Yesterday we walked the New Walk in glorious sunshine. I am already calling this walk The KnockPerry. The walk has found its name. Rachel and Peter joined us. A crowd of sheep were rushing from one field down the road to another field. They had a man and a dog and a girl on a bicycle behind them. When they saw us in their path they tried to look busy and to pretend they were turning but there was a stone wall in their way. There was no where to go.
6 January Epiphany.
Today is Little Christmas. Little Christmas is short for Women’s Little Christmas—Nollaig na mBan. This is the day when all of the holiday decorations come down and get stored away. Holiday cards get filed or recycled, and the tree is removed. On Little Christmas, the tradition is that women are supposed to be free from All Household Duties. Probably this release is only after they have finished putting all of the decorating stuff away. Husbands and partners are left to take care of children and cleaning and pets and preparation for back to school and whatever else needs doing. The women go out with their friends in the evening and have dinner with other women. In Cork city, I understand that the restaurants are packed full of women and that there is rarely a man in sight.
Officially, Christmas is over. Tomorrow the world will go back to normal. Children and teachers will return to school. The post office will return to its usual hours and deliveries. It will be almost as if the last two weeks never happened. Except that everyone will continue to say Happy New Year to one another again and again and again until we are all certain that we have not missed anyone. This will go on for at least one more week. Maybe two.
5 January Saturday
Living Locally No.30
Letterpress card 2015
4 January Friday
Another mild day. I was walking Around alone. I did not see one car nor one person the entire way. When I entered the boreen and reached the top of the first slope, I heard footsteps and heavy breathing. Oscar came staggering up behind me. I could not believe my eyes nor my ears. He was wheezing and gasping like an old tractor, as he has in recent months. The back of him is still not functioning very well but the front of him was delighted to be on the way to anywhere. As happy as I was to see him, I knew he should not be out on his own. Just a few days ago he was almost dead. He was already a kilometre from home when he caught up with me. I had no idea if he would have the strength to walk back. I walked him home slowly. I wondered if I should have rung June to come to fetch him. She was shocked to learn that he had gone so far. As we stood talking, Oscar lifted his leg for a pee and he fell over. His back legs have lost all their power but already he is a changed dog from a few days ago.
3 January Thursday
Catherine McCarra, the postmistress, has taken back her resignation. In doing so she gave up the financial package which was on offer. AnPost made this back-handedly generous one-time offer to try to close 400 post offices. Since Catherine decided not to take the package and not to retire at the end of this month, our post office can stay open. Our committee tried all kinds of things but no half-way solution would do. As a last-ditch attempt, and at great personal sacrifice, Catherine wrote and rescinded her resignation, and forfeited the money, even though she is not a well woman. If she collapses tomorrow, our post office may well be closed down immediately. We called a general meeting to announce the turn around and because our only hope now is to increase the transactions which take place at the counter. I was fearful that only 10 people might turn up, but the Community Hall was packed. Everyone seems eager to work to double our transactions in the next six months. One suggestion was that someone with a post office savings book could put 2 euro into their account one day and then they could take it out again the next day. This would count as two transactions. It might drive Rosie, behind the counter, crazy. But at least she would have a job. Unfortunately we do not seem to have a number of how many transactions are currently being done, so it is hard to know how many we will need to double the number.
The Christmas Nativity Scene that gets set up every year is called The Crib. People go to view The Crib. They ask if you have seen The Crib. They comment on how well The Crib is looking. They mourn the occasional theft or random destruction of The Crib by Bad Lads. It took some years before I understood what was being discussed.
When our currency here was Pounds and Pence, a Pound was always called a Quid. We have been using the Euro since 2002, but people still speak of something costing A Quid. Or of being paid 10 Quid. Quid is still the slang for money even though the actual currency has changed.
I find the Christmas period complicated because the talk of Quids and Cribs gets confusing. Now that January has begun there will still be Quids but no more Cribs.
31 December Monday
At the end of my walk I detoured to visit Oscar. He is weak and wobbly. He is really really weak and really really wobbly, and his eyes are glazed over, but he is alive. He is on steroids and some other tablets. Mark and June are trying to get him to eat regularly and often. They are trying to get him to take water. June said he has never had the habit to drink fresh water from a bowl. He has preferred to drink from puddles. Now they are trying to discolour the water in his bowl to convince him to drink it. The vet said that if he does not eat and drink to build up his strength he will not recover from his stroke. I was longing to ask what they are using to discolour his water.