Saturday, March 30, 2013





A trace of a bad or undesirable quality or substance: "the taint of corruption".


Contaminate or pollute (something).



stain - blemish - blot - spot - smirch - smear - smudge


contaminate - pollute - spoil - corrupt - foul - infect

I was posting a link on FB to an article I wrote years ago. About Easter and Tenebrae and the old Irish traditions around this time, like my granny looking at the sun reflected in a mirror in an eastern window of her house to tell the future.

All the awe and mystery and ceremonies and darkness of Easter week. Like my mother hauling me outside on Easter Sunday to watch the sun dance 3 times, even it was only in our imaginations.

And now I find it is all tainted (the only word that came to my mind) with the shadowed abuses and perversions that were taking place just about everywhere the Catholic Church had stretched its obscene tentacles.

And I can't help but imagine what was going on behind the scenes in all the churches and convents and cathedrals and schools and hospitals and orphanages I was in, so many children suffering with no one to hear their anguish apart from their paedophiliac abusers.

Thank you RC church. For destroying my memories and those of so many others. And the lives of all you abused and tried to conceal with the help of your Vatican Overlords. May you all rot in hell, if there`s such a place, which I doubt, you corrupt, evil and perverted institution.

Friday, March 29, 2013


"You expect me to eat this swill?"

"Well, I tried to get your favourite but the stores have been all out of it."

"I can hold out. I can starve. Watch me."

"I don't know why you think you're some kind of gourmand."

"I am."

"No, you're not. When I met you first you'd never seen a piece of meat. You didn't know omega 3's from a hole in the ground."

"Well, at least I know what I like now. Especially salmon."

"A far cry from salmon you were raised. Remember your bread and water days?"

"No. My taste buds are now refined. This substitute is unacceptable."

"And another thing - I don't like you dropping the food in a trail all through the house. I. Get. The. Message."

"Obviously not enough to try a little harder, aren't there like 9 more stores to visit to see if they have the salmon?"

"A whole day? You want me to search for a whole day?"

"Well, if you'd rather wait until my ribs are sticking out through my fur....."

"OK. OK."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I extended my daily walk yesterday. Added about 1/2 kilometre to it. I get sluggish and lazy and whiney in the winter months. The inner 2 year old comes out and stamps her feet (indoors) and refuses to budge. Even though all the outdoor gear is lined up in the hall. Even those odd things you put over your boots to stop the slippage on the ice, a gift from a friend.

My 91 year old neighbour does 5 miles on his treadmill every day in the winter. Five. Miles. I know myself and treadmills and exercisey machiney thingies. I use them as clothes hangers. I tested myself on a state of the art treadmill in the house I would stay in in Toronto for 4 months. A bells and whistles and cardio status and incline and calories burned measuring machine AND a flat screen TV in front of it where you could watch any movie you wanted, or the news or chick-chat shows. You know how many times I hit that machine? Twice. In four months. But I'm still drawn to them. As if by stroking them in sports shops the osmosis will make ME a lean, mean machine. And those small stairey things, you've seen those? Where you mindlessly ride up-down, up-down, for oh, five minutes before you go quietly into a corner and open a vein and wait for death to ease your boredom?

The rest of my village gear up and head out in all kinds of weather. I lurk behind the windows watching them marching out and back all through the day, hills and dales vanishing behind them like ribbons, strong legs striding. The dog and I dart out and manage a quick sludge-trudge through the snowy path to the shore and back again, whimpering. (That's me whimpering, the dog is crestfallen). In front of the fire is where we I belong. Sorry Ansa.

Not now. Not anymore. We embrace this spring, hoping she'll stay for a while. Meanwhile we chew up the mileage of the shore, out and about like real human beings and canines. Proudly greeting our fellow walkers. Lusty with health and how-are-yas.

Finally one of the walking pack. Finally bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Counting Moments

A moment from yesterday, you can see the masts of the fishing fleet outlined against the setting sun.

