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Friday, February 27, 2009

Barefoot, Pregnant and Get Back into the Irish Kitchen


When I first read this article in the Irish Times, I thought it was tongue-in-cheek. In this day and age, surely, the country of my birth could not possibly be advocating a return to repression and misogyny? Herewith an excerpt from the article:

"Of course there will always be a place in the world of business for exceptional women. Women also have an important role to play in jobs that are too demeaning for men, like teaching. But the general employment of women is another matter. Indeed, working women almost certainly caused the credit crunch by bringing a second income into the average household, pushing property prices up to unsustainable levels."

But now I see it being referenced in reputable blogs and by serious journalists and I rethink it may not be satirical at all.

Last time I looked, not one woman was mentioned in the Ponzi schemes and I was particularly taken by photos of all the male bankers, insurers and car manufacturers, caps in hand, approaching governments for obscene bailouts.

Oh, wait a minute, now I get it. It was women in drag, right?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wake Me When it's Over?


Most people I know and care about are currently in an enormous state of denial about the catastrophic economic upheaval in the world.

They walk around with their hands over their ears, their eyes fixed straight in front of them, the cliff face about 100 yards ahead, and keep saying nah-nah in a loud and piercing scream.

Even when faced with zero value portfolio statements from their broker/advisor, they refuse to listen to the advice they've asked of me and others who are a little more awake to the burgeoning crisis. Convert to cash? Convert to a 1% GIC? No, no, they bleat, the markets will pick up. I've already lost a ton, I can't afford to lose any more. Duh, I say. Duh.

Don't ask me then. Don't ask me what you should do about your house now worth $250,000 with a mortgage of $300,000. Don't ask me about the bargain of an SUV on the dealer's lot.

No, no, they say, hands over their ears again when I mention supermarket aisles with empty shelves, it's only temporary.

I hear of continuing unrest in Europe and read in the Irish Times a devastating article from the country of my birth and where many of my family still reside, all dismounting or been thrown from the Celtic Tiger that has stumbled and fallen and needs to be shot and put out of its terminal misery.

The province of Quebec has posted a loss for its provincial pension plan of 40 billion dollars (some sources say it's actually 46 billion). What do these pensioners live on now? It seems like no sacred financial trust was immune from drunken bankers crapshooting in Vegas with their retirement money.

Each day brings fresh reports of more misery, more losses, more fraud, more economic turmoil.

But hey, wait a minute: I read of a new industry that is doing incredibly well in the U.S. and growing in leaps and bounds:



Yes, the Trash-Out Industry, they go in on behalf of those drunken bankers to clear out the sad remains of the broken dreams of foreclosed houses.

This is the newest growth industry. Invest in that for high returns. If you can stand the stench. I know I couldn't.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Swimming in the Sea of Me(me)


Over at Nick's I was struck by his rare participation in a meme and also by the fact that us bloggy buddies can be so alike. So here goes my version of this:

I am: an outside of the box personality, hopelessly sentimental and optimistic, veering at an accelerated pace towards a world made by hand and from scratch. Never bored.

I want: more than anything: contentment and simplicity. I'm most content when by the ocean, with a good book or knitting or conversation, dinner cooking on the wood stove, vegetables growing in the meadow, fresh fish for tea and clothes flapping on the line.

I have: my own house with more than enough land around it, my own hill, a stream, a woodlot that will long outlast me, many friends of both genders, reasonably good health,and a mind that never lets me down.

I wish: there could be far less religion in the world and more compassion. And the #1 biggie: more empowerment for women in all aspects of their daily lives so that reproductive choices would be a non-issue. And biggie # 2: Respect given and received. As a matter of course.

I fear: Since childhood: nuclear annihilation and global destruction. Guns. Rage. Foaming at the mouth fundamentalists.

I search: for loving acceptance of others, a deeper spiritual grounding.

I wonder: And am awed by: the minescule, beautiful everyday things: a flock of Canada Geese in the sky so in harmony with each other and their surroundings, the budding of the trees every spring, the bulbs coming up. How the ocean feels between my toes, how my dog can read my mind, how life is more contented when I respond with love and not the old worn out reactions and perceptions.

I regret: Not working harder at my marriage by communicating more openly and freely. But overall, looking back, very little regrets. My life has made me what I am. And I like me.


I love: My daughters, my granddaughter, my nieces, my many friends. Newfoundland. Dark roast coffee in the morning. Opera. Good books. Paintings. Walking in the rain. Sailing on the ocean. Breathtaking scenery. So much more and: Being Alive.

