The Journal

Erica Van Horn – Living Locally

Month: June, 2015

Good-looking to talk to

13 June Saturday

I overheard one man saying to another  “She is very good-looking to talk to.”

12 June Friday

A car was left with the motor running right in the center of the completely empty car park at the graveyard.  It is a very small car park so being right in the middle of it meant movement was pretty well blocked by this car.  The driver of the car was down in the graveyard visiting with someone who is buried there.  I mentioned this to a friend.  I said I found it odd.  She said it is a normal thing to stop on a daily basis to to visit your mother or whoever is buried just so that you can say whatever it is you need to say.  She said that just because someone is dead you do not need to stop talking to them.  I agreed that that is fine and I agreed that it was not unusual,  but what I wondered is wasn’t it strange to leave your motor running.  She could not agree that it was strange.  She said, Well, sure aren’t we are all in a rush this days?

11 June Thursday

There is a big machine doing this particular job.  All of the farm machines are big now.  It is silly to comment about one of them being big.  Driving on these narrow lanes is getting more and more dangerous especially when everyone is getting the hay and the silage in. The machines are as big as the road.  More and more often the huge machinery coming at us will be preceded by a car or a truck with lights flashing.  We see the lights and we slow and we salute but still sometimes there is no where to go.  Pulling off the road is not always easy as there is no where to go except into some bushes but the bushes won’t let us in even if we wanted to drive into them.  A few days of good weather means nothing stops. The weather has been good.

The big machine I am currently most interested in lays out long strips of plastic.  After this machine has been in it, a field looks like corduroy.  There are brown mounded rows of earth and then there are long parallel strips of plastic which look white or silver depending on the light.  This method was first used for carrots but now it is used for corn and maybe for other things too.  The plastic heats up the earth underneath it and the seeds germinate faster and the plants grow faster.  This machine unrolls strips of plastic which work as incubation. As the plant grows, the plastic, which I think is biodegradable, breaks down to let the plant through.  Maybe there are little slits in the plastic to let the plant grow up.  I do not what happens as the plant grows more.  Maybe the plastic breaks down in the sun and the weather. Maybe the plastic gets ploughed back into the soil. I need to find out more about the corduroy method.

10 June Wednesday

The man on the radio said that the livestock population of this country is larger than the human population.  I think that the human population rests at about 3.8 million.  I wish he had given a number for the livestock.

9 June Tuesday

Flower boxes are now in position on the long sweeping corner out of Ardfinnan.   There are thirteen of them.  They are freshly coated with red gloss paint.  The arrival of these boxes along the low concrete wall on the edge of a potato field is a sign of summer.  I think they are attached to the fence so that they won’t topple into the road.  Each box is about three meters from the next box.  The boxes are densely planted with petunias, geraniums and something white which I cannot quite identify while driving.  I will be better able to name the flowers as they grow a bit bigger. It is not a place where I would ever be walking.  I do not think it is a corner where anyone would be walking.  These flowers are for viewing as one passes in a moving car.  They are also for viewing from the four of or five houses across the road.  I think they are mostly there for viewing by the Tidy Towns Competition Committee who will be around later in the year. As a village,  Ardfinnan is very competitive in the world of Tidy Towns.  It took me three times going by in the car before I was able to be certain that there are thirteen boxes.

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The Fox & The Fox.

8 June Monday

A baby fox came to the kitchen door this morning.  The door was wide open. He was just walking into the house when I  appeared.  We were both startled.  He was gone almost before I had a chance to register his presence.

6 June Saturday

I was pleased to meet John as I walked through the woods on the river path in Cahir this morning.  He is walking a bit slower but he still has a steady pace. He continues to do his five mile walk but since March he is no longer doing it every day.  He said I am still walking five miles but it is taking longer and longer.  He now walks five days a week. He is feeling bad about not doing the full week but he said that he is feeling tired.  He is nearly 92.  He told me that he will never see 91 again and that indeed he does not feel certain that he will make it to 92.  Two weeks ago he traveled to Istanbul with his daughter.   He liked the architecture very much but he did not like the food.  He said everyone there had a new car. There was not an old car to be seen.  He would have liked to have seen a bit more of the traditional building methods but it was too difficult to go out into the countryside.  He said he was glad to have gone but he was more glad to get home and to have some normal food.  He was glad to return to his walking schedule.

