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    Nicholas Mackey

    A Brief Brexit Daydream

    Posted in Blogs on Friday, 19 April 2019

    Download This Track Artist Name - A-Brief-Brexit-Daydream-12.33pm---Friday-19th-April-2019-1.m4a As I sit here in a greenish part of London overlooking the Thames, I ponder on the Magical Lost Kingdom of Brexit Forever/Never Never Land as it continues on its unending spiral of self-flagelation, I find my mind drifting back nearly 50 years ago and recall with a smile idyllic family summer holidays spent on the alluring rugged beauty of the Donegal coastline in the far-flung north-west of Ireland. Brexit fades from my consciousness and I can hear the wild Atlantic Ocean breaking on the shore, sea birds are flying overhead and the sunlight dances on my deserted sandy beach that stretches for miles and miles and miles. I remember James Joyce at this point when he pondered, 'Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount Strand?' Happy Easter 

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    Nicholas Mackey

    Thanks Rosy for reading and commenting on my doggerel. This entire Brexit process lends itself to satire and ridicule of a most excoriating kind. That said, it's a sunny day here in London and I'd like to wish you, your family and all Green Room Writers a very happy Easter.

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, The Wind Takes No Prisoners

    A fascinating part of the country - enjoy your trip!

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    Monika Schott

    Absolutely, Katherine. We're all people in the end, all doing the best we can. ?

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    Monika Schott

    Thanks, Rosy. We're all human, all fallible little creatures. ?

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    Katherine Gregor

    I'd like to echo Rosy's comment. Men do not have to be the enemy. There are so many wonderful men, as well as wonderful women, just like there are damaged and damaging individuals of both sexes.

    This reminds me of a woman I heard the other day complaining about all the "man-splaining" she'd had to put up with. Funny, I thought, the term "woman-splaining" doesn't exist, and yet more women have told me – unsolicited – how to live my life and treated me like someone who needed everything spelt out to her, than men.

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    Katherine Gregor
    Katherine Gregor commented on the blog post, April Showers

    It's such a blessing when a woman gets on with her mother-in-law. I still have a close friendship with my first husband's mother, even though he and I divorced nineteen years ago.

    Your piece is very poignant. Thank you for sharing it.

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    Katherine Gregor

    I love your piece, Ken. Your writing made me feel as though I were there.

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    Ken Hartke
    Ken Hartke created a new blog post, The Wind Takes No Prisoners

    The Wind Takes No Prisoners

    Posted in Blogs on Thursday, 11 April 2019

    I"m getting ready for a long road trip -- heading east along the old Santa Fe Trail. Eastward, a thousand miles across Dorothy's Kansas with the wind at my back. Yesterday it was blowing at about 40 mph so today's 25 mph feels like a reprieve but it is still gusting. There is a blizzard warning posted for areas north of where I'm travelling and it should be played out by the time I get out on the high plains.  At least I hope so. I'm heading "home" in a sense, to the Midwest. The big river valleys and the centerlands between the four compass points still carry a sense of place and personal history for me even though I cannot live there any more. I'm a full-fledged bird of the desert but I still need these occasional migratory excursions. My home place is now in the New Mexico desert in view of five mountain ranges and starry skies. ...But that doesn't mean that I don't miss my roots. I can only eat so much green or red chile pepper sauce before I need some kind of comfort food of the Midwest. I'm planning on hauling back a treasure trove of St. Louis food -- if I don't eat it all on the road back. We can complain about the wind and the blowing dust or snow but there is no recourse. No court of appeals. There were twenty-four severe weather warnings posted for New Mexico yesterday for high winds, blowing dust and extreme fire danger. If a fire gets started in the dry grass it will cover fifty miles before anyone can even try to stop it. I'm thinking about those hearty pioneers and muleskinners who struck out toward the horizon with the incredible wind blowing them raw.  They had huge, unweildy cargo wagons laden with supplies and material for sale in Santa Fe. The deep wagon ruts are still there in many places in central Kansas. Santa Fe was a foreign country but it was closer to Missouri than it was to Mexico City so the trail wagons were tolerated at first and then welcomed.  One of my wife's ancestors made the trip at least once. There is a large 100 foot sandstone rock part way across Kansas -- known as Pawnee Rock. It was one of many important trail landmarks and described as the "The greatest sight ever beheld by man".  If you have been watching the hind-end of a team of mules or oxen for three-hundred miles, it was a welcome diversion.  I will have a better view -- no mules or oxen -- but the wind will give me a little push from behind. I think I probably shared the following poem once before. It gives an idea of the power of the wind on the land and people born to it. So now comes the wind. Our winter’s downhill neighbor testing the hinges. From beyond, somewhere in a distant mountain place, it comes to life. It finds its power. it scours the dead and dying; it tries to take you. But you bow your head. You divert your reddened eyes. It passes over. A born acrobat, Tumbleweed pulls up her skirts and scatters her seeds. It takes what it wants, leaving man and beast behind tumbling into Spring.

