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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lexilove



Hello, my name is WWW and I am a Lexulous addict.

Lexulous is a scrabble type game available on FaceBook amongst other lesser known sources. Well, I should say I am controlling my addictive self to the level of playing 10 games at a time. I could be up to a 100 if I let myself go. I've always loved scrabble and adored crosswords (non-cryptic) back in the day but find them a little too easy now, all the words overused, etc.

Interesting how all types of personalities are represented by Lexulous players. Some are in it to pursue sexual innuendos. Others (like me) for the love of the language and the game and some light chatter: how's your weather? Some state they love the (clean)chat. Some are courteous – oh well done, good game. Some are snide: Now where did you learn a word like that? Some apologize for placing the words vagina or penis. Some are whiners: oh, this game is rigged as you got all the good letters. Some are ignorant: What state in Canada is NL? Some are enthusiastic: oh please let's play again, I really enjoyed this!

Some of my friends challenge me, I mean how hard is it to lay down a few words? I always warn them I am really, really good but what can that mean, huh, and then most concede before the game is even over. One old friend insisted we never go vertical with the letters at the start as it made her head hurt, they had to be horizontal. Seriously. No, I don't play her anymore.

One stranger has played me for well over a year and is unfailingly cheerful and congratulatory as I am with him. We share a love of words, the more obscure the better and always rhapsodize on bingoes (7 letters off in one go) or super-bingoes (8letters off in one go on a double triple).

But most are my real life friends. Others are my blog readers never met in the flesh but over the years have graduated to friendship and full identity reveal.

But it is the fleeting challenging stranger players who provide me with windows on our endlessly fascinating human condition and all its foibles.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Of Tides and Jupiter


I note the tide getting higher, during leap tides, than it has been previously in front of my window. It jumps over my small bridge to the shore and lies there, smugly, annoyingly, blocking my access to the beach for a couple of hours. Twice a day. Twice a year.

Two times a year, spring tides, or leap tides, are exceptionally high, close to forty percent higher. This is due to a change in the moon's distance from us. The moon is actually 30,000 miles closer than usual, and as we've stated, the closer you are, the greater the gravitational force.
Rising tides, global warming. Will one eventually swamp my house, set it free, floating, bobbing gently as it sweeps out into the broad Atlantic. Ireland will be underwater by then and so will England and who knows how many other countries. So where will we wind up, my house and I? On top of some mountain no doubt. Like Noah's ark.

I watch Jupiter nightly, it is so bright. Our nights here are star-studded, I imagine I can touch them.

I think how dare we, us paltry planet earth types, name these galaxies, these other planets, these stars. Ownership. As if. Who knows what these planets call themselves. And how can we say they are 'uninhabited'? Because our poor little eyes cannot see or our dismal ears hear or our limited intelligence understand?

Perhaps we are the lowliest species in space. Humanoids that are pitied for our inability to get along, to co-habit with each other in peace and harmony. Held up as the bad example of how awful the destruction of one tiny planet can be when rampant over-population and greed take over.

I know. Inside my mind is a dangerous neighbourhood and I should never go in there alone.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Unwelcome Guest


Slithering from the sea,
You crawled in overnight,
Taking comfort in the
Fixings of my porch,

You touched everything,
The trees, the feeders
The broody roofs
The stark fences

The door stones
The withered herb garden
The potato drills
The strawberry beds.

You were early,
Way too early this year.
My back to you, Snow.
For I am not ready.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Procrastination



I have a PhD in procrastination. I don't know why I do it. Which drives me crazy in itself as I am over-analytical by nature. It's like I save up stuff in case there is NOTHING to do. Insanity, right? As if by fobbing off and deferring I can live forever or something. Do most people die with an unfulfilled To Do List do you think?

I live in fear that someday, somehow, somewhere I will sit twiddling my thumbs at the end of The List. Finally complete. Waiting for the grim reaper to scythe me up, gibbering and drooling into my Ensure.

