Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I find this time of the year difficult to cope with.
When all of my senses are assaulted, without mercy, every fibre of my being screams deep inside.
This, probably, places me firmly in the "Bah Humbug" category. But its not that I don't enjoy Christmas, I do try, I just find the materialism and greed overpowering.
Sometimes, I wish I could just swing in with the rest of humanity and just celebrate but a little voice inside keeps nagging away at me "this is not the way its supposed to be".
So, once again, I'll be donning my enigmatic, festive smile, braving the shrines to Mammon and praying for January. The following, well-known piece of writing, will be what I'm mumbling, incessantly, should you happen to see me.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
It is November 30th and this is my final post for NabloBlahblah.
It was a challenge and I am glad I was able to complete it. I am also glad it is over. I'm beginning to bore myself.
Right now, I am off to the scratcher to catch up on some much needed beauty sleep, hopeful, that on the morrow I shall awake and be as beautiful as the Sleeping Chameleon pictured above. We all have our dreams.
Tomorrow, I intend spending a leisurely hour or two just catching up on all of your blogs that I have shamefully neglected over the last 30 days. Housework? What housework?
Thank you all for your kind comments during November. I appreciated every one of them.
Oiche mhaith agus codhladh samh!
photo credit: www.philadelphiazoo.org
Thursday, November 29, 2007
They had three children. My sister, my brother and me.
My sister and I, being the obliging, amenable creatures that we are, arrived promptly and without undue disturbance.
But, my brother's birth was premature, difficult and resulted in oxygen deprivation, we think. It wasn't really a suitable topic for discussion with the children.
Being the youngest, I don't remember his early years but I do remember him from about the age of 6 or 7. He was different. It was hard to understand him. But I did understand his absolute adoration of his older sister, Yaya. He couldn't pronounce her name properly so Yaya it was, for years. He loved her unconditionally, with the purest simplicity. He followed her around like a lonesome puppy, wanting to feel her presence beside him, wanting her to go for walks with him, just wanting to be close to her, to be in her orbit. All the time, pure love emanating from his face. And she loved him back. Not in a sloppy, sentimental, patronising way. But in a loving, caring, kind, tolerant, sisterly manner.
And of course, I was jealous. I wanted her to notice me. But I was 6 years younger and a complete pain in the butt. So, I had to wait a few years.
But, now, and that's the only time that really matters, I have a sister that I love with all of my heart and soul. I love her scattiness, her stoicism, her laughter, her sentimentality, her honesty. I love her courage and her spirit. I love the very bones of her. And she loves me too.
Yaya, thank you for loving me.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Christmas is not my favourite time of the year. Needless to say, I didn't always feel this way.
As a child, I could hardly bear the excitement leading up to Christmas day. The wondering about what would be waiting for me at the end of the bed when I woke up, the fear that it might really be a bag of coal, the wishing for time to fly so that Christmas morning could be NOW. I can't ever remember being disappointed. But, I can only remember two of the presents that I received as a believer in the Fat Man in the Red Suit. One was a doll, with blue eyes and long blonde hair and the other was a xylophone. The doll became part of me. I washed her, dressed her, fed her, took her for walks, slept with her, talked to her, wished I was her. I thought she was SO beautiful. And she thought I was wonderful too. A mutual admiration society. The friendship lasted for years.
The xylophone became part of me as well but in a different way. It didn't need to be washed, dressed, fed or taken for walks. It used to sit there, waiting patiently for me to play with it. Which I did, incessantly. I loved all the different sounds it made. I loved the colours and the shiny feel of it. I loved the shape of it. It was just the right size for hauling around under my arm or pushing down the back of the cart that I used to drag around after me everywhere I went. For what seemed like years. I learned to play London Bridge is Falling Down, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Ding Dong Dell and invented my own barrel load of masterpieces that remain undiscovered to this day. I probably drove everbody within a 10 mile radius to the brink of insanity with the, less than melodious, clanging and tinkling. The cherished xylophone, eventually, disintegrated, thereby, prematurely ending, my burgeoning musical career. I never did learn to play another musical instrument, one of the small regrets in my life.
When my children were small, I landed each of them with a xylophone at some point in their Santa-believing years. Not one of them was as enamoured with the simple music machine as I was. I felt, quietly and unreasonably, disappointed. I wanted them to experience their own unique wonder and pleasure at creating sounds from coloured pieces of metal and wooden bongers. I wanted to share part of my childhood ecstasy with them. But they had their own ecstasies. C'est la vie, I suppose.
Now, if I ever have a grandchild .....
One good thing about the advent of the Festive Season is the demise of November. The end of NaBloPowhatsit. A cessation of posting, ad nauseum, every day. A return to the REAL pleasure of Blogging ... reading everybody else's posts.
Only 3 more posts and how many sleeps Birdy?
Monday, November 26, 2007
I chanted, I meditated, I breathed, I expanded and contracted, I sang, I danced to my own inner rhythm, with others, alone, surrounded, all in a large, white, octagonal, room. I was nobody's mother, partner, sister, daughter, friend or enemy. There were no expectations. No hidden agenda. Just a large, white room filled with brightness, freedom and acceptance.
I listened mindfully to my companions and to myself. It's amazing what you can hear when you really listen. Especially to yourself.
It's Monday evening now and I'm back to being someone's mother, partner, sister, daughter, friend. Everyone has an agenda. It feels like there is no space to just be.
I have no white rooms in my house. Its too small. So, I have to be content with a potent memory from my misspent youth.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
What a great word! Round and robust, rolling off the tongue with a sensuous pleasure. This word, for me, conjures up an image of full-bodied, curvaceous, open, rollicking liveliness. Of the female variety.
I have a friend who is often described as voluptuous. She absolutely hates when anybody refers to her as being "voluptuous", because for her, it smacks of bawdiness, blatant sexuality, coarseness, crudeness and vulgarity. And she is none of these. She is a warm, loving, big hearted, red blooded woman. She is gentle and caring, thoughtful and kind and wonderful company. And she feels betrayed by her physical appearance.
