Blog Dis

When your brain runs on the fuel of imagination, it feels like the wheels never stop turning. It's high time that I blog a series and call it 'Getting', as in Getting On, Getting Off, Getting Enough and Getting Along" so here's the first installment.

"Getting on in years," is an expression that we easily and casually trot out when we're referring to our pets and cars and sometimes our grandparents or worse our better half. Tsk. Tsk. I'm guilty of having used this expression myself more than once during those years when I'd refer to my mature kitties after they had surpassed that magical timeline of 10+ years, which for felines is a big deal. My female kitty lived for 14 years and my male for 16 years.

Unlike our youth, as we get on in years, some of our peculiar habits that were intrinsic to our natures, or at least we believe they were, will likely diminish to the point of not being demonstrated or recognized at all. A good example is staying out to all hours, and refusing to adhere to the standard practice of observing a regimented work schedule, according to the norm, which requires you to get your fanny into bed at a reasonable hour. My female kitty caroused at night in my living room, making noises and getting into fights with her brother, or she'd knock things over, and spread kitty litter to the four corners. At one time too, I couldn't sit on the couch w/o her coming up to me to be brushed, pushing her head into my chest, purring before I'd even pick up the brush. But as she had aged past 14 yrs, she barely emerged out of her cubby hole, using it like a hiding place, what all cats do when their time is near. Nor was she active at night or clamoring to be brushed. I've held this opinion that while humans are vested with the power to reflect on our actions and those of others, animals don't reflect as do with, and therefore they accept, not consciously mind you, but rather automatically; they accept their old age and the inevitable decline, until meeting their death.

When the time comes at this definitive point in your life, will you accept the end with equanimity as much as death will accept you?

Getting on in life means you're entering into that cycle when your body and its vitality is winding down, to where, I don't really know but down you and I and all animals, insects, plants and even the inanimate objects like buildings and other man-made structures on this planet will surely go, down to a place where decay is the natural process and the end marks the disbursement of your special energy. When we're getting on in life we should've reached that place in our lives when reconciliation has long occurred for all the stupidity and regrets we acquired in our waking moments, for those times when our hard-headed thinking had prevented us from seeing the obvious. Old age does this to you, clarifies the maybe and what-ifs, transforming them into the real, for the most part, not discounting the fact that some lose their faculties altogether and perhaps for good reason.

I cried both times when I put down my two kitties; first my female Nutmeg to be followed two years down the road by her brother, Brando. Both were the sweetest little heartbeats with whom I had shared my space. Losing them was a kick in the pants, as it forced me to reflect on the passage of time and how long I'd taken care of these fur-babies, and how much time had left its mark on me.

You may recall that famous line from the HBO Series, The Sopranos, when Paulie declares to Tony, "First its the teeth to go, then it's the eyes, then it hurts to take a piss." I fear it will be something like that, though if you've placed some focus on moderation and didn't drink a bathtub of homemade gin every day, or smoke a truckload of cigarettes until you coughed up black sludge, went so-so on the sugar intake (by avoiding pop drinks) and maybe made an effort to eat a reasonably balanced diet, plus exercise regularly... there's a good chance your end will feel less harrowing, then say those who accepted their fate at the outset and didn't apply discipline on any level, for any length of time, thinking why bother?

When I studied political science, taking night courses at University, to include correspondence courses, I discovered Henry David Thoreau (American essayist, poet and naturalist; d. 1862) and his essay that argued the value of civil disobedience in an unjust state. Mr. Thoreau wrote one of my favourite pieces of text of all time, which continues to inspire me to this day, and that is to suck the marrow out of life, until I look into the empty hull of a hollowed bone, knowing that before I get to the point of no return, that I've gone to a few places, seen and done a few questionable things.

This is all any of us can hope to achieve, to leave behind a trace like some words and deeds to remind ourselves, our friends and dearest family and the Universe that we possessed the power at one time to inspire the next generation.
As I walked in the downtown core in the city I adore, Ottawa, I was drawn to a poster taped to a pole at one intersection - a large, brightly coloured poster that stated Wanted for the Destruction of the Planet , specifically referencing our current Prime Minister, to include one Cabinet Minister, whom some might be inspired to call a henchman. This got me to thinking about women's rights, Canadian policy and how it impacts us and the effect on the world at large.

