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The Olympic Contest

History of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal

It was true that Frank’s father had a somewhat obsessive compulsive nature but he was, for the most part, a peaceful man. This particular obsession, though, could be laid squarely at the feet of Barleybix breakfast cereal and their contest to win an all-expenses paid trip to the Montreal Olympics. The Olympics were a particular passion for both of them. Every four years they would rent a TV and watch the events from dawn to dusk in grainy black and white. Frank’s father dreamed of one day attending this fabulous sporting event but for a single parent on the dole, this was unlikely to happen.

Barleybix changed all that. For one thing, they ate a lot of it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not that Frank minded much but as his father was determined to win the grand prize and as the Olympics were still six months away, meal times became a little bland.

Every week his father sent off another entry and every week he bought seven new boxes of the cereal. Every day, Frank found Barleybix in his school lunchbox (chucked over the hedge at Mrs. Brown’s house on the corner before he reached the bus stop). Longing for a change of pace, Frank bought loaves of bread and chunks of cheese with his pocket money.

1976 Summer Olympics - Wikipedia
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Of Hope and Tomato Plants

I have sad news. Lucinda has died. But before you break out the tissues, not to mention the thoughts and prayers,  I have to come clean and admit that Lucinda was a tomato plant; two tomato plants if we’re being precise but all one to me. Let’s back-peddle for a moment.

Lucinda was seeded during June 2019. Yes, very late for the season but I had a lot of work on and procrastination is my middle name. She took her own sweet time about germinating and didn’t put in a plant-like appearance until the end of August, when everything else on the balcony was ending its run. Perhaps she didn’t like the competition or the winds that sweep around our third floor apartment but she was spindly and stubborn, and growth was slow. Her first fruit appeared in early October, when I had given up hope of there ever being any and, given imminent Canadian frost, feared for her survival. As November loomed, I gave up and moved her inside, parking her beside the glass balcony door. She loved this new location and immediately grew up the bookcase behind her, flopping over at the top when she reached the ceiling.

Lucinda in her prime

Lucinda was a cherry tomato plant and she fruited abundantly all through the winter of 2019/20. As news of the gathering pandemic grew, she cheered us up with her bright baubles of juicy delishness. We went into lockdown a year ago this weekend. While trapped indoors for most of the six weeks, my first stop on my morning trip to the kitchen was to greet Lucinda, touch her leaves and make sure she was comfortable. In the true spirit of give and take, during those dark and dreary times, she would offer up another tiny tomato every few days.

The Red Cap

Jerome thought long an’ hard ‘bout wearin’ the red cap to his session with Charlie “The Sheep” Mouton, and his friend Sax.  He’d found it in a dumpster out back of the Piggly Wiggly. Brand new it looked. What would a feller be doin’ throwin’ away a good cap like that? This one had letters on. Jerome couldn’t read too good but he sure knew what they were. MAGA. Make ‘Merica Great Again. That’s what it was.  Jerome weren’t sure ‘bout that. Ain’t never been nothin’ great for him. Ain’t never been nothin’ great for anyone he knew, ‘cept these days folks was dyin’ faster and nothing done to take away the pain. Make ‘Merica Great Again. Well it sure weren’t that, no sir! He shoulda voted last time. Preacher said it was your duty. Jerome didn’t know ‘bout that either. See, them fellers calling theyselves Governors and such, they didn’t know nothin’ ‘bout the likes of Jerome and Charlie “The Sheep” and Sax. Them in their fancy cars and their fancy houses and their fancy plastic wives in their fancy clothes. Never knew a day’s hunger in all their born days. No sir! Jerome’s way of thinkin’ they were the real ignorant ones. They knew nothin’ ‘bout anything couldn’t be bought. They knew nothin’ ‘bout the simple things, like pickin’ bass and suckin’ back beers; your best friends blowin’ the sweet lovin’ Jesus outta their horns and all the folks gatherin’ ‘round on a Sat’day afternoon. Yes sir! That’s where the riches was. That’s where ‘Merica was great. No need to make it into anythin’ else. Them rich folks was just too dumb to see. There was riches everywhere, had nothin’ to do with money.

Jerome set the cap square on his head and looked in his scabby ol’ mirror. MAGA. Music and Gratitude ‘Merica! That’s what it’ll stand for now. All the rest of it belonged in that dumpster; all them liars and cheaters and grifters. Music was where it was at. Jerome grinned at himself, picked up his bass, locked his door and headed for Charlie’s.

Clo Carey – January 2021

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Clarissa’s Christmas Eve

Reblogging with a nod to the day that is in it! Merry Christmas!

