Tag Archives: America

Like Wheat that Springeth Green: Easter

Rabbit in the green: April 2017

Most adults accept that, even after great loss, in some form at least, love will come again. After bereavement, though grief never truly leaves us, there is always love enough out there for new friendships, perhaps a new partner, or a new birth.

“There is no loss without love; there is no love without loss.”

Always, there are ways of honouring our beloved dead. When I feed the wild birds in our garden, I honour my father, who fed them; my mother, who watched them; and my father in law, who did both. This Easter morning, I put out a mix of seed, sunflower seeds, and mealworms on the old bird table his eldest son, my Beloved, rescued from my in laws’ garden, shortly before their house was sold:

An Easter feast, April 2017

One of my tasks for this spring into summer is to repair Dad’s bird table, by doing some small repairs, painting both parts a jolly colour with some protective paint, then re-attaching the “house” section to the table.

Bird table shelter + favourite watering can

Holidays often bring a keener sense of loss, as we go over memories of what we used to do, and with who. Such a sense of nostalgia does not necessarily represent literal death, but more the death of relationships, and / or the cruelties of distance.

For example, it crossed my mind earlier this weekend to take a bottle of white vinegar from the cupboard, and smell it. Weird? Yes, and no. The smell of vinegar can bring back memories of dying hard boiled eggs with my brother, and my father, back when I was a kid. Both of them are still alive. However, it’s nearly a decade since I’ve seen my brother, and around five years since I’ve seen Dad.

When I’m not in a bipolar depression, I’m a fairly sociable person. So in that five years, more so in that 10, I’ve made a number of friends, and warm acquaintances. Some of those friends are quite dear to me. More recently, I’ve become friendly with at least two people who I can see a real possibility of good friendships.

A dear friend of nearly two years: April 2017

Likewise, children have been born, including one who I owe an “Easter book”. The Easter book was a big, looked forward to part of my childhood: one which sometimes included two Easters, thanks to the Romanian Orthodox side of the family. One of the staples of my childhood was the holiday bread, “colac”, which Mama Buna, my Romanian grandmother, baked for Easter, and Christmas.

We’re lucky to live a short distance from a shop run by a lovely Kurdish fellow, which stocks a lot of Romanian food. I didn’t find any colac, but I did get a beautiful cake called “cozonac”: beautiful because I just had two tasty pieces of it, for my breakfast.

I recognise the words “cozonac” and “si” (and). Sadly, that’s about it.

Whether you celebrate Easter in a religious or secular way; or whether, like me, you’re a Pagan for whom it’s another day to observe how “the green blade[s] riseth”, I wish you joy.

Rabbit with wild violets, and a Dutch tulip: Spring


Tagged: America, bereavement, bipolar, birds, colac, cozonac, Easter, Gardening, gardens, grief, love, paganism, Romania, Romanian Orthodox

Snoop Dogg’s controversial new music video gets attention of President Trump

http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/03/16/snoop-dogg-trump-video-gun-marijuana/75673/?obref=obinsite

You really need to just click on over and watch the video, then read the accompanying article, then watch the video again.  It is just so right on.  I have nothing more to say.


The Debate Heard ‘Round the World

Since I frequently blog about insanity, it’s a wonder that the American political system hasn’t made an appearance until today.

This evening I will be watching the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  I will also be feeling a bit guilty, because I accidentally lied to some German students during the summer of 2105. They might still be mad about it.

I was in Germany with a group of fourteen other teachers, and we were visiting schools as part of our study of the German education system.  Trump had just announced he was running for president.  A group of students asked us, “Why is Donald Trump running for president in America?  Do you think he will win?”  EVERY teacher, from the most liberal to the most conservative, vehemently assured these tender German teenagers that America would never vote for Trump.  We didn’t even know why he was running.

Oops.

I thought about those German teenagers this morning.  I wondered if they would watch this debate, and I decided probably yes.  They were very interested in American politics.  Then I thought, how many people in how many countries will watch this thing?   Then my imagination started rolling… Here are the conversations I envision happening in various countries regarding this debate:

IRELAND

Irish dude 1: Hey chum, you wanna chill with me and me mates while we watch America continue self-imploding?

