Better than salt money

Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation

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Way on Down South, London Town o/”

In a few days I will be on my way to England, and then to Ireland. It’s sort of a honeymoon, sort of a visit with friends and, to make a metaphor, sort of like making Aliyah. I am a native English speaker. I’m a native English speaker from a country which traces its lineage and traditions to Britain.

I’m also descended from Irish emigrants (which leads to a conflicted set of emotions. A friend of mine from the army is both Republican in sentiment [as regards Ireland] and an Anglophile; I’m not quite in his camp).

If I were to call my father up I could see if there are any relations living around Dublin. If I were to call on them I’d probably be offered hospitality. I can tell you stories from Irish myth and history (and some which straddle the line, e.g. the voyages of St. Brendan). I know the general geography. The idea of going back is bred in the bone (as is the sense of loss from having left.*

But English is my native language, and the shape of it has formed my thoughts. Learning Shakespeare, Sidney and Marlowe: Herbert, Herrick and Donne; Dickens, Defoe and Austen; Byron, Browning and Kipling, Owen, Irving, and Sassoon; The King James, the OED and Britannica; Etc., &c and sequelae, have shaped my thoughts, colored how I see poetry, and song, and drama.

So we are going to a music festival ( Sidmouth) where we will see some Oysterbandand then to Stonehenge, and HMS Victory. After that we have a couple of days in London (the British Museum, The Victoria and Albert, The Globe, The Imperial War Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tower, the Thames; a month is not enough to see it all, we have a few days before the convention, and what time we steal from it).

Then a train to the coast, and a ferry to Dublin: Tara, the Book of Kells, somewhere there shall be a seisùn, and then another convention, and home again. All together we shall be gone a month, which seems a vague eternity (for this time removed is summer’s time, the Autumn, big with rich increase and I leave my grapes, my beans, my dill, my late-season asparagus, my peppers, and my nasturtia behind as well as the olives, etrogim, bay, bulbs, berries, orchids and pomegranate; all the rest which either bear year round, or not at all, to the tender care of others), and barely time to make the acquaintance of places which sit, in quiet majesty, behind and beneath my understanding of the world.

It’s not like going home, because for me, the Kingdom of Letters is all about, but it does have all the feel of a pilgrimage.

*The village named in that song is in County Mayo, which is where my maternal grandfather’s side of the family came from. My paternal grandfather’s side of the family is from down in County Cork. For some seriously strange synchronicity this is a translated cover, in Czech, which is where my grandmothers’ sides of the family came from.

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Summer colds


I don’t know if they suck more than winter colds (both are miserable) but they always feel as if they are more destructive of getting things done.  I don’t (quite) get the, “it’s just a cold”.  They knock me on my ass.  They do it in way which is worse than the flu; when one gets the flu, one knows one is sick.  Flat out, wiped out, no sense that one ought to be able to get anything done.

Not so with a cold.  It’s a lower key sapping of energy.  Yesterday was crappy.  I had no appetite, ached in minor ways, and had a headache to beat the band (from my sinuses rebelling).  I also had things which needed doing, because on Tues. I’d managed to bugger up a pair of errands.  So a pot needed to be replaced, and the correct guitar strings gotten.

That was it, done for the day.  Planting peppers… Nope.  repotting  the etrog?  Nope.  Eating?  Nope (I think that’s where, “starve a cold” comes from, making a benefit out of what happens when one has not the energy to make toast).  I got back and went to bed (no, I lie, I did manage to get on one make on the present yarn project; about 10 grams of cranberry corriedale for a 2×2 cranberry/silver grey cable; spun s/z/s, so as to be good for knitting: if I don’t have the sticktoitiveness required, it will be a 2-ply crochet yarn).  Reading, playing clicky games on my phone, soaking a really hot tub and napping away from 1400 yesterday to 1000 this morning was all I could manage.

Today I got coffee, and released some praying mantises (I bought the last pair of egg-cases from my local garden supply on Tues).  Nuked some Campbell’s (comfort food: now made for “peel/pop/eat”) and flopped on the couch. I’m done in.

It’s that sense of done in, when there are things I want to be doing outside (which is less a thing in the winter) which seems to make the summer cold more onerous.