Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pete the Vet & Emma the Cat

Here's a video of my cat Emma who is almost totally recovered from a freak accident at home. I wouldn't let her out at night for safety's sake, so instead she knocked a glass bowl off the counter in the kitchen (which she knows she shouldn't be on) and fell on top of it somehow and cut her leg! I came downstairs the next morning and found a bloodbath and Emma looking sad and unable to walk. Big panic. Off to the vet. Six weeks locked indoors, four of that in a cage, two of that in a room. We nearly went mad, the two of us. (Finn is away at college in Galway, lucky thing). Emma's out and about again, thanks to the god of small animals and her vet, Jill. Here's my cat princess on Pete's Facebook website. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pete-the-Vet/135169381539. Scroll down and look for his videos on your left. There's a dotey one of a poor little puppy who had to have something removed from his stomach that he shouldn't have eaten. (They are worse than kids that way.)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

No Time!

No time to blog these days, sorry. Working on two books at the same time, plus a teleplay! And Christmas is sneaking up on me with its own demands. Hope to have more to say soon. Meanwhile, as soon as I gather all the pics, I'll be posting about the amazing arts event at the Multyfarnham Franciscan Friary over on my Book Blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anthony de Mello, S.J.

We are heading into the short dark days of winter (though, in fact, it has been nice and sunny this past while). Time to go deeper into contemplation and self-reflection. And who better a guide than Anthony de Mello, Indian Jesuit, philosopher, psychotherapist, poet and writer? I'm reading two of his books right now The Song of the Bird and Sadhana, A Way to God. The first is a collection of what you might call parables or teaching stories from various sacred traditions - Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Some of them I get and some I don't, but I can feel them all working away in miraculous ways on my psyche, like spiritual medicine taken in glasses of sunlight. The second book is a 'how to' of exercises on how to pray. Just about every chapter has made me cry in a happy healing sort of way. It's really beautiful stuff. Of course the Vatican banned de Mello at some point. All the top dogs of organised religions hate when people approach God without their authority and permission. Of course those same top dogs are nowhere near God because secular power exercised through spiritual authority is really their chief interest. I suspect many of them are atheists (but not the humanist kind). Still, they don't like the idea that they may have missed the boat and that others could be out on the Great Ocean basking in a warmer Sun. Ah well. It takes all kinds. I don't want power (though I wouldn't mind a bit more money). I'd really like more of what de Mello talks about all the time: awareness. But most of all, I'd like to get closer to God. As the Muslims say about life, "Unto God is the journeying." [NB my de Mello books were printed in India by Gujarat Sahitya Prakash.]

Monday, November 09, 2009

Still Recovering from Swine Flu

Jaze, I tell ya, this is one doozer of a dose. Never mind all those conspiracy people telling you it's all fear-mongering. Those of us who have been hit know the story. Yes, it's a normal flu when you first get it - sore throat, fever, deep coughing, muscle aches, chills, loss of appetite, exhaustion - but it's the aftermath that really bowls you over. It goes on for weeks and weeks! I've past my third week now and just starting to feel human, but I'm still coughing from time to time and when I do, I think I'm going to die. My poor lungs feel damaged and my ribs bruised and my chest muscles twisted. Doc says my lungs are clear, so no infection, but tell that to the pain centres in my brain! And after one or two tasks a day, I'm wiped out. This must be what people with ME feel like. They have my utter sympathy. Apologies for moaning. And of course I'm getting very little work done. Put aside adult novel (one last draft to finish, yahoo!) and am revising first book of new young adult series (still can't announce as contracts still going through, sorry) plus working on television script of same. A lot of the time I'm working in bed! Rest is important for convalescing and working in bed keeps me from being utterly bored.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Celtic New Year

I'm still recovering from swine flu (oink!): no worse than any other kind of flu except that it takes ages for you to return to normal. A week over it, I am still debilitated and my ribs are sore from coughing. Alas this meant I could not do a Sweat Lodge on the weekend as my body couldn't take it. However, I did manage to have popcorn and copper money ready for the kids who came to my door and here is my porch decorated with one of Finn's amazing puppets (on the window sill) and a stuffed witch whose mask was made by her also and whose body was made by me. (Her chest is a teddy bear!) Now I usually point out that Hallowe'en or Oíche Shamhna (in Irish) is the beginning of the Celtic New Year and the time when the veils between the worlds are thin and the dead and the Faerie Folk walk the earth. But I have been told by those in the know that according to the lunar calendar - by which the Celtic year is marked - that that day will not be here until November 15. Still, it was a powerful night what with a full moon as well and I made my wishes for the new year.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dettol Kills Cats!