You're catching me as I wax philosophical lately. I've lost friends over the years. Far too many to count now. "Lost" seems that I was careless, somehow. As if I temporarily misplaced them. How come we use that metaphor? "Oh, you lost your dad, I'm so sorry." As if he could be found, you know? Lost to what exactly? Life, the world, his loved ones, the cancer that got him?

All this to say that a friend of mine died 10 years ago. A nasty form of cancer. She smoked. And the cancer ran everywhere in the end. She was a strikingly good-looking woman and dressed to the nines. Hair always perfect. Nails polished, cashmere twin-sets (now there's an old fashioned word but she was built for twin-sets) and pencil thin skirts and expensive tall shoes. A high school principal who had to run outside and up the road and behind a coffee shop to attend to her habit. Out of sight of her students and shedding her dignity in the process.

Her widower visited me out here in Newfoundland about 5 years ago. He was still in deep grief over her loss. We talked into the long nights about his beloved. She meant everything to him. He smoked. Four years ago he lost a leg, two years ago, the other one. Send them to the tobacco companies, he said at the time. Now he has receded into dementia.

Their younger daughter died last week, leaving three children. Smoking. Cancer. And when family pressure forced her to medical attention it was far too advanced. She suffered greatly in the last 6 months of her life. She was so like her mother in every way it would break your heart.

I look at her pictures today on Facebook, her last Christmas with her family, her chemo-head covered in a santa hat and her dad in the wheelchair beside her and her kids, the youngest only 12 and sadness overwhelms me. For all of us. For this precious, fragile world we inhabit so carelessly. Afraid to breathe the clean air and eat the good food, inhaling, ingesting, imbibing all the poison and toxins that will surely kill us in the end and far too soon.

And I'm glad her mother didn't live to bear this. And they have yet to tell her father.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


"In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:... "When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?"
Gabrielle Roth

Tell Stories.
Embrace the sound of silence.

I'm signed up.

And PS I've had to reinstigate comment moderation. The spam is through the roof.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Letting Go

Glorious sun in the clouds this past Sunday.

If there's one thing I've learned in this long eventful life, it's that it's fine to say one has let go of hurts or slights or losses, it's another for them to be permanently banished. Right?

I suppose the pain gets a little easier but never quite vanishes.

There are loved ones I think of every day. Even though to all intents and purposes they do not appear to love me. My thoughts are not obsessive, don't get me wrong. Not at all. But kind thoughts go out, love is sent and light is imagined surrounding them.

I have this little thing I do. Daily, I'm out on the shore with the dog (and oh yeah, today was her first 2013 paddle in the ocean, spring HAS to be here now!) And I pick up stones from the beach for these loved ones. And I name them. There were a few today. The number varies as relationships wax and wane and evolve. And the odd time I pick up a stone for my mother, or my granny, seeking the wisdom of the ages. And then I whisper a name into each stone and toss them one by one into the water. Sending love. Kind thoughts. Healing. Joy. Contentment.

And I go on my way.

At peace with the world.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Follow-up to Betrayal Story

Here is a link to a true story I wrote about the betrayal of a friend. It is in two parts with a continuation at the bottom of part 1.

There is nought as queer as folks, yeah?

A week ago, I received a friend request on Facebook from the one who betrayed me:

OMG. I don't believe it! I had no idea where you were. I only joined facebook last month -actually one of my friends got so fed up she created my account and told me to get on with it. How are you doing? Knew it was you when I saw your facebook page. Ted showed up on people you might know on Carrie's and from that you showed up. Nfld??? Remember my cousin Meghan - used to be married to my cousin David (cop)? Her sister Doris has been living there since 1988....enough.. hope you are not too busy to keep in touch. Ilona

I ignored it. What greater rebuff can there be?

