29 April 2012

as if

The night before last. The volcano erupted. A little bit. 
Some time back, one of these experts examining bits of me while I - foolishly - opened my soul and with it all my hopes, one of these healthy medical experts told me in his expert voice that he would be inclined to compare heavy vertigo of sudden onset to an epileptic fit. Not that he ever experienced vertigo himself.
Not that it really matters.
The night before last I woke up suddenly from a very deep sleep and the darkness around me was turning. This is such a unique sensation, like falling through space. As if I'd know what that feels like, anyway. Flat out on my bed. At first, I curiously watched the little strips of light from the street lamps that are coming in through the blinds move rapidly across the ceiling and speeding faster and faster whenever I turned my head this way and that.
As I tried to sit up, a heavy wave of nausea washed over me from somewhere behind the bed and I carefully groped my way along the bedroom wall to the bathroom and back. Stupidly noting the time, 4:03, as if it was something crucial.
Eventually, of course, panic seized me. Shit, shit, shit, I whispered holding onto R's sleeping body. 
Just then the dawn chorus set in and obviously, I started to fret about my hearing, which was perfectly ok. And I decided to listen to all this birdsong as if it was the last time. Which is very melodramatic because the top notch expert had told me that with my drug regimen deafness was highly unlikely now.
When I decided to get up some hours later, the world was at rest again. My head was throbbing and the familiar pressure noises were hissing inside my head. Felt as if I had just crossed from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead in a winter storm, which I have done in the past more than once, each time expecting to die from sea sickness. And yesterday was such a lovely day, summer, lilac flowering everywhere, R brought fresh green asparagus and the first local strawberries back from the farmer's market. I sat in the deck chair watching him pot the geraniums and the fuchsia and replace some of the raspberries, the cat curled up on the hot stones under the little olive tree and in the evening after dinner on the patio we watched the bats flying low. 
And the phone rang to tell us that a little baby boy was born into the family in Ireland, one of the kids I still see in my mind's eye forever running along the beach. climbing garden walls and pinching grandad's flowers, now a young father. 
Today my muscles are aching as if I'd climbed a mountain. Muscles in my neck and face are slowly relaxing. I no longer have to hold onto the walls. Keeping my fingers crossed.

reading the Sunday papers

Humans have allowed money and its acquisition to over-run and conquer them. The rule of money is itself a dependency culture. Like all dependency cultures, it's an ever-tightening trap, and a con. All you need to do with money is give it velocity - keep it circulating through as many hands as possible, as quickly as possible, going round and round. All people really need to know is that there's more where it came from. Which there always will be, as long as no one breaks the circle by sitting on their profit instead of spending it.
Money is just a cargo cult, one that has been wrongly and wilfully elevated to the status of a pseudo-science. "Confidence" is what economists call willingness to spend, even as they destroy the confidence of so many people by leaving the market to inform them that they are not worth much, and never will be. That's why "globalisation" is stupid, and why off-shoring, hoarding and hiding your wealth is immoral. It's why high-interest lending steals from everyone. It's why high-risk investment is what it sounds like - reckless. It's why valuing only work that generates profit misses humanity's point. It's why we're all in this miserable, needless mess. It's why we are not getting out of it, and won't for some time, if ever.

 Deborah Orr

27 April 2012

25 April 2012

Lyrics and spoken words in a lovely soft Dublin accent by Paul Durcan

22 April 2012

the days of rhubarb crumble

The lilac is at it again, winking at me through a sudden hail shower this afternoon, the black currant bushes are full of promise, the transplanted walnut tree is showing the teeniest bits of life after we had given up all hope, and we moved the figs outside as the weather radar is predicting a warm front by midweek, coming up from Africa.

I have been editing the most gruesome manuscripts, there are dreadful infections out there, twisting and turning the immune response and my heart was aching when I got to the list of side effects of one of the treatment trials. I carefully replaced all "subjects" with "individuals". I have never worked with these authors before and they are fairly young, so I'll push my case.

I had to drop the idea with the choir, rehearsals were great fun, but on most days every time I went away from them in a haze of vertigo and exhaustion. My days of singing and clapping and silly dance steps in a group of jolly women (and one man) are over. It was fun, we did the Timewarp and Blame It On the Boogie. Ah well, that was that.

We decided not to go to the Bob Dylan concert, open air, near us later in July. Not for 95 Euro p.p. standing somewhere way back and beyond. You don't want to know how much they are asking for standing a bit closer, but not much, to the stage and seating costs about as much as a week's holiday in Sicily. We may join the crowds sitting down for a picnic by the river trying to catch the sound from a distance - provided they won't close off most of the area. Obviously, there's costs involved and I am not begrudging anybody a decent profit after covering costs, but why are tickets for the big shots so expensive? Are they all broke like Leonard Cohen? I must be naïve or maybe I am a bit thick. There are people who think I am mad and that I will be missing a life changing event. Yes, there are.


17 April 2012

I kept trying to rearrange my life so that illness was only a feature of it, and not the whole, but illness insists on its pre-eminence.

Hilary Mantel

so much

I want to sit at an old table outside after sunset, insects, candles, warm, warm air. My arms tired from a long swim in the lake.
I want to wrap an old soft blanket around my legs when it gets cool.