I've thrived in Canada all my life, occasionally living in different provinces from time to time. We in Canada are far from perfect, and neither are our government policies. Some of our more controversial projects like the Alberta tar sands, selling off Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic circle, or backing out on aspects of the Kyoto protocol (replaced by the Paris Agreement) to protect the environment, are just a few that come to mind. Most recently Canada came under fire for failing to meet our defence spending targets of 2% of our GDP. I could go on, as I'm sure you could as well with regard to your own country's policies.

I have a begrudging respect for politicians bcus of the seven+ years I worked on Parliament Hill, supporting two Tory Members of Parliament, and the first-hand exposure to how our federal government operates. Politicians work hard, probably a lot harder than most realize. They pull long hours during the week, in Ottawa when the House is sitting, and then every Friday they return to their constituencies to work locally in their riding offices, all throughout the weekend, attending events, and dealing with issues that come up. The marriages of many politicians end up in the toilet, given that their spouse didn't necessarily sign up for the long hours, or to be married to the life of a busy politician. Despite this, and for those without firsthand experience, it's easy for non-political people to hate politicians, those who haven't volunteered to help out on a campaign to elevate their local politician, or those who've never worked in a riding office or directly on a political association. One of the main reasons, I believe, why we hate politicians with such fervor has a lot to do with their pre-election boasting, swearing on a stack of Bibles to promise the moon with a fence around it, only to backpaddle on their promise once voted into office.

A good example would be one of Ontario's premiers, Dalton McGuinty, who demonstrated a fine example of a flip-flopping postulator who promised before getting into office that he wouldn't raises taxes. He had even signed a declaration to that effect which aired on TV commercials when he was wooing the public. And the very next day, and I mean literally the very next day, after being voted into office as Ontario's Premier, he retracted his promise and raised taxes, citing reasons that re-directed the blame toward the previous administration, which left him with no choice but to raise taxes. This act of betrayal, as far as I'm concerned, is reason enough to hate politicians. I take a more radical approach now, and feel that politicians when in campaigning mode, should be obligated to wear top hat and tails, and to hold a long black cane, for when they come to your door; to sing a dance as they unfurl their long list of promises. Then we, as the people, as the duped voters, could open our door and hurl ripe tomatoes at them. It seems a fair trade, tomatoes for lies.

I've voted in every Federal election since I was given the right to vote at the age of 18 in Canada. I'm a firm proponent of the right to vote. I'm also mindful of the fact that brave women came before me who suffered greatly to convince the British privy council to grant women the right to vote. Our wonderful suffragettes opened the door for women in other Commonwealth countries. Yet, and despite my appreciation of these efforts, would someone please tell me where's the integrity in the process of democracy?

Integrity... let me say it again, integrity! Integrity isn't about being perfect or having an impeccable record. Integrity is about keeping your word. Do as you say you will and don't offer up a bagful of "my dog ate my homework" excuses. I say this all the time to female friends, to state that the number one quality I look for in relationships is integrity; in co-workers, superiors and corporate Executives. In fact, integrity is the one benchmark I look for in choosing male partners before I take our involvement to any level, if there is reason to do so. A man with integrity will think before he speaks, will apply thoughtful action before acting, to those whose lives he touches. Whereas, a man of zero integrity doesn't possess in abundance moral wholeness or soundness in deed. Regrettably, these are the qualities too often present in politicians.

The longevity of political tenure is more often than not linked and dependent upon forming relationships with big business that allow them to grow the economy. As the voting public, we base our decisions on whether or not our economy has been kind to us. And there are a number of ways of measuring economic success, and one in particular is child care support, lowering the property taxes on retired seniors, and providing dental care and accessible healthcare to the impoverished.

I also know when it's high time for me to end my blog diatribes because on this subject I can feel my blood-pressure rising. Canada's next federal election is far away, and the Writ doesn't have to officially drop until Nov 2025. Whereas, the next U.S. President will be chosen November 5, 2024. And, considering what just happened this past Saturday with an assassination attempt, I'll be glued to see what comes in the next four months. But when Canada's voting time comes around, and if you're a woman, and I catch you saying aloud in my company, "I can't be bothered to vote... it doesn't make a difference..." 😡Understand that the opposite of having the right to vote is having this right removed from you, a status you do not want to return to, given how hard others fought to give you this right. Take it seriously. Take your local politician to task before you cast your vote. Look at the reversal of Roe vs Wade in the U.S. to inspire you to vote. All it takes is one brick to be removed in the wall of rights, and how it applies to both sexes, and watch as more bricks come tumbling down. This is my greatest fear for women in the U.S. that their Republican nominee will set about to remove more rights from women.

