Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Are We Without a Sense of Wonder?

I watch the dragonflies outside, swooping and darting, chasing the mosquitoes. Who eats the dragonflies?

I've never forgotten the seller on Ebay who mailed me a handcrafted towel rack for the kitchen with a hand-drawn map of where every screw went. It still works beautifully and holds towels and potholders and dishrags and my oven mitts. A self-taught man who loved his work.

I am a firm believer in that some things can't be taught by others. At least to a creative level. Try as we might to teach it or to learn it. I think if we truly want to learn something, fire up a hobby, fulfil a passion, we just go ahead and acquire the resources and then the skill and then experiment and do it. This belief comes on the heels of trying to teach software and then Irish rug-hooking and writing and now people asking for more writing classes and Irish knitting workshops and photography lessons.

I should clarify that I am writing about mid- and elder life learning or rediscovery of self.

I think that passion comes first and that whets the appetite for more knowledge. No one has ever knocked on my door with a piece of knitting looking for help. Or with a chapter of a book they are writing. Or with an album requesting a photo critique. No one. I would love if they did. Advertising workshops and then conducting “classes” in creative arts is a waste of everyone's time, I believe. The huge dearth I perceive out there is a sense of wonder.

One can't teach a sense of wonder.

I could riff off further into what I've come to believe on all of this but I'm still thinking about it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Machine Guns & Zygotes

Right wing fury
Drowning out reason
And science

Edging out compassion
Making light
Of lives lost

In battles planned
In dark boardrooms
Out of reach of bombs

Ramming down
A mythical
White man

Into the throats
Of broken women
To kill their voices

Shouting: bootstraps!
Freedoms! Zygotes
Are sacred!

Death to the Muslims
And the gays and
Those uppity females

Who don't know
Their places amidst
Our machine-guns.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sucker Punched

The man so far away.
Safely Ontario-ed.
Odd thought
Thrown his way.
Full recovery
From broken heart.
And then. And then.
The grand announcement.
He and new wife
Moving to Newfoundland.
Door bangs open.
Disbelief enters.
Many, many WTFs.

Newfoundland is small.
Too small.
To contain us both.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One Answer

My blog friend Ramana posted this on his Facebook page and I thought: This is the answer to the question I posed the other day.

I imagine that rightwing religious fanatics and gun-nutters will have trouble with the answer (what about the boogey-men and the terrorists and dark-skinned people and da gayz and extremism?), but I think this is a damn fine credo:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Question

Everybody's throwing their two cents around on the Aurora, Co. killing. Have you noticed?

Here's a partial causation list:

Violent games (like the Christians and the lions never were at it not to mention WW 1 & 2 ?)
No more funding for care and feeding of the dyed red-haired lunatic fringe element of society.
Our compromised agri-businesses loaded with toxicity.
Big Pharma (have you noticed nearly everyone is medicated these days, h'm?)
Parental lack of discipline
Too much parental discipline
Lack of porn.
Too much porn.

And the winner is: blame the victims. Seriously. As in what were the audience doing sitting in a theatre watching a violent film. Can you believe the sick thinking process behind that? Something along the lines of: what was that girl doing walking down the street at midnight - she deserved to be raped.

That audience in Aurora, Colorado, deserved the violence for watching a violent film. Classic and appalling victim-blaming.

My one question is this:

Apart from killing people, what other uses does a powerful assault rifle like an AR-15 have and why would any run of the mill lunatic gain access to it?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Family Heirloom

With some families it's wedding dresses.

With others it's some lovely old china. Or silver teapots. Or oil paintings.

With us?

I'll give you the story.

Yorkville. 1970 or thereabouts. Before it went all trendy and millionaire-rowish on us.

I have a brand new pair of hipster white jeans and need to find the perfect accessory.

And in those days in Yorkville amongst the headshops and coffee shops and bars were little leather shops which sold jesus-sandals and weedbags and other handmade bits and bobs.

And there I found it. Not realizing that I was buying a legacy that would be passed down for centuries.

My white jeans and subsequent blue jeans wore out but the accessory lived on. I passed it on to my husband, who wore it for years. In turn, he passed it to our daughters and ditto. It makes the ever-ready battery look lifeless.

And Grandgirl is here for a month. And guess what she's wearing?

This precious heirloom. Looking as fresh and as new as ever.

And here it is:

The Family Belt.

It should be good for another six generations.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Fickle Mistress

I was thinking about memory.

How reliable is it anyway?

I think of members of a family with a different viewpoint on significant events.

"Do you remember?" I say to her, "Do you remember when the baby was put in a drawer out in the back field near the boards that were put out for a dance floor, and someone, I think it was the English uncle, started playing the accordion and then someone joined him on the harmonica, we used to call them mouth organs then. I hated him teaching me to play it because he smoked and there were bits of tobacco stuck in the holes and the smell was awful."

