Archive for the ‘Tuesday writing conversation’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

September 19, 2017

Spraying the potatoes.

by Patrick Kavanagh

 

The barrels of blue potato-spray
Stood on a headland in July
Beside an orchard wall where roses
Were young girls hanging from the sky.

The flocks of green potato stalks
Were blossom spread for sudden flight,
The Kerr’s Pinks in frivelled blue,
The Arran Banners wearing white.

And over that potato-field
A lazy veil of woven sun,
Dandelions growing on headlands, showing
Their unloved hearts to everyone.

And I was there with a knapsack sprayer
On the barrel’s edge poised. A wasp was floating
Dead on a sunken briar leaf
Over a copper-poisoned ocean.

The axle-roll of a rut-locked cart
Broke the burnt stick of noon in two.
An old man came through a cornfield
Remembering his youth and some Ruth he knew.

He turned my way. ‘God further the work’.
He echoed an ancient farming prayer.
I thanked him. He eyed the potato drills.
He said: ‘You are bound to have good ones there’.

We talked and our talk was a theme of kings,
A theme for strings. He hunkered down
In the shade of the orchard wall. O roses
The old man dies in the young girl’s frown.

And poet lost to potato-fields,
Remembering the lime and copper smell
Of the spraying barrels he is not lost
Or till blossomed stalks cannot weave a spell.

 

 

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TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

September 12, 2017

A passage from Neil’s book: Neil McKenty Live!  The Lines Are Still Blazing.

Appendix

Earlier Years

Neil’s first speech given when he was nine years old

WHEN GRANDDAD WAS A BOY

I don’t see why the power has to go off just when we are listening to the last game of the world series.  I was cross and crosser still when Granddad, who was sitting on the porch next to me, began to chuckle.  ”Well, when I was a boy,” he commenced.  All thoughts of baseball and even the most thrilling game of the World Series were forgotten, for I knew that when Granddad began that way I was sure to hear something more interesting.  ”In those days we did not have radios, and not even electricity,” he went on, ”We used candles instead and we had to make them at home.”

”But Grandfather, how do you make candles?  I though you bought them from a store?”

”Well, the tallow was rendered from sheep and beef, poured into metal molds, perhaps a dozen at a time and allowed to harden.  My part of the work began then.  Often when I came home from school, I helped mother undo the knots at the bottom of the molds and pull them out from the top.  There were no flashlights in those days either.  We did the chores by the light of a home-made lantern in which one of those candles was placed.  By the light of those flickering tallow candles we studied our lessons.

We didn’t have the long summer holidays that you have now.  At one time they were only one week, then two weeks, and later they were for three weeks.  I spent mine at home helping with the crops.”

”Bur Grandfather, you work all the time – didn’t you have any fun?”

”Oh yes, but it was different from what you call fun.  We used to sit around the fire in the evenings when someone told stories, most often ghost stories.  There I would sit in the corner, listening and shivering, to creep off to bed as thirsty as I could be, because to run through that awful darkness from the house to the pump was more than I dared.  We all looked forward to getting to the fall fair.  It was one of the most important events of the year, and we certainly wasted no time in seeing that the potatoes were dug by the second week in October to make sure we could go.  We often went to our neighbours  to kelp with the work too, logging, threshing, husking, and woodcutting.  Then there was time for fun when we finished.

In those days we did not use a binder, but cradled the wheat.  Once fall at our farm, five or six men cradled 50 acres.  We had no time to bin the grain, but tied it with a band of the straw.  When the grain was threshed we took it to some of the nearest towns, Peterboro, Colborne and Trenton.  Once I had to take a load of 65 or 70 bushels of grain to market.  There were five or six teams, travelling and going to Brighton.  We got up at two o’clock in the morning because it was a whole day’s journey.  We took along hay to feed the horses as it was such a long trip.  The teams kept coming in from the whole countryside so that by nightfall there were 100 teams in Brighton.  When I went back to look for my team I couldn’t find them, there were so many horses in the barn.  Wen we went to church in those days the whole family went in the wagon for there were no buggies.  The first buggies were used around 1870.  They were rather clumsy, and there weren’t many of them.

”How far did you have to go, and how long did it take, Grandfather?”  I asked.

