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Monday, June 30, 2008

Shrug


I read a sci-fi story years ago where these aliens came to earth and landed in California.

They were amazed at how we hurtled around, locked inside chunks of steel which had no defence mechanisms in place so that when we crashed we often died spectacularly in the wreckage.

With their superior intellect they could see the San Andreas fault line and were equally stunned that earthlings would consciously live in an area that could slide into the sea without any warning.

I wonder what these aliens would make of today, where, through our excessive and unconscionable consumption of carbon-based fuel, we have now created an iceless north pole. Open water in the north pole! A north pole we can boat across!

And are Big Gov and Big Corp concerned? Very. They are wondering how to access the minerals and maybe – hallelujah!- the oil trapped beneath.

Where are we going and why are we in a handbasket?

Friday, June 27, 2008

WHAT BREED OF LIBERAL ARE YOU?

Ah, another fun quiz (and my result below)~~

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How does my garden grow?



My potato trench with the stockpile of winter wood in the background.


Gee, I get depressed reading this today from the WaHoPo. Seems like the Central Intelligence Agency (BTW, I count 3 oxymorons in that last!) is getting alarmed about Climate Change as it can threaten the U.S. military installations around the world with the projected marauding hordes of starving populations, particularly in Africa.

Climate change will also affect immigration security, etc., for the U.S.

Is this what it takes to start waking everyone up?

And, as always, it all goes back to I can only take care of my own little section of the planet and here it is again:

And a closeup of my potatoes - organic, fertilized with seaweed off the shore in front of the house. I can't recall when I've last been this damn proud.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Howling at the Moon


James Henson

I see the leading climate change scientist of our time James Henson wants to put all the major oil companies on trial for their deceptions and manipulations of climate change data resulting in high crimes and misdemeanours against humanity.It appears that we are beyond the tipping point.

Pope Benedict

In another surreal outburst the Pope has decreed that only the pure of heart can receive communion. If one is divorced, one is not pure of heart. If one is a former member of the Youth Nazis in Germany, one is pure of heart.


Celine Dion


More like a screech at the moon to my ears. (Sorry fans out there!) She has won an award for the worst cover of all time - for screaming AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long

George W. Bush

In a downhome and folksy move, The Occupant is considering opening a U.S. office in Iran, a sort of a reachout to the youth of the country endeavour. Iran "sticks out too much", he maintains, now that Iraq is all tidied up and cosy. But he wants it made clear, see, it's not a softening of policy. What a relief!

Mayan King Pakal

Researchers are now saying that the previously held belief of a sudden ending to the Mayan civilization is untrue. They believe that it was a series of disasters and catastrophes that ended the dynasty over a period of perhaps two hundred years. Much like what is happening today, I expect.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Jumping the Shark


I imagine most are familiar with the term Jumping the Shark. That is the episode in a favourite and admired TV Series where it all starts to go downhill.

I'm getting a strong whiff of this from the Obama campaign.

He had the gall (on top of his "sweetie" remarks to a female reporter a month ago) to tell HRC supporters this:

"According to Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Obama then said, "However, I need to make a decision in the next few months as to how I manage that since I'm running against John McCain, which takes a lot of time. If women take a moment to realize that on every issue important to women, John McCain is not in their corner, that would help them get over it."


And get this: from Barack Obama's blog, posted by one of his supporters on how to handle HRC and not taken down by the blog administrator.

Just slit her throat, lock her in a car boot, and drive the car into a river in West Virginia.

Ain’t gonna let no whore screw with the man


Pro HRC comments are removed from his blog whereas the above and many more of a similar sickening vein remain.

And just in case anyone has forgotten, BO steamed into town with the following declaration:



This is not looking good for the world.

Oh yeah, and he voted to let the telecommunication companies implicit in unauthorized spying on private citizens off the hook, and continue surveillance without cause.

Are any of the Obamabots coming out of their coma of CHANGE?

WHAT COMIC BOOK CHARACTER ARE YOU?

FUN STUFF, HAT TIP SHAKESPEARE'S SISTER


Your results:
You are Spider-Man
























Spider-Man
85%
Batman
70%
Supergirl
60%
Green Lantern
60%
Iron Man
55%
Superman
50%
Wonder Woman
50%
Robin
50%
The Flash
50%
Catwoman
40%
Hulk
30%
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blog Jam