Women's rights are human rights: the right for an equal voice. So I shall repeat myself: don't let me catch you dismissing this invaluable right, to be able to cast your vote. And rather than resort to violence, know that I'm very good at delivering tongue-lashings.
Your eyes of danger look to me
like spirals of black and white,
revolving in clockwise swirls
you hypnotize me.

Across the country of my thoughts,
returning to the evening
of this grand night, I bid you farewell
to you and flesh gesturing.

Now in my morning bed,
I feed you strawberries and breast.
And tastes of sours and sweets
explode in your mouth, when I sit.

COPYRIGHT © Patricia K McCarthy
Friends are not a dime a dozen. Friends are precious and far and few between and the ones in between are at times like a light switch, turning on and off when it suits their fancy. We've all experienced periods when our friends are preoccupied with their lives, that they have very little time to spare for anyone else but their immediate needs, such as work, family and the biggie of them all, that entity that causes more emotional stress than anything... yes, THE RELATIONSHIP! (And same applies to ourselves as well, right? That we too are often given to distractions in life).

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Luck is one of those nebulous words that has a wide range of implications. What one person feels is lucky another might construe as happenstance. Luck is not there for everyone because if you were to ponder the situation on a global level, those born and forced to live out their lives in developing countries could hardly be considered lucky, when compared to the opulence of some European and Arab countries, to include the wealth of North America. We regard luck as a facet of our personalities, based on our life experiences and whether or not luck has been our friend or our foe.

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Spill blood
for what, for whom, I ask?
Spill my heart of it all
for a simple life.

I wish,
with the man of my want, I will,
unravel his secret smiles and shrugs.
How beautiful are his kept lies.

When he charms me
will he be in me, on me
heating my lap where he paws me.
What heaven is he.
Yep. I'm one of them, a Picassophile, a hero-worshiper, a hopeless lover of abstract art, a follower... you name it, I've got it, bitten that is by the Picasso bug when I was just a wee lassie of fifteen. When in high school, I wrote my first paper on the profound impact of Cubism on the art world and was totally hooked. Back then in the late seventies, Picasso had been dead less than a decade but I don't believe the posthumous applause has ever ended for this artist.

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Empowerment is a desired thing. The act of empowering should be as simple as infusing into your life more power, like will power, the power to spend more money, the power to change your residence or your employer, even the power to change your mind. But I shan't lead you down a garden path and advise that empowering oneself is that simple. Point in fact, the act of empowering often requires the ability to tap into a source of power that isn't readily accessible or made available to one and all. You just can't wake up one morning and declare that you're going to empower yourself across the board, in all facets of your life, to achieve even greater heights.

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One day when the world is perfect and men and women communicate beautifully with one another, I shall grow my hair to my toes and let my underarm hair grow even longer in order that it can be braided into three tiny ponytails under each arm. What a big fat lie!

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In the dark, under my refrigerator, there are creepy crawly things that scamper out from underneath the dust-encrusted floor space. If, in the night, I turn on the light unexpectedly, sometimes I'll see that the tiniest of little critters will panic and dash for cover. And back in the days when I had two kitties, and also now on the occasions when I babysit kitties, very often I'll find the kitty perched in front of the fridge in the dark waiting for these bugs to venture out. Cats love to capture and eat these kinds of bugs. Lovely, I know...well, not really. Kitties seem very pleased with themselves, as they lick their lips.

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He is the dream in the meteor’s tail,
painting the night I admired
when he slept,
closely to my breast.

He is the feeling of fundamental
and light,
because I have the need of him.
I have the pain for him.

In the muscle of thought erotica,
I want it all from him
in simple terms,
he should not stop to ponder.

So long as his tongue moves,
inside my body.
I am born again,
within his dream.

COPYRIGHT © Patricia K McCarthy
"You should be ashamed of yourself," said the curt, dismissive woman, in response to a review posted about one of my novels on a website called The Erotic Woman. Clearly, this woman was miffed w/ my erotic writings, so much so that she felt compelled to wag her disapproving finger at me, thru email, which meant that after she read the review, she navigated to my author site in order to be able to blast out a piece of her mind. "Don't hold back! Tell me what you really think." 😅 I thanked her for taking the time to contact me. Seriously.

