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Monday, April 26, 2010

Ah now, don't be tellin' me that kind of stuff!


I have one of those faces.

You probably guessed that anyway.

Without warning, people often pour out their deepest darkest secrets to me.

Seriously.

Even when they're not friends, merely strangers or acquaintances.

Like yesterday.

My canine companion Ansa, is just about engaged to another dog in the village called Bo-Diddly.

They absolutely adore each other. Bo loves Ansa with such a passion that often he flops down on his belly at her feet and just gazes at her with tears shining in his eyes. Really sweet.

Bo's human companion is Lily. Lily is married to Fred. Nice couple. Fred loves to dance at the village functions. I don't know them very well.

As Bo and Ansa play on the beach yesterday, Lily says to me, out of the blue:

“Home I go now, to 10-Second-Fred.”

I stifle a gasp. She can't be saying what I think she's saying.

“Cute nickname?' I offer, hesitantly.

“Oh I wouldn't say it to him,” she says, “It's more a private nickname. I've never told a soul!”.

Why now, dear Maude, and why me?

“Forty-one years of marriage to 10-Second-Fred,” she continues, sighing, “And do you know what he says before he starts?”

I raise my eyebrows, I call my dog, I gulp down a huge laughy hawk of a snort that rises in my throat.

“'Get ready for me, baby, the world's greatest lover!'”

I get down on my knees and offload my pent-up guffaws into Ansa's neck.

I'd like to suggest she tell Fred, in the nicest possible way, what she's just told me, or she buys him maybe the Kama Sutra or The Joy of Sex. But I can't. I'm afraid to open my mouth. So I nod, silently, straightfacedly, sympathetically.

And yes, I know it's sad. And awful. And lonesome.

But the next time I run into Fred, or dance with him, The World's Greatest Lover, what do you think I'll see?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Else


Else
– For Earth Day 2010





Disconnect.
Me from You.
You from Us.
Us from Them
Them from
Everyone

Else.

What Else?
Is Else
Not Them
And Us
And You
and Me?

We Are
Air
Water
Earth
Sun, Moon,
Stars.

We Are
Energy
Creating
Our lives
From this

Else.

And You
Tell Me
It's none of
My business
When You
Disrespect?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hello Utah? Please update your calendars to the 21st Century!


State-sanctioned murder , sometimes known quaintly as 'capital punishment', is the order of the day down in Utah.

When offered a choice of means of death, Ronnie Lee Gardner chose a firing squad over a lethal injection. (I would too, knowing the additional and unnecessary torture these injections inflict on victims at the incompetent hands of the bungling executioners). At least with 5 rifles going off at the same time, death should be instantaneous.

He has been on death row since 1985.

Michael J. Burdell's (Gardner's victim) father and girlfriend insist that Michael, a lawyer and pacifist who never held a gun, wouldn't want this outcome and if he had survived the shooting, he would have defended Gardner.

Savage and barbaric doesn't quite cover my revulsion.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I've Seen The Future, Baby, It Is Hopeful (Apologies, Mr. Cohen!)


I think we need to be brought to our knees to make any beneficial changes in our lives.

I can write until I'm blue in the face about sustainability and green living and reducing, reusing, re-purposing and recycling. And trust me I do in other publications. I could bore for Canada on that topic alone.

I recycle, I make little herb pots out of my used cans. I compost faithfully. I plant vegetables. I use sustainable wood from my own woodlot to heat my house and for most of my cooking. I have green laundry equipment. All my bed linens are other people's discards as they climb the ladders of thread counts and matching huzzahs in their bedrooms. Come to think of it, most of my clothes are kindnesses donated by a friend. I don't pollute what's left of my brain with the toxic fumes of television pimping products I don't need for a house I would never desire. I make sure none of my clothes are walking billboards hawking the Chinese production line products of Gap and Garage et al. I avoid Walmart and its competitors like the viral plague on the landscape that they are and my cellphone is about 5 years old.

Am I virtuous? Absolutely not. I don't do all this out of virtue. I could afford 800 count sheets in creamy Egyptian cottons. And I could replace my micro Toyota with an SUV. I take a bag and plastic gloves and regularly clean up the 2 kilometres of beach in front of my house. And one day I will take a picture and itemize all the discarded rubbish of the contemptible litterbugs who pollute this pristine place without thought. But I think about it and do something rather than stew and fume. I am no saint. This little part of the planet is on loan to me from my granddaughter and her granddaughter.

My friend Twilight over at her Learning Curve on the Ecliptic Blog dug deep for some great quotes on Earth Day and I repeat a few of them here:

Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
~George Carlin


I really wonder what gives us the right to
wreck this poor planet of ours."
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: "Look at this Godawful mess." ~Art Buchwald, 1970


The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago... had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands. ~Havelock Ellis, The Dance of Life, 1923


And then I read about a place that has been brought to its knees: Motor City – Detroit.

