Monday, July 6, 2015

Red Sun and Carlton Square, Vancouver

The forest fire smoke has invadedthe city.  First there were the wild animals. The racoons. The coyotes. Always there were the rats.  But now bear are walking about the city.
Driving to work in the Miata, I hear  conservation officers facing downs tons of fur and claws.  No one wants wild animals as neighbours. Not even the animal activists. Their anxiety doesn’t extend to beasts and  snakes.  Just the warm and cuddly.    Now the forests are ablaze. Everyone is fleeing. The world over people have been huddling together in the city.
Climatologists are smug with satisfaction. These new age prophets foretelling gloom and doom are rubbing their hands with glee thinking of the money.  Prophecy has always been as lucrative as prostitution.   See I told you so.
The eerie haze is causing asthmatics to stay inside. The sun is red now.  Red faced.  What shames a sun. It might as well be Mars returning our call.  The very planet come to visit after all our probes.  That's eerie.
Nearby a young Asian woman walks by, short shorts, push up bra, silk top, heels. Her legs go on for ever. There is no mortality to her youth.  She has pride of fertility.
I am old.  I look away from her to the red sun.   She may be smoking but here in Vancouver the smoke is everywhere. The renewal is happening in the hills we live in.  Burnaby Mountain. Burning bush. Burning forest.  What will God dream of next.  The irony is that the parking lot pavement is finally saving us.
Now a vixen and child have stopped. She is taking an iPhone picture of the red sun. This is no time for selfies. There's a red sun, she tells her child.  So much is new to them they will only realize the novelty years hence when people tell them and they admit they were there.
 There is no relative certainty.  The globe is hanging there, alien. Ghostly like a moon. The very sun we live by is bleeding. Blood red.  Climatologists smugly shout  the world is ending.
Silent Spring was written in my childhood.  Millennial Madness of computer fall out is gone. The music died. Belushi died.  Kennedy is long forgotten but Munroe lives on. Elvis lives on.  
Growing up in the Cold War and daily threat of  nuclear annihilation toughens one up.  Todays terrorists are pansies compared to Russia and America.  They're just cells.  Bits of metastatic cancer. We're just mopping up.
The great Satan, Russia would rise again.  But then so might Hitler, Old Bony. Nothing would surprise me.
Consciousness is permanent.  Time passes in a blink of an eye.  Sleep is the rub.  Subjectivity and objectivity are illusions.  Two sides of the same coin.  Memory is mutable.  Neuroplasticity and relativity compete. You are my lover in another dream. But she is too young now.  I am older.
My dog is happy on the street.  The red sun is nothing to him. His nose perhaps wrinkles with the smoke smell. What it does to doggie bitch butt can only be imagined.  Smoking.
It’s weed city.  Wow man.  Crime really does pay.  The forest smoke conceals the skunk smoke.  It's actually pleasant not to smell the rancid.
I’ve done a day of work in the heat of a new office.  I left at noon and bought a fan. The air conditioners and fans were sold out at Walmart. Canadian Tire still had a fan or two but the air conditioners were gone as were bigger fans.  I got a little fan. I liked the breeze it created.
I got through another impossible withering day.   I am traumatized by the disruption of moving. I can’t find records. I can't find books. I long for an end to the chaos. I fear the coming deadlines. So many demands. Finances are always a struggle.  The high cost of change, imposed or chosen.  I empathize with Greece but they’ve had their holiday.  I could have gone to Tunisia. It was on the list.  God is good. God is great. There are alternative realities. I'm thankful for mine.
This lighting is eerie.  I could be on another planet.  One with a red sun.  The picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s red, like lipstick.  But not sexy.
It’s that kind of day.  I’m jet lagged perhaps.  Just tired from Monday.  Shell shocked emotionally individually.  I"ve listened too much to the the terror of individuals struggling with marginal existence. My work is a life on edges.  I long for the smooth and seamless.
I’m having trouble cheerleading. I find it difficult to rally.  There’s a sense of never ending crisis.  The media makes a civil war seems imminent.  No a real war.  Not religious war.  A Canadian sort of war.  Civil.  Mannerly.  Polite. No bang. Just a sizzle.
It’s better to laugh. It’s better to see the humour. There’s no more news. Just propaganda.  In face of which we pray.
Little girls are walking down the street. They’re impossible tiny for maturity.  Precious.  Immigrants can be that way. Different sizes. Different shapes. They tend to dress the same though. 21st century women.  I suspect they're aboriginals from South America.
I’m considering moving along. I only stopped for a coffee. The black hole of work had sucked me into the centre.  I felt such relief at the end of the day when I could pee. Now, with a coffee and a juice I feel almost human. Except this isn’t the earth.  The sun is red.  The light is different.  I can smell the burn. Not like flesh.  Not that horror. A light scent.  The eau de cologne of distant mountain burning. Not a bad smell.  If one didn’t know what it was.
Life is like that.
Phoenix rising.
My day has aged.  I was young this morning.  Now I’m old and weary.   I will head home soon.  Maybe watch tv, mindless like an old man, in a nursing home.  The life of man in a day.
Only last week I was in Ireland.  How good does it get?  Now I’m sitting in Vancouver. Contemplating a red sun.  It's all coming home.
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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Dublin Harbour, Ireland

