Monday, June 15, 2020
My sister sent us a care package – gifts for all! It was very thrilling. She sent me a new pair of very expensive headphones and they are complex to use but, ultimately, I expect to get on top of it.
It was my mother’s anniversary and I was a bit sad but alright really.
My little niece in London was three and her mother assured us that she liked the books we sent. She herself wasn’t entirely prepared to commit herself.
I had written a letter to my friend in America a while ago and she rang me to thank me for it and we chatted and she asked whether we were still going on holidays to America this summer. We are not (€5,000 in flights which, I fear, we will never get back, so bitter – I may have covered this previously – at least we got our accommodation money back, I suppose). She asked whether we would like to go to their summer house in Kinsale in July as, for obvious reasons, they are not going themselves this year. I decided that yes, we would. We are still tussling over payment; she refuses to accept any, Mr. Waffle insists, we’re at stalemate. Anyway, we’re going which is great, it’s a lovely house in Sandycove outside the town with beautiful views and adjacent Cork city. Hurrah. In other news, she and her husband are doctors and were fearing the worst in Vermont but she said that, somewhat to her surprise, it’s been fine there. So good for them.
Mr. Waffle went out to visit his mother for the first time since March. Nursing home visits are re-starting very slowly. She seemed ok but it was all a bit strange he said. He swung by his parents’ house which his brother is in the process of cleaning out and picked up an old round table which he thought would be good for the kitchen here. When he got it home, he reconstructed it in the utility room and it wouldn’t fit through the door to the kitchen so, now it lives there.
Herself got a notification that she was a finalist in an essay competition and was pleased.
Dan and I cycled to the re-opened public tennis courts after work. Dan was nearly hit by a speeding car (traffic is not yet back to normal and cars out and about are pretty speedy). It was so close that I actually felt physically ill afterwards and really wasn’t in form to play tennis which was just as well as all the courts were full and there was a big queue of people waiting to get on. We could really do with some extra cycle lanes round here.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
My sister sent me a bunch of flowers for Mum’s anniversary but they only arrived today due to a mix up. My mother loved to have flowers in the house and so do I. I felt a bit tearful which was strange because the day before had been fine but it was the thoughtfulness of the flowers that did for me. Needless to say, I had sent her nothing.
I put them on my home office desk.
My friend R who is now retired and puts in time in a charity shop in Ranelagh tells me that they have a complete set of the most recent version of the full Oxford English Dictionary (1989 apparently) in 20 volumes and unless someone buys it soon it’s going to be pulped. €300 or nearest offer, I understand. A bit tragic, but who has room for 20 volumes of dictionaries?
I showed Daniel a photograph of my bookclub and he said in surprise, “I had no idea that they were all so old.” Alas.
Herself finally went back to the orthodontist and he snapped off the piece of metal that has been gouging holes in the side of her mouth for the last three months. So a win on that front but she has been too assiduous in putting on her bands (apparently most people don’t follow direction and they allow for that, honestly) and now she has to undergo some other hellish process. Alas.
I overheard herself and Mr. Waffle speaking in the kitchen. She said, “Mum believes saints are everyone who goes to heaven and not just those identified by the church.” I called out from the other room, “And I’m right.” She said, “Well we’ll only really know if you’re right when we’re dead.” Hmm.
Today was Bloomsday. Having listened to the audio book earlier this year, I felt uniquely ready but it wasn’t really the year to show off my newly acquired knowledge.
Wednesday, 17 June, 2020
Mr. Waffle went into town and bought us a new magimix the old one having finally died after many years of faithful service. He said it was pretty weird in the shops.
My father was finally discharged from hospital so that evening after work, I drove to Cork to see him. I found packing strange after all these months of staying at home. I had a letter from my father’s GP saying he was pretty ill (to cover my travelling about 230kms beyond the permitted 20kms) but in the event, no one stopped me. It’s funny because you think everyone is out there living it up travelling all over the country but they’re not. There were hardly any cars on the Dublin-Cork road and most of the traffic was freight.
