Saturday, July 19, 2014

Humanizing

More beach blossoms

I was never one to be totally star-struck. Or project feelings, mine or their imagined, on to those that are famous. I remember a wise old shaman saying to me a long time ago:

Allow those famous people their humanity, their foibles, their twists, they are just like you and me under the skin: insecure, unsure and emotionally immature.

And they are. A few have crossed my path recently. The so-called beautifuls with their strong bank accounts, their youth, their life styles, their talent, their fame, their incessant media coverage.

I thought when I met one: does she truly know how beautiful she is? How talented? That her skin is flawless, that her smile lights up a room?

And of course she doesn't. None of us do. Because that would make us a notch above, would make us vain and unapproachable.

And she was imminently approachable. And lovely. And as we chatted, I shared with her a story from long ago when I was hopelessly in love with someone who treated me poorly and I was laughing about it, telling her I had had a card from this man after we had broken up and he had signed "Love, John" in his neat scholarly hand and I (to the horror of any poor sucker in my sphere of orbit)incessantly analyzed and over-analyzed it: what did he mean, does he now realize he loves me and can't live without me, is he afraid to speak up and pour out his heart, has he changed, surely he must miss me?

And we laughed and laughed and laughed. And then she said: I have texted and texted this latest flame of mine who's away for a couple of weeks and he hasn't responded and I had myself convinced his cell-phone is broken.

And we laughed again.

Twins underneath in our common humanity.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Write? Right, She Said!


Yes, I'm up at the Tigeen where the writing flows non-stop in waves of literate and compelling paragraphs.

NOT!

See above.

See below.

Handcream I need handcream, I have to go back down to the house.
Those early notes I made in that notebook need to be up here, I have to go back down to the house again.
Chilly – a bit? - I need to light a fire.
Oh, not enough wood.
Oh, not enough kindling.
I need to go down to the barn and bring some up.
Where's the dog?
I should bring up her dog dish and fill it.
Did I bring up enough food for lunch?
Coffee. Not enough coffee.
Oh, let me write a few notes for the blog.
I think I should test-drive the loft bed, just for a few minutes.



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Friday, July 11, 2014

My Life Model - Part 2


Ansa calculating the years in her life and the life in her years.

You couldn't make this stuff up. Here was I writing yesterday about my dog Ansa and the beginning of her life with me and......

I was out and about with Ansa later on yesterday when a truck pulled up beside me with a couple in it.

"OMG!!" the couple shrieked in unison. They pulled over to the side of the road and clambered out of the truck.

Yes, it was the couple from way back - 9 years ago now - who had been ordered to surrender all their dogs due to neglect and a form of benign indifference to the needs of their 12 animals.

"She should be dead by now!" was the next enlightening comment as they surrounded Ansa who clung to my ankle bones and winced when S, the male of the couple, put out his hand to touch her.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well," said K, the female of the couple, "We got her when we met, she was 6 weeks hold back in March of 1999."

Back in the day, S hadn't a clue as to how old Ansa was when he dropped her off on that dark and stormy night of May 2004. My vet had estimated she was two or three years old at the time. S is not, by even the wildest stretch of the imagination, a guy with the elevator running all the way up to the top of the building. K, on the other hand (he is her fourth husband) is fairly alert and together.

So that makes my lovely girl 15 which is not very likely for a mainly border collie mix, the average life span being 12. The rare ones have lived to be 15.

We left the KS couple rather quickly, Ansa and I. In unseemly haste you might say.

"She's a bloody miracle!" they shouted after me. Well, yes.

But when I look at her now, my heart flutters a bit.

How many more days, will I have her?

I don't even think in years anymore.

And maybe that's another life lesson from my girl.

A day at a time.

That's all any of us have.


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Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Life Model


My dog Ansa is getting old. Silver threads among the black-gold of her lovely complexion. I give her half an aspirin a day for her arthritis. Her back paws shake uncontrollably at times.

I am fortunate in that we found each other. She's a rescue. Before she came to me she had been the victim of benign neglect. Her previous owner was more to be pitied than blamed. He had far too many dogs to take care of. Then he was ordered to get rid of them all as they were deemed abuse victims. She arrived in my life on a dark and stormy night, her owner thought to let her escape her euthanasia and dump her on me. I was between dogs, my previous one had been with me sixteen years and it had been a year.

