31 January Thursday
The days are getting longer. They are getting longer and lighter. It is a constant topic of conversation. We no long speak of the longer days by saying that there is A Stretch In It. We are well past that. The first of February is considered the first day of spring even though in my mind it is not really spring. Weather-wise it is not even vaguely spring, but here it is the day that is officially considered the First Day of Spring. Every year this surprises me. It should not surprise me any longer. The first of February is the First Day of Spring. Every single year, the first day of February is the First Day of Spring. This morning Johnnie reminded me that tomorrow is the First Day of Spring. He said, “It won’t be long before you can eat your dinner by the light of day.”
I am always pleased to find a lost shopping list. I like the sort of eavesdropping effect of reading what somebody else intends to purchase.
Yesterday I found a small piece of cardboard. The list read:
I spent the rest of the day speaking about Buns For Norman Chicken. I repeated it over and over again. It became a little chant. Buns for Norman Chicken! I was delighted with the name Norman Chicken. I woke up happy with the name Norman Chicken on my tongue. Now I see that Norman Chicken is neither a person nor a recipe. Buns For Norman was one thing. And then there was Chicken.
28 January Monday
I was not sitting very near to the door, but I was sitting near enough to the door to be visible to anyone going out or coming in. As I looked up from my coffee, I saw Paul on his way out the door. He was chatting with another man and he left without me saying hello to him nor him saying hello to me. A few seconds after the door closed, he opened it again, and stuck his head in. He said, “Hello there! I didn’t see you till I saw you!”
26 January Saturday
The clock on the library building in Cahir has been repaired and replaced. For about a year or maybe longer there has been a piece of black plastic in the rectangular space where the clock used to be. I wondered if the clock would ever return. I worried about it. Now it is back. I do not know exactly when it disappeared and I do not know exactly when it returned.
24 January Thursday
Some people do it and some people do not do it. It does not seem to be a spoken quirk from one specific county. Or I cannot tell if it is something that belongs to a particular place. I just hear it sometimes and sometimes I do not hear it. I think it is more like a kind of a lisp or speech defect. Or maybe it is a pronunciation thing from the Irish language. It is the saying of a T instead of a TH, usually at the beginning of a word. When people say T instead of TH, the entire meaning of the word they are saying can be different.
The two lads were sitting behind me on the bus. We were going to Cork and they were going to Cork. One of them spoke of TICK TIES. He said it once and then he said it again. I had not been listening to their conversation but these two words were repeated again and again. I could not understand the words so I had to listen in order to put them into context. It was a bit like hearing a few words that I do understand in the midst of a sentence in a foreign language. The familiar words make the rest of the conversation kind of public business. I think this was the same kind of situation.
Eventually I understood that TICK TIES was actually THICK THIGHS. It was THICK THIGHS with the T sound replacing the TH sound. The lad doing most of the talking was discussing his three years in Australia. The other lad was on his way to Australia so the first one was telling him what to expect and what problems might be encountered. Apparently a major issue down there is that the legs of Irish men are not like the legs of Australian men. The buying of a new pair of jeans is a real and pressing problem if you are the kind of lad with Thick Thighs. Apparently these two lads are both the kind of lads with Thick Thighs. Many Irish lads have Thick Thighs and the Australians do not have the same kind of leg shape so their blue jeans are made to fit their body type. These jeans are not comfortable for an Irish lad’s legs. In fact they are impossible for the majority of Irish legs.
And anyway, the Australian jeans are too long. Even the shortest length is too long. The first fellow had located a website that sold blue jeans for the Irish expatriate audience. The jeans were cut wider in the thighs and shorter in the leg and they were just as good as what you could buy right here at home. It was easier to use the website than it was to ask your mother to go and shop for you and post you a pair of jeans. The instructing lad ended this portion of the conversation by saying, “After all, she is your Mam. She would only be after thinking that you could not take care of yourself without her help.”
23 January Wednesday
I spent two hours in the cold barn undoing clumps of bubble wrap this afternoon. I collect it from the vet’s office in Cahir. They keep it crammed behind a shelving unit until it gets to be too much. When I need a fresh supply for wrapping book parcels, I ring and they tell me if they have any or not. Sometimes it has already gone off to the recycling. Two weeks ago, I got a three enormous rubbish bags crammed full. The vet’s office is happy to pass the bubble on to me as they consider that recycling it via me is superior to recycling it to the council. Today I spent the time pulling off strips of sello tape and flattening out the pieces. It is a job I avoid for as long as possible. There is always something more interesting to do. Sometimes the tape rips the plastic but sometimes I can get it off smoothly and I end up with huge great pieces to fold up and put away for use later. I listened to the radio while I was working which distracted me from the cold. As always, I marveled that a veterinary practice receives so many things in bottles and containers that need careful padding with bubble wrap. I did not get through all three of the bags before the cold in the barn drove me back up to the house. A good supply is now ready for use so I feel wealthy and ready for any package that might need to be packed.
22 January Tuesday
My collection of lichen up the boreen is getting bigger but not as quickly as I had hoped. I think I thought it expected that it would grow and grow. I think I hoped it would be so large that it would need to be detoured around. That it would be impossible not to see it as one walked along. It is still quite a small amount. I am surprised that neither the wind nor a dog or a boot has displaced the little pile. I showed it to PJ one day when I met him and his dog Walker. I suggested that if he finds any clumps of lichen, he is more than welcome to add to the collection. I was trying to let him know that it was not just my pile. Anyone else could add lichen. I do not think he was very interested but he was polite about it.