The Journal

Erica Van Horn – Living Locally

Month: November, 2014

The Short Baldy Irishman

10 November Monday

There are several words which are consistently said with a Y at the end.  One is Roundy.  Roundy might be used when someone is speaking of a pair of Roundy Eyeglasses.  They would not say Round nor Rounded.  They would not say Circular nor Oval-Shaped.  They would always speak of Roundy which maybe makes things sound more Round.  Another of these words is Baldy.  No one speaks of a Bald-Headed Man nor of a Bald Man nor a Bald Head.  I was reminded of this today when someone described himself by saying: “I’m the short Baldy Irishman with glasses and a white beard”  just so that those who did not yet know him would be able to recognize him easily.

9 November Sunday

The Village Lotto Jackpot is now 9050 euros.  Everyone was excited when it reached  7000.  Now the anticipation of a winner is even higher  Everyone comments on the amount and then adds that it would be a grand thing to win the lottery just before Christmas. They are excited for someone to win it but at the same time they are also excited by the idea of it getting as high as 10,000 before someone wins.  There is a lot of discussion.

8 November Saturday

Being in a doctor’s waiting room with nothing to read is my idea of hell.  There are always some people staring off into space.  Some fiddle with their phones.  Sometimes there is a noisy television set or else people just look at each other.  Today a woman was telling her daughter not to touch the magazines as they hold the germs of all the sick people who have come through the waiting room. Not everyone has something contagious when they go to the doctor but that did not seem to occur to her.  She did not call the magazines magazines.  She called the magazines Books. She said the only thing more disgusting than the books at a doctors office were the books from a public library.

7 November Friday

Today was a fine day for the dump run.  We transport our stuff to the dump about once a month.  No one would ever drive down here to collect it.  There are so many things to gather together from the lean-to and the house and from the different barns.  There is cardboard and paper, and the clear plastic bags with clean and dry recyclables.  I put a lot of the newsprint aside for the dog sanctuary but the shiny magazines and other paper are no good to them.  There is the black bag with horrible things.  There are food tins and empty jars and bottles for separate recycling bins.  There are plastic water bottles.  By doing all of the things separately we do not have to pay to put a lot of things into the clear bags.  It is a time-consuming job.  It is largely a matter of consolidating. It is nearly enough to call in the Army Corps of Engineers.  No matter how recently we have been to the dump, the load always fills the entire car. At least on a clear, dry and not cold day it is not a terrible job.  It is just a job. Arriving at the recycling depot is better in good weather too.  The man in charge was marveling about this still fine weather we are having.  He said it is so mild that he had a butterfly in his sitting room.  He did not want to put it outside because he knew the night chill would kill it.  There are still a remarkable number of spiders around too. The thing that really excited him as a sign of the unseasonable weather was that there was A Fly in His Kitchen.  He repeated this three times, with delight.

6 November Thursday

Various dogs come to visit.  Each one runs around sniffing and peeing and examining things.  I have been thinking that each dog is arriving and discovering the residual smells of Emily.  I should probably accept that Em’s odours are now long gone.  None of her canine friends are savouring her memory.  What each visiting dog is smelling is the signs left by the last visiting dog.  Thor and Molly, Walker, Oscar and Ruby. Each dog delights in the scent of another dog.

5 November Wednesday

Maud told me of a woman who passes by her house in Cork several times a day.  The woman never passes without rubbing the number thirteen on the door.  She said it is her lucky number and she dares not pass the house without making contact with what she considers Her Number.  It is the number she uses for any lottery or raffle that she enters.  She sticks with the same number knowing that it will come good eventually.  I cannot not remember if their number is made of brass.  If it is, all of the daily rubbing by this hopeful woman will be keeping it nice and shiny.

4 November Tuesday

I just finished sewing up a book with red thread.  I tossed the little leftover pieces of cotton onto the compost heap.  Some of the pieces will blow away.  Every year in the spring I see nests being built using the tiny bits of thread which we have used for our most recent book-making.  If this red lasts the winter there will be bright additions to many nests.  I can recall different books when I look at spring nests.