”It was about two miles and it took a half an hour.”

surely a difference from the few seconds it took me to get to church in my dad’s car, I thought.

”There were no milking machines or separators in those days either,” he went on.  ”We had about 18 or 20 cows at home.  The milk was put in earthen pans and set for the night.  In the morning it was skimmed.  We used dash churns to make the butter and it often took hours before any signs of butter appeared.  Butter was packed in firkins, small wooden tubs made by coopers in the nearby village.

Washing the sheep in the spring was hard work too.  They were sheared and wool rolled in a sheet or blanket, was pinned with thorns and taken to the carding mill in the village.  After that was done the rolls were taken home and the wool was spun into yarn by the women of the household on the spinning wheel.  It was now ready for the weaver, perhaps some local farmer, who had learned the art in the old country.  Then the full cloth and flannels were taken home to be made into clothes.  A tailor would go from house to house, sit on the table , and make the cuts.  Every boy had a new full cloth suit, bound with black braid, to start off to school in the fall.  And a new pair of boots, which were made by hand.  We made our own sleighs too, out of the staves of barrels with pieces of boards to hold them together.  We had just as much fun with them as you do now with a new toboggan.

 To be continued…

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

September 5, 2017

Another September

by Thomas Kinsella

 

Dreams fled away, this country bedroom, raw
With the touch of dawn, wrapped in a minor peace,
Hears through an open window the garden draw
Long pitch black breaths , lay bear its apple trees,
Ripe pear trees, brambles, windfall-sweethened soil,
Exhale rough sweetness against the starry slates.
Nearer the river sleeps St.Johns, all toil
Locked fast inside a dream with iron gates.
Domestic autumn, like an animal
Long used to handling by those countrymen,
Rubs her kind hide against the bedroom wall
Sensing a fragrant child come back again
– Not this half tolerated consciousness
That plants its grammar in her unyielding weather
But that unspeaking daughter, growing less
familiar where we fell asleep together.
Wakeful moth-wings blunder near a chair
Toss their light shell at the glass and go
To inhabit the living starlight,Stranded hair
Stirs on the still linen. It is as though
The black breathing that billows her sleep, her name,
Drugged under judgement, waned and – bearing daggers
And balances – down the lampless darkness they came,
Moving like women: Justice, Truth, such figures.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

August 29, 2017

 

 

Rhythm Of Life.

by Eileen Carney Hulme

 

The clock is silent
nowadays clocks no longer
need to make
that rhythmic sound of life.

We have moved on
and everything is changed
I am no longer sad
I don’t weep for you.

In still moments
I see you solitary, reflective-
running with the wind along the waterfront
with your Walkman on.

Radiowaves carry words
of a song we shared
and I am free to smile
at the thought of you.

Big and handsome
the scent of you
like a powerful beast lingers
untamed by this world.

I know you still swim with dolphins
in the cold North Sea
I know you still laugh
and drink wine with friends.

I know you live by the seasons
and time is not your enemy,
the clock is silent
I don’t weep for you, I weep for me.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

August 22, 2017

 

Who goes amid the green wood

By James Joyce

 

Who goes amid the green wood
With springtide all adorning her?
Who goes amid the merry green wood
To make it merrier?

Who passes in the sunlight
By ways that know the light footfall?
Who passes in the sweet sunlight
With mien so virginal?

The ways of all the woodland
Gleam with a soft and golden fire
For whom does all the sunny woodland
Carry so brave attire?

O, it is for my true love
The woods their rich apparel wear
O, it is for my own true love,
That is so young and fair.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

August 15, 2017

PitStop by Neil McKenty

It’s time to clear the air on euthanasia and assisted suicide

This fall the Charest government will consult Quebecers on euthanasia. Is it ever necessary? Is it morally wrong? Is it murder? Should it be a crime? Should doctors assist those who want to die?

These are a few of the knotty questions that must be faced in a discussion of euthanasia. Another involves the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide. If another party performs the last act that intentionally causes a patient’s death, that constitutes euthanasia. For example, giving a patient a lethal injection of morphine or suffocating her with a pillow would be considered euthanasia.

On the other hand, assisted suicide has taken place. So it would be assisted suicide if some one swallows an overdose of drugs that has been provided by another person for the purpose of causing death. When a doctor provides the means to die, that is called doctor-assisted suicide.