Honestly. I was recently informed of this by my vet. She says no veterinary clinic has Dettol on the premises. One of its ingredients - a big long name I can't remember - causes almost instant respiratory failure and death. Is there a warning on the package? "Not recommended for use around cats." Well that's an understatement. And here's me with a bottle of it using it to clean and disinfect things around my poor Emma! Binned now. But here are two things I'm wondering. 1) If the makers of Dettol know how dangerous their product is to cats, why don't they remove the offending ingredient which is obviously not used in similar products like Savlon? 2) If it's that dangerous to cats, how safe can it be around babies?! And while I'm warning all you cat lovers to pass this on, please note that Easter lily plants - the ones with the orange powdery stamens - can also cause death to cats! The leaves are toxic to them but also if the orange stuff gets on their paws and they lick it off, they are in serious danger. If not treated within 18 hours, they will die of kidney failure. Florists have resisted putting any kinds of warnings on these plants, so again, the information must be passed by word of mouth. And if you don't believe me, google it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Top Executives of American Tobacco Companies

I just watched "The Insider" on television. Fantastic film about corporate evil and the tremendous courage of one man who stood up for the truth. Then look what I found on youtube. You really have to wonder how these people sleep at night. But the the truth is there are so many of them: all those top executives making a fortune out of polluting air, water, human lungs, manufacturing and selling arms that they know are fuelling wars and killing women and children, defrauding pensioners and ruining lives with their scams (Enron, bankers etc), destroying small farms for agribusiness, abusing animals in giant factory farms, and don't forget all those corrupt politicians and lawmakers protecting same ... it goes on and on. Pure evil. Those who stand against them are called "leftists" or "anarchists" or "bleeding heart liberals." It's such a strange world we live in. Sometimes I honestly believe this is some level of hell and the demons rule!


toxic wastes.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Picard Video

I've never made any bones (get it?) about the fact I am a Trekkie from way back. Here's a brill video I found on youtube with my second favourite captain.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Yes to Bribery, Blackmail & Bullying

Well the Irish gave the correct answer to their European masters this time around. It was a decisive "yes" in the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty aka new European constitution held because the Irish people did not give the right answer the first time. As one blog remarked there should now be a third referendum as this is a draw - one/one - in the so-called decision-making process. There's no question but that the single cause of this face-about in opinion was sheer terror that the European rulers would punish us for not playing ball; and we simply couldn't afford that given that our government has beggared us. Still, there's hope that the drive towards an undemocratic corporate united states of Europe may yet be halted. If the Czech euro-skeptics can hold out long enough till the British people get to vote, there is every likelihood the Conservative Party will win the next election. The latter have promised their people the referendum that the fake British Labour Party refused to give them. Politics makes strange bedfellows. Imagine depending on the British Conservative Party to save Irish sovereignty! These be bizarre times.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Anniversary of the Rescue of the Danish Jews

It was this very week, in 1943, that the Danish people showed themselves to be infinitely morally superior to the rest of the West by their refusal to co-operate with Nazi Germany in the deportation and murder of their Jewish citizens. Warned by a German diplomat (one of the Righteous) that an order had been passed to arrest Denmark's some 8,000 Jews, a spontaneous nationwide rescue effort ensued in which thousands of Danish Jews were transported to safety in neutral Sweden. The 500 Danish Jews who were captured ended up in Terezin, a 'show piece' concentration camp ghetto in Czechoslovakia. Of these, all but 51 survived due to food parcels sent from the Danish government and its constant pressure on the German government not to transport Danish citizens to the death camps. On top of that, when the Danish Jews returned home, unlike the Jews of other nations, they found that their properties had not been robbed and vandalised. Their Danish neighbours had cared for their houses, gardens and pets. I mean, my God, shouldn't there be studies to figure out why these people were so much better than the rest of us? How did goodness and humanity triumph in Denmark while evil and collusion with evil reigned everywhere else? I've always been an admirer of the Danes, a nation who has words like rummelig, meaning "bigness of perspective, tolerance, and willingness to think big thoughts." Yes, indeed, big thoughts like courage, justice, mercy, goodness, and love for your fellow human beings. Well done, Denmark. (Photo credit: US Holocaust Museum)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What is the Prime Minister of Canada Reading?

By rights I should be posting this on my Book Blog but there's loads going on over there as it is. And no, this is not a pic of what's-his-name, the right-wing Bushite Prime Minister of Canada, but Yann Martel, the author of the amazing Booker-winning Life of Pi. Martel has set up a website covering his personal project to enlighten said PM by sending him books to read: http://www.whatisstephenharperreading.ca. He (Martel) is also publishing a book on this subject. I heard him speak at the Canadian Embassy last year. The man has a truly massive intellect. You can see him struggling to be patient with the mental processes of mere mortals who can't think as fast or as on as many levels simultaneously as he does. Nope, this isn't tongue in cheek. Some people find him arrogant. I think he's a raving genius. And he's easy on the eyes. Let's face it, most male writers are pretty hopey-looking.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Bord Snip Nua, NAMA etc

There's no doubt about it. We have returned to ye olden days when the peasants groan under horrific taxes to pay for the excesses of the wealthy. Not a single banker or developer has been charged for the fraud and thievery that has beggared our economy. Not a single politician or head of a state body found guilty of outrageous spending of the tax payer's money has been charged or even penalised. Yet the ordinary man and woman of Ireland is already paying and paying and will do so even more when the December budget comes in. King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham are fleecing the populace. Where's Robin Hood, Maid Marian and other heroes of the people?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Norton Internet Security

Ok I didn't order this system, in fact I ordered McAfee as my computer man recommended but Dell automatically inflicts Norton on its customers. When I requested the system I ordered, it never arrived! Anyhoo, lately my Norton Internet System just disappears off my computer. I uninstall and re-install and it hangs around for a few days, then takes off again. When I contacted Norton Support, they tried to tell me I have a virus and wanted to sell me something to fix it. No explanation how I got a virus with their security system! Point is: there's nothing wrong with my computer, only my Norton Internet Security!!! What a con. Question: anybody using the freebies provided - AVG, Avista etc? Any recommendations? Or maybe I just accept I got shafted by Dell and Norton and buy some McAfee?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Classy Lady

I love when people step outside the lines and speak up for noble causes like truth and liberty. Laura Bush, ex-First Lady, teacher and librarian, has come out in favour of President Obama's speech to school children. So much for all those mean-minded scare-mongering opposition partisans and bigots who are simply using this event as an excuse to whip up hatred and anti-democratic sentiment. Shame on them and bravo to such a classy lady.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Lisbon Treaty - When is No not a No?