Teetering on the Edge

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Clarissa opened one eye and waited for the excitement to hit her. It was Christmas Eve. What delights awaited: The lighting of the tree, the sugar plums, the stockings hanging, Papa carrying her up to bed. But that was long ago and she was here and now. It was Christmas Eve and she was alone. She struggled to push off her covers and clamber out of bed. She was sure, if she could hear them, her old bones were rattling. Clarissa gritted her teeth. She would not be blue. Christmas Eve was her favourite day of the year but despite all, she could feel the black dog edging closer in the grovelling crawl that dogs adopt, thinking you can’t see what they’re up to.

“Be gone!” she said, turning her back on darkness and summoning happier thoughts. She would wear her blue empire waist dress with the puffed sleeves and…

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I See the Future: it is near

*this piece was originally written in October 2020. Re-posting again because, well…

Most of the crowd arrived last night, happy to sleep rough; secure a decent spot.  The dawn rain did little to dampen their enthusiasm as the weight of the last four tyrannical years lifted from their shoulders.

Now things would improve. 

Now there would be jobs and healthcare and housing and food and vaccines.

The ultra-rich would be taxed and the poor would not. Life would return to some semblance of normal, where people were kinder; death no longer stalked the streets.

The air might be filled with the stench of unwashed bodies but it crackled with excitement and ballooning hope. Rumors spread like wildfire as dignitary after dignitary was escorted to their seats.

“There’s the Canadian fella.”

“Is that Tom Cruise?”

“Lift me up, I can’t see.”

They made friends with strangers they’d never see again and laughed and joked; sharing booze and food.

“He’s coming”

“It’s too early.”

“I can’t wait.”

“Pass that joint.”

Campaign Camping

“I’m going campaigning, Grandad.”

“Camping are ya? It’s a mite parky for that in’t it?”

“No Grandad, campaigning.”

“Oh, yer joinin’ t’military then?”

“What’s military got to do with campaigning?”

“That’s what they do, armies, they have campaigns, war and such.”

“Oh that’s not like my campaign. My campaign is potstickical.”

“Potstickical?”

“Yeah, I’m going to a potstician.”

“A Potstician, eh?”

“Yeah like you see on the tele. I’m going to be on the tele and I’m going to stand up and shout at other people and have no manners.”

“Oh you’ll be going out on the stump then, I suppose.”

“I don’t think trees have anything to do with it, Grandad. You never see trees when they shout at people.”

“You’ll see ‘em if ya go campin’.”

“Campaigning, Grandad.  I’m going to run.”

“Where you runnin’ to?”

“I don’t know where ever they tell me.”

“Not many voters when yuh go campin’”

“Grandad!”

“Alright so what are you campaigning for then, if it’s potstickical?”

“I’m going to be President of the Not Very United States or Prime Minister of Not Very Great Britain.”

“I see, and ‘ow do you think you qualify for those jobs, then?”

“Well, Daddy said the President had the mental age of a six year old and Mummy said the Prime Minister had the mental of a six year old and I’m six nearly seven so I think I would be qua…qua…qualifilled for whichever job they wanted me for.”

“Yes, yes, I get your point. You’d certainly be a vast improvement on what we ‘ave now.”

“He’s trustworthy, loyal, obedient, cheerful, and all that, but he leans to the left.”
Christmas Camping | Ako's Cartoons

Clo Carey – October 2020

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Brown Shoes

Brown shoes! Why had he worn brown shoes? He was playing Death for Chrissakes. Everyone knew that Death wore black shoes. Black suit, black shoes. It said so on the costume list. Every year the same. Sister Concertina would never forgive him; that mouth of hers bunched up like a sundried tomato. And the bishop would be all for excommunicating him. After all, it wasn’t often that a member of the congregation was allowed to audition for the annual production of Everyman. He had given it his best shot and he hadn’t got the part. Father Flynn did; pompous git that he was. Joe got to be understudy. But then Father Flynn had tied on one too many at the yacht club last Saturday night, went out in his yacht, and hadn’t been seen since. That had worked out well.

Now Joe had his big chance. Everyone said he was perfect for the part with his rangy frame and his lugubrious disposition. But brown shoes? He would have to perform in his socks. Yes, that would do the trick. No one would notice. Joe looked around the empty church. Where could he hide his shoes? Kicking them off, he nipped up to the altar and stuck them under the cloth. Sure there was a bit of a bulge but no one would notice. They’d all be focused on the play. He tiptoed down the steps and sat again, waiting. The church bell tolled seven times. Wait a minute, where is everyone? With panic rising, Joe checked his mobile. Mon, April 12. Shite, the performance was last night. Why had no one called him? He’d missed his big break, him and his brown shoes.

