It’s been a gradual process but it’s almost three years now since I turned to vegetarianism and could never imagine turning back.
In recent times, the move along the continuum has been edging ever closer to veganism.
It’s largely about my love of animals but also about feeling so much better on this diet that I could never have envisaged even 15 years ago.
Nobody influenced me; it just evolved and has now become part of who I am.
I guess it has all become a lot easier with a growing diversity and acceptance of vegetarian/vegan diets and we are very fortunate that Co. Waterford has seen the opening of all sorts of food outlets that are into plant based food.
I wonder if there are many other life changing surprises lurking around the corner. I didn’t long for this change like I long to do things like run a marathon or write a book that will be worth writing in terms of helping to bring peace of mind to those who are grappling with despair.
Who knows what’s in store? It’s arguably a good thing that we don’t and maybe there’s something to be said for not trying to catch the butterfly, rather let it land silently on one’s shoulder. I had that poster on my wall for oh so many years.
Today is my birthday ~ not that you’d know it from hubby and son who are the most un-birthday people you could ever meet, even when it comes to their own birthdays.
Birthdays in the house of my youth were HUGE days and it came as no surprise that Big Sis and Big Bro sent lovely cards and things, as always.
I had a gorgeous day ~ just took off on an adventure.
When I was coming back to Tramore the sun had just set and I found myself drawn to the house where we lived back then. It was here in Tramore. Our parents were renting it and I got to thinking of how Dad would have come home from work ( in those 1950s days, fathers certainly weren’t in attendance at births here in Ireland), and made sure Big Sis and Big Bro were okay. Here’s the house as it was looking this evening.
Back in the 1950s, Tramore had its own little nursing home where many of the town’s babies, including me and my two sibs were born. It was about a two minute walk from our house so Dad used to call in the mornings and evenings to see Mother and the new baby.
His evening call would have been around the time I was passing this evening and this is how the nursing home of old was looking. It’s the near one with the red door.
It’s lovely that these houses are still in existence and so well maintained.
I can’t but smile as I think of Mother’s description of Big Sis’ disappointment with the baldy baby that I was. She had been madly looking forward to having a little sister and thought I would be like her doll ~ Emily-Anne. As you can see from this photo that Father took, Emily-Anne raised the bar rather high!
The card I got from Big Sis this morning certainly indicated that she’s well over her disappointment.
As for Big Bro, he and I have been the best of friends since Day 1. He’s a great one for tossing out crumbs of advice so this P.S. on his card was absolutely true to form:
I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
( Diane Ackerman)
I love this quote and it made me think of the road out near Ballyscanlon Lake here in Co. Waterford. You could be driving along this lovely winding road and not think to look over the high hedge. Lying beneath is one of the most delightful lakes I know:
I’ve been passing this gate almost everyday for years now and I’ve come to love it more and more as it has gradually peeled back its coats.
I can just imagine some people wanting to spruce it up for spring but I delight in seeing its rainbow of colours all melting into each other and revealing the colourful hands of history.
I’m like this with people too. I want to see the reality that lies behind the make-up; the eyes behind the dark glasses; the joys, fears, loves, losses, passions, hopes … that are so often glossed over with a maskish smile.
The other thing about this gate that always makes me slow down is its design. It’s certainly not a gate to keep small children in or out. It’s more like a toy aimed at stretching a child’s imagination. I find myself looking around for all sorts of shapes that can be posted in through those angled boxes.
Or how about sitting on the gate on Summer evenings reading a warm paperback while horses whinny in the fields nearby. I’ve no doubt that children have sat on this gate over the years and waved at carloads of sun lovers who have spent their day at the beach that’s just down the road.
Yes, it’s a gate with a past and lots and lots of stories to tell ~ just like every single older person in this crazy world of ours.
Today has been kind to me and I hope it has been kind to you, my Dear Readers.
I’ve been rather distracted, however, on hearing about the plight of a 91 year old man who had to spend 29 hours on a hospital trolley in a Dublin hospital before finally getting a bed.
The Accident and Emergency Crisis in Ireland has been bothering me for a long time now, as both a social researcher and at a personal level, and this latest outrage makes me feel incredibly sad.
I can’t but wonder if a child would have been treated in the same way. In other words, are people in their 80s and 90s viewed as having less value than younger people?
Also, would the 91 year old parent of one of our top politicians be left on a trolley for 29 hours?
As I write tonight, I feel a horrible sense of relief that my parents, who lived to great ages, have both passed on and will never, ever have to face long waits on hospital trolleys again.
I also feel a horrible sense of agony for the people who are stuck on trolleys in our Accident and Emergency Departments this very minute. This is a social problem, not some natural phenomenon, and can therefore be solved if there is enough social and political will to seek out and implement solutions.
“An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing…”
WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, “Sailing to Byzantium”
Let us all sing , and sing out loud together, to bring this awful Accident and Emergency Crisis to the very top of the social and political agenda.
My days start with a quick walk around our block with puppy Stan. It takes us about twelve minutes but they are BIG minutes as we meet the day, see lots of familiar faces and pass The Bar’
‘The Bar’ isn’t a pub, just in case you were thinking along those lines! It’s just a set of railings on a corner.