This is democracy in Ireland and Europe: you get to vote in a referendum on a subject and then you get to vote again because you didn't give the correct answer the first time. Let's be clear about this matter. The Lisbon Treaty is a new constitution for the European Community. However, it is called a "treaty" so that all the people of the other European countries don't get to vote on it. Only Ireland. Because our constitution is stronger, apparently, than any other European country. Our economy isn't, but that's another matter. No, it's not another matter. Our government, the Yes people and the governments of Europe - i.e. those governments who won't let their own people vote on the matter - are unashamedly telling the Irish people that if we don't vote Yes we will pay for it. Europe won't bail us out of the mess our Yes government has got us into along with their banker and developer pals. (Again, I say, this is democracy?) As for the guide the Yes government has sent out to supposedly educate us on the treaty - as if we weren't educated the last time - it is a shameless piece of propaganda masquerading as impartial material written by an "independent body" (only coincidententally financed by the Yes government). They are even up to subliminal tricks. Check out the pink-tie chairman's intro at the beginning of the pamphlet, 3rd para, last line. The word "vote" is almost right under "yes" in the previous sentence and a safe distance away from "no." Indeed, when I read that sentence I actually read "we strongly encourage you to vote yes." Tricky slicky politikies. I voted No last time and I will vote No again. I even know some Yes voters who are voting No because they are pissed that we are voting again. The democratic deficit in the present European set-up laid bare! And may I ask whatever happened to the opposition in this country? The Greens have sold their souls for power - only two left, in goverment, the rest of them wiped out in the last election - and Labour's leader, Eamon Gilmore clearly said "the Treaty is dead" after the last referendum and there he is like the rest of the sleeveens, asking us to vote Yes again. Our forefathers are rolling over in their graves. This is what they died for? A parcel of rogues in a nation.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sain Zahoor Ahmed

This is who I went to hear last night in the Pavilion Theatre at the World Culture Festival. I wept, he was so exquisite and amazing to hear live. In fact, I was sitting in the second row and he was only feet away from me: a small elegant man utterly lost in the ecstasy of Sufi music, song and dance. He wore a sparkly gold costume that flashed in the lights. The Ambassador from Pakistan introduced him. I was delighted and a little surprised that she did, as traditional Muslims are usually utterly opposed to Sufism, the mystical expression of Islam. It is the mystical aspect that appeals to me in any religion, i.e the personal awareness and experience of God without the need for a middle-man or organised structure.

Doolin Ferries

I should have known things were dodgy when Doolin Ferries charged us an extra 10 euro over the price advertised on their website (a price, I might add, which I had also confirmed on the telephone). When we got to the other side we discovered that those with Irish accents paid less. "We are a private company, we can charge what we like," said the owner when I complained. Then, when we returned two days later, we discovered our car - left in the car park just in front of the ferry dock - was broken into and there was an attempt to hot-wire it. (Idiot criminal, as you can't hot-wire a Ford apparently). There were no signs anyway to warn that this might be a bad place to leave your car without an armed guard. Well that will be the last time I am going near Doolin Ferries. Next time I go to Inis Oirr, I go via Rossaveal in Connemara.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spam Police

As I clear out my spam folder every morning I wonder briefly who are these people determined to sell me viagra, watches, and acai berry diets. Does anyone ever respond to them? I can only think that someone must or why else would they be so persistent? And if they give contact information for those stupid enough to send money, doesn't that mean they are traceable and capable of being caught? We've got Interpol to deal with global criminals, there should be some kind of Interspampol to deal with Internet criminals. Their headquarters could be in the Balkans to go with their name.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shatner On the Mount

Almost finished Chapter 28 (slog, slog, sigh) and here's a hilarious little surprise sent by my brother-in-law, James. It doesn't get much funnier than this!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Last Post for the Night

Yep, it's just past 3:30 am and I'm only finishing up now before I head for the leaba (Irish for 'bed). What am I doing awake and on the computer at this hour? Finally finished Chapter 26 of new book (adult, 'spiritual fiction' for wont of a better label). I'm determined to reach Chapter 30 before I head off for Inis Oirr, Gaeltacht island off the west coast of Ireland, the smallest of the famed Aran Islands, next week. I should be in Spain right now but mothers don't go off on holidays when their kids are sick, no matter how old they are. (The kids, I mean, not the mothers, and she's on the mend, buiochas le Dia.) Have postponed that trip till October. Meanwhile, here's a hilarious image I swiped from one of the blogs I love to read - Paddy K, an Irishman living in Sweden (how's that for a strange mix). He writes hilarious rants that make me laugh but also, like all true comics, gets serious from time to time. There was something else I was going to say but my brain is mush and it's gone from me. Ah well. Oíche mhaith agus good night! (Practising the oul teanga before I head off.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Church of the Raw Food