There is a debate now raging in England on euthanasia and assisted suicide that is a foretaste of what Quebecers can expect this fall. Two cases illustrate some of the major issues.

The first case involved a mother named Kay Gilderdale. She was charged with the murder of her 31-year-old daughter, Lynne, who suffered from myalgic encephalitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Lynn was paralyzed from the waist down, bedridden for 17 years, unable to swallow or speak, and communicated with her family through sign language.

Lynn dreaded losing what little dignity remained to her. She was in constant pain. Over the course of a year, she had written a long letter explaining why, and how much, she wanted to die.

The crisis came on a December night. Lynn tried to kill herself with morphine. She begged her mother to help her. Her mother did, then phoned their doctor to tell what she had done. She was charged with murder, but acquitted by a jury that heard of the countless times Lynn had asked her mother for help to die.

The other case ended differently. Frances Inglis administered a lethal dose of heroin to her son, Tom, who was in a persistent vegetative state after falling out of an ambulance. Inglis was found guilty of murder and sentenced to nine years in prison. One material difference in the two cases was that while Lynn had often expressed her wish to die – Tom had never done so.

These cases played out while the End of Life Assistance Bill was being introduced into Scotland’s parliament. The bill was introduced by Margo MacDonald, a highly respected politician who has Parkinson’s disease and has made it clear she does not want her husband prosecuted should she ask him to help her die.

“Dying is part of living,” she says.“It’ s the last act of your life, and if we accept the responsibility of how we live our lives, then I really fail to see where there is any demarcation of how we should die.” Under MacDonald’s bill, assisted suicide would be available to anyone over 16 who is terminally ill or permanently physically incapacitated. It would not be available to those with dementia or other degenerative mental conditions.

The suicide request must be made to a doctor and approved by a psychiatrist. This approval must be requested and accepted a second time after a “cooling off” period of 15 days. The bill also says the assisted suicide must be supervised by the approving doctor and that no one who stands to gain from the death can be involved. Close friends and family are not allowed to administer the lethal drug. MacDonald believes around 50 people a year would choose to die using this legislation.

Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, a close friend of MacDonald, is opposed to her bill.

“How can Margo think like that?” he asked. “I love and respect her so much. Life is a gift from almighty god. If he can give it, he can take that gift from us. But we can’t say: ‘God, I am finished with it. I can’t cope with cancer or Parkinson’s.’”

The church also argues that such a law would threaten the weakest and most vulnerable in society. The British Medical Society opposes the bill on the ground that resources should be concentrated on palliative medicine and alleviating the suffering of the dying. Peter Saunders, a former surgeon and director of Care Not Killing, says the bill is well intentioned but dangerous, raising the possibility that some elderly or terminally ill people see it as a means of pressuring them to have an “assisted death.” A number of Church of Scotland ministers are supporting the bill. Doctors with religious or moral objections would not be obliged to help any patient take his or her own life.

What is going on in Britain and Scotland indicates some of the issues that will rise when the Quebec government consults the population on this subject next fall.

Morality and public health policy are at the heart of the controversy.

We are getting older, living longer and health care at the end of life is taking a disproportionate number of health care dollars. A full-scale public debate on all these issues will help clear the air.

The senior times march 2010

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

July 25, 2017

Pit Stop By Neil McKenty

Time is ripe for a new political party in Quebec

Now that hunting season has begun, it behooves most Quebec politicians to head for the hills.

According to all the surveys, the popularity of the province’s politicians is dropping like a wounded duck. And this applies to both Ottawa and Quebec City.

A Léger poll shows the level of satisfaction with the federal Conservatives has dropped a full seven points. Only one in five Quebecers is happy with the political leadership in Ottawa.

The results were similarly dismal for the provincial Liberals. The level of dissatisfaction with Premier Jean Charest’s government is at a record-breaking 77 per cent, with only 28 per cent saying they would vote Liberal in the next provincial election. Support for the Parti Québécois stood at 34 per cent.

These figures must be seen in the context of a provincial scene where most of the news is negative. Whether it is the dirty linen on judge’s appointments being aired at the Bastarache commission, the ever-rising cost of health care, controversial language legislation or the government’s refusal to investigate the construction industry, there is not much for the ordinary voter to be happy about.

