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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Coming our Way?



Puppini Sisters

It seems to me like the UK has always set the tone in popular music.

A great retro movement has started over there with the sounds of the Andrews Sisters channelled through these sisters filling the airwaves.

for a sample click here

Great voices and harmonies.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sublime!


I was at The Canadian Opera Company's production of Tosca last night in our glorious opera house.

This is my third attendance of this opera over the years and it was the best production so far. It is a particularly poignant opera for me as it was banned in Ireland for a long time due to its negative representation of the Catholic church.

My father had a love of opera and a fine singing voice and to overcome such censorship of this glorious music, the amateur musical groups to which he belonged would adapt the arias into suitable English and sing these excerpts in local concerts in local town halls. To give everyone a bit of a taste as to what they were missing. I'm talking the twenties and thirties here. In small town Ireland. He never did see Tosca in his lifetime.

I think of him as I let the music swirl around me and allow my senses to be wrapped completely in the power of this particular production. I have the fancy that I go for him as well as for me as he took me to my very first opera when I was fifteen, in Cork's Opera House. A spell binding production of Madama Butterfly. Thank you, Daddy.

And if there are angels, one of them is Mikhail Agafonov, an incredible tenor, an astonishing voice, who played Cavaradossi to a rapturous sold out audience. Bravo!

I cried.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

But of Course!


At times, I need my "Bizarro" posts so I can take a breather from the political shenaningans I see around me. More than shenaningans, for as I mentioned in a previous post the result of the U.S. election affects everyone on this tiny planet of ours.

I had speculated on the "disappearance" of Karl Rove with more than a little suspicion. The great election fixer had quietly retired? I didn't buy that for a second.

One of those ah-ha moments today when he surfaced as the new mastermind behind the Obama campaign. Yes you read correctly, the Obama compaign. He recognized very early in the game that Hillary Clinton had to be stopped at all costs and how to do that? Genius Rove, more commonly known as "Bush's Brain" came up with a brilliant strategy.

Find a charismatic orator, with minimal political experience and set him up against Hillary with the full support of the sycophantic media of course. Create a cult. Trash Bill Clinton again at every opportunity, painting him a racist. Then, the stroke of genius, have registered Republicans switch allegiance in the primaries to the Democrats and vote for Obama.

Obama wins primaries. Obama gets torn down completely (remember swiftboating) in the race against McCain. McCain wins.

Mission accomplished. Third Election engineered and won by the Master Rove.

See here
And Time Magazine's article here
and New York Times article here

I'm sure hoping I'm crazy, but I found myself nodding today when I had my eureka moment. P.T. Barnum was so right. Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bizarro




I'm finding this whole obsession by the media (and I would assume its slavering followers) with the baby bumps of celebrities totally, well, weird. Bump as fashion accessory. Comparisons of the sizes of bumps. Speculation on multiple births.

This picture of Nicole Kidman spotted today sums everything up quite nicely for me. The three month bump, the transparency of the clothing, the little girl look on the 40-year-old plasticized face. Now is it me, or is this the most godawful trainwreck of maternity clobber the world has ever seen?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Uninvented Words



We don’t have a word that describes those moments suspended between the fearful and the brave, the ugly and the beautiful. Moments like this for me have involved animals. Perhaps other languages have that strangeness of feelings covered. Like funerals when you want to laugh, and weddings when you want to cry.

And a cat I saw the other day. It had been hit by a vehicle, no doubt, and dragged to a nearby snowbank. A tabby who looked like he was asleep, but the bright red blood on the snow told his story. The sleek fur of the cat and the invisible wound bleeding his life onto the hurting-white snow, his owners still unaware of his dreadful fate. An awful and indelible portrait. Savage beauty.

And speaking of cats - I was between cats once. Working cats as it turned out because my house became plagued with mice.