Went to a raw food talk and demonstation at a friend's house the other day. I'm always interested in alternative lifestyles not to mention a new recipe or two. Finn was vegetarian for years - chiefly on the basis of animal rights and not liking to 'eat flesh' - so I was too, except when I travelled or visited my mother. In the latter cases, I confess, I always fell on any meat with glad cries, especially a rasher sambo. Not big on steak, mind you. My vegetarian household was reflected in my writing as my characters became increasingly vegetarian. Back to the raw food demo. Firstly, I have to say that anyone I have ever known who ate this way solely - including the guy who gave the talk - always looked malnourished, too thin for their body height, and of a sickly pallor. Words like 'robust' and 'healthy' just wouldn't apply. That said, it was very exciting to try wheatgrass for the first time. Seriously green and grassy! At one point we sat down to plates of food including dehydrated pizza base with various vegetable toppings and lettuce rolls with bean sprout fillings. For a moment I thought, "omigod, I'm a rabbit." I swear I caught a look of sympathy from the dog who was looking in the window at us. Did get some great recipes, though, including avocado and pine nut dip (soak your pine nuts overnight, blend and flavour to taste) and banana 'ice cream' which was simply bananas peeled and frozen then blended into a creamy paste. YUM.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Moral Decadence

I'm beginning to wonder what is going on in 'serious' American film-making at the moment. I found the moral core of two movies I watched recently quite sinister. First of all Doubt, supposedly tackling the question of clerical sexual abuse of children. (I understand this was originally a play.) There it was smack in the middle of what was being presented as a complex treatment of suspicion and guilt in such matters: the pernicious invention of a 'gay child' - his mother confirms his inclinations as being the reason why his father beat him - who is better off as the priest's favourite because it saves him from racist bullying. Equally objectionable is the invention of a black mother who says this is fine as it helps her son get through school. And now I've just finished watching the much-lauded The Reader and I'm equally horrified at the film's attempts to elicit sympathy for a clearly unrepentant Nazi, i.e. "I had to let the 300 women burn to death in the church as it was the only way to do my job and keep things orderly." (I understand this was originally a book.) Sympathy is insidiously elicited by making the former SS guard at Auschwitz a) fairly young, beautiful, sexy and often naked b) illiterate and ashamed of it (though not ashamed, for a moment, of murder!) and c) most pointedly, uneducated and working class. The latter's impoverished flat and then equally impoverished prison cell is deliberately and shamelessly contrasted with the fabulous wealth and artworks of the spacious apartment of a Jewish survivor, who also happens to be a writer (how's that for iron-fisted irony). Is this not a blatant if unspoken repetition of the specious rationalisation for the extermination of the Jews? i.e. they are richer, more powerful and superior to us? And how on earth did this movie get away with this stance? I repeat, what is going on in serious American film-making these days? Answer: moral decadence.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Insane Leaps of Logic

I just heard recently from a friend in the business that Hollywood has determined that the disastrous failure of both The Golden Compass and Inkheart films was due to the fact they had girl leads. Nothing to do, of course, with bad scripts and bad direction and tedious mind-numbing one-dimensional reductions of exquisitely complex and multi-layered books! When The Dark is Rising film failed for the latter reasons did anyone say it had to do with the fact the main character was a boy? Of course not. The default mode in our civilisation - be it religion, society, arts or whatever - is blame the female. And what is the upshot of this latest leap of Hollywood logic (those two words together are a contradiction in terms)? A big reject stamp on anything with a young female lead. Go figure.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New York New York


I've lived in or visited many cities on this planet - Toronto, Vancouver, Delhi, Chennai, Kuala Lumpur, Barcelona, Paris, Madrid, Los Angeles, New Orleans to name a few - and while I loved them all, I've got to say New York is the one. The one that gives me the biggest buzz from the moment I arrive there. I've never stayed more than a week at a time and this visit was only a few days, but there will come a time when I stay longer. It's on my bucket list: 6 months to a year in New York New York!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just back from New York, Toronto & Creemore

I'll post some pics soon, but I am still recovering from time-zone lag - it's dreaful this way - and I am frantically cleaning my house. Whenever I return from a trip abroad, the first thing I notice is how manky the place looks and I start scrubbing everything in sight. I am also recovering from massive mosquito attacks suffered in the Ontario backwoods. My God, the Lough Derg midges have nothing on those Canadian carnivores! Despite the citronella, I was eaten alive! I am still scratching like mad. The cortizone cream my chemist recommended is utterly useless, so next I try camomille lotion and a homeopathic remedy called Ledum.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lough Derg Revisited

Ok, now that some of the holy madness has worn off, I must confess (ahem) that I had a few "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here" moments on (in?) St Patrick's Purgatory, the other name for Lough Derg or Station Island. The most hilarious had to be that Friday night, trying to catch up on the mega 'stations' because we arrived on the late boat. My pal and I were out in the rain and the dark and the swarms of carnivorous midges, circling the stony beds in our bare feet. At one point I was down on the lakeshore, kneeling on a block of stone, hunched over a drenched pamphlet trying to read the Creed in the dim light because I didn't know it by heart (yet), rain lashing down, midges eating the face off me and one part of my brain saying "what the @#& am I doing here?" and another part saying "I'm going to finish this if it @#&'n kills me." And even though she was suffering equally behind me, my pal Berry got a fit of giggles at the state of me. I was like one of the tormented souls in purgatory. "I wished I'd had a camera," she told me later. Oh yeah and can you believe purgatory is still part of the Catholic canon? I was sure it had gone the way of limbo, but apparently not. And no one can get out of the place unless someone else intervenes and prays for them. Imagine believing the universe is that badly organised? Children of a lesser god, for sure. Though I happily practise many a religion (love the communal and ritual aspects), I am a firm believer in the Vedic philosophy of the Cosmic Game in which we are all aspects of the Divine engaged in Play, experiencing all the beauty and horror of life ... because we choose to. That said, I'm still planning to revisit Lough Derg next year.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Laudete Sanctam Insulam!

