Posted by: jeanne | August 10, 2010

three weeks to go

i’m back up to 50 pounds again with my suitcase o’art supplies.  i was down to 42 lbs, but there were some things i hadn’t yet packed, and some things that crept back in.  my block of beeswax, for example.

today i did a bunch of overseas calling.  i talked to my sister about spending the first evening i’m on the ground alone, as she’d forgotten an engagement liam had made ages back.  this presented no problem.  when i get there i’ll take a nice nap, which is what i’d do normally.  and then when i get up, i’ll get a lift into town with them, and then meet my old friend kay for a jar, and crash at her place in bray, because she’s got an air mattress.  then my sister has to work on the saturday, so i’ll take my time about getting back, and maybe do some shopping on the way back.

shopping?  a million and one errands?  jim figured out today, because he hadn’t really thought about it, that i’m going to be in ireland almost a week before pissing off to the west of ireland to start my residency.  it’s different for him – he’ll be putting down his paintbrush to get on the plane, have a quick nap and a lazy evening, maybe have the morning to go to the national gallery with kay, and then he’s headed out to the west with my sister to pick me up, and we’re off to amsterdam.

but for me, i get there friday morning, hook up with diarmuid to borrow some turpentine and a spare easel, hang with kay friday night and part of saturday, shopping, probably the hardware and diy stuff.  then sunday nothing so far thank god.  on monday dallas and emma arrive early from their side trip to visit francis in barcelona, and we’ll probably walk around town and maybe shop a little, not really much i can get in town that i can’t get in bigger volume in one of the big boxes on the edge of town with my sister’s car to tote it home in.  monday i may be going to cork with my sister to see her doctor, and monday night francis gets in from barcelona and i’m meeting him in a  pub in rathmines and perhaps staying with renee and starting late (read: hangover) on tuesday, maybe hooking up with dallas and emma, tho by then they might have rented their car and gone on their whirlwind tour, but maybe not, because renee, who knows all about music, has promised a good session on tuesday evening, and so we might all meet up for some irish music.  then wednesday i’ll have another slow morning but perhaps spend it at my sister’s,  and we’ll need to get the shopping done, because on thursday morning bright and early my sister and i load up the suv and head off to points west, where we’ll stop at the last town before the back of beyond to get the milk, cream, butter and eggs.

does it sound like i have a lot of time to get all this done?

i spent the day communicating.  it’s right after the new moon, a good time to reach out and touch someone.  i talked to my sister.  i phoned renee.  i tried to get hold of richard but none of my numbers worked, so i emailed him instead.  i’ve had a wicked back and forth with my sister lisa in brazil, which relates to my irish trip because she wants one of susie’s doctors to take a look at me for a congenital heart condition we all share, one of those obscure familial syndromes that most doctors think you’re crazy for suggesting you might have.   there’s a chance to see susie’s doctor all right, but we have to go to cork, and that will take up the monday.  okay, where was i?  i’m busy negotiating with kay for what we’re going to be doing, i have to call renee back to see if i can stay at her place or will she be out of town… renee’s life is much more complicated than mine.  my life is only like this at the moment, and only because i’m fixing to go on a long trip, but renee’s is like this all the fucking time, and she’s hitting 70.  but she doesn’t have the internet, so i can’t email her, and she’s never home, so the chances i’ll get hold of her by phone tomorrow are slim.  i need to call walter so i can see him, i need to call diarmuid so i can meet up with him.  i might run in to brendan.  i might run in to a lot of people i might never see again in this life.

i’m treating this as my last trip to ireland.  i treat every trip like that, as a matter of policy.  that’s what having cancer has done for me.  every moment is precious, because you could be dead tomorrow.  it’s always true, but it takes a struggle for your life to teach you that.

i treated my 2003 trip to ireland as my last trip.  it was my farewell tour.  right after i had my first lumpectomy, i decided i was going to die, sold all my things, and went off to paint my last few months.  it took a half dozen residencies and 18 months to figure out that maybe i wasn’t going to die tomorrow, and to restart my life.  which has been really wonderful, let me assure you.  much better than the old life that i symbolically left the moment i was diagnosed with breast cancer.  since then i’ve been back with jim in 2005, and went to my sister’s first wedding in 2006, and her second wedding with all the rest of my family in 2008.  but this trip feels special.

the whole idea had an aura of magic, from the beginning.  because 26 years ago when my situation finally resolved and i felt i could go home again, francis and i made a trip thru ireland with a tent and sleeping bags, and 50 rolls of film, and i’ve been painting off those photos for the last 26 years.  one of the most hauntingly beautiful places we went was the little tiny road along this steep hillside to the closest point to america.  the back of the ring of kerry.  why, the very name cill rialaig, which i can’t pronounce (renee said it on the phone today and i thought it sounded like a breath of wind rather than the englishified kildreelig that’s on the old ordnance survey maps.), means ‘back of beyond’ in gaelic.  truly.

the place haunted me.  the view was breathtaking, and the ruins of the village with the tall grass growing inside the walls, and the constant wind and the ever changing light.  and i did a painting of it after i got home and resumed a hahahaha normal path, and it continued to haunt me, but tho i looked for information as the internet came alive, i didn’t find much until a couple of years ago, and then bingo the place had been turned into an artist colony.

i applied immediately.  and now i’m just shy of three weeks until i’m landing at dublin airport with my sister bleary eyed in the crowd.

but i’m overweight with my one ‘free’ bag.  i’ve got my sister’s maximum size bag, and i haven’t yet packed the panels, so i’m going to have to see what i can put in the carry on, and i’m going to have to abandon my block of wax…

last time i consolidated, put everything into smaller jars, put powders into ziplocks.  this time i’ve got to back more things out and make do without.  things like some of the fabric.  some of the odds and ends like a spare led light.  let my sister supply me with all the socks.  leave renee’s bottle of my hotsauce, for which she’s giving me a jar of her marmalade.  decisions, decisions.  and with three weeks to go.  my scissors.  i guess i can borrow my sister’s.  my canvas pliers, they weigh a ton.  i’m  not out of space, not by any means.  i’m just out of weight.  but i still have plenty of time to accumulate more stuff that i’m going to have to throw back out in three weeks.

it’s so much fun, planning and packing.  i really enjoy it.  i make it last as long as possible, because it’ll be here before i know it, and then over and done with and gone forever, so  if i can delay it, then i can savor it while it’s happening.

the list of things to do before i leave, like the list of things to do for jim before i leave, vies for longest list every day or so.  things like picking up my prescription refills, because i’ll be gone for 6 weeks and don’t want to not take my pills just in case the world ends.

and we’ve got to plan for the rather unlikely event that the other volcano blows and strands us in ireland or preferably amsterdam for an extended period of time.  that takes financial juggling.

and we’ve got to deal with the dogs and cats, and the daughter.  and jim’s got to get a haircut and water the plants on the porch (orchids and palms).

it’s all joyous.



  1. i am SO glad you are painting again … after jim, i believe ron and i are your biggest fans 🙂 i cannot wait to see what you will bring back!!!!!!! safe travels. godspeed. and i want to see some of that magical aura shine thru in your work. i know i will 🙂


    • i guess that means i should paint something for you. what medium would you like?


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