Irish dude 2: Sure!  I’ll pick up some Guinness on the way.

MEXICO

Mexican dude 1 (to no one in particular): America had better not elect Trump.  There is no way I’m building that frickin wall.  *eats a taco*

ENGLAND

British lady 1: Would you like a cup of tea?  Shall we watch the American presidential debate?

British lady 2: Of couse, dah-ling.  Who is running?

British lady 1: It’s Mrs. Clinton and that Trump fellow.

British lady 2: Oh bloody hell.

CANADA

Canadian guy 1:  Looks like America has gotten themselves in a pickle, eh?

Canadian guy 2: How’s our immigration policy?  Maybe we should build a wall…

SWITZERLAND

 

(No one in Switzerland watches it.  They’re always neutral, so their foreign policy game is a bit lacking.  For Switzerland, just imagine people enjoying a normal day.  Perhaps they hear a far off yodel).

GERMANY

German teenager 1: Stupid Americans.

German teenager 2: Yup.

(My bad, guys!  I’m just as surprised as you are!!)

clinton_trump_getty

Watching this election season is like watching a bad reality show where the winner gets a country.  Someone should suggest airing this debate on MTV, because that’s where this crazy belongs.  Does anyone else feel like politics has turned into show business but for ugly people?  Because that is what it feels like.

Ack! I just pictured Trump and Clinton as contestants on The Bachelor(ette).  Can you imagine the fantasy suite episode?  Stop!  Don’t imagine it!  The mental image buuurrrnnsss!  MAKE IT STOP!!

America’s a weird place to live right now.  I think I’d rather be drinking the Guinness and eating the taco.  But hey, maybe the contestants (oops, nominees) will surprise us and prove to be really knowledgeable, articulate, and respectful this evening.  We can always hope.  The fact that they’re there in the first place proves that in America, anything can happen.


Unmotivated

I woke up today and I don’t know how I feel other than  very unmotivated and fidgety . I can’t sit still long enough to get into any TV shows and I have no motivation to do anything that requires movement.

I also do not feel like writing my blog today.  I don’t feel like doing anything.

My brain is all wrapped up in all the negative things going on in America right now. I’m feeling afraid and lost. All I keep thinking is that we are so fucking screwed.

However I am realizing as I write this listening to music, that the music is doing something wonderful. It’s distracting my brain. Enough that I can breathe a little. Really makes me miss my weed though. Nothing is better than getting stoned and just laying back listening to some upbeat dance music (or whatever you like).  It’s so wonderful feeling. The music is good on it’s own of course, I love music.

It actually makes me want to start moving my tushy and dance around as opposed to sitting here and doing this.. So I am going to go and dance while I am in the mood to do something. *shakes booty*

 


Going … Moaning … Gone?

"The great god Pan is dead!" ... or is he? (1)

“The great god Pan is dead!” … or is he? (1)

Warnings for: extreme grumpiness; self pity; & slightly soppy nostalgia. Oh & if you want a song, it’s probably this.

I have lost my original accent, though I’m continually told this is not the case. It’s gone: gone like my temper; like Capt’n Kangaroo, Mr Green Jeans, and Mr Moose, too. Of course, the latter was just a hand puppet with a ping pong ball fetish, so it’s likely he’s been mothballed, and is living in a cardboard box labelled “MM” in black felt tip, in a dusty storeroom in an old CBS building. (2)

Not part of my childhood, due to being in the wrong country at the time: National Railway Museum, York, 2015

Un poco loco?: Thomas, National Railway Museum, York, 2015

Gone like my childhood, like my wasted teenage years. Wasted on watching too much trash telly: black & white films which hardly anyone remembers, and with good reason (3); chat shows which were so bad, no one in their right minds would want to remember; Canadian telly, which burrowed the likes of “The Prisoner” and “The Avengers” deep into my young brain.

Gone like, at times, everything and anything that gave me strength, gave me purpose, gave me hope.

Perhaps that’s what late middle age is like. I’m nearly 57. Only three more years until I can’t collect my state pension, or my bus pass.