Staying at the Maldron Airport Hotel, we were able to drop off our car the night before our plane left in the morning for Canada.  To end off a beautiful day and use up some of the expensive gas I’d put in our Citroen I made a last trip into Dublin to see the harbour.  As a sailor I dream of sailing my offshore SV GIRI, a 40 floor cutter rigged sloop to these Islands.  I never would have believed I’d have sailed solo to Hawaii at Christmas one year so if that was possible it just may be that I will one day sail into this magnificent harbour.  After our drive about Dublin for the last time we left the car with Hertz and returned to the hotel. There we had superb Irish steak, a last night of fine dining.  Laura and I agreed that this trip had surpassed our every expectation. We loved Ireland and look forward to returning.
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Cross of Muiredach, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland

In Galway, at the Clannagh Jewellers I bought the splendidly detailed and carved Ogham designs gold cross of Muiredeach.  I’d already bought a Gold Mura Cross from Faller’s Jewellers in Londonderry. These were to replace the gold Celtic Cross which had great sentimental value and some hundreds of dollars gold value when it was stolen from me by Moslem muggers calling me infidel in the streets of Athens.  Now here I was able to not only get a new gold cross better crafted with greater detail actually made in Ireland but one that was also a  true replica of a real Celtic high cross pf Muiredach.  Of course, after Laura and my adventure finding the Mura Cross itself in Fahan village, we planned another adventure.
Monasterboice where the cross was said to reside was north of Dublin near Drogheda. After going to mass at St. Peter's in Drogheda and visiting the Battle of Boyne site we drove on to Monasterboice. Thankfully there were easy to follow signs. We didn't have the quite adventure  though we had finding St. Mura's grave.  Monasterboice would be our last spiritual pilgrimage in Ireland.  It was a beautiful and sacred place where Laura and I felt close to each other and close to our God.
One of the main permanent Viking centres was made eight miles from Monasterboice at Annagassan on the Louth Coast in AD 840. It was from here that the Vikings plundered Clonmacnoise in 841. Yet they never plundered Monasterboice. The Muiredach Cross actually has a couple of Viking like characters suggesting that some Vikings may have become Christians and monks explaining why the Monastery was not plundered.
Monasterboice was founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buithe. At the site there are two churches from the 14th century and an earlier 35 meter tall round tower.  The Cross  of Muiredeach is named after the abbott who reigned from 887 -924 and is featured in the carvings.
Irish High Crosses by Peter Harbison is an excellent resource to all the high crosses.  The East Face of the Muiredach's Cross shows the last judgement at the cross, and the Crucifixion and Ressurection on the West Face,  Each plate has a story from the bible and these are laid out easy to follow in Peter Harbison’s excellent book.  It was fun to read this guide looking at the actual cross and seeing what each plate represented.   I can actually see these plates in detail with a magnifying glass on my little gold cross. It’s humbling to consider the artistry of the original and that of  today.
Beside the Muiredach Cross there was another old high cross which was just like the silver cross I’d bought Laura at Faller’s Jewelry in Londonderry. Laura thought this so special.  There was a further Tall or West Cross near the Round Tower. At over 7 meters or 21 feet high it’s the tallest high cross in the country.
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Battle of the Boyne, Ireland