And Detroit, in its economic pain and devastation, is re-inventing itself as the Ground Zero of the sustainability movement with a complete green revitalization strategy. And here's the big thing: social justice is at its very core.


With the city’s current leadership hypnotized by what they see as a civic death spiral, new leadership is coming from the place it always does in the end–from the bottom up. This new life cycle is a grassroots affair with an astonishing number of people fashioning solutions and affirming. There are now eight hundred community gardens on abandoned lots, peace zones for public safety, green retrofitting of empty houses, new open source media projects and an exploding hip hop and poetry scene.

This June, as many as 10,000 people from around the world will be convening in Detroit for the US Social Forum. They are organizing around the statement: “Another Detroit is Happening.” and have chosen the city because it is ground zero in today’s global financial meltdown.


This, above anything else I've read, gives me the greatest hope for the future.

Pass the kneepads.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Photo of the Week


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~COW-IN-FIELD~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

```{CLICK TO EMBIGGEN - YOU WON'T BELIEVE YOUR EYES!|```

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I never take it for granted.


Never.

I just put in a 12 hour day. Being tax season 'n all. 12 hour days, hell 20 hour days, wouldn't even phase (faze? h'm?) on me until I turned 60.

Now? Well,let me tell you, I'll sleep tonight.

But I never take for granted that I can still perform (and so very much enjoy) this work.

And more particularly, as I'm doing it, I can look out my office window and see the red topped barge with its load of lumber and equipment, heading up the bay on delivery today.

I sometimes want to pinch myself as if this is all a dream. I work here, crunching numbers and writing, bathed in this constant beauty.

I am so very blessed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This is getting personal


Funny how that Iceland volcano seems awfully distant. Even though you sympathize with the people who are stranded all over Europe. And the backlog of travel, the desperation, the family emergencies that are unattended. Even the funeral of the Polish prime minister being affected.

But it's all so, well, distant, and the other-side-of-the-globe stuff.

And then the headline at the corner of the screen catches your eye.

Iceland Ash heads to Newfoundland.

And you think, wha'? This is the thanks we get for the many years of shopping sprees the Icelanders flew here for? They belch a pile of ash at us?

And now we're all grounded too? And how about my lungs?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Shameless Brag



click to enbiggen

This was a long haul in the making, over 15 months. My daughter's birthday is tomorrow and this is the gift. I've designed and made these afghans for years, often as wedding gifts or family gifts. They always incorporate facets or hallmarks or talents or aspirations of the giftee and family connections.

In this one, there are the trees symbolizing family and grounding,. There is a garden representing my daughter's annual vegetable and herb planting. There are the honeycombs representing health for her (she has MS) and the blackberries representing the wild fruits of the hedgerows that she loves, cables of friends and relationships, there are boats symbolizing the ocean and then there are music notes representing her passion for music and her skill as a flautist.

Finally there is the surrounding edging of tulips which represent the month of her birth, April.

Oddly enough, it was the tulips that were the biggest challenge. I could not manage to get the pattern (it was an 18-rower) into my head until I'd made about 20. As I like to watch movies or DVD series or read a book as I knit, this was a serious challenge, having to concentrate and read the pattern so many times and tick as I went. But finally it sunk in and I was able to multi-task successfully (even to reading blogs as I completed so many of these tulips!)

My daughter's a woman who appreciates all things hand-wrought, so I know she will just love this.

closeup of music notes

Friday, April 16, 2010

Important Flow Chart



click to embiggen

H/T Bartcop

A Couple of Oopses


Oops - apologies to all re my hotmail account being hacked and everyone on my hotmail addie book offered some crap, supposedly from me. As it is a brand new laptop and I do have firewalls and anti-spam, etc, I wonder how this was accomplished and I have reported it. Again, sorry for the inconvenience.

And another oops, the last post omitted some significant data on the 'sexy men'.
I should make clear I do NOT like misogynistic cavemen. Never have. So-called 'rednecks' and "cruising for a bruising" types also seriously chap my hide.

The 'sexy men' of my post are completely rounded. Along with being outdoorsy and sometime shed-inhabitors, they also cook, clean and are totally comfortable with women. Among the many I know, there is only one who continually degrades his wife verbally. The others, single or partnered, are as at home with holding babies as they are with making jam. A couple continually provide me with their homemade bread and homemade soup. None of them drink to excess. One is gay.

The sexy part to me is the fact that they are so completely diversified. Equally at home with woodsy hunting or stormy sea-fishing or boiling up a Jiggs dinner for family and friends or discussing politics or books.

And in all the time I have spent with these Newfoundland men, I have found my opinion as equally respected as that of their male friends. And if they are married, they speak of their wives as equal partners. Always.