All this means that Charest, who must face an election within three years, is in dire straits politically. But the PQ leader, Pauline Marois, is right in there with him.

Let’s face it. Although Marois has been in public life for three decades, she has never really caught on, either with her own party or with the electorate generally. This could become more evident when she faces a leadership review next spring.

Unlike the Liberals who cherish their leaders so long as they are in power, the separatists seem to view their chieftans with considerable suspicion. As Don Macpherson writes in the Gazette: “Liberals are disciplined and remain loyal to a leader, especially when they are in power, until he loses an election. Péquistes, on the other hand, are impatient, nervous and suspicious of any leader not named Jacques Parizeau. Since they last held power in 2003, they’ve already had three leaders.”

What’s more, unlike the Charest Liberals, the PQ has a potential leader prowling around the precincts. That would be Gilles Duceppe, who is getting long in the tooth in federal politics. Duceppe threatened to run against Marois once before. This time, if she really stumbles, he might go through with it.

So what we have now in the province is a Liberal government that is dead in the water and a PQ opposition that is not exactly setting the heather afire. What better time to fly a trial balloon about a new party?

A group of former politicians (Péquistes François Legault and Joseph Facal) and business people think the time is ripe for a new party that would regroup federalists and sovereigntists around a centre-right agenda and leaving the “national question” aside.

A new poll shows that such a new party would win 30 per cent of the votes in a Quebec election, with the PQ at 27 per cent and the Liberals at 25 per cent. If nothing else, these results suggest there is a deep desire in the population to break through the federalist-separatist division to some third force that would concentrate on the economic and social well-being of Quebec.

Such a party would emphasize fiscal restraint and smaller government. But would the Quebec voter buy into such a program? Ironically, this is what Charest wanted to implement when he first took office eight years ago. Charest, a small-c conservative, hoped to cut back on Quebec’s bloated bureaucracy, reduce some services and cut taxes.

But Charest discovered to his chagrin that he could carry neither his cabinet nor his caucus on a program of serious fiscal restraint. The government was even afraid to raise the rates for electricity, something practically all economists urged them to do. Recently all it took was the prospect of a coming by-election for Finance Minister Raymond Bachand to shelve plans to impose user fees for medical visits.

So attractive as a new party might be, especially one that jettisoned the sovereignty question, it is not at all clear that it would be able to sell a policy of fiscal restraint, the very policy that Charest could not sell when he first came into office.

Furthermore, as Lysiane Gagnon has pointed out, the new Legault party looks much like the old Mario Dumont party. The Action démocratique du Quebec was also based on a centre-right agenda and a moderate nationalist approach (for most of its life it did not even take sides in the sovereignty debates). One difference is that Legault’s movement was born in Montreal and might eventually attract more high-profile personalties than the ADQ, whose scope was limited to eastern Quebec.

What this new party does right out of the gate is underline popular dissatisfaction with the two old parties. Another election is not required until 2013. That leaves plenty of time for the Liberals to replace Charest and for the PQ to do a makeover on Marois (or replace her with Duceppe.)

In the meantime, a group that has no leader and no name is more popular than the two other parties who have both. No wonder the politicians are heading for the hills.

Published on Nov.2010

The Senior Times

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

July 11, 2017

 

 

Tis The Last Rose Of Summer

 

‘Tis the last rose of summer,

Left blooming alone;

All her lovely companions

Are faded and gone;

No flower of her kindred,

No rose-bud is nigh,

To reflect back her blushes,

Or give sigh for sigh.

 

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!

To pine on the stem;

Since the lovely are sleeping,

Go sleep thou with them.

Thus kindly I scatter

Thy leaves o’er the bed,

Why thy mates of the garden

Lie scentless and dead.

 

So soon may I follow,

When friendships decay,

And from love’s shining circle

The gems drop away.

When true heart lie wither’d,

And fond ones are flown,

Oh! who would inhabit

This bleak world alone?

 

 

By Thomas Moore.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

July 4, 2017

 

 

 

Catharine writes:

One third of Neil’s listeners were francophones. During that first referendum he kept everyone talking on his CJAD open-line show. He also interviewed Premier René Lévesque on the show more than once, with the last time being only a couple of week before Lévesque’s death.