Right now the list is long. Persnickety stuff. Like 8 big boxes in the front hall that need decanting. But to decant them means moving the bookshelves (after offloading them) out of my office to said hall. Then offloading the existing shelves in the hall and bringing them upstairs to the craft room, my cute liddle craft room. Then shelves in my bedroom will be moved to my office and reloaded. And then a smaller shelf from the utility room moved to my bedroom and useless shelves from the craft room moved to the utility room.

Okay - you in the back, stop snoring. And the rest of you, unglaze your eyes please. Pay attention!


And then crafts decanted from the big shelves in the family room and put in the craft room. And then there will be room for all the contents (books, movies, albums) of the boxes removed from Daughter's basement in September and brought out here. I know it sounds like I'm chasing my tail all around the house here but seriously it makes total sense.

So yay, I say unto you, I am going to apply what has always worked for me before. I commit to one hour a day on the timer, to start-up this massive mobilization and put all the STUFF where it belongs.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anti-Disappointment



I had mentioned to another CFA* who is part of my theatre troupe, that I was having severe withdrawal from intellectual stimulation, discussion of ideas, critical thinking, etc. She, similarly afflicted, had found her solution in a book club par excellence which took place the 3rd Monday of every month about 45km from here.

So off I toddled today. The library where it was meant to be held was temporarily flooded so a member of The Hook & By Crook Book Club held it at her home. What I had not anticipated was this lavish lunch being served first. There were fifteen of us around the table and as it turned out, I knew or had heard of about 1/3 of them. One of them an author of a well loved local book, others from a choral group out of St. John's and still two more who had emailed me about a year ago requesting me to conduct a writers' workshop.

I've never felt such immediate comfort with such a large group of people in my life. They were all, without exception, extraordinarily well read, erudite, witty and with carefully thought out opinions on the topics the book had raised. And so very kind. I was exhilarated.

The next meet up is in December in another member's home and we will all be fed again, pot luck this time, and the price of admission is a well loved book from our own libraries, packaged up beautifully and given away with enclosed personalized comment.

I honestly think that the last remaining void in my move here has now been filled.

And so extraordinarily well.



*Come From Away

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Disappointment


Disappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest. Similar to regret, it differs in that a person feeling regret focuses primarily on the personal choices that contributed to a poor outcome, while a person feeling disappointment focuses on the outcome itself


I've been hit sideways with a few disappointments in the last wee while. And yes, I had expectations. I normally don't, which is what's so odd about it all. I roll with the punches (or maybe I pretend that I do). I enforce a daily gratitude meditation (sometimes short, sometimes long) at the end of each day. A reflection really.

I am more than aware that disappointment in an outcome can truly steal from the positives in a given situation. I am not allowing that. But still.

I remember being sixteen. A few published items under my belt. And literally engrossed in art. I couldn't get enough of it.

Our school on an island (seriously, in the middle of the River Lee) in Cork City imported many great male teachers for us. One of these was our art teacher, another was our advanced mathematics teacher and yet another was an ex-military man who was our gym teacher – the workouts (for girls! girls?) were unbelievable. I truly believe in light of today our school was extraordinarily progressive for its time. And having been recently back for a class reunion and reuniting with many of us, that is reinforced by the PhDs and MDs amongst us. But be that as it may.

I did a little web search and found the art teacher, John Teehan, mentioned briefly on another website. He was very encouraging to me. And his classes (taken over lunch periods, unheard of today, right?) were riveting.

I applied for fashion design school in England, with samples of my designs, etc. ( this was the era of Mary Quant, et al) and was overwhelmed when I was accepted and offered a scholarship.

You can imagine the reaction of the pater familias in suburban Cork when I made the announcement of my intention to henceforth toss aside my provincial education and head off on the Innisfallen for London, England.

I discovered what apoplexy truly was.

And my crushing disappointment lasted months.

And yes, I do wonder still what direction my life would have taken if I'd hopped on that ferry.

But I am no longer disappointed. Much has fulfilled me since then.

Disappointment can only take up headspace if we allow it.