"No, I don't remember that part," you say. "I remember the apples on the trees by the fence and Billy pushed me up a few stones that he put against them and I shook the branch and the apples fell down."

"Right," I say, "Well I don't remember that part, but boy, you got in trouble because you tore your dress and our grandmother got very upset."

"Why?" you say.

"Because she wanted us to look so good for the wedding. Auntie Rita's wedding to Uncle Pete."

"No," you say, "I don't remember a wedding at all. I remember my pale green dress that flounced and the apples. Was that at a wedding then?"

"Of course."

I am getting impatient now. "Why do you think we were all dressed up?"

"So what were you wearing then if you're so smart?"

"I can't remember."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's All In The Name

I was thinking about names. A friend became a first time grandparent today and her granddaughter has been given a trendy name. You know how that goes. The Conors and the Taylors and the Bethanys and the Jacobs.

In my time, in Ireland, the all-powerful Catholic church had an incredible influence on naming one's child. Always after a saint, sometimes after a holy nun or a holy priest (the adjective 'holy' was always attached to these sainted clerics, along with "Holy God" and "Holy Mary" - God's baby mama.)

Suggestions were made by the clerics and were enforced. The baby was often dragged away to the church as the mother lay recovering from the labour and her wishes disregarded as the priest pronounced his preference over the child's freshly baptized wet head. Seriously. That was so in my case. I joined a multitude of same-names, identified for years by our surnames in schools and offices. Individuality was not encouraged.

Those of unusual names (Olive, Celine, Violet, et al) were mocked by the nuns as being almost Protestant - " Was your mother not of the faith?", "Is your father a West Briton?".

Yanks (Americans) were mocked for naming the boys "Junior" after the father. "Did they not care enough about him to give him his own saintly name?"

As to us, the same-named girls, we mocked the Assumptas and the Conceptas and the Immaculatas - named for the various life stages of the above-mentioned Holy Mary and more infrequently for the great-aunt nuns who had some influence over the family naming.

My late dear M-I-L approved of the names I had chosen for her grandchildren but could be heard pitifully bleating over the choice made by her other D-I-L.

"Brooke?" she said to me, almost weeping into her afternoon sherry, "What kind of person names her child after a stream, tell me that."

I wanted to quote Bob Dylan and his Times They Are A-Changin' but just clucked in sympathy as I poured us another.

I've known a few who changed their names. I'd always wanted to but didn't have the guts. Tried to in Italy back in the day but was met with derision when I attempted the shift at home so reverted.

It's too late now. Plus I really have grown into it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Long Lost Words

I used "grig" the other day when talking to the grandgirl. I had to explain it.

I'm always astonished when these old words pop out of me to the bafflement of my listeners.

My mother used the word "grig" a lot. With a houseful of boys and a lone girl for years and years her plaintive cry was: "Would you stop grigging each other?" The woman craved peace.

Here is the definition:


To slag or goad

"Stop griggin' me or I'll bate you"

"Bate" in that context is "beat".

Another one is

"ball-hopping". This activity usually happens around the dinner table, when someone will throw out a controversial topic bound to get another's goat and irritate them to the point of explosion. Only later will they realize they've been baited for the table's entertainment.


A person who insults or makes a statements to gain a reaction

"He really hopped de ball last night"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Travelling Theatre Troupe

~~~~~Ansa, taking a break from rehearsals~~~~~

Our cast and crew of my play were 'away' this past weekend, so we made a 'time' of it. 'Time' being part of the Newfoundland lexicon.

time n DC ~ n (1950, 1963); cp DAE 10: on a time 'spree' (1855 quot), NID 12 c 'carousal.' A party or celebration, esp a communal gathering with dancing, entertainment, etc; cp SCOFF n

Cast and crew number 12 of us, well 13 when you include my dog Ansa, who has become an integral part of rehearsals and getaways and is quite spoiled by everyone.

I've talked about this amazing cast before but given the afore-mentioned 'time' more talents unfolded. One actor channels Bob Dylan in his spare time and another rivalled KD Lang in a performance of Hallelujah. We had to drag ourselves off to bed as I think we could have partied until dawn, but had our audience to keep in mind for a top-notch performance of the play the following day.

I'm beyond delighted to be a part of all this, especially with Grandgirl in tow who said to me coming home in the car:

"Boy, grandma, I sure wish that looking down the road, my gang can have this kind of fun once we're older!"

Amen, baby. Amen.