Then today I received this:

I have not had a reply to my message so I don't know if you are busy or don't want to keep in touch. I am living in Lxxxx now (since 1988) and don't bother going to Toronto much. I miss the Bxxxxx from time to time but not much else. I am now in my own place and setting up my art studio. It feels good to be finally doing what I want to do - it only took 40 years. If you are interested I have posted some of my art work on my facebook and I have been creating the posters, etc. for the Pxxxxx Theatre here. Some of the posters are also on my facebook. I was going to ask about the girls then realized that they are not girls anymore!! Bit of a shock that. I don't feel any older apart from a few creaks and that the gray hair is just making me more blonde...I don't ask opinions on that I will be happy to live in denial a while longer. Let me know how you are and take care. Ilona.

Names are redacted to protect the guilty.

"Keep in touch?"

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recipes from The Outport Woman

Easy peasy - allow about 20 minutes from stem to stern, 15 minutes when you know what you're doing without the recipe.

Serves 4.

I eat this at least once a week, sometimes twice. It freezes incredibly well.

Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas with Lemon

2 teaspoons oil or ghee
1 small yellow onion
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger, from a 3-inch piece
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
1 dried hot red pepper or dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 heaping tbls of dulse or other seaweed, finely chopped, if desired.
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 pound baby spinach
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Toast a handful of coconut in the oven.
1. Heat the oil or ghee in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest, chopped dulse and red pepper, if using. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat for a few minutes or until the chickpeas are beginning to turn golden and they are coated with the onion and garlic mixture.

3. Toss in the spinach, one handful at a time. This will take about 5 minutes; stir in a handful or two and wait for it to wilt down and make room in the pot before adding the next handful.

4. When all the spinach has been stirred in, pour in the coconut milk and stir in the salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the chickpeas are warm through. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top.

This can be a fairly thick soup or use as stew served over sliced baked yams (da best) or rice or rice noodles or basmati rice or....

NOTE: In withdrawal emergencies, you can sub a couple of cans of spinach as all these ingredients can be kept in your cupboard, omit lemon and use bottled lemon juice.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Outport Woman was Busy in the Kitchen

Between other bursts of energy and engagements I've been cooking. A lot. I like to make about 4 or 5 dinners and then freeze the extras. With this in mind I can afford to take more time and effort with some dishes.

In the last wee while I've made seafood crepes which I rarely do as it takes a while. But I am in receipt of a long awaited cast iron crepe pan and these were the result. The extra three servings freeze so well:

Then I made an old favourite, steak and kidney pie, making it an unbroken rule to freeze the extras (4) as I could eat it every day and not get fed up with it, it must be the memories of a long, damp, bone-chilling chilblainy childhood in Cork:

And then finally, this recipe which I've fed to so many at my table as it is so nutritious. I call it coconut spinach. I made 6 of these.

Next up is moose lasagna which is incredible. And then someone was telling me about cooking lasagna and then putting this marvellous stuffing along the strip and rolling it all up and baking. It could have been Grannymar, h'm.

Now if you're in this area, drop in. If there's one thing I enjoy more than cooking, it's feeding it to friends.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Here's a story from long, long ago

This is a view from where we always stayed on the island with Cape Clear in the distance.

My eye was caught by one of those pop-up ads today. Something about writing and storytelling and I hit the link which I rarely do and further down I caught a promo for the Story Telling Festival in Cape Clear in September 2013 and I thought, wouldn't that be something, wouldn't I love to tell a few stories there.

When I was growing up and all grown up and even eldered, Sherkin Island in West Cork is where my family congregates. Yeah, even this past year.

Southerly from Sherkin Island lurks Cape Clear while southerly of that again there's the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse which was the last sight of land the doomed passengers of the Titanic (and many other shipwrecks) observed.

But I digress, as I always do.

And I thought to websearch a wedding (with no luck, unfortunately) that my father and I attended back in the day. Way back in the day. I can't remember how old I was, I would venture maybe 12. My mother was up to her elbows in toddlers and babies and very much not in the mood for such things, particularly when the baby-sitter (me) could be snarly and unwilling. So I would often partner my father to different events. I should write about them some time. They were very interesting.