Lost causes, both of them.

“‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.” – Harvey

Misty trees: Doncaster, 2015

Misty trees: Doncaster, 2015

(1) Attributed to the Greek historian Plutarch (ca AD 46 – 120).
(2) … except he’s really in the Smithsonian. Not bad for a moose puppet.
(3) Some of them were good; at times, even great.


Tagged: America, anger, Captain Kangaroo, childhood, loss, middle age, nostalgia

We’re Still Here: World Mental Health Day, 2015

Beverley Minster, Sept 2015

Out for a stalk: Beverley Minster, Sept 2015

Warnings for: frankness, mention of suicide, & a plea for goddamn gun control. Oh, and swearing. And also Kula Shaker, because I’m a middle-aged hippy wannabe

Sooner or later, mental illness is going to get you: you, or someone you love. So there’s no use crossing that road, or asking us to ring that crazy warning bell: not unless you fancy having a jingle yourself.

With one in four adults, and one in 10 children likely to have a mental health problem, you can dodge that mental health stigma bullet, but you just can’t hide.

Not for long.

Speaking of bullets, the recent shooting(s) on American campus(es) have of course saddened me, but they’ve also got my bipolar goat.

Lincoln-like imp stands in for bipolar goat: Beverley Minster

Lincoln Imp-wannabe stands in for goat: Beverley Minster

Based on the non-scientific poll that was my Facebook feed, quite a few people in America seem to believe that the way to prevent yet another mass shooting is to stop people with mental illness from buying guns.

Nice one, but how are you going to screen out the people who develop mental health problems later on? I’m no bookie, but I’d say a one in four chance is pretty high odds. And that’s merrily skipping over the fact that more Americans die in arguments gone wrong, and accidents, than from other people going postal.

Maybe, some people just don’t care.

Don’t care whether or not they, or someone dear to them, gets shot, and dies.

Don’t care about mental illness, because it’s never going to happen to them.

To borrow from my Christian upbringing, “in the midst of life, we are in death”. And in the midst of comparative mental health, we all carry the possibility of mental illness. And if you think it’s okay to carry a gun in your glove department,  or to walk around a dime or department store with a gun either openly carried, or legally concealed, then, well, please let me know.

Because I’ll make a swift exit. A polite one, mind, because gods know I don’t want to piss you off.

The “we” in the title “We’re Still Here” is those of us who battle with mental illness. Because sometimes, it is a battle. If you think it’s easy to live with bipolar, or schizophrenia, or personality disorders, or the more common mental illnesses of depression, and anxiety, well … wanna buy a bridge?

Part of a bridge: London, 2014

Part of a bridge: London, 2014

Some of us, of course, aren’t still here. Because we’ve killed ourselves. In some cases, with guns. Which – given a long history of suicidal thoughts, and several attempts – I am never going to own, or live in a house where one is kept.

The wheels of my bipolar bus – which are often wonky – all but came off recently. And yet, I didn’t shoot anyone.

Not even myself.

Why? Well, for starters, people with mental illness are much more likely to harm themselves, than others. Those school shootings and “going postal” events made and continue to make the news because they are unusual. Never, of course, unusual enough.

I also live in the UK, where guns are hard to come by. Which is a good thing, as it significantly drops the odds of my ever shooting myself. Plus, battered and frayed at the edges though it is, we still have the National Health Service (NHS). So I can get some help with my mental health without having to think about “copays” (1), employers’ insurance, and other, bankrupting worries.

We also have several excellent national mental health charities in the form of Mind, and Rethink, as well as a brilliant anti mental health stigma campaign, Time to Change.

Please, America: ditch those guns. You can put some of the money saved on mopping up after shootings into physical and mental health care.

Oh, and happy World Mental Health Day.

More hoots, less death, please: Chatsworth, 2015

More hoots, less death, please: Chatsworth, 2015

(1) Whatever the hell they are.