I always: offer gratitude every single hour of every single day for my life, for the rich buffet it presents me, for being aware and in the now.

I usually: Take a few minutes every morning to meditate. And never miss a sunset, if possible.

I am not: a downer or jealous of anything you might have or are. A pessimist, a scrooge or rich.

I dance: whenever I feel like it. More of us should. I love dancing at a real dance when others can participate. Dancing would bring world peace if the rules of engagement dictated that people had to dance with each other before they declared war on each other.

I sing: at the drop of a hat and when asked or not asked. I hum annoyingly too. I love performing with a song.

I never: attend church, drink alcohol, overeat, go braless, ski, listen to rap, spectate at sports, gamble, do up your dishes or go shopping. Or take anything or anyone for granted.

I rarely: put limits on what I can do, shop for anything that isn't second hand or on line, take pharmaceutical medication or get hair cuts.

I cry: a lot but in private. Very seldom publicly. Though did recently.

I know: about alcoholism, eating disorders, denial, spirituality, forgiveness, responsibility and owning my own mistakes.

I need: more intellectual exchanges, to be more confident with who I am, to accept love more freely and to give it without expectations. To take myself less seriously. To laugh long and hard at myself when I get a little too pompous.

I should: I hate this word. I have a saying stuck to my mirror:
Please! Please! Please! Don't let me should on myself today!

Something for us oldies to ponder



H/T to Tessa over at Nuts & Mutton for this riveting clip of the state of our world and where we could possibly, maybe, uncertainly be going with it. Unlike some, I'm a little disappointed that I'll more than likely be checking out before we develop an easier relationship with technology.

And the thought of having a computer with a capacity that exceeds the combined intelligence of every inhabitant on the planet does frighten me. So maybe we are heading towards serfdom with artificial intelligence as our supreme being.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday Night 5.30 p.m. to 1.30 a.m.


Scene: Restaurant.

He: Oh you got here early.
Me: Yes
He: You should have called, come over to my place.
Me: I finished with the client early.

Chaste kiss.

He: Next time, let me know.
Me: Oh, I always have a book and also I have some workshop work. Ha.
He: You could do all that in my place.
Me: Well I wouldn’t, would I. We’d be too busy talking. Ha.
Intermission.

Share appetizer, dinner. Talk for 4 hours over 286 coffees.

He: Come back to my place now.
Me: OK.


Scene: His place.

Me (thinking): Gawd, he’s got my artwork on top of his stereo. Oh, look more over there on the bookshelf.
He: I love your artwork: see?
Me: I’m flattered
Me (thinking): Self: Can’t you think of something even remotely intelligent to say?
He: I’ll make tea, right?
Me: I’ll make it with you.

Intermission. Talk for another 2 hours. We never run out of conversation.

I need bathroom twice after 25 gallons of coffee and tea. He’s put out the guest towels. Sweet.

Me: I should get home, it’s late, the snow stopped.

He: I’d like if you stayed longer.

Me: I should go.

He: OK then.


Chaste kiss.

Me: Driving away.

He: Waving at door.

Me (thinking): Did I miss any cues? Should I have stayed on? How does one convert a chaste kiss to something else? Was that up to me or up to him?


If it was meant to be it would have happened, right?

Posted Later:
Thank you so much Twilight for this lovely award:


Now hung proudly in my hallway at the left.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dolphin Update



This montage of photos by Joan Borden shows the attempt of five Seal Cove residents to rescue ice-stranded dolphins in their community. (Courtesy of Joan Borden)
Note: Click to embiggen for all photos of this.

Distressed by the suffering of a group of trapped dolphins, men in a small Newfoundland outport took matters into their own hands on Thursday and cut a path through ice in a bay.

The crew claims three dolphins — five of the mammals had been seen earlier this week in a small patch of open water near Seal Cove, White Bay, on the island's northeast coast — made it out safely to another area. The four men and a teenage boy counted four dolphins in the water when they started their effort, which involved towing one of the creatures with rope.

{Read more here at CBC News}

The downside of all this is that these efforts may have done more harm than good but it is hard not to sympathize with the 'rescuers' who couldn't take the crying of the dolphins any more and did everything in their power to release them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another Icy Post



These dolphins came in to feed in Seal Cove, a bay not too far from where my home is in Newfoundland. Advancing ice has trapped them. Many great minds have been brought to bear on finding a solution to save them.

