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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Inner Girl Comes out to Play


Well, I decided I needed a massive makeover.

I got a little tired of the chignon on the back of the head look, the wise aging crone thing was becoming rather tiresome to me.

Inside lurked this young girl, shame no one could see her but me.

I looked at the physical assets I still had:

Thick hair, though greying, not a bad thing I should add, but boring, oh so boring.

Laughing blue eyes.

Breasts. I’m serious. Many of my friends have had life saving surgeries on theirs. Some have had double mastectomies.

OK, I sez to self. What have you always wanted and never had?

Red hair, I responded, an outrageous never existed in nature red, kinda spikey but not that awful shaved look some older women get, moussed messy but with a bit of a hang to it.

Ah g’wan, go for it, sez I to I.

So I did.

Cut it all off, sez I to the delighted shearstress. And dye it the brightest red in the books.

That got everyone’s attention in the salon. They all gathered around me.

Two hours later and we all admire me in the many mirrors about. No mistaking this red. Fire engines would be jealous. I toss my head experimentally. Gawd, but it’s been ages since I tossed my head.

Next on the agenda:
Where the grandgirl buys her clothes. I know they have purple trousers because she bought a pair there. Thank Maude she doesn’t read this blog.

The purple pants are just bloody awesome, I can’t believe what they do for me with the red hair. And I find a purple top with lace, tight, that frames the décolleté. How many years since I had décolleté I ask myself? And what a gorgeous word that is. I must use it again.

Then a long black cardigan to give a tiny nod to the granny status. It looks thoroughly amazing with all the purple and the red. I can swoop about in that, opened like a cape of course, you wouldn’t want to miss the décolleté and the funky pockets all over my pants.

Then a new eye shadow that matches my eyes. To girl me up a little more. And why not the sapphire blue mascara. And oh yeah, the red eyebrow thingy to match my new hair. And some spectacular lipstick.

I haven’t felt this well put together in bloody years.

I just might go back for the orange pants.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea Arthur Dead at 86



I was saddened to read of Bea Arthur's death today at the age of 86.

I loved her in "Maude" a ground-breaking feminist show and her timing and drollness were impeccable in "The Golden Girls".

Thanks for the memories, Bea. I always harboured a secret dream that you were my mother in a former life.

Bull in an China Irish Shop



A bull filmed rampaging around a supermarket after escaping from a cattle market has put a small town in the west of Ireland on the international map.


CCTV footage from the security cameras in Cummins' SuperValu store in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, put on YouTube has been viewed by thousands of people around the world.

Mr Cummins praised his staff for their calm reaction to the incident. "They were excellent."

One staff member, Helen McDonnell, said: "I could smell the bull and when he was charging out again I never moved so fast in my life."

The bull was later recaptured and returned to the cattle market.


Read all about it here.

Everyone was OK including the bull, successfuly restored to the farmer's herd.

And call me weird, but I always worry so much about the poor, frightened animal in these situations.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Drop, Kick



Mr. Obama, in a ground breaking meeting yesterday with the credit card executive wankers, dictated the terms of how they would conduct business in the future with their clients and demanded transparency, reasonable interest rates, fully disclosed fees and no fine print on any of their documents.

He reduced them to stenographers.

Hell, yeah!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Please: Can We Stop Already?


I find it incredibly sad as a human being on this tiny planet of ours that so many of us show extreme intolerance and hatred for people of colour and people of other sexual orientations.

These views are inevitably passed on to the children in our care, who then turn around and start harassing classmates at school.

The child of 11 that you see above was the victim of endless, daily bullying and anti-gay taunts.

He chose the final way out. He killed himself. His 10 year old sister found him.
His family had moved to Atlanta only last year.

The suicide of Jaheem comes just after the death of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a sixth-grader in Springfield, Mass., who hanged himself after relentless antigay bullying.

I grieve these innocent children and their suffering families.