5 June Friday

I am sitting upstairs in the cafe looking out at the ducks and the river and the castle.  I have the newspaper.  I have a coffee and a scone.  I have five new books purchased for one euro each from the Lion’s Club fund-raising bookshop.  I am waiting while Mike gives the car a service.  Another customer arrived with a problem before I did so he needs to take care of that car first.  I will have a longer wait.  The bookshop and the post office were my first stops.  Now I am here.

I am taking a closer look at the books I bought.  Two women sat across from one another at the little table in the bookshop.  There was a tablecloth and a small money box on the table.  One woman sat behind the table and the other sat across from her blocking all movement on that side of the shop. They each had large cups of tea. They never stopped talking for one second.  They went on and on in minute detail about anything and everything.   Actually one woman talked and the other just repeated things back to her like an echo. Everything was imperative. I was the only customer.  It was difficult to focus on the books in such a small space with so much talking. I do know quite a bit more than I want or need to know about the woman who was doing the talking.

There is one other table occupied up in this part of the cafe. It has been lovely and quiet while I have been sitting here.  The silence was just interrupted by a woman at the other table.  She made a phone call to a man named Frank.  She cancelled her twelve o’clock appointment for getting a tattoo.  She told him she was chickening out.

4 June Thursday

I learned a new word today. Perisher.  I am a Perisher.  I am someone who feels the cold.  I spent all day today pulling my sweater on and off.  It is not only the unseasonable strange weather, it is me.  It is normal to hear someone say that they are Perished With The Cold.  The word Perisher is a new to me.  Now I have this word so even if it does go from sun to cold and cloudy several times an hour, I can enjoy my new word.  Everyone else can wear T-shirts but as a Perisher I will always keep something warm near.

3 June Wednesday

It is still colder than it should be for this time of year.  The greyness is the depressing. Walking across Joe’s field, I saw The Fox outlined against the flat colour of the sky.  He was very close to me.  I stopped and he stopped and we looked at each other.  After a few minutes he moved off slowly up towards his woods and I continued over the hill.  When I mentioned this casual meeting with the fox to a neighbour she immediately wanted to know if it was Her Fox.  She has been worried about a fox loitering near her ducks and geese.  She described the fox to me.  She said Her Fox had a light coloured tip at the end of his tail.  I do not think Her Fox is the same as The Fox.  I always call the fox The Fox. I never call him mine.  Yesterday there were two foxes walking up the boreen just beside the house.  When they saw movement through the window one ran off in one direction and one turned and went back the way it had come.  I shall still call each individual fox The Fox, but I am happy to see that there is more than one.

2 June Tuesday

It used to be normal that if a person was at home, the door of the house was open. It was mostly the kitchen door that was left open but it could be another door.  It was a way of letting passing people know that there was someone there.  It was also a way of letting air into the house. It is not such a common thing now for lots of reasons.  Most people do not want to let all of their heat out.  Nor do they want passing people coming in.  It is not such a friendly world and not everyone who passes is someone that one knows. Most people are off at jobs so there is no one at home in the daytime anyway.

Today I went to the Breast Check Mobile Unit.  Every two years we women are sent an appointment for an X-ray.  The Breast Check Unit is a long trailer which is driven to the grounds of the hospital and parked there for a few months.  The truck part of the trailer drives away, then metal steps are put in place and the unit is open for business. Everything needed is inside. The big machines, the curtained changing rooms, waiting benches and a desk.  Everything is attached to floor and walls, so that when the unit is moved somewhere else nothing will be disturbed.  When I arrived this morning the door was closed.  The keys were hanging in the lock.  I opened the door and walked in.  Two women were there putting on their uniform tops.  They were not fully dressed yet.  One of them snapped at me and said that they were not open yet.  I said that the door was unlocked.  She said “Unlocked yes. But Not Open.  When we are open, the door will be open.”  I went back outside to wait for the door to open.

1 June Monday

The rusty metal things which the blacksmith scraped and prepped were all mounted on wooden blocks by Simon.  Sadly, not one of them is a success for printing.  Each piece looks fine on its little block.  To the naked eye they look flat and smooth, but as soon as we tried to print them the defects and the unevenness were all too evident.  After work on the Adana failed, I tried hand-rolling them with ink and doing individual prints by rubbing on the back of a sheet of paper.  That was a failure too.  They might have been interesting in any of these methods even with all of the defects.  They might have looked fantastic with all of the unevenness and bumps but instead they just looked messy and kind of ugly.  We are disappointed.  So far we have not found a new solution.