Along with the eleven others then under the axe, Ansa was fed a meagre diet of bread and gravy and never walked. They were chained outside or hidden indoors. Her fur had fallen out in clumps. But her disposition? In spite of all that, her personality was one of joy and delight. And she was definitely an omega rather than an alpha.

Ansa stayed on my couch for 24 hours without moving. I let her be. The next night she came upstairs and after about an hour jumped up on the end of my bed with her back towards me. I let her be. Every chance she got, once outdoors and off leash, she would run away. Many was the time I would go out in my car and chase her down. It often took hours. Freedom was a brand new concept for her. I got that. Slipping her leash or outside tethering was a testament to her agility and intelligence. I never blamed or shamed her when I found her. Once she was 10K away. When I saw her in the distance her head was hung low, exhausted. I greeted her with joy, opened the back door of the car and she leaped in and promptly passed out.

It took her two years to bond with me. I remember the moment well. We were walking along the road by the ocean, she on her leash in front of me towing me along, when she promptly sat down and turned and looked me in the eye. I just knew. I slipped her leash off and every single command I've given her since, she has obeyed. I only leash her when on a very busy road or in a park where it's the law.

She fills my days with her joie de vivre.

Her trust in me is implicit: She will be fed, she will be walked, she will run on the shore, she can paddle in the ocean, she can sleep on my bed disregarding her own two beds, she will let me know if there's a visitor, she will take care of me if I'm threatened in any way and she knows she will be taken care of in turn. Always.

I have a lot to learn from her. I always did. There are second chances in life. And the universe does provide.

We should all be so present in our days.

And so worry free.

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Variable Absolutes.


They drive me crazy. They're oxymoronic. They leave me speechless. They affect my inner peace. They ignite my old defect of judgementalism.

Examples:

Someone says over lunch the other day that they are on a gluten-free diet.

"Oh," I say, "that sandwich you're eating isn't gluten free."

"Except when I'm out or on vacation or don't want to offend someone," is the response.

"I never watch teevee," says a friend, as I sit in her living room with the flatscreen yelling at me to buy tampons/paper towels/a car.

"Then why is it on?" I ask, perplexed.

"I like the sound of it. I keep it on all day."

"I don't eat sugar, thank you." I say politely as a plate of muffins is proffered.

"This isn't really sugar."

"You baked sugar-free?"

"Oh no, I don't count sugar that's baked as real sugar."

"I see you out on the roads there, you take this training seriously?" says a friend observing my Tely 10 training.

"Well yes, it is a 10 miler (16 K) so I have to if I want to complete it."

"I should do it too, I can do 10 miles easy-peasy."

"Oh, you're training too?"

"I don't have to, I do all this housework and cooking and laundry and gardening every day."





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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Chaos Prevention List

I had to let go of the term "procrastination". It spelled "fail" to me. I had to realize procrastination is just me and my addict mind creating chaos, stoking the fumes of adrenalin, putting me in touch with those years. You know. The ones where drinkin' 'n' smokin' 'n' *other stuff* ran my life.

So I came up with an alternative title. And it helps.

I know this post will mean absolutely zero to most of you out there. You guys with the handle on things, who do your dishes on time and vacuum and dust whether you need to or not.

I live on the edge a little. It used to be a lot so there is marked improvement. Seriously.
I was out with some prim and propers today. Some of whom were Irish doing the tour. I have to watch my mouth. I said shyte once and their jaws dropped. I know I can never be friends with such people.

I think cardiacs would have occurred if I'd gone into my pagan state. When I mentioned my mother's tribe, The O'Sullivan Bearas, and the massacre on Dursey Island, they told me they didn't like to dwell on that stuff, it was all history now. And they didn't care for it.

I was tempted to bring up Tuam and the baby bodies in the septic tank but my mother brought me up right so I sipped on tea while they ate their scones and I behaved myself. It was hard.

Mulling to myself around the pretty china and matching talk, I realized they would never, ever need a Chaos Prevention List. Ever.

And could put me in my place, proper-like, if I dared to say "Shyte" once again.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Sharpening Life on the Whetstone of Mortality.

