Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Shrove Tuesday

Yes, I had pancakes for tea. Findabhair made banana ones served with lemon, brown sugar, and some ancient maple syrup. No, I wasn't shriven today as I am a recovering Catholic rather than a practising one. But I did get the words of that song I can never remember, from my mother. Here they are. Traditionalists take note. You are supposed to sing them before you eat your pancakes, or perhaps during, but not with your mouth full.
Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday
Poor Jack went to plough
His mother made pancakes
But didn't know how.
She rolled them, she turned them
She made them so black
She put too much pepper
And poisoned poor Jack.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I Remember Sometimes

I've been wandering in the shadowlands lately. Typical February blues. Had a Big Dream a few days back, though. I was doing cartwheels out in the universe, dancing with the stars. Reminded me of the insight I got last year: that we are beings of light caught in matter. The adjustment is ongoing, but the clash of spirit and matter drives a lot of us crazy, hence the aggression, greed, and destructiveness. There are reminders of our origins, our true nature, everywhere -- in dreams, imagination, art, story, music, architecture, mysticism, the saints that walk among us, the strange longing that comes sometimes, the sense that we are in exile ... But it also seems, as Stan Grof would say, that there's a taboo against remembering who we really are. Perhaps it would interfere with the mission? And there, of course, is the other problem with remembering. One can sound barmy.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Courage, my love

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage," said Anais Nin. A hard pill to swallow, for it makes us utterly responsible for where we are in our lives. My first inclination is to blame lack of money, lack of opportunity, lack of lucky breaks, lack of ... but then I read of those amazing souls who have overcome everything to achieve their dreams and I accept the truth of Nin's words. Fortune favours the brave.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sony Garbage

My CMT-EX5, a front-loading Sony CD-player which cost 300 Euro, died two months after its warranty was up. It worked for less than two years. Totterdells, the place where I bought it, says it will cost me 60 Euro to find out what’s wrong but that doesn't guarantee the price of fixing it, nor does it guarantee that it can be fixed. Sony Ireland says it will charge me 45 Euro to look at it, again with no guarantee of final price or even of repair. The truth is we are living in a world where giant corporations make unbelievable profits selling us products for which they take no responsibility past a single year. The only recourse left to individuals is to warn each other about the rip-offs. So for what it’s worth: I am a human being and not a "thing that consumes" and the Sony Corporation sold me a piece of garbage. Pass it on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Irish Dancing

I don't think I will ever get over my Irish dancing past and I don't really want to. I've been having dreams about it for years, where I go back to feises and I am dancing on stage. This is a pic of the group from the Butler Academy of Irish Dancing that toured Ireland with the Irish-Canadian Choral Society. (We would all have been in Riverdance if it had happened in our time.) That's Mrs Butler on the left, may she rest in peace. The pretty woman in the back, second on the right, is Paula Woodgate of the Woodgate School of Irish Dance. Her husband, Mike, is beside her. I'm the one in the green in the front row. I danced "the Girl with the Buckles on her Shoes" while the choir sang. My best friend Sheila is in purple on the far left, front row. On the far right, front row, with the red hair is Christine Fitzpatrick, also a good friend. I'm still practising as I will be dancing on my tour (more about that in the Bookmark blog) but you know ... it's not as easy as it used to be.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A thought from Yeats

On a sunny day in February, before I head out to St James Hospital to visit my child's grandfather, I am thinking of something I read in Yeats's Fairy and Folk Tales of Ireland. He comments on how fast the world is moving and how "too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold." But now that we have sped up our lives to such a pitch, will we ever be able to slow down again?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Damhsa Gaelach

Just back from the All-Ireland Oireachtas in Killarney. It was not only a jaunt to the west of Ireland, but a journey into the Deep Past. Irish dancing was the great love of my childhood and early teens, but I left it to venture out into the wider world. How sweet and sad it was to return! How wonderful! There was my best friend, Sheila Delaney, dancing in the adult céili with other dancers I knew, Teddy Hall and Maureen Galligan. What a laugh we had together in the late night bar! And how good it was to see old faces such as Peter Smith, Paula Woodgate, Bernard Hines, and Jimmy Friel. I did shed a few tears at one stage, missing those who have left this world: my dearest friend and fellow mad-party-person Bernie Morris (to whom I dedicated the American edition of The Hunter's Moon) and my dancing teachers Mae and Paddy Butler and their daughter June. They were all such a big part of my life. And I thought of them as I watched the dancing on stage, so different from my day but recognizable still. Have to admit I got used to the costumes (started to pick out my favourites) and even the wigs. The dancing itself is far more intricate and exquisite. I was thrilled to see it. And, yes, it has inspired me to practise! Did a good half-hour today before I collapsed ...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bookmark Blog Up