Next?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shadow Work


Well, that was a new one on me yesterday as I drove into St. John's with the CBC Q programme playing. Funny how we can accept things without thinking. We have a vague feeling something is wrong but it takes a guy like Craig Lambert, Harvard magazine editor to highlight it - riffing off on how we, the customer stooges, have taken on unpaid work since self serve gas pumps came into being. Shadow work he called it.

Even the term self service has been coined to evade the more realistic terminology:

Self service = no service.


Think about it: we are now our own bank tellers, gas pump attendants, checkout cashiers at the automated checkouts and our own travel agents.

Unpaid work. A sneakily implemented transference of labour from paid to unpaid.

He went on to talk about the number of hours we give away in deleting the spam in our inboxes every day. Not the sale pitch spam but the outright fraudulent ones from sorrowful widows in Africa offering us 2 million to use our faxes and bank accounts. Even two minutes a day would add up to 9 hours over a year and would be incalculable over a lifetime.

My daughter brought up a good point in talking with her about this on the phone today. The countless hours we spend searching for products which we are willing to buy with our hard earned cash in big box stores. I admit to wearying of this from time to time and spending more money in small shops (now few and far between) to receive personal service.

And hunting for pricing on something. Can I find an assistant? Or reach nine foot high shelves with ne'er a clerk in sight. I admit to taking a tongs off a shelf one time, unwrapping it, and reaching high for a casserole dish, in absolute frustration and with a dinner party that night staring me in the face.

Unpaid labour.

Meanwhile, most days we smell of gasoline after filling up somewhere, get frustrated at the out of service ATMs when we can't access our VERY OWN money from our VERY OWN bank accounts, and humbly lug our huge (often wobbly) shopping carts across the tarmac, offload them and THEN willingly take them back to the herding area. I remember bag boys who did all of this.

To add up all of this labour would frighten us, I'm sure.

And we know who's laughing all the way to the bank ATM, right?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Memory


I'm in the throes of reading the 2011 Booker prize winning book: "The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes, recommended to me by one of my brothers.

It's one of those books that gets me reflecting on my own memory, how accurate is it, how much have I changed it to erase hurts or slights, or enhanced it to heighten the pleasures or deepen the sweet nostalgia. And also on the incompleteness of my life to date. Dreams left unfulfilled, days wasted. Nights too.

Friends unmade. I thought of that tonight when playing cards and I've sensed a good friend lies underneath someone I've known superficially for quite a while and I am at a loss for words as to how to make that more clear than I already have with time, seriously, running out on me. My life at least 3/4 lived, if not more.

Funny how books can do that to one. Gets your mind rambling down hitherto unknown boreens knowing the candle to light the way is flickering down to a nub. Wondering how reliable memory is, especially for a writer who tweaks the twists and turns anyway.

Thank you Julian Barnes for the brain-stretch. It is invigorating.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Boreens


I've always loved the word "boreen" an Irish word, anglicised for every day use in Ireland. It means "little road". Bothair (bo-her) being the Irish for road. Add "een" to anything in Ireland and you have the diminutive. Little Mary=Maureen (maura + een). Little woman=Colleen (caill is woman or old woman + een).

I was having a day of frustrations and minor disappointments yesterday. Nothing earth shaking, just a series of what-else-can-go-wrong-and-then-it-does kind of days.

I took this picture of a boreen heading off down the main road not too far from my house. Outsiders aren't aware of the enormous number of lakes (called ponds) in Newfoundland. We have thousands. Every time you turn a corner there is a seascape or a lakescape. This man was taking in his boat for the season. There is much trouting on our lakes.

Then I forced myself to go to a party. A Ruby (40th) wedding anniversary of dear friends. They'd booked a huge hall. 120 of those present were going to be relatives. The other 10 were close friends. I am honoured to be considered thus.

I'm not a fan of going to big parties or dances or dinners by myself. Visions of my lonesome at a solitary table hauling over a candle and reading a book extracted from my large purse while merriment and enjoyment surround me. Or knitting quietly in a corner pretending I'm one of those mad women out of fiction. Or best of all, happilly at home having refused to go on some flimsy excuse.