This rings very close to home for me as I have a nephew who was bullied and insulted with gay epithets every day of his school life.

I wrote a post a while back about 2 dear gay friends of mine who have become immune to the endless catcalling.

When on earth is it going to stop? When will sexual orientation and skin colour and gender be totally irrelevant to our lives?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For My Wonderful Daughter

My daughter's had a practically unbearable past week, I said to her if you wrote it all down no one would believe the amount of ill health, stress, sadness and grief you've had to bear. But bear it she did and we both escaped from our lives to have dinner together last night. It's important to celebrate our survival skills. For in spite of the odds we come out ahead with a teary grin sometimes.

I imagine the poem and the picture I took in the garden on Saturday will resonate with her. It certainly does with me.


I took the last of your flowers
And wrapped them in a blue cloth
And laid them on the chair
That still bears
The ghost of your body.
You sat there, fingers steepled
Under your chin as if to give
More importance to the words
That came out of you, all
Weighted with your ending.
While mine were just beginning.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chairs-In-Waiting

I took this picture in June of 2006 in the little town of Brigus in Newfoundland. It was raining that day and I loved how the moisture laden light gave an almost ethereal look to this garden with the colourful Muskoka chairs. That same day I wrote a poem about the chairs. I also use the picture as my avatar - I really don't know why - maybe it is the fact I'm always open for anyone to pull their chair up and enjoy a good conversation or sit in silence and bide-a-while.



Chairs-in-Waiting


Today it was like this.
They hovered
On the flagstones
Sighing sibilantly
Before sinking stolidly
Onto serpentine seats
Their satisfaction
Spiralling smokily
Into the garden silence.
Strong black laden trays
Swooping amongst them,
Mocking the gaudy colours
Of the solid Muskokas
That Leona had painted
One wild summer
Before they harnessed
Her spirit and bled her
Away and electrified
Her into a Mrs. Kirby
With six children
Somewhere in Slane.
No one had ever thought
To leach the chairs back
To a woodly state of being.
No one had ever thought
To ask after Leona Kirby.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cry Me A River



Only 1000 copies of this charity recording by Susan Boyle were made in 1999 for a local Scottish newspaper The Daily Record. I guess they'd better start pressing, oh, maybe a few million more?

Goose bumps. Stunning.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dog Post


Everyone who knows me either virtually or in reality recognizes I have the best dog in the world. Her name is Ansa, aka The Wonder Dog. 90% collie, 9% husky and 1% everything else. She's also a rescue and has lived with me 4 years now.

I haven't been very well in the last while so am not up to our usual long walks but fortunately there is a field not too far from here where I can let her off leash so she can romp and chase with other dogs and work off her boundless energy. I was there last night and there were other owners and dogs there. I had realized for some time that Ansa has developed an almost human way of communicating with me.

For instance, in the morning I always say to her when I wake up, "good morning, Ansa" and she responds in a triple yaw-yaw-yaw sound that I've thought of as her way of saying it back to me. Likewise when the phone rings she'll get into a rumbling type of yaw-yaw as if imitating me, often coming over to lie on my feet as I'm on the phone, yaw-yawing away to herself as if fully participating in the phone call.



I didn't realize how totally unusual this was until yesterday evening when in between bouts of gambolling with the other dogs she'd veer over to me for a few minutes, sit in front of me and yaw-yaw as if telling me all about her exploits with the doggie pals.



The other owners were astounded. My god - she talks, they said, she tells you everything!




I didn't tell them that it works both ways.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Need a good larf?


Photo courtesy of New York Times

George W. Bush Policy Institute

Yes, you read correctly. Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Dan Bartlett,Michael Gerson, and George W. Bush himself will brainstorm this new venture.

Next week in Dallas for a whole day the former gang (with the exclusion of Dick "Darth Vadar" Cheney, who condemned Dumbya in the last days of the administration, will be revisiting their stellar past and planning on how to share their skills with the rest of us schmucks.

