The Teeth in the Shrine
13 May Friday
Sharon was outside. She was outside wearing a fluffy pink bathrobe. Her two small dogs were on leads. She never lets them run free because she knows they will take a scent and be off to who knows where. The leads were the long kind which stretch as far as the dog wants to go. Both animals were all tangled around her legs. She commented that I must be missing Em whenever I am out walking. She told me how she still misses dogs from her past even thought she now has these two. She told me that she has a small shrine on the wall in the house, one for each of the canine pets she has loved. One includes the teeth of a particular dog. She then told me that she and her sister are fostering a rescue dog which had been abused. They took turns having him stay with them. She said he is a small Staffie. Horrific things had been done to him. His feet are bent up in a forward direction. As a result, he can hardly walk but hobbles about and now seems to be in less pain and he is putting on weight and the terrible burns, probably from cigarettes, are healing. She kept telling me more and more details about the abuse. I did not want to hear it but how could I not listen and anyway she barely took a breath in the telling. It took me quite a while to realize that she was suggesting that I might want this dog to take the place of Em. I said that I was not ready to replace Em. I said that I really did not think I could own a Staffordshire Bull Terrier no matter how desperately it needed a home. I did not say that a dog who cannot walk is hardly the dog for me. I had said enough to refuse her kind offer. Oscar was waiting and we rushed off up the road together. I was happy to be with a dog who could run and jump with pleasure. I have been thinking about the teeth in the shrine ever since.
12 May Thursday
I am curious about the Unemployed Workers Party. I am not really curious enough to look it up nor to even ask anyone about it. I mostly just wonder if when a member gets a job does he or she have to leave the party?
11 May Wednesday
Johnnie Mackin’s orchard is looking fine. The trees are full with apple and plum blossom. The ground is completely covered with the long leaves of wild garlic and the garlic flowers are all in bloom so there is a twinkling of the white star-like blossoms against the dark green. And in between and around the edges there are masses of stitchwort. More white flowers. It is a world of white polka dots on a green backdrop. It looks planned. Oscar wading through it all is so very big and black. He is like a cut-out shape of dog amidst the green and white. He makes it all look greener and brighter and whiter.
10 May Tuesday
I was having a cup of coffee and reading after lunch when I heard crunching on the gravel. Then I heard tearing and snuffling. I looked out the window and saw a young cow on the lawn. It was one of the frisky teenagers. I ran outside. There were five more young ones with the first one. They ran when they saw me running. Simon rushed out too. We both shouted and waved sticks. The heifers ran around behind the barn in a tight group. Then they were stuck because behind the barn was a dead end. They clumped together and could not figure out how to escape. The stone wall, the fence and the building had them trapped. It is not easy to get cows to change direction if you are in a position behind them. I climbed the fence into the field to encourage them from the side while Simon hid behind a bush. When they saw there was no longer anyone behind them, they rushed out from their entrapment to escape my noise and waving arms and waving stick. Simon stopped them from running down into the meadow with his flapping arms and flapping stick. We got them onto the boreen and chased them off in the direction of the farm. They did not go very far before they were distracted by edible young green things around them. I got into the car and drove up the track slowly with them scurrying and bumping each other along in front of me. It was lucky for us that they were young and not too heavy. The damage to the soft wet lawn was not too bad. It would have been much much worse if they had been full-grown adults. My coffee was cold by the time I got back.
9 May Monday
I drove down to the village just before noon. Cars were parked everywhere. Even as I crossed the bridge I could tell it was a funeral. Funerals are always held at eleven am. This funeral had just finished. Some people were disappearing around the corner on foot as they followed the hearse down the road to the graveyard. I could not park. I could not stop because there was no where to stop without being in the way of someone. The bread man had arrived to deliver bread to the shop. He parked in the only available spot which was directly in front of the church and which the hearse had just vacated. He was trying to unload his bread. There were people standing everywhere talking to one another. They were on the pavements and in the middle of the road. The day was warm and everyone was happy to be out and seeing one another for some conversation. No one looked sad. Some cars were trying to pull out and some were trying to turn around. I could barely get through the cars and the people. I would not have driven to the village if I had known there was a funeral but I did not know there was a funeral, and I did not know the woman who had died even after I was told her name and where she lived.
8 May Sunday
Last week I went to Bob Fitzgerald’s. It was just after nine o’clock. The outside shutters were still down. The door of the shop was open but there were no wheelbarrows or ladders or sacks of grass seed out on the pavement. I was not sure if they were ready for business. It was dark inside but the shop was full of tradesmen getting stuff for the day’s work. There was a feeling of imperative and rushing in the place. That is why there was so little light. Everyone was too busy to finish opening the shop. They were too busy to open the shutters and they were too busy to turn on the lights. I bought myself a pair of knee pads in the gloom. The knee pads are made of some heavy foam. They are made for roofers and people who do jobs on their knees. I felt very pleased with myself. I wore my new knee pads around the house all day yesterday. The pads attached around the back of my legs with elastic straps and velcro. It rained all day so I did not even consider working outside for one minute but I wore the new knee pads just because I was so proud to own them. I only took them off when I went for a walk at the end of the afternoon. I could not pull my waterproof trousers on over the new knee pads.
Today I strapped on the new knee pads and I went outside. The morning was bright and sunny but that did not last. The rest of the day was overcast and balmy. Even though it was grey, it was warm and after yesterday’s non-stop downpour, I can call today a fine day. I worked away at this and that. Clearing the scutch grass and the creeping buttercup from beds and edges is a thankless and never-ending job. My new knee pads were a disaster. They just kept slipping down my legs each time I walked. I decided that they must be made for grown men. I decided they must be made for grown men with thick legs. I wondered about how to fix them. I wondered if perhaps I could make the elastic shorter. I wondered if they were slipping down because my trousers were sort of slipping down. I wondered if I should just put the knee pads into the shed and pretend I never I bought them. I adjusted them every so often and then they were great but they always slipped away again. I was disappointed and I was very very quiet about them. I had been so happy anticipating how good they were going to be.
Late afternoon, I went indoors to make a cup of tea. I waited for the kettle to boil and I looked down. I realized that I had been wearing the knee pads upside down, all day yesterday and all day today. I turned them around, re-attached the velcro and suddenly I had the knee pads I had been dreaming of. I went back outside for a few more hours just to enjoy how well they worked.
7 May Saturday
The Emigrants Rest is painted in large letters on the the side of the building. The building is not attached to any other buildings and it is on a corner which forces a turn in the road. The Emigrant’s Rest is the name of a bar. The sign is visible while driving into town. If one is driving out of town on the same road the painted sign over the door on the front of the bar is Bernie Mac’s. If a person is looking for Bernie Mac’s on the way into town that person will never find the place. If a person is driving out of town and looking for The Emigrants Rest that too will not be found. It is as if two different places exist in the same building. I cannot help but wonder if some of the customers go for a night out at Bernie Mac’s while others go to The Emigrants Rest.