I want to get a bit drunk and later on, some 70s music, something with elaborate guitars and long meaningful harmonies. I want to hum along and get up and throw my arms wide and dance.

15 April 2012

money is an illusion

The new philanthropists are a rare breed, really they are, not like in the olden days, when condescending rich men (and a few women) built libraries or set up universities or model villages to spread their idea of what's proper, keeping purgatory at bay at the same time.

I just listened to some of the new ones being interviewed, the earnest art collector who buys up department stores to enforce his own labour laws (if you want to compete with China you must work like the Chinese), the IT wizzard who believes in team work problem solving and frustrated with the way this generally is not done just started his own institute, the French noble woman supporting fair trade cocoa growers in Central America so that she can eat chocolate truffles with a good conscience in her gilded salon, the ship owner who believes in educating African villages in his own schools.
How twee, how ever so. How simple and "good".

And then there are these three: the billionaire who eventually realised that he and his entire family will never be able to spend even a fraction of his ever growing wealth in their lifetimes (and maybe that cost him a couple of bad nights with no sleep) and the shiny couple of do-gooders. They are so good, they glow, they decided to pledge half of their wealth to help the poor and make-the-world-a-better-place. Boy scout honours pledge. And so they set up elaborate programs to feed the poor in India and Africa, to vaccinate their undernourished children, to find cures for water borne diseases, etc. with a bit of their money. We can see glossy spreads in the thick and important magazines of how they fly out to the poor unfortunate continents in their private jets to mingle briefly with their victims, all shiny faces, surrounded by nurses or singing school kids, while all this is financed by their wealth which continues to grow and is created, inter alia, by this and this.

And here we have spring and clear nights and the birds are soo loud and active, my cat doesn't know what hits her when I open the door to the wild outdoors for her.
Mustn't be so mad, I tell myself.
Persistence, gentleness and a view of the whole picture as someone said recently.

14 April 2012

Werner Herzog's Bavarian accent and existential penguin

from an interview with him in today's Guardian:

"Saving the world is a very suspicious concept," he replies. "I'm as responsible as it gets in my situation. I drive my car less than 10% of what I used to drive 20 years ago. I'm not into consumerism. But when it comes to the end of the human race, there are certain suspects. Microbes can come and wipe us out. It can happen fast. Avian virus or mad cow disease, you name it. Microbes are really after us. Or a cataclysmic volcanic eruption which would darken the skies for 10 years - that's gonna be real trouble. Or a meteorite hitting us, or something man-made. I don't believe we'll see a nuclear holocaust but there are quite a few scenarios out there."
What about a good-old fashioned breakdown of society? "You mean anarchy and cannibalism? Yes but there would be survivors. Maybe 10% would survive, enough to replenish the species. I'm talking about total extinction. We are not sustainable."

12 April 2012

Walking through the garden and naming the plants coming up right now is like opening a book of fairy tales:

Männertreu (men's fidelity)   blue lobelia
Löwenzahn (lion's tooth)    dandelion (from the French dent de lion)
Vergißmeinnicht     forget me not
Storchenschnabel (stork's beak)   pelargonium
Tausendschön (a thousand beauties)   daisy
Gänseblümchen (little geese flower)    daisy
Märzenbecher (March's cup)    spring snowflake
Wiesenschaum (meadow foam)    lady's smock
Buschwindröschen  (little bushy windy rose) anemone
Küchenschelle (kitchen bell)   pulsatilla
Rittersporn (knight's spur)  delphinium


And my mother would have been able to spot many more (plus she would have reeled off the Latin names just like that). She had no time for children's books or  silly nursery rhymes, but by naming a flower here and a weed there, she could kick start my imagination any time.

yesterday evening's cycle home from work

10 April 2012

45 min of going down memory lane
mixed emotions
some cringing
still proud

09 April 2012

I am getting our little baby ready for bed when A calls up the stairs, need anything from the shops? I am driving up to Wilton..  Get me this album by the Waterboys, I shout back. R shakes his head, we are totally skint. But I keep my fingers crossed. A couple of hours later A strolls into the kitchen, no luck with your waterbabies, any dinner left?

07 April 2012

It is fine to have opinions about culture; and many people across the world do honestly believe that their culture is vastly richer or better or more noble or more sacred than other cultures. This position implies nothing more than pride and limited perspective. And there is nothing really wrong with it. It is an opinion. But what is dangerous, and morally indefensible, is when opinions of cultural superiority are espoused within a dominant culture about other cultures, and then acted upon; this mix of arrogance and power are the essential ingredients of conquest, colonialism and imperialism.


06 April 2012

cycling along the Ruhr river

The bicycle is man's purest invention; an ingenious arrangement of metal and rubber that liberates the body from the dusty plod to ride on a cushion of air, at speed or with leisure, stopping on a whim, travelling for free. Its design is simple and its maintenance inexpensive. Yet for all the ease and economy the bicycle possesses a greater quality. It offers the possibility of escape.

Rory MacLean

Four days, 274 km, no punctures, no real rain, but at times freezing cold, spectacular scenery, odd sights, bone tired.