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    Rosy Cole

    This is such a refreshing and balanced perspective, Moni. A life-changing, even world-changing view. You handled it all so well so that, one way or another, it did not tip into something sinister involving reprisals and worse.

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    Rosy Cole

    Spot on reportage! Who needs Laura Kuenssberg? (No, really!) It was rather disturbing, too, how the purple and yellow ones had reappeared and started preening their feathers. As our man in Westminster, do keep us posted :-)

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole commented on the blog post, April Showers

    Sharon, you are blessed with the gift of both giving and receiving generously and that is the best grace of all. Thank you for touching hearts.

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    Sharon Darlene Walling
    Sharon Darlene Walling created a new blog post, April Showers

    April Showers

    Posted in Blogs on Saturday, 06 April 2019

      A shadow of her former self…   Like a cat leaving a room What dlo you do when home is far away   Music for leaving   Not sure why, but I was thinking of my mother-in-law today.  We shared so many interests.  I discovered even more after her death. Going through her things, she collected fans and vintage hankies, like I did. We purchased our home with the idea of Jeanne living with us. The house had a lovely guest apartment at the end of the hall, full kitchen, walk-in closet, huge living/bedroom, private entrance, with a wee garden outside the door…though we gave her the entire yard. When we moved her in, we just assumed she’d be with us another five or ten years.  But little more than a year later, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her surgeon told her she had about eighteen months to live.  When I told my sister, she said, “Oh Sharon, she may last about two months.”  She was right. Jeanne and I used to go to concerts all the time.  In fact, before she moved in with us, she would often call from California, tell my husband to take care of Daniel, she was going to fly me up so we could go to the Sacramento Music Circus…a series of Broadway musicals.  We made at least two, and then dinner, and laughing, and storytelling, and laughing, and breakfast and laughing. One night, when she was still alert, I went into her room (hospice turned it into a hospital room) with a small cassette player.  I told her we couldn’t go to a concert so we would have a concert right here.  I climbed in bed with her and played John Michael Talbot’s, “Come to the Quiet.”  I held her like a mom holds a baby and began to realize that death at that point – was really a birth.   She looked up at me, and we didn’t have to share words.  We just knew. There was great peace. Three days later she passed, without fanfare, quietly, like a cat leaving a room.      

