Episode 2 - Halleluiah!

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February 13, 2006

Halleluiah! As of this afternoon we have a real and true working shower, and I tell you life could not be more grand. The greatest thing about a shower is that when you step out of it you are actually warm inside and out, and this is a rare thing to happen to us nowadays. I am fortunate to be married to someone who has the patience and the will to spend the better part of three days in a wee little shower stall fiddling with … oh, never mind; anyway, it’s done!

So things here are feeling more like home, and especially cozy tonight, as we dragged down the electric heater from Charlotte’s room. We had our neighbor Mr. John Cottor over for dinner and really thought we might impress him with the warmth of our little home. We have been eating dinner quite literally in the fireplace and thought he might find that very odd and American of us, and so didn’t want to let on. Mr. Cottor has been very kind to us, and so far has been our only mode of transportation into town. Our other neighbor, Tim O’Shea, said he has a car we can borrow while we are here but first we need to have a bit of work done on it. This is a blessing, as we learned the other day in town that we would have to go into serious debt to buy a car of our own, even if it were old and rusty. So hopefully by the end of the week we will have our own vehicle, and the freedom to go to the market whenever we want! We are also hoping, of course, to see what kind of a night life is to be found in Bantry and might even meet some folks closer to us in age than the wonderful Mr. Cottor (who, by the way, is completely and exactly farmer Hogget from the movie Babe about the pig, and even has a border collie named Shep).

Anyway, as we have told you nothing so far of the house, I think now is the time. It looks ancient, and yet isn’t more than eighty years old. It is stone both inside and out and is so wonderful in a way that no American home can be, for it feels like a small piece of a castle. The doors are thick mahogany with stained glass windows and big iron hinges and knobs. Downstairs, it is all open with a fireplace occupying nearly an entire end of the house (the end of the house measuring a whopping 12 feet). The house is small, and yet were it any larger it would seem extravagant. As it is, we have a tough time heating the place, and there isn’t much to burn aside from peat and coal, both of which stink terribly.

The only thing that continues to bother us both is the perpetual dampness in the air and everywhere else. Literally nothing ever dries—not even our hair after two days out of the bath. Our first day here was so lovely and sunny that we were unprepared for this eternal wet, in spite of all the warnings of the rain in Ireland! Oh yes it rains, and when it doesn’t rain it mists, and if there is no mist than you might not be in Ireland.

But in spite of the gloomy weather we are enormously happy. It is truly beautiful in a storybook sort of way, and the people are so entirely friendly. Mr. John Cottor, though a world away from us in age, religion, etc., seems in so many ways a kindred soul. Most importantly, he sees our corrupt government for what it really is and truly understands and encompasses the importance of a simple life—something most Americans cannot even begin to comprehend. For sure, we have been struggling here without so much of what we have always taken for granted! It is a good lesson.

So we spend our days doing not much other than drinking tea and reading, taking walks, wandering around the yard, etc. We have both given up coffee and instead have taken to drinking enormous amounts of tea throughout the day. It is a lovely way to keep warm.