Driven Demented

by ericavanhorn

12 May Friday

None of the farm cats have been fed at my kitchen door for three or four days now. There was a loud screeching battle two nights ago between two or maybe three cats. Mary no longer appears. She has been frightened away by the competition. Last night the big black and white cat hurled himself up against the door. He did this for several minutes throwing his entire enormous body against the door again and again and again. He made a big noise. After he departed, in what I can only presume was disgust, two other cats, mixed grey and brown, skulked around the door  looking up at me hopefully as I looked out at them.

13 May Saturday

Today is week number six of the fresh asparagus from Wexford. I cannot get enough of it. I buy lots and I savour every bunch. Every week after this one might be the last.

14 May Sunday

A man was backing up his trailer as I walked through the farmyard. The side of the trailer announced that whatever was inside was not for animal consumption. Before I could get around the vehicle, the man was out of the small van and signalling for me to look away. On the ground just inside the gate were two small dead calves in a clump. His job was to collect the bodies and take them away. He was trying to spare me the sight of the the corpses, but his gesture was too late.

15 May Monday

Liam has no near neighbours with whom he can leave a house key. His method has been to put his spare into a jar with a screw-on lid. The jar is then thrown into the bushes to be hunted for when it is needed. The extra key is for someone who might need to get into his house when Liam is not there. It is also useful for himself in case he loses his key or fails to find it in any of his pockets. The jar keeps the key from rusting. The system works well. It has worked well for years up until the other night, when Liam misplaced his house key. He was not worried because he knew he had the spare in the jar under the bushes. He found himself struggling to get down on his hands and knees to search under the bushes for the jar and once he had found it he was unable to stand back up on his own. It was lucky for him that that he was not alone and that Peter was with him. He is now trying to decide on a new easy-to-reach hiding place for his key.

18 May Thursday

The lanes are frothy with cow parsley.

23 May Tuesday

I have been admiring the number seven on the gate post for months. Some days I think it is a painted seven and some days I am convinced it is a piece of metal with a perfect shadow that just looks like a seven. Today I stopped the car to take a look. It is a seven.

24 May Wednesday

There seems to be a lull in the activity surrounding The First Holy Communions. Hairdressers have been booked solid and bouncy castles and parties schedualed all over the place. Now the wedding season is in full swing. There is always another reason to dress up and have a party.

25 May Thursday

I have been taking Walker out for walks again. As always, our preferred destination is Tom Cooney’s fields. We walk in the narrow paths made by tractor wheels through the barley. He runs way out in front of me, but turns every so often to make sure that I am still with him.

26 May Friday

Una was describing to the girl at the till all about how she had been on a Zoom call with her friend Louise in New Jersey when a swallow flew into her house and started swooping around. The swallow knocked things off the windowsills and thumped and flailed as it looked for a way back outside.  Louise saw the bird passing by the computer screen in Tipperary and she began to panic. She squealed: “How did a bird get into your house? Don’t you have screens on your windows?? Don’t you keep your doors locked?” Una told Louise that the bird would fly out again soon, but Louise remained in a frantic state about its erratic presence.  Una explained to the girl behind the counter that in the United States everyone has screens on their windows and that they lock their doors all the time even when they are inside the house. She said that they never let a bug much less a bird in. Una said that she only locks her own door when she goes to bed.

27 May Saturday

The woman looked like she was a the end of her tether.  She looked like she might cry or maybe scream. She screeched, “I’m Driven Demented!”

30 May Tuesday

Today was the day. I finally took Tommie to town. He has been waiting and waiting and wanting to go but he has had a bad chest infection and was unable to go out at all for two weeks. I think it was pneumonia but the doctor gave him antibiotics and sent him home, so he has just healed slowly on his own. Before I had helped him all the way out of the car at Dunnes’ Stores, a man shouted out a greeting. Tommie was delighted to be recognised and he walked taller for it. I got him a trolley and loaded in his shopping bags. He put his walking stick into the trolley and set off into the store while I went to park the car. He was stopped several more times by people who were happy to see him and to talk to him. He said that one lady talked his ear off but he said he could only hear half of what she said anyway. I drove him home on a meandering route and he was pleased to see how many fields had their first silage in and he was happy to see hay being cut. He noticed everything. We had to stop several times for large tractors and machinery in the road. He said he could have ridden in my motorcar all day but when we got to his house he collapsed into his chair. Tommie said he was completely worn out by the outside world.

31 May Wednesday

I make potato salad with a vinaigrette dressing, celery, diced gherkins, onions and hard-boiled egg. Most people make it with mayonnaise. Which is fine. Until I came to live here, I loved potato salad in most forms. Potatoes in Ireland tend to be floury. These are the potatoes that people like so these are the potatoes that are grown and sold. A Green Grocer will proudly announce: “These Potatoes Will Explode in Your Face.” It sounds scary but this is not a threat. Floury potatoes are considered a Good Thing. The problem is that floury potatoes fall apart when they are boiled or even steamed. They are no use for a potato salad, though no one seems to care. People make potato salad anyway and they do not mind that it is mushy. There are no pieces of potato in the potato salad. It is just a seasoned mush with nothing to bite into. We joke that the potato salad is made with mashed potatoes. Today I saw a a bowl in the deli section labelled Mash Potato Salad. It is no longer a joke but documented truth.

1 June Thursday

Mary is back. She seems to like the quiet. The other cats have given up on getting anything to eat from me so they no longer arrive to squabble around the kitchen door. Mary follows me around in the garden. She likes to be nearby. I am not even sure she is hoping for food. She just likes a visit.

2 June Friday

I accompanied Simon to his hearing aid appointment this morning. My presence was required as his Familiar Voice. I was asked to be there in order to speak some words to him without my lips being seen. I sat quietly in a chair in the far corner of the small room and I waited to be included, but I never was. At the end of the appointment Fergal invited me to come along to the next meeting if I so wished.

3 June Saturday

The Wexford strawberries are on sale on the main roads. This is the sign that summer has arrived. The painted strawberries are on signs and also on the sides of the little selling trailers. Every painted strawberry is different. Both strawberries and new potatoes are both being sold by but it is the strawberries that get advertised with a painted image, never the potatoes.

4 June Sunday

The days have been dry and warm.  Day after day of bright sun and heat and not a drop of rain. The fields are silent. Grassy places are looking more brown and less green. The broad creamy elderflower blossom is everywhere but there is no citric acid to be found in any pharmacy, so I am unable to make my annual cordial. The vegetation lining the roads has gone from looking lush to looking skeletal. Wild daisies are rampant.