Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Man Above

 First of all, I have to report that I didn't get very far with the novel. Just a few changes in the notes about how many illegitimate children the father had before he met the mother and some new thoughts on infant mortality.

For I was too busy paying heed to the Georgia run-offs. Got up early on Wednesday morning and positively whooped at the news that the Democrats had succeeded. That was a good feeling about US politics that didn't last the day. For, as everyone now knows, there was a bit of an insurrection on Capitol Hill. 

The day after Bert had to see the man up the road who is quite the Trump fan, and who believes the orange one to have been sent by God to turn around the evils of this world. No matter, that God's chosen one has a dubious grip on morals and decency, for He works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform... as isn’t written in scripture.

The man up the road informed Bert that the rioters were most emphatically not supporters of Trump. They were in fact actors and Antifa. He maintains that in a months time the truth will out, Trump will be back in the White House and Biden will be in jail!

My thoughts? I have come to believe that those who take the bible literally are capable of believing anything.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Bert’s Aunt Lizzie was admitted to hospital on Monday. There was a day-long wait for the GP’s visit and then a five hour wait for an ambulance which, when it finally arrived, was staffed by volunteers all the way from County Fermanagh.

Anyway, the hospital did some tests and she has a serious problem. She refused a biopsy and they said she could go home, but not until the social workers had arranged some extra help at home – which is good. Then the hospital phoned to inform her next-of-kin that the hospital bay she’d been nursed in had a coronavirus case so now all those patients are in isolation for ten days. These are crazy times and not a good time to get sick.

But for now, I am looking forward to the Spring, the vaccine and a hair cut. And Bert is looking forward to receiving the £30 bet we put on the results of the American election. I said I wouldn’t pay up until inauguration day. For anything could happen. Anything.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Saturday Morning Conversation

 Y'know Bert, last night just before snuggling down to sleep I realised that I can let my thoughts wander where they will, I can go anywhere, do anything, be whatever I wish...


And, y'know, next thing I'd worked out an idea for a book!

Oh. That's good. Will it be a humorous book?

Oh no. I don't think so. The themes I'm considering are family, rural Ireland, betrayal and insanity.

So it's going to be an autobiography then? 

No! Definitely fiction.

Any sex in it?

Hinted at. Although nothing passionate, it will be dutiful congress only. We're talking about Catholics here.

I'm not sure about Jack Russells but Eriophorum angustifolium (bog cotton) will definitely feature.


Friday, January 01, 2021

New Year's Day

Martha asked me recently how long I might live. I answered, 

I'm planning to live until I'm 88 years old. I might live longer or I might die before that, but - that's the plan anyway. You'll be in your early thirties by then, you'll be a proper grown-up, on your way.

I think she liked that answer, Being thirty-three must seem like a lifetime away to her. When I was her age I thought my life would be hardly worth living at thirty. I expected to be married to some elderly boring professor who I wouldn't even particularly like and that I'd have about four not very interesting children, likely all boys. Obvious that I believed Jo March's fate to be a big disappointment.

Bert's Aunt Lizzie has gone two years over my ideal lifespan. I spent most of yesterday with her and she is not in good form. She won't eat, hardly drinks, cannot sleep and is in constant pain. She waited three months for a hospital appointment and has finally been given one for this day week. In ordinary times she would already be in the hospital if only to be rehydrated. This pandemic is dreadful for the ordinary sick and elderly whose care needs are not being met. One of Lizzie's carers told me that on a recent house visit she came upon an elderly man who had fallen and could not get up. Normally carers would be expected to call an ambulance and wait until it arrived. Two hours later, no ambulance had arrived so she sought the help of a neighbour who helped her get the old chap on his feet. He then declared that he would not go to hospital and the ambulance was cancelled. Incidentally, this carer waited on her own time and will never be paid for it. And didn't even resent it. A true Hero.

Lizzie in better days

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Cutting Capers

 I have just phoned Daughter 1.

The conversation went something like this.

NM: Well, how are things?

D1: Grand. We're just waiting for her to come out of surgery. Should be about twenty minutes.

My thoughts: What surgery? Am I supposed to know about this? Did Daughter 1 tell me her dog was going to the vets for an operation and I've forgotten? I'm always forgetting what people tell me. Sometimes I just don't listen enough. I try to cover up my foolishness.

NM: So, this was a planned surgery? 

D1: Not exactly, but they did say she should come in fasting, just in case.

NM: Look, I know this is going to sound stupid but I'm not sure what you're talking about. Is it Maya?