I find it so, so heart wrenching. Their panicked cries at night haunt the inhabitants of the area.



Dolphins are one of the closest mammals to our species and have a language all their own and are extraordinarily playful. They frolicked with our boat this past summer. At times they appeared to be laughing. They were far too quick for my camera as evidenced by the picture above!

Apparently an icebreaker could do more harm than good.

All are praying that the ice melts before it is too late.

Dissonance


Is there anyone else out there suffering from an excess of dissonance these days?

I know I am.

1. When I hear endless wittering about the bailouts solving the whole problem of the economy which hit rigor mortis over a year ago but was burnished and paraded around like the corpse of Eva Peron until even the true believers began to question the heavy makeup.

2. When I hear bleating from the automobile manufacturing sector about unfair competition from Japan when they themselves killed the electric car, oh, 20 years ago.

3. When I hear of the bailouts of the obscene bankers, the ones who are so removed from any semblance of human compassion and who got us all into this sad and sorry mess to begin with.

4. When I hear of the bailouts for ‘responsible’ homeowners. Who determines who’s responsible, pray tell? Push button two for corruption in the making.

5. When I hear the fading yelps of the Obamabots telling the rest of us cynics that there is still hopey changey in the air. In spite of all evidence to the contrary.

6. When I hear our prime minister, Stephen Harper- aka Bush-Lite – finally giving green energy some lip service in the light of Barack Obama’s visit and his feigned interest in same. Two emperors wearing no clothes for the price of one.

7. When I see absolutely no MSM reporting on the bankruptcy of California – IOUs issued in lieu of tax refunds to its citizens, 55,000 prisoners released to the streets for lack of funds to feed and house them, and oh yeah, some of the citizen journalist reports where I read this have been, yup, deleted. But you can read much about it here in The Independent

8. See: I watch California for the canary in the goldmine that it is, its disease will sweep across the US, gobbling Canada in its wake and then on and over to Europe which is already in its death throes.

9. I see absolutely no emergency preparations being made by Thems Wot Rules Us. Except here in Ontario where, for over a year now, we have been exhorted to have our emergency survival kits at hand.

10. Maybe we’ll be one of the few places that won’t turn on TWRU in primitive savagery when civilization collapses around us.


Enough already, you get my point. But honestly, my head hurts. Most of the time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cracking Through the Ice



On December 30th, 2008, we took the ferry from Riviere du Loup to San Simeon in Quebec, across the mighty St. Lawrence river. A far, far different experience than it is in the bright heat of summer.

I took this picture of the still white and grey landscape with frozen boats, remarkably monochromatic, as we waited to board the ferry. Devoid of the bright colours of summer, but still hauntingly beautiful.



Travelling through the icefield, the engines of the ferry were muffled underneath the cracking sounds of the ice splitting in ever expanding seams from the prow of the boat, widening out to the horizon and then folding in once more behind us covering our freezing trail.

A remarkable experience.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bastable

There’s something about this picture that’s very important.

It’s about continuity.
It’s about tradition.
It’s about laughter.

It’s about engaging all the senses:
See (me do this)
Touch (the ingredients)
Feel (the light dough between your fingers)
Listen (to the timer on the stove)
Smell (fresh baking).
Taste (fresh from the oven)

It’s about love.

Last night I showed my granddaughter (who's fourteen) what my grandmother showed me:

How to make a Bastable (sometimes spelled Bastible) Cake.

So my grandmother made it in a black lidded pot and hung it on the hook over the open fire.

So I made it in a fancy square pan and baked it in a state of the art modern oven.

But the aroma was the same. The taste was the same.

And the love? What do you think?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


And here's the recipe as I can find no reference on the web, not a Wiki nor a dictionary entry. The name of the cake is taken from the bastable oven, a cast iron covered pot, used in Co. Cork where I was born and raised.

Bastable Cake
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces butter
½ cup sugar (generous measure)
1 egg, beaten
¼ to ½ cup milk raw or sour.
2 – 3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Raisins and nuts and/or dried fruit
1 teaspoon cinnamon or cloves(optional)
1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt, to glaze

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your hands. Add about 1/3 cup of the sugar, the egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Divide the dough into two pieces. Put one piece onto a greased ovenproof plate or pan (or use greased 8 inch cake tin), and pat out with floured fingers to cover the plate or pan.