This is the view today as I write. The blue fog in the distance is rare.


A dear blog friend has been given the news we all dread and she is brave and honest as to how she is accepting this. I've known a few, far too few, like her. Most run for cover or under the covers. I honestly don't know how I would be in such circumstances. Frightened for sure. In massive denial? I don't know. Bargaining perhaps. Rageful. Grim. Dramatic. I just don't know.

All I know is I am grateful I have her in my life because she has given me this gift of putting my own life under the microscope and evaluating how I am treating it.

Not well this year, I'm afraid. Until now. My procrastination (deliberate chaos creation) has been particularly rampant. So today, thanks to my friend, I am changing one small thing. This is what one does, I've learned: Change one small thing for the better.

So I resolved to spend at least 4 hours a day in the Tigeen - when it's not rented out. Up there above the trees and the blue bay, above the birds and the boats and with the cleanest air, there is no internet, no phone. Well I could bring up my mobile, but I didn't, I'm disconnected.

I\m currently working on the several delightful writing commissions I've been fortunate to get. Taking this break to take a photograph and write a blog post.

My espresso latte is in a flask. My blue pencils are sharpened. I can read aloud, loudly aloud as if on stage (and this feels like a huge stage) to myself – and to the dog.

And I'm re-introduced to my bliss.

Thank you, my dear friend.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wait for me!


I took the time to pick these on the shore just now. Beach-stone blossoms I call them.

Life is whizzing. I'm trying to slow it down. I would swear on the stack that I had posted to this blog a day ago. Not so, it was Tuesday.

A friend said on Thursday night: I can't tell you what happened the week, it knocked me flat on my face as it blew over.

The Da had warned me. Said this would happen, the galloping effect. He was right on a lot of things. Wrong too. Who's perfect. But on this: A+, Da. Nailed.

Speed of light. Today I raced. In a road race not far from here. Day started out with a lovely chill. Halfway through the race the sun shoved the clouds out of the way and blazed. We all wound up, men and women, boys and girls, looking like we were all wearing peculiar skirts with our running jackets tied around our waists, trailing onto our legs, now red faced and sweating while the starting line had us jumping around to keep ourselves warm.

Daughter and I did it together, she is taller and longer of stride. I remember thinking to myself, she's 23 years younger than me and I take 3 steps to her 2. I feel like a bantam hen beside her, slightly OCD because I internally count things. A lot.

Do you? Count things I mean. I was talking to a friend about this peculiarity over dinner a few weeks back. She brought it up. She's a reverend. Odd that: the humanist and the reverend nattering over a stir-fry. We do get along. Amazing isn't it? And then it turns out we both count unconsciously. And had never talked about it before. With anyone. Goosebumps. I'm not alone. Half the time it just bubbles along under the surface.

My dad and I would bike together. Huge distances. Like 30 miles in total so we could catch a swim in Fountainstown. There are advantages to being the oldest. Your parents are younger and more agile and less distracted by younger rug-rats. We'd play numbers/words games as we rode on Sunday afternoons. Less cars then, absolutely no helmets or bike shoes or gears. Imagine. How many gates did we pass on that last mile? Dad would shout. Eighteen! I'd shout back. Corr-ect! He'd affirm.

It all started then.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reflection on a Friendship.

......My BFF is on the right.....


I was writing a birthday card to my oldest friend today. How old of a friendship, you might ask?

65 years of friendship.

I reviewed our history in the card. I always use blank cards. Unless they're my own. My own have a poem at the back, but the insides are white and inviting.

Our baby years. Our national school years. Our high school/teenage years. Our performing years. Our ugly first jobs. Our incredible party years. Our travelling years. Our weddings. Our babies. Their weddings and partnerships. Our grandparent years. It's neat this grandparent stuff. Her granddaughter sends me a painting from Australia. My granddaughter stays with her in Dublin for a few days this past month.

I can overlook these joys of long term devotion and loyalty if I'm not careful.

I outlined them all in my card to her.

We love reminding each other of our mothers. They each died when we were far too young to let them go. We adored each other's mothers. First thing she did when she had her first daughter was to go visit my mum. I was emigrated by then. My mother wrote me of it. How it brought me closer to her on a bad day (she was not doing too well with her cancer at the time).

