Tuesday, September 30, 2008

For Leo and all the Leos of the World

(the first of the potatoes, dug today.)


For Leo and all the Leos of the World

Sometimes my heart breaks, just a little bit.
And I don’t know why that is or where that comes from.
I see him mowing and chopping and planting
And stacking and reaping, picking up sticks from my lawn
Gathering the golden brown leaves of the tired summer trees
Making straight lines along the wondrous green of the grass
Like himself, for he walks so straight, like a military man.
He makes me giggle sometimes over silly stuff.
He gathers up things from the shore that I might like.
Old keys, glass bottles, multi-coloured feathers, odd bits of driftwood,
And presents them to me like the priceless gifts that they are.
He’s very clear and direct. He knows his likes and dislikes.
And announces them without apology or humility.
He knows he had a bad accident when just a lad.
That affected his brain forever and ever.
A wondrous twelve year old in the body of a fifty-eight year old.
He tells me he likes me very much
And that he loves working for me
As I treat him fair and don’t torment him like others do.
He treats my welfare like his own, fixing things,
Working things out patiently as I watch, learning his patience.
I treat his welfare like my own, feeling his hurts,
Watching out for others’ thoughtless cruelties.

Leo with one of our extraordinary potatoes, raised on kelp from the shore.

And how to best cook these babies?
Like my mother did, like my grandmother did. Boiled in their jackets, in fresh sea water with loads of fresh garden mint in the pot.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Inspiration & Perspiration

It is not big starry folk who inspire me - the big names, the successful multi-mills, the famous actors and writers, the gurus and the big-buck shamans.

But rather it is the ordinary, the sometimes-down-in-the-gutter but still seeing the stars types.

First of all the perspiration:

Patricia. In my village. She’s 83 but completes the Tely 10 (oldest road race in North America, they say) every year. That’s 10 miles of road, up hill and down dale.

I see her out and about doing some hill work here. Now she’s inspired me to do the same. I was getting lazy when out walking, I was avoiding the hills and could roll out a barrel of excuses at the drop of a hat. The last few days I’ve done some really good hill walking. Not quite buns of steel yet but one never knows.

The following few bloggers, amongst the many I read and enjoy, inspired me today, as they do every time I catch up with them:

Over at Sharon’s, I read about her struggle with her size, how she faces life’s challenges head on and doesn’t give up. She inspires me to keep on keeping on.

And Nick always tosses some great topics out there. Something to chew on. Some dearly held tenet perhaps tossed on its head, It inspires me to view life a little differently even if only for a few minutes.

And Hullabaloo is always quirky, even when dancing devils beset her and family challenges can make her scream. She keeps her sense of humour and her innate gentleness.

Old Fogey draws in charcoal and writes movingly of all things Jane Austen and music and books and family. When I visit him, I feel like I’ve taken a warm bath with an excellent book.

La Bete is not afraid to bring up any topic, any life challenge, any quirkiness of his own nature. He loves to examine every thing, does Bete, and go out there and risk. He inspires me to just do it.

To these five I offer an award:

And a great big thank you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It takes a village....

The village of Kivalina in the Northwest Arctic - drowning, eroding and storm-demolished - to take on the oil giants and their denial of global warming.

This village has been severely impacted by the:

Sea ice forms and attaches to the coast later in the year, breaks up earlier and is less extensive and thinner, exposing the village to storm waves and surges, according to the lawsuit.

So their lawsuit is launched against the following:

In addition to Exxon, BP and Conoco, the Kivalina lawsuit names Chevron Corp., Shell Oil Co., Peabody Energy Corp., AES Corp., American Electric Power Co., DTE Energy Co., Duke Energy Corp., Dynegy Holdings Inc., Edison International, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., Mirant Corp., NRG Energy, Pinnacle West Capital Corp., Reliant Energy Inc., Southern Co., Xcel Energy Inc. and a few other affiliated companies

It will cost Kevalina an estimate of $400 million to relocate.

Read more about it here


Thank you Irene for a most awesome award:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blog Jam or Blathering in the Military Wind.

America spends 42 cents out of every tax dollar on its military.

So that they will be ‘safe’.

From the boogy man terrorist who will get them here if they don’t get him there.

