Tag Archives: America

One Shutterbug: Point of View – A Poetic Blog, for Father’s Day

Shutterbug’s delight: Doncaster, 2016ish

This poem was written for my father. I hope he likes it. In its own way, this is one of the most personal things I’ve ever posted.


One Shutterbug: Point of View

shutterbug (n) – “an amateur photographer, especially one who is greatly devoted to the hobby” First recorded in 1940 – 1945

Picture the shutterbug.

For certainly, he’ll picture you:

in a group, in a crowd,

singing out loud,

in chapel, in temple,

in church and up steeple,

on dunes, and on hills,

after bicycle spills,

in the piney, reminiscing,

quite possibly, kissing.

Up steeple – St George’s, Doncaster

And the trumpet does sound

from a blue stereo.

Where to begin?

After taking it

on the chin,

a glider disaster,

international plasters,

that first picture:

why, it’s him!

The gift of an uncle:

a “unchi” says,

Johnny, Ionel,

here, take this:

may it give you

great joy, it is more

than a toy: it’s an eye,

a way of looking,

a history book,

for each picture took

tells a story, or three.

And a white flower blooms

from a blue stereo.

A puff of fresh smoke

from a trusty old pipe,

a friend in common,

and indeed, a first

dazzling meeting

with the beauty

with the smile:

they chat

for awhile.

No points for guessing

how these things proceed.

And a September song croons

from a blue stereo.

A wedding in white,

two different families,

polite, where next

from here?

There’s no chance

of a beer, a dance,

or some wine, til

after the cake, why,

it’s honeymoon time.

And the hammiest voice

in all Michigan

speaks of a brave steamshovel.

Family times

are the shutterbug’s dream:

like a cat with some cream,

the albums fill quickly

with children crying,

and crawling,

laughing, and bawling:

it’s slide shows, and sodas,

pancakes, and stew,

colac, corn bread, too.

And the hammiest voice

in all Christendom

tells of bunnies: flopsy, and true.

The shutterbug’s collection

grows with those kids

who he packs into a car

10 days each year: going

there, travelling here,

in a brown Meteor

with toys, books galore,

the beauty she reads

as the shutterbug drives,

whilst the youngest melts crayons

on the the back of the car,

and America unfurls,

like a flag filled with stars.

Sorry about the crayons – 1960s

And the hammiest voice

in all Michigan

goes down a Hobbit hole.

Come Appalachians,

come DC, come Boston,

and Nashville! Summon

crowds of great aunties,

and uncles, with photos,

through crick, hill

and churches, and always,

reminiscing, with y’alls,

and kissing.

Come Smokey bears

begging, early morning

petrol stations, with the kids,

and the wife, waiting.

On return, the shutterbug’s

sorting, collating, a bin

by his side, once the vacation

has ended,

but never the journey:

with all America,

waiting, always

still waiting.

And black-red-and-white dances

on an old stereo.

He once crossed an ocean:

the skies, the ship’s motion,

ending with the Lady

his parents saw before him.

Now travelling in mind,

in photos, and time,

he’s weathered the longest.

The last leaf,

or the strongest?

And the tenderest voice

in all Christendom

reads through her Bible,

and sings their old hymns.

With his lady – 1970s

I love you, Daddy.

June 2017


Tagged: America, children's books, family, Father's Day, Frank Sinatra, Handel, music, nostalgia, photography, Romania

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.