Her mother would spoil me. Bring me breakfast in bed when I stayed there as my own home was far too busy for such indulgences being packed with siblings. My friend was an only child. I nearly had to be pried out of her house with a crowbar when I stayed.

We'd exchange clothes all the time, we even traded boyfriends. We bolstered each other through thick and thin. I don't think we ever had an angry word to say to each other. And we were never jealous of each other. Our talents and personalities are quite, quite different.

I doubt there are any secrets we withhold, I know I don't with her.

And we always write the language of the heart to each other in our daily emails.

And when we sit down with each other in Dublin or Cork, the years melt away and we just pick up the threads of conversation as if we'd met for breakfast that morning.

Everyone should be so lucky.


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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Not Black and White

The restorative qualities of my sunsets.

Swimming in the sea of old wounds and enragements is not doing me any good. I was planning on getting very much into my own personal sea of RC harm on subsequent posts but it seems like that particular muse has fled and I have no irresistible urge to lay it all down on paper. I wrote a couple of notes and found that the subsequent apoplexy was simply not my colour at all.

Lay the ghosts. Become a kinder gentler me. No, impossible, scratch that last.

Daughter and I had a chat yesterday on old wounds, on how we are all wounded to some degree. How we carry those wounds being all important. Should we keep peeling those scabs off? Thing is, we decided, patterns in families repeat and repeat. Ad nauseum.

Certainly in mine. Much as I'd like it all to stop now, please. Let's be friends. Let's enlighten ourselves as to what is really happening. What truly lies beneath, as some wise old pundit had it. But enlightenment doesn't happen to all at once, does it. I sometimes think I'm some kind of Pollyanna, trying to make it all better. Kiss the boo-boos.

Thing is, again, that there are some who desperately need those boo-boos.

They need to keep tending them and tending them like a really bad abscess. So they don't have
to look at the root causes. Ever.

I'm finished with this particular topic for now.

Bloodied but unbowed, that's me.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Black and White and Denial All Over - Part 5



See Part 1 here

See Part 2 here
See Part 3 here
See Part 4 here


I'm now going to get personal on how the abusive nature of all this patriarchal priestarchy has affected me and my entire life.

BTW - Priestarchy is a term used in a book I'm just finishing up - House of Hate by Percy Janes. I truly can't believe how so much of this book resonated with me. But those reflections are for another time or post.

My father's eldest sister, here I'll call her Elizabeth, was a brilliant woman, a pianist of some local renown when her aspirations were smothered by her mother who had an all consuming belief, fostered by the RC church, that a life on the stage was akin to prostitution. E was thrust into service at the local manse which was headed by a widower, the protestant minister of their town. Encouraged by the reverend, Elizabeth resumed her piano playing and tutorials and the gods smiled and the minister and Elizabeth fell in love despite their age-gap of nearly 30 years.

In the Ireland of 1924 this whole affair had to be kept under wraps. Even for the week after they were secretly married in a little village protestant church many miles from their town, E continued going home every night just as before while the minister arranged a transfer to the North of Ireland. She never said goodbye to her family, she just left for work as usual on their day of departure and took the train from her town to Bangor in Co. Down with her beloved.

When the truth of what had happened hit the family, my grandmother immediately held a wake for her daughter and declared her dead to the family and forbade anyone to mention her name in the house again. An order that only ended on her death in 1958. 34 years of bitterness and estrangement. Her husband, my grandfather, never recovered from the loss of his favourite child, my aunt, and died "broken-hearted" seven years later in 1931.

But more was to come. As they sat in their customary 5th pew of the huge RC church of their town the following Sunday after E had fled with her husband, they were assaulted from the pulpit by the roars of the local parish priest who denounced the family for having "harboured a harlot", and my father, the head altar boy, was removed from his position forthwith. My grandfather, to his credit, marched the whole family out of the church before the mass was over and they did not attend services in that particular church ever again but walked 5 miles every Sunday to a small village church.

You can only imagine the ripple effect this had on my family of birth which continues on to this day.