She is also vivacious. Bubbling over with life and laughter. But she doesn't like this description of herself, either. She feels that people are unable to see past the exterior to the REAL her. That, on meeting her, they are completely distracted by her appearance and then, by her liveliness and neglect to see the more serious side to her personality. Betrayed, yet again.
Coming from a long line of hungry greyhounds and possessing scrawny, quiet genes, I am at a loss when it comes to understanding her dilemma. I try very hard to put myself in her shoes and understand her frustration with being "misunderstood". Knowing her well, and being aware of her true nature, I can only surmise that, she like a lot of women, is not 100% happy with her appearance but for reasons totally unrelated to her physical body.
I am not, never have been, and probably never will be, at this stage, voluptuous. not on the outside, anyway.
But on the inside, there's a vulluppshoouss, vivayshous, rollicking, laughing mama waiting to be released!
photo credit: www.gallerym.com
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I'm not particularly fond of confined spaces.
Which is why, when I do eventually shift off this mortal coil, I will not be one bit impressed if they decide to put me in a box. Against my wishes. And then put me under the earth. To provide fodder for the worms.
No, not one bit happy.
Being a permanently chilly individual, I quite fancy the heat of a fire.
Sort of an initiation, you might say.
Friday, November 23, 2007
No. 1 son was born on the 12th. of October 1983.
He was an extremely silent child until he was 2 years old.
When he was a little boy he had night terrors that used to terrify me.
When he was a teenager, he used to have night terrors of a different kind. They terrified me even more.
He used to think too much.
He still thinks too much.
He's an affectionate, funny, artistic, independent, curious, dreaming young man.
And all growed up.
Where did the years go?
And how did I get so lucky?
And why do I still worry about him?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Last August, at the end of, what is laughingly called "summer", I went for a walk along a rocky shoreline in Co. Clare. This stretch of coast is quite inaccessible so it is very rare to find any other humans sampling its delights. Because the land rises from the water for about 800 metres it is not visible from the road, therefore no passing tourists. Which is always a good thing.
This particular morning, was one of those rare, special days when the air was very still, not a puff of wind and the skies were grey but not ominously so. Only the sounds of nature, about its business. speckled the all pervading quietness. Solitude and silence were what I was seeking. The busy, early morning house I had just left was full of lovable, chatty, laughing souls. All very dear to me but .....
Walking through the fields, stepping over rocks and pebbles, clambering up and over the gigantic boulders, that some far seeing pen pusher in the County Council had deemed essential to keep out the teeming masses and protect the fragile sea-shore, my head and my heart were lulled into a timeless, distant world, where man and nature did actually move in synch with each other. Revelling in my solitude, I was nearly on top of them before I noticed them. Or more importantly, they noticed me.
Grey seals. Huge, lumbering, whale-like creatures, basking in the warmth and calm safety of the heavy, immovable rocks. Skittery baby seals, with large, liquid eyes and squiggly bodies, chasing each other, clumsily, over the rocks, into the water and back out again, acting the maggot, like all small creatures do. On sight of me, a loud "Oink, oink!" split the silence and, alerted all to my alien presence.
I was caught. An interloper in their midst. Faster than lightning, and a little disgruntled, they heaved their gigantic bodies into the water and made a swift getaway. But being the curious creatures that they are, a few of them stopped to have another look at the intruder. I stood very still, hoping that my stillness might lure them back out of the water but they had my number. I didn't look like a seal so I probably wasn't a seal and therefore needed to be treated with a certain degree of suspicion, peppered with a little disdain.
We played the watching game for a while longer but they, eventually, got bored. Much more interesting things to be seen at the other side of the inlet. Off they went, leaving me feeling abandoned. "Come back, come back", I wanted to say "I only want to admire you, handsome seals".
But they weren't to know that.
Seals are cautious and suspicious by nature. With good reason. Fishermen, along these coasts, consider these beautiful animals to be pests. Greedily gobbling vast quantities of lucrative fish, they, according to the "experts" are depriving honest, hard-working men of the means of making a living. So they are eliminated. On a regular basis. Illegally.
When approached, the authorities know nothing. Can do nothing. Without proof.
And proof is very hard to find.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I was on my way home from work this evening, tired, and not at all impressed with the amount of traffic still out and about at 9.30pm. The Christmas shopping frenzy has obviously started with a vengeance. The cars were bumper to bumper with most people resigned to having to crawl home but there were a few others who were not so stalwart. I had the radio on but couldn't find any station that didn't have mindless "pop" music so I turned it off and opened the window.
The glorious sound of bells came roaring in! Real bells. With people pulling ropes. Big, loud, clanging, donging, uproarious bells, making such a racket. It was absolutely glorious!
I love the sound of bells. They resurrect all kinds of memories and emotions within me. Sometimes, long forgotten incidents will present themselves, unbidden, at the random dong of a solitary bell. The deep, sonorous sound of heavy bells clanging in melodious unity strikes a resounding chord within my soul.
They lift my spirit, gladden my heart and make sitting in traffic jams very worthwhile.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I love patchwork quilts.
I love the colours, the fabrics, the designs. I admire the artistry and the tenacity of the people who start with a truckload of assorted scraps of material and end up with potential heirlooms. I marvel at their expertise and eye for detail, at the patience and creativity required to complete one of these labours of love. When I read of the traditions of quilt-making, I hanker for the slower pace of life and the companionship engendered by shared labour.
I have one question.
WHY are fat quarters called "fat quarters?"
Why are there no "thin quarters"? Or "chubby quarters"? Or even "just right quarters"?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
As I was reared in the Catholic tradition, prayer was an integral part of my life.
Every Sunday, freshly washed and laundered, faces shining from the obligatory scrubbing, we headed off, en famille, to visit Holy God. We would pack in, with all the other dutiful souls, and settle ourselves down for an hour of Christian duty with prayer as an optional extra.