I have done a lot of weird and wonderful things in my day, but St Patrick's Purgatory on the island of Lough Derg definitely ranks up there with the best of them. It was an utterly amazing experience. The fasting, the sleep deprivation, the bare feet and sore knees on ancient stones of penitential beds, the midges, the suffering, the rattle of Rosary beads, the constant circling and praying out loud (I can whizz through the Our Father, Hail Mary & Creed at a mighty rate now), that first cup of tea after a day fasting, that first bite of dried toast, that first spraying of the head with insecticide by a kind fellow pilgrim who knew the ropes, the Taizé chants by candlelight in the Basilica, the golden ciborium of Benediction, the first soft sleep after 38 hours awake - ahhhhhh. And did I mention the Harry Clarke windows? I had only just started to read a book about him last week and there they were before me, a gift from the gods! (See Book Blog.) I nearly fainted with ecstasy, worshipping at the jewelled feet of his exquisite figures. (I have many gods and one of them is Art.) Below, you can see the boat that took us to the island, the penitential beds (remains of mediaeval monastic beehive huts which we circled and knelt in, praying continuously) and the stone blocks down by the lakeshore where we prayed some more, while being eaten alive by midges. (Those lads have been feasting on pilgrims for over a thousand years!) We said decades of the Rosary all through the night, circling the Basilica inside and out. (All that circling is definitely pre-Christian.) And throughout the time there, we went barefoot over grass and pavement and stone. I am still feeling the good effects physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I'm definitely going back next year!








Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lough Derg & Rosary Beads

I've spoken about my upcoming pilgrimage to Lough Derg in my Book Blog, as this is research for my new book as well as something that's been on my Bucket List for years. I'll be heading up to Sligo first, to stop at Finn's Dad's place (http://www.gyreum.com/) where he's going to interview me before I head off on Friday morning. He's doing a documentary on Lough Derg and he wants to interview someone before and after they go. (I'm always game to be filmed.) I've almost finished packing and now I must go collect all my Rosary Beads. I've got gorgeous blue ones that Finn brought me from Spain, glow-in-the-dark green ones for night prayers which I found in the pocket of a Donegal Tweed coat I bought in Oxfam, and another antique pair with aquamarine stones that I think belonged to an old lady friend of my mother's. I'm in favour of a return to the fashion of wearing Rosary Beads as jewellery. Most Roman Catholics would feel insulted if they saw anyone wearing them, but the truth is they were originally worn, particularly in the Middle Ages, around the neck and around the waist. Other religions wear their prayer beads, why can't Catholics?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Thin Lizzy - Dancing in the Moonlight

Ahhhhh, memories of my plukey youth. This man is a beauty (those legs go on forever) and one of the people I had in mind when I described Finvarra. So sad that heroin, a big thing in Dublin, got the better of him.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Saga Dawa

Also known as Wesak or the Buddha's Birthday or Buddha Day. I will be heading off to Jampa Ling to celebrate same this Sunday. Alas after gorgeous sunny days that turned this country into a Happy Place despite the recession, the weather forecast is for rain. This may prevent an outdoor fire puja, but hopefully not. As usual at Jampa Ling - a fine big country house in Co. Cavan - we have puja and prayers presided over by our dear Venerable Panchen Otrul Rinpoche whose own birthday we celebrated two weeks ago in a big marquee (here's a pic from that day.) After puja we have a communal feast to which everyone brings food and then we have an Irish hooley where people sing, dance, tell stories or recite poems. At the Rinpoche's birthday party there were trad musicians including the great Tommy Hayes, bodhran player with Stockton's Wing. In a dream come true for me, I danced a reel to his drumming as well as the fine music of a fiddle player. Heaven. Or should I say, Nirvana. For more info on Jampa Ling see www.jampaling.org.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Disband the 'Christian' Brothers

Ireland is still reeling from last week's publication of the Ryan Commission which details the horrific and endemic physical and sexual abuse of children in religious- and state-run schools right up to the 70s. The truth is everyone here knew what was going on - at least about the physical abuse - but because these children came from the lower classes and also because the Catholic Church ruled mind and body, no objections were made. Truth, also, is that both church and state were making money out of the slave labour of the children so it was a profitable form of abuse. (The perfidy of humanity shatters the soul.) Of all the guilty religious orders, the most perfidious is the so-called Christian Brothers. Canadians will remember that the first class actions brought against them by their victims took place in Newfoundland. I remember the Christian Brothers in charge of the boys at our school in Toronto. We knew to avoid them. We knew they were violent men. One broke a lad's arm and when that lad's father came in and beat up the brother, we were all delighted. In the military, when a unit is so thoroughly corrupted and dishonoured, it is disbanded. There is no question but that this should be the fate of the 'Christian' Brothers and let their lands and resources be distributed amongst their victims.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Enjoying Sundays