Brown Shoe Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

 

Clo Carey – May 2020

Blog challenge @www.emilybowers.ca/ https://wordsbywhittall.blogspot.com/ @passionate_perspective @https://www.facebook.com/groups/1470587219691626 #amwriting

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The Ring

My grandmother died when I was six. All of her jewelry was parceled out among the female members of the family, my aunts, and my mother. Mum being the only daughter may have received slightly more, I don’t really know. I do remember she came home one day with a bag full of old fashioned looking rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Most of it was handed down from her grandmother but none were of any special value. On special occasions, or when she was fed up with my pestering, these treasures were hauled out for me to look at.

Mum was a modern woman. She liked teak furniture and clean lines. At the time, her own few bits of jewelry were mid-century style, angular and stark. She would never wear any of that old stuff. I, on the other hand, loved it!

Fast forward to the days when signet rings became the rage at my school. Of course, I had no money to buy one, so I pleaded and pleaded and was finally allowed to wear a ring that looked like a signet ring to me. It fit perfectly on my pinky finger and the prerequisite gold setting, in the center of which was an oval of what might have been well-worn glass, with the vaguest hint of something underneath. Inside, the ring was engraved with a name and a date that had been largely worn off.

Through my studies of the family tree, I knew the name belonged to my great, great grandmother and so I thought this ring was probably hers. I wore it proudly even though it bore no resemblance to the shiny new bloodstone rings that were sported by my school friends.

I wore the ring for some years, not even taking it off to wash my hands for fear I would leave it somewhere. After a while, the colour under the scratched glass area changed from a browny grey to a weird shade of green. Puzzled I showed it to Mum. She had never really examined the ring before and gave a bit of a laugh. “I think that it’s a Victorian mourning ring,” she said. “And the hair inside has gone mouldy.”

Hair? What do you mean hair? That’s when I learnt about memento mori. I had been wearing a lock of my great, great grandmother’s hair on my hand all that time. I’m not particularly squeamish but as a teenager, I didn’t really share my Victorian ancestors’ fondness for carrying their remains on my person. Not too long after that, I was presented with a bloodstone signet ring of my ownm giving me the ideal good excuse to tuck great, great granny and her mouldy hair into the drawer where she languishes still.

 

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Image – Clo Carey

 

For those who are interested –

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pgqnjk/victorian-fashionistas-jewelry-human-hair

https://archive.org/details/selfinstructorin00camp/page/n17/mode/2up

Clo Carey – April/20

Blog Challenge Writing Prompt – Write about a piece of jewelry

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The Golden Parachute

They call it a golden parachute. I called it the get-out-of-jail-free card; the lump sum that hits you on the way out of the same door that you’ve entered all your working life. That was before my new reality landed. I was paid off, good and simple. Redundant! On the scrap heap. My office chair occupied by a cute young thing, niece of the CEO, goddaughter of the area manager, fluff. Thirty years of service but nepotism rules. Oh, they gave me the party. Pot-luck with balloons and noisemakers and Betty from accounting’s leathery lasagne. There were a few teary eyes; none of them were mine.

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Richard Hughes image

The problem going forward was what to DO. I was single, not particularly attractive, not especially talented and just going on fifty. Half a century isn’t a whole life, is it? I have never DONE anything; always preferred to take my two weeks paid leave as extra days tacked onto long weekends during which I read books, caught up with my laundry, went out with the girls, patted the cat. Thirty years of nothing much at all.

As parachutes go it wasn’t exactly winning the lottery. One year’s wages and that didn’t add up to much. No recourse to getting anything more out of the tight-fisted bastards once I accepted it either, but it was that or the firing squad, so what’s a girl to do? Apply for another job? Sit tight until pension time? Invest the nest egg wisely? I’ve been sensible for thirty years. Time for a change in direction.

Now that I’ve got time on my hands, my hands turn to Google and I’m searching out all the places I’d like to see. Bucket list places, like Iceland and Italy and Ireland. A quick figuring of the cost of it all and I’m reckoning I could blow the parachute in six months, no problemo. Then I ease on over to thinking road trip. If I got myself one of those camper vans, me and the cat could drive across Canada and back across the US (political situation having hopefully improved); put my stuff in storage; save on rent. Yes, I could just about manage that. I cover my small dining table with maps and plans and notes and guidebooks, planning a future for the first time in my life.

And it all goes really well. My notice on the apartment is given. The movers and the storage unit booked. I find a cheap camper on Kijiji, a little worn around the edges but it’s mine. It’s a sort of pinky-beige and has a roof rack. I call it Moose. It even has a toilet and shower and a kitchen and a fold out bed which the cat dozes off on, so it is definitely cat approved. I take a week to clean it out until it sparkles. Then I drop some of the parachute on the mechanic who sighs a lot while inspecting under the hood and even more when he gets it up on the hoist.