Mice have terrified me since I was three years old and one ran across my bed. I had them mixed up with rats in my imagination and thought they would eat my nose right off my face. I could hear them behind the skirting (base) boards of my bedroom in the ancient old house in which we lived. My father, to his credit, honoured my terror and every night would go around the circumference of my bedroom with a hammer and nails, banging fresh pieces of wood on to the existing skirting boards to keep the mice ‘out’. Then he would sing me my song and only then would I fall sleep. When I look back at those moments they are strung between the horror of another mouse on my bed and the love of my father who performed this ridiculous nightly act to keep my terror at bay.

But back to the story. The invasion of mice in my house was finally dealt with by a professional pest control service. But in the meantime, one had managed to infiltrate the piano and in the middle of the night would scamper up and down the keys playing these light tinkling glissandos. I called him Beethoven. My dog of the time, a very intelligent Lhasa Apso, had a ‘family’ of small stuffed animals that she liked to groom and carry in her mouth around the house only to regroup them in different areas. She would line them up in various locations in the house as if for a photograph. There were ten of them and they all had names. If you asked her for ‘Pooky” she would select the right miniature and bring it to you. Ditto for “Dusty” and on down the line. A dog enchanted with her own cleverness. Over breakfast one morning, I was looking at the latest arrangement of her family, poised between the living and dining rooms and realized there was an unnamed extra. Yep. It was a freshly groomed dead mouse, all his fur slicked beautifully into place by the maternal dog. Suspended between throwing up and screaming and laughing. That was me.

A condition for which there is no name.

Monday, February 11, 2008

LAUGH


The leg of the evening

I hosted my annual women’s brunch yesterday. Fourteen were in attendance. Over the years the numbers wax and wane as southern and warmer climes beckon some of the invitees. Other times, to my surprise, there is a wealth of women, thirty-six was the all time high achieved about ten years ago.

The day lingers long and lovingly, beginning around eleven in the morning and tailing off at around ten at night. After polishing off the big meal, we snack on the leftovers throughout the leg of the evening, the cheese and fruit trays, the plum pudding, the cinnamony thingies.

I prepare standard fare, this year ably assisted by the grandgirl who throws herself into co-hosting and who just may carry on the tradition as the whole event fascinates her. We had wild salmon on a long platter, my famous egg strata dish, equally famous curried cabbage, perogies, Irish soda bread, croissants, fruits, cheese, desserts, potatoes, ham, Irish tea, strong French roast coffee, juices, neglected wine.

Photo taken after the savaging of the feast.


There are many Irish in attendance so the conversation loops around our Irish experiences, upbringings and evolution, emigration, feminism, relationships, Canada, politics, passions.

We touch on those who are no longer with us -far too many.

We follow some of the tradition of my mother’s Nollaig Na Mban celebration in Ireland and halfway through we have a little meditation to the spirit of Saint Brigid and ask her to take all the trials and tribulations of the previous year and put them away so we can get on with the new year.

And then I pass around a basket where everyone blindly selects their gift. This year they were silver stones in tiny frothy lace bags with different words on each that everyone had to open and reflect on. All had particular and unique meaning for each participant.

Mine was “Laugh” and even though everyone present thinks I am a reasonably happy and content person, I recognised that I have a doom and gloom philosophy when it comes to politics and global warming. I need to lighten up and stop taking it all so seriously. I am limited - I can only take care of my own tiny section of the universe. I shared this.

And today my daughter forwarded me a very good article that I’ve taken to heart:

It would be possible to write an entire book on the psychology of disaster. Fire and flood, earthquake and tornado, explosion and collision, robbery and arrest — our response is always the same. The Irish potato famine, the 1929 stock-market crash, and the rise of Nazism were all received in the same manner: widespread denial, followed by a rather catatonic apathy. But those historical events at least reached an end.

The systemic collapse that we are now undergoing has no such end. There will be no return to normal. There may very well be a return to happiness, but there will be no return to "normal." We will become like the Australian aborigines: naked on the outside, but with a rich interior life. There will be no more television. And that is why it may be obsessional and ultimately self-destructive to be talking about disaster.

