Outbuilding, a dó

My two sons are accompanying me on a one week trip to the cottage at the end of March. Originally, the plan was for me and my youngest son to go alone, because although my husband cannot get away from work until the summer we felt that somebody really needed to get back there sooner to check on our “little housheen” to make sure things are in order and to attend to a couple of matters we were unable to address during our last, short visit. This would include arranging to have a new, painted red, wooden ‘half door’ built for the cottage as well as the purchase and installation of a few electronic mouse repellent devices, because after all, when the cat’s away – ! However, much to my delight, my oldest son agreed to come along for the trip. Having him along not only provides great company for us and lightens up my burden with the addition of another adult, but it also provides me with a pair of much needed, strong work hands. So, in addition to taking care of a few odds and ends while I’m there, I can also address the ‘brush’ issue.

Knowing back in December that my eldest son, Anton, will be accompanying Eoin and me on this March trip, I had the foresight to prepare a little “Clare Survival Kit” as a Christmas gift to him. The ‘kit’ consisted of only two items, but these are two items he cannot be without on this excursion, and with his size 14 feet, two items we would probably have a lot of trouble locating for him in the little town of Kilkee. So for Christmas my son received two large shoe boxes, one containing a pair of sturdy, warm, Australian sheepskin slippers and the other, a Cabela’s box containing something I’m sure my son would have never in a million years thought he would own… a pair of Wellies! The slippers are a must have for the cold floors of an old cottage. The brown, Wellington boots are a must have for a city slicker prepared to muck about in the bog and do a bit of ‘brush clearing’!

You see, our property contains two… count them, two… stone outbuildings in varying degrees of repair, or disrepair, depending upon how we choose to look at it. I emphasize the number ‘two’ here for future reference, when I one day tell the story of how it would have been only one outbuilding and less property, if not for the diligent work of a couple of Dublin solicitors, nudged along by our persistence. These outbuildings  probably once functioned as a shed and perhaps a small barn, maybe for a donkey or a few chickens. The larger of the two stone buildings is toward the rear of the cottage and borders the back of the property. That building is in great need of a roof and it is our hope to one day not only provide it with a roof, but to do the work needed to turn it into a guest room for the comfort of the many people Declan and I hope will come to visit from both the Chicago area and Dublin. The other building is at the front of the property and, though smaller, appears to be in better condition. However, we have been unable to peek inside, or even see a door for that matter, due to the brush, weeds, furze and whatever else has spent years growing around the structure. This is where Anton comes in.

The plan is that my son, all wellied up, will do his best GW Bush imitation and get rid of the brush, so that we can discover what is or is not, within the smaller outbuilding. Now, my son is a hard worker who has continually been employed since he began his first job, at a local coffee shop – Chocolate Moon Espresso Co., the weekend before his 16th birthday. And I have no doubts about his ability to work hard and to get any job done. However, this is a gentleman who has done very little in the way of manual labor during his 27 years and I doubt he has ever had the experience of calluses or even a blister on either of his hands. Now that I think of it, perhaps I should have included a pair of XL heavy duty, work gloves in the Survival Kit…