The parents would kneel, bow their heads and, spiritually, disappear from our orbit, such was the depth of their piety. I don't know what Molly used to do, but I suspect she used to copy the grown-ups in a effort to distance herself from her pesky siblings. I was more than content to let my eyes wander in fascination at the conglomeration of bodies assembled. Big people, small people, old bodies, new bodies, all arrayed in their Sunday best. Did they think God would be impressed by their finery? I certainly was. The old people, who might, occasionally smile at me or more often than not, glare at me for behaving like a child in the House of God, were the most interesting. They had all kinds of mysterious bits of paper stuffed into their Missals. Some of them had really nice Rosary beads as well. Very shiny and glittery.
Did I pray at Mass? Never. Right up to the time I stopped attending, I don't think I ever once prayed.
For years after, I only prayed in real emergencies. In desperation.
I do pray now.
To me, prayer is about how I live my life every day. Its the overwhelming love and joy I feel when I look at my kids. Its the laughter that bubbles inside of me most of the time. Its the tears that fall sometimes. Its the conversations I have with myself about how I'm doing. Its the conversations I have with Him about how I'm doing .....
Its the excitement and gratitude I feel, for being alive.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Back in October, against my better judgement, I decided to grab the bull by the horns and commit to writing a post every day for a month. Being relatively new to the blogging phenomenon, I was blissfully unaware of the time factor involved in posting DAILY. Molly was waxing eloquent, on how "it made her write every day and, that, surely, was a good thing?", and being the silver tongued devil that she is, I was snookered. I like a challenge.
On with the thinking cap and off to the desk, to gather and try to put order on, the maelstrom of ideas swirling around my brain. What to blog about? What interested me enough to try and put words on it? What should I not blog about? Decisions, decisions. I needed a plan. I function much better when I have a plan.
After a few days of rumbling and mumbling to myself, "Eureka!!" The light bulb went on, the earth stopped turning, the Hallelujah chorus burst into song and all was right with the world. I had the ghost of a plan. A simple little plan. Now, all I had to do was implement it. I neglected to take into account that life had to go on as before, that work had to be done, family to be fed, relatives to be cared for, dogs to be walked, teeth to be brushed, showers to be had, clothes to be put on and off, laundry to be done, not to mention keeping the four walls from falling down around our ears.
Two weeks into November, I am in the vice-like grip of the deadly virus, Nablopomitis. I am pale and sickly looking from lack of fresh air, I have black circles under my eyes from sleep deprivation, I have carbuncles on my derriere from sitting at the desk, I have lost weight because I haven't time to be puttering in the kitchen, and I am losing my friends through lack of communication. Classic symptoms, I suspect. All I need is 48 hours in EVERY day and I'd be nicely sorted, thank you. Barring that miracle, I just have to content and console myself with "At least I have a plan .... THE plan .... the trickery and conniving thats going to see me through to Nov. 30th......and THEN I get my life back."
Now, I'm wondering has anybody twigged my plan? Can you clever bloggers see what I am up to? Can you figure out the way my twisted brain is producing, a product of questionable quality, every single day? Can you see a pattern? Is there some cohesive thread through all my posts? Or am I in danger of becoming too big for my boots?
"Molly, NOT A WORD from you, O.K?"
Now, I must go and feed the starving creatures that have been howling and hovering for the last couple of hours.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Did you ever have one of those days where everything you do goes assways? Where you realise at 10am that, really, it wasn't such a good idea to be up and about, that, in fact, you are a menace to society and, that a return to the supine position, behind locked doors is the favoured option?
Today, I had one of those days.
At 8.15am, with 2 cups of tea sloshing around inside, I proceeded to drive the birthday bird and her friend to the bus station. They were catching a bus to Dublin and a flight from there to Venice. An assignment had to be dropped off first. Off we went, loins girded, to enter the black hole of Calcutta, which is a polite term for the traffic around here at that time. Twenty minutes later,after travelling approximately 2 miles, I am informed by the very anxious daughter that "Its not that building Mom, its the other one ....I TOLD YOU THIS yesterday". Shite. Forgot. Muddled. Eventually, dropped off assignment, spent 20 more minutes in hell and then dropped off travellers. With 3 minutes to spare.
Proceeded to the morning ritual. Her Highness complained that her tea wasn't as hot as she likes it and "Would I mind, terribly, making a fresh cup?" The first time I have EVER forgotten to heat the damn cup, and she noticed. Then, nearly knocked my beloved, ever patient Larry over getting him out of bed, couldn't find his socks or his teeth,spilt his glass of water into his lap, all the while hopping around like a demented flea because of the 2 cups of tea. Put his shoes on the wrong feet, wondered why he was wincing in pain, realised, apologised and then dropped his teeth into the wash hand basin.......
Came out to discover that I had left the lights on in the car and now the battery was dead. Grabbed a neighbour, jump leads and a few deep breaths.
Home to discover the greedy hound had performed in the kitchen and was skulking in the corner wondering if she could get out the door without me seeing her. I ignored her. As much for my own sanity as her safety. Cleaned the mess, gagging all the while. Lovely.
Proceeded then to put on a white wash with a NEW red shirt mysteriously secreted in the pile, break the damn vacuum cleaner, burn the dinner and crack my toes on the corner of the bed. And now the computer is misbehaving.
I'm feeling very muddled. I think I'll go to the scratcher and get horizontal.
I bet your day wasn't as fun-filled as mine.
*The painting is by Jackson Pollack.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
"As you sow so shall you reap"
This is the Law of Karma. Interestingly, both science and religion recognize this law. In science it is often stated, “For every action there is an equal and opposing reaction.” Its religious counterparts are, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”; and “As you do unto others, it will be done unto you.” Even today’s common knowledge expresses this principle in the saying, “What goes around, comes around.” This is the law of karma, of cause and effect.
After years of battling with my life, my demons, I find this strangely comforting. My life is the life I am meant to have, the lessons I am learning are the lessons I need to learn. Every thought, word and action that I do will have an effect. Either good or bad. These words are keeping me alert, aware and alive.