One quarter of that 42 cents would give every US citizen the best of health care with money left over for dental.

There are 730 US military installations around the world. 730.

Barack Obama, the Anointed Man of Change, has promised to “build a 21st-century military . . . to stay on the offensive everywhere”. That should bring the spending to 50 cents or more out of every tax dollar. Change indeed.

A much suppressed cancer epidemic is now severely impacting the citizens of the Middle East region caused by the US and British WMDs releasing depleted uranium. That along with the five million orphaned children, the countless very dead collateral damaged bodies, untold injured, mindless destruction of an ancient civilization, et al, brings a sparkling new definition to the word “freedom”.

US soldiers previously based in Iraq are now being brought home, in battalions, to police and brutalize the real enemy, the disenfranchised, those outspoken protesters and the brand new homeless, its own citizens.

And to assist them, civilian labour camps will be under their jurisdiction. Keeping those same pesky, loud-mouthed citizens right where they belong. In the new gulags.

With the added bailouts of Wall Street by the unbounded charity of its citizens, the deficit of the US at the end of 2008 is forecasted at ONE TRILLION DOLLARS. Can anyone count that high? Is this officially bankruptcy?

I see more and more of those utterly godless American liberal bloggers (who me?) are making all sorts of noise about emigrating to Canada in November (they see that the writing’s clearly on that pinko wall). We would love to have them, but here we do have immigration laws too and the waiting list is extremely long and well, you should get on the list - like now.

And to bring you hopefuls up to date: here in the cold white north, we are facing our own mini-corpo-indu-militarist who yearns for a majority government in October. Which scares a lot of us. There’s something quite Rovian about our Prime Minister Harper who has made enormous cutbacks on culture and arts funding and has set his cold, beady eyes on our far too generous health care system amongst other socialist perks.

But then again, none of us has any way of knowing what the October Surprise, long predicted by me and others, will bring to us gentlefolk. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is The Rapture over yet?

You know, the one where the rapturous Masters of the Universe take the entire remaining wealth of the starving, homeless, healthcare-less masses of the US and go off to one of their many mansions in one of their many jets and laugh as they count the loot? Where realtime socialism is finally brought to the proletariat?

Are these same downtrodden, huddled masses poised on the brink of putting another samenoid Master (or a possible Mistress) in charge of their dismal futures once again? You know, the ones bleating about changey-hopey lipsticked pigs? Where nothing of any worth is ever said? No concrete pronouncements about managing the critical issues that are bringing a whole country to the point of extinction ?.

Is everyone too sedated for a mass revolt by the endless twittering of MSM TV telling them how good they have it? (1984, Fahrenheit 451, V for Vendetta, anyone, hello?)

Where the treasury is plundered and that mass of worthless paper representing mortgages that never should have been extended is being paid for twice over by the blinkered unfortunates who keep their Masters in power while losing their own shirts?

The age of Russian serfdom is looking more like Eden every day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Canine Gratitude

As an antidote to dead-animals-as-trophies in my previous post, I present to you a particularly valuable lesson I have learned on a daily basis from my dog, Ansa.

Once I’m awake, Ansa starts her day with a huge stretch on my bed. I've learned how to do the same.

I say: Good morning, Ansa, and she then comes up and lays her head on the pillow next to me and allows me to pet her. I then allow her to lick my hand.

After I take her outside she heads off to a corner of the dining room while I make the all-important coffee in the all-important Krups as she supervises. I start the toast. I fetch her dishes and fill with water and her particular mix of food. Ansa was a rescue dog and wasn’t used to dog food so it was a very slow introduction of various kinds until the mixture is now one she eats.

I put down her dishes. She saunters over to them. I start cooking the eggs or the cereal. She leaves her dishes after a small sniff and comes over to me.

I say: You’re welcome, Ansa.

If there isn’t the right degree of joy in my voice, she comes back again, still without touching her food.

I say: You’re so welcome, Ansa. So, so welcome.

She trots off with a grin, an extra wag of the tail. I stop what I’m doing. I reflect on all the things in life I have to be thankful for. My health, my view of the ocean, my lovely peaceful home, the food in the larder, the roses outside the door.

Thank you! I say to the universe.

