Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 ~ 2008

Naw, this is not a good resolution list posting. Or bad resolution list for that matter.

This is always a time of reflection for me, the turning cusp of the year, looking over and slightly behind at 2007 with its dreams and aspirations, its joys and sorrows and ahead to 2008, looking like one of those piñatas, ready to be broken open but slowly and carefully and over the long stretch of twelve months ahead (with one bonus day – it’s Leap Year!).

2007 Sorrows:
A dear friend moved to the ether in the past year. I will never hear him sing “Mammy” again or hear his wicked Scottish jokes.
Another friend of forty years is so careless with our friendship that she never emails, writes or calls back while I am away. But she is also careless with herself and even though extremely wealthy lives in squalor, so I have my answer. Nothing to do with me but how she feels about herself. A life lesson learned late and very slowly.
Ongoing wars, famine, genocide.
Water shortages, global warming, common welfare being run for profit - health, education, water.

2007 Joys:
I find hard to count, there are so many. And I realize more and more as time moves on that none of the joys cost any kind of money. They are the whales that frolic, the hiking with the grandgirl, friends who come and stay, fish stews bubbling in the cast iron pot on the cast iron stove, writing, reading, knitting, ‘visiting’ and being visited, card games in the village hall, walks on the shore, the hope of one last great love, a gentleman caller who bakes for me and makes me a bowl and ‘visits’. The wild lynx on my property in Newfiondland, the bluejay who hops on the railing every morning, the gros-beaks who flood the trees in extravagant streaks of yellow, the otters who come and play at my front door.
Code Pink, Al Gore, Keith Olbermann, Rick Mercer, Michael Moore, The Green Party, Fellow Bloggers

I just finished a lovely road trip with my daughter, and I'm staying in her house for a few days until I move into another Toronto house I will be taking care of for four months while the owners are away. I want to see two movies tonight, New Year’s, and as the grandgirl’s plans have fallen through (oh, the uncertainty of a 13 year old’s life!) she is probably going to come with me. Which would be lovely.

I am kinda laying low, observing R come to the surface again, now that I am back and he wanting dinner with me tomorrow night and emailing me every day for the last two weeks. I am really, really curious as to where he’s at, but I don’t nurture any hope after our week together in the summer.

The grandgirl just read me a marvellous short story she wrote about Zimbabwe and a mother and daughter there. I was moved to tears and profoundly affected by her writing and recognise her awesome talent and take a teensy bit of credit for all the writing projects we have been doing together since she could read.

And here is my wish for all of you out there in Blogland for 2008 – an Irish Blessing.

May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire
Cosy beside you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Look Carefully

at the NASA photo above and you'll see a little white dot. This minute speck is Earth seen from the Voyager 1 spacecraft as it exits the solar system, nearly 4 billion miles away.

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
– Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Currently I'm in: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Why: Waiting for daughter's flight from Toronto.
Listening to: Maddie Prior, Steeleye Span ("all around my hat")
Watched: A lecture by Naomi Wolf on The end of America
Weather is: Unbelievably mild
Planning: A midnight picnic of seafood and salad
Wrote: A strange story of a marriage which falls apart.

My wish for everyone out there: Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís!

Which translates to: May we all be alive this time next year, which was said as a prayer during the nights of Advent when the candle in the window was lit by the youngest of the house when I was growing up in Ireland.

Thank you all, my faithful blog readers and writers!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happiness is an inside job

Picture is of the boats on a beach at sunset not too far from where I live.

You know what? I’ve come to the conclusion that most worries and anxieties never ever happen if we don’t pay too much attention to them. If we do pay an inordinate amount of attention I think there is something about the laws of attraction that actualizes the worry for us. A subconscious willingness for the dreaded event to happen – the husband to leave, the money to be gone, the job to disintegrate.

“If only” is the mantra of those who believe that they can’t create their own happiness from within.

If only the kids were grown, if only I was retired, if only he didn’t drink so much, if only she’d lose weight, if only she wasn’t on my case so much, if only the mortgage was paid, if only I could get that Mercedes, if only I could have that big house in the burbs.

I was thinking of a good friend of mine, A, who never seems to be happy. She’s a lovely woman, from my neck of the woods back home. Generous to a fault, puts her money where her mouth is politically, socially very aware. But never, ever happy.

Her mother died when she was nine and she took care of her father and younger siblings and became a teacher. She had a doomed love affair in Ireland. He went off to be a priest and subsequently it didn’t agree with him and he left the priesthood and married someone else. By that stage she had long moved to Toronto and had married a second best. She had three children in three years, a pair of twins following a singleton. Husband was an abusive alcoholic and she left him.

A raised the kids by herself with the help of friends. She‘s the type of person that everyone loves. A brilliant pianist and wonderful conversationalist, active politically, a committed feminist.

When the kids were in their early teens she was at an Irish party and who should walk in but her old love, H. He was a visiting lecturer at U of T. Their love was reignited and within a year he had left his wife and four kids in Ireland and moved to Canada to marry her.

That would make A happy, yes? Well, no. His youngest was still very young so H would spend Christmases and part of the summer in Ireland (staying with his ex-wife). That didn’t make A happy. She felt she deserved all of him. She understood about the kids but thought they should come to him for the holidays. He wanted to be there in his children’s home to give them what they were missing during the year.

This, to me, was the classic example of everyone putting themselves out to make others happy with no one happy as a result.

In the past few years H has been diagnosed with a slow terminal illness and A is now worried about money and the fact that her kids are now grown and have moved off to other continents doing amazing work. She had raised them as socially aware, compassionate world citizens. She had hoped the kids would be around her forever, geographically speaking. A has got a great job, so does H, they have loads of money. But not in her mind.

