Window Cats

Updated with photos 13 May 2012!

You have to understand South Africa to understand my feelings with regard to street-front houses. Over there, space is plentiful, and it was only in the city centre of Johannesburg that I ever saw houses that weren’t separated from the street by a wide pavement and at least a small front garden. You can imagine my horror when I moved to Ireland to find houses with front doors that opened right onto the street. “Never,” I promised myself. “I will never ever live in a house like that.”

I should mention that I’m sitting here writing this in my front room, at my desk by the window. If there wasn’t glass in the way, I could spit on the pavement. I still have a kind of barrier between me and the world, consisting of happy-looking open, striped boxes on the inside windowsill. One is for needlework stuff, one for stationery, another for electric cords and plugs, one for odds and ends, and two are for cats. Continue reading

Fear of my Landlord and Olympic Distance Triathlon

I’m scared of my landlord, half the time. I have no idea why, he’s a great guy. He’s friendly, funny, and really quite sweet. And I’m petrified of the man.

It could be because I’m the world’s worst housekeeper, and I stress myself to death that I’m not taking care of the house well enough. I worry that he’ll see the stain on the carpet, the children’s hand prints on the wall which defy any scrubbing I’ve done, and that he’ll tell me I’m not a good tenant, that really, he thinks I should find another house (because it was hell finding a place suitable for us, so the gods know I do not want to go through that ordeal again anytime soon).

It could be because Landlord is very Irish, and Irish people are still somewhat of a mystery to me even after almost five and a half years of living here. Most Dundalkers’ talk sounds like plain English to me, one’s ear adapts that well. But my landlord’s accent is quite strong, and I have to strain to  follow what he says. On top of that, there’s innuendo and unspoken meaning in Irish people’s conversation which you can only understand if you have a relative named Paddy.

It could be because I don’t really understand him as a person, or know what to make of him or how I should act to him half the time. We’re landlord and tenant, and as such I almost feel obliged to call him maaaaaster and walk with a limp. But we’re also kind of friends beyond that, so my brain short circuits whenever he’s near, unable to decide whether to be businesslike or joke around. Invariably, once we start chatting, I relax because, as I said, he’s genuinely a nice person. Then afterwards, I become convinced I’d made a mistake. I wonder for ages if he was joking that the dust is disgraceful or if he really was upset about it.

It could be because he’s an athlete I admire, someone who did an Ironman, moved on to cycling only and performs well with that. He’s at the head of a very successful triathlon club, able to work with a team of other people I am in awe of to organise well-run races. I happen to be a member of this triathlon club. Today, the presence of my much feared landlord helped me from a panic freeze and off to complete my first ever Olympic distance triathlon. Continue reading