Sunset on the Bay, taken by me


10 LOVES

(1) I love the way my dog does a stately paddle in the sea every night. Just for the sheer joy of it. Head thrown back and this grin on her face. She lets the hair of her belly just touch the water and she lifts her paws high, throwing me an eager eyeball: try it oh two footed one, just try it!
(2) I love the way we all left the community hall after cards last night. It was after ten. We stopped suddenly, as one, and looked at the remains of the maroon sunset striking the still water like a paintbrush below us. My, said Myra who is 91, isn't it grand to be alive? Grand indeed.
(3) I love the way the conductor of a fabulous youth choir Shallaway was spontaneously invited into an Ireland-Newfoundland meeting I was at today and cried as she talked of how her dream became reality and her choir now tours the world.
(4) I love how I rush about tidying up and rectifying really bad areas of my house before the cleaning lady gets here tomorrow.
(5) I love watching the boat building across the bay and how they water tested this large vessel they were working on this evening with all these other little boats running around it. Like a mother duck with ducklings.
(6) I love the smell of the fresh mown grass and the forget-me-nots that are everywhere around the house.
(7) I love how my value has risen in the village because I now have a potato trench with actual potato plants pushing up through it.
(8) I love how certain friends 'get me' as I 'get them'. It is so easy to talk to them. Like shorthand for soulmates.
(9) I love how I'm beginning to tell tomorrow's weather by the colour and condition of the water in the bay tonight.
(10) I love the feeling of this old book that arrived today from the states. Thanks to Abe Books.
It is called "Newfoundland and its Untrodden Ways", a 1907 tome by J.G. Millais that I have wanted for a long, long time. It is bound in red leather and comes from Stanford University Library. Gorgeous doesn't do it justice. It has many old, old photographs and maps and drawings, some worth framing if I can get good copies.
I quote from one paragraph near the beginning:

"St. John's is a quiet old-world place, something between a Canadian town and a Norwegian fishing village. On one side of the beautiful harbour are endless codflakes and a few sealing vessels, and on the other is the main town, built on the side of a steep hill, where electric trams and lights add the one jarring note; but the whole atmosphere of the place is charming and without noise. They discourage the American spirit there, and the man who wants to hustle soon breaks his heart. Business men stroll down to their offices at ten o'clock, and have always time for a cigar and a chat."


I am looking forward to tucking into the rest of it. The interior of Newfoundland, the vast unknown, has always intrigued me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

FLASHBACK


In light of a fresh onslaught of gay bashing reported in the media, I bring you the following:

I was having a lovely evening, having dinner with two of my favourite people – a gay couple I love and respect.

We used my car to get to and from the restaurant and I dropped them off on the street opposite their apartment which happened to be plonk in the middle of Church Street – aka ‘Gaytown,' Toronto

As they were crossing the street in front of my car, another car passed with four yahoos hanging from the windows.

“Faggots!” they screamed at my friends.
“Bum-fuckers!” they yelled.

The rest was unprintable.

My friends neither acknowledged them or even let on they had heard but carried on walking, holding hands, heading into their building.

I called them from my cell phone, I was so upset I was crying. These are good people, kind, caring, volunteering, tax-paying citizens. They’d take my previous dog on vacation with them when I went on my annual trip to Ireland. They’d bring photo albums back of her adventures while in the Maritimes. And she always arrived home with a new dog collar, usually loud pink, usually rhinestoned.

“My god!” I said to them, “Are you guys OK? Did you hear that? I’d like to kill those bastards!”

“Oh, relax,” said Jim, “It’s alright. It happens all the time. You get used to it.”

And what Jim said is what resonates with pain for me all these years later.

Added later:
sorry for the mixup on the comments section and thanks to everyone for reading and commenting!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Rules of Life---Part Eight


The Dream Book

I thought to wind the series up with this post. I could add a lot more of my ‘rules' but won’t for the sake of brevity.

Interestingly enough, I’ve been receiving a few private emails on this series and I’m only too happy to offer a compassionate ear and a sharing of my own life story. I never deem to give advice as everyone’s journey is so different and it’s always a question of finding one’s own way through life with the answers rolling in of their own accord.

At least that’s how it was for me.

I call them the 2 X 4’s of life – and I’ve been thwacked over the head by them on more than one occasion. There’s nothing like pain to grab my attention and force me to change – my outlook, attitude and circumstances.

I started to write an observation book one time on this whole concept of clinging – whether it is to a person, a place, or stuff. Or pre-conceived ideas. I’ve seen the clinger cling so tight to the ‘clingee’ that it either literally or metaphorically explodes. I’ve seen people stay in unhappy partnerships and heard both sides of the reasons. Which don’t amount to a hill of beans really but involve keeping him or her ‘happy’ or ‘secure’ while the other partner says the same thing. And there you have it – two desperately unhappy people clinging for dear life to the false concept of each other’s happiness until the whole thing implodes, as it inevitably does.

I had a dear friend clinging to her house as it represented the only security she had. She couldn’t afford to take a holiday or go to the theatre as any spare change went to paying down the mortgage. Then her house caught fire with the insurance company paying for the fortune in repairs less the deductible. This was followed within a year by the house being flooded. All the new ceramic tiles peeled off the walls and the floors like yesterday’s newspaper.

At this point she said f*** it. I’m just going to have a good time. And she did. And she’s never been happier.

In my time I clung to dreadful jobs and desperate relationships, friends who betrayed me and poor real estate choices. I would take care of you long before I would take care of me. I slowly learned that life was not about clinging to stuff but about realizing dreams. And the amazing thing was that the dreams didn't have to cost much materially and most were actually free.