I came to the conclusion that no matter what happens, A will never be happy.

Like a lot of others. The classic case of always feeling there is something missing. Like the enlightened priest said about confessions:

Isn’t it odd, he said, that when a prostitute comes to the confessional all she can talk about is God and when a priest comes in all he can talk about is sex?

What would make you happy? My ex-husband said to me, way back in the day, I gave you everything you ever wanted: a daughter, a house, a dog and a piano. And you’re still not happy. And he was right.

I still had to grow up then and learn a lot of life lessons that were painful But it is only through pain we grow and I know for sure we can’t skip around it to do that, but we have to walk through it.

How can you be happy, they now say to me. You live alone, you must be sad there is no one there to share your life.

I’m very happy, I say, if HE shows up, all well and good. But meanwhile there’s a life to be lived, and it’s my one and only wild and precious one so I’m going to live it. I make a choice to be happy every morning.

And it’s got nothing to do with my kids or my house or my stuff or my car or my other. But everything to do with how I’m feeling about ME today. And if I’m not feeling that good about me I’d better take a good long hard look at myself and fix what’s ailing me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

'Tis the Season

This scene (looking out my front door) was a meditation to me today, the pink blush of sunset tinting the bay, the very little snow we have whitening up the world like fresh laundry. It is warm - +10C. The Gulf Stream swathes this part of Newfoundland in a warm cuddle.

I am reminded of friends and relatives not doing so well at this time of the year.

One dear friend has got bone marrow tests coming up very shortly, her white blood cell count is very low and we are worried for her.

My daughter, who has MS, is going through a very bad cycle with tremors and joint pain.

My nephew has a court appearance tomorrow due to his ongoing addiction to drugs and his methods of securing them. All history now (we pray) as he has been clean and sober for over a year and we are hoping the judge will take that into account in the sentencing.

Last year another friend moved to BC with her partner to take care of her mother who was blind and debilitated due to diabetes. And her mother just died unexpectedly with the house all decorated. She died in my friend's arms as she was putting her to bed.

And all around me the shopping continues, the last minutes stresses. I'm glad I backed away from the insanity years ago and celebrate winter solstice - and very quietly at that.

A friend who used to work on the 911 lines in Toronto said it was the worst time of the year for domestic violence and suicides.

I'll be on the road on Christmas Day, heading back to Toronto for several months.

I was asking my daughter about seasonal memories and the one that stands out for us is the time we jumped in the car with my granddaughter and headed down to South Carolina in one stretch of shared driving on Christmas Eve and walked on the beach on Christmas Day. Myrtle Beach was abandoned, we had it all to ourselves and it was wonderful.

The big gatherings in Ireland were good but not really memorable. It is funny, that. I find in my family that we all revert to our old familial childish patterns when we get together, some of which should have been thrown out years ago. The big gatherings in Toronto, likewise. So much work and so much stress choosing the gifts, cooking and baking for often upwards of twenty people (who always seemed to stay over for Boxing Day Brunch!) and this total anti-climactic feeling afterwards. And the wreckage to clean up.

I'll probably celebrate "Nollaig na Mban" when I get back to Toronto. This is "Women's Christmas" which was my mother's big event of the season when all the females would get together on January 6th and dispose of the old year and welcome in the new.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Bare Naked Ladies

Over at Medbh's there is a terrific post on the Ryan Air Calendar full of their naked or nearly naked employees - but not employees to them, of course, but referred to by their bosses as "girls". I honestly thought that sort of lingo had fled Ireland, which was one of the reasons I fled Ireland, back in the day. Silly me.

I am heartily sick of the plastic nudity around me. Mainly female flesh on display to entice the male into opening his wallet, I would think. Are men disappointed when they see an honest-to-goodness female naked beside them? I mean most of us come without airbrushing or those odd stagnant silicone breasts. Unless we've been under the knife. Which I haven't. I've been tempted a few times, to be honest, just to get rid of the loose chin. But the friends that have taken the plunge never seem to know when to stop. And that has stopped me.

One of my friends, a fairly well to do architect, has spent nearly $100,000 on her T&A along with lipo on the stomach and so many procedures on her face that she no longer looks like herself and I keep checking her, trying the find the old L lurking in there somewhere in the unnatural smoothness of her fifty-five year old face. Like a death's head. Her breasts are perma-perked and she sleeps with men twenty years younger than herself.

What do you talk about with them? I ask her.
Who's talking? She laughs at me.

God sometimes I feel unbearably prudish and wrinkly skinned (and saggy-breasted - let's not go there!)

And then, Sweet Jaybuzz, I think I've now seen it all but I haven't.

There is more to come as evidenced by this woman baring it all in her local pub to raise cash for her local football team. She's 102!!!!

Can we stop now please? Is nothing sacred?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bali and the Forty Thieves

I've missed posting and reading posts. Briefly, power outage, telephone downed lines due to storm, followed quickly by personal flu downtime. Wobbly but vertical today. Catching some news.

Bali is a small beacon in the wilderness but it is shadowed by much evil:

This environmental criminal activity absolutely enraged me and causes me shame as a Canadian. We are tinkering dangerously to begin with on the Kyoto Protocol, Harper being the new Bush poodle.

BP is the usual corporate sleazebag, bleating green whilst destroying vast swathes of pristine forest and diverting more and more water in a world running out of it.

On the upside I was heartened to read of the fresh new Blairless England of Brown
and this wonderful news

And the strong commitment to the Kyoto of the new Rudd government in Australia is also cheering.

I'd better start printing some new placards and marching again on Ottawa.