A well-known Montreal lawyer later told me that without Neil’s efforts to keep people listening to each other there could have been violence on the streets of Montreal.

My question is: is there anyone out there in the United States in the midst of this divisive election keeping people listening to each other? The most divisive in US history. Is CNN doing that with its’ panels of commentators from both sides? My impression is they are trying hard – what do you think?

Got something you want to share on the blog e-mail me at: linesarestillblazing@gmail.com

To see all the videos of Neil’s TV show, visit the YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrJeanpl

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

June 27, 2017

The Senior Times

Pit Stop by Neil McKenty

Pope’s reaction to Williamson curious and disappointing

It is now clear that Catholic-Jewish relations have been seriously damaged by the Vatican’s lifting the excommunication of a schismatic bishop who is a Holocaust denier.

Vatican authorities claim Pope Benedict XVI was unaware of the anti-Semitic attacks that Bishop Richard Williamson has launched in the past. Is this claim credible? Williamson’s diatribes have been in the public domain for years. In 1989, for example, Canadian police considered filing charges against Williamson under Canada’s hate speech laws after he gave an address in Quebec charging that Jews were responsible for“changes and corruption” in the Catholic church, that“not one Jew”perished in Nazi gas chambers, and that the Holocaust was a myth created so that the West would “approve the State of Israel.”

Williamson also praised the writings of Ernst Zundel, the Germanborn Canadian immigrant whose works include Did Six Million Really Die? and The Hitler We Loved and Why, both considered mainstays of Holocaust denial literature.

A 2008 piece in England’s Catholic Herald documented Williamson’s anti-Semitic record and included a judgement from Shimon Samuels, director of international relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to the effect that Williamson is “the Borat of the schismatic Catholic far-right.” Samuels also said at the time that Williamson is “a clown, but a dangerous clown.”

To be sure, the subjects of Williamson’s controversial views are not confined to Jews. He has also suggested that the 9/11 bombings were not the result of airplanes hijacked by terrorists but rather “demolition charges,” has criticized The Sound of Music for a lack of respect for authority and has expressed sympathy for what he described as the “remotely Catholic sense” of the Unabomber for the dangers of technology.

A number of strong voices have spoken to condemn Rome’s rehabilitation of Bishop Williamson and none more so than Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who reminded the Pope that in her country denying the Holocaust is a crime. Several Jewish groups have suspended all dialogue with the Catholic Church and, by all accounts, the French bishops are furious. Recently the New York Times questioned why no U.S. or Canadian bishops had publicly deplored the Williamson scandal.

It is also curious that the moderate German Cardinal Walter Kasper was not consulted in this whole damaging affair. Cardinal Kasper is the head of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Jews.

Nevertheless, the Vatican moved swiftly to try to contain the widespread damage done by the Williamson affair. The Pope confirmed that he was looking forward to his visit to Israel this May. The Secretariat of State said that Bishop Williamson must retract his views unequivocally if he is ever to serve as a bishop in the Catholic Church. In the meantime Bishop Williamson has been dismissed from his post running a seminary in Argentina and the government there has expelled him from the country.

To make matters worse, the Pope named a new bishop in Austria whose well-known public utterances are as outrageous – he described Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans as divine punishment for homosexuality and abortion, and the Harry Potter books as Satanic – as Bishop Williamson’s are evil.

This appointment raised such a storm of opposition in the Austrian Church that the appointment has been rescinded. The irony here is that when a bishop is appointed the diocesan authorities submit three names for the Pope’s consideration. In the Austrian case the Pope rejected the three names and appointed another candidate so unpopular he had to withdraw.

There may well be a silver lining to the affair in Austria. If the Vatican backed down because of opposition at the local level, will this set a precedent for future Episcopal appointments. At the very least it would seem that Rome must take more seriously the views of the local church. In fact, this would be in the spirit of Vatican 11, which urged a more collegial governance for the Church.

Both the fracas over Bishop Williamson and the aborted appointment in Austria beg the question of whether the universal Catholic Church can be competently led by a small group of male celibates isolated in Rome. It is a question that requires an urgent answer.

Originally published in March 2009

Jean P.