25 August Thursday
Competition for the figs is fierce with the local birds. I check them every day. I compete with the birds. The birds are checking more than once a day. They have the advantage of eating half a fig while it is still on the branch and then just leaving the it and maybe returning later. I have the advantage of bringing the just barely squeezable ones inside for final ripening. The raspberries are coming on fast and furiously. I pick a bowl full every morning and every evening and still I do not seem to get them all. The birds can be grateful for that.
24 August Wednesday
Today is the second anniversary of the death of Em. I miss her.
23 August Tuesday
Our mobile phones are without signal since last week. It was the night of the big winds. I cannot remember which night that was. When we got in touch with the network people they told us that a mast had fallen down and that it would be repaired quickly. As soon as we leave this valley our phones function. It is just here that they do not. Today we rang again. The person on the line had no proper answer to give us. He tried to sound like he knew what was being done but he ended up bumbling his way through. He said “It can take the amount of time up to the time it has taken.” We know no more than we knew before.
21 August Sunday
The word Lashing is used often. It is mostly to do with liquid. Single or double cream can be applied with Lashings. Rain is regularly described as Lashing. Lashings of butter are essential for the eating of potatoes, but the butter is not liquid, or at least not till it melts.
20 August Saturday
Brambles are extending by the minute. They are reaching out for the light and they grab at anything that passes. They scratch hard if they can. Cars and faces and clothing are all under attack. I have walked along the top part of the boreen a few times and clipped the longest branches with my secataurs but the big cutting back of the ditches with machinery cannot be done for at least another week. Officially the ditch is not to be trimmed between 1 March and 1 September. Some people insist it is from 28 February to 1 September. The idea behind this restriction is to allow for birds and animals to safely use the time for nesting. Heavy cutting can disturb them and maybe even destroy nests. By now, I am used to hearing the ditch being called the ditch but sometimes talking about trimming a ditch still surprises me and I wish the word hedge could be used. Hedge is not the word for the bushes that grow along the road. Ditch is the word.
19 August Friday
The woman in the dentist waiting room came in and sat down and talked to me as if she knew me so I thought she must indeed know me. I thought that if I knew her I would remember her name or how I knew her within a few minutes of listening to her speak. She never stopped talking. She did not take a breath. She told me that she had been in to the dentist yesterday and she had to return today to have something finished but she did not mind because she had read something in a magazine right here in the waiting room about a man who was at his daughters wedding and he did not walk the daughter down the aisle even though he could walk perfectly well. He had both legs and he was fit and fine. She had been thinking about the article all night so she was delighted to come back and see what she thought about it all after thinking about it all night. She was not glad to be back to the dentist but she was glad to have another look at the magazine. She started to show me the photographs of the wedding but she did so really quickly as she was leafing though and she said she thought it such a terrible terrible shame that the father was not walking the daughter down the aisle and she had never in her whole life known such a sad thing. It turned out that the daughter was being walked up the aisle by Prince Charles instead of by her own father and the woman could not reconcile this in her own mind. Being escorted by a prince was of course special but a father is a father and there is no substitution for that. She was still worrying about it all when I was called to go in. By then I was certain that I had never met this woman before.