See Part 6


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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Black and White and Denial all Over - Part 4


See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here
See Part 3 here

One of my greatest disappointments in life and in the human race is that so few men stand up for women. I've heard from two or three on this blog, private emails, mainly fathers of daughters or granddaughters, but you know what? I never hear from fathers of sons. And that says so much. Women need more men speaking out. Saying "I would never behave that way!" and moving on is just not enough. I have many "good" men in my life but they are silent. Where is the massive male outcry against these misogynistic paedophiles and sadists masquerading as the One True Church?

Maybe it's the old case of Irish people bowing to the masters and never standing up for what is right. The RC church has such an empowering grip on the male psyche enforcing the privilege of being male in this male-driven church. I ask myself: Why on earth would they want to change? Why on earth would they want to fight within this male bastion of droit du seigneur and subsequently be called "pussy-whipped" or worse by their male cohorts?

Another unfortunate case of "I'm alright, Jack - fight for your own justice and equality, woman. But don't ask me to give up anything."


Meanwhile, A recent article shows that men's biggest fear is being laughed at by women while women's biggest fear is being killed by men. Isn't there loads to think about in that one sentence?


The Brehon Laws,long before the arrival of the mythical Saint Patrick to Ireland declared women as fully equal and could inherit and lead. Needless to mention, this was all abolished under the mighty males of Rome. Power and endless propagation being the driver. Forget those stupid Brehon Laws where men and women were equal and Ireland had the most advanced justice system for its time. Where there were no prisons, no crime. And restorative justice prevailed. Yes, there were flaws, but early Christianity brainwashing must have felt severely threatened by such female freedoms. Men's rights to regulate our bodies and what we do with them still prevails.

And yeah, I caught that article in the Irish Times about Ireland being closer to Muslim teachings that anywhere else in the world.

I only have to think of the shame of Savita to realize that nothing has changed in the country of my birth.

To be continued.


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Friday, June 13, 2014

Black and White and Denial All Over - Part 3


See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here

And why was my country of birth ripe for such abuses? The GreatPotato FamineHolocaust in Ireland in the 1840s where up to 4 million people were deliberately starved or forced to emigrate - often on so-called coffin ships which drowned them anyway - changing the very landscape of Ireland utterly and forever in many, many ways.

All of the Irish born people I know and have known, including my own large indirect and direct relatives can't tell you how their families survived this "famine". There is a huge sense of shame some historians have it, and also PTSD. The survivors of this "famine" were ripe for further traumatization by the RC church and strict moral guidelines were laid down. Much of this was based on Jansenism a rigid form of Catholicism with firm rules on sexual behaviour. I remember one of my more open-minded teachers interpreting (scoffingly) the procedure for marital sexual intercourse: no removal of clothing, thou shalt not see the naked body of thy spouse and encouraging the denigration of the products of unsacramented coitus as the "spawn of the devil" to be shunned and despised.

There were 250,000 women and children over a 40 year period processed through the Magdalene Laundries, Industrial Schools, Mother & Baby Homes and “orphanages” and "reformatories" - a total of 72 RC church run institutions across the country.

And as of now, all of this shameful history is not taught in the schools. These girls/women/children/babies are deleted and forgotten. Revisionism at its most extreme. Why? Because the RC church still controls the curricula in schools. And embraces the notion that the Irish should remain ignorant of the horrific crimes committed by those who offer them salvation in the hereafter. The twisted mindsets around these shameful betrayals remain and are continually encouraged. Many of my friends and relatives still participate and donate to this abusive cult. Much like victims of the Stockholm syndrome.

Compare this to the school curricula in Germany where students there learn about Hitler and the shame and degradation of the extermination camps and the propaganda of Hitler. So that it doesn't happen again.

In Ireland the swelling of Catholic coffers continues and very little restitution has been paid to the many, many victims of its crimes against humanity - and absolutely no one is addressing the multi-generational effect of the original crimes: the secret sales of children with no official records maintained, the life-long slavery and near starvation of "unwed" mothers and the traumatization of babies and mothers torn apart, along with the deceitful and self-justifying lies told to both the sold babies and the devastated mothers. It was all about the selling price of the children and the capitation grants given to these institutions by the government, subsequently funnelled to the Vatican, one of the wealthiest entities in the world.

To be continued.



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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Black and White and Denial All Over - Part 2.


Women at their wedding to the greatest polygamist of all time.

Read Part 1 here.