It would be more positive, more pro-active, to deal with survival skills, rather than with prophecies of doom. Instead of reading one more article about the fact that food prices are skyrocketing worldwide, it may be healthier to get out the seed catalogs — which are being published at this time of year — and ask oneself: Which corn is better, Iroquois White, Mandan Bride, or Painted Mountain?


See the rest of the article here.

And next I hauled out my Terra Edibles Organic Catalogue and plotted ordering and planting some new stuff for the acres on the Avalon.

All photos taken by the grandgirl

Saturday, February 09, 2008

John McCain will be the Next U.S. President



The outcome of this U.S. election affects everyone in the world. If the Project for a New American Century continues its empire building mode there will not be peace in our time or anyone else’s for that matter. Not to mention global warming solutions and other dire, pressing issues.

As a Canadian, I am concerned. Water is evaporating rapidly in the country to the south of us and even though Canada has diverted much of her water to accommodate the crisis, more and more is required. Force may be used to get it. The next wars will be fought for water.

I signed a petition today from the ‘rest’ of the world to the nominees now left in the US election.

Though I’m left feeling cynical. As if these anointed will pay attention to the world outside the bubble of the U.S.

Why do I think John McCain will win the election?

For many, many reasons. But the big one is the cult-like support of Obama. To my eyes and ears this is not a political campaign. A worship of an idol, yes. And, particularly the media adulation of him beggars belief - this very same media who are bought and paid for by Big Corp. Remember? And who went after Bill Clinton’s dalliance with the fervour of a pack of rabid dogs and have blithely ignored the current incumbent’s monumental law-breaking, murdering, torturing policies which would have him impeached a thousand times over if there were such a thing as an impartial press.

I hold nothing against Obama, I believe he is a wonderful human being, given to the type of oratory that Martin Luther King used to captivate an earlier generation. At times, if one closes one’s eyes, he even sounds like MLK. He is a gifted speaker and no doubt a marvellous lawyer. But he has only been in the Senate since 2004 and he admits to some very poor managerial skills and no one, but no one, is asking him the right questions. If one listens carefully to the inspiring rhetoric, one realizes that he keeps pointing the fingers back at the audience, the hope will come from YOU.
Now, what change are YOU prepared to make?

Also, is no one else outraged at the misogynistic statements being made over and over again about Hillary. Are the so-called feminists that I have revered over the years now all retired or brain dead? It is open season on her legs, her voice, her tears, her hair, her pantsuits, her philandering husband and today, again, it was her child, a grown woman of 27. The media blasted Hillary for “pimping out” her daughter. And who can forget that most horrific T-shirt in election history: “If Only Hillary had married O.J. Instead!”
Where was the outcry of feminist voices? Hillary is a woman who has fought pro-bono for years for the betterment of women and children. No one talks about this. She’s got the backs of women of all ages, particularly those of the poor, and women have turned on her in stupefying numbers.

She is even criticized for putting her own money into her own campaign. Everything she does/is/says comes under a negative microscope of such epic proportions that it makes me squirm for her. But in spite of this she continues. She does not wilt, her belief in herself and her country keeps her moving. Backbone? Of steel.

In all the adulation surrounding the multiple-Kennedy endorsement of Obama, no one thought to mention that Robert Kennedy Junior, one of the world’s leading environmentalists and also a River Keeper, supports Hillary. If Ted Kennedy had supported Hillary can you just see the headlines about Chappaquidick all over again? But the media was silent when he threw his shoulder at Obama. This man was complicit in the death of a young girl then and did not notify authorities. She struggled for hours in an underwater car that he managed to escape from and he went to a hotel and slept. I mention this to show how silent the press was and is.

Isn’t anybody suspicious about this media complicity? All aboard the Hillary hate wagon and let’s all worship the untried and inexperienced Obama? Talk of brainwashing! Well, there are a few lone voices of reason out there.