Anyway, once more I digress. This wedding took place on Cape Clear. My father had secured an invitation as (I think) a government representative. We had to take the ferry from Sherkin to Baltimore and then from Baltimore to Cape Clear. Much time was spent on the sea especially when my father wouldn't let me sit down anywhere as my dress was a pale pastel and the seats were filthy on the boats. I was up to 90 with excitement. My first fairly adult party.

It was a magnificent day. One of those brilliant West Cork days with Carbery's Hundred Isles laid out like jewels all around us, shimmering in the heat.

Dad had a habit of telling me now and again: “You should remember this – you'll never see anything like it again!” He was always right. (When I was three he held me up in his arms in front of the second floor window of a walk up flat in the small town where we lived and pointed downwards to the darkening footpath where a man with a long stick with a flame on top was passing: “Remember this, it's the last night that the lamplighter is coming around to light the gas lamps, tomorrow the electric street lights will come on!”)

As we got off the ferry on Cape Clear, he used that well-worn phrase on me.

I asked him why.

“Well,” he said, “The bridegroom is 85 and the bride is 83.”*

I started to laugh.

“And,” he said, “They've been engaged for over sixty years!”

And what a party it was!! It all took place in the Irish language, of course and I was proud I could keep up. The caint, the ceol and the craic (chat, music and good times) lasted late into the night. And the couple was so happy, their faces lit up with delight and they danced and danced. At that unferried hour, we were lucky enough to hitch a ride on a boat going directly to Sherkin, even though the course was pretty erratic due to the merriment of the tillerman, but the water was smooth as a baby's bum.

And, odd this, anything Dad told me to remember, I did. I am so very glad he made something special out of such extraordinary memories.

*PS At the time I understood that life got in the way of their marriage, care of elderly parents and younger siblings, dispute over inheritances, etc., being the various impediments to their betrothal.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blog Jam

Spring arrives on the Avalon Peninsula

Do you ever wonder why the clergy of the RC still go around in dresses whenever they get the chance? I suppose I don't care enough to do research on this but, seriously, how can anyone take them seriously in their outrageous getups with eyeboggling headgear (Hello Ascot! Envious yet?) as they blather on and on about poverty?
It was one of those moments at cards the other night. A regular player had a stroke and had returned after several months' absence. In fine fettle, I should add. He looked a bit gaunt but otherwise cheerful. I asked him how he was doing - "Oh I've had full recovery from the stroke,"he said, "But this week they told me I had cancer." I sympathized, appalled, said something about dreadful luck. For what does one say?

Halfway through our games, the facilitator came over with an envelope and handed it to him. "There's a $100 for you from the takings tonight. For the cancer." A few years ago I would have internally laughed a bit. Quaint country ways and all that. How cute these natives are, etc. But not anymore. I wanted to cry. I was so touched by the dignity with which he took it, as he bowed in gratitude to all of us, and tucked it away. Surely his burden is easier knowing we cared enough to give him a little pocket money for the bleak days ahead?
I run up against myself sometimes. I was out and about the other day in a fairly untrammeled area, rough cliff edge, rocks, forging my way through primitive terrain. As I stood atop a low cliff with the dog barging ahead, I thought: if I jump from here elderbones might snap and no one would find me for weeks. I envisioned the funeral scene full of "silly woman, she leaped from the cliff and splatted herself on the rocks below." I turned and walked away. This is the first time this has happened. I've always jumped. Another concession.
Don't you just love it when someone gets in your car (your gas, your insurance, your maintenance, your monthly payment) as happened to me today and then immediately complained it needed a good wash? I had a marvellous comeback though and I'll share it. "Yes," I said, "I know that. Would you like to pay for one for me?"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

From a Distance

From a distance, we see things more clearly, don't we? Today I re-read these few lines from "Seating Arrangements" by Maggie Shipstead. One of the funniest books I've ever had the pleasure to read.