Maybe I'm in a particularly wonderful part of Newfoundland, or maybe they had exceptional mothers, or maybe, just maybe it's the water around these parts, but hell, 99% of these guys are dudely wonders of the world!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Truly Sexy Men


I became citified at a very early age. Six. Prior to that, I lived in a small provincial town in East Cork, Ireland, with frequent visits and sleepovers in 'the country' where my grandparents lived on their acre of tenant holding, existing on the flora, fauna and fish of the landscape around them.

One of my first crystal clear memories is of getting up before dawn and being taken by my grandfather to check the snares for rabbits, which would subsequently be cooked as our midday meal. I remember the tramp down the meadow, our little cottage down the way with the smoke puffing up from the chimney to thread its way through the early morning fog. The dog leaping and bounding, catching the scent of the rabbits tied with a cord and slung over Granda's shoulder. The smell of Granda's tobacco, clinging permanently to his heavy tweed jacket.

Then we moved to one of the first suburbs of Cork City. An alien frightening world to a small child like me. A world, it seemed, full of boy-children, scary and catapulting and hurling and forming gangs to throw rocks at each other. (Sub-suburban life, who knew?). I was never a dolly-playing child so to offset incredible boredom, I joined those frightening creatures and climbed trees and played hurling and became a spot-on stone thrower at the many gangs who attempted to dislodge us from our 'fort'. Heady days. The seeds of equality were set right there, at six.

What fun the boys and I had ! I became truly one of their heroes when a gorgeously huge toy pram I'd been given by the 'other' grandmother was immediately stripped of its hood and covers and converted into a two-person trolley for careening down hills and shipping fresh boulders for further fortification of our HQ.

And now I'm living on an island of men who've never seemed to have moved away from the boy-children they were. In the best possible way.. They have cabins in the bush. They have quads (ATVs to the uninitiated) and wooden boats, and rifles and won't walk down a road without a fishing rod. They talk motors and refittings and wells and where the best berries are and the size of the moose in their freezers. And they toss rocks around to make retaining walls. And they drive trucks carting unidentifiable large pieces of equipment from place to place. And they tow big boats. And they all have sheds (clubhouses) where they congregate and build more stuff.

Wonder Boys, Pg 182

“Irv had rediscovered, as surprisingly few men do, that the secret to perfect male happiness is a well-equipped clubhouse.”


And I've built a shed of my own. With electrical tools hanging on the walls. And a huge workbench. And I just might be buying a small old stick-shift truck to move some stuff around. And one of these days, the boys might just come and play with me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Collateral Damage Statistics


Marvellous article in The Telegram here today about war. Specifically the Afghan war. As any regular reader knows, I hate the word 'war' when a more accurate description would be 'invasion'. But I digress.

We all like to imagine our old soldiers proudly marching in annual parades but the truth is far different. The articles goes on to discuss the after-affects of war on its soldiers apart from the obvious: the senseless deaths of comrades, the horrific injuries, the shattered illusions. It talks about the lingering damage to society created by the soldier long after combat is over and her/his military career has ended.

An intense study of the aftermath of military engagement was conducted from 1983 to 2007.

There were:
1710 deaths in the period.
289 were suicides
384 were traffic deaths - 75 of those alcohol related.
186 of all the deaths, when further examined, were the result of excessive drinking.
374 deaths were of cancer.

Combat only accounted for 70 fatalities, less than 5% of the deaths.

The continuing effect on Canada, and particularly in Newfoundland which has the highest percentage of any province in Canada in the military, is unimaginable.

Extrapolate all those numbers outwards and the toll on the USA will be in the millions. MILLIONS of deaths outside of direct combat. Deaths on the streets and in the homes of Americans. Deaths that often take further collateral damage in the shape of their own families or innocent stranger-victims.

And we're not even talking about the millions and millions who are already 'merely' injured. We're talking collateral death long after military engagement.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Someone's Got To Do It!


That is:

Buy a new laptop to replace Ye Olde Crashed.

Download all relevant applications.

Undergo another massive computer FAIL.

Reboot, restore, re-load, reconnect, replug.

Still FAIL.

Cry.

Call Main Man, Mr. Computer Genius Wallah.

Go into under-stairs cupboard to retrieve computer bag. Trip over wooden box.

Slide to end of tiny (but long) cupboard.

Realize one is stuck with bloodied and badly bruised leg jammed in wooden box.

Take ten minutes to evaluate this ridiculous situation.

Slowly, through pain, unjam leg, then block further movement by slamming aforementioned wooden box against tiny doorway of cupboard.

Rotate body to plate face on floor and use healthy leg to push box through door.

Think "arse over teakettle position attained," privately, to oneself.

Slowly slide oneself on tummy to hall.

Say casual hello from this horizontal position to Leo who is carting in big box of firewood.

He doesn't bat an eye, which leads one to believe that this is the behaviour he expects from one.