Arrange the chopped sweetmeats and cinnamon on top of the dough and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Add more sugar if the apples are very tart. Roll out the remaining dough and cover the top. (This is easier said than done, as the dough is like a scone dough and is very soft). Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, and brush with the egg wash. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven. If using a cake tin, carefully slip the cake out. Cool on a wire rack for 5 – 10 minutes. Dredge with more sugar and serve with soft brown sugar and good heavy cream.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Please Take Momentous Back!



This is my 300th blog post. July 2005 was when I first put finger tips on keyboards and started this great adventure. I thank everyone for commenting, for emailing privately, for engaging with such enthusiasm, inspiring me over and over again to write and to vent, to whine and to laugh.

And speaking of all of the above:

Guess what I read in the Montreal Gazette today:

George W. Bush to speak in Calgary

Canwest News ServiceFebruary 13, 2009

Former United States president George W. Bush is coming to Calgary for his first confirmed speaking event since leaving office last month. The private event, billed as "A Conversation with George W. Bush," is to be held March 17 at the Telus Convention Centre. Bush is to share his "thoughts on his eight momentous years in the Oval Office," according to the event material. About 1,500 people are expected to attend.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette


Now listen up, Americans. We really are well over our quota in village idiots running around in our own government up here. We don't need yours.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And, thank you, Irene, for the latest trophy in my hallway!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

To Look Forward~


Inspired by Gaye's post, I was reminded of my father who had always maintained that life was never worth living unless you had something to look forward to.

And I said to myself after I read Gaye's post, I am one lucky woman. I have so much to look forward to this year!

Now I should make clear that I am very much an advocate of living in the moment, and I do. I am terrifically present in each and every moment of my life and savour each day, good, bad or indifferent as the treasure it is. To be healthy is a bonus. To hang out with my daughter and granddaughter as we did tonight was such fun, chewing over some stories, some books, some films, some websites and the dire condition of our little planet. And eating lobster bisque. My father taught me: one never drinks soup, one eats it. One never cuts a bread roll, one breaks it. I could make a book of such admonitions. But I'll spare you.

To look forward~

Me: I have my Annual Ladies' Brunch this Sunday. It starts at 11 and finishes oh, maybe at the other 11. We sit around the table and nibble away at all the goodies and entertain each other. And it's like that old saying: the Irish never have a conversation, they just sit around and monologue at each other. And what's wrong with that, pray tell? Not that everyone's Irish. I count my daughter as Irish as she was conceived in Dublin. My 92 year old friend was born in Donegal but emigrated to Canada when she was 4. But she still counts her numbers in Irish. And some of the rest are Irish born but most are from England or Scotland or Canadian. One was born in the U.S. in New York as her parents transitioned from London, England to London, Canada.

To look forward~

And then in early May I head back to Newfoundland, I love that road trip, with all the snow gone and the days longer and the trees bursting into green song, and the first sight of the ocean in New Brunswick springing up blue on the horizon as the dog raises her nose to the window and takes a huge lungful of the ozone. Me too.

To look forward~

And then in June, and this is the big one, I'm going to Dublin to spend some time with a very sick friend and after that, after that, I'm going to Paris.

Paris. It's been over 40 years since I left her. Has she changed? Did she move anything on me? Do the dogs still poop on the footpaths? Is her wine still cheaper than her Coca-Cola? I'm going to miss her Gauloises that I used to smoke so languidly in her cafes avec mon cafe au lait. (If I'd continued l'affaire with Mr. Gauloise I wouldn't be going back, now would I?) And her Seine, still filthy? And her Versailles, still breathtaking?

Oh, I do go on. I'll stop now.

Monday, February 09, 2009

R*E*S*P*E*C*T


{on a cold winter day, I go back to the bay - photo by me}

My last post caused a bit of a stir. And engaged some of my commenters with each other rather than directly with me. Which is all fine and good.

But what struck me most forcibly and has for a few days now, was the complaint that I didn’t offer solutions to the problematic Proposition 8 approval in California and to the other long list of ills that faces the new president, Mr. Obama.

Solutions?

They can be all boiled down to one word:

RESPECT.

(1)
How about that from here on in that the U.S.A. offers respect to all the other sovereign countries of the world. That respect would begin by not invading them ever again.
And to those they have invaded without cause or reason:
Huge whopping apologies for the genocides and the horrific destruction with a sincere effort to rebuild the mess and compensation for resources stolen and private property annihilated.