Anyway I went. I clung like an infant to my hosts for a while but pried myself off them when I realized they had other guests so went off, got myself a water and barged up to a large table and asked to join them. (Do any of you realize what absolute bravery this takes? No?)

And yeah, I had, oh, about 8 dances. Grand dances. Booty shaking dances. Laughy dances.

And then one of the women and I at the table get talking. She was a widow of two years and told me she didn't know how she got out of bed every morning. She was a sister of my bride-host. She'd lost her husband of 42 years the year before. But worse than that her only son had committed suicide three years before. He'd come home from up North with a failed relationship under his belt and she had found him in their garage the morning after, an apologetic note to her in his pocket.

And all of a sudden my day took on a new light. And today - which is again full of frustration and disappointment - is just another day. And I had no trouble getting out of bed to partake in it.

My boreen ain't half bad.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sister Margaret Anne


Photo taken yesterday whilst out and about locally.

She was a plain woman. Some might say ugly. A whiskered and misaligned face which drooped in chronic disappointment at life and those participating in it. Nature compensated her with beautiful hands, large, well formed and competent, the hands of a sculptor, and naturally blonde hair which she wore in a fluffy halo around her head. An incongruous appearance.

At the age of thirty-six, when her widowed mother died, she left her nursing order of Catholic sisters and reclaimed her birth name of Grace. She wrote to a man who had an advertisement in the lonely hearts section of the Catholic Register. Serious replies only, he said. Loyal, he said. Looks not important, he said.

How was she to know when he drove all the way from rural Saskatchewan to Brampton, Ontario to meet her and marry her within the month that he was a drunk and would beat her every Saturday afternoon and make her perform disgusting things in bed? She a thirty-six year old virgin and twenty years in a convent her only life experience?

She desperately wanted a child so suffered the daily indignities of living with such a man. And of course there were the vows of holy matrimony, and the leaving of the convent to consider. Pride? Yes, she swallowed it.

Her longed for child resulted in a great hulking daughter with the bright red hair of her father who outweighed her own mother by her tenth birthday. This was the year Grace left her husband and had a restraining order placed on him by the courts. Her divorce and subsequent annulment on the grounds of unrepentant abuse and chronic alcoholism followed swiftly.

Her daughter moved out when she was barely sixteen. Searching, Grace found her living in a commune on Bathurst Street in Toronto, high on drugs and alcohol. Grace refused to speculate on the type of income that would support such a lifestyle and thought it best, after pleading with her, to leave her there. It had been a challenge to love such a child, a child who seemed like her father reincarnated in female form.

Grace drifted backwards, drawn more and more to the life that had been so safe and uncomplicated. She retook her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and asked for, and was given, work in the wards of the terminally ill.

She would often say to me that she didn't know what that long intermission was about as all she was taught when she was out in the real world was how to hate the man who had abused her and the ungrateful daughter who was his seed through and through.

And I'd say - Hate? Is hate all you learned? Can't you let it go?

And she'd shake her head vehemently and her crooked mouth would settle into a grim straight line and she'd hiss:

You don't understand at all, do you? Hate is all I have left.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleventy One


Remembrance of lives unlived
Sacrificed to
Dark men in deluxe rooms
Far from battlefields
Of blood and guts
Scattered amongst the rats.
Too young to know of
Puppeteers and propaganda
And profiteering war machines
And masters of the universe.
Yes, I weep.
But not for words like
Bravery, sacrifice and courage.
I weep for their terror
And the evil of men's ways.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Blog Jam


Did you know that Mississipi just narrowly defeated a bill defining a fertilized egg as a "person"?

Sometimes I am so grateful I live in Canada and don't have to deal with these incessant insanities of our neighbour to the south of us. My ongoing sympathies to my wonderful USian friends who have to suffer these idiocies while the reality of our doom-headed planet is ignored.