About fifteen years ago I heard of the concept of The Dream Book. One buys a large blank journal and proceeds to go through it all page by page, each page headed with a dream. No matter how silly, infantile or hopeless seeming.

I felt a little foolish, taking all those pages and listing a dream on each one, some were childish, some were what I thought impossible.

Part of the process is on the first day of each month I go through each and every single dream and if there has been an effort to achieve even a minuscule part of that dream I write it down. It reinforces my belief that anything, literally anything can happen to make these private ephemeral thoughts come closer to a reality.

For instance, one of my pages said “Write”. I hadn’t written anything apart from my journal since high school.

I followed this with what I had written, where I had submitted it and then my first publication about ten years ago as a columnist in an Irish magazine.

Then my short story collection was picked up by a publisher, my cards were ready for sale, I had a win in a recent Irish poetry competition and a recent request from a new paper here to do a column for them. I write all these things down on the page to reinforce the power of the dream once it gets focussed on every month and then making room for it to move into my life.

Another page said “Open Up Kitchen”. I’d always had these tiny hemmed in kitchens and I love to cook. So I saved my money and a couple of years before I sold the Toronto house I had a wall taken down to open up the kitchen. And one of the first jobs I had done in this old house was to, yes: you guessed it, take down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. It’s symptomatic of opening up my life.

You get the idea. I’ve a hundred dreams (for now) in all stages of development and on a bad day I can look inside the book and realize, hey, there is some magic after all, I did run that marathon in my fifties!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blog Jam


"Spindrift" by friend Tom Sears.

I am startled sometimes by how full life is and how unexpected the surprises that come my way.
I was invited to a workshop on Thursday, held in a community hall about 150K from here, given by a very inspiring, and as it turns out, quite well known U.S. professor, author, lecturer John McKnight. He had much to say on community development and enrichment, enough to give me an article to write.
He was succint in his analysis of the difference between Canadians and Americans. He said he was astounded to see workshops advertised on the Chicago transit system on how to become "Americanized". He said could you imagine that here, in Canada? And we all laughed at the idea of how to become "Canadianized". Here, he said, you celebrate differences, which is what community is all about. And he then proceeded to share with us how we could improve on that. What made successful communities (less government, more associations) and how to make it all come about.
The event was catered by volunteers who provided a marvellous homemade lunch and endless coffee and tea. Through the windows we could see the crab catches being hauled in by the fishers, the many boats on the water, an iceberg floating on the horizon. On the wall was a huge banner outlining the twenty one reasons it was the best place in Canada in which to live (#7: most eligible bachelors per capita. Me: Where are they?!)
Yesterday I was invited to a BBQ, a last minute kind of thing, everybody was involved in the food preparation and the meal was wonderful. I was startled to ascertain that a most attractive couple who were there were refugees from Iraq, she's an engineer and he is now the local doctor in an outport. We talked of emigration and invasion of sovereign territory and the distinct line that bifurcates your life when you cut your ties with the past and forge a new life in a distant land.
They were an extraordinarily articulate and intelligent couple and meeting them took the devastation of Iraq to an up close and personal level.
Today I took the day off and attended a new farmer's market, a short classical concert, Musica Terraqua, at The Rooms and read (and finished) Jodi Picoult's "Change of Heart". A modern metaphorical messianic tale. I like Picoult's unusual novels. I recommend this one.
Tomorrow it's back to a slew of work that has arrived here and needs urgent attention, playtime officially over.

Monday, June 02, 2008

An Farraige (The Sea) (La Mer)



Off Signal Hill, St. John's, NL, May 2008


The power of the sea awes me. Always has.
At times, I feel her running through my bones. Calling me down.*
I live by her now. When I’m away from her I miss her like a lover.
I love skimming across her in a sailboat, the slap of her waves on the sides, the flap of the sails above, the cawk of seagulls in the distance and reaching over the side to touch her silence.
I love leaning out over the deck of the ferry, any ferry, and seeing her below, the trailing white wake churning behind. The prow slicing the blue depths ahead. Then, later, she rocks me to sleep in my cabin.
I love the power of her iceberg that can pull down a Titanic, and end up innocently, in a small bay (picture above, taken May 31, 2008) slowly unfolding into her mother’s arms.
I love her greed, taking away even more of the shoreline from here, altering headlands and laneways.
I love the gifts she carries, the smooth wood, the clamshells, the feathers, the kelp, the shifting stones.
I love her fury, her temper roaring behind a wall of storming water.
I love how she plays with me, wrestles with me, carries me like a baby.
I love her bounty, the sea creatures she offers us.
I love her white horses, often racing by my window, manes flying.
I love when the fog rolls in and she immediately turns a welcoming grey.
I love the sparkling diamonds of her as she rolls around on a sunny day.
I love how she responds to the moon, her mother, running to meet her, then flouncing off for another adventure.
I love how she has given us life.
And how she can take it away if we continue to insult her.





*
Sea-Fever
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's likea whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
John Masefield