And there are some that come out and talk about the mothers of these "wayward" 14 year old pregnant girls. Why didn't the mother protect them from the incesting father/brother/uncle. You must be joking, would be my response.

The grip of the RC church was so huge that no Irish mother, in the fear of being consigned to hell, for all eternity:

(1) Took birth control
(2) Refused her husband
(3) Worked outside the home, as if she could anyway with endless children to care for.
(4) Even considered divorce - it was illegal.
(5) Separation was the women's fault. She made her bed, why couldn't she lie in it, the slut?
(6) If she did separate from him, her life, poor before, was now abysmal beyond belief with no financial support from state or church and the complete shunning of her neighbours and family. I will write more of the power of shunning later. And she'd heard of women who had to resort to prostitution to make ends meet.

So leaving her husband was out of the question and reprimanding him for molesting her daughters, would result in violence towards herself and the child who told her. Police turned a blind eye, as did the church who would advise her neighbours and family to shun her. Husbands controlled the purse strings and what was donated to the church every Sunday was his and the church's business. He was the cash cow and deserved protection. At all costs.

The RC church was and is a huge business. In Ireland, it controlled the schools and the hospitals, orphanages, reformatories (yeah, right) and homes for the worst sinners of all time: "unwed" mothers, often as young as 12.

Have you read about the conditions in these homes of the "unwed"? As punishment for their sins, they had to give birth:

(1) without medication or pain relief.
(2) when ripped in the process of birthing, as so many of them were, they were forbidden stitching so the subsequent infections added to their pain and often resulted in sterility and lifelong incontinence.
(3) they were forced to wet nurse the babies of mothers who died birthing.
(4) their babies were sold as further punishment to Americans for the highest price donation.
(5) they had to pay to be released from the hell-holes of these institutions or endured years of slavery. Their families viewed them as "damaged goods" so they were unmarriagable and a life long financial burden so were left to rot in these places.

I could go on.

Follow the money has been my mantra for a very long time. The RC church made untold billions from the "simple" Irish people. It paid to keep them breeding like rabbits in and out of wedlock, it all paid off handsomely no matter which way you sliced the product. A per capita amount was paid by the Irish government to the penal institutions for feeding and clothing the "illegitimate" products of rape.

And those "evil bitches" those sisters, married to the Great Son of the Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper? Yes, married. They would wear a veil and don a wedding ring 'n everything for the polygamous wedding ceremony. And, I nearly forgot, had all their hair shaved off, it was a symptom of vanity, they couldn't have anything around that reminded them of their femininity, their very womanhood.

And their husband (Great Son of ICH) spoke to them only through their priest or if they really got rebellious, ICH's henchman, the bishop.

And how were they instructed?

See Part 3.

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Monday, June 09, 2014

Black and White and Denial all Over


Part 1 of _____

Another of my lobes has exploded, so enough of my blog-fluff for now:

Tuam. Dead children being tossed in unmarked disused septic tanks in Galway up to 1961. The stark horror of it all. But nothing is black and white is it? The debate can rage on if it was or wasn't a septic tank. Distraction from the huge black elephant lounging about in the living room shoving everything else out of sight. I read vituperative blasts of prose condemning the "bitches", the "evil bitches" who ran these horrific homes for "wayward girls" who had the temerity to get themselves pregnant, all by themselves. The bases were covered in these places - if they were younger than the age of consent, still children themselves: well then the devil himself had a hand in it, making them tempting seductresses of innocent adult males, be they their fathers, uncles, brothers or the local priests. Those fathers of these casual sperm implantations were never made accountable. Or answerable to the law of the land. Oh, sorry, the land where the word "rape" was never countenanced. And paedophilia I didn't know about apart from a difficult to spell word in crossword puzzles.

She must have been "asking for it" was the phrase I heard around my house.

There was a girl in my class in national school. We were 12. Just past our confirmation where we pledged our purity, our bodies, ourselves to the Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper. By the age of 12 I'd been touched inappropriately by men a few times which I've written about on this blog - no little girls are safe in a patriarchal culture such as Ireland was in my time. This little girl's mother was a casual church acquaintance of my mother. They were poor. I remember that. Kathleen was her name. Kathleen got very fat very quickly and then one day never showed up at school again.

