A Vote For Love

Today, the people of the Republic Of Ireland go to the polls to vote yes or no for marriage equality. That is, they are voting for the right for gay people to enjoy the same marital status as heterosexual couples.

Wedding rings on rainbow coloured cloth

Today Is The Day Ireland Decides On Marriage Equality

Whereas, civil partnerships and gay marriage exist in other countries, Ireland is the first country to hold a national referendum on whether or not to enshrine the legal protection of marriage equality into the nation’s constitution.  Basically, the Irish people are getting to say how they feel about gay marriage.

Art work of two men embracing each other

An Art Installation In Dublin In Favour Of A Yes Vote

The debate in Ireland has been a lively and impassioned one for the last few weeks and has diverted off into areas such as “the fall of the family”, children’s rights, adoption, surrogacy and human rights.

If I was in Ireland today (and I dearly wish I was) I’d be voting YES and my vote would be driven by one simple principle: My vote would be a vote for love.  As far as I am concerned love is sacred and it’s sacred whether it’s between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and a man. With so much hatred in the world, I feel we all have to do as much as we can for love and to provide a counterpoint to those with hate in their hearts.  Marriage is a celebration of love and I look forward to all people being able to celebrate their love through the medium of marriage, if they so choose, regardless of whether it’s same sex marriage or heterosexual marriage.  I thoroughly believe Ireland will lead the way today.

Poster in favour of yes vote in marriage referendum in ireland

Vote For Love

Wishbones And Backbones

I was all ready to get stuck into writing a post when I came across a poem that blew me away. Regular followers of this blog will know just how much I love poetry, so I can’t resist sharing this one with you all.  I particularly love the last two lines.  No.  I ADORE the last two lines which are attributed to Clementine Paddleford an American journalist and writer.

Enjoy.

FOR MY DAUGHTER

By Sarah McMane

“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.” – Clementine Paddleford

Never play the princess when you can
be the queen:
rule the kingdom, swing a scepter,
wear a crown of gold.
Don’t dance in glass slippers,
crystal carving up your toes —
be a barefoot Amazon instead,
for those shoes will surely shatter on your feet.

Never wear only pink
when you can strut in crimson red,
sweat in heather grey, and
shimmer in sky blue,
claim the golden sun upon your hair.
Colors are for everyone,
boys and girls, men and women —
be a verdant garden, the landscape of Versailles,
not a pale primrose blindly pushed aside.

Chase green dragons and one-eyed zombies,
fierce and fiery toothy monsters,
not merely lazy butterflies,
sweet and slow on summer days.
For you can tame the most brutish beasts
with your wily wits and charm,
and lizard scales feel just as smooth
as gossamer insect wings.

Tramp muddy through the house in
a purple tutu and cowboy boots.
Have a tea party in your overalls.
Build a fort of birch branches,
a zoo of Legos, a rocketship of
Queen Anne chairs and coverlets,
first stop on the moon.

Dream of dinosaurs and baby dolls,
bold brontosaurus and bookish Belle,
not Barbie on the runway or
Disney damsels in distress —
you are much too strong to play
the simpering waif.

Don a baseball cap, dance with Daddy,
paint your toenails, climb a cottonwood.
Learn to speak with both your mind and heart.
For the ground beneath will hold you, dear —
know that you are free.
And never grow a wishbone, daughter,
where your backbone ought to be.

Love

I can’t believe it has been so long since I put a post together.  It seems only a few weeks ago I was drowning in the depths of pre-Christmas homesickness and writing about the Candle In The Window and now, somehow, it’s Valentine’s day.  The lack of seasons here in Queensland seriously messes with my sense of time – as in I just don’t have any sense of time passing or the year moving on.

So here we are in the middle of February and at that time of year again in the Western world where people observe various celebrations of love – mostly of the romantic kind.  Admittedly it is an ancient celebration that has been pretty much hi-jacked by peddlers of the tawdry and the tacky but I feel it is no less important for all that.

For me, anything that celebrates love is wonderful.  The world is full of so much negativity and hate that if we can preserve one day of the year where we celebrate love – even if it is for the most part romantic love that is celebrated – then that is a good thing.  Love is the most powerful force on the planet and the more we can celebrate it the better. Not everyone is lucky enough to find true love in their lifetime and for some it is simply a fleeting moment, if you have been so fortunate to find the person you truly love and are spending your life with that person then take the opportunity to observe just how how lucky you are.

Below is a painting by one of Ireland’s most celebrated artists, Frederic William Burton.  The painting is titled, The Meeting On The Turret Stairs.

Man and woman in olden days with man kissing woman's arm

The Meeting On The Turret Stairs

The work itself was inspired by an old Danish ballad of forbidden love between a princess  – Hellelil and one of her bodyguards – Hildebrand.  Hellelil’s father deemed Hildebrand most unsuitable for his daughter and ordered his seven sons to kill him.  The painting is Burton’s interpretation of the last embrace of the ill-fated lovers before Hildebrand goes to face Hellelil’s brothers.

I think it is a stunningly beautiful piece of work and I am fascinated at how Burton managed to depict so much emotion in it.  The tenderness of Hildebrand’s kiss is particularly poignant and gets to me every time I see it.  And I’m not the only one who loves this particular painting.  It was recently voted Ireland’s favourite painting and despite the tragic tale it depicts, it is seen as one of the country’s most romantic paintings and many proposals of marriage have taken place before it.

Wherever you are this Valentine’s weekend, I hope you get to spend some time with the one you love or at least to tell them how much they mean to you because as the song goes, “love is all there is.”

