Herself got back from Zambia on Friday none the worse for wear for her adventure. I think she had a good time. It’s nice to have her back. She brought us, inter alia, Zambian peanut butter made to order in a market in the middle of nowhere. Who knew fresh peanut butter tasted better? I did worry a little that the food hygiene might not be what one would hope as I contemplated the battered label free plastic jar it came in, but I’ve been eating it since Friday and have, thus far, experienced no ill effects.
I went down to Cork on Saturday. My friend M’s aunt had just died. M has buried another aunt and her father over the past 18 months. As her friend L said, “Thank heavens she had a wedding in the middle of it.”
The removal was in Turner’s Cross church on Saturday. A famous work of art deco wonder which I had never been inside before. It’s worth a visit. Circumstances were a bit gloomy, obviously, and I noticed that the undertaker was the same man who had done my mother’s funeral the week before. My friend M was tired and sad having buried the last member of her father’s family (they were curiously unproductive – she is the only child of the four siblings). A woman who looked strangely familiar turned up in the church. She was a friend of mine from college with whom I had completely lost touch: her father is in the same nursing home as M’s aunt had been. “I didn’t recognise you,” she said, “though M hasn’t changed at all!” How to take this? We’ve agreed to meet next time I’m down all the same.
I went back to the house of a cousin of the deceased after the mass. There was a really lovely afternoon tea and I found our hosts delightful. They were from near where my granny lived and where I went to secondary school and I felt I was revisiting the haunts of my youth. On hearing that I had a child who was a vegetarian, my hostess pressed a nut loaf recipe upon me. I was touched. I have yet to make it. We talked a bit about the dead lady and her family. Apparently her mother was always known as Bunny. Why? I discovered later that she, Bunny, had been a friend of my grandmother. I suppose everyone knew everyone in the Cork of the day. My friend M mentioned in passing that her father who was called Chris and was known as Chris to everyone was always called Ivor by his mother. Does this strike anyone else as a bit…surprising? Apparently she liked the name.
Full of tea and cake, I went home to go out for dinner for my aunt’s 90th birthday. It was moderately successful but the venue was a bit noisy and my father, who was with us, is a bit deaf and also quite softly spoken so that was unsatisfactory. Overall though, it was a reasonably good outing and my aunt was pleased which was, after all, the objective.
On Sunday, I went down to Sunday’s Well Tennis Club to see my friend J who was home from America with her four children and putting them through the Munster open. I met my cousin who sang at my mother’s funeral in the car park. I also met J’s parents and husband. That’s a lot of sympathising on the death of your mother. I had a grand old chat with J’s mother who I used to see a lot of in my teens – less so now, of course – she used to organise children’s tennis in the club and now she’s organising the children’s children which she quite enjoys. She comes from a famously sporty family herself: tennis, hockey, squash, you name it. She told me one of her sisters played squash for Ireland and I think they all played at provincial level in their respective sports. She has given up playing tennis in favour of organising but she is still golfing away. It is so pleasing to me to see older people in great nick. It gives me hope for us all. Her family is very Cork and one of her nieces is quite well-known in America and occasionally comes back to Ireland when there is invariably an article in the Irish Times pointing out that she went to school in Dublin. This fills me with rage as that family are so Cork notwithstanding that one of the sisters may have moved to Dublin and after to America. As the French probably wouldn’t say, “Plus Cork, tu meurs”.
My friend J and her husband, who you might expect to have their hands full with four children, two dogs and two full-time jobs as doctors, have fostered another child. I am full of admiration but for the first time since I met her (in middle school as she explained to her American children), I thought she looked a bit tired. I was sad myself and we talked about my mother whom she knew well. We also spent some time talking about retirement and the cost of putting four children through college in America. I suppose this is middle age. As I was sitting outside the tennis club watching the children play tennis (sponsored by Davy’s – notions), I saw a McWilliam’s sail bag at my feet embroidered with the owner’s name and school (Scoil Mhuire) and I thought to myself, “This is it, the ur Cork.”
I tore myself away from my friend and went up to visit my sister. We shared out my mother’s jewellery: she loved her rings but although they looked great on her and really remind us both of her, we’re not quite sure what to do with them. Herself tried them on when I got back to Dublin and she loved them so, perhaps, when she’s a bit older, they’ll go to her. I got my own grandmother’s engagement ring which I was very fond of until it was stolen in Brussels, alas.
I took Monday and Tuesday off work to do some revision for this wretched exam I have on Thursday. I realised recently that I have never failed an exam in my life but I think this might be the one. I missed a lot of the lectures due to other commitments and the subject is a bit technical. Yesterday, I got relatively little done. I dropped Mr. Waffle to the airport to go to Luxembourg. I schlepped back out to the airport to pick up Daniel and his French exchange who were coming back from Paris. Dan had a great time in Paris, heatwave notwithstanding – he and the French exchange, N, get on pretty well which helps – N is the son of a friend of mine from years ago in Brussels – we’ve already exchanged daughters so we thought we’d move on to sons. The two boys travelled together as unaccompanied minors; they managed fine as did Daniel when he went on his own on the way out to Paris, aren’t they competent all the same?
So yesterday evening I took Daniel and N to see a league of Ireland football match. It was an…authentic experience. They both seemed to feel it compared poorly to the quarter finals of the Women’s World Cup which they had seen in Parc des Princes in Paris the previous week. Look, we do what we can here. I then stayed up until 2 in the morning discovering at some length how spectacularly unprepared I am for Thursday’s exam. I went in to the kitchen to check the back door was locked and remembered that I had left oven cleaner on the inside of the oven and the bottle was stringent in its instruction that the spray should not be left on overnight (doubtless terrible for the environment) so I found myself cleaning the oven at 2 in the morning which, in its own way was quite depressing.
This morning was dreadful as I tried to get the three boys up and out to their sports camp: packed lunches, kit which I was assured was packed but was not entirely, Daniel losing his public transport card despite showing me it the previous evening (reconsidering my competent assessment above). We got there in the end and I said confidently, “You guys can make your own way home.” Turns out they were a bit vague. I gave them some further sketchy directions and slithered off home to further contemplate material for this wretched examination. I spent a number of hours hunched over my books and then met herself for lunch after her trip to the hairdressers (she has dyed her hair platinum, photo to follow, hold on to your hats out there) and then back home for more studying until the boys came home (competency marks up again, they made it).
Why you ask, am I blogging and not revising? I just cannot face it any more. Is this a good sign? I fear not. On the plus side, I’m off out to the airport now to collect my loving husband and he is on sandwiches tomorrow.