We’re Still Here: World Mental Health Day, 2015

Beverley Minster, Sept 2015

Out for a stalk: Beverley Minster, Sept 2015

Warnings for: frankness, mention of suicide, & a plea for goddamn gun control. Oh, and swearing. And also Kula Shaker, because I’m a middle-aged hippy wannabe

Sooner or later, mental illness is going to get you: you, or someone you love. So there’s no use crossing that road, or asking us to ring that crazy warning bell: not unless you fancy having a jingle yourself.

With one in four adults, and one in 10 children likely to have a mental health problem, you can dodge that mental health stigma bullet, but you just can’t hide.

Not for long.

Speaking of bullets, the recent shooting(s) on American campus(es) have of course saddened me, but they’ve also got my bipolar goat.

Lincoln-like imp stands in for bipolar goat: Beverley Minster

Lincoln Imp-wannabe stands in for goat: Beverley Minster

Based on the non-scientific poll that was my Facebook feed, quite a few people in America seem to believe that the way to prevent yet another mass shooting is to stop people with mental illness from buying guns.

Nice one, but how are you going to screen out the people who develop mental health problems later on? I’m no bookie, but I’d say a one in four chance is pretty high odds. And that’s merrily skipping over the fact that more Americans die in arguments gone wrong, and accidents, than from other people going postal.

Maybe, some people just don’t care.

Don’t care whether or not they, or someone dear to them, gets shot, and dies.

Don’t care about mental illness, because it’s never going to happen to them.

To borrow from my Christian upbringing, “in the midst of life, we are in death”. And in the midst of comparative mental health, we all carry the possibility of mental illness. And if you think it’s okay to carry a gun in your glove department,  or to walk around a dime or department store with a gun either openly carried, or legally concealed, then, well, please let me know.

Because I’ll make a swift exit. A polite one, mind, because gods know I don’t want to piss you off.

The “we” in the title “We’re Still Here” is those of us who battle with mental illness. Because sometimes, it is a battle. If you think it’s easy to live with bipolar, or schizophrenia, or personality disorders, or the more common mental illnesses of depression, and anxiety, well … wanna buy a bridge?

Part of a bridge: London, 2014

Part of a bridge: London, 2014

Some of us, of course, aren’t still here. Because we’ve killed ourselves. In some cases, with guns. Which – given a long history of suicidal thoughts, and several attempts – I am never going to own, or live in a house where one is kept.

The wheels of my bipolar bus – which are often wonky – all but came off recently. And yet, I didn’t shoot anyone.

Not even myself.

Why? Well, for starters, people with mental illness are much more likely to harm themselves, than others. Those school shootings and “going postal” events made and continue to make the news because they are unusual. Never, of course, unusual enough.

I also live in the UK, where guns are hard to come by. Which is a good thing, as it significantly drops the odds of my ever shooting myself. Plus, battered and frayed at the edges though it is, we still have the National Health Service (NHS). So I can get some help with my mental health without having to think about “copays” (1), employers’ insurance, and other, bankrupting worries.

We also have several excellent national mental health charities in the form of Mind, and Rethink, as well as a brilliant anti mental health stigma campaign, Time to Change.

Please, America: ditch those guns. You can put some of the money saved on mopping up after shootings into physical and mental health care.

Oh, and happy World Mental Health Day.

More hoots, less death, please: Chatsworth, 2015

More hoots, less death, please: Chatsworth, 2015

(1) Whatever the hell they are.

Spock Wept! Further Curses for Our Times

Why my Vulcan gently weeps

Why my Vulcan gently weeps

Warnings for: Swearing (duh), substantive sci fi references, & an elegant sufficiency of alternative swear words (because anything else would be flippity-floppity).

Why, oh why, is swearing such goddamn fun? And – especially for non-smokers, though I’ve met plenty of smokers who can swear like a starship full of sailors – such a great Spockin’ release?

I wrote previously about my intention to give up cursing for autumn. I said that it wouldn’t be easy. And, to quote Sir Percy Blakeney, Bart.,” Zounds! I was right.”

Sir Percy is best known as the Scarlet Pimpernel. His creator, Baroness Orczy, was described on the back of my sister’s battered old paperback as ” a vigorous and colourful personality”. At the time I first read that description, I was around 12, and thought “‘Strewth, that sounds pretty cool!” (1)  Now, however, I’m in my 50s, and think, “Spock, that sounds suspiciously like me – minus the success, title, and other cool applications.”