Mr. Bush does not plan to wait to open his policy institute, which is set to begin sponsoring activities and host its first fellows this fall. The meeting next week was called to brainstorm on ideas for the institute. About 20 people close to the former president will dine with Mr. and Mrs. Bush at their home on Monday night and then spend Tuesday discussing the institute.


Read more about it here

It seems the fun never ends with the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big Brother Nudges Ever Closer


The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 will grant unprecedented powers to the president to shut down the internet on a whim.

The bill's draft states that "the president may order a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic" and would give the government ongoing access to "all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access."

Essentially, the Act would federalize critical infrastructure security. Since many of our critical infrastructure systems (banks, telecommunications, energy) are in the hands of the private sector, the bill would create a major shift of power away from users and companies to the federal government. This is a potentially dangerous approach that favors the dramatic over the sober. response


Read more about it here

It seems that as long as the bogey man, Mr. Terrorist, is tossed around on a daily basis, more and more citizen rights can be eroded.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Streaks of gold on a dreary day


You need to know: the drear is all me. I have been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. I had struggled with breathing, coughing incessantly and feeling completely discombobulated in the past week and finally went to the place of last resort - for me, the doctor's, yesterday. I should clarify: I haven't smoked in over 20 years.

She said to me: you have the lungs of a 2 pack-a-day woman at the moment. Is this karma, I ask her. No, she said, but a chronic infection built up over a series of bad colds that you neglected?

I'm not the type to run to the doctor with colds, I would feel whiney and whingey and downright hypochondriacky. I say this to her. More fool you, was the crisp response, now look at you!

So I'm on a course of medication and cancelled a lot of appointments to get some rest (Why do I think bed rest is for sissies? Why?)

Then I get all chuffed up to find my short story of a week ago is up at The Elder Story Telling Place

This plus my piece on the innocence of girl children being stolen being up at Shakesville a week ago has cheered me up immeasurably.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Never Judge a Book, etc.



If the above is not working (and it looks like all the embedding enablement was removed), try HERE

Was there ever a better example of sceptics, mockers and jeerers being completely overawed by the incredible voice of this 'ordinary, middle-aged' woman than last night on Britain's Got Talent?

Yay Susan Boyle! Your future looks extraordinary, your horizons are boundless!

I dreamed a dream. Indeed.

H/T Shakesville

Friday, April 10, 2009

Does The Horror Ever End?


News out of Dublin is that a report on further abuses of children by the Catholic Church is going to horrify everyone with the depth and magnitude of it all.

The good news is: that this statement was made by Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and from the pulpit of the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin. Taking ownership, as it were, for destroying the lives of thousands of children.

The bad news (apart from the obvious atrocities) is: that there seems to be an underlying issue of self-service to this admission of guilt:

"We have no time to waste," Martin said yesterday. "There is a dramatic and growing rift between the church and our younger generations, and the blame does not lie principally with young people. Our young people are generous and idealistic but such generosity and idealism does not seem to find a home in the church."

He also illuminated the recruitment crisis in Irish Catholicism, in a country that once used to export its priests and nuns all over the world. "In the [Dublin] diocese there are 10 times more priests over 70 than under 40. In just a few years we will only have a little over 200 diocesan priests to minister to our almost 200 parishes."


Read all about it in The Guardian here

Ah, qu'elle surprise!, the attendance at church by the young Catholics of Ireland is abysmal and the attraction of new vocations just about zero.

I did the math and came up with this:

Low attendance+low number of clergy=empty collection plates.


A few of my family have been severely affected by clergy abuses, but those are their stories and not mine.

All I can recall is this drunken old priest hearing confessions when I was a child, nodding off over my recounting of my 'sins', asking me to repeat how saucy I was to my mother, how I stole the sweetie off the counter at the post office, and then snoring while I tried to wake him - "Father, Father?" to give me my penance so that I could fulfill my obligation before I left the church. Secure in the knowledge that if a bus knocked me down on the way home I didn't have to suffer in the fires of hell. For ALL eternity.

