Vegetarian towards Vegan

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.

Ireland’s Lockdown 2 Update

We’re just over two and a half weeks into our 6 week lockdown here in Ireland. I am very pleased to report that there is strong evidence to suggest that it is working in terms of cutting down the case numbers which were gone into overdrive in most areas when it was imposed. It was like we were running downhill towards a cliff edge.

High on The Coastal Path, Dunmore East, Co. Waterford

This Lockdown is impacting very hard on some sectors, especially hospitality, aviation, non-essential retail and people in care homes to mention just a few. Schools remain open this time, as do colleges and universities but the latter are predominantly online.

A lot of the emphasis during this Lockdown has been on Christmas and trying to ensure that it has a semblance of normality about it and that businesses can benefit from Christmas trade.

The whole Christmas thing affects people and families very differently. Christmas is pretty much another day in our house so it takes a bit of mind-stretching to get to grips with families who see it as a time to gather and party in large numbers. The last time that was part of my existence was when us three kids used to come home from wherever we were to spend the holidays with Mother and Father. That was in our single days and I still remember the buzz of the whole thing with happiness.

I am just not sure if placing a mega emphasis on Christmas is a good thing this year, if the price to be paid is a further escalation of the virus and more deaths and lockdowns. It’s probably easy for me to say that because I won’t be stuck somewhere wishing I was with my loved ones. But, is it really worth the risk to society?

I am wondering more and more about all this as I have been seeing Christmas decorations already being put up in and around our 5km restricted zone.

What do you reckon?

Contrasts

The word that keeps floating into my head today is ‘contrasts.’ In part, it is driven by the US Election results and the differences between Biden and Trump, even though they are similar in terms of being older, white males.

It is also to the fore because November is a month of curious contrasts and ones which I seem to notice more and be more appreciative of because of what can sometimes seem like the greyness of the month.

Sweet November Songbird

This morning, it is dull and dank here with cloud almost touching our heads but as I was coming in our gate a glint of bright orange caught my eye from the Berberis bush and the Mahonia out the back has turned her gleaming yellow lights on as if putting on a bedside light in the depths of night.

The contrast that has perhaps struck me most relates to mindsets. Joe Biden’s litany of personal tragedies would be enough to defeat a huge number of people. His courage in the face of such hard knocks is nothing short of inspirational. I have no idea how he will fare as President but I think he has shown that there are alternatives to giving up in the face of adversity.

We do not live an equal life, but one of contrasts and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dad’s Playlists

Dad adored music and dancing but couldn’t sing a note or, at least, claimed he couldn’t.

When he retired in 1981, he took over a good few household chores. Washing up was his forte and he liked to do it alone to music.

Those were the days of cassette tapes and he spent hours making new tapes by recording songs he particularly liked. So, there are boxes and boxes of his favorites, all meticulously labelled and timed to perfection.

I am fortunate enough to have them and a few of his old cassette players. It’s so uplifting to delve in and find a tape and lash into chores I hate like the ironing with one of his collections playing at high volume.

I guess this is why I haven’t ever embraced Spotify or the like.

I doubt he ever thought any one else would get such pleasure from his hobby and musical passion.

Craic

One of the words that’s widely used in Ireland is ‘craic.’ I have no idea if it has been exported.

Basically, it means ‘enjoyable social activity,’ but it is used in a wide variety of ways:

#Greeting: ‘What’s the craic?’ In other words, ‘What have you been doing?/How are things?’

#Description: ‘He’s great craic,’ as in ‘He’s fun to be with’

#Irish stereotype: ‘People come to Ireland to enjoy the craic here.’ Ceol agus craic is what people love about Ireland.‘ Or music and drinking are fundamental to Irish society.

#Boast: ‘We’re well able to make our own craic.‘ Or, we can find ways to enjoy ourselves. ‘I’m great craic when I have a few drinks on me.’

This is the first time I have used the word ‘craic.’ It grates on my nerves, for some reason. I think it has to do with the stereotypes associated with it and the undertones and overtones of binge drinking.

While I’d happily obliterate the word ‘craic,’ ceol’ or music is very close to my Irish heart.

That Autumn into Winter

I read a haiku the other day that set me on a flight of thought:

new kite-
the impatient child
in unending rain

Shoha

It set me thinking about a year when I was in my twenties and my big bro gave me the most beautiful umbrella you’ve ever seen. It was perfect red with a wooden handle and it was way bigger than those bits of things that you buy in a downpour and much more manageable than a golf umbrella.

I was brought up with the superstition that putting an umbrella up while inside was bad luck and, as it was mid-October in Ireland, I thought I would only have a day or two to wait for a shower or decent rainy day. But no, weeks passed and not a drop. I used to eye up the umbrella and consider using it as a parasol but thought I’d be considered crazy. Remember, I was young. I’d have no qualms now!