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That's what he said to me, a dear friend I've known for close to 30 years that he's unaware of his behaviour most of the times, such as neglecting to inquire about my health or that of my family's health.

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I realize my love for you,
only after we've ended
the power of flesh
between us,

We came.
We flew.
The past of our lives unfolded,
into breaking cracks
in the darkened clouds.

We felt the way,
on the hour
in our kisses

COPYRIGHT © Patricia K McCarthy
In a prior post, I had referred to a long lost but beloved subscription to a magazine I adored receiving in the mail, Scientific American Mind, and it is this warm and fuzzy feeling for this wonderfully informative rag (no longer in print😰) that brings me to this morning's subject matter: the intuitive mind.

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Jeepers... talk about a tongue twister. Say that ten times fast.

Ah, the tongue, that warm, fleshy extension which protrudes from within our mouths, to think of its many uses. In the past, on rare occasions mind you, I've begun my work day by delivering a tongue-lashing on someone's unacceptable behaviour. I don't particularly care to receive tongue-lashings, myself, though sometimes I whole-heartedly deserve them. When I get one, it means someone feels the need to tear a strip off me and they do so with their tongue, hurling verbal accusations of wrong doing at great speeds through mobile lines, reverberating in my ears, attempting to illicit the right response. Dare you say that I did something wrong? Hold that tongue, good Sir, and choose thy words with care!

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My imagination
of frozen vistas
will become
the past,

warmer ice breaking
bittersweet history of defeat,
love maddens me.

COPYRIGHT © Patricia K McCarthy
He sees her, a willow-wisp of a young woman passing by him, as he stands at the bus stop waiting for the Number 69 to arrive, late as usual. The penetrating light of the morning washes easily through her print skirt and the outlines of her legs become visible. He cranes his neck backward, watching her walk toward the bus stop, watching as the sun illuminates her form; a shapely and delicate body with pure skin, unblemished by a tan. Onto the bus he gets with her following behind. Stopping at the entrance, he grabs a handrail and watches as she takes her seat, next to an empty seat.

Should he?

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He isn't what she anticipates, standing in front of him, waiting for the Number 69 bus, early for a change on this hot and humid day. He wears barely a stitch of clothing, no shirt or socks, just a toque and a pair of well-worn cargo pants, clinging to his slight hips, dragging down to his bum. His runners belong in the 70s, not originals but re-issues, capturing a retrograde style highly popular. His back captivates her thoughts; the shoulders are slightly rounded, the blades jut out, muscled, young and strong. His body creates a sculpted look of flesh and curve. She looks briefly at her watch until her eyes need to want him again, need to want to settle on him again. He stands with earbuds plugged in, music blaring, hardly aware of her presence.

Does she want to?

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You are meaning,
solid form and reason.
There's no fear in your eyes,
holding firm your gentle word.
You lend me the night.

I never want to leave,
the privacy of our room.
For days, I want to remain
inside of your love
and on your tongue,

I do not taste the bitterness of life
as it so often appears.
Only the melody of your voice,
do I need to hear
your words of love, hanging in the air.

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Every summer as the sticky, fluidity of humidity moves into my apartment like some slithering unwelcome fog, I re-acquaint myself with that irrational emotion called fear. Ironically, it's something I do to myself and every summer I ask myself the same question: Why? And I come up with the same reply: Because I am compelled! The reason would naturally precede the question and the answer, and this is because I take ice-cold showers in the dead of night to help me fall asleep when the atmosphere is especially thick and heavy with humidity. Last week, as a prime example, our temperatures were unseasonably warm, crawling up to 36 Celsius, and lo and behold, I took my first late-night cold-shower.

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A favourite subject of mine is death, to which I shall return to, periodically. Why? Because I'm not frightened by the subject of death; rather it intrigues me. None of us knows when our time will cease to exist, notwithstanding those who take matters into their own hands. Pity, of course, but this is the human condition at its worst, and for some, at its best, because they've chosen to exit on their terms. And no one has the right to tell a terminally ill individual that you have to continue to endure your torment, because it makes 'us' feel better to be humane in the eyes of the courts... [but don't get me started on euthanasia].

