by ericavanhorn

3 July Sunday

I stopped to admire the new underpass for the cows. It took many weeks and many many hours of several huge diggers removing rocks and soil and finding new places to put the enormous piles of stuff once it was dug up. The noise was mighty. It seemed like the work would go on forever. Now it is done. The cows can walk from the milking shed over the fields and under the road to wherever they are directed by string fences to their place of grazing for the day. There is a kind of slip road on each side of the underpass so the system feels like a wide motorway. The cows walk long distances to get to the far fields. I watched them moving slowly but steadily down the new track from the farm and disappearing underneath the road and then I crossed to watch them coming out the other side and ambling away to the grass. I wonder if they feel happy with the new underpass or if it is nothing more than another days walking.

4 July Monday

The Black Cat has learned to tell time. He skulks around the bird feeders in the early morning and then he disappears. He returns after supper to see if there are any scraps for him to eat. He is increasingly comfortable in my presence. He sits close to the kitchen door. He used to run far across the garden when I appeared or when I even looked out the door, but now he just moves a cautious but short distance away from me.

5 July Tuesday

This morning I collected Tommie at his house and drove him into town. He had decided that we should just go to Dunnes’ Stores and not go to the men’s clothing shop today. We agreed that one destination was plenty for the day. I dropped him at the door of the supermarket and went to park the car. By the time I got over to where I had left him he was talking to a man he knew from Goatenbridge. He was pleased to be recognized. He introduced me to the man. The trip was starting well. I gave him a trolley and a mask. He had refused to wear a mask in the car but agreed to wear one in the shop. I set him off to do his shopping and I went to do my own. I caught sight of him now and again and each time he was wearing his mask hooked onto his ears, not over his mouth nor his nose, but wedged underneath his chin. I drove him home and carried his bags into the kitchen. He plopped down into his old chair immediately. He was exhausted by the expedition but he said he was glad to have made the trip. As he thanked me, he commented that, as always, We Travel Well Together.

6 July Wednesday

This morning I found a pin on the passenger seat. I recognized it as the one Tommie had been wearing on his lapel yesterday. I rang him to tell him that I had found it and that I would return it to him soon. We agreed that the pin must have come off when I put his seat belt on or off. He dislikes the seat belt and he dislikes the face mask. He said that the pin was his Pioneer pin and that he would not like to lose it. He explained that when a Catholic child takes his First Holy Communion, he is given a pin. After the age of 18, each person has to make a personal decision whether or not to carry on as a non-drinker. After 25 years of abstinence, a Pioneer is given a silver pin. After 50 years, one is presented with a gold pin. Tommie explained that he had lost his gold pin some years ago and he had had to pay 50 euros to replace it. He was glad that I had found this one. He told me again that he would not like to lose it.

7 July Thursday

I am still picking huge quantities of gooseberries. They show no sign of ending. I have given away 19 pounds of them to several people who want to make jam. I have frozen more than 10 pounds. We are now on our third gooseberry tart. And still they ripen.

9 July Saturday

It was ten o’clock last night when the cows broke in. Or the cows broke out. A few of them escaped from their field and wandered into our yard. The majority of the cows remained on their side of the fence where they all started mooing and moaning and bellowing. The noise is what alerted us to the invasion. No doubt more of the cows would have followed the first ones but we shooed them out and back over the broken down fence. We telephoned Joe and then we worked at tying up the boards of the fence with some thick blue rope. We stretched more rope along the rest of the opening and waited until Joe arrived over the hill in his tractor.  We had a chat about the cows and the destroyed fence and the man who is supposed to come to replace the fence but who never arrives and about the dry weather and then we all said good night and he directed his cows along to a different field.

11 July Monday

There are blue and yellow flowers in bloom on top of the shed with the grass roof. There are more flowers than grass.

13 July Wednesday

I took some gooseberries and custard down to Tommie.  He was nervous about the gooseberries but happy to have the custard. He showed me his new chair.  A man had come and measured him for it five months ago. The man who measured him was named Sam.  The chair was free.  It was provided by the health authority. He was offered a choice of colours: black or dark red. He chose the red and felt certain that he had made a good decision. The chair is upright and extremely narrow. When Tommie sits in it, there is no room for him to gain a single pound.  The chair is designed to be plugged in. Once plugged in, it will function as a recliner. There is a device he can hold in his hand to make the back of the chair recline while the lower part will lift his legs up off the floor.  Tommie has not plugged the chair in yet.  He says he has no intention of ever plugging it in. He says he has no need for an electric chair and that he is happy enough with it the way it is.

14 July Thursday

The men working on the roads for the council have parked the small yellow trailer just off the road in a spot looking across fields to the Knockmealdowns. This little van appears here and there at intervals throughout the year. I am always impressed with how many functions the very small unit appears to cater for: a toilet, a drying room for wet garments and boots, and a canteen. There is no sign of any work being done in the vicinity but the men are guaranteed a lovely view at lunchtime.