ones I see. Most of them are in dark hidden away places. Their trails appear all over the mirrors when there is steam in the room after a bath or shower, so I know they have been oozing around in the night.