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He has the lightest touch of whimsy
where his hand rests and gathers,
the sensations of my body.
My pulse is for him.

I absorb his hour of dreamy flesh
of wanton need, alive
I am for him, to tremble
over his scent.

I cannot account for the seconds.
Where do they go? Oh so gloriously,
are these moments with him.
We evaporate in the night.
Modernity and tradition make strange bedfellows. And injecting into modernity the ideal of genteel beliefs was a practice better attributed to the old traditional ways, a time when things appeared on the surface to be simpler but when in fact were not simple or equal, based on some persons not being permitted to work or own property, among other things.

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Never believe for a moment that you're above learning new ticks, for the moment you believe there's nothing new that can benefit you, well my dear readers for sure you'll be taught something, anything new. Our brains are the hungriest of entities sitting atop our shoulders, waiting to be fed with stuff, like words and images, new concepts and old re-worked thoughts. And yes, the brain is more than willing to allow you to pollute its thinking patterns with substances of a wild variety - alcohol to hashish, from anti-depressants to chocolate to cigarettes, high-fat foods and mountains of sugar. The brain welcomes it all, even when our inner voice tells us we shouldn't indulge in these destructive things. For some reason or another, our brain is willing to experiment with its own body, like it's speaking a silent language, "Hey, don't phucking argue with me. I'm your brain... just go along with my ulterior motives." I use the term ulterior because the reality is few utilize more than 5% of our brain capacity which means the other 95% of the brain is working behind-the-scenes, a subconscious level of activity that to the waking brain feels like being virtually asleep.

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Me oh my oh why am I a woman of weak character? I slept in well past my alarm this morning. Have no idea where my head was, probably lost in a twisted dream that had me running atop mountains covered in snow. Yesterday's dream, just before my alarm sounded off, I was rescuing three kittens, one of which was missing half of one leg. It's easy to be a hero in your dreams. 🤣

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Living without an air conditioner requires an emotional commitment to help lessen the use of energy. We hear it all the time from science environmentalists that the gross consumption of energy, natural resources and the unabated plundering of fossil fuels will surely bring about the downfall of the human race. Well, perhaps not the entire downfall. I'm sure there'll be some wily humans left on this planet, after we've completely destroyed our eco-system, and these humans will survive and thrive, even if they end up having three noses and four eyes from radiation poisoning. But as the temperature crawls upward, like it does every summer in the city where I live, touching at times the 40+ degree Celsius mark, the justification for purchasing air conditioning is easy to make.

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She pulled her hands out of the hot, soapy water and looked at me with the sincerity and seriousness of a woman who'd just had her last nerve stepped on with a heavy boot. "He wants to have sex but he doesn't want to have to work for it to get it... I mean come on! If he wants to coax me into having sex he should clean the bathroom or do the laundry."

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Prior to 2017, I used to subscribe to Scientific American Mind magazine and I loved it. While the magazine is no longer available in print form, you can access some of their occasional content posted on their site. I loved this magazine and always looked forward to its arrival in the mail. Subjects pertaining to the brain and all facets, i.e. consciousness, dreams, functioning, intuition and the like have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. One article has stuck with me and it has to do with brain damage and the predisposition toward addiction. Stand up and be counted, my friend. Yes, this means you! Who among us doesn't have an addiction?

Please read on...

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Last evening's foray into slumber land started out good. Before falling asleep, I had thought about my 3-month follow-up visit with my skin cancer surgeon, which took place last Friday. I crashed early and fell asleep right away, then woke up merely two hours later, and had trouble falling back asleep; perhaps the worst feeling is wanting to sleep but our brain doesn't want us to sleep, and never the twain shall they meet. Regardless, I've reason to celebrate! My surgeon was impressed with my healing and said so. And that in turn makes me feel on top of the world.

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Let it be known that I'm a pacifist first and foremost. I don't believe violence is the answer. A thinking, feeling person utilizes intellect first, before acting on impulse to do harm. We each learn how to cultivate an aura of peace bcus in the long run we benefit more w/ a philosophy that lends itself to a state of grace. However, the threshold to the wall of desperate temper is a thin layer of flimsy paper and too often this very thin layer is punctured, pushing a temper to a furious boiling point. This morning as I dressed for work, I thought about all the things that humans do that push me over the edge. I mentally tallied a list and immediately started to laugh. What if I was prone to violent behaviour, and went out onto the ledge of total insanity? Well, I'd surely do something completely out of character, like strap to my shoulder a telescopic slingshot and head for the nearest rooftop. I wouldn't use rocks, as did David to slay Goliath. Nope. I'd use indelible paint balls, to mark my targets accordingly. This fantasy, of course, will forever remain a fantasy in my head but the act of completing a comprehensive list of hits is in itself a cathartic release.