As a dear friend from Ireland always maintains: Ireland: The greatest open air lunatic asylum in the world.

Amen to that, brother, amen to that.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tea & Sympathy


Inside the Tea Garden in Holyrood.

Maybe it’s a peculiarly feminine rite, but there’s something about afternoon tea that sets the world to rights. I don’t often get the chance to indulge in this ritual, but when I do, I grab onto it with both hands so to speak and bask in the pouring of the tea, the selection of the goodies, the clotted cream, the preserves, the linens, the china and that peculiar triple cake rack that used to be de rigeur in the old days (i.e. my time) as a wedding gift. It would sit in the middle of the tea wagon, or the round occasional table in the parlour with little triangular sandwiches, scones and fairy cakes on each plate.

You wouldn’t often catch a man at these afternoon tea occasions, the odd reluctant one dragged by a spouse, perhaps, but on the whole it is an event populated solely by females.

There was a time, in my first job in my home city of Cork, where the afternoon tea was wheeled around on a wagon by the charlady. Her other duties included wheeling around the elevenses in the morning and cleaning the offices after we had gone home or fetching us office supplies from the cabinet during the day, or bandaging our paper cuts (seriously!). We all took afternoon tea complete with a tea cake or a bun. China was always used.

There is a place in Newfoundland, called The Tea Garden in a little town in Holyrood that specializes in this old fashioned ritual of afternoon tea.

The gardens, done in an English style, are a delight unto themselves. Inside there are embroidered tablecloths and napkins, bone china and food that is consistently out of this world, down to the double devon cream for the scones.

I’ve had a few long lunches with both friends and clients over the last few days, which got me to thinking of this old ritual which is dying fast and should by law, be revived. I was reminded of my mother’s and aunts’ and grandmothers’ afternoon teas. When all the men were at work and the children at school and they could sit down for a couple of hours and indulge the chat to their hearts’ content.

There's something so downright civilized about it all. And it should be ground rule one for conducting any kind of business transactions. For instance: how easy would tax return season be over a cup of tea, a watercress sandwich and a three inch scone topped with raspberry comfit and clotted cream, I ask you?

Monday, April 06, 2009

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?


This has been my mantra for most of the year so far. I’ve been a chronic procrastinator all my life. I’ve no idea where this trait comes from, analyze and analyze as I must, which is another trait. Argh.

I’m never late for events or people. Never. But give me work, give me writing, give me tasks, give me a dinner party to cook for and I will drive myself mad by letting everything pile up to the very last minute and I go into this chronic Type A personality.

Symptoms of Type A Behavior
(from Wikipedia)
1. An intrinsic insecurity or insufficient level of self-esteem which is considered to be the root cause of the syndrome. This is believed to be covert and therefore less observable.
2. Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation.
3. Free floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents.

Someone said to me that in the absence of other stimuli I got my adrenalin hits from this chronic deferment of duties or work. Maybe.

The long and the short of it is that I don’t like myself very much when I run around like the proverbial bull in the china shop snarling at anyone who will listen how much I have to do and how hard done by I am with the workload when the truth is I’ve created the backlog all by myself and I’ve had loads of time to climb on top of it and get it all done with a bloody smile on my face.

So thereby the mantra. I didn’t want to get into training for the Tely 10, a major road race in St. John’s on July 26th until, oh maybe June, when I got back from Europe. What’s wrong with 6 weeks’ training for a 10 miler pray tell? Uh well, maybe my age for one. A little bit of unforgiveness in the old joints there, old lady? No longer in your forties, ha?

And then my friend in Dublin (where I’m staying) says she is doing the Women’s Mini Marathon in Dublin on June 1st - the biggest women’s road race in the world. And I say if not now, when?. Seriously.

So I registered today. And training starts tonight.

