Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Best Inventions in My Lifetime

 I'm going to ignore all the medical advances in my lifetime - there are far too many and I am incredibly grateful for all of them. 

So this is a very personal list of those made in my life time which have enhanced my comfort and efficiency. And yes, time management.

First of all:

Birth control! What a difference to my life compared to the life of my mother and grandmother and all before them. Choice! Career options! Independence! 

Automatic washing machines, dishwashers, dryers. Unheard of when I was a child. I do remember my mother's old hoover, a huge purchase when I was about seven or eight. Two small tubs, one a spin-dryer, in the same machine. Eased her workload considerably.

Calculators, mainframe computers, floppy disks, all the way to personal computers. And printers. And laser printers. Bye bye typewriters! At home! Home offices! The foundation of my own business! True independence!

Reel to reel tapes, recording music off the radio when I was a teenager. On to cassette tapes, not forgetting 8-tracks, on to CDs, on to Ipods and Spotify and 5,000 pieces of music on a tiny hand held device. To be played at whim. Anytime and anywhere. Mirabile dictu! And the miraculous VCR all the way to streaming today. 

And last, but not least (believe me, I can think of many more) cell phones, the internet, then the internet and world wide web on our actual mobile phones! 

I've seen many, many changes in my lifetime. Not least of which was the enormous radio with a huge battery my dad would listen to at a local farmer's when we children spent our summers on an electricity free island. It's aerial was strung up outside the kitchen window to the second floor as heaven forbid they might miss a hurling match from Croke Park in Dublin. Pre transistor. I was about 13 when I saw my first transistor - my cousin was gifted it. I was sick with envy. 

What changes have you seen in your lifetime? 

Saturday, September 25, 2021


 As in sights out of windows. Memorable sights.

One of my first clearest memories was my father lifting me to a window in the second floor flat where we lived in Midleton Co. Cork. I'd say it was 1946 - I did a dive into the web but no further information on this.

Outside the window down below was this:

I want you to remember this, said my Dad, this is the last night where the gas lighter will come around and light the street lamps! Tomorrow it will be all automatic. I asked him what automatic meant and he explained that there was a switch in a building, just like our wall switches and when it was pushed, all the lights would come on together and not just one at a time. I was amazed.

Coming up to Christmas in 1955 when I was twelve, my father woke me up one night and told me to look out his bedroom window, where the sky was a deep terrifying red shading to orange. A frightening sight. He said it looked like Cork City was burning up (we lived in the spanking new suburbs of it).  Somebody banged on our door, late, and told him it was the Cork Opera house, where I had performed as a "Tiny Tot" tap dancing, when I was about 6.

A few days later we went down to see the ruins.

It was heartbreaking. It was built mainly of wood so it went up like a tinder box. I loved that place and enjoyed the pantos and plays that had delighted me.

Sputnik was a big thing in late 1957. There was a fussy great-aunt taking care of us in our home. I was 14 and my mother was in hospital.

She panicked one evening after sunset as the sky was 'cracking'. And again, I looked out my parents' bedroom window and saw a light travelling across the sky. It subsequently turned out to be the Russian satellite, Sputnik 2, with its cargo of the dog Laika.

I was terribly upset thinking of the fate of this wee innocent dog, though much was made of the fact that it was a stray mongrel found on the streets of Moscow. As if it didn't deserve to live. it still upsets me to this day.

Can you remember anything memorable from the windows of your life?

Sunday, September 19, 2021

I am not my body

This was my morning meditation today. I needed it. I just open the book randomly and there they are, these nuggets of wisdom that I need to embrace to empower my day.

I needed the reminder as my failing body sometimes seems to dominate my personality.

My inner self is far, far different to my body.

She is creative, compassionate, caring, considerate.

And those are just the "c" words.

So in light of this lesson reinforced, I bring you these as a kind of Sunday Selections. Go visit Elephant's Child every Sunday for her take on this meme.  All pictures below are mine.

From the deck of my former home.

From the beach in front of my old home.

Every night was a different story.

Fishing boats coming in after sunset with their catch of the day.

Friday, September 17, 2021

This Old Carcass

It has served me well, I have to keep thinking of the positives rather than the negatives, which is an easy pit to fall into.

I have three more tests coming up. And I want these to be the end of it.

Next up is a colonography next week which involves starvation and massive amounts of ingestion of disgusting materials. A couple of bottles supplied by the hospital itself and a few more from the pharmacy. Fortunately, unlike the others, there will be no invasion of the outlying crevices of my body. 

A few days later, there's a new specialist investigating further why I went just about blind in my right eye the day after the colonoscopy. My eye doctor is baffled as the dye tests produced a normal.

And towards the end of the month there is a breath test scheduled which will validate/invalidate my own doctor's speculation that I have a hidden bleeding ulcer causing this constant, chronic and serious anaemia. 

My gratitude circles around the assurance that none of the specialists think this is cancer. And I can't praise enough the specialist care this old woman has received in their attempts to discover what  the hell is going on inside me. 

And the big one? The universal health care we have here in Canada.  Yes, it could be better, what system is perfect? But the fact that anyone from pauper to millionaire can access it for whatever medical crisis looms without going bankrupt or stressing about payment is one of the enormous benefits of living here.