The trees rustle. The waves scrish on the shore. The bluebird hops along the deck. The sun peeks from behind a cloud.

All is so, so right in my tiny corner of the world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Some creative gifts are inherited. This has never more evidenced than by Sarah Palin, interior decorator extraordinaire, who speaks to us from her living room:

While being watched in their living room by her parents:

I can't imagine what being surrounded by this kind of energy does to one's spirit.

Blog Jam

Headlines are captivating. Years from now, when any surviving archaelogists (or aliens) pour over the detritus of the worst messers in history, this is what they’ll find as remember whens from September 2008.

A mishmash from the overnight headline stew that is making the Crash of ’29 look like a church picnic in comparison. A crash long predicted. A crash waiting to happen with the financial finagling of debt and equity and foreclosures. And a new profession created: financial engineer.

It also looks like there won’t be enough deposit insurance to cover all the balances in American banks once the fun-run starts.

FDIC fund has about $50 billion to "insure" about $1 trillion in assets at the nation's financial institutions, says Roubini. "They're going to run out of money" unless Congress acts soon to recapitalize the FDIC.
Up here in the cold white north, our Bank of Montreal expert takes a bleak look at the financial fiasco and pronounces:

It might not have had the visual impact of Hurricane Ike in Texas, but Monday's shakeup on Wall Street likely is a similarly "once-in-lifetime" event.
"This is the worst I've ever seen," said Sherry Cooper, chief economist at BMO Financial Group.
What Cooper saw was a financial meltdown with Lehman Brothers becoming the biggest bankruptcy in American history and blue-chip investment house Merrill Lynch & Co. becoming a green light discount special and taken over by Bank of America.
The result at the end of Monday was two financial giants disappearing along with the prospects for a short-term U.S. economic turnaround

And what does Bush the Dimmer have to say?

U.S. President George Bush talked about the ability of the country's financial markets to recover on their own.

Yeah, right, go tell ‘em, Georgie.

And to add to the unending fun, Hewlett Packard decides to cut 24,600 jobs.

And the pope, well, he’s all about telling us to die, and to die only, at the time chosen by God, aka the Great Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper.

And after this, it all makes sense in a surreal kind of way that 35% of people prefer their Blackberries to their spouses.

And to round everything off quite nicely, with the markets in turmoil, more suicide bombings in Iraq, the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ike to clean up, bankruptcies through the roof, what are the main political contenders jawing about?

McCain says Obama didn't call Palin a pig

Yeah, the potential leaders of the so-called Free World, still in the sandbox.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Positive Facet of 9/11

OR - The Day the World Came to Town

This is a book that would warm the coldest heart. In the aftermath of the day of devastation that was 9/11, the tiny town of Gander in Newfoundland took to its heart 38 airliners and their passengers that were refused entry by the U.S. The stories recounted here restores faith in the very goodness of people, particularly in the innate kindness of Newfoundlanders who took these lost and frightened men, women and children into their homes and bosoms.

"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.

Roxanne and Clarke Loper were excited to be on their way home from a lengthy and exhausting trip to Kazakhstan, where they had adopted a daughter, when their plane suddenly changed course and they found themselves in Newfoundland. Hannah and Dennis O'Rourke, who had been on vacation in Ireland, were forced to receive updates by telephone on the search for their son Kevin, who was among the firefighters missing at the World Trade Center. George Vitale, a New York state trooper and head of the governor's security detail in New York City who was returning from a trip to Dublin, struggled to locate his sister Patty, who worked in the Twin Towers. A family of Russian immigrants, on their way to the Seattle area to begin a new life, dealt with the uncertainty of conditions in their future home.

The people of Gander were asked to aid and care for these distraught travelers, as well as for thousands more, and their response was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers staying at her school put together letters to family members all over the world, which she then faxed.

Bonnie Harris, Vi Tucker, and Linda Humby, members of a local animal protection agency, crawled into the jets' cargo holds to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights. Hundreds of people put their names on a list to take passengers into their homes and give them a chance to get cleaned up and relax.