Its a relief to put aside the doubts and confusion, to believe in my soul, to live every day with compassion.
Funny how 7 words can make such a difference.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
One day, on our recent skite to the wilds of Northern Spain, we decided to visit one of Catalonia's National Parks. It was Tuesday, so, we knew we would have the mountains to ourselves. Always a tempting prospect. So, being Oscar Wilde fans in the temptation department, off we scampered. After 2 hours of uneventful driving we arrived at our starting point. Ready for the off.
It was a beautiful, bright, crisp morning. Ideal walking weather. The scenery was spectacular, the riotous, autumnal colours, a feast for the eyes. We passed 4 other people, 2 couples, obviously, just out for a short ramble. By midday, we hadn't set eyes on another human being for at least an hour. We had this corner of the universe to ourselves. Bliss.
But we were never alone. Everywhere, there were signs of nature's magnificence. The skies were filled with the ever-watchful birds of prey. Vultures, eagles, hawks and kestrels soared and glided, effortlessly, through the vast blue expanse. Just above our heads, an assortment of smaller birds, twittered and skittered, dive bombing us at every available opportunity, in a vain effort to despatch us back to the lowlands. Around us, there were vague scuttlings and scurryings. But ne'er a culprit to be seen. All of this was accompanied by the occasional jingle, jangle of bells. "Do you hear the bells?" I asked GB at one stage. "What bells?" he said. GB has a small amount of damage to his hearing. He doesn't hear grass grow, like I do. "Sh! THOSE bells!" He stopped walking and listened intently. He, like a lot of men, doesn't multi-task. "Oh yes, I hear them now. 'Tis a bit early for the fat man with the white beard and the reindeer, isn't it?"
Our walks are, invariably, peppered with intellectual conversations like this.
Within 2 or 3 minutes we happened on these beauties.
I love cows. I love the smell of them. I love their soft, liquid eyes and the slow, laconic movement of their mouths as they chew, endlessly. I'm in awe of their sureness. Their certainty, that they have as much right as the flamboyant fliers or the belligerent boars, the fleeing foxes or the hurrying hares, to exist, to chew, to watch and wonder at the passing parade. I love their acceptance. These noble creatures were more than content to spend their days munching and chewing, wandering and resting, jingling and jangling. Their bells were the only sign that they weren't as free as the birds of the air. I'm not sure they cared, one way or the other, about the bells around their necks or the freedom enjoyed by their feathered friends.
They, needless to say, weren't one bit interested in us.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
When I was a child, our family used to go on holidays every summer out to my mother's home-place in Co. Limerick. It was only 25 miles from where we were living but it might as well have been a different planet. Life was very different there for us "townies". The biggest difference, for me, was the smell. Pigs, cows, chickens, horses, hay, dogs, children, fresh-from-the cow milk, baking and tea, all immensely strong and recognisable. Smells that engulfed, repulsed, captured and enraptured. We spent endless, sun-filled days rolling in haystacks, herding docile cows, chasing wayward pigs, collecting eggs, exploring and discovering. And, all the time, the incredible redolence.
The extreme effort of climbing to the top of a haystack, without falling off, and then, the sheer exhilaration of sliding, arms and legs flailing, down the other side. After several hours of rollicking and rolling, the bellys would be roaring, so, we'd pick ourselves up, shake the stalks off and head back to the house. All the way back, we would be scratching and itching, pulling and dragging, like demented, flea-ridden puppies.
The last few days have seen me, metaphorically speaking, scratching and itching, pulling and dragging, like the afore-mentioned flea-ridden canines. Straw in my clothes, in my hair, in my brain. The smell of haystacks all around me. Why is this? I can only surmise that its the half-baked idea that I could do this NaBloPowhatchamacallitthingy. No problem. Easy peasy. It seemed like a fun, creative, kick-in-the pants idea at the time.
Now, I'm not so sure.
Before November, I'd get on blogger and read, and laugh, and cry and be thoroughly enraptured, entertained, inspired and, occasionally, when the muse struck, write a post myself. I was constantly surprised and delighted that people were visiting and commenting on what I had written. But now, in the throes of NaBloPoMo, I'm clutching at straws, wriggling and squirming, wondering why so and so hasn't been around, why he/she seems to have stopped visiting altogether. Why do I care? Where did my arrogance come from? What made me think I had something to say? And,why was I blogging in the first place? Why has something, which was supposed to be fun, taken me back to the itchy, scratchy days of the haystacks?
I'm just curious as to how, why and when, my ego reared its ugly head and screwed with my brain.
Maybe, its time for me to get my head out of the haystack?
I was never one to flog a dead, or even, a dying horse.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Its 2am and I'm lying in bed. Awake. Sort of. The internal debate of whether to give up altogether and get up or to turn over and try again continues. Its warm and cosy. Turning over wins. Eventually,I'm drifting and flowing over paths and fields, feeling the warmth and numbness of weightlessness when I hear
"Rise, Rise, are you awake?"... he whispered.
"I am. Now." I mumble. "Why are you here, at this ungodly hour? What is SO important that it can't wait until tomorrow?"
"Oh, it CAN wait, if you like, but, I just thought I'd drop by and see how you were doing .... we haven't had much chat lately ... you're busy with your life and I have the usual million and one things to be doing ...but, lately, the silence from your end is deafening, if you don't mind me saying so. I feel a little neglected. So, is it O.K. to talk now? Its nice and quiet."
"What do you mean, the 'silence if deafening'? I've been storming your gates, leaving messages, calling around for the last 2 weeks and you're NEVER there. All I get is that incessant answering machine... by the way, you REALLY should change your message ... its starting to get a bit OLD. And as for that housekeeper you have .... you should get on to the Agency and get them to find you someone who can actually communicate with other human beings .... And as for feeling neglected 'Join the Club' oh mighty one."
"The housekeeper does her best. What else would you have her do? And why are you so cranky, anyway? Whats eating you?"