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    Nicholas Mackey

    Parliamentary Parakeet Pandemonium

    Posted in Blogs on Saturday, 06 April 2019

    Dateline: Westminster, London, Friday 5th April 2019 With the emergency repair works to fix the serious roof leak in the Houses of Parliament proceeding, it would appear there's been a blip in the security of the place as you may have seen a tweet from our Glorious Leader that a  pandemonium (apparently that's the correct collective term for a group of these blessed creatures) of parakeets has taken up residence within the House of Commons no less. It's been quite difficult to gauge numbers of these feathered invaders but officials and MPs who have bravely ventured into the chamber believe that there are upwards of 40 of these birds careering wildly about the place making an unholy racket. It is thought the parakeets got in when one of the large windows in the building was left open for a while. A number of people who have seen these parakeets have noted that these birds are decked out in a coloured plumage of red, white and blue with a design akin to the Union Flag and furthermore. these birds have been heard 'speaking' English using a weird mix of a cut glass accent laced with what sounds like Yorkshire slang - according to some reports. These parakeets have also been observed to be well clued-up on Brexit and are given to squawking out slogans and expletives in connection with Brexit unfortunately using the most profane language of a richly textured kind - I would not wish to cause any offence by repeating here some of the obscenities that have been made but I'm sure one's imagination can fill in the gaps as it were. News sources - in whom I have complete trust of course - surmise that it is conceivable that these parakeets were domestic pets of a UK government minister or well-known Tory MP and have escaped captivity. Suspicions are now being aroused that these parakeets escaped from the home of a bespectacled  public figure with impeccable finesse and mode of speech to match his élite Eton education who is always smartly dressed in Savile Row suits albeit in the fashion of half a century ago as some of the birds have been heard to squawk the following which I am happy to quote here as being less offensive, "Ee upp, Jacob lad, you've been stitched up by the mardy Maybot!" and "Ee upp, Jacob there's nowt in this Brexit blethering" and "It's a stitch up, ee upp it's a stitch up!" and even, "Ee upp, Maybot is a wazzock, Maybot is a wazzock, lad". And also, "Aye, Reez-Mugg forever, aye Reez-Mugg for PM ee by gum" - although the parakeets seem to have something of a pronunciation hiccup with names but the real puzzler is where the parakeets' fluency in Yorkshire dialect has sprung from. If indeed these birds have escaped from their place of residence supposedly from this well-known conservative Conservative as surmised above, it is now a challenge for the parliamentary authorities as to how this problem will be resolved and the parakeets returned to their rightful owner. If I receive any further reports on these pesky caterwauling parakeets I will be in touch as I thought you should be kept reliably informed of developments. Parakeetingly yours, NM

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    Monika Schott

    To all the gorgeous men in my life

    Posted in Blogs on Tuesday, 02 April 2019

    I was propositioned over the last couple of weeks. Twice. They came on two separate occasions from two very alluring men, within a week of one another and half an hour of meeting me. There was a moment in both exchanges where I almost pinched myself to be sure I wasn’t in some kind of twilight zone. Very quickly though, that ambiguity cleared to an incredible sadness for both men. To me, they were missing out on the chance to experience that real satiation of connected intimacy. Maybe they’d been hurt in the past or they were unable to feel at that level for some emotional torment, or maybe they simply wanted to sex and felt intimacy that way. It didn’t matter why they propositioned me, what struck was the sadness I felt for them. Everyone to their own, it’s just not my thing. I wasn’t judging, not even when one of the men looked at me at one point in puppy dog eyes as he spoke about the custody battle of his son. That tipped me into something even deeper than sadness, where the twilight zone had become more dispirited and distorted than a twilight zone could be. Poor man, was all I could think, using his despair of a court battle for his son to gain sex. My parting words to him came with a gentle pat on the back. ‘Be kind to yourself.’ You have to wonder sometimes how life works when a third man I met soon after, put things into perspective. It sounds like I meet men all the time and I do, but it’s mostly through my work. That may be because of the industry I work in, of sewage and engineers and tertiary education, or the work I do away from writing around strategy and project development. This third man spoke about recently being out with a woman and within a brief time of meeting her, she propositioned him. He threw his hands in the air too and we laughed. He commented that not all men want quick sex. Touché. He was a lovely man, with great emotional empathy, and he got me thinking about all the wonderful men in my life. My three beautiful and sensitive sons, even when we’re in occasional battle, whose hearts can openly bleed when they see me in occasional distress and whose hearts dance at my every success. The intelligent, caring and giving men I work so closely with and where without them and my sons, I wouldn’t be exploring sewerage town communities around the world and nearing completion of a PhD that will include a novel shedding light on what it’s like to live on a sewerage farm. They push me to answer questions I’d not thought of and encourage me to reach outside my boundaries with such care and compassion, ready to help me up if I fall. The men in my family and circle of friends, who love and accept me for all my quirkiness, who never judge me or complain that they don’t see enough of me and are there for me whenever I may need them. The men I meet in all my work, my colleagues and conversationalists alike, allowing for stimulating and fruitful exchanges. Even my two propositioning men have beauty in them, as do all the men that have been part of the challenges in my life. They have given me the opportunity to experience a dichotomy of life and learn those sometimes-hard lessons. They've given me the chance to learn about me. Cheers to all the men in my life, and to my women too, for all the gorgeousness you give.