The blog I entered yesterday kept half-deleting itself, I think because of the youtube posting below it, so I'll rewrite it here:
One of the problems with being self-employed, along with the constant financial insecurity, is that there are no boundaries between boss and worker, and the former is usually a slave driver. Sure I can go off on adventures whenever I feel like it and my time's my own, but it has taken me years to wrest basic rights from myself like a one-hour lunch break and a 6-day work week. (What? There are 5-day work weeks?!) Sunday is my day off, yet there I was thinking of writing - I'm in love with my new book - but I caught myself in time. Instead I went for dinner with a friend and then we headed off to see STAR TREK. It was FABULOUS. I laughed out loud at so many parts. The young Spock, the young Uhuru and the young Scotty were my favourites.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pre-Stargate Fun

OK, this is hilarious, not only because of Jack's dreadful hair cut ( I can't believe he was MacGyver. I used to watch that show!) but also because General Hammond is moonlighting. I've got another to post with Teal'c as a student and MacGyver as a class visitor. It's amazing what you can find on youtube. It's also amazing the things you can do to avoid work! (Pas en anglais, désolé.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tesco Ireland is Tesco England

Well here I am, first thing in the morning, ready for a rant. I was eating my porridge and thinking, "gad, this tastes awful, why did Flahavans go and change their product?" Being me, I decided to ring them and ask (okay, demand) why they had to mess with a good thing. The matter was soon cleared up. I had actually bought another brand of organic porridge - hey, we take our oats out of the package and put them in a container - because Tesco Ireland has decided to stop stocking this wonderful home-grown Irish product made by a wonderful home-grown Irish family business (www.flahavans.com) and are only buying English brands. Given the state of our economy this is infuriating. Even Tesco Ireland (I use the term loosely) needs the Irish economy to improve so that its customers have more money to spend. Surely supporting Irish small businesses is crucial in these times? Well, feck them, I am off to shop in Dunnes where they still stock the best. (And no, this is not a paid advertisement. What's that? How do I eat it? With apple chunks and raisins, plus maple syrup and milk.)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Research With Horses




The main character in my new adult book has made it quite clear to me that she is a horsewoman even though I, alas, am not. This means I have had to read a lot of books about horses and also to get out there and meet with friends who are horse-lovers and horse owners. (Yes, this is the kind of thing writers do. It's a bit like being a method actor!) Of course I am scared to death of the great and noble creatures, so the best I can do is clean out their stables and admire them from afar. Two of the most amazing books I have read are The Irish Draught Horse, A History, ed. by Mary McGrath and Joan Griffiths (Collins, Cork, 2005) which includes articles on everything under the sun, including folklore and legend (as Irish books are wont to do) and The Undisciplined Horse by Ulrik Schramm (J.A. Allen, London, 1986) which goes on wonderful rants against cruel riders and mistreatment of horses. Can't wait to read The Tao of Equus by Linda Kohanov (New World Library, 2001).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Stargate

My family - both in Canada and Ireland - is subject to passing fads and obsessions which we all share. We are sci fi and fantasy mavens, fans of Star Trek since the days it was televised in black-and-white and just as fanatical about other series like the Gatetarn Robin Hood (mentioned below) and, of course, Stargate. Recently my sister Tallie bought all the Stargate DVDs, ten seasons, plus the three films, the first one with Kurt Russell and James Spader and the two newer ones Continuum and The Arc of Truth. Well, I swear to God, we are all bug-eyed! Finn even has her boyfriend hooked. And of course there are the usual debates: Who is better - Jack or Cam? Sam or Vala? General Landry or General Hammond? T'ilk with hair or no hair? The movie Daniel Jackson or the television Daniel Jackson? (Both are mighty fine as thinking women's crumpets go.) My favourite episodes are the ones involving the Multiple World Theory of quantum mechanics, where there is an infinite number of dimensions in which we act out the choices and diverse paths that confront us in the course of our lives. Fabulous head spins and brain twisters. Brilliant writing, too, I might add - the storylines, the characters, the dialogue, the humour, the pathos. It's my treat at the end of a working day, so I'm off now: Season 2, Disc 6. (And yeah, I've just finished work, going on midnight. Sigh.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mythic Journeys Documentary 2009

This is the trailer of the new Mythic Journeys film due out soon, to play in festivals world-wide. I attended their conference in Atlanta a few years back when I was on a reading tour of America. It was, quite frankly, one of the most amazing experiences of my life (and let's face it, I've had some pretty amazing experiences). Hope there'll be another conference soon!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Easter

I was rawther proud of myself as I managed to stick to my Lenten fast, refusing to partake of crisps - potato chips to you North Americans - and chocolate. There were a few falls, mea culpa, i.e. the below-mentioned Tesco Incident and two chocolate-covered ice creams (!) but for the most part I was righteously abstemious. Truthfully I enjoyed the discipline and surprised myself when the going got rough. And, it must be said, chocolate and crisps taste SO GOOD when you haven't had them for a while. I stuffed myself at Easter and still have lots more chocolate to work my way through - a bunny, caramel eggs, dark chocolate eggs with mint filling ...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Scotland the Brave