D1: It's Martha. She had an appointment at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children this morning. They decided to set her fracture under anaesthetic.

NM: Oh! 

Maya is perfectly fine

Explanation. Martha fractured her right pinky finger before Christmas whilst doing headstands. She is very into gymnastics and what her great-grandmother Martha would have called 'cutting capers'. It has been in a splint since then and did not keep her back in the slightest. I had been informed about today's appointment and did forget about it.


Update: she's fine. She was the only patient in her department today and got lots of attention and then they kicked her out as soon as they possibly could. She'll be back to cutting capers, and playing the clarinet and piano as soon as she can. Well done, NHS. We're really lucky to have you.

Her Mother

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Doing Christmas

I didn't make such a great fist of Christmas this year, no Christmas cake, no tree, no fairy lights, no three desserts. No shops.

The no shops shopping was the good part. I did Christmas present shopping online and it was OK except for around five of my gifts not arriving on time. And that was despite being ordered weeks in advance. It's a hard thing to admit but Amazon, no matter how wrong the company seems, is at least reliable. Note to self - more forward planning for 2021.

When it came down to it I missed not having a tree. 

Bert volunteered to be with his elderly Aunt on Christmas Day so I spent a good part of that day on my own. There was a family Zoom call planned for the morning which featured Martha and Evie, James and Emily showing us all their presents. I missed half of it due to connection problems and lack of forward planning and had a jolly good cry about it. Then of course, I had to cry about how sad Christmas is when we think of all the people (and dogs) that aren't with us any more then had to give myself a shake remembering that I have family members missing a child who, had she lived, would still be young enough to believe in Father Christmas. 

Boxing Day was better. Lockdown began but we did have Martha and Evie and their parents around. More Christmas food and then a round of Blind Man's Buff, Chinese Whispers and Charades. Is it just me, or are  Blind Man's Buff and Chinese Whispers maybe not terribly PC? If not, I've yet to receive the memo and anyway now that we are (apparently) no longer sophisticated Europeans these things don't matter. Who knows. Anyway - it was great fun and we laughed a lot which was heartening.

Bert spent today with Aunt Lizzie, I footered about doing little bits and pieces which included graping silage to cattle, a first for me. It is great to still be having new experiences in one's late sixties. I also watched the first episode of Bridgerton and cracked open a bottle of Malbec while it was still light outside.

Next year (if I'm spared) I'm Really Doing Christmas, fruit cake, plastic Santas, tinsel and everything. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Lockdown Christmas Eve

 I had my long-awaited knee X-ray yesterday. The appointment was at 2pm and, as I always like to be early, I presented myself at five minutes before the hour and was seen immediately and back in the van ten minutes later. The downside of these speedy appointments is that we wait much longer to get them and longer again for the results.

Yesterday's other noteworthy event was my first sighting of the Jupiter-Mercury Christmas conjunction. The big night was last Monday but it was too cloudy to see anything. The two planets are drawing apart but we were able to see it in our own yard and I was glad that I had the opportunity. We earth-dwellers do set a lot of store by these heavenly events even though the planets are always there and the conjunction is simply an optical illusion. Still, it was magical.

Thinking of it I was reminded of my obsession with the Hale-Bopp comet in the late 1990s. Bert’s father Johnny was fascinated with it too and probably first saw it from this yard in 1996. By the time the comet was at its most spectacular Johnny was dying. Earth’s view of Hale-Bopp peaked in April 1997, Johnny died less than two months later. When I think of Hale-Bopp now I feel sorry that he didn't get to see it in its full splendour. The point of my story - take every opportunity to gaze at the heavens.

Pearlie and Johnny

So today, it’s Christmas Eve again and this is my sixty-eighth Christmas. As always, things to do. I’ve wrapped all the presents available to me for half of my order from Berlin has yet to arrive. I spent most of the morning making stuffing for our one-legged turkey. Then at half-ten stopped everything to listen to Miss Evie and a multitude of musicians aged from four to eighty take part in a Christmas recording of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas organised by the BenedettiFoundation.

Evie is one of the cellists (white jumper) roughly in the middle of the screenshot. Only a close relative would bother to seek her out as the picture is so teeny, but she was there, she took part and I am very proud of her.

Tomorrow will be a quiet Christmas, just Bert, Hannah and myself and Bert will be spending a good part of the day with his elderly aunt in Kells. I expect I’ll have a few hours on my own. It will be different and I’m even looking forward to it a little bit. Especially the family Zoom call at 9pm. My one-legged turkey should be starting to sizzle nicely by then.