"I'm not cranky ...I'm just very cross with you. I don't like the way you're running things. I think you just don't care anymore. I wish you were nicer sometimes. Kinder, even. You know, you do have a reputation to live up to .. All loving, all merciful ... And why aren't you like the pictures the nuns gave us ... for Heavens sake, you don't even have a beard ... all the REALLY kind deities have big, white beards."
"Hmm ...And what about my clothes? Do you think, should I get new sandals? New Levis maybe? Whats this preoccupation with my appearance, anyway .. you never used to care before?"
"I DON'T CARE ...I couldn't give a rats ass if you go go around looking like a Ninja Turtle on speed .... but could you please TRY to be nicer? Can you lift the gloom that hangs over so many people's lives? Can you persuade people to behave like REAL human beings? Can you stop the appalling atrocities that happen thousands of times a day, every day? Can you put an end to man's inhumanity to his fellow man? Can you? Huh? Huh? Don't answer that. Yes, I know you can. But you won't. Free will, yeah, yeah, I know."
"Ah Rise, this isn't like you ... what has happened? Why SO impatient? I've told you before, hundreds of times, I can't just march in like Major General Fixitall and read everyone the riot act. It doesn't work like that. Sure, I can help, but not always immediately or in the way that you think I should. You DO know that I have a PLAN, don't you? And you DO trust me, don't you? Or are you so cranky and contrary that you don't want to know anything at all? Maybe, I should call back at another time?"
"No, don't go just yet. I'll be civilised, I promise. I just need to hear the plan again and maybe a song, just for the crankiness, you understand ... you know the one ... Hop in here beside me, its lovely and warm .... Oh for God's sake, take the bloody sandals off first."
GB slept the sleep of the brave, bless him.
photo credit: www.art.com
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
What do you do when someone is driving you crazy? Do you put them and yourself out of your collective misery by spilling some blood? Do you walk away? Or do you suck it up, grin and bear it and hope that tomorrow the sun will shine?
My mother-in-law is 83 years old. Is blessed with good health, a loving family and a keen intellect. Her husband is 80, is confined to a wheelchair, deprived of the ability to enjoy life as he remembers, to live independently. But never a word of complaint passes his lips. Unlike his lady wife.
For the past week or so, everytime I show my face, I am subjected to the "poor me" litany. I'll breeze into her bedroom with her breakfast tray, all bright eyed and bushy tailed to be met with the, uncharacteristic, quivering voice, "Im feeling a little down, this morning, actually". I murmer something about the curative powers of tea and disappear downstairs to get Larry, the saint, up out of bed.
This man, who has had every activity and hobby that he holds dear, taken from him, who is totally dependent on other people for his very existence, is delighted to see a new morning and me. A big, cheery, toothless smile, and a willingness and enthusiasm to face the day, whatever it might bring. We have the banter, we do the necessary ablutions, we enjoy each others company. By 10am I have to leave.
By lunchtime, I'm back again. Summoned by her majesty, to deliver milk, or bread, or tea or anything else that can possibly be deemed a necessity. By 4pm she's on the phone, "I can't move the wheelchair, there seems to be something wrong with the wheels, can you come down and have a look at it?" By 8pm, the dog is missing, the back door won't open, the toilet is blocked or she has a terminal headache, all of which necessitate, yet another visit.
Each time I call, I do what I can. But its never enough. Will it ever be enough?
She's not always as needy as this. And I am not unsympathetic, usually.
But I am tired, physically, mentally, emotionally. I can't fix her life. I can't be responsible for her happiness. I am not a magician.
I'm human and, today, I'm a little bit frazzled.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Fascinating things, eyes.
They dance and sparkle, twinkle and glare, approve and abhor, accept and reject.
All, without uttering a single syllable.
I have a memory from my teenage years that comes back, occasionally, to haunt me.
On the periphery of my circle of friends and acquaintances, a shy, gentle, beautiful girl hovered. She didn't attend the same school as we did, she was conservative, not at all on the wild side, her family were wealthy, she lived in a very large, secluded house in a very select area. She was extremely pretty, with long, blonde hair, big, blue eyes, dressed in the finest clothes and perfectly groomed, never a hair out of place. Her name was Lisa. We all, secretly, wanted a bit of her, apparently, idyllic existence. I often felt that she disapproved of us, but still she hovered. We wondered about her. Why did she keep hanging around? What did she want? Why was she slumming it? The reason became clear, one Sunday afternoon, after she was seen wrapped around one of the main stags of the herd at the weekly disco. Aha. As far as I was concerned, she was more than welcome to him. He was a tall, good looking fellow but way up himself. Obnoxious, even. Big, loud horsey laugh and very little of interest between his ears. They made an extremely odd couple. She so dainty, him so large. She so refined, him so uncouth. But then he got bored, as 17 year old, cerebrally challenged males tend to do. She was heartbroken, and once again, on the periphery.
We met, a couple of weeks later, again on the highlight of our week, at the Tabu Club (the infamous Sunday Afternoon Disco for Wayward Teenagers). There were 5 or 6 of us madams, checking out the talent, discussing the pros and cons of certain tactics, bemoaning the severe lack of God's gifts to women. I hardly spoke more than half a dozen words directly to Lisa and can only remember being slightly bored with her. But, later, I heard from a mutual friend that "I scared her" that she thought I had put a "hex" on her relationship with the aforementioned Lothario, that I was "a witch" and that my "eyes were frightening, like devil's eyes, she was afraid of me".
I was gob-smacked, to say the least.
What had my eyes said, without my permission?
It got me thinking. What if we had to remain speechless for a day, a week, a year, forever. If we just had our silent eyes to communicate. Would we thrive and prosper in improved, noiseless, communication?
Or would we become extinct, murdered by misunderstanding?
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Being a child in semi-rural Ireland of the 1950's and 1960's was one sure way of ridding yourself of any high faluting notions that you might be nurturing.
"You want to WHAT?"
