My plan was to read and take notes from Paris Creole: my weather app predicted 12 hours of rain. The day got off to a distressing start. At breakfast, one of the resident artists told us she had been attacked on Rue Pierre-et-Marie Curie just around the block. She repeated how she had always felt safe here. As have I. Now most of us feel vulnerable, our freedom restricted.
I did find a good bunch of tulips, radishes, and “une tranche” (a slice) of Swiss raclette. Still using French, still not speaking in complete sentences except when I rehearse “dans ma tete” afterwards.
While eating lunch at my desk, another attack of exhaustion hit me. I tried doing research into my Irish grandmother. I pulled out the 1901 Roscommon County Census: she lived there in a small village known as Kilnamanagh. The census, also, included information on dwellings. My grandmother, age 7,and her sister, age 9, lived with her grandmother, Bridget Kearns, and two uncles. The house had 2 rooms, 2 windows and an outhouse. I know they kept livestock which according to Nana, sometimes, came into the house in cold weather. I thought they owned the house but it’s listed as leased from a Caroline Ball. The 1911 census shows only one of the uncles, Patrick Kearns, living there with his new wife. My great grandmother must have died. By then, my grandmother, her sister and her other uncle, Michael Kearns, had immigrated to the United States.
When I was a young girl, my family would visit that uncle, great Uncle Micheal, whom we called Papa Daddy and his wife Papa Mommy. Due some illness, he was confined to a room in the attic of his son’s house. My sister and I didn’t want to visit with him but we were obliged out of respect. To us, he smelled of tobacco and old age but more problematic was his brogue. We couldn’t understand a word he said. Did immigrants from Roscommon or Kilnamanagh have a particularly strong accent?
Longing for greens, I settled on eating my radishes with dinner. Afterwards, I crashed again. Allergies? Jet lag?