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole created a new blog post, Mirror Moon

    Mirror Moon

    Posted in Blogs on Wednesday, 20 March 2019

      Image courtesy of the Academy of Classical Design, Glendale Springs    Mystic moon, riding voiles of dusk earth hangs deathly still in the light of your seed of honesty you calibrate years in bakers' dozens turning tides within and oceans onshore never begotten though not for want of moonshine and wishing Mirror moon, you hide the far side while the world reflects in your rear view glass craving salvation O moon, is it time?    Image courtesy of David Vickery, Courthouse Gallery, Ellsworth, Maine    

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    Katherine Gregor
    Katherine Gregor commented on the blog post, A Few Thoughts About Lent

    Now I didn't know that! Thank you!

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    Rosy Cole
    Rosy Cole created a new blog post, Lift Thine Eyes

    Lift Thine Eyes

    Posted in Blogs on Wednesday, 13 March 2019

      Bridal Procession on Hardanger Fiord - Hans Gude (with a little assistance from Adolph Tidemand).     Lift thine eyes, O lift thine eyes, behold the mountain's crown, heed not a frailty of craft, rough rocks and storms that drown Above the tumult of blind strife, there lies a clearer sphere, where angels weave a tapestry from sunlit shadows here That's from whence our help shall come, a guide through life's defiles to heaven's Revelation, the Hope of misty miles     Into the Light - Hans Gude (with a little assistance from Adolph Tidemand). Verses based on Psalm 121 Art: Hans Gude, Norwegian Romantic landscape painter, March 13, 1825 - August 17, 1903

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    Stephen Evans
    Stephen Evans commented on the blog post, A Few Thoughts About Lent

    The word itself as I understand it comes from the Middle English term for Spring - which fits right in with your philosophy.