“Vigorous and colourful” here standing for “Opinionated, weird, and swears like billy-oh”. (2) With custard ‘n Dream Whip and pouring cream on bleedin’ top.

Why, oh why, if I had to move countries, did I have to move to one with such a blindingly top-notch collection of swear words? How pitifully feeble is the American son of the dog, when compared to its amazing British bollocks?

No, I am not a dog. Yes, my Spockin' nose itches. Now leave me alone.

No, I am not a dog. Yes, my Spockin’ nose itches. Now leave me alone.

Hence, my search for alternative swear words. At first, I thought of the biscuit-related “Crumbs!” and its relative c-word, “Crikey!” But they seemed pallid, and dull, compared to The Real Thing (3) Then I thought of Sir Percy, and such delightful expressions as “God’s Teeth!” But that still carries the possibility of offense, even in a religiously apathetic country such as England.

But hark! Who’s that stretching out his fingers in a surprisingly difficult gesture, wishing me peace, and long life?

Sorry, wrong programme.

I am not the Fourth Spock

I owe my new lease of Spockin’ life to one of my favourite bloggers, Blah Polar, who found or constructed an amazing bit of computerage (4) depicting the ST:TOS triumvirate of Spock, Kirk, and McCoy dancing some mean Federation disco. From there, it was an easy leap to the phrase “Great Dancing Spocks!”

By the Great Blue Box!

By the Great Blue Box!

Even better, though, is the short but vigorous phrase, “Spock wept!” Because, being a Vulcan, Spock doesn’t weep. Well, only in every fourth or fifth episode, tops. And even then, only because the scriptwriters made him.

And so unlike me, or certain blinkin’ angels I could mention.

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…

(1) Yes, via the osmosis of picking up the book, I had already learned to swear like not only Sir Percy, but also his best mate, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes.
(2) I believe Mr Oh is a cousin of that other well-known Billy, Mr No Mates.
(3) If you think I mean a certain dark coloured fizzy-drink, you really haven’t been paying attention, now, have you?
(4) Technical jargon, me? Surely you jest. (5)
(5) Don’t call me Shirley.

 

 

 

Spock Wept! Further Curses for Our Times

Why my Vulcan gently weeps

Why my Vulcan gently weeps

Warnings for: Swearing (duh), substantive sci fi references, & an elegant sufficiency of alternative swear words (because anything else would be flippity-floppity).

Why, oh why, is swearing such goddamn fun? And – especially for non-smokers, though I’ve met plenty of smokers who can swear like a starship full of sailors – such a great Spockin’ release?

I wrote previously about my intention to give up cursing for autumn. I said that it wouldn’t be easy. And, to quote Sir Percy Blakeney, Bart.,” Zounds! I was right.”

Sir Percy is best known as the Scarlet Pimpernel. His creator, Baroness Orczy, was described on the back of my sister’s battered old paperback as ” a vigorous and colourful personality”. At the time I first read that description, I was around 12, and thought “‘Strewth, that sounds pretty cool!” (1)  Now, however, I’m in my 50s, and think, “Spock, that sounds suspiciously like me – minus the success, title, and other cool applications.”

“Vigorous and colourful” here standing for “Opinionated, weird, and swears like billy-oh”. (2) With custard ‘n Dream Whip and pouring cream on bleedin’ top.

Why, oh why, if I had to move countries, did I have to move to one with such a blindingly top-notch collection of swear words? How pitifully feeble is the American son of the dog, when compared to its amazing British bollocks?

No, I am not a dog. Yes, my Spockin' nose itches. Now leave me alone.

No, I am not a dog. Yes, my Spockin’ nose itches. Now leave me alone.

Hence, my search for alternative swear words. At first, I thought of the biscuit-related “Crumbs!” and its relative c-word, “Crikey!” But they seemed pallid, and dull, compared to The Real Thing (3) Then I thought of Sir Percy, and such delightful expressions as “God’s Teeth!” But that still carries the possibility of offense, even in a religiously apathetic country such as England.

