19 December Monday
Another grey and gloomy morning. The grey sky is heavy. I cannot animate myself. I should not complain. The weather continues to be unseasonably mild. Some days are bright and crisp. Some are drizzly and wet and grey. Day after day the temperatures are higher than normal. It is cold but it does not feel one little bit like December. Today the birds are all over the feeders. They are lining up and waiting for their turn to eat nuts. Most days they have been racing around without much interest in stopping to sample whatever is on offer in the feeders. There has been no desperation in the bird population yet.
18 December Sunday
Three hunters were out in the Long Field today. They were all three dressed in camouflaged clothing and they had four dogs with them. The Long Field is long and it is also wide. It is a result of many walls and ditches being broken down over the years. We call it the Long Field but really it is two fields. Over time all the fields were combined to make two enormous fields with a rough track separating them. There is one place kind of in the center where the land dips before it climbs up again. There is a large outcrop of rocks and stones and growth in the dip. More stones and rocks get dumped there as the farmer finds them in his ploughing. The edges of the fields on both sides of the track are a long way from the middle. The three camouflaged men were walking up the dirt track. There was not much chance that there would be any birds anywhere nearby for them to startle much less to shoot. Just as we began our walk downwards they veered off to the left around the rocky place and they headed for the edges in the hopes of flushing some pheasants. The area of fields is so large we were able to walk without ever getting near to them, nor them to us.
17 December Saturday
It was cold. The morning had been white with frost. The hard cold lasted all day. I stopped in Ballyporeen where there was some kind of Christmas party or maybe a wedding and a lot of people rushing around in fancy clothing. People were in and out of the nearby pub. The church was close by. I could not tell where they were going as everyone seemed to be on the move all the time. The young women and some of the not so young women were all dressed in skimpy dresses. Many of the dresses were sparkly. There seems to be an agreed upon behavior that women take off their coats before going indoors to an event like a night in a pub or a disco or a wedding. I do not know if it is because a coat might ruin the look of a fancy outfit or if the women fear that things will get so exciting and out of control that they might forget their coat later. Coats get left in the car. These women and girls all had bare legs and little high-heeled strappy sandals to go with their flimsy dresses. They all had fake tans to make their legs look glamourous rather than white and goose-pimply. As I walked out of the shop an old man in a tweed suit and a heavy jumper and wearing a wool cap pulled down low on his head stood in the doorway watching the chaos in the street and shaking his head . He said “Just look at them. They’ve Nothing On Them, and it’s Gone Freezing Out and their legs are All Orange.”
16 December Friday
Up Yourself is an insult. To be told that you are Up Yourself is a kind of a warning. To describe a person as being Up Himself is to imply that he is taking on airs and graces. It suggests that someone is stepping outside of their place. Or the place that others think that person should stay in. The man in Cahir who was not allowed to carry a small back pack when he was out walking was told by his wife that if he went about wearing a pack on his back people would think he was Up Himself. It was okay for him to carry a back pack when on holiday because then the people who saw him would not be the people who usually saw him. Anyone who saw him while he was on holiday would not be anyone who might know what place he was supposed to be kept in.
15 December Thursday
There is now a bus service called the AirCoach which goes back and forth between Cork to Dublin Airport. It only makes a few stops so it is efficient and fast. Each place where the AirCoach stops is well marked with an orange sign. The sign now tells us where we have always been stopping on the regular bus but we did not know the name of the place. It was always just The Bus Stop, which was outside a particular bar or a shop in a particular town or village. When the Bus Eireann bus stopped today in Mitchelstown I noticed the AirCoach sign said it was Mitchelstown New Square. I never knew the big square was called New Square. Thursday is market day in Mitchelstown. The square which I now know to call New Square was busy and full of stalls and people. Unusually, a huge crowd was waiting to board our bus. There were at least thirty people. Everyone who was already on the bus got very excited. They discussed amongst themselves that this was the most people they had ever seen boarding the bus in Mitchelstown. Everyone worried that they might not all fit onto our bus. The driver worried out loud that it was all taking too long to get them loaded. Some did not have the right money and others had awkward bundles or baby buggies. He feared he might be late for his arrival in Cork.
13 December Tuesday
No one wants the Brown Coins. Stella said that her house had been burgled. The robbers had come in and made a mess. They did not take much. They ripped into the airing press in hopes of finding a hidden safe. They threw a lot of things around. They found the jar of small coins. The jar was full of the 1 cent, 2 cent and 5 cent coins that no one uses anymore. The coins are made of some sort of alloy. Maybe it is copper and nickel. They do not look especially brown but they are spoken of as the Brown Coins. No one wants the Brown Coins. Children do not stoop to pick them up in the street. Most of us save the Brown Coins in jars and eventually we cash them in somewhere. The Brown Coins may not be used much as currency but they cannot be refused. The robbers could have left the Brown Coins sitting in their jar. They could have ignored them. Instead, they took the jar of Brown Coins and scattered them around the house in disgust.
12 December Monday
Annie told me that she was going to be an artist when she got older. She said her mother was certain that she would be a very good artist. Annie said, “She says she knows that I will be a good artist because I am easily distracted and because I like to glue pom-poms onto pencils.”