Special hat tip to my own doctor, who calls regularly, monitors my blood, checks to make sure I attend my various hospital procedures and cheers me up with his humour and good nature.

And for those interested two charts.

First one is expenditures by country on health care - note universal health care spends less per capita.

The second chart is life expectancy in all these countries.

(Data published by Spartan News - Michigan State University)

Saturday, September 11, 2021


Well Larry, you did your best. You were rageful and noisy and tossed trees and poles into a tantrum and turmoil and disconnected our power lines, knocked out my daughter's road completely, and then you slithered off over the Atlantic never to be seen again until one of your brothers or sisters takes over the next hurricane.  Category 2 at Daughter's place as she is right on the open ocean. Interestingly, early yesterday she observed gannets from nearby Cape St. Mary's taking off in formation. I am constantly fascinated with those creatures who seem to know more about upcoming weather than we do.

The barometric pressure drop was powerful, I felt it in my head, as I always do, followed by a slight headache.

My power re-asserted itself for a couple of hours around 2.00 am and I got up and read my gripping library book - a rec from either DKZ or Jackie. And because I was raised in a large noisy family I could tune the storm out. At 4.30 a.m. it whimpered away, just as the power went out again and then I went to bed. No power for the entire morning but now it's back again, hats off to those workers that restore our lines and our sanity. 

In the aftermath of such powerful acts of nature, I am reminded of gratitude and what's important and what isn't. Family reaching out on the group chats, neighbours texting to comfort and commiserate. 

And how fortunate I am to be living here and not in Haiti or some other impoverished country surveying detritus and homes destroyed and how truly far more vulnerable and fragile their lives are.

Not much else to add. But there is a lot of damage which seems to be all under control in the cleanup. One woman on our local meteorological expert's live feed saw a large tree being launched from across her road and sail briskly off over the ocean. I'm sure there will be many stories to come. I do know at least one small town was evacuated due to the tides being so high and dangerous.

Noticing things: I love how, just now, how the GoBus driver for handicapped passengers went right into our building to wheel out a resident in her wheelchair and negotiate her carefully up the ramp and onto the bus. 

Thursday, September 09, 2021

The Nightmare Below Me


There's this tenant in the apartment beneath mine. She's as odd as two left feet according to other residents. A hoarder, a hermit, no one sees the inside of her apartment. 

The residents here manage the gardens, lovely little plots everywhere full of flowers, some vegetables, bird baths, extremely creative.

In the garden below my apartment was her particularly area and ever since I moved in there was just a vast hole with rocks and 4 bags of soil that were never opened. Finally, a few of the tenants did something about this eyesore and took over her plot and now it is gorgeous, full of flowers. She demanded they dig up bulbs she purchased years before (which had never bloomed due to aforementioned rocks and hole).

This gives you some idea of her personality.

I have never exchanged two words with this woman as every time I encountered her, despite my "hello" she turned her head away.

But now? She has launched a personal vendetta against me. She insists I have music playing and people partying in my apartment at all hours of the night.

A month ago, someone rang my doorbell and woke me at 1.00am. I didn't answer but my neighbour did. And in the tomb-like silence of the building, R complained to M, my neighbour that she couldn't sleep with the racket coming from my apartment. 

M told her there was never noise from my apartment as I was a quiet person.

I complained to the Board of Directors about this. In writing.

Fast forward to last week and I was woken again, but this time terrified as there was what seemed to be a sledgehammer banging on my bedroom floor. I thought the building would collapse or at least holes would appear on my floor.

R again obviously. I phoned a friend downstairs and she told me she had also been terrorized as she thought it was an earthquake  and got out of bed and spoke to another neighbour, two doors away from R who had also been woken up.

Again, I wrote to the Board outlining what had happened. They said there would be a prompt investigation. I know they did investigate by chatting to neighbours of R who confirmed the incident. But as to assuring me of a cease and desist order to her? Not a word. 

I am extremely unsettled and frightened by all of this as she is so unpredictable and, well, violent. I view her as unwell. No one in the building speaks to her as through various actions she has alienated them all.

I'm locking my door for the first time. I tiptoe around my apartment in my moccasins. I turn my book pages quietly. I knit on wooden needles. 

I know she lurks below me, all day, every day. In her head, there are parties and music only she can hear. 

And I am the target of her enormous rage.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Those Things That Are Not True (for me)

Not in any particular order - only as they occur to me.

 (1) You have to meet her/him, they're an absolute hoot!

(2) Religion is good.

(3) One needs religion to live a moral and ethical life.

(4) Diets

(5) You'll constantly miss your country if you're an emigrant from it.

(6) Miracles

(7) Intelligent Design

(8) Bootstraps (as in poverty is one's own fault).

(9) Interfering/invading in countries not your own working out well for all concerned.

(10) Gender (an artificial social construct)

(11) Minimum wage (should be a living wage, n'est pas?)

(12) Government interference in women's bodily autonomy.

(13) Corporate health care but only for those who can afford it.

I'll think of more I'm sure but that's it for now.