So, here is my list of temper-inducing elements:

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Admittedly, I've little patience. I'm aware that patience is a virtuous quality; hence, the expression: patience is a virtue. But the plain fact is few of us have patience in abundance. We want to be patient. We like to believe we are patient, particularly as we evolve and move forward in this life. Yet, there are events and incidences that push us beyond our capacity to demonstrate patience. Patience is not that easy a quality to cultivate in our personalities.

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I keep a faded excerpt cut out from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper in the year 2000 because it lists the Top 100 English novels of the 20th Century. I had big, lofty ideals to devour each book on this list, a collection of input received from the top Ivy League schools in the United Kingdom and North America. However, I'm sorry to admit that I've only read twelve on this very big list. These are not light fiction tales or cartoons or children's books. Indeed not. These books are the big, fat daddies and mommies that have changed the world for the better, apparently.

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Should you ever have occasion to travel to the country of India, I recommend you go to the biggest, noisiest, and most congested city in this monolithic country to get a taste of simple truth.

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In between Heaven and Hell there is Purgatory, apparently, that middle ground where wicked souls do penance for committed sins. According to Catholic doctrines, those in Purgatory can spend hundreds of years atoning for sins which first begins with the intention of confession. Then after you've received some form of forgiveness, you may get to ride the wave into Heaven... or perhaps not. Perhaps, instead, your one-way ticket will take you to Hell. And speaking of which, what exactly is the kind of sin that paves your road to Hell?

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If I was a machine, I'd do everything in the exact same precise manner as before, utilizing the very same thought process and automatic body responses as always. If I was a machine, I wouldn't have to fight off fatigue or despair or negativity. If I was a machine, I wouldn't feel downtrodden by the monotony of the routine of work and daily life. If I was a machine, I would have sex in the very same fashion time after time after time after time.

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I never give up hope because when I willingly give up hope, I lose all hope and have no one to blame but myself for having nothing left to prop up my sagging desires. And so on a normal weekend afternoon, with the sun blasting my 400 UV sun glasses, I ventured into the district of Vanier in Ottawa. I rode the Number 2 bus from Rideau Street to Montreal Road, then proceeded to walk north on St. Laurent boulevard. It was there, at the base of three large condominium towers, where I saw him, my long lost Trans Mongolian railway riding buddy, Tinny Peete. My word... you can imagine my surprise and joy at running into Tinny.

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There are a number of ways to live one's life, most notably of these, of course, is the way that brings us peace and enduring happiness. Money is often confused as the means to that end and love, too, but I am inclined to think it is the power of touch. Years ago when I didn't realize it at the time, I was blessed to have an ortho-therapist who'd visit my apartment to deliver an ortho-therapy massage session.

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If it were 15th Century England, and my Crimson Fantasies of six novels had been produced in some dank and dingy cellar, working late at night with only a candle for light, printed on flimsy paper, then released to the general public... well, I don't have to tell you what would happen to me. Not a pretty fate. I'd be arrested, tried by a jury of God-fearing Protestants and closeted Catholics, with red, bulbous noses from drinking poison wine, and thrown into jail in the Tower of London for corrupting the public with lascivious and rude prose, the likes of which have resulted in me personally being judged by readers or being told that I need psychological counseling.

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Firstly, these pictures aren't pretty to look at, so scroll on if you're of a delicate constitution. Information is power IMO and, when it comes to healing, I'm happy to impart advice based on first-hand experience, if it can be of help to some. So, this is me at my worst and w/o a stitch of make-up, following skin cancer surgery.

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Because the child in all of us is susceptible to wishful thinking, many a time I've played a game with myself and with friends (after a few drinky-poos, coincidentally) whereby I encourage them to share with me their three wishes. The one caveat I stipulate is not being able to use one wish to ask for more wishes. It's a foolish, childish game but as I said, the child in all of us, and me included, likes to flex its imagination. Also, I believe, playing the three wishes game opens a portal into the psyche of your secret desires and that of your friends.