I kept pestering my mother as to what happened to Kathleen. Finally my mother broke down and told me Kathleen's mother was expecting another child (her fourteenth) and was older (mid forties) and Kathleen had to stay home and help her.

Later, much later, I was in high school and had seen Kathleen around, wheeling an obviously mentally challenged toddler in a stroller, my mother told me Kathleen was one of the "lucky ones" and didn't have to go to a "home for bad girls."

And that's when I heard another phrase, common in use in Ireland then: Kathleen had "allowed" someone to "interfere" with her.

Later again, my mother told me it was Kathleen's father who had "interfered" with several of his daughters, thus the massive "retardation" in the younger "siblings" and an aging mother covering it up, to protect her daughters from the hellish "homes" run by the sisters.

He was a good man, a pillar of the church, said my mother, with only the one "weakness".

A good man? I asked her in disbelief, a good man?

Ah, said my mother, sure he didn't drink at all.

See Part 2 Here

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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Blog Jam


My first PG (Paying Guest) at The Tigeen has just left. Yeah, things went well. Very well. Yesterday and today are foggy, mauzy really, and I caught myself. You know when you have guests and the weather doesn't behave itself. "I'm so sorry about the weather. If you'd been here earlier...." as if you (and I) had omnipotent powers and the weather was all our fault. Apologizing for our personal magic wand misbehaving.

It's been a busy few days and I'm backing away from today to regather myself. I've scheduled a long overdue nap in the afternoon before heading out this evening with friends.

And tomorrow, well tomorrow is the first meeting of a running/walking/hiking/shuffling race participating club I inadvertently founded nearly a year ago. I'm way excited about this. The challenges faced by the back of a pack in these events are too numerous to list here. Not least of which are the shutting down of the course before the time is up: water stations evaporated, roads reverting to the hazards of traffic (and traffic lights) and even the drinks and food packed up at the finish line when guarantees are made at the outset the course will be open for the entire duration of the race. Older/more challenged participants pay the same money and deserve equal treatment. And often are the real heroes of such events. So there must be power in numbers to change the status quo, ya think?





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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

For Sale


Years past, I'd drive around North America with various companions, my former husband, then we added the girls, then my dad, then various friends. I loved being a roadie. Still do.

And I'd see them on the sides of the road we drove through on these long road trips.

Signs:

For sale: Quilts.
For Sale: Birdhouses
For Sale: Socks.

And mitts. And scarves. And pottery. And watercolours.

The Da was the only one with patience enough to accompany me in my poking around these road stands or inside sellers' houses. Others were too destination fixated. Or disinterested. Or would sit in the car and sulk and waggle their watches.

At one of these places my scrabble turntable was acquired. Still used and twirling silently. A beautiful polished piece of wood. At another I picked up some lovely aboriginal prints. I still have those too.

I would envy the roadside purveyors of such artifacts, their creations. And chat to them. You see, I too wanted to put out a sign on my lawn. Offer my wee creations for sale. An impossible dream?

Well, today I did.


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Monday, June 02, 2014

The Spike


This railroad spike I picked up is my souvenir of the great adventure.

I was at a mini-conference yesterday. About 16 of us. Discussions, a couple of meals, I don't know about you but I just love breaking bread with a crowd around a table. The host's house was big enough to seat all of us together at a huge table. I love when people you don't know very well shine the light on themselves and share their passions.

There was a mid-afternoon break and an older friend and I decided to go for a walk together. Others did the same, little mini-groups breaking up into conversational units and toddling off. The day was glorious and we had about 45 minutes to kill before the next discussion.

Friend and I explored an old railway bed trail and hit one of those moments - does this trail go round in a circle and then, like a fool, immediately answer the question for yourself - of course it does!

The trail went on and on and on. No turnoff, no circling. One continuous long straight line. My chief concern was Ansa, the wonder-dog, who is aging and arthritic. My next concern was we did not bring our cellphones or money or water or even phone numbers of people who were at the event or the host herself. On and on we trudged.

Finally we hit a side-road off the trail, a steep winding hill. By that point we were knackered. Yes, we're each of us training for the Tely 10 but did NOT expect to be plunged into Iron Women status in week 1 of training with 8 more weeks to go.

