Friday, October 30, 2009

Getting away from it all

I took the photo from my deck and I got to thinking about the new house in the middle of it and wondering if he ever took a picture from his front porch.

It’s odd isn’t it? The fact I am someone else’s view. My old saltbox house across the bay is a feature in the vista from his fancy double decker “cabin”.

They say he’s a townie lawyer, this fellow who spent the money and built his dream getting-away-from-it-all. Though he doesn’t escape much looks like. For now and again I point the old binocs his way and I've yet to see a car in the curlicue driveway.

Then again he might have gone completely fancy and built himself some underground parking. You just never know, so I’ve been told, with these fancy lawyers and their townie ways coming to the outports now and again to escape from it all. If they can spare the time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weird Food Combos

Does anyone else do this? I mean combine foods together that wouldn't 'normally' be married. The weirder the better.

Like: I love a fresh Montreal bagel, topped with peanut butter and hot salsa.
or: a mound of mushy green (dried, marrowfats) peas slopped between two slices of absolutely fresh out of the oven white bread.

As a child I would love french fries (chips) sandwiched on white bread.

My mother would mix chopped fresh lettuce and shallots with hot mashed potatoes.

One of my good friends loves chocolate covered raisins tossed on hot popcorn at the movies.

I make a scrumptious vegan soup with peanut butter and pumpkin and coconut.

Any other food weirdos out there?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Healthcare Math 101

Al Franken (Senator – Democrat – MN) is a breath of fresh air. He blows it all over the U.S. Senate Judiicary Committee yesterday.

It seems like medical bankruptcies in the USA are occurring in unprecedented numbers and Mr. Franken is asking some brutal questions in his concern for the unfortunate victims.

People like this woman going into bankruptcy because of her dead son’s medical bills, (he died of cystic fibrosis at 4-1/2) incurring 5 million dollars in debt, losing their home and couldn’t afford even the fee for bankruptcy:

Kerry Burns described to senators the 13-month illness of her son, Finnegan, who died in a Washington hospital last March at the age of 4½. Burns and her husband, Patrick, had taken leaves from their jobs in order to be at the boy’s side through several surgeries at three hospitals, living on disability and unemployment pay and falling so far behind on their bills that they could not recover financially.

“The emotional hardship my husband and I endured over the course of our son’s hospitalization pales in comparison to what we have felt since his loss,” Burns said, referring to their “financial ruin,” as she called it, and the humbling experience of filing for bankruptcy.

In particular, Burns singled out the bankruptcy system’s requirement that she and her husband take a computerized class in credit counseling. It was “sort of a slap in the face.” The Burnses said they felt insulted by the tone the class, which included questions “about why we were going bankrupt and how we could have avoided the situation in which we currently find ourselves.”

This seems totally alien to those of us living in countries which have universal health care: Like the other day, I receive in the mail from my provincial government an unexpected drug card. Yes, because I’m a senior, I’m entitled to free prescription drugs along with my free medical care. Just show my card at the pharmacy. Any pharmacy. I'm not under review by the death panel yet, obviously.

And for an etcetera: there’s a little sheet telling me to be sure to stock up on my free drugs if I plan to take an extended trip outside of Canada. This must seem like fables from another planet to those living in the USA,”Land of the Free for Nobody-at-all”.

Mr. Franken goes on to question Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Diana Furchtgott-Roth when she insists that those countries with universal health care also have citizens who declare medical bankrupticy:

FRANKEN: I think we disagree on whether health care reform, the health care reform that we’re talking about in Congress now should pass. You said that the way we’re going will increase bankruptcies. I want to ask you, how many medical bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?
FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number in front of me, but I can find out and get back to you.
FRANKEN: I can tell you how many it was. It’s zero. Do you know how many medical bankruptcies there were last year in France?
FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number, but I can get back to you if I like.
FRANKEN: Yeah, the number is zero. Do you know how many were in Germany?
FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: From the trend of your questions, I’m assuming the number is zero. But I don’t know the precise number and would have to get back to you.
FRANKEN: Well, you’re very good. Very fast. The point is, I think we need to go in that direction, not the opposite direction. Thank you.

The fact that all this is being debated, in the year 2009, is an absolute travesty and symptomatic of a corporatocracy gone wild.

And will it be fixed? There may be some minnows thrown to the great unwashed, but when a victim of wife-battering or rape is deemed to have a "pre-existing condition" and is denied basic health care, is there any real hope at all?

