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Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Double Life (or on second thoughts, make that a triple or more).


(Photo, taken by, ahem, me, is of Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland & Labrador, home to - literally - millions of seabirds) Cape St. Mary's


I think many of us are leading more than one life these days. I know I am. And the odd thing is they are all weirdly separate. I say weird, because I’m an old fart now and these simultaneous multiple lives of mine weren’t even imaginable just a few short years ago.

I can be consulting with a client in China (and China is soooo economically hot right now!) for a couple of hours in the morning, while he is having his late dinner. I can be writing an article in the afternoon for an Irish magazine, I can be taking photographs of the ocean at five, trying to capture a hitherto unseen shade of blue on film, and by night, in front of the fire, I can be designing a new knitting pattern or chatting with knitters (or Knitwits as we call ourselves!) around the globe - one in Connemara, on the West Coast of Ireland, I particularly enjoy.

And what has made all these parallel lives possible? The wonderful world of the internet of course. The World Wide Web.

“You should be written up, Mum,” my eldest daughter, who is extremely high tech, says to me, “You must be one of the few sixty-mumbles who has so utterly embraced the information technology highway.”

Well, yes and no. I meet my compatriots out there blogging well into their eighties. My good friend Miriam, seventy-five, was forced into going on line. By whom? Her mother, who is ninety-three and says it’s the only way to keep in touch with her great-grandchildren and Miriam should be ashamed as they are her grandchildren. Miriam’s mother gave her some lessons on the fine art of e-mailing and now she, too, climbs on board every day.

What I truly love about all of this multiple personality way of life is that I can work in my underwear if I want, and be anywhere I want, which for me is by the ocean in an outport of Newfoundland most of the time, and at any time I want, like 2.00 a.m., which for an incorrigible nighthawk like me works out beautifully.

I still have a lot to learn about I.T., but I suppose being ready, willing and able is half the battle.

And PS, I used to be sooooo jealous of you guys who could link so effortlessly.....and I finally did it, see above, wahoo..

Now if I could only figure out how to link and list my favourite blogs, I'll be, like, so totally insufferable...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Aging (Dis)gracefully


I couldn't resist posting this, sent to me by a friend today......

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN GUILTY OF LOOKING AT OTHERS YOUR
OWN AGE AND THINKING, SURELY I CAN'T LOOK THAT OLD.
WELL.. YOU'LL LOVE THIS ONE.
MY NAME IS ALICE SMITH AND I WAS SITTING IN THE
WAITING ROOM FOR MY FIRST APPOINTMENT WITH A NEW
DENTIST. I NOTICED HIS DDS DIPLOMA, WHICH BORE HIS
FULL NAME.
SUDDENLY, I REMEMBERED A TALL, HANDSOME, DARK-HAIRED
BOY WITH THE SAME NAME HAD BEEN IN MY HIGH SCHOOL
CLASS SOME 30-ODD YEARS AGO.
COULD HE BE THE SAME GUY THAT I HAD A SECRET CRUSH ON,
WAY BACK THEN? UPON SEEING HIM, HOWEVER, I QUICKLY
DISCARDED ANY SUCH THOUGHT.
THIS BALDING, GRAY-HAIRED MAN WITH THE DEEPLY LINED
FACE WAS WAY TOO OLD TO HAVE BEEN MY CLASSMATE. AFTER
HE EXAMINED MY TEETH, I ASKED HIM IF HE HAD ATTENDED
MORGAN PARK HIGH SCHOOL.
"YES. YES, I DID. I'M A MUSTANG," HE GLEAMED WITH
PRIDE.
"WHEN DID YOU GRADUATE?" I ASKED.
HE ANSWERED , "IN 1975. WHY DO YOU ASK?"
"YOU WERE IN MY CLASS!", I EXCLAIMED.
HE LOOKED AT ME CLOSELY. THEN, THAT UGLY, OLD, BALD,
WRINKLED, FAT ASS, GRAY-HAIRED, DECREPIT
SON-OF-A-BITCH ASKED, "WHAT DID YOU TEACH?"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Shore Thoughts


It has been a solitary life, these past few days here. I’ve wanted it that way to get at the book, now that reminders are coming in from the editors. And something stops me and I let it.