At long last we hit the main road, puffing after the long climb. I calculated we were about 5 miles from the house. Ansa had slowed dramatically. Admiring something off in the distance, Friend tripped and fell. Planked herself on the shoulder of the road would be more like it. We've no sidewalks in Newfoundland - did I tell you that already? Tough people don't need 'em. NOT!

So I pick her up, dust her off, give her my sweaty bandana as a bandage for her bleeding hand and we stumble on. Finally we see a man checking underneath his jeep on the shoulder ahead of us. We explain the situation and he immediately herds us into his vehicle, all consideration for elder-dog, he even offers to lift her in.

Turns out he's an engineer in from Calgary for a short term contract and between all of us we find the house where a search party had just been formed and were all lined up on the driveway, ready to scatter in several directions. Some started to cry when they saw us, they were so upset and figured we'd had a dreadful catastrophe befall us. They had called our mobiles and noticed our purses, left on the floor of the hall, ringing back at them in merriment. Panic then ensued. We were missing nearly 3 hours and husband of Friend calculated we had covered 10 miles of rough, rugged terrain.

All of us agreed it was one mighty story for the grandchildren.

I was the after dinner speaker and I spoke on the metaphorical nature of our walk - no side-roads, no twists and turns. The ocean on one side of us, brush and forest on the other. To leave the trail would have been rushing into unknown madness.

We had to persist. Right to the end. Much like when we nurture a dream, a vision, a goal.

And the spike?

It symbolises the strength and survival residing in all of us.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Shambling Underclass.


I did some banking for another entity today. Not at my bank but at another. One of those dismal places. You know. I was struck by how much it resembled a shipping container. Everything looked slapped together, as if every item in it could be moved in 30 minutes flat and not a trace left of what had gone before (good luck future archaeologists!). I has hustled by an employee as I stepped in, caught in mid-groan at the long line up. She had Tim Horton's coffee and donuts at the entrance with a huge sign that proclaimed "OUR CUSTOMERS ARE IMPORTANT!" or some such oxymoronic drivel and she offered me one.

As I viewed the snaking queue of grumpiness around me I bit my lip. Tight. I so wanted to say : "If we're that important would you stop serving coffee and open another teller window for feck's sake?" Well, "teller window" is a huge exaggeration, everything being mobile and plastic, including the tellers who were all dressed up in sparkly dresses and sweaters. Frivolous I thought, being grumpy. Sparkling bankers. And these were the men.(Kidding!)

So I get my coffee served up to me. Now I'm overloaded: I've got my purse, a grocery bag, my book in its own wee bag, my deposit bag and a coffee with a napkin and stir-stick to manoeuver. It shuts me up. I'm busy.

See? I never do physical banks. I'm all on line now so I don't have to fret and muse inside such 20th century aberrations. But some organizations. Don't. Want. To. Change. And at my age I choose my battles very carefully. So I do the shipping container shamble.

As a geezer, I remember banks as being solid. Pillared. Marble. Hushed. Vaulted ceilings. Polished brass. Obsequious dark-suited tellers. Manager cruising around. Keeping an eye. This place? I've seen better Walmarts.

I don't remember waiting back then. Certainly not in a queue of 20 on a snaking carpet with arrows. As if we're all halfwits and could turn in the wrong direction towards the doors if not guided by our betters.

So a half hour of my life goes by that I'll never get back. In a shipping container. Delicately balancing a Tim Horton's coffee. Watching myself on a video above me. As all of us queuers are.

Oh, did I say half-wits?

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Birthing the Dream

Sunset from the Tigeen

If you're a regular reader you'll remember this recent post.

And when you do a start-up, you never know, do you? Well I was beside myself today when I got my first booking for the Tigeen: An American writer-in-residence who wants to spend 2 days in my wee cabin and tour the Avalon before heading off to her summer position about 400K from here.

I am so chuffed at how my friends have gathered around with suggestions, promotions and downright support and accolades about the Tigeen to anyone who will listen to them. For instance, tonight the author sister of a good friend is promoting it in a broadcast to her connections.

Now, I'm holding my horses, this may be the only booking. But hell, isn't it so very lovely when this dream, after such a long incubation, has become so very much ALIVE?

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