And U.S. "Medical Exiles" here in Canada are now becoming visible (and more outspoken).
Kathleen Kelly is an American who married a Canadian. They now live on Bowen Island in British Columbia with their six-year-old son. It sounds idyllic. The trouble is, she'd like to have the ability to go home -- to California. But she says she can't because of her son's health. And in her view, that makes her a medical exile.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Your friend gets the news thirteen months ago.

You think to yourself, hey, this is wrong, someone’s made a huge mistake: she’s a life long vegetarian, an emergency room nurse, a volunteer, a great woman to all who knew her, her sons are still too young and she's just within seconds of having an overdue retirement.

Where she can travel a bit to her family in Nova Scotia, maybe visit me for a week or three; the plans are rich, expansive. Kayaking, she loves kayaking. And hiking, boy, she really leaves us eating her dust when we’re out. She's lost her dog in the last wee while, was planning on getting another one. See? She'd far too much on the go. It wasn't time.

Always good at advice, one of those who’s very unobtrusive. But wise. She’d throw lovely little parties with unusual ice creams and organic cakes and candles everywhere. Even on her small deck. She was like that. She could be relied upon to bring something interesting to the Annual Ladies’ Brunch that I hold every year in Toronto. And she’d present you with flowers out of the blue. Because.

Her last emails were full of the harvest on her balcony. Clipping her lettuce. Watching her Japanese maple grow to 9”, gathering her tax papers to ship to me, doing her meditations.

Inoperable fucking brain cancer.

She died at 10.00 p.m. last night.

RIP dearest Diana.


A little poem I wrote which was read at her memorial service:

For Diana

Death is only for the living:
The bereft standing there
Embracing the sharp edges
And chilling silence
Of your vanished vitality.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blog Jam

We had a bad storm on Tuesday night. Winds howling at over 120kmh in this little outport, even higher elsewhere. Buckets full of snow were blasted at the windows, clinging briefly to the panes and then falling in a puddle on the ground and disappearing. Phones blew out, dialup was a dim memory, dinner was cooked on the fire and gratitude was in the heart for being safe indoors as plans were deferred.

The sun came out yesterday bathing all in its path with that special light that only the aftermath of a storm can bring. A wondrous golden hue to everything. Like the child who shrugs after doing something really bad. "Who, me?"

I wore my aran sweater yesterday. I wear it, oh, once a year. It is too bulky to go under a coat and far too warm for spring and early fall. But yesterday was perfect for it. It will last a couple of hundred years at this rate.

We caught up on one of the deferred plans and went to the fishers' museum in St. Vincent's. Fishermen's Museum really. But I do prefer the more PC term. Because it wasn't only the fishermen. It was the women who toiled and slaved and worked so hard in the houses on the shore.

I was completely bewitched with the quilt shown above. Utterly and completely. I don't think I've ever seen women's work more honoured in one outstanding piece of work like this. In stark black and white.

Profound and gorgeous. I had to be pried away. I wanted to spend all day with it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cartoon of the Week

I posted about Raymond Lahey, Bishop and paedophile, here. It turns out that his associates (read priests and his superior - the archbishop) knew of his proclivities way back in 1989 right here in Newfoundland when he was a mere priest, and chose to do nothing about it. Along with a collection of child pornography in his home in Mount Pearl at that time, he entertained the boys of Mount Cashel. Yes, those boys. He was promoted to bishop soon after and skipped around to various parishes. As is the wont of the Catholic Church when it rewards its perverts.

As to Roman Polanski, much has been written. I am truly devastated at some of his supporters who have signed the petition urging his release and complete exoneration for child rape and as a fugitive from justice. These supporters I had long admired, but no longer.

Shame on you child rape apologists:

Whoopie Goldberg: (and aren't you glad it wasn't your grandchild this paedophile raped?)
Pedro Aldomar: No longer will I enjoy your movies.
Woody Allen: Q'uel suprise!
Martin Scorsese: And you the father of daughters!
Tilda Swinton: Tilda Swinton!
David Lynch: Wake up, man!

It is completely disheartening. Lahey, at least, has now been isolated and ordered to have no contact with children or anyone under 18.

The Polanski paedophile, on the other hand, had access to his own vulnerable children for the past 30 years and many others, no doubt.


My friend Laurie at Three Dog Blog provided me with this link to Calvin Trillin at The Nation
and this marvellous poem:
A youthful error? Yes, perhaps.
But he's been punished for this lapse--
For decades exiled from LA
He knows, as he wakes up each day,
He'll miss the movers and the shakers.
He'll never get to see the Lakers.
For just one old and small mischance,
He has to live in Paris, France.
He's suffered slurs and other stuff.
Has he not suffered quite enough?
How can these people get so riled?
He only raped a single child.

