The Last Bits of Cottage Life (part one)

Time flies and I’m way behind on blogging. I start to write a blog on my phone in real time and then usually get distracted before finishing it…then start one the next day.. Ect
Until eventually I have to go back and try remember the events accurately, and post it super quickly when the Irish Internet Gods grant me service. This leads to stream of consciousness typing and a lot of grammatical errors and a colorful array of verb tenses. (As you have probably noticed)

Enough is enough, my friends. It’s time to get you up to date. So sit back because this might be a long one.

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On September 10th Caroline wasn’t expected back from Castlepollard until around 4:30 PM. Which was cutting it close because we had to leave for the restaurant at five as usual. But it couldn’t be helped and Jolene totally understood because she is literally the best host a workawayer could ask for.
Jamie’s task for the day was to find a way to fix a hole in the fence that one of their dogs kept escaping through, and to fix the doorway from the driveway to their covered patio area that led to the backyard. I had nothing to do so Jamie proposed that I help him. In return he could teach me how to mix cement with sand to lay concrete. Deal. Learning a new skill (any new skill) is advantageous when trying to find a job while traveling.

The door we are working on leans awkwardly and is hard to open. It is badly sealed at the bottom which is why Jamie wants to use concrete, but first we have to figure out how to reset the frame.
I will try to spare you the details obviously but it was really cool working with Jamie on this project. It was practical problem solving, which required a handy-man’s critical thinking skills. I never do things like this at home. I wouldn’t know where to start, but bouncing ideas off Jamie I actually come up with some valuable input (surprising both of us).

We started by taking the frame out of the gate and propping each side up awkwardly until we saw which way it needed to be set to let the door easily open and close. Then there was some sawing (which I did not do) and hammering (which I did do) and finally some digging and leveling of land (which I did by myself). Once the stage was set to lay the cement, Jolene asked if we could use some river rocks she has collected to set into the concrete for decoration. Jamie takes this task very seriously and we spend over an hour on our hands and knees huddled under our hoodies in the unrelenting Irish-mist trying to make the random assortment of river rocks into a pleasing pattern. I try to make them fit like puzzle pieces but Jamie insists that flow together in some subjective sort of way.
“Ziz corner of rocks iz telling a story see?” He says taking my hand and following the rocks in a slightly undulating motion that I can actually see now. “And this corner is shit.” He says pointing to the random collection of rocks at the opposite corner of the square. Half way into this process my head hurts and I cannot see any pattern at all but just a pile of rocks, so I let Jamie finish. We realize that we have to move the rocks out of the space to lay the actual cement, so I take a picture on my phone of the big rocks so Jamie can have a basis for the pattern.

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Caroline arrives just as we are about to make the concrete and I cannot wear my ripped jeans and now damp hoodie to work. After I change it is time to leave and I do not learn how to make concrete.. I am actually disappointed at this fact which would be funny if you knew me personally.

The restaurant is business as usual. The owners son feeds us. We bus tables, run food, take dessert orders and talk way too loudly about inappropriate subjects in the dish pit. Dish time has become therapy time where me and Caroline talk about life, love, sex, pop-culture, family and everything in between. When we are too busy to talk we sing S-Club 7 or musical numbers. We are consistently informed that we are “being too loud” , that “the whole restaurant can hear you” , or (my personal favorite) “it sounds like a zoo in here”. After work we have our usual after work drink with the tiny staff and share a dessert.
When we return to the cottage, Caroline shares her stories of Castlepollard and Jamie makes us galettes (which is a savory crepe like dish filled with meat and cheese). We had all pitched in a bit of money for Jamie to shop with at the grocery store earlier for a sort of “family meal night”. With this Jamie had also managed to get a great bottle of French wine from 2009 which he says is “perfect year for wine” and it is delicious. We drink and listen to Jamie’s extremely varied music collection and of course have deep conversations. Neither Jamie, nor Caroline, nor I were raised knowing our biological fathers.
I won’t get into the details but the Cliff Notes version of Jamie’s reason for being in Ireland is this: Jamie’s father was Irish. His mother is French. Jamie was born in Dublin. He was raised in France. He had very scarce and scattered contact with his father until his father’s death when Jamie was 16. He felt generally unaffected by this until two years ago when he realized it was important for him to understand his roots. He came to Ireland for awhile to develop a relationship with his two half sisters and to meet aunts and cousins and family that he had been estranged from. He has been here this time for six months. He plans to stay here for two years… His life doesn’t sound real to me even though he tells stories apologetically as if they might somehow bore us to sleep…

Caroline, Jamie, and I share everything. I do not usually particularly like conversations or debates that get too personal. I get nervous and change the subject or pretend to agree in order to stop the conversation altogether. I honestly kind of forgot that I was capable of not only expressing my personal views, but of having them altogether. That is not good. It probably isn’t healthy either, but the more I engage with the volunteers in Ireland the easier it becomes.
….
Also, in case it hasn’t become extremely obvious to you yet, I am so in love with Jamie.

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September 11th

Before work me and Caroline go on a run and explore the thin woods a bit more at the end of the street. Jamie helps Caroline cook some foreign-soy-protein-stuff and I read a book outside. Work is long and by the time we get back to the cottage Jamie is asleep.

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September 12th

The three of us go to the beach by the restaurant which is crowded. We hike over a small cliff to a completely secluded beach on the other side and play with Jamie’s dog Lizzie.

**OhMyGod I didn’t even tell you about Jamie’s dog Lizzie! I am not usually a dog person but Lizzie is the sweetest, cutest, little nugget. Caroline and I have already been plotting how to take her with us on the rest of our journey. We tried several times to take her picture but she moved around too much so she is always blurry.. This creepy selfie below is as good as it’s going to get**

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We throw rocks into the waves and watch Lizzie swim after them. Jamie teaches Caroline some Capoeira (which is some Brazilian form of dance fighting that I only know about because of an episode of the television show Bob’s Burgers). We lose track of time and Caroline and I are almost late for work, but everyone in Ireland seems to be very laid back about punctuality (that is to say punctuality does not really exist here) and no one notices.

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That night we all watch Breaking Bad on Jamie’s laptop and Jamie teaches me how to roll French cigarettes.

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September 13th

Caroline and I do not want to go to Wales anymore. There is so much natural beauty in Ireland and it seems we’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to see. In case you don’t have Ireland’s landscape memorized, it is quite small and we have been to Dublin and then south to Waterford and then I’ve been south through Cork to Kinsale and Old Head Kinsale right on the coast. But what about northern Ireland? The landscape is said to change drastically in the north as well as the music and accent. I want the whole Ireland experience. We are scheduled to leave for Wales on the 15th of September, but we email our prospective host and cancel apologetically last minute. It ended up being for the better as they were having some quite serious and personal family issues that might have made the exchange uncomfortable. Well all’s well that ends well I suppose… except it wasn’t over. We had two days to find a new host to replace one that had taken us weeks to find in the first place. Jamie suggests areas that were must-sees, but we were in no position to be picky. We even considered splitting up but luckily we found a job in Donegal which is as far North as we could go without crossing over into actual Northern Ireland which would have been a minor hassle with the currency exchange ect.

And even though that this does not technically bring you up to date. We’re almost there. It’s 2:10 AM. And I think I’m getting carpal tunnel.

So til next time

Love you all!

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