Just back from my Experience Week at Findhorn. See my Book Blog for a pic of the beautiful place where I stayed. I will write more about that amazing experience in future blogs. Right now I am recovering from the 'Winter Vomiting Bug' which is as awful and dramatic as it sounds! Managed to get it right in the middle of the week, ugh. However, I was amongst seriously good people and I was well looked after. Lovely Scottish nurse at the local hospital where I was taken said "yae just want tae dee, don't yae?" And omigod, I LOVE Scotland. I have had an obsession with that country since I was a little girl. Truth to tell, I wanted to do Scottish sword dancing - not Irish dancing - but my parents said it wasn't right as we weren't Scottish! Songs about Bonnie Prince Charlie make me cry, I've read umpteenth books about Mary Queen of Scots, the bagpipes send me into ecstasy, and I love a man in a kilt. Hoot mun, I will return.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The High Road

Off to Findhorn, Scotland for Experience Week: www.Findhorn.org. This is research for a book I am working on (one of the characters is a gardener at Findhorn) and also an adventure I have dreamed about for years. I was a short-term visitor, i.e. two days, twelve years ago and can't wait to return. I doubt I will be blogging there but will tell all about it when I return.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beannactaí Lá Phádraig!

Hah, took a while to find this, but finally did. (Brother-in-law told me where it was.) Yeah, it's an ad, but it's brill.

Monday, March 16, 2009

From Here to Clare

Just back from County Clare where I attended the exhibition launch of my friend Frank Golden, poet and visual artist extraordinaire. Had a fabulous time. Drove across Ireland on the Limerick Road and then north to Quin via the lake district of Killaloe. Beautiful scenery. Reminded me of Loch Lomond and the Isle of Skye. The exhibition was in Ennistymon, the town with the picturesque falls. Here's the pub we went to afterwards. A must-see if you are in the area. The owner is Eugene himself, plus his dog Toby, and the interior is even more amazing that the exterior: stained glass, antique posters, photographs, paintings, pictures, fine wooden counters and tables and chairs, and best of all, friendly County Clare atmosphere where everybody chats to everybody else. I stood mesmerised looking at a poster of the first Lisdoonvarna festival which I attended as a sprog in 1978. Ah, the memories of the big white tent, the rain, the muddy field, the queues for food and toilets in the village, and best of all, the MUSIC: Paul Brady, Gay & Terry Woods, Midnight's Well, Miko Russell, De Dannan, Chieftains, Furey Brothers, Christy Moore, Stockton's Wing, Mick Hanley and more. Oh what a blast from the past looking at that poster was. And the woman sitting in front of it had been there, too. In fact, she was at every single one of the festivals including the one with the drownings (tragic) and the one with the riots (!) in 1983. Needless to say, that last one put an end to a fine tradition. Apparently they went from folk to rock. Go figure. The next day a gang of us headed up to Bell Harbour to see the building site of Frank and Berry's house, then off to New Quay for a walk along the Flaggy Shore and lunch at Linnane's fine pub and eatery. We all ate crab - I had 'hapes' of it on a plate with salad, brown bread, and tea. Then home I went via Kinvara, my old haunt and the village I dream of returning to one day. Now that was a fine weekend.

Monday, March 09, 2009

In Treatment

Omigod, I've just discovered the most amazing television series posted on youtube, starring Gabriel Byrne (Irishman of course). The writing is superb and the acting is out of this world. There is hardly any action whatsoever, it's all characterisation and dialogue, yet it is compelling beyond belief. My eyes are bugging out, I've just watched eleven episodes (!) and I have had to pull myself away so I will go to bed. Incroyable.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Lent

I'm not religious per se - or is it that I am poly-religious? - I just like getting into the spirit (ahem) of things. When in Rome (ahem ahem) ... So I decided to give up crisps, a serious weakness of mine. There I was in Tesco, Ash Wednesday, and I forthrightly marched past the aisle where the crisps were, all pleased with myself and my willpower. Then it happened. Just past the aisle was a devious stand offering 'buy one, get one free' for a six-pack of Walkers crisps. I was vulnerable, as I had just won the previous skirmish and was cocky and offguard. (You know, when you reward yourself with a cigarette for not smoking all day?) I went down, man, I went down. It took me two days to eat the 12 packets (Finn helped). Filled with remorse and long lost Catholic guilt, I added chocolate to my Lenten fast in penance for my sins. Will I make it? So far, so good. But I baked a clementine cake yesterday and almost ate the whole thing in one go. Hey, I didn't give up cake ...

Friday, February 27, 2009

No Obama Here

Latest joke going around the country: What's the difference between Iceland and Ireland? One letter and six months. Yesiree, there are a lot of people who believe this ship of state is sinking fast. And, of course, the wealthy - being the rats they are - are bailing faster and moving all their money out. Can we call on a fresh young new face with dreams and visions to save us? Not a hope in hell. All we've got is the same old fusty rumpled-jacketed red-faced men who are the best friends of the guys who destroyed our economy in the first place. Their solution? More taxes, cut the pay of the public service, squeeze the peasants. And don't get me started on the failure to tackle the obscene wages of incompetent bankers and the inflated wages and allowances of TDs themselves. (Can you believe that our Taoiseach gets paid more than the President of the United States of America? For misruling this tiny country?) So, let me tell you how I really feel about it ...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Off Again!