I arrived to Cork and helped my father to bed. I thought I could stay 2 metres away but that was completely unrealistic. He really needed help walking and getting in to bed and taking off his shoes (one of his big toes points up in the air, a side effect of stroke he told me, he knew what it’s called in Latin but I have forgotten) and I wasn’t really in a position to stand 2 metres away and say, “Good luck with that” as he keeled over. I did wear my mask though which was quite disastrous as he is very deaf and, at the best of times, finds it hard to hear. He was really quite unwell and a bit grumpy but it was very nice to see him all the same.
My brother (an enthusiastic cyclist) told me that he had cycled to Kinsale (about 30 kms away) on Tuesday. When he was just outside the town, his chain had broken. As he was walking along the side of the road, a friend of his from school passed, picked him up and gave him a lift back to Cork. I mean, what are the odds? Not sure whether it was entirely coronavirus compliant but what was he to do?
Thursday, June 18, 2020
I was jerked awake at regular intervals all night by Radio 4 which was on at top volume. I would drift off and then be woken up by a new voice on the radio. At 6 in the morning, I could stand it no longer and marched in to my father’s bedroom to turn it off. I forgot to wear my mask. He was delighted to see me as I could help him get up. I refused on the grounds that it was much too early. He accepted this but as I was leaving asked me to turn on the radio again. Largely a defeat then.
Later, I helped him up and, after giving him breakfast, ensconced my father in his armchair downstairs. I set up my home office in the dining room and he asked me to leave the door open into the drawing room. “I like to hear the voices.” “Of course,” I said. I was summoned at regular intervals to do things – find glasses, find tissues, find his wallet. I was also quite busy at work and I had a whole new appreciation of what my brother and sister in Cork have to deal with.
I particularly enjoyed the moment when I was having a meeting and he summoned me. “I told you I was in a meeting, Dad,” I said grumpily. “But I didn’t hear you talking,” said he, utterly unfazed.
At lunch time I went into the market in Cork to buy the wherewithal for my favourite ham sandwich. It felt pretty much like usual, maybe a bit emptier and there was someone regulating the flow of people in and out, and a lot more perspex than previously.
In the late afternoon, I persuaded my father to have a ham sandwich too. “He won’t have dinner now,” said my brother gloomily. I was amazed but my brother turned out to be quite right. My poor father, he has got so thin and frail. This is 95, I suppose. Good ham sandwich though.
That evening the internet went down. I rejoiced because my father was unable to listen to his internet radio. I am sorry but there it is.
Friday, June 19, 2020
I worked away until early afternoon and then took my half day. My morning was interrupted by regular requests from my father next door. My favourite being when I was on to a colleague asking about some work she was doing and he summoned me. I said I’d call her back and went in to him, “Is that someone who works for you?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. “Should you not be more formal and firm?” he asked. “What do you mean?” I said. He said, “I heard you ask whether she had holiday plans.” Dear God in heaven. “I thought it was an emergency,” I said grumpily, “you’re like the boy who cried wolf.” “Well,” said my father, “he was right once.” Later, I was on to another colleague and she said, “Anne, sorry but is that ‘The Archers’ playing very loudly in the background?” This working from home lark can be a bit of a strain.
I spent some time talking to my father about family history. The only new piece of information he gave me was that his father had been called, “Copper”. His father died when my father was 10 and he had no idea why he had this nickname. He had just overheard someone point him out as “Copper’s son”. A mystery.
I visited my 90 year old aunt in the afternoon, mask at the ready. She was not keen on the mask. “Are you worried about getting coronavirus?” she asked. “No, I’m worried about giving it to you.” She was unconvinced and persisted in trying to get me to take off my mask. I resisted. I wished her a happy birthday for the following day when she would turn 91. “It’s a great age,” she said happily (she’s in such good nick), “although your father is 95 and he was always delicate as a child.” Just goes to show. “Do you have any idea why your father was nicknamed ‘Copper’?” I asked her. “Yes, he had red hair.” I mean who knew? There’s a mystery resolved for my father after many years.