Sometimes I shed just a tiny wee tear when I see Graham Nash and David Crosby, those of my Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young days (oh major, major fan I was, I was) who performed at the New York Occupy HQ yesterday. Why do I cry? Oh, you know, like they got OLD and, well, so did I, but we are all still shouting out against injustice.

And a Limerick man explains the Wall Street shenanigans for everyone:

Monday, November 07, 2011

It Could be Nothing, Then Again...?


I thought I was quite beyond frissons of literary excitement until I was suddenly confronted with an invitation to a gala at a gorgeous centre in St. John's.

I'm not obviously.

Beyond literary dreams.

Thoughts gallop around like a so many wild horses inside my head.

Thoughts like these:

Sure isn't every citizen of Newfoundland and Labrador invited?

But they wouldn't all fit.

Why do they want me to RSVP then if everyone is invited?

Am I on the shortlist for a prize?

Don't be stupid. It's only the young ones getting the prizes these days.

Your genre has no appeal except to the auld wans, right?

It's all graphic this and graphic that these days.

Maybe it's just everyone who entered.

Mein Gott, I wouldn't mind an honourable mention.

You're just being silly.

It's a courtesy thing - they've published you, don't forget.

Maybe it's because of the play?

Would all black look good on me?

Will I look odd if I'm not in the commonly accepted mating pattern at such events?

Would you stop making such a big deal out of this?

ENOUGH ALREADY I SAID!


Sometimes I bore myself stupid.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Happy Fallter


We go from brilliant sunshine coaxing the very last of the leaves down from the trees on to a kind of saucy icy rain which drums its fingers on my windows for about five minutes. Then we move on to a curtain of fog descending over the headland across the bay from me. Then that evaporates, leaving ethereal trails around the houses.

I hear the plaintive call of My Three Loons and watch a few straggling Canada geese honk across the sky in a ragged formation. These are the bargain basement geese who can't seem to find enough of a cast to perform a first class V across the sky. The lazy arse ones who don't read their emails telling them to leave. Now. A month ago.

There should be a name for this season, this pause between Fall and Winter. Fallter I think. As here, certainly, it doesn't know what to make of itself as it falters and tests out some weather patterns that mix all the seasons up. Nothing to get a grip on yet, move along, nothing to see here.

I like it. I never know what to expect and hourly surprises are lovely.

I think I'll keep the Fallter.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Let Me Count The Ways


The interwerbz has gone from impossibly bad to inconceivably worse (i.e. no service whatsoever for days) so apologies if I'm not dropping by.

I thought of this post while sorting and blanching a whole pile of organic brussels sprouts. I have the most eccentric and wonderful thoughts whilst performing mundane tasks. Talk to my therapist.

Contrary to popular misconception it is not the Eskimo or Inuit peoples who have 100 words for snow it is the Sami People.

However, the Irish could give them a fair run for their money with their many words for 'drunk' bearing in mind also that there is an additional twist to this as English isn't the historical first language of the Irish. But as everyone knows, the Irish embraced English and bent it into something extraordinary.

So here those words are, listed in alphabetical order. Feel free to toss me some more!

Banjaxed
Banjoed
Battered
Binned
Blathered
Blind
Blotto
Bolloxed
Buckled
Cut
Demented
Fermented
Flootered
Floothered
Galvinized
Gargled
Gimped
Hammered
Jarred
Knackered
Lacquered
Langered
Langers
Lashed
Legless
Loaded
Locked
Lubricated
Mangled
Mouldy
Mullered
Oiled
Ossified
Paralytic
Pie-Faced
Pished
Pissed
Plastered
Polatic
Polluted
Rat Arsed
Rotten
Rubbered
Rubbished
Ruined
Sauced
Scooped
Scuttered
Shellacked
Slaughtered
Sloshed
Smashed
Snookered
Sozzled
Spaced
Stocious
Tanked
Tattered
Toasted
Transmogrified
Trashed
Trenched
Trolleyed
Trousered
Twisted
Wankered
Warped
Wasted
Wrecked