I quote Erica Jong:

As a senator she has learned compromise and negotiation. She has gotten to know red America as well as blue. If she could win over the rednecks in upstate New York, she can win over any American. She knows this country is full of "security" moms as well as soccer moms. Since she is a woman, she has to show she's ready to be commander in chief. Hence her "triangulation" on Iraq and her signing the absurd Lieberman-Kyl resolution, which calls on our government to use "military instruments" to "combat, contain and [stop]" Iran's meddling in Iraq.
By the time it came up she must have known the Cheney-Bush war profiteers would never embrace even partial peace. She had to win over her America and theirs.
Who ever got elected in the United States without moving to the center? Not Ralph Nader the narcissist, nor Ross Perot the spoiler, nor certainly Adlai Stevenson the "egghead," nor Ronnie Reagan the red-baiter from Hollywoodland. Dubya presented himself as a "compassionate conservative" and our dopey press bought it. They inflicted him on us because they thought Al Gore was a nerd. The right-wing media barons happily smeared the better man for no good reason. Noam Chomsky predicted all this 25 years ago, when he said that the concentration of the media would rob us of real news.
It certainly has. We can read all we want about Britney, Paris, Heath, Tom Cruise, the Spice Girls and all their buds -- dead or alive -- but we can't read about how many children have been maimed in Iraq, or their dead and legless or armless mothers and fathers who were shocked and awed. But we know it's happening. And we feel the great weight of our complicity.


I look into my crystal ball and with dread, predict what’s going to happen to get the Republicans back into the White House and the 100 Year War promised by McCain.

Obama will win the nomination and then he will be torn limb from limb by the ravening hordes of the so-called impartial media. (Just remember what they did to Gore and Kerry!)

The brilliant attack dogs of the Right will begin the prolonged lynching:

· On his colour - why doesn’t he ‘own’ the white side of his family, his mother’s side?
· Why does he have the middle name ‘Hussein’? Isn’t that a Muslim name?
· Isn’t the black side of his family Muslim?
· Did he not attend a Muslim school?
· Isn’t he on the Muslim side of the war on terrorists?
· Isn’t this how the Muslims are coming after us here?
· His father has multiple wives.
· He is for legalizing drugs (marijuana)
· He was a drug user himself
· He has no experience in fixing the economy.
· He’s never been a manager.
· And on and on and much, much worse.

And who’s left standing after all of this: Good ol’ Vietnam Vet, 100-year-war waffling (on just about everything – check him out!) John McCain. Everyone’s grandpa. Bush's very own teddy bear.

And I’m praying I am so wrong on this but my intuition tells me I’m right on. Please let me be wrong.

{Sorry it is such a long post but I feel so strongly that the world is headed for such a monumental collision course!}

Friday, February 08, 2008

TGIF and a Joke to go with it!


In the fine tradition established by Grannymar, I decided to post a joke here to cheer us all up, particularly us snow-bound Torontonians. Enjoy!

You Don't Have To Own A Cat To Appreciate This One! You don't even have to like 'em!


We were dressed and ready to go out for the New Year's Eve Party.

We turned on a night light, turned the answering machine on, covered our pet parakeet and put the cat in the backyard.

We phoned the local cab company and requested a taxi.

The taxi arrived and we opened the front door to leave the house.

The cat that we put out in the yard, scoots back into the house.

We didn't want the cat shut in the house because she always tries to eat the bird.

My wife goes out to the taxi, while I went inside to get the cat.

The cat runs upstairs, with me in hot pursuit.

Waiting in the cab, my wife doesn't want the driver to know that the house will be empty for the night. So, she explains to the taxi driver that I will be out soon, "He's just going upstairs to say goodnight to my
mother."

A few minutes later, I get into the cab. "Sorry I took so long," I said, as we drove away. "That stupid bitch was hiding under the bed. I had to poke her with a coat hanger to get her to come out! She tried to take
off, so I grabbed her by the neck. Then, I had to wrap her in a blanket to keep her from scratching me. But it worked! I hauled her fat ass downstairs and threw her out into the back yard!"