There were some extra bikes in the shed in Cork, not as healthy as they might be but my sister encouraged me to take them back to Dublin with me for repair and passing on to the boys as as they are far too big for their own bikes.
I said farewell to my elderly relatives really, really glad I had seen them and hopeful that I had not infected them coming as I did from plague infested Leinster. My sister and I went for a short walk and then I hopped into the car to go home.
I was welcomed at home with the kind of enthusiasm I thought was gone for ever. The kind of enthusiasm that small children have for their parents. They all ran into the hall to hug me. Very gratifying. The shed in Dublin is now bike central.
I was home just in time for cinema night, we had been told that we would move to Phase 3 on June 29. I’m getting a bit confused about what phase involves what and when they begin and end but rejoicing etc. and good news that real GAA training begins July 1. We had “I, Tonya” for cinema night and it was very good but something lighthearted would be welcome.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
My sister rang me to tell me that my father fell over soon after I left the house in Cork. He seems to be ok but a bit shaken. I wouldn’t really call it a great omen.
My aunt’s 91st birthday; I got her a subscription to Slightly Foxed. Let us hope that she likes it and remembers that I am the donor.
Daniel and I had zoom GAA. He did his reps, I did the zooming. We are old hands at this stage. Mr. Waffle has done some kind of online training for GAA parents to ensure they understand social distancing for the return to real training.
I got a notification from my Sunday afternoon bookclub that our hostess was considering a real live meeting on July 16. I was filled with delight.
As well as the bikes, I took from Cork my mother’s toasted sandwich maker bought in Brittany about 40 years ago. It has served us faithfully since but they don’t use it much in Cork any more so I asked to bring it to Dublin. Still an excellent piece of kit. Behold the toasted egg sandwich; our own invention.
Herself went out to a friend’s house. The portrait of the children arrived. I still don’t love it. Alas. Oh well. It started to feel like life was really getting back to normal.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
It was actual Father’s Day. The children made cards for their father but actual presents after the previous weekend’s efforts were thin on the ground. He didn’t seem to mind. It was the longest day of the year. The weather was beautiful. We went out to Howth. The traffic was bumper to bumper but we got there eventually. I made them listen to Bagatelle in the car because I am determined to pass on my irremediably uncool musical tastes to my children. We swam in the sea (well, three of us did, Michael and Mr. Waffle resisted) and it was a lovely, lovely afternoon.
Monday, June 22, 2020
Busy day at work again. Herself went to a party that evening for her friend’s 18th. Five people only she assured me but I felt a bit unsure whether this was a good idea although within the rules. I had my Monday night bookclub via zoom and suggested tentatively that our next meeting might be in the flesh but this was vetoed. I felt a bit chastened.
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Yet another trying day at work. Daniel went out to play basketball with a friend which he really enjoyed. It feels like maybe the beginning of the end.
We spent all dinner talking about flags of the world. I am not a flag fan. They children all know a lot about flags. I blame their father.
Mr. Waffle and I looked at holiday homes in Ireland for August. There are none.
Mr. Waffle bought a book from a German academic publisher. They love their titles.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Yet another immensely trying day in the salt mines. It may be for this reason that I ate them all at lunch time because the dish washer had not been unloaded and reloaded. This is the children’s task and it is pretty much constant.
Daniel had his last Wednesday night zoom training. We rejoice.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
After my grumpiness the previous day, Daniel was up at 9 unloading the dishwasher. I felt a bit guilty but, you know, pleased that the dishwasher was unloaded.
Saintly Mr. Waffle has spent the week wrestling with the children’s online school book purchasing website. He finally got past the impressive obstacles put in his way and next year’s school books have been bought.
Daniel made us all pizza for dinner and we had it in the garden as the weather was fine and it all felt festive and holiday like and after dinner we played cards which was fun too. It was a nice evening towards the end of a tough week.
Friday, June 26, 2020
I talked to my Cork friend in Brussels by video call. A big corona virus dividend the video calling with friends abroad.