"An airplane crossed the sky and she imagined its interior - people packed in rows like eggs in a carton, the chemical smell of the toilets, pretzels in foil pouches, cans hiss-popping open, black ovals of night sky embedded in the rattling walls."

How a few short lines can encapsulate the current awfulness of air travel! But only from a distance. When we're on board other anxieties intrude - in my own case smoke from the dollhouse kitchen, non-stop crying babies - their wee ears affected by the air pressure, and those drunks, you know the kind, my tribe calls them "messers". Twice we overshot runways, another time the sudden turbulence was so violent our breakfasts hit the ceiling. Not to mention the odd nasty flight attendant who keeps one cowering, well-behaved, in one's seat, crunching one's legs together, not wishing to incur his/her wrath by going to the toilet.

This geezer remembers the times when air travel was a joy. Playpens for the children. Hammocks for babies and free assistance at plane changing airports. China! Real glasses and cutlery! Table linens! And oh yeah, smoking!

I'm sure you fliers out there have your own stories to share.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

You Make Me Feel So Young ♪♫

View from Signal Hill, taken this past summer.

I have a friend who isn't thirty yet. We met aeons ago in a writing workshop in Toronto and took a shine to each other. I'm old enough to be her grandmother if I think about that aspect of it, but I rarely do. We like the same food and each other's writing and each other's unique qualities. She flew to St. John's from Toronto where she lives for 6 days recently so she could touch the ground here and walk the streets and meditate around and around Signal Hill. Signal Hill didn't feel the same about her as it hadn't let go of its snow and ice yet.

But she was up for the challenge with her weighty boots ("you should get a pair of Blundstones" she tells me). Her luggage never arrived but that didn't phase her. She just borrowed a few bits and stated several times, all you need is underwear and two pairs of socks and you're good to go, and viewed the non-arrival of her luggage as a touchstone to more simple living.

We walked around our hilly city for a while and then settled on Indian food. We were both craving it. She guided me to a hole in the wall, International Flavours, I hadn't really noticed before then. A mother and son ran it. And the food! Oh to die! I will go back and think of her each time.

She startled when I mentioned one of her characters from years ago. She confessed with tears in her eyes that she's had writer's block for over seven years and can't even write her thesis, a final qualification on her journey to being a doctor of Chinese medicine. "But," she said, "I am so thrilled you remember my Fanny as this was part of my little sojourn here, to see if Fanny would speak to me again. And she has this morning as I meditated and now you bring her up too!!"

She then proceeded to list out and have me write down all her artistic contacts (she was a cinematographer in her very early twenties in St. John's)here in Newfoundland.

And the really splendid part of our get-together? She made me feel eternally young and just full of possibilities.

Friday, March 08, 2013

An Obscure (and unmarketable) Skill Set

Part 1

Part 2

Today I had Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony playing. One of those kinds of days, a Denim Day on the Bay. Sun sparkling, 50 shades of blue dancing around: ocean, bluejays, sky, the trim on my house, even my jeans.

And I realized, like OMG, I can hum (and conduct if my hands are free) the entire symphony from beginning to end. Seriously. How on earth did I ever memorize all of it? Have I listened to it this many times and feel so much joy rapture each time?

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Beethoven? Over one summer in Toronto, the Toronto Symphony played all his symphonies. One week after the other. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

My favourite piece of music of all time is Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. Rarely performed as it so enormously expensive to mount.

In two parts above. Watch for Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlam along with Daniel Barenboim conducting and on piano.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Sense and Sensibility

I make most of my own meals(and freeze leftovers). I put up preserves. I freeze harvested vegetables. I make my own organic yogurt once a week. I even make my own soda/pop - sparkling water (serious addiction here!).

But now and again, the very odd time, I break out into outrageous behaviour.

I went to the grocery store today to pick up some chick peas. I use chick peas a lot in my cooking, they are an excellent source of protein and also very conducive to the kind of creativity in cuisine I try and cultivate - in my better moments. I could give you recipes. Even my stalwart Jiggs-Dinner-Newfoundlander friends ask for these recipes.