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Pinterest image no attribution

A week before we are to leave, my mother comes to ‘visit’. She arrives at the apartment carrying a chocolate mousse and a suitcase. She has left husband number five and came over as soon as she finished her bridge game. She will stay until she finds another man, she says. I explain that I no longer have a job and I will be leaving soon. The only thing that she takes from the conversation is the number of noughts in the golden parachute. My mother likes money immensely. She just can’t hang onto it. I tell her she can stay until the movers arrive. After that she’s on her own, even without another man. She hangs around eating chocolate mousse; drinking my beer; painting her nails; posting her profile on dating sites.

I keep busy packing the camper. In go my food, my clothes, my cash, and treats for the cat. We are ready for the off. On the last morning I ride with the movers to the storage unit. Then I walk back through familiar streets. It’s sunny with a hint of Spring in the air. I breathe deep and stride along. The future awaits. I’m prepared, I exhilarated. When I round the last corner I break into a run. The camper is gone, and so is my mother, and so is the cat.

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iStock image

 

Clo Carey – April/20

Blog Challenge One Word Prompt – Mousse/Moose

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An Invitation to the Movies – The Patrick Carey Collection

Yesterday, the Irish Film Institute launched a collection of my father, Patrick Carey’s Irish documentary films on the IFI online player. My brother and I are absolutely delighted that these wonderful, creative films have been digitised and are now free for virtual viewing worldwide. On behalf of Dad, we would like to invite you to grab the popcorn,  sit down, relax and enjoy these beautiful and unique works. Just follow the link-

 

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The Patrick Carey Collection

The Irish Film Institute is today proud to announce the release of The Patrick Carey Collection on the IFI Player, the IFI’s virtual viewing room for materials digitised from the IFI Irish Film Archive. The collection is free-to-view worldwide at www.ifiplayer.ie and via the IFI Player suite of apps.

Patrick Carey (1916-1994) was a two-time Oscar-nominated director who is best-known for his series of lyrical, observational and reflective films depicting the landscape, flora and fauna of Ireland. Allowing the countryside to speak for itself, his beautiful images of crashing waves, misty mountain peaks and breathtaking sunsets are often presented without narration, their soundscapes provided simply by audio recordings of nature and, occasionally, scores by Irish musicians. Many of the films have been digitally remastered by the IFI Irish Film Archive from original 16mm and 35mm prints.

Carey was born in London in 1916. His family moved to Dublin in 1923, where he studied painting at art school before returning to London. He began to work as a photographer and cameraman on nature programmes and documentaries both nationally and internationally. In the early 1960s, he returned to Ireland and established Aengus Films in 1964 with his wife, Vivien.

His first film Yeats Country (1965), commissioned by the then Department of External Affairs, achieved huge international recognition and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subjects in 1966. He was nominated in same category again in 1971 for his film Oisín, the story of Celtic warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s son.

The collection is thematically diverse, delving into a wide range of subjects. Ireland’s pagan festival Samhain and its megalithic tombs are examined in Mists of Time; the stunning mountains of Donegal take centre-stage in Errigal; the relentless landscape of the west of Ireland is featured in Waves; the beautiful, desolate countryside of the Beara Peninsula of West Cork is explored in Beara; while invaluable insights into traditional, rural daily life is the focus of Reflections – Ireland.

Commenting on the release of The Patrick Carey Collection, IFI Director Ross Keane said, ‘The striking work of Patrick Carey is a very welcome addition to the IFI Player. His Oscar-nominated films not only showcase the beauty of the Irish landscape, they are also an important part of the Irish literary and folklore canon. Carey’s artistic and technical skill was undeniable, and we are proud to make these seven films available free to audiences across the world.’

Acclaimed director Pat Collins has contributed to a special introduction which is also available as part of the collection.

Carey was also well-known as a second unit camera operator throughout his life, and worked on classic films including Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975) and James Hill’s Black Beauty (1971), as well as a second unit director on Fred Zinnemann’s A Man For All Seasons (1966).

The Patrick Carey Collection joins a wealth of other materials preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive, which holds over 30,000 cans of film dating from 1897. Other collections currently available free-to-view worldwide include The Irish Adverts Project, featuring restored ads from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s; The Irish Independence Film Collection, a treasure trove of repatriated newsreel material from British Pathé, exploring a tumultuous time in Ireland’s history; and the Loopline Collection Vol. 1, a collection of short films and documentaries from Sé Merry Doyle’s acclaimed production company Loopline Productions.

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