But hark! Who’s that stretching out his fingers in a surprisingly difficult gesture, wishing me peace, and long life?

Sorry, wrong programme.

I am not the Fourth Spock

I owe my new lease of Spockin’ life to one of my favourite bloggers, Blah Polar, who found or constructed an amazing bit of computerage (4) depicting the ST:TOS triumvirate of Spock, Kirk, and McCoy dancing some mean Federation disco. From there, it was an easy leap to the phrase “Great Dancing Spocks!”

By the Great Blue Box!

By the Great Blue Box!

Even better, though, is the short but vigorous phrase, “Spock wept!” Because, being a Vulcan, Spock doesn’t weep. Well, only in every fourth or fifth episode, tops. And even then, only because the scriptwriters made him.

And so unlike me, or certain blinkin’ angels I could mention.

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…

(1) Yes, via the osmosis of picking up the book, I had already learned to swear like not only Sir Percy, but also his best mate, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes.
(2) I believe Mr Oh is a cousin of that other well-known Billy, Mr No Mates.
(3) If you think I mean a certain dark coloured fizzy-drink, you really haven’t been paying attention, now, have you?
(4) Technical jargon, me? Surely you jest. (5)
(5) Don’t call me Shirley.

 

 

 

Pink Shoes, Charity, & Immigrant Me

Stormy skies can be restful

Stormy skies can be restful

Warnings for: musings (1), mentions of vigorous exercise, and substitute swear words (“Cuss Lite”(TM)

I have given up swearing for autumn, and taking up running til at least early December. It remains to seen which one proves more chuffin’ difficult.

I’ve probably whinged before – and undoubtedly, unless WordPress shuts me down, or the world ends, will again – about the fact that new immigrants to the UK do not receive a handbook on arrival. Nor did the “Life in the UK” test cover such useful subjects as food, old telly shows, or swearing.

“Life in the UK” did (2) include a section on sport, though it was comparatively brief compared to such useful bits of information as, “What percentage of the Welsh population are from ethnic minorities?” According to my husband, who’s a Yorkshireman, and helped me study, the real answer is, “All of them: they’re Welsh.”

The citizenship exams are probably on my mind because a Polish lady we know has just sat her English exam, and is sitting her “Life” exam next. The subjects of immigration, refugees, and the like are also in the news and, judging from my own life, a heated topic of conversation.

It’s also nearly five years since I officially became a British subject. I say “officially” because both practically and emotionally, I already thought of myself as Anglo-American. On a practical level, I had worked, paid taxes – including National Insurance (NI) – and did my best to follow laws and rules such as putting my bins out on the correct day. I’d also become involved in local causes, politics, and charities, as well as given money, and, quite literally, blood.

Which brings me to my latest charitable venture, and the Shoes of Extreme Pinkness:

2015-07-28 06.54.11See?

So far, the shoes and several pairs of socks are the only kit which I’ve purchased for the fund raiser I’m running on Sunday 6 December: the 10k “Percy Pud” race in Sheffield.

I do have one other bit of kit which I have been wearing whilst training: a t-shirt given to me by one of the two charities I’ll be raising funds for, Combat Stress. The other charity is also a mental health one, and is specifically round a project(s) aimed at helping people in my adopted home town of Doncaster.

Because, whilst I’ll always be American – and tick the “White, Other” box on forms – I consider myself to be not only British in law, but by choice, and heart.

Because, in part, I was allowed to make that choice. I was and am white, speak English, and am not – directly, at least (3) – perceived as belonging to a “scary” category of immigrant.

Next time someone asks “But why don’t the such-and-such – fill in the blank with the ethnic and/or religious group of your choice – assimilate?” – ask yourselves: are we honestly giving people a real choice to join in?

Swans on still waters: Doncaster, 2015

Swans on still waters: Doncaster, 2015

(1) This blog is subtitled “Musings of a British Eccentric”, so it’s on the tin
(2) As of Spring 2010
(3) I am half-Romanian on my dad’s side