I walk a lot by the shore with the dog. I’ve started to follow the example of my neighbour down the way and pick up the bits and bobs that float in with the tides. The ubiquitous water bottles, shot gun shells, plastic bags, chip bags, motor oil bottles. I don’t take any great pride in this, it just is. Part of my responsibility for the planet and this tiny section of it.

I observe how water changes landscape on an extremely intimate level. It has been heavily raining and it stopped today and I watch the many residual streams and rivulets pour into the bay, altering the landscape, washing out some muddy bridges and building new ones. Creating new moats and demolishing old islands of shrubs. The power of water!

I pick up kindling for the fire and collect some interesting twists and turns of driftwood. I compose wonderful poems in my head that vanish before I can get back to the house and put them on paper or computer.

I think about friends and friendships and how sometimes I’ve been a “filler-friend” for others who drop me when they meet someone new. R has done this to me. From a daily contact for a very long time, to zero now that he has met someone. He did not tell me this. A mutual friend did as I was puzzled by his unresponsiveness to my emails. I must admit to being hurt. And saddened. And I try not to let my heart harden up to any future friendships with the males of our species. And I reflect on my male friendships that survive. And the female ones that always do, come hell or high-water or the best new lover in the world.

I sort many things out on these long shore-walks. And bring my life into today and the moment and doing the next right thing like picking up another tossed plastic bag on the beach

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Me and Mother Church

There were many nudges along the way. Many ‘clicks’ – you know, that little ting, like a bicycle bell, a little alert that the world and more specifically Mother Church was not as sane and sanctified as all around me believed.

I think my first awakening, or more a little frisson, was at the Catholic Convent School I attended. We would go to mass in the convent chapel on a fairly regular basis. None of us were allowed near the sacred place, the altar. We couldn’t touch anything, the vestments, the altar cloths, the hardware, or go anywhere in front of the altar rail. The nuns, of course, were allowed to launder and steam-press the precious linens, and they did so in gratitude and humility, being the brides of Christ.

They couldn’t serve at Mass. But my ten-year-old brother could. He was an altar boy and had higher standing than any of the nuns and of course stood head and shoulders above us, the convent girls. In the eyes of Mother Church. My filthy, nasty, little brother was now on Godplanet while those of us sans penis were consigned to the trash heap outside the altar rails? Ting.

And then there was the matter of my mother’s last ‘confinement’ – a lovely old-fashioned word. She was forty-three. I was thirteen. On a blog entry a while ago, I wrote about an experience she had with a ‘young pup’ of a priest, whilst in this pregnancy:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Bit of Mutton


My mother told me many things,
When breathing deeply of the morning air
As we walked together to First Friday Mass
So our souls would be saved at the last minute.
No matter what we did in between.

Our Lord had promised this, you see.
If we made nine of these First Fridays in a row.
And we did. I don’t remember the masses
I remember our walking and talking
And how we would breathe together.

She would swing her arms and look to the still
Early sky. Breathe, she said, breathe.
It’s good to get the early oxygen into the blood
And leave all the men in the house behind us.
It’s a change for us women to be alone together.


She believed and carried me on the wings
Of her belief in Our Lady first and Our Lord second.
Until the great man behind the red curtain
Told her it was a sin to eat meat on Friday
Even though she was expecting her last.

She was forty-three then, saying she was thirty-nine
And had an irresistible craving for the meat.
She was outraged she told me, that this
Young pup of a priest could tell an aging
Expecting woman her soul was damned.

Forever, she said to me, in spite of the
Nine First Fridays, for eating a piece of meat.
She would burn in hell for all eternity.
How could he know, this young pup,
Of varicose veins and a tired swollen body?

Life is a terrible mystery, girleen,
I don’t know what to make of it at all
I just can’t make sense of him telling me that,
Me old enough to be his mother, that I was
Now damned and going to hell for a bit of mutton?

I got up and walked out of that box so I did.
I did not want the penance or the forgiveness
For this great sin. I walked all the way out the door
And came straight home this past Saturday
And I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------But that wasn’t the end of it in this pregnancy for my mother. In those days, in Ireland, when women had difficulty in childbirth, when labour ceased or there was fetal distress or a myriad other challenges, and the woman happened to be Catholic, a Caesarian section was forbidden by the Catholic Church in collusion with the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Dublin. The procedure approved was the Symphysiotomy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphysiotomy. See the section on Irish women.