Digging the size 5s firmly in, I repeated my request. They indulged my whim and so, it was off to Mrs Legears Irish Dancing School with me. I jigged and reeled my way through complicated steps, intricate formations and garnered cups and medals to line the walls of any decent sized coffin. Mrs. Legear was a formidable woman. You were there for one purpose, and one purpose only. To dance, to learn and to bolster her reputation at the Annual Feis. No talking, no giggling, no tittering as she demonstrated the complicated choreography, like a demented, overblown penguin. For an extremely large lady, she was as light as a fairy on her feet. And she loved to dance. You could see it on her face, ecstatic, as she twirled and skittered, jumped and rocked, jigged and horn-piped across the timber floors of her converted garage. She had no children herself, so she MUST have really loved dancing to endure the hell-in-black pumps that descended, riotously, at her front door every Wednesday afternoon.
Eventually, I got notions. I wanted to be a ballerina. Yes, the ones that get to wear the tutus.
So, back to Mrs. Legears, but this time, on a Tuesday. I did positions and plies and all kinds of complicated ballet things until I thought I had died and gone to heaven. But, I was less than brilliant. Much less. I was way too gangly, all arms and legs. But I did get to wear a tutu. A green one. Accompanied by a severe case of stage fright. My budding ballet career died a natural death.
I still love to dance. In the kitchen, in the garden, in meadows and mountains. At family gatherings, I'm first up and the last to fall. I'll dance with anyone or no-one. I love the freedom of moving to music or even just following the inner echoes. I love the inner release, the exuberance of disappearing within and re-emerging as a bird, a dolphin, an emotion, a life.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Let me introduce Pedro and Jose. (Names have been changed to protect their identity.)
Pedro is the brazen, daredevil teenager in front. Jose, skulking behind the bucket, is his all-too-willing sidekick.
Street cats, the pair of them. Loitering with intent, on street corners, behind buckets, high up on precarious roosts, seemingly, unaware of the passing parade, grooming themseves fastidiously and waiting. Waiting for the unsuspecting victim. The innocent passerby, going about his business, interfering with neither man nor beast. Then, out they pounce, yowling and mewling like banshees, skittering and scattering like demented fur balls, glaring malevolently and spewing forth hissing sounds that would make your eyelashes curl. Having frightened the bejaysus out of their victim, they, then, retreat to the nearest "safe house" and proceed to curl up into 2 innocent kitties. Why do they do this? I have no idea but can only surmise that they are, indeed, practising for the tiger world. Where it is very dangerous. Where they will need to have all their skills in top cat shape.
I have always had a rather ambivalent attitude to cats.
But, I found myself warming very quickly to these 2 ragamuffins. Bold and brazen, they most certainly were but did they care?? Not on your Nellie, No Siree. They were doing what they had to do to ensure their survival. I like that.
Pity us humans don't do the same.
Friday, November 2, 2007
On the morning of the 3rd October 1986, I announced to GB that maybe he had better take a day off from work. This was rather unusual. Unusual, in as much as, for the previous 24 hours we had been on Vision Only due to some hormonal glitch on my part. His words not mine. So, a severe lack of verbal communication was the order of the day. I duly fed the ravenous offspring, prepared lunch boxes and scraped a rake in the general vicinity of my head. Ready for the day, we - the children and I - headed off.
He never asked "Why?"
I walked daughter no.1 to "big" school and son no. 1 to "playschool". Happy as pigs in the proverbial, they were completely oblivious to the momentous change about to wreak havoc on their innocent lives.
GB was still sipping tea at the kitchen table when I got back an hour later. Well, at least, I had been heard. It was, by now, 10.30am. Time was marching on. "I think it will be soon", I announced to no one in particular, thereby giving him an opportunity to maintain the vision only status, or not. To my surprise, he enquired "Would you like to go for a walk?"
And walk, we did. And talk. And pause. And breathe. And walk again. And pause again. And breathe again.
By 11.45 I figured I'd had enough walking, talking and pausing. It was time for the "real" games to begin. On our way back to the house, during one of the more significant pauses, we noticed, not 10 metres from us, a hawk swooping down from the cover of some tall pine trees and tackling an unsuspecting, obscenely overweight pigeon to the ground in a flurry of feathers and pitiful squawking. We watched, completely fascinated, while Nature did what Nature does best. The hawk was merciful. The pigeon didn't suffer. Much. We had no time to waste so, thankfully, we missed the decloaking and ultimate annihilation of the feathered victim.
"Hawk Who Brings Down Pigeon" made her prematurely, grand entrance at 1.15pm.
She was a serene child. Other children, especially younger ones, gravitated towards her like nails to a magnet. They still do. She was quiet. Worryingly so, at times. And then she hit 16 and the, hitherto dormant, hawklike qualities emerged in all their glory. She hovered and swooped, demolished and destroyed, decloaked and annihilated all that were unfortunate enough to cross her path. Nature in resplendent glory. Not unlike most teenagers.
She's a Libra, she's a Hawk, she's a fine, loving, sensitive human being. And she's spreading her wings.
Fly and soar, bird of my heart.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
November 1st has arrived.
NaBloPoMo is upon us. Brains, all over the world are clinking and clanking, turning and churning, clogging the airwaves with stories, ideas, anecdotes and tall tales. The necessary, humdrum, everyday activities are abandoned, cast gleefully away on the turbulent seas of cerebral activity. All in the pursuit of eggcelence.
This is my first installment of, what I hope will be, 30 days of continuous blogging. A noble undertaking, considering the circumstances. But, then, I have a plan. "Thats all thats needed", I tell the doubting Thomases lurking in my grey matter. A Grand Plan. A Master Plan, even. Unfortunately, as I pen this, the words of Robbie Burns are nibbling at my ears, reminding me that "the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglae".
Think positively. Onwards and upwards. Into the valley of death .....