This book reads like a novel. I couldn’t put it down. A validation of all that is best in the human spirit. A perfect antidote to the horror of 9/11 and the horrors that have been committed in its name ever since.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Simple Things

The longer I live, the more I realize that it is the small things that give me the greatest joy. Is that the secret to happiness, I wonder?

My meditation of yesterday (which gets emailed by The Universe every day!) put it quite simply:

For those who ponder and wonder and wrestle with the idea of what it is they really want, I have an answer that each would wholeheartedly agree with: "HAPPINESS."
And for those who ponder and wonder and wrestle with exactly what will bring them true happiness, I have an answer that each would wholeheartedly disagree with: "Just do something, do anything, as soon as possible, and do it with care."
And I'd add, "Trust me."

And co-incidentally, I had been surprised the day before when I had a taken a few hours away from some corporate tax files. I had baked some cranberry/walnut/orange-zest scones (with care!) and recognised that the sense of satisfaction I had felt on seeing them on the cooling rack in all their fat glory far exceeded the accounting triumph of the morning.

This morning I look out over the bay and watch a variety of birds dive-bomb their lunches in the water. It is a ‘denim day’ as I term them - the piercing blues of the sky and the ocean having that clarity that catches in the throat. And it makes me glad to be a witness.

There is work here that needs attention and I’d rather be writing an article, or knitting an afghan. But I am committed to doing the work. With the same care I afforded the scones.

I had a call yesterday from someone who wants me to teach a little course on upgrading computer skills. They can only afford to pay me a minuscule hourly rate but I was inordinately pleased at being asked and of course I will accept.

A dear friend sent me a CD that has given me so much joy in the last few weeks as I play and replay this delightful fusion of jazz and blues with the unlikely duo of Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis, Two Men with the Blues:

Simple things. Happiness. Why look elsewhere?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Screen Sucking


So there's bad screen sucking - Perez Hilton anyone? (Guilty, guilty!)

There's, like, not so bad, but not so good either, screen sucking - Stumble, Facebook, Bore Me, etc.

And then there's the Rolls Royce, the creme-de-la-creme so to speak, of screen sucking which has now been expanded to include subjects along with the old familiar word definitions.

It's almost virtuous. For every correct answer 20 grains of rice are donated to the UN programme to end world hunger.

Go on, try it, it's much better than before.

I scored really, really well on identifying the famous artists.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Agent Rainbow: Coming Soon to a Roadway Near You?

I have a healthy distrust of governments - municipal or local, provincial and federal. My ill feeling has been borne out by the many ways in which governments, entrusted with the safety and well being of all its citizens, proceed to do exactly the opposite of this once elected and respond only to its corporate ring-masters, our true overlords.

This cynicism has been truly justified recently.

But first of all the narrative:

In the fifties and sixties in New Brunswick, Canada, with the encouragement of the U.S. government, whole communities were expropriated to test a mutagenic chemical by the name of Agent Orange on local trees, bushes, plants and shrubs. Agent Orange went on to greater fame in Vietnam where it destroyed vast swathes of jungle so that the Vietnamese would be exposed and rendered visible for annihilation. This chemical altered the genetic structure of plants at the cellular level so that they self-destructed.

No one thought of the seepage into groundwater and the human ingestion of same. Or thought and disregarded it. Birth defects, cancers, class action lawsuits, and loss of life resulted after years of being assured that there was no danger. We are all familiar with the devastating effect of this chemical, both on the returned soldiers and their subsequent offspring and on the surviving Vietnamese. Not to mention the Beta testing ground of New Brunswick.

In today's paper, I am horrified to read that instead of putting these chemicals away forever, my government has been using Agent White on the sides of the highways here to clear bush and trees from automotive sightlines.

That's cancerous, toxic poison seeping into the groundwater.

Affecting all of us on a molecular level.

Will I protest?

Hell, yeah.

Will it stop?

I'm not holding my breath.

And oh yeah, the manufacturer of these Purple(and also Multi-Coloured) People Eaters?

Our malevolent old friend, the Dow Chemical Corporation.

Xomba has a good site on the chemical components of all of them.

Subsequent to above post and Sparrowchat's comment on same:
Here is a link to his excellent post on these horrific, oxymoronic 'agents'.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

19-square-mile ice sheet breaks loose in Canada

Hellooooooo! Is there anyone out there?

