28 July Thursday
Joe’s cows are in the adjoining field. They are unusually quiet today. There is no jostling or mooing or bellowing. They are standing and eating grass. Quietly. The morning is sunny and windy and cloudy all at the same time. Clouds are racing across the sky. At moments all goes dark and overcast and then the clouds keep moving and the day is all over bright again. The only sounds are the wind in the branches, a far-away chain saw and the tearing of grass.
27 July Wednesday
I am delighted with my lichen cards. I have been collecting lichen on every walk up the mass path for years now. Some days, like Monday when the walking was such hard work, I do not even think of lichen but most days my eye is drawn to the little pieces which get knocked off the branches by birds or wind or time. Every pocket of every jacket has been full of dried up crumbling pieces of lichen. Sometimes I fill a bowl with the silvery green-ish pieces and enjoy having them in the house with me. Now I have printed a folding card with a square in which to glue one piece of lichen. I have been rushing up and down to the barn with my glueing and weighting down of the glued pieces and then the checking to make certain that the card with the weight upon it is not sticking to the lichen and ripping it off. I glue up five cards at a time. It is slow work because the dried and pressed lichen is so brittle. I am becoming skilled at judging the delicacy of each piece. I thought I had an enormous supply saved under pressure but of course the old stuff in my pockets was useless. Now I return from a walk and carefully place any new samples under a weight to flatten them for a few days. I do not leave any in my pockets. I am nearly through with what I believed was an enormous cache of lichen. Actually, it was not so much. Now I must plan walks for the hunting. Picking up scraps of lichen is no longer just a whim. It is a job. I have glued about thirty cards so far.
26 July Tuesday
Peter ordered fresh mackerel. It was served with potatoes and a gooseberry sauce. Three potatoes arrived in a side dish which was placed to his right. He took the potatoes off the small side dish and put them on his plate. Then he took the skins off the potatoes. He moved the skins onto another small plate which was to the left of his main plate. He enjoyed the potatoes so much that he asked the waitress for more. She was neither surprised nor bothered by his request. She was happy to bring him three more potatoes. He performed the ritual of moving and skinning the potatoes and then moving the skins away again. The potatoes broke up as he removed the skins. He mashed them a bit with his fork. He added plenty of butter. He asked for the salt. I passed the salt and I offered him the pepper mill. He looked at me in horror. He said You do not put pepper on potatoes! I said that I did put pepper on potatoes. He said NO NO. Salt and butter are the only things to put on potatoes. I keep thinking I know all there is to know about the Irish and their potatoes but it seems there is always more that I do not know.
25 July Monday
For walking up the mass path I wore two long-sleeved shirts and long trousers. The morning was too warm for that much clothing. Everything was overgrown all the way up the path. No one has walked through in quite a while. I should have taken some clippers. I should have taken a stick to beat some of the vegetation down. I should have worn gloves. Both the brambles and the nettles got me right through my clothes. I got tangled in the sticky weeds. It was a struggle from start to finish. It was not really a walk, it was a battle. When I reached the open road at the top I felt like a survivor. I had many stings and I had ripped flesh. I enjoyed every minute of it.
24 July Sunday
I made the mistake of rushing down to the village to buy a lemon. I thought I could get there and leave quickly just before everyone came out of Mass. I was too late. The road was full of people leaving the church and talking to one another. The sun was out and no one was in a hurry. The shop was full of chattering people. I found the only lemon available and I waited my turn and I bought it. I left the shop with the lemon in my hand. I passed a man sitting on the ledge. I had passed him on the way in too. I knew the man and he knew me. He shouted out Oh A Lemon! You’ll be having a whiskey then! I said There is more than one thing to do with a lemon and anyway it is kind of early in the day for whiskey, isn’t it? He said Whiskey is the only place I have ever had a lemon and that only when it was A Hot Whiskey. He said, I like A Hot Whiskey with lemon. I was in a rush so I did not stop to discuss the many other possibilities of a lemon. This man is a talented man with the spoons and with a mouth harp but he cannot read nor write and he cannot do numbers. I decided that what he did not know about lemons was just another thing he did not know What he did not know did not bother him.
22 July Friday
They Have Skin in The Game. I am guessing that this is a way to say that someone has a lot invested in a project or a business so he cannot give up. He cannot give up because he has too much to lose.
21 July Thursday
An Post raised the cost of postage today. It went up in July last year. It went up in July the year before too. I am not certain about the year before that. The price of postage never goes down.
20 July Wednesday
The lights went out at about ten o’clock last night. The lights went out and everything else went out too. I used the mobile phone to ring the electricity company. The first thing the woman wanted to know was where I was calling from. Then she asked me to tell her the account number off our last electric bill. I said that I could not look for a bill because there were no lights in the house. The woman said okay and then she told explained that the power was down in Ardfinnan and it might be back on soon or it might not. She thought it was something to do with a cow and a pole and a branch, but she was not certain. It was dark so we went to bed.