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    Katherine Gregor

    A Few Thoughts About Lent

    Posted in Blogs on Sunday, 10 March 2019

    As the Dean traced the ash cross on my forehead and said, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.  Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ" and the Cathedral choir sang Allegri's Miserere, what flashed through my mind, once again, was the image of a phoenix.  Ashes as the necessary stage of burning the old, so that the new might be reborn.  Ashes as catharsis.   When I was a child growing up in Rome, Lent was a gloomy forty days, with a Holy Week of wailing and gnashing of teeth, expressed through sober, serious television programmes like Passion plays, religious contemplations and funereal classical music.  I have a vague memory of my grandmother chiding me for dancing around the room one Good Friday.  Lent had be heavily sad.  Lent as repentance, as stating our unworthiness.  Lent that felt like a punishment after the joy of Carnival.  Lent as fasting or at least giving up on something you found pleasurable.   But what if Lent was originally intended not as six weeks of gloom and doom but as an opportunity for renewal? After all, it wouldn't be the first time that the wisdom and practicality of Christian teachings was changed, mistranslated or misinterpreted through centuries of organised religion.     I disagree with Lent as moral self-flagellation the same way as I find deeply disturbing the presence, in prime position, of the crucifix in churches.  Why focus on the image of intense pain, injustice and death when what is actually at the heart of Christian doctrine is the Resurrection, i.e. the triumph of Life over death? I have no doubt that theologians and ministers will provide a valid reason for that, but my instinctive feeling is that you get further by focusing on joy and Light than on sadness and darkness.   "'Church' has become a dirty word," a priest once told me.  It certainly has in the UK, where backs all too often stiffen and looks become embarrassed and vacant as soon as I mention the fact that I occasionally go to church.  Given the laissez-faire attitude of the Church of England, where you can opt for High, Evangelical or Traditional or an assortment thereof, I find this backlash something of a disproportionate response.  Still, whose fault is it, really, if "church" has become "a dirty word"?   Everything that happens on this planet has a rational explanation, whether we have come up with it by now or not.  The universe is governed by physics and the laws of nature.  As a child and teenager, I used to think of the world as a perfect circle, with no loose ends.  So whenever I could not understand something, I felt as though this was because all I could see was a segment of the circle, just a line that wasn't connected to anything, thereby not making any sense. And yet the Church still puts an emphasis on almost blind faith.  The magic and supernatural elements that make Christianity so wonderful to some are also a strong deterrent to others.  Isn't it time the Church began to explain its philosophy – I choose this term rather than doctrine deliberately – in a more 21st-century-friendly context of society, psychology and physics? Increasingly, the Church is trying to become more "accessible" by dropping – much to my sadness – the poetry from the language of prayers.  By doing that I feel it brings the Divine down to the limited dimension of humanity; it does nothing to encourage its unlimited side.  Replacing "thou" with "you" and "trespasses" with "sins" is not enough if you maintain the party line that miracles have an element of the supernatural that cannot – and almost must not – be understood with our brains but accepted through faith.  Faith, like love, cannot be supplied on demand.  Besides, as I once remarked to a priest after Sunday service, humanity can no longer be treated as a child who accepts whatever his or her parents say as though it were unquestionable truth.  "We are teenagers now," I said, "we have doubts about everything, so we need plausible answers."  Why not appeal to the human side that resides in the totality of possibilities? The side capable of absolute wonders?   Again, when I was about ten or eleven, and I heard a minister say that we, children, should be "as good as the Child Jesus", I replied, "But Jesus's father was God, while mine was a man, so he had a clear advantage over me – what's the point in my even trying?"  Yet another of many contradictions and inconsistencies in Church teachings.   Heavily sad Lent.  Lent as repentance, as stating our unworthiness.  Lent as fasting or at least giving up on something you found pleasurable – and which you fully intend to resume come Easter Sunday.  What if it were Lent as taking stock, as a time for introspection, as cleansing, as shedding old habits and creating new ones? Lent as rewiring our brains? In other words, Lent as a wonderful opportunity for a physical and mental detox – a re-set button?   A field that fascinates me is that of neuroplasticity and the possibility of redirecting our neural pathways.  Obviously, the Ancients probably did not have  "neuroplasticity" in their vocabulary but, on some other level, they were clearly aware of its existence in practice, or there would have been no yoga, no Qi Gong, and no Lent.    Why forty days? I don't know. There is a school of thought that says it takes twenty days to break a habit and twenty to form a new one. Forty is a number that recurs in the Old and New Testament, in other religions, in yoga practices, in some fairy tales and in popular beliefs.  When, age six, I had the measles, my family kept me indoors and in the warmth for full forty days, to make sure I had fully recovered (there is an interesting Huff Post article on the forty-day topic by Rebecca Grainger).   Lent is also about fasting.  I fast for twenty-four hours once a week.  I find it invigorating and refreshing.  There is evidence to suggest that fasting responsibly can have many health benefits.  It acts as a re-set function.  It can reduce inflammation (remember the old saying "Starve the fever and feed the cold"?), is cleansing and allows the body to focus on spring cleaning and healing while not busy digesting.   I love Lent.  Not the Lent of repentance but of taking stock, of trying to reroute neural pathways, shedding old habits and forming new, more creative ones.  Lent as a wonderful opportunity to reinvent oneself.   Scribe Doll

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Latest Comments

Nicholas Mackey Parliamentary Parakeet Pandemonium
19 April 2019
Thanks Rosy for reading and commenting on my doggerel. This entire Brexit process lends itself to sa...
Stephen Evans The Wind Takes No Prisoners
18 April 2019
A fascinating part of the country - enjoy your trip!
Monika Schott To all the gorgeous men in my life
15 April 2019
Absolutely, Katherine. We're all people in the end, all doing the best we can. ?
Monika Schott To all the gorgeous men in my life
15 April 2019
Thanks, Rosy. We're all human, all fallible little creatures. ?
Katherine Gregor To all the gorgeous men in my life
14 April 2019
I'd like to echo Rosy's comment. Men do not have to be the enemy. There are so many wonderful men, ...

Latest Blogs

I"m getting ready for a long road trip -- heading east along the old Santa Fe Trail. Eastward, a thousand miles across Dorothy's Kansas with the wind ...
  A shadow of her former self…   Like a cat leaving a room What dlo you do when home is far away   Music for leaving   Not sure why, but I w...
Dateline: Westminster, London, Friday 5th April 2019 With the emergency repair works to fix the serious roof leak in the Houses of Parliament proceed...