Everyone was devastated when the rains eventually came but I was literally dancing in it under the redness.

You just never know what people are thinking and wishing for and why.

I’ve no brolly now so thankfully there’s hardly a cloud in the sky. I wonder if big bro will read this and take the hint… as the umbrella was all the more special because it was he who gave it to me.

Beneath it All

Ever since my tennis days when I’d be waiting with my opponent to go out and do battle, I’ve been acutely aware of the way those on opposing sides often have the most in common.

So it is today for Donald Trump and Joe Biden. They are the only two people who know how it feels to be facing Presidential Election Day 2020 as candidates.

What are their thoughts, real thoughts, as they face the day and days to come?

Surely, they will have moments alone with their gut feelings. Will they even be able to or want to connect with those or is it better to keep running along the rim of the world on adrenaline.

You’d like to think they would say a private ‘Good luck and may the best man win, ‘ to each other but I doubt that will happen.

It’s all too easy to forget that we are dealing with essentially fragile human beings here. Nobody is superhuman and nobody is perfect. Everyone is vulnerable and fragile in their own ways.

A big day and let’s hope it is one that is underpinned with dignity, respect and connection.

All’s Well Again, I Hope…

Puppy Stan here while I can get my paws on the mouse. Last night was a nightmare. There were big bangs every few minutes and I thought I was finished. Just before they started Jean was watching Waterford playing a big hurling game against Cork on the telly. She was hiding behind a cushion and screaming and sighing. She said it was bad for her heart and that had me all worried. Next thing, I heard a big loud whistle and she went racing around the room like a maniac. Waterford won, Waterford won, Waterford won. She’s a bit mad, I think but I guess we all are.

Before I could say ‘Where’s my supper?’, she dashed out of the house on a what she called her walk against the elements. It was windy and half rainy but she wasn’t properly gone when the big bangs started. I was witless and kept pacing around the place looking for somewhere to hide. I ended up in my Dada’s arms. He held me really tight and I could feel his heart beating about a million times slower than mine. I can’t understand why he wasn’t in a tizz-wizz.

Jean flew in the door eventually all red in the face and breathless. Every time there was a big bang she looked at me with that look that tell’s me she is scared but is pretending not to be.

You should see her when we go passed gardens with boney things lying in them. She gets all worked up and starts talking to me about how she hates skeletons, whatever they are. She says they should be kept in wardrobes. Did you ever hear such rubbish?

It’s all quiet this morning and it’s bright.

Now she’s told me she’s going to pull an all nighter on Tuesday and will be up with me watching telly. Something about America. I hope she’s not spending a last night with me before she goes over there cos it looks an awful long way away. She points out to the end of the sea when we’re on our walks and says ‘That’s America over there.’

America is off out there way beyond.

I just have to calm down. I don’t think she’d ever be mad enough to try and swim that far. But, then, she did go out in the fireworks, as she calls them. I’d call them All Nighter Puppy Torturers.

Please tell her to stay here with me and that I’ll even put all the skeletons into wardrobes for her.

Sky’s blue so hope there’s a Puppy Stan walk on the horizon.

Love to all,

Puppy Stan xxx

Blogging and Covid 19

I wonder if we bloggers were better prepared than many to cope with the challenges of the pandemic. I’m inclined to think we were.

I think it’s because we are used to being ‘together apart,’ to borrow a phrase I heard on the radio this morning (Yes, I am a radio person much more than a TV one.)

‘Together apart’ is what blogging involves and it is what Covid 19 hates.

I continue to find it quite extraordinary that over my almost ten years of blogging that I have built up a ‘community’ of people from all sides of the world whose lives are intertwined with mine. So often, I am in the middle of something and I think of how one of my blogging compadres had written about a similar experience or had given a whole new outlook on it.

My nearest and dearest have come to know about quite a few of my blogging ‘friends’ and aren’t a bit surprised when they crop up in conversation – usually described by where they are from. That seems to be a big part of it in my subconscious.

There’s something very freeing about being able to write and express one’s thoughts without the whole palaver of issues around age, appearance, gender… Bloggers look and see beyond such features that can dominate ordinary interaction.

We see the benefits of that, or maybe I should speak for myself here, but they are what so many people are finding tough in this Covid era.

There is one thing, though, that I worry about when blogging these times. It’s whether or not someone reading a post is going through a hell that I am somehow accentuating. Finding a balance between positivity and diversion and just writing from the absolute heart can be difficult. Overall, I hope we know each other well enough and have enough trust to be able to write without fakery.

Thanks for being there, my friends, and I hope you are feeling connected – together-apart.