14 January Thursday
Is He A Good Grubber? This was the question I overheard the pharmacist ask to find out if someone who was not well was taking his food in a normal and robust way.
13 January Wednesday
There was a hard frost last night. Everything is white this morning. The roof of the barn is completely white. It is good to see the roof all coated with ice because that means it is well-insulated. If it were less well-insulated the heat inside would be making areas of slate look melty and unfrosted. I suppose the fact that there is not much heat at all in the barn is another reason why the white stays white for so long.
The snowdrops are coming up. Most of them are only in bud now but there are two in full bloom beside Em’s stone. I am happy to see them. I like to think she would have been happy to see them but usually she just walked around them. Oscar steps on flowers. He never walks around them. I saw one primrose in flower in the boreen.
12 January Tuesday
An elderly man came into the barbershop and he told the girl that he wanted A Zero and A Close Shave. A Zero is a number on the scale of haircuts for men. I think the numbers match settings on the cutting device. The man was very old. The couple who run the shop are Serbian. The girl was very nervous to cut the man’s hair because he was so old. She was even more nervous to shave him. She cut his hair very short with the zero setting and then she gave him a shave with a cut-throat razor. When she was finished he said the shave was not close enough. He insisted that she do it again. She was terrified to cut closer but she did it. Everyone in the shop, which included the husband and three people, was watching. I was one of the people. I had never been there before and I was only waiting so I was watching every single thing. The old man announced that he was going to the Tropics. He was going to Africa. He said he was 94 years old and he wanted a short haircut and a close shave because it was going to be very hot where he was going. She asked which country he was going to but he would not say. He said it was a secret. After he left she laughed out loud nervously. She announced to the shop that maybe he was like an elephant and he was going to Africa to die.
11 January Monday
I am not afraid of mice but they can make me jump. They move quickly and so suddenly. Tonight I went out to the shed in the dark. I was wearing my head torch. I was carrying an enamel cup in order to bring back peas from the freezer. It is easier to carry the cup to the shed rather than to bring the bag of peas into the house and pour some out and then return to the shed to put the rest of the peas back in the freezer. Especially if it is raining. Tonight it was not really raining but it was drizzly and it was cold. And it was very very dark. Just as I was pouring my peas into my cup a mouse rushed along by my feet. I squealed in surprise and spilled a lot of peas. I left the peas on the floor and returned to the house with my cupful. If the mice don’t eat them, I can sweep them up in the morning. They will stay just as frozen on the floor as they were inside the freezer.
10 January Sunday
We can hardly believe this bright light. It seems like ages since we have seen such sun. No doubt there has been sun here and there in recent weeks but it has been moments not hours. We are unable to remember it because there was so much grey. Today is that wintery kind of crisp hard bright light. There is snow on the mountains in all directions. We can see snow even while we walk through green fields. We walked the Long Field facing towards the Knockmealdowns and then we made a loop up and around by road which directed our eyes toward the Comeraghs and we ended by walking toward the Galtees. Everything looks better in the brightness, even though everything is still squelchy underfoot.
The market yesterday was just David and Pat, as promised in Pat’s email. The two of them set up their stalls in the far corner of the car park. They were probably trying to stay out of the wind. David had his eggs and Pat had vegetables and jams and rape seed oil. They were both chilled to the bone. The wind was vicious. David said his hens have been laying like crazy. He said that last week he had 90 dozen eggs. Maybe I heard that wrong? 90 dozen is a lot of eggs. 90 dozen is 1080 eggs. That is a LOT of eggs. Maybe it was 90 dozen over a two week period. That is still a lot of eggs. Anyway, he had so many eggs that he had to give them away. He gave them to a man who raises greyhounds. The man was happy. All the greyhounds had eggs to eat. I went away wondering how the eggs were served to the dogs. Were they broken open and dropped into a dish raw, or were they lightly scrambled? I have no idea how a greyhound eats an egg.
9 January Saturday
Market restarts Sat 16th.
But egg man David O’Donnell started last Saturday.
I will start tomorrow.
Jim and Keith will start in Feb.
8 January Friday
I spent some hours down in the barn numbering my new book MY IRONMONGERY. There are 100 books. I wrote the numbers with a red Bingo pen. I had never seen nor used a Bingo pen before. The thick line was just right. After I wrote my numbers inside, I wrapped each book with paper and then I stuck on a red dot with the same number written on the wrapping. I do not know if Bingo pens come in other colours. I wonder if everyone at a Bingo Hall brings a Bingo pen with them for an evening of Bingo. Does any old pen work just as well? I had a lot of time to consider these questions as my work was slow and the barn was cold. I had to interrupt myself often to go back up to the house to get warm.
7 January Thursday
Simon and I walked up the Mass Path. It was the first time in a long time that we could even get through. The lake at the bottom remains huge. We went around the edge but even then we were slogging in deep water and mud. The grasses are all flattened down where water has flooded over the top. Trees and branches are down all the way along the path. We had to crawl under fallen trees on our hands and knees in two places. Crawling on hands and knees meant we were very wet very early in the walk. We kept going even though there was a torrent of water right down the middle. There has never been so much water. The path was a river bed with the river flowing and the whole bottom was sandy. We could not decide where the sand came from because usually the path is just muddy and rocky and mossy. Suddenly it has become a sandy bottomed river bed and even at the very top up near the orchard at Johnnie’s the bottom is sandy and still there is no logic nor understanding of where this sand has come from.
6 January Wednesday
So many fields have been lakes for so long now that it is hard to look at them as anything but lakes. Will the rains never stop?
5 January 2016 Tuesday
The woman on the bus spoke in a loud and constant ramble to the man next to her. No one sitting nearby could fail to hear her. She said that her grandmother had taught her how to tell the weather and she reckoned it would be dry tomorrow even though the weather man had said it would rain. She said I do not care if it rains because I am going to be at home anyway but my grandmother’s method tells me that it won’t rain. She said I know how to tell but I won’t tell you because I do not know you. I am just sharing a seat on a crowded bus with you. It is not like I know you.
4 January 2016 Monday
I have never lived anywhere else where it is normal to see young men drinking milk from bottles or cartons. A street corner with four or six lads slugging down milk while laughing and talking is not an unusual sight.