Well, anyways, I`m in the grocery store and find myself, unbeknownst to myself, at those sucker shelves. You know the ones. Stocked with china and cutlery and impulsey stuff. And I picked up a red teapot and a huge red candle and walked to the checkout.

I can`t ever remember doing anything so unsensible in well, years and years and years.

And it felt so absolutely wonderful and marvellous.

I kicked sensible to the curb.

And I will do it again.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Eye of the Beholder

OK, back to the important fluff of my life.

But not really fluff. Maybe you guys have noticed this trompe l'oeil foolery going on with jars of coffee or spreads and cosmetics. Things made to look larger than they are. Tissue boxes half-empty.

I offer you this:

Yeah, I say unto you, I've been using this for years, they're all pretty much the same I know but I like the mentholly scent, it makes it seem like there's some serious hand-related crafts going on. Price has remained pretty stable over the years (around $8.99 CD). I seem to be using more of it though. And then I turn the bottle sideways and lo and behold:

Why thank you Gold Bond. You bring shrink wrapping to a whole new level.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Misogyny Thy Name Is Oscar

The incredibly talented actor - Quvenzhane Wallis

Sometimes the misogyny is so public as to take one's breath away. And I am so damn tired of it all. Fatigued and weary.

As you must be.

And I try to lie down and be quiet after I stew for a few days. Should I write here about it all and rage yet again. But to be silent is a worse offence. I am appalled at what other women write/say: Oh it's just a few jokes, stop taking it all so seriously. These women 'asked for it', yeah - that same tired old trope is tossed out - the one which justifies the rapes of 'sluts'. And it hurts to see other women write “I'm not a feminist”. So complicit or stupid in their own denigration. What the hell do they think feminism means unless it is solidarity with all women and men, past and present, who believe in equality for all? Yeah, so I rise up off the floor of despair and write about such contempt again. And the contempt from my own gender makes it so much more heartbreaking.

A 9 year old child was sexualized amidst laughter at the Oscars. 9 years old. I'll let that sink in. To add that she's a black nine year old with a little puppy purse and a smile of such utter childish delight on her lovely face is to make it far worse. And many interviewers couldn't bother to learn how to pronounce her name. And so she had to sit and listen and learn how to smile through all that shyte. That devaluing shyte about women. And herself. And then, and I'm not surprised at all, The Onion, a satirical paper I've always enjoyed, Twitters the little girl is a c**t. And I hope, seriously, she doesn't know about this.

And boobs were sung about. Boobs of a woman (Jodie Foster) in a movie who was being raped on a pool table. Boobs of other actors - side boobs, full boobs. To the snarfles and guffaws of most men watching no doubt, but to the discomfort, I hope, of some of 'their' women sitting beside them. Would this hilarious song have worked if it had been about men's junk? (and yes, I am aware of that other post-Oscar revenge song). But we're talking here about women actors' boobs and a global audience of half a billion, many of them impressionable boys forming their own feelings about women.

I see so much regression for women in the world today. Where a woman in Ireland is sacrificed to her own dying foetus. When Roe vs Wade is revisited constantly in the US. Where in Canada the (male) anti-choicers are allowed to ring the bells for precious zygotes in parliament once in a while to keep us women alert and on our toes. Where a bill in the US supporting The Violence Against Women Act scrapes through with 138 members voting AGAINST it. Where battered woman in Ireland are housed in JAIL because the shelters are all full. Over 2,000 of these women running for their lives from men who will kill them are housed in JAILS. Where the US (a first world country, ha) still has no paid maternity leave and women (often single mothers) earn 60c for every dollar a man earns doing the same work. Where women are raped with dismal regularity in the armed forces and told to shut up or they'll lose their jobs. Where same sex marriage and adoption rights are still up for debate. Where most rapes go unreported because of fear of the horrific process of law. Where there is yet to be a woman president in the US and they are so abysmally represented in the Congress and the Senate.