Knocklofty Bridge

3 November Monday

Thinking about which county Knocklofty Bridge is officially located in sent me to look for the postcard Coracle produced a few years ago.  It is a reproduction of a painting done in 1940 by Johnnie Mackin.   Johnnie’s abandoned house is just up the Mass Path.  I walk through his land most days.  I pick apples and pears from his orchard.

Johnnie had a big reputation locally as an inventor.  Most of the things he invented had already been invented but that did not bother him.  Once he invented a gun.  When he went to see how it would shoot, the gun backfired and the bullet lodged into his head.  The bullet did not kill him.  He spent 6 months in bed being cared for by his mother and his sister.  He would not go to the hospital. He died decades later at the age of 88 with the bullet still embedded in his head.   While he was recovering from his gunshot wound, he taught himself to paint.  Many of his pictures were of religious subjects but sometimes he painted the local and non-religious world.  The paintings were done with house paint so they have not lasted well.  We thought we should reproduce the painting before it self-destroyed.

The text on the back reads:  One of the first service buses crossing the River Suir on the border of Tipperary and Waterford.  The donkey and trap carry the artist’s mother and their dog and flour brought from Clonmel, as well as a bottle of Guinness for Jimeneen English, standing by the water pump opposite his lime-kiln.


It still does not answer the question of which county claims Knocklofty Bridge, but it is nice to show this card.

2 November Sunday

I am so pleased that we are able to walk up the Mass Path again.  Every day I enjoy it.  There is still a lot of ducking under branches and fallen trees, but it is now passable.  Most of the brambles and nettles are dying back.  The remaining apples have fallen and the small yellow crab apples and the larger russets are all over the path in two different places.  They make the walking treacherous and a bit exciting.  They offer a surface not unlike spilled ball bearings.  Stones covered with slippery moss make other obstacles.  Over all I find the hazards to be an important part of the climb.

31 October Friday

When I drive over Knocklofty Bridge in the direction of Clonmel, the first thing I see once over the bridge is a sign saying You are Entering County Waterford.

When I drive over Knocklofty Bridge in the direction of Ardfinnan, and away from Clonmel, the first thing I see once over the bridge is a sign saying You are Entering County Tipperary.

The River Suir is the border between the two counties.  I am unsure who claims ownership and responsibility for the bridge.

30 October Thursday

I need to chose my days carefully.  A windy day is a bad time to empty the ashes from the wood stove.  I have never found a better method than to scrape the ashes from the top part of the stove so that they fall through the grating into the bottom pan.  Then I ease out the flat pan with its little handle and I walk carefully and very slowly to the back door.  There are three rooms to walk through and at any moment a draft or trip of the foot could send ashes flying all over the place.  I used to try to empty the ashes into a bucket placed just beside the stove, but that seems to spread them a lot.  It makes a mess.  A gentle easing out and slow walking is my preferred method.  It is always tricky to open the kitchen door.  I like it if someone else is around to open the door for me.  Otherwise I have to put the tray down carefully, open the door and then proceed outside with the same slow steps.  I always take the ashes to dump at the foot of a rose bush.  I was told years ago that wood ash is good for roses.  I do not know if it is true.  I do not know if my climbing rose benefits from the copious amount of wood ash it receives.  It is convenient that the rose is located in a straight line from the kitchen door and that it is far enough away for the ash not to blow back.  So far my slow walking method has never failed.

29 October Wednesday

I love my head torch.  I love the way that I can angle it to project higher or lower on its elastic strap.  I love the perfect circle of light as I move out into the darkness. I can pick apples off the last producing tree even when the night is pitch black and moonless.  I have two hands free to do whatever I want to do.  I thought about getting a head torch years and years ago.  I wish I had not waited so long.  I would have loved this perfect circle of white light to have been part of my evening walks with Em.

28 October Tuesday

Veronica went for hospital tests after fasting overnight.  She had to wait all day long for the tests to be completed.  At 5.30 she was given what she called a Fairy’s Cup of Tea and a Fairy Scone.  She said she felt like she was being fed in a doll’s house.  She had never seen such a tiny scone.  She had never seen such a tiny cup.  She was still grumbling about this miserable scone two days later.  She said It was so small it wouldn’t fill the holes in your teeth.