The Candle In The Window

Well here I am facing into my third Australian Christmas and I have to admit to not being altogether thrilled about it.  It’s one thing when you sign on for the big adventure, when you agree to up sticks and travel to the other side of the world and in the bigger scheme of things you are fine and enjoy all that your new place of abode has to throw at you.  However, hiding in the seams of the bigger scheme are those times when you just can’t get your head around where you are.  Christmas in Australia is one of those times for me.  The Aussies love their summer Christmas  – as they should but for me it’s just not Christmas.

Photo of snowman made from sand

The Snowmen Are A Little Different In Australia

Christmas for me is so many things.  It’s about home, open fires, over the top decorations, seeing family and spending time with friends, wrapping up against the cold, walks in frosty forests or on wind-swept beaches, sharing wonderful food, having a few drinks in the local pub, impromptu sing-songs, fun and laughter.  The west of Ireland is an incredibly special place to be at Christmas time.  Decimated by emigration over the years it is a time when people come home and it is this that creates an amazing buzz.  People are happy to be home and those who are at home are ecstatic to have their family members back even if it is for only a few short weeks.  Christmas Eve in any of the west of Ireland towns is a day for last minute presents, picking up “the bird” and joining the old friend you just ran in to for a drink or two.

Photo of bottle of jameson whiskey

A Few Hot Jimmies Will Put You Right

Later on in the evening most people make their way home and their journey is lit by candles twinkling in the windows of all the houses.  This is a tradition that dates back to ancient times and is rooted in the old Brehon laws of hospitality – whereby a stranger knocking on the door must never be refused.  In later times it was understood to symbolise the lighting of the way for Mary and Joseph as they searched for somewhere to stay before the birth of their child.  Nowadays it is seen as lighting the way for Mary and Joseph but also for those who are returning home.

Photo of Cabdle in Window

The Candle In The Window

One of my favourite things to do on Christmas Eve is to stand, in the darkness, at the window of my parents house, high up on the hill, and look out across the island as it twinkles in the night.  It’s a beautiful sight and one I’m looking forward to seeing again, just unfortunately not tonight.

Wherever you are this Christmas I hope you enjoy it – Roisin.

Commitments, Contingencies and Coping With The Unexpected

It’s one thing to commit to a blog. It’s another thing entirely to find the time to actually write it!  When I committed to this blog a number of months ago I had a long hard think about whether or not it was a good idea to even start it if I was never going to have the time to attend to it.  I looked at all the commitments I have, sized up where I could adjust my schedule, allowed for contingencies and decided I could manage it. My aim each week is to have a post up by the weekend and failing that at least by Sunday morning at the very latest.  So far I’ve been doing ok…… until last week and the week before that…….  And here is the problem – when it came to allowing for contingencies I couldn’t have imagined a total crash of my computer system or, just the week after that catastrophic event, the arrival of a super-storm!  I had been thinking along the lines of sick kids, school holidays and unexpected visitors.  Obviously I need to up my contingencies game.  So, note to self – when it comes to planning contingencies in the future perhaps I should plan for bigger contingencies than most.  Mind you, contingencies don’t come much bigger than the super-storm that hit Brisbane last Thursday!

photo of jellyfish shaped storm cloud over water

The Beast

Two storm cells came together and formed The Beast – A Supercell Thunderstorm that unleashed hell on Brisbane in just over an hour.   One minute I was out the back of the house in blazing sunshine and sweating my tooshie off and the next I was looking out my front door, with my jaw on the floor.  “Oh dear,” I whispered as I stared at the sky with cold blasts of air rushing over me, “what’s this?”
Within seconds, a strange cracking sound started, then a blast of thunder exploded over the house. The sky was totally dark by now and it was as if night had descended upon us but not for long as sheets of lightning lit up the landscape.  And then they came – golf ball sized hail stones catapulted out of the sky and pummelled everything around them.  The noise was deafening.

One of The Lumps of Ice That Hit Brisbane During the Super-Storm

One of The Lumps of Ice That Hit Brisbane During the Super-Storm

Now, it should be said I’m from an island on the west coast of Ireland and am no stranger to the fury of mother nature.  Storms on Achill are brutal and fierce and I’ve experienced some of the worst. However, in all my days, I have never seen hail stones the size of golf balls!  And we were lucky, as the storm intensified, hail the size of tennis balls fell in other parts of the city and how it fell!

A pile of Ice on the street

An Ice-pile

It rained down mercilessly, like God was emptying his Eski (local slang for cooler box.)  Nothing was safe and the damage has been extensive.

car damaged by hail in brisbane

Hail Damaged Car

Cars in particular were badly damaged.

Beige coloured car with window smashed in

A Lot of Cars In Brisbane Look Like This At The Moment

Many houses had their windows smashed and the office blocks of the CBD (Central Business District) also suffered.

Glass Office Building With Broken Panels

Beat Up Ofice Building In Brisbane CBD

Many people took shelter in the CBD only to find themselves being showered by hailstones and glass!
At about 5pm this is how Brisbane CBD looked.
Dark and foreboding sky

The Beast

Now if that’s not apocalyptic looking, then I don’t know what is!
As the hail abated the wind intensified and ripped through the city tearing up trees and taking roofs with it as it went.
Apartment with Roof Missing

Bye Bye Roof

Photo of UTE crushed by tree

Bye Bye UTE

Back in our part of town the hail had thankfully turned to rain and it was sheeting down.  Things were starting to look a little more like a “normal” storm.  Of course, power outtages and internet blackouts followed and so yours truly had to abandon all plans for posting on a Friday – again!
However, having seen all the post-storm damage I’m incredibly grateful that we came out of it totally unscathed and that nobody was killed.  I may have had to postpone a post till today but it’s not every day you get to write about having been in a superstorm.  Ah life in sub-tropical Australia – everything is bigger here – especially life’s little contingencies.