I’ll keep y’all posted on The Elder Jock.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Photo of the Week



Of all the photos in all the magazines in all the world of President Obama and Michelle Obama touring Europe, this is the one that most shows his class, his grace, his kindness and his spontaneity. It brings a lump to my throat.

See many more at the German magazine, Stern, with some inadvertently funny English translations.

The Bilking Banksters

A riveting interview by Bill Moyers of William K. Black, former S & L regulator who tells it like it is and advocates no further bailouts of the fraudulent bankers. All of it is a vast Ponzi scheme.

Sample:
BILL MOYERS: Yeah. Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover-up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: You are.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely, because they are scared to death. All right? They're scared to death of a collapse. They're afraid that if they admit the truth, that many of the large banks are insolvent. They think Americans are a bunch of cowards, and that we'll run screaming to the exits. And we won't rely on deposit insurance. And, by the way, you can rely on deposit insurance. And it's foolishness. All right? Now, it may be worse than that. You can impute more cynical motives. But I think they are sincerely just panicked about, "We just can't let the big banks fail." That's wrong.

BILL MOYERS: But what might happen, at this point, if in fact they keep from us the true health of the banks?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, then the banks will, as they did in Japan, either stay enormously weak, or Treasury will be forced to increasingly absurd giveaways of taxpayer money. We've seen how horrific AIG -- and remember, they kept secrets from everyone.






We should hit the streets with our pots and pans. And remember this is not just the U.S. It's happened in the U.K. and in Ireland also.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Wasted Brain in Oz


Over our nightly game of Scrabble, he’d pop the cigar from his mouth and wag it at me as if I were some kind of fool, which he thought I was anyway for he never got tired of reminding me of it back in the day: that my brains were wasted on me, a mere girl, I wouldn’t know what to do with them, when it should have been my brother, who was thick as two planks, who should have got them.

As I was saying, the cigar would be waving at me, trailing a stream of blue smoke, the lips would be pursed, he’d be staring at the Scrabble board, debating his next move, whistle-talking in that way he had, about too many consonants or too many vowels in his tiles, as if I, his brainy daughter, wasn’t challenged in such a way when it came to my turn.

He’d defend absurdities, like “oz”, referring to his absent best friend, the god of spelling, Father Ned, who’d use “oz” regularly, in defiance of the Scrabble dictionary which I handed to him, my temper bubbling in spite of myself: where in god’s name did “oz” appear, I’d demand of him and in response he’d take a long, deep puff and admonish me, his eyes rolling upward, telling me that the Scrabble dictionary was an American invention and what did they know about English and its usage please tell him, the expertise of Father Ned was all he, my father needed, thank you very much, for hadn’t Father Ned lived for years in America and could tell stories about it that would make your toes curl, what did the Americans know about English or the good Irish game of Scrabble.

So there we were, the fifty-year old divorced daughter, the widowed seventy-five-year old father, touring around America together in my car in search of his long lost uncle, Vincent Xavier Mullalley, who might be in Philadelphia, or maybe in Boston or New York, for he had emigrated suddenly out of Cobh in County Cork when he was sixteen, seventy years before, and they’d never heard another word from him and maybe one of the phone books in one of these cities would give him up like an offering to his nephew, my father, who was named for him and who spent the afternoons of our trip dialling up Mullalley strangers in these American cities asking in his thick unintelligible Cork accent if they had a Vincent Xavier in the family.

Before we left on this trip, I’d remembered that when I was still living back home before my own emigration, that together we’d always completed the challenging crosswords in the newspapers and followed up Sunday tea with a game of Scrabble where I would invariably beat him, much to his pouting annoyance, so I packed the Scrabble board for this road trip but after the second bout of “oz” in the first few evenings of playing I stretched that wasted brain of mine out even further and let him win each and every time and allowed him to gloat but not for long for I made sure he caught that little smirk on my face as I packed the game away and that would shut him up right there in his tracks.