After visiting Drogheda, Laura and I drove on to the nearby Battle of Boyne site.  It was a busy place with archery  and knights competing in the green.  We walked through  the main exhibits which were the very best. I was reminded of other high quality war representations I’ve seen, the best of which were the Crimean War in  Istanbul Military Museum , Stalingrad in the Moscow War Museum and Custer’s Last Stand. The map here with audio explanation and flashing lights showing troop movements was perfect.  It was an amazingly matched encounter of calvary and infantry of  Protestant King William of Orange and Catholic King James II.  So much depended on this war and the Division of Ireland and the Troubles all stem from this.
I loved the animated manekins in the tents in the room showing the night before the battle. Each of leaders spoke with his advisors about the planning of the upcoming battle.  Then there was the actual cannons and stables.  What was really funny was a wall that showed common phrases which we use today, that were used in that day. Big Wig, Hold Your Horses, Lock, Stock and Barrell.
I have to remember my grandfather was an Orange Man with his Orange Sash belonging to the Orange Lodge and celebrating Protestantism as he marched in the annual Orange Parade in Toronto. While we were in Ireland the annual Orange Man Parade was being confronted.  IRA had planted a bomb under a constable's car. We saw the Shankhill Belfast Orange Lodge and learned about the King William of Orange and King James II at the Apprentice Boys of Londonberry exhibit.  It all seemed to sink in looking out on the actual Battle of Boyne battle field.
I love God and Jesus and feel that religious divisions are man made.  As God is one, so we are one together when we know God within, One God.  The recognition of this Battle of Boyne site as important historically to all of Ireland went along way to quieting the tensions that existed in Northern Ireland.
Growing up and living in Canada we take for granted our life of relative peace under the protection of nearby America. Sure there was the violence of Quebec but that was short lived. There’s been aboriginal roadblocks and violence but nothing compares to the violence that has split Ireland.  Nothing we have known compares in any way to the strife people have seen in Serbia, Vietnam,  Africa and South America.  It’s hard to comprehend that the Ukraine is presently experiencing civil war with Russian backed fighters. Israel has been under repeated attacks from its neighbours. ISIS wrecks havoc in the middle east beheading anyone and everyone.  When I was in Azerbaijan I heard about their war with Armenia.
Somehow because of the chronic navel gazing  of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and their addiction to political correctness I don’t think I was very well informed about what was happening when the USSR was splitting up. Maybe I wasn’t listening but more often than not the media seems to focus on irrelevancies such as their own partisanship about pay checks.  There’s obviously too much to know in this internet connected global world.  The media has a few ‘pet’ propaganda pieces and whole bits of the world go unacknowledged.
I remember fondly the American in Colorado who looking at the plates on my Harley Davidson asked me where I was from.  “Canada”, I replied.  “That’s north and Mexico is south,” he said with uncertainty.  I answered ‘yes’.  Roman’s in the Roman Empire wouldn’t have known more.  I didn’t judge him, since his country is the centre of the universe and mine though near is not nearly as significant as we might think. World travel has reminded me that not only are we insignificant as a single blue planet in amazing galaxies of planets, we’re not even that significant as a country. And personally I’m not really significant. Though I may be all I think about.  I don’t know the names or locations of all the African nations.  Geography is it’s own speciality and the maps are always changing. That’s what we forget in Canada.  Elsewhere the maps are changing.
Working with refugees as I have, their harrowing experiences have been wholly alien to my own Canadian peaceful privilege and blessing.
Given our innocence as Canadians it’s so easy to be naive.  I’d say Canadians in general are Polly Anna about world affairs.   Revenge and forgiveness are still very much at war.  This trip to Ireland was an eye opener for me.  I can only pray that peace will prevail.
Laura and I loved having tea in the elegant tea pavilion. The fragrance from the flowers was divine.
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Drogheda, Ireland

Laura and I drove into Dublin taking a room at the Maldron Airport Hotel.  On the Sunday we drove to Drogheda.  I’d planned to go to a Church of Ireland  or   Presbyterian Church this last Sunday. God had other plans.
As we drove into the town of Drogheda we heard the bells ringing and saw people going into the cathedral.  I was just able to park and we walked in as the service was beginning. It turned out we were in St. Peter’s Roman Catholic’s Church.  Laura said how much she felt as she had as a child when she went every Sunday to mass with her mother
Everything about this service was right. The priest was moving in his timely sermon commenting on the recent Tunisia terrorist attack but bringing his message home to the individual soul and our relationship with God.  The music was inspiring.  The interior of the church was simply beautiful.
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Outside we found the statue of Saint Oliver Plunkett.  Born in Loughcrew, County Meath, 1629, after study and service in Rome,  he was appointed the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland. He was known even by his enemies as a man of peace.  He was falsely charged with treason in a time of religious persecution. He was taken to London and executed in what could best be described as a rigged monkey court, the last victim of the Popish Plot.  He prayed for forgiveness of those responsible for his death, 1681.  He was beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1975.  He was the first new Irish saint for almost 700 years.  The severed head of Plunkett rests in St. Peters.
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After our time of prayer and communion we went for coffee and breakfast sandwiches across the street at a sweet little cafe.  We then drove around this really quaint little town stopping to take pictures of the many sites, like the St. Lawrence Gate and the Magdalene Tower.  The earliest monument is the motte-and-bailey castle, now know as the Millmount Fort.  Richard the Lionheart gave the town it's charter.
The River Boyne runs through the town. The famous Protestant/Catholic Battle of the Boyne was our next stop.  We also would go on to see the Cross of Muiredeach, at nearby Monasterboice.
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I liked Laura’s picture of me under a hunting store sign. Apparently rabbit hunting is a popular hunting past time.