The children had their second last zoom call with their French language tutor who has been coming live from Paris twice a week – we promised it would finish end June so next Tuesday is the absolute last day. I think both they and the tutor really welcome this but it has worked pretty well.
Later, I went into town with herself to pick up an elaborate breakfast we had ordered which we planned to serve the following day.
We went to the bread shop to get bread but they were sold out. However, they gave herself a free bun so not a dead loss.
Mr. Waffle made sourdough bread but it was…unsuccessful. One of our lessons of lock down may be that home made sourdough is not for us.
Meanwhile Daniel had a first piano lesson with a neighbour up the road. His uncle who is a very good piano player has a keyboard he can lend him and he can practice on that. He’s quite excited. Please let us not speak of the reasons we do not have a piano.
After the success of the previous evening, I decided we would eat out again and stuck some burgers on the barbecue and dispatched herself and Mr. Waffle to the vegan chipper nearby for some suitable treats. By the time they came back, it was lashing and we had to cart everything back in again. Alas.
All the details of what phase 3 would involve were published, it feels like almost back to normal though not quite.
The Greens agreed to go into government and we finally have a new government after months of negotiations. V excitingly we have a Cork Taoiseach for the first time since 1979. Some mild local colour at the link for Cork enthusiasts.
Herself had a zoom session to hear whether she had won the essay competition but, alas, she had not. Oh well, she gets a goodie bag for being a finalist so there’s that.
After a day of many excitements, we sat down to watch “The Blues Brothers” for cinema night. Cast of thousands. V. successful.
Saturday, 27 June, 2020
I was so grumpy. Inexplicably so. I think perhaps it’s because we’re entering a new phase of what the French call “déconfinement” and I’m not quite sure what comes next.
Herself put together our breakfast and it was excellent.
I went out and picked rubbish with the neighbours for an hour or so. The grabber I got for my birthday (still a weird present choice) proved very useful. It lashed on us. Middle aged delights.
My saintly husband felt I might need to get out, so we cycled into town and then signed up for the new electric bike hire service. We picked up a couple of bikes and whizzed around the city centre delighted with ourselves. Not as good on the uphill as we might have hoped and a bit expensive but pretty good fun all the same. And then we had takeaway tea and a bun outside. Food served and made by someone else. The excitement. Also, some cygnets in Stephen’s Green.
My sister told me that Cork local radio has nothing on but profiles of the new Taoiseach. When I was in Cork, I asked my father if he had ever met the last Cork Taoiseach, Jack Lynch. Apparently once on the train shortly after Jack Lynch became Taoiseach and he walked up and down the train shaking hands with all the passengers.
Sunday, 28 June, 2020
As we get ready to move into phase 3, it really feels like the end of an era. I know colleagues with small children can send them back to childcare on Monday and I think it’s going to make things a lot easier though I expect that there will be a side order of guilt with that.
It was a breezy, blustery day and, aside from a short walk outside, it feels like Mr. Waffle and I spent all day looking for holiday accommodation in Ireland. There is almost none. We have one week in August booked. This does not much of a holiday make, I have to tell you. More searching to follow.
And tomorrow, I’m in to the office in town for the first time since the end of March. It feels so strange. I won’t be going back every day from now on but much more regularly, I imagine.
And next week, my menfolk are finally getting their hair cut.
And there’s a second Cork Taoiseach – here he is having a walk around in his constituency. There are definitely some people in the crowd who are not of his political persuasion but, a Cork Taoiseach is a Cork Taoiseach.
Probably a good moment to end the plague diary for the moment.
Do you feel that it’s over or is this only the calm before the second storm?
Things we learned in Lockdown, left unchecked men will sprout neck whisps. Who knew they were even a thing
I believe you are correct in believing that anyone who is in heaven is a saint. Those canonised are simply confirmed as being there and worthy of veneration as showing heroic virtue.
Thank you Jennifer. Henry, I know the neck wisps. Disturbing.