And I'm not even getting into the treatment of women in Africa, India and the so-called third world.

I feel I could go on for years and years and not get to the end of writing about this constant threat to the so very little we have already gained and the ongoiing wearisome quest for even basic equality.

As full human beings.

And not just body parts.

A previous post about feminism was written here.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Path Untravelled

I read a lot. For pleasure mainly. But I am so struck by passages from different books that I write them down. And reflect on them. Allowing them to percolate and take hold. I am currently reading The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard. I adored her Transit of Venus so much I gifted it to several friends who felt as I did.

Her The Great Fire is about a post WW2 world.

Examples, Page 6:
"In the wake of so much death, the necessity to assemble life became both urgent and oppressive."

Page 102:
"Dignitary is a one word oxymoron."

And several times in the book:
"When we're indecisive, the wishes of others gain."

I was struck by that phrase as I read it again this morning. It's clear to me that many times in my life I was indecisive. Afraid. Not pro-active.

Which got me to thinking of what makes us decisive? At what point do we let our own children, for instance, make their own decisions about their lives?

My father made many decisions for me, my career for one. I had wanted to be a writer from the first moment I set pencil to paper. His decision not to allow me to pursue this (in those days it was considered far too radical in the Ireland I grew up in and what would the neighbours say?)so I crunched numbers. Like he did. Like most of my siblings did in their own ways. Safe and secure. Education in those days being so wasted on a woman who would throw it all away on marriage and babies anyway which was the life Gawd intended for her, their being no greater glory for a mere woman - apart from being The Bride of a Polygamous Christ.

I mean my life has worked out, don't get me wrong, and I've lived long enough to explore that part of me that was so successfully and complicitly squelched, once the rest of my life's responsibilities were managed or put to rest.

My thought this morning was: What if I had been decisive way back then, and stood up to him (a daunting, brave act it would be even now, if he had lived)and declared : "My mind is made up. I won't be anything else but a writer!"

Friday, March 01, 2013

Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I returned a call from my insurance agency in the last couple of weeks when I was in self-inflicted purdah.

I returned the call immediately. One never knows. An eejit pricking their fingers on my fence, a deadfall off a tree landing on a balding head, a drunk crawling their way up the meadow at midnight and curling up dead in a blizzard. We are all aware of these nebulous liabilities thanks to the hot coffee from MacDonald's poured onto someone's naughty bits, the guy in the van leaving his driver's seat to get a drink from his RV's fridge thinking cruise-control meant auto-pilot (he got millions, btw). I could go on. One does not ignore a call from one's insurer.

- Oh, insurer sez, we noticed you could use an extra codicil of insurance. For $70 per annum we can give you forgiveness on your first automobile accident.

- I am accident free.

- Well, that's the point. When you do have one we will forgive you if you have this endorsement in place.

- But you're already making a fortune off me....

- H'm okay - now about house insurance?

- I don't have any.

- That's a mistake.

- Not in my case as you don't offer coverage for what I can be most affected by: storms and floods.

- Well, they're Acts Of God©.

- As an atheist I don't believe in the evil acts of your god. Why can't I have coverage for only the events that can destroy me which I consider the terminal, convulsive response of a devastated and destroyed-by-humans planet?

- Is that a no?

The above convo got me thinking of the nothings we all pay for. As in nothing tangible at all. Cable. Internet. Insurance. Bank Fees. Taxes. Every call I get from an existing supplier is to upsell me an additional monthly fee. A smarter phone, donate more to our cause!, the "how can I live without cable?" calls, a property tax that goes from $40 in my first year here 9 years ago, to $250 today with no discernible improvement or addition to services. I still have my own well, my own septic tank and once a week garbage pickup. No change to what I had then and my polltax increases by 625% while my income shrinks to 20% of what it was in 2003.

Am I the newly elected leader of the dimwits?

Or just a grouchy geezer?