But these are no ordinary railings to me. They were christened ‘The Bar’ by my late mother who loved nothing better than to say to an unsuspecting person: “Oh I’m just back from The Bar.”
The railings are a few yards down the road from the school that my sister and brother attended up to the time Father was transferred to the Midlands in 1963. Mother used to wait for them at ‘The Bar,’ with one eye on the school gate and the other on the view of the sea. The old stone wall on the right of the photograph is part of the school property.
‘The Bar’ marks my first proper view of the sea every day. That viewing tells me a huge amount about how my day is likely to pan out. I can see the state of the tide, the size of the waves, feel the direction of the wind, get a good sense of the ‘real’ temperature.
The building between the railings and the sea was the first school building that our son attended from 2000-2003, so he and I (and our King Charles, Sophie, used to walk passed ‘The Bar’ and cross the busy road hand in hand in lead each morning.
As I walk around the block, I can’t but think of cycles of life. It’s pretty amazing that I’ve ended up settling in Tramore just a sling stone from where my father and mother, from Co. Clare and Co. Meath respectively, happened to have their first home in 1948. I guess, though that I inhaled a lifelong craving for the ‘Tramore Air,’ in those first five and a bit years of my life.
‘The Bar’ always make me think, too, of these lines from T.S. Eliot’s, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
For I have known them all already, known them all— Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I can hear you asking what the connection could possibly be between ‘The Bar’ and these lines. It’s multi-layered but, at its simplest, relates to times when reaching/not reaching ‘The Bar’ was a measure of physical progress/decline.
My late parents’ final house (1986-2010) was a few hundred yards from ‘The Bar’ and I have vivid recall of how it was a huge goal of mine to be able to walk to it after badly breaking my leg in 1987. I remember the first day I got there and wondering how the hell I was ever going to get back again.
Similarly, ‘Going to The Bar’ was beyond highly symbolic for my mother in her latter years when her mobility was in decline.
As I walked around the block this morning, it hit me forcefully how very mundane structures like ‘The Bar’ can carry extraordinary significance for people. The idea that ‘The Bar’ could be one of my highlights of stunning Tramore may seem almost beyond belief but I know that even if the railings are taken down that I will always still see them at that corner on The Old Waterford Road. In addition, ‘The Bar’ has brought it home to me how much people perceive places through spectacles made of different times.
Have you got a mundane structure or place, like ‘The Bar’ which has a special significance in your life?
Mount Congreve Gardens served up special beauty on its last open days for this season.
Standing deep in the woods, I was treated to this piece of abstract art that has been shimmering around in my mind.
It seems all the more poignant today as I’ve just come back from visiting a life long friend who has dementia. Her short term memory may be impaired but so much of her layered essence remains. Her smile, her voice, her sense of fun, her memories of days we shared and most of all the feel of her hand in mine.
Tramore was deserted this morning as the high tide greeted the day.
I was more determined than ever to see it this morning having met a very dear friend yesterday who is now feeling old age creep up upon her. She was once very like me ~ an early riser, a sea baby, a sports fanatic, dog lover and a great walker.
She was looking well but confided in me that the thing she misses most about ageing is not having the energy, balance and mobility that she once had to savour the delights of Tramore which is her natural habitat.
The longing and memories in her eyes were etched in my mind as I walked along the beach bewitched by every single wave that hesitated ever so momentarily before breaking into a white foamy smile.
'Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and
sweet words.' (Plautus)
As a true ‘birthday’ person, I was rather taken aback during the week when our one and only, who is twenty today, told me that his birthday was ‘just another day’ to him and that he didn’t want anyone to make anything out of it.
There may be a touch of like father like son here as hubby is exactly the same!
Is this a male thing; have birthdays lost their significance; or are there others out there who treasure birthdays, especially those of their kids, no matter what age they happen to be?
A couple of key issues that relate to ‘longevity’ have cropped up in Ireland in recent weeks and now everywhere I look I seem to be seeing things about people wanting to prolong life and try and evade death by hook or by crook.
Irish people (like those in other developed countries) are living a lot longer than they used to and very little provision was made for this. So now we have a situation where older people are ‘clogging up’ beds in acute hospitals because they have nowhere suitable to go. Home care packages just aren’t sufficient and there aren’t enough nursing home or supported-living places.
The idea of being stuck in an acute hospital, not in the best of health, worrying about ‘where to’ next is something that fills me with dread. I witnessed elements of this with my own parents when they were in their late eighties and their quality of life was declining. However, they were fortunate to be able to remain in their own home, with care, and this mattered hugely to them both.
The vast majority of Irish people want to die in their own homes but only a small percentage actually achieve this goal.
For me, there is a key question about whether people want to live on because they don’t want to die ~ either because they fear it or because they don’t want to leave others behind.
I feel that quality of life is key and having to ‘exist’ when the mind and body have essentially outlived their time is a form of cruel imprisonment than no one deserves to have to endure unless s/he chooses.
I realise that this is controversial territory but maybe it is a debate which society badly needs to address.