~~~~~~~Curtain call and standing ovation.~~~~~~~

~~~~All pictures taken by Grandgirl.~~~~

Friday, July 13, 2012

Here She Be

Posting this for all the "crafties" out there....

I designed and knitted this baby afghan with the tree of life, the rocks of Newfoundland, a lighthouse for safe harbour and dreams of a life surrounded by flowers with diamonds for her parents.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

je ne regrette rien

On As Time Goes By today, the discussion is on regrets.

I'm like Frankie and His Way in that regard - 'too few to mention'. Seriously. But like I commented on Ronni's blog - one big one.

I'd have had lashings of more sex. If I could have. I was too much the repressed wee Irish Cacklick Girlie. And in those days in Ireland, birth control was illegal. As were books like the Kama Sutra. Not that any of that stopped us. Except that it made the artifacts of prevention and titillation beyond the price ranges of the poverty stricken. Only the rich and the clergy could afford birth control, sexy books and abortions.

Which left the rest of us peons straddling the fence of shot-gun risking or slut condemnation.

Other regrets? None.

Simple answer: Life and its twists and turns made me what I am. And I'm quite happy with that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Five Loves

I love when I can open my back door and front door and let the ocean breezes sail through my house.

I love when the phone goes and it is somebody that wants NOTHING from me.

I love the anticipation of guests coming here, the prepping of the bedroom, the nice towels laid just so, the good soaps, the small little gifts they'd enjoy like a good book, their favourite chocolate, lotion, reading light set on a good angle, offer of my dog for their feet at night in bed (Ansa will put them to sleep and then seek me).

I love my indigo days here, the breathtakingness of them.

I love stroking a new book before I open it, knowing there is another world I will enjoy within, especially if it is recommended or sent by a friend (thanks Dianne!)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Gathering, Guarding and Grooming

Strange society we live in, yeah? So much time wasted on the gathering, grooming and guarding of stuff. Seriously.

No longer are we just living with essentials that no one would bother to look twice at in yesteryear, much less envy and want to steal.

I was tweaked to this post by one of Grannymar's today where she has this picture of a tricycle behind a locked tall gate. A chilling shot, to my mind. So much is said or understood by the objects portrayed - the prison of today's childhood, the concrete, the limited range for riding the bike itself, the sterile suburb.

I come from an unlocked door mentality. I know, I know. I had one breakin back in the day when we lived in the sprawling marital century home. One that was locked. And thieves broke into it through the dining room window and stole what they could, my purse, my ID and credit cards, they missed the family silver, what there was of it and other antiques.

Ever since then, call me a lunatic, I haven't bothered locking except when I go on vacation.

You see, something fires up inside me when such things happen. I was attacked one night when I was out running, police told me not to run at night, well, you know, eff them all, I'm taking back my night. And I did.

So I lived in Toronto for many, many years with unlocked doors, except at night - you know transients, etc. - and never had a problem. My take is thieves wouldn't bother. If you don't lock your door what's there to steal? If you do there must be treasure inside. Friends up the street proved my point in Toronto. Robbed blind after the tiny kitchen window was broken.

Batshyte crazy?


But you knew that.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Living Like a Grownup

{Working on a baby blanket for the first grandchild of a dear friend}

Do you ever feel like that?

I'll tell you when I feel like that.

When I always make my bed in the morning.

When I actually get dressed in the morning rather than entertain in my PJs all day (don't be talkin' - Murphy's Law 283 when I'm in my PJs, the world is at my door ready for tea and chat).

When for a whole week you could just about eat off my kitchen counters.

When I am balanced: a little time for knitting, same for writing, same for the bill-paying jobs, time for walking, time for meditation. Making the time. Not over the edge into a book all day because it's so damn good or watching 8 episodes of House in a row while slackmouthed on the couch.

When there is time for unexpected encounters on the shore as I walk the dog. Where I'm not frazzled thinking of the work that awaits me.

I think we lose a lot when good elder modelling is not available to us. My mother died too young to show me how sixty-mumbles live. I wasn't around my aunts much as they aged.

But I've discovered, rather late in life, that when the outside of me is balanced and fulfilling, then the rest of me is too. I'm not caught with my knickers down so to speak, but am prepared for any eventuality with a smile.

And how peaceful is that?

Monday, July 02, 2012

Theatre at my Door

{click to enbiggen for enhancement of this shot}

And not my door only. Everyone has a theatre at their doorways, whether city or country or in between. I only have to open my eyes to see it, to feel, or to hear it.

Back in the day, one of my running partners would always encourage this joint meditation:

Tell me what you see.
Tell me what you hear.
Tell me what you smell.
Tell me how you feel.

We would often run five or more miles, "telling" each other, and be so shocked we had covered such a distance.

Today is mauzy, now brightening as I write, the sun burning off the wannabe misty fog.

I see the boat chugging in and take out the zoom lens. I love playing with my camera. And I catch the shot, the mauze, the boat, the trees framing, the mauzy houses opposite.

I wonder if the captain caught enough crab or was (s)he laying mussel nets. I think about a living on the sea. How more meaningful it is to be a harvester, no matter what the catch, eggs, potatoes, fish.

I am a harvester of words. Of pictures. Of dreams.