My mother had horrific side effects after the birth of my sister. Her pelvis was shattered and she was unable to sit, walk or stand for six weeks. My sister had to be bottle-fed and my brothers and I took turns with this as my mother was unable to sit and hold her baby and my father was of the era where his masculinity would be suspect if he was ever caught holding an infant. After several months of agony my mother had another operation which involved breaking her pelvis yet again so that this time the bones would knit correctly. She never fully recovered and was not too long for the world afterwards.

When my sister was nine months old and my mother had the use of her legs again, she asked me to accompany her for a special service in the church. Women only and the holy priest officiating.

Childbirth was considered ‘unclean’ then so she had to be cleansed from her unholy act in a ritual called ‘Churching’ – now obsolete.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churching_of_women

And I could go on, but as this is far too long as it is, I’ll stop and continue some other time.

So ask me again why I no longer believe in The Great Invisible Cloud Being?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A brilliant analysis of U.S. Politics {LINK}


Jane Smiley is one of my very favourite writers and she churns up some riveting stuff in the above link - well worth reading.

Like the late, great Molly Ivens, she is fearless in her analysis of how things went so terribly wrong in her country.

The Iraq quagmire is sucking the life out of our neighbour down south, the dollar shrinking, housing markets decimated, personal bankruptcies through the roof, no health care for its citizens, New Orleans a no-go for the people who used to live there, one out of every 150 of its citizens in jail and more jails being built every day, its military outsourced to private and for profit mercenaries (was there ever a name with such a death knell ring to it as 'Blackwater'?), and the Patriot Act in all its permutations stripping the Constitution of any of the 'freedoms' so proudly bandied about by the flag wavers. And the media operating at just about the level of a trained poodle (Blair, anyone?)

And Iran may be the next target for the bringing of 'democracy'?

Bumper Sticker seen on U.S. vehicle here in Newfoundland:

Be nice to me or I will bring democracy to your country too!

Thank heavens for Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and Stephen Colbert who through satire and wit (and lately a healthy disgust) bring the actual truth to their audiences.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Past the tipping point? {LINK}


This blog started out, way back, as a commentary on the changing environment of the world I live in, mainly the impact of global warming. I slid into other musings and meanderings over the years but today I was brought up short with the above. I also get the feeling that most of us are not being kept abreast of the truly astounding changes in the North. A friend who goes to Greenland on work assignments every couple of months tells me that the ice is just about gone in that fair land and that now the country is being massively mined for diamonds and gold now that these minerals are accessible for the first time, and all the big corporations have moved in.

We are all the Neros, fiddling away while the planet burns up. I remember reading Sci-Fi years and years ago and all of this was foretold, not the warming per se but the complete and utter disregard for the disintegration around us by the planet's governments and citizens. All fiddling away at Walmart and tooling down the great highways in our SUVS while the airconditioning in our homes creaks out its last gasp of energy.

I know we are all saturated with reports, I know we all feel helpless though doing our best to combat it on a minescule individual level. Where are the protests on the streets?

The results of this great meltdown will be horrific and panic will ensue very rapidly when none of our services will be able to keep up with the health needs (new diseases), water depletion, flooding, massive food shortages, etc.

Now what have I done to combat this personally ( share yours and make me feel better!)


I've signed enough protests (Stop Big Corp running our governments!)
and recycling, reducing, reusing goes without saying.
I turn out lights,
I have a tiny car and drive it hardly ever,
I stopped flying (in a plane!),
I am converting my current home to off the grid,
I don't use plastic grocery bags,
I don't buy plastic containers anymore
I stopped using paper towels,
I bought organic seeds for planting a vegetable garden next year
I dug a well
I started a wood lot and harvest trees for winter heating
I try and shop for stuff grown within 100 miles of where I live (a bit of a challenge in a small outport in Newfoundland!) but this quest found me yesterday buying from a bakery that makes scrumptious pies out of local apples, Yay!
I use rechargeable batteries
I do not buy Big Box ever
I buy second hand just about everything
I bought a hand-cranked washing machine (yes, they can be found and yes it is fun!)
I make all my own gifts, all my own celebratory cards


And there's more but they don't come to mind at the moment.

Maybe there's nothing any of us can do to stop this rapid descent into End of Days.

Maybe all we can do is live in the moment and do our own little bit.