Why make him into some Darth Vader
For sodomizing one eighth grader?
This man is brilliant, that's for sure--
Authentically, a film auteur.
He gets awards that are his due.
He knows important people, too--
Important people just like us.
And we know how to make a fuss.
Celebrities would just be fools
To play by little people's rules.
So Roman's banner we unfurl.
He only raped one little girl.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ever Wonder Why More Women Don’t Run for Political Office?

{Above image is from Ms. O'Leary's campaign}

Misogynistic Neanderthals of any description usually move me to a kind of helpless rage on behalf of my fellow victims (read women) on this planet.

But a Newfoundland Neanderthal like Randy Simms, mayor of Mount Pearl, broadcaster of "Open Line" and unapologetic misogynist leaves me in appalled disbelief along with anger.

On his Newfoundland radio show Randy offers his following deep insight into women (a record number ran and won this year) in politics here in municipal council:

On Tuesday’s show, during a conversation with Long Harbour Deputy Mayor Ed Bruce Simms said, “There are two men and five women. Oh, my son you have my sympathy (laughter). You and Gary are not going to get your way on anything, you know that don’t you (laughter). It’s just going to be like being at home, buddy (laughter). We’re being nasty to your lady councillors aren’t we (laughter). No, you’re going to have a good crew out there.”
Sheilagh O’Leary (who won a record number of votes), one of the offended councillors, called in to complain about his sexism.

He told her she was too sensitive and to just get over it.

“My God I love that woman and now she’s, now she’s had to make herself out stupid around me. Damn I’m disappointed.”
Then he goes on, to put icing on the cake, so to speak:

“I’m disappointed for her really, not for me…because being part of a fringe element within a legitimate feminist movement is not a way to advance the cause of women’s rights.”

Emphasis mine.

Yeah, Randy. And you sure know about women’s rights, doncha buddy? Colour me fringe element.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Bum of the Celtic Tiger

(Sorry, couldn't resist the headline).

In an effort to save money, (and the portend of things to come, I've no doubt) Irish parents in Carrigaline, Co. Cork - my home county in Ireland - are requesting that pupils be furnished with their own toilet paper by their parents to lighten the economic load of the school.


The school's principal said the measure had been taken in order to save money in the face of education funding cuts.

"We are endeavouring to trim down expenses and ensure we use our grants towards [educational needs],"

Read about it here.

Now I know why I always thought bidets were a good idea.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

And there are those who ask me why on earth I live here.

I rambled a bit off the beaten track when driving home from my niece's yesterday, where I spent most of the weekend.

This is a photo of Rushoon:

And this is a photo of Spanish Room:

I'm only crazy about the names of these places.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Suffer the Little Children, Again and Again and Again.

Bishop Raymond Lahey resigned from his post as Catholic Bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly. Just prior to his resignation it turns out his laptop had been examined by Canadian Customs officers as Bishop Lahey was going through Ottawa airport on his return from an ‘unspecified’ foreign country. Lahey was arrested because of graphic child pornography images found on his laptop. Apparently he was in the business of buying, selling and trading in such images for a long time.

I’m not surprised. I’m sure you’re not either.

However, the headlines of the Canadian papers reflect a totally different sensibility.

“Nova Scotia Diocese shocked by bishop’s pornography charges.”
– please note the absence of “child” in this headline. This is from The Telegram, our Newfoundland newspaper. Pristine you might call it. Emphasis mine.

Of course every source I’ve read doesn’t disclose the fact that old Ray denied (way back in 1999) that he was unaware of the horrific abuse perpetrated by a priest who reported to him:

The last Bishop in charge of Father Kevin Bennett , Raymond Lahey, says he had no idea Bennett was abusing young boys.
In fact, he says, the Roman Catholic church on the West Coast kept no records of complaints against him.
Bennett sexually assaulted more than 30 young boys, and they are now suing him and the church.

And said Ray also “forgot” to keep written records of the abuse reported to him. He was subsequently involved in overseeing the settlement of the millions of dollars to these victims. Setting a few dollars aside, no doubt, as start up costs for his new entrepreneurial venture. (OK, I surmise only, but seriously: where did he get the money? From his parishioners? From the Vatican?)

His acolyte, Father Paul Abbass of Antigonish says, on hearing of the arrest of his boss, with shock and awe of course:

“I’m sad, I’m shocked, I think I’m mostly concerned about our people, our priests and our diocese.”

You will note in above statement that there isn't one smidgin of remorse expressed for the abused little children that Bishop Lahey profited on.