My Webmaster tells me I must announce that my Bookmark blog is up and running. In fact, there is a link to it on this page, over there to the right beside my website link. I think his design is fabulous as usual Thanks, Piers, you're brillo! The Bookmark blog is where I will post things specifically to do with my books, e.g. research, artwork, tours, appearances. It will be all about the agony and ecstasy of being a writer. Meanwhile this blog - the one I am writing now - will be my soapbox. Something I have always wanted. A place to express all these opinions buzzing around in my rattleskull brain. Ain't blogging grand ...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

World Culture Festival

Oh this is great. My first attempt to put a photo on my blog. (That's one New Year's resolution done and dusted.) This is my friend Kathleen and myself at the World Culture Festival in Dun Laoghaire last summer. We are obviously listening to someone mellow and not the Mighty Zulu Nation which had us on our feet and dancing for Ireland. I'm wearing clothes I bought in India and had no idea that I was sharing my chunni!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pamela Izevbekhai

There are so many people in trouble in the world, it is simply not possible for one person to help them all. However, it is possible for one person to help one person. Pamela Izevbekhai came to Ireland seeking asylum to save her two little girls from FGM (female genital mutilation). Pamela comes from a part of Nigeria where this practice does not take place, but she has married into a family who insist that her daughters suffer it, even though Pamela and her husband are against it. Attempts have occurred to kidnap the girls in order to force the procedure on them. Pamela's first child, Elizabeth, died as a result of FGM. These facts have been documented and proven, yet the Irish government has rejected Pamela's application for asylum. When Pamela refused to return to Nigeria with her girls, she was arrested and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail. The Irish government maintains that this is a cultural matter. How can the endangerment and possible death of small children be a cultural matter? On January 23, 2006 Mrs Justice Finlay Geoghan ordered Pamela's release pending a hearing on February 20, though the Irish state argued to keep Pamela imprisoned and separated from her children. If you would like to know more about Pamela's situation log on to www.letthemstay.org. If you would like to contribute to her campaign, an account has been set up: "Let Them Stay," Bank of Ireland, Stephen Street, Sligo, Co. Sligo. Account no. 25245231. Bank Sort Code 905440. It is possible for one person to help one person.

Irish Dancing in Killarney

Lost a post when things went pear-shaped yesterday, so will re-post today on the same topic. The All-Ireland is coming up next week and I will be meeting some Canadian dancer friends who are competing in the adult céili. This will be the first feis I have attended in aeons and I can hardly wait. In my day (we won't say when) I was a North American champion, and LOVED to dance! In celebration of the upcoming feis, I went into Dublin and bought myself a pair of pomps and hornpipes (no longer called that, I do believe) at the famous Talbot Dance Centre. It felt good to test out the hardshoes on the wooden floor provided. Treble, treble, heel, toe, back in the saddle. Once a dancer, always a dancer. Yep I am going to start practising regularly. It's great aerobics. And I shall get my friends Sheila and Maureen and their dancing teacher Rosie Fearon (we all went to the Butler Academy in Toronto) to give me some steps. Meanwhile, I also bought the magazine "Irish Dancing and Cultural International" and was amazed and delighted to discover a world-wide community of Irish dancers! That was the good news. The bad news was those awful costumes which belong in Las Vegas; not a Celtic or Irish motif in sight. And what on earth are they wearing on their heads? Party decorations masquerading as wigs! They look ridiculous. Bizarre also to discover that Irish dancing is considered a "sport" as opposed to a form of dance pertaining to Ireland. Has this weird mutation erupted from the Riverdance/Lord of the Dance phenomenon? Or is it some strange hybrid caused by crossing traditional Irish dancing with American beauty pageants and athletics? Yet we cannot blame the Americans - it's all over Ireland too!