Go to office. Examine the damage to injured leg. Worse than expected. Huge lump down shin, scraped skin all the way to ankle and blood seeping into jeans. Clean up as best one can. Ignore pain like a tough little soldier.

Take computer 50km to Mr. CGW. Who turns it on. And it performs all suckuppy- beautiful, innocent-like.

Next time, he sez kindly, try firing her up without all your peripherals?

But he checked it over anyway for a oouple of hours. To save one's face.

Which was a waste of time.

As it was now all bruised too.

From pounding it off his desk.

And how was your day?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Disasters & Delights

Disasters:

A really, really evil system crash. Total. Complete. Major hardware fail by laptop manufacturer (looking at you, HP!). Neglected to advise individual customers, but did issue (if you were looking, and why?)warning on web. Extended all warranties for 24 months. But of course this didn't help me. System was toast. And also, so was the backup which had overridden what I had selected for backup and went into 'default' and copied lots of nonsense and ignored the more serious files. I was offline for 5 days and unable to work during the busiest time of my year.

Running around looking for a new laptop without tech-expert daughter or granddaughter in tow and then discovering none of these newer models are equipped with dialup modems, so gallopped around looking for a USB modem, fortunately located, but at a super nasty price. Realizing that downloading programmes such as Itunes, etc. takes a total of 32+ hours here in Dialup Dementia. Take time to fire off more blistering emails to political poobahs (Dem Wot Rulez Me) once email viable on new system.

Having to load up tax and accounting software - and for the archives that I maintain, this takes an inordinate amount of time, so what's a girl to do? Blog about it, of course.

Delights:

Finding a truly remarkable expert in disaster recovery who managed to retrieve most of my most crucial data on a spare backup hard-drive that is in most older laptops. He spent 2 days on this and would not hear of charging me for all of this time, billing me for only 3-1/2 hours as he felt so badly for me. A saviour. I'm his for life.

Taking time this morning (it is Tshirt and shorts weather here) to take a long walk around St. Mary's Bay and capturing this picture of Ansa in our ongoing series of Panoramic Picnic Bench Pics.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sheila’s Brush


Legend has it that Sheila was especially close to St. Patrick back in the day. Whether sister, mother, mistress or wife is up to speculation.

Here in Newfoundland, a final winter storm that falls between St. Patrick’s day on March 17th and any time during the month of April is known as “Sheila’s Brush”.

Sheila brushes out the old weather to make room for Spring. Whether she did it mighty early this year is a matter of debate, but our unseasonably warm weather is marvellous.

Most old fishers and sealers won’t hit the waters until Sheila has been and gone with the brush.

They have been proven to be 100% accurate.

We’re not too sure if the last March wee storm has been it for Sheila or just a trial run for something more in the lines of one serious big wallop.

PS I’m overloaded with work so blogging and blog-reading are sporadic until end of April.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Voyage


{Topsail Beach, Newfoundland)

He folded his jacket and placed it just so, high up enough on the stones of the beach that the tide wouldn’t get to it.

You’d think he was going to do what he always did every morning for the last ten years.

Ever since he moved back home from the mainland.

His own routine. If you were watching you’d say tai-chi and change your mind and say qi dong and then you’d catch those karate moves followed by some push-ups on the grass above the beach and think it was a unique workout of his own. Which paid off because for a man in his sixties he exuded health and a physical elasticity rare at his age. A very positive man, you’d say.

But this one morning there last week, after his workout, or maybe not, along with the jacket he took off his running shoes and lined them up right beside it. Neatly. He was a neat man. You’d never see a sweat on him after those workouts and his entire repertoire of moves would take about an hour.

The truck was what was noticed first. And that was the following morning, very early. It stood out as it was the only truck there in the parking lot at that hour. Frosted up, so it was there for a while. And then you walked down the steps to the beach and there was this jacket and those shoes. Covered in frost also. Alarm bells went off. The police were called.

It looked bad, they said. It was the shoes that were the giveaway and then to top it off the truck held all his ID, his wallet, even his passport.

So the divers from St. John’s were called in and they spent days and days. And lots of volunteers combed the beach. And volunteers sailed in on boats with grappling hooks and those complicated telescopes for looking down to the bottom of the sea.

And six days go by and not a trace and no one comes forward either to claim a relationship with him. And maybe he just left his old life and began something new somewhere else. But you’d always go back to those shoes lined up which put a stop to that line of thinking.

And it was a young lad that found him on the seventh day, twenty kilometres down the coast at another beach. He thought it was a big bundle of rags at first. And then he spotted those swollen, naked feet and had sense enough to run home and tell his mother who called the police.

And yesterday, I drive the coastal road beside that long, last, lonely voyage of his. And think of the distance he travelled. And ponder on what his last thoughts were as he sank shoeless into Mother Ocean’s waiting arms.