(2)
How about from here on in that the U.S.A. offers respect and equality to all of its citizens and not base it on gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. And by not forgetting the marginalized aboriginal peoples or the 25% of Americans who declare themselves atheist or agnostic. Starting with perhaps the Oath of Office, an affirmation of the separation of church and state and certainly not a gloating in-yer-face assertion of Christian domination of all belief systems.

(3)
How about respect for the planet itself, our fragile eco-system that can no longer sustain the burdens of over-population and the relentless plundering of her finite resources: water, oil, minerals, animals, fish, etc. How about being the world’s leader in an effort to halt the pollution, the mono-agriculture, the flagrant waste of rampant consumerism?

(4)
How about not bailing out the banks, the insurance companies, the auto manufacturers who have raped and pillaged the hard workers of the U.S.A. How about revitalizing the electric car, sustainable community living, 21st century public transit, community organic gardening?

(5)
How about universal health care that would embrace each and every citizen of the U.S.A, and not just the wealthy?

(6)
How about correcting a system that sees 5% (the highest in the WORLD) of its citizens incarcerated for idiotic petty crimes.

(7)
How about admitting that out of control capitalism doesn’t work, has never worked, will never work. How about working together to find a system that does?

Starting with RESPECT?

And speaking of respect: has anyone else noticed that the news commentators on CNN, MSNBC, et al, refer to the new president as “Obama” while continuing to refer to the last as “Mr. Bush.” A small point, but telling.

And a great big thank you to Tessa for my latest award, shown on the sidebar and here!


- and I pass it on to these five wonder-women:

Irene
Twilight
Gaye
Brighid
Laura

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Grow up, America!


"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

The passing of Proposition 8 in California invalidates the formerly legal 18,000 marriages that took place prior to the passing of this outrageously regressive and discriminatory bill.

I defy anyone to watch this video and not cry for the innocent victims of the idiotic Fundy Filosofee backed by government charitable status tax breaks and most notably headed by the lying Mormon Church. One thing all these Fundy churches have in common is their enthusiastic participation in the World's Greatest Liar Contest. (Recent contestant: the denying of the holocaust by Il Papa. .)

These patriarchal guardians of all the world's wombs and their contents also conveniently disregard the innocent children of the unions of such partnerships in the selective amnesia of their outlandish cultish belief system.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual. None of the real issues of the day are fondled - poverty, homelessness, lack of health care, infant mortality, world's worst incarcerations, water and food crises and national bankruptcy.

But, as always, where one places one's naughty bits is a matter of top global priority.

Monday, February 02, 2009

February 3rd, 1959



{What I particularly enjoy about this rendition are the audience in the background who stand stock still while Buddy rocks!!}

You never think you’re going to live long enough to say:
“Imagine - fifty years ago, it’s like it was yesterday.”
Well, I have and it is.

I still remember where I was on February 3rd, 1959, when the news of Buddy Holly’s death in an aircrash came over the airwaves. He was 22 years old. I was sitting in the dining room doing my homework with Radio Luxembourg on really, really low so my father couldn’t hear it in the front room. Radio Luxembourg was banned in our house as Rock ‘N Roll was the work of the devil. I had to muffle my shock and the ensuing tears at the tragic news.

I absolutely loved and adored Buddy Holly. Still do.

He made all nerds look cool.

I knew all the lyrics to “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll be the day” and “It doesn’t matter anymore” was and is still one of my favourite songs of all time.

Every heartbreak I ever had, Bud’s voice would come into my ears, I’d hear the pizzicato violins, dah-dah-diddy-dah, and I’d start up:

There you go and baby here am I
Well you left me here so I could sit and cry
Golly gee what have you done to me
Well I guess it doesn't matter anymore

Do you remember baby last September
How you held me tight each and every night
Oh baby how you drove me crazy
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore

There's no use in me a-crying
I've done everything now I'm sick of trying
I've thrown away my nights
Wasted all my days over you

Now you go your way baby and I'll go mine
Now and forever till the end of time
I'll find somebody new and baby
We'll say we're through
And you won't matter anymore

There's no use in me a-crying
I've done everything now I'm sick of trying
I've thrown away my nights
Wasted all my days over you

Now you go your way baby and I'll go mine
Now and forever till the end of time
And I'll find somebody new and baby
We'll say we're through
And you won't matter anymore
No you won't matter anymore
You won't matter anymore




And it never failed to cheer me up. Thank you, Buddy.