There's this:
A chunk of ice shelf nearly the size of Manhattan has broken away from Ellesmere Island in Canada's northern Arctic, another dramatic indication of how warmer temperatures are changing the polar frontier, scientists said Wednesday.

And this:

The loss of these ice shelves means that rare ecosystems that depend on them are on the brink of extinction, said Warwick Vincent, director of Laval University's Centre for Northern Studies and a researcher in the program ArcticNet.

"The Markham Ice Shelf had half the biomass for the entire Canadian Arctic Ice Shelf ecosystem as a habitat for cold, tolerant microbial life; algae that sit on top of the ice shelf and photosynthesis like plants would. Now that it's disappeared, we're looking at ecosystems on the verge of extinction,' said Mueller.

Read the whole thing here

And what sayeth our esteemed Prime Minister Harper? Who will, incidentally, be running in a newly called general election on October 13th. No grand election hoopla circus here folks. Apart, of course, from the pronouncements of the above Minister Harper who says on this catastrophic tipping of the balance of the arctic:

Harper announced last week that he plans to expand exploration of the region's known oil and mineral deposits, a possibility that has become more evident as a result of melting sea ice. It is the burning of oil and other fossil fuels that scientists say is the chief cause of manmade warming and melting ice.

Harper also said Canada would toughen reporting requirements for ships entering its waters in the Far North, where some of those territorial claims are disputed by the United States and other countries.

In other words: "Oh goody, more oil! Buzz off, it's ours."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life Death

(Song on link above is courtesy of Monty Python).

I was commenting on Laura’s blog the other day on the death of Geoffrey Perkins and how sloppy and well, random, the ending of his life. A hit and run driver in his case. And I thought of the random ending of most lives.

And I pondered - morbid,I know - on what mine would be like.

The likelihood of a run in with a moose in my car here is rather high and the results can be rather messy - to all concerned in the collision. However, “Squashed by a Moose” steals much from the dignity of an obituary.

I climb with my granddaughter and the old pins can be less steady than once they waxed -but thankfully not yet waned - but one never knows. I could tumble down a mountain in front of her horrified eyes. Memorable that would be. But the darling one traumatized until she tosses off this mortal coil (“And just how did your granny die, dear?”) would be a high price to pay.

My dear, departed friends and younger extended family members have been struck with cancers, an aneurism, a car accident, infections post surgery, a sudden fatal heart attack at forty- two, suicides, alcoholism. Nothing overly dramatic amongst all of them. Just all too sad and too soon. Even the suicides were a quiet leave-taking with no dramatic notes left behind.

I then thought of the headers on the obituary I would like:

“Drowned at sea on her last solo sail at the age of ninety-two.”

“Keeled over, quite happily, at her latest book signing at the age of ninety.”

“Due to her failing eye sight, inadvertently stabbed herself with a knitting needle upon completion of her latest knitted art project at the age of one hundred and ten.”

“Laughed herself into a fatal coma at the house of friends at the age of ninety-one.”

“While in the last two miles of the Boston Marathon, the only one in her class and gender, in the tenth hour, at the age of ninety five, she lay down, exhausted, and died.”

“At the age of eighty nine, she fell off a scaffolding in her dining room while painting her ceiling a crimson red.”

Now what would yours be?


Monday, September 01, 2008

Alone, again.

Near Twillingate Lighthouse, August 2008

As the house empties of footsteps running hither and yon, the newspaper sections are no longer shared, the daily Word Jumble becomes a solitary exercise, the Soduko remains blank, the knitting unadmired and untaught, the books stiff in their jackets and not passed along the line, and the dog unfrolicked with her dog-niece, I mourn the passing of the seasons, the passing of my life.

Life is all about change, though, I remind myself. I treasure my moment bowl more and more. I have the time to do that. I rejoice in its diamonds and mourn its stones.

If you believe as I do, that this is it, this brief, intense dance on the earth, then it becomes more poignant when our loved ones leave, briefly or forever.

My beloveds left today. To resume their lives in Toronto. We danced together yesterday at an afternoon tea dance by the ocean. To a mixture of live old time rock ‘n roll and Irish music.

Memo to self: I must dance. A lot more.