It has been two weeks since I returned from the Franciscan Friary and these are my sins: I haven't done a tap of work on my new book, i.e. the adult one. However, I have been doing a load of business and prep around a graphic novel version and television series for the new young adult book/series. Re the latter, there's still so much to be finalised, I simply can't make any announcements ... yet. Meanwhile, I am off to my favourite artist's retreat in Co. Monaghan - Tyrone Guthrie's house at Annaghmakerrig - for a week. I'll get back to work on the adult novel and will also be meeting with my graphic novel artist who lives nearby. More about that anon.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Music and Dance as Prayer

The incredible Mercan Dede brings Sufi music, dance and poetry (Rumi) to the club scene. Some might find this sacrilegious, but why should the Divine not be welcomed into every aspect of life? The Whirling Dervish spins even as the electron spins, even as the galaxy spins: the dance of creation.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Thundering Disgrace

The Irish government will nationalise a corrupt and inefficient Anglo-Irish Bank (on behalf of its Fianna Fail cronies who all have dibs in it, not to mention its former Chairman who should be in jail) but not a national treasure like Waterford Crystal. It's heart-breaking that the workers are occupying the Kilbarry plant to keep the furnaces going because once they are turned off, all is lost; it would cost millions to turn them back on again. These men are fighting for their jobs, their livelihoods, and a big part of our heritage. Waterford Crystal is known the world over as a true Irish brand. It's an utter disgrace that it is being left to die. Ach, couldn't some Ireland-loving billionaire give them a hand? Michael Flatley, maybe? If I had a magic wand and lots of capital ... I would buy the company, pay off its debt, meet the workers to form a co-op, hear their ideas for running the place economically and efficiently, set up an apprentice programme, offer an annual prize to art college students for once-off designs, get more young designers involved ... Alas, I am rich in ideas but poor in cash.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Franciscan Sojourn




Just back from my residency in a Franciscan Friary in Westmeath. Oh my God -and I mean the pun - it was glorious. I'll talk about the work I did on my Book Blog, but here I will say that I spent two weeks with five amazing holymen and three other artists. Here's some of the stuff I did besides write: got up seriously early to attend 7:30 Mass in the Lady's Chapel, meditated and prayed and sang at 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. daily, explored the corridors and rooms of the two abandoned wings, walked in the garden, climbed the 17th century tower (pics to come) of the restored church, played Scrabble, had long chats about theology, Transactional Analysis, Enneagrams, art, life, the universe and everything, read a ton of books including Teilhard de Chardin's Le Divin Milieu, engaged in a discussion session on the Cosmic Christ, shared meals in the big Dining Room downstairs and also in the smaller kitchen upstairs where we had breakfast and supper, did an art therapy session with Fr Joe, the Guardian (whom most of us would call the Abbot). I really didn't want to leave, though I have a gazillion things to do here at home. Truly I am meant to live in community. I loved every minute of it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Summer Solstice Dunderry 2008

I've posted a video of the Winter Solstice Firewalk at Dunderry over on my Book Blog. Here's a more detailed pic of what goes on at my favourite Irish shamanic centre.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gaza

Am I just going about my business and living my life happily while children die in Gaza? No. I am thinking about it all the time. But like so many others, I know that I am powerless and that nothing I can say will stop the men of war. The only shred of hope I am able to hold onto is the fact that the apparently impossible situation in Northern Ireland has - more or less - been resolved. But, you know, that peace was brokered by two major powers, America and England, and neither of them - despite their express promise to do so when they invaded Iraq - has shown any concerted effort, vision or will to broker peace in the Middle East. And don't get me started on the degree to which the powerful Arab world has failed in this regard also.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Me and Bilbo

Young or old, it's important to have adventures. They remind you that you are alive and that there is magic in the world. I didn't have nearly enough last year and I've decided to be more pro-active in that regard this year. In fact, I've decided I have to have one good-sized adventure per month in 2009. In keeping with that resolution, I am off for a 2-week residency in a Franciscan Friary in Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath. (Here's a pic of the famous friary church.) They have invited artists, environmentalists and other odd sods and bods to pursue their own work in the monastery while also joining in discussions about the Order's intention to establish a Caring for Creation Centre. I'll be working on my adult book - rather appropriate, as it's a work of 'spiritual fiction' (to use Paulo Coelho's term) - but I'm also bringing my wellies in the hope of working in the garden. That's January's adventure and I'll report on it with pics when I return. February I am back at Dunderry for a weekend called "The Shaman's Heart" and March sees me in Forres, Scotland doing an Experience Week at Findhorn (about time!). I'll dream up some more stuff for the following months, but that's a solid start.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Irish Banking Institutions

God, no wonder these guys are going under. They are so stupid and rigid. My Permanent TSB Credit Card interest just went up 2% from my original agreement with them. I rang to say I was thinking of switching to Tesco Credit Card (0% for first 6 months) unless they returned to the better rate. Nope, they said, they would rather lose a customer who runs up her bill and pays monthly interest. Of course we do know that if I was mega rich I'd have a preferred interest rate; but, as in the airline business, it's not the minority of the rich clients who keep things flying, but the moderate income earners like myself. The idiocy of greed over reason.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

It's a tradition, so here goes.
1) make more money!
2) return to set-dancing classes
3) return to gym
4) make more money!
5) complete as many of my new projects as possible - books and film
6) begin my relationship with Findhorn - Experience Week soon and a month in the summer
7) make more money!
8) investigate possibilities of learning to play bagpipes (seriously)
9) by the end of the year, move out of Bray
Now I must pop back to last January and see if I did anything I said I would do in 2008.

Okay, I'm back. Well I did some of the stuff, i.e. Tai Chi classes, got going on new book (in fact two new books!), have no idea what the wonderful thing was I'm referring to (Jaze, maybe the film deal that fell through?), didn't move West yet, alas ... I need more money to do that ...