During my school days, the nuns were apt, with monotonous regularity, to remind us simple, impressionable, maidens, in solemn, reverential voices, that November 1st was a SPECIAL day. "Why is that Sister?" we would enquire, demurely, knowing full well that the ensuing explanation would guarantee us at least an hour off the dreaded Maths class. "Well, girls, its the day we remember all the Holy Saints in Heaven who have gone before us and are guiding all of us sinful, mortal beings to Jesus Christ and Eternal Life in the Lord......." And she was off ... gone, like a bat out of hell, on her favourite hobby horse, reminding us of the martyrs who died for us, of the Little Flowers that prayed for us, of the Animal Lovers that guided us along the perilous journey called Life. Wasting her sweetness on the desert air, we all thought.
But, years later, one desperate November, I remember trying to do a deal with God, but, not really getting anywhere with Him, I decided to try the good, old reliable saints. I was VERY desperate. I promised them the sun, the moon and the stars if they would only do this one thing, just this one time, for me. They left me stewing for a couple of days. During which time, I cogitated and ruminated and figured I'd better up the ante a bit and make it an irresistable, once-off, never-to-be-repeated offer, that would swing it for me. The offer was approved and accepted. Written in blood, sweat and tears.
"Fear not, oh good and faithful servant, your labours will be rewarded. But remember, be true to thy word". They didn't ACTUALLY say this to me. But I got the message.
Since then, every November, it is the dry season.
I always honour a good deal. And the Saints just love it. They dream of, eventually, saving my soul. Optimists, the lot of them.
But, at the time, it was a very good deal. Needless to say, that didn't stop the friends, the companions, the boozy buddies, the birds on the trees, the dogs on the street, from tearing the divil out of me. I had one particular friend, who hailed from the northern territories, who used to assure me, with manic nodding of her wild, red head, that I was, indeed, "aweay in the breain".
Away in the brain, I may be, but the deal still stands, 30 years later.
I hope the saints are roaring approval in the hallowed halls of the afterworld.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Life is busy. Too busy sometimes. Even though its only been 2 weeks since we came back it could well have been a holiday in another life. Maybe, even, a holiday in someone else's life.
I suppose I have to trust the pictorial evidence.
We had a wonderful time in spite of the inauspicious start. Walking, climbing, wandering, talking, sleeping, eating, dreaming, loving. No work, no dependent relatives, no cooking, no laundry. No worries. Catch-up time.
For the heart and the spirit.
And then, home.
To absolute mayhem.
Or maybe it just feels that way.
And to top it all, in a moment of sheer insanity, I told the Molly Bawn that I would attempt the NoBloPoMo this year.
I suspect a visit to a psychiatrist might be imminent.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
"Get up! Get up!" I shrieked.
I am not, normally, in the habit of shrieking. So unladylike.
But it was 5.55am and our flight was scheduled for 7am. We live 15 miles from the airport.
Under the circumstances, shrieking was acceptable. I thought.
It was very dark. Headless chickens indulging in a suicidal dance of indescribable intensity. Followed by a maniacal car journey peppered with threats of divorce, severing of the carotid arteries and panic filled silence.
I was all shrieked out.
We made it.
By the skin of our teeth.
But all, needless to say, was not sweetness and light on this, the beginning of our much anticipated "quality time" together.
Communication was down to "vision only".
Under normal circumstances, "vision only" is reserved for those times when everything that needs to be said has been said and further verbal communication is detrimental, and the option for the wise is to retreat in silence.
I can do this with a certain amount of grace.
GB is unable.
Sure, he can retreat into stony silence. But there is nothing graceful about it.
Especially if he feels guilty.
And GUILTY, m'lud, he was. Oh yes, VERY guilty.
The night before the much awaited journey, he enquired, authoritively, "What time shall I set the alarm for?" "I'll do it, if you like" I offerred, pleasantly. "No, no, I'll set my phone ... no need to set the clock .... you'll only be restless, wondering, is this the time the clock is going to go belly up and not go off!" This was accompanied by a rather, patronising laugh. I shrugged, "O.K. Set if for 4.45 then ... that should give us plenty of time".
He set the damn thing for 5.45.
Things could only get better.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Once again,the seasons are changing.
Mother Nature, up here in the Northern Hemisphere, is a tad schizophrenic at the moment.
One minute, she's shaking her booty, stamping her feet, rattling her bones and generally making a bit of a song and dance about the whole process and the next, she's billing and cooing and lulling us all with her gentle humming and sensuous dance. I suspect, like most of us old broads, she doesn't do change and upheaval in a ladylike manner.
For as long as I can remember, September and March are the times of the year when I can be depended on to be totally out of synch with the rest of the planet. Some might argue that this phenomenon is not confined to these 2 months. I don't listen to them.
At the moment, Mother Nature is rattling my spirit.
Most of the time, when I indulge myself in Nature's embrace, I am richly rewarded.
But these days, the trees are growling at me, the, normally, gentle lapping waters are maelstroms of confusion, the murky, grey skies are ominously threatening, even the birds and animals are wary of me. I feel like a stranger in my own skin. Left to my own devices. To sink or swim. To do or die. To rebel or acquiesce. To be or not to be.
"Ah, you're just a bit down, maybe a little bit depressed ....." they opine, knowingly.
I don't think so.
Change is all around us, all of the time. Nothing stays the same, ever.
I like change. Usually.
But, right now, deep within me, something is changing, altering its course, causing my mind and body to throw some pretty severe wobblers.
And, needless to say, the map AND the manual are missing.
Roll on October.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
We never did feel the need of a gardener.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I've often wondered what makes some places more special than others.
Nearly 30 years ago, during a brief trip home from the wanderings of our youth, GB and I decided to splash out, buy a small plot of land and prepare to down our roots .... a little.
There were few, if any, limitations to our imaginations. There were no arguments about location. The raised eyebrows and questioning looks, the disbelieving comments "why, in God's name do you want to live THERE?" or "you do know, don't you, that you'll be virtually CUT OFF from civilisation?".... There was some serious head nodding and knowing looks passed between the relations and friends .... they skittered down our backs like water off a duck.
We followed our hearts.