The cab driver hit a parked car.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thank you!



Thanks to the most excellent blogger HULLABALOO for this unexpected little gift on this oh-so-stormy-snowy night in Toronto.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Drowning in our own Waste



I was alarmed to read this in The Independent today:

It seems that in the past year this plastic garbage swamp, floating in the Pacific, has grown from an area the size of Texas to an area twice the size of the continental U.S.A. .

Why should we be concerned?

Well, any seafood you eat is permeated with this crap. Not to mention the minced seafood fed to the ground that nice salad left and that roast chicken....?

The Use and Abuse of the English Language



Here's the rest of the story.

Now it could be me and the aging process but when I first saw this headline on BBC news today, no less, I immediately thought - is this some dreadful disease that has befallen the clergy of the Catholic Church? Or maybe they're just all aging into their declining years?

Wrong on both counts as it turns out. It seems that the numbers of clergy are on the decline.

Now what would you have assumed from the headline?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Gobsmack


Ski Dubai


Just when you think you've seen it all, there comes the time of the digital building, where you can watch both sunrise and sunset staring out the same window without moving from your chair:

Skyscraper with rotating floors.

Of course Dubai is also the city of indoor skiing. Why not have skiing in one of the hottest countries on the planet?

I have no idea what energy consumption is involved in all of this but I would venture that the enviromental footprint is mind-boggling.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Don Valley Parkway



The DVP at night, courtesy of The Toronto Star.

This great swoop of curving roadway was one of my first introductions to Canadian life. In the late sixties it was this sensuous flow of four lanes, divided in the middle by shrubbery and grasses bringing the inhabitants of suburbia to downtown Toronto. I had never seen anything like it in Ireland, it literally bewitched me. It was like every American movie come to life. The huge finned cars apeeding so carelessly along its smooth surface, their (AM)radios blaring The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

We were in a carpool for work, my husband and I, and we rode this exotic serpentine twice a day for a few years as we lived in Don Mills which was considered the outer limit of suburbia then. In the larger cars of those days, there were six of us. We all took turns with our cars and the week it was your turn you also paid for the parking which could amount to a whole dollar. We were all young and broke and shared our personal stories on the journeys back and forth. Not that there was much of a story to any of us as we were all so young and just starting out in independence of our parents.

Over the years the greenery in the middle was removed to make way for more lanes and an enormous expansion effort extended it to the new outer limits of suburbia.

Needless to mention, it has never kept up with the north-south traffic flow and is known by all as the Don Valley Parking Lot.

Because of where I live temporarily now, I am forced to use it, but thankfully not at rush hour (was there ever a more oxymoronic term than rush hour?)

There is a strong sense of deja-vu as I negotiate its twists and turns. I remember the old days of the car pool and where we picked up the other passengers. And I realize that was forty years ago. And how we've all lost touch. Some of us could be dead even.

The DVP has also got a reputation as being "haunted". Folklore has it that it was built along a native burial ground. This apparently explains why often a solo car will have a fatal accident, all by itself. Or two lone cars will crash into each other late at night when driving conditions are perfect. And far too many have suicided from the bridges that span it.

I get a little fanciful, thinking this could be symbolic of life itself, this DVP. The unreachable bridges overhead, carrying trains and other passengers. The depths of the river by its side, coming back through dedicated volunteers from being a dead river to a thriving and alive one. A trail has been added for joggers and cyclists and walkers by the riverside, hidden from the parkway overhead. A secret world.

I hear the summer heat presses a cloud of pollution down its whole length. Thankfully, I haven't witnessed that and I will be long gone back to Newfoundland by the time each summer rolls around.

But I do get the sense that the DVP and I are somehow intertwined in each other.

And this is my 110th Post. I missed announcing my 100th. Well, yay me!!!