To the wild, stony landscape where our souls felt at peace.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to live there on a permanent basis. Opportunities for full-time work, the necessity of having an income, and 4 children conspired against us. But we did manage to build a house of the basic variety, nothing fancy, that protected us from the elements and provided a bolt-hole from the insanity of urban existence. It also provided a much-sought after retreat for the doubting thomases. Every summer, the house was filled with hordes of laughing, crying, cranky, joy-filled children and a motley selection of parents and other adults. We made a conscious decision not to have a TV or a phone or computers of any kind in the house. But we did have running water and electricity and open arms for anyone who wanted to escape and recharge. We were never short of visitors.
When the sun was smiling, the days were filled with expeditions to the seaside to collect crabs, cobblers, feathers, shells and round, smooth stones. Chases in and out of the icy, cold ocean, shiverings and goose bumps. Boisterous games of bulldog and boules in the maze of sand dunes. Panning out on the sand, with desultory conversation, if you liked. Cares and worries on the back boiler. Slowness.
On the not so sunny days, backpacks and "sensible" shoes were donned and we headed for the rocky hills. Amidst loud protests. But not for long. Like puppies, the children scampered off over the rocks, rising many a startled hare from its reveries, in their element running and climbing, laughing and racing and sometimes whingeing and whining. Hours later, we would arrive back, like the Pied Piper, with the exhausted, ravenous creatures that had been protesting so loudly just a few short hours ago. Fed and watered, they went on to regale each other and the non-attending adults, of what so and so did, how high the mountain was, what the goats smelled of, what the hares did when the dogs chased them ...... endless stories ..... and memories.
The days were long and warm. And rainy. And windy. And very wet.
On the very wet days we stayed in. We played cards, scrabble, monopoly, cluedo, made jigsaws, read books, painted masterpieces, cooked a million different types of cake, built dens and secret hideaways in the garden, dressed up, play acted, played charades and had 15 part recitals of every song we could think of. On the third consecutive wet day we HAD to get out. A "Special Treat" trip to a cinema in Galway or a trip to the local Cave was the choice. We didn't have too many of these.
The years have flown past. The children have grown and their parents are off exploring a much more accessible world. We're still here, embracing our treasure.
Back to where we started. With our minds and hearts filled with priceless memories.
Back to the wild, stony place that sings to our spirit.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
This is where I would like to be today, and maybe tomorrow and maybe, even, the next day and the day after that.
Where its warm and dry and way up in the sky.
Up near heaven.
And, maybe there, I could spend a few hours or days, or weeks, or maybe, even years figuring out what the writing on the door means.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Due to the lack of sunshine and the mind numbing dreariness of the persistent rain, I took myself off to the archives of my memory in search of some distraction.
And look at what I unearthed.
Totem poles from from an anonymous Spanish wizard.
Last July, I dragged GB and the 2 male offspring off to the north of Spain to cycle some 1000 kms across the original Way of St. James (my original desire was to walk but compromise is everything, and the males, as is their wont, wanted 'instant gratification'). Some eyebrows raise at the thought of this being a holiday.
On our journey we encountered the strange, the wonderful, the weird, the beautiful in myriad disguises of animal, vegetable and mineral.
And, now as I trawl through the memories, this seemingly strange, but innocuous photo is a powerful catalyst for mysterious hankerings.
We were nearing the end of our day's cycle. 40 miles in the legs, 20 still to do. The 2 bowsies were off on the horizon, haring like rabbits over the stony paths, hell bent on keeping their pater familias firmly in his place (they are, surprisingly, quite tolerant of my meanderings, my incessant photo stops, water stops and pee stops). GB, as ever, unwilling to bow to the supremacy of youth, is furiously pedalling, in a cardiac threatening manner, to shorten the gap between them. He is torn between ensuring that his life partner remains on the straight and narrow and putting manners on the whipper snappers. The devil and the deep blue sea springs to mind here. As does pissing against the wind.
Straggling way behind at a much more leisurely pace, my eyes are feasting on the beauty and serenity of my surroundings. I am tootling along, lost in the silence. Not a sight or a sound as far as the senses can discern, to indicate human incursions on the landscape .... Warm sun baking the earth, trees providing some modicum of shade, the odd bird twittering maniacally.
And then I see them.
In the middle of nowhere. Standing tall and majestic, lord of all they survey.
Of course, I stopped.
A large field filled with totems, sculptured heads, torsos and a large selection of works in progress. How could one not screech to a halt?
Scrambling the 8ft wire fence, it did occur to me that maybe I should be a little wary.
To hell with that.
Curiousity ALWAYS wins.
It was an absolute delight. An Aladdins Cave of an Anonymous Dreamer. A one-acre field filled with half-started, half-finished monuments to the creative urge. There was a small shed at the far end of the field filled with tools, materials and the remnants of some well eaten lunches. A few rough sketches adorned the tin walls. Apart from the dirty, navy overalls discarded carelessly on the floor and the empty wine and water bottles, there was little to indicate that anyone had been here in the last couple of years. I felt like an intruder.
But then, of course, I was an intruder. Literally speaking.
But, when I stepped outside of the shed, I no longer felt uninvited.
I felt as if I had been made an offer. An offer I couldn't refuse. A invitation to view the wordless, beauty of hand crafted treasures set in the silent grandeur of this quiet, unassuming countryside. A privilege.
I lingered for as long as I dared and felt the hankerings, normally very well-behaved, stir deep down inside. Its not often that I indulge these buried longings. But I did. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
I wonder now, as I did that afternoon, who was the creator of these symbols. Having put so much energy, sweat and toil into creating them ... did they just abandon them? Or are they a continuing monument to one man or woman's dream, placed exactly where they should be in a silent patch of the universe, their only mission in life to stir the hankerings of all those who happen upon them?
If so, mission accomplished.
GB returned, grumbling incoherently about mid-day sun and mad dogs and wayward spouses and unrepentant scallywags. I dutifully scaled the fence and was quietly unrepentant.
The hankerings are still there and not so well buried anymore.