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"If men only knew how to keep women happy shall still they be in paradise." I have no idea who penned this truism, probably an old monk in a drafty monastery, poring over an ancient piece of parchment with blind eyes from being forced to focus by candlelight alone. But the expression rings true, I believe. The pursuer is forever in a state of flux, attempting to figure out how to woo, keep and please their loved one, the pursued. That initial spark of lust and attraction, of which I've spoken about previously, called limerence by some, wanes over a period of time when familiarity sets in. The lust turns to like and the like turns to respect and then the respect confuses the sexy aspect needed to recreate that original spark, which is where smart comes into play.

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And there he was or maybe he was a she... a little critter splayed across the pavement, intestines squeezed out like spaghetti with little clawed paws turned upward to the sky. No one seemed to mind, a dead squirrel in the middle of the road. I noticed because I walk to work on the days when I work in the office. When you walk to work, and pretty much walk everywhere because you don't own a car, you tend to notice a lot, perhaps too much at times.

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Romance belongs between the pages of a book because within the pages of a book, the illusion of love can be played out to perfection: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl in the end - buttoned up, neat and tidy, everyone is happy. End of story, right? Wrong! [Feel free, by the way, to swap out the players, i.e. boy w/ boy or girl w/ girl].

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Earlier this week, I posted about wealth and its counterpart poverty. This morning, I realized I will more than likely continue to think about this issue, one of society's greatest woes. Wealth is a prime motivator for giving each of us the gumption to put up with crap from hierarchical organizations (employers) who seemingly are happy to exert control over your life, and from Governments who will happily tax literally everything that the sun touches, and mostly to give to ourselves a better life. We are willing to slog it out day after day in a world that feels all too many times like an unfeeling and unforgiving place. I'm not exaggerating with that statement because I've survived in the workforce since the tender age of 18 and, I have the mental battle scars to prove it. I could give up and live a life of poverty on the streets or subsist in a welfare apartment on the dole. Who knows? Maybe this fate may very well become my life at some point in time in the future. I consider myself wealthy and yet at the same time, my logical mind wants to know where does the responsibility of the state come into being?

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I've had this on-going long-standing argument I don't know how many times with people who live on practically nothing and others who live very high on the hog: How do you define wealth? We need to ask ourselves this question on the meaning of wealth bcus it's the only logical means to frame a clear understanding on wealth's counterpart, poverty.

Wealth from any perspective must include some basic needs, that is to say: three meals a day, access to fresh water, access to health care, access to a reasonable level of security, the right to intellectual property, the right to freedom of speech, and the right to privacy. However, in this day and age of terrorism and global cyber threats, we've all seen evidence to spare on how government agencies and their growing powers are bleeding into our right to privacy.

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Said the Vagina to the Penis, "I am the ear with an itch and you are the finger with a scratch and when you stick your finger into my ear and scratch, which feels better, the ear or the finger?" No argument here. The ear feels better than the finger, tho' the finger would no doubt contest this statement.

The world is a better place because of our sex organs. Me being in possession of a vagina means that my perspective is one-sided, as are all the men out there in possession of a penis. One of my readers had remarked a few weeks back that my mind must never sleep. True. I live in a perpetual state of contemplation. When I shut my brain down at the end of the work day, I think about every other subject under the sun, including the wonderful penis.

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We each are our own best friends and our own worst enemies. We each have within us the strength and power to heal ourselves, as well as the power to destroy our inner light. Basically, we are the giver and taker of our own happiness and sadness. And yet, our perspectives of our own image are often eschewed by negativity, forget about someone else coming along to throw mud at us. That's where the influence of psychology can lead us down a path of greater enlightenment, providing of course the psychologist isn't a lunatic, or rather to put this in less harsh terms, not altogether off-balance.

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The sculptured calves of cycling legs as they whiz by me at breakneck speeds... the soft underside of a muscled thigh as he turns over in front of me... the plush texture of full lips, glistening with the moisture from my long, wet kiss... the texture of a tongue dragging itself sensuously across my skin...

What turns your crank?

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He tells me, this man I know, that he has no time to read, that he has all of these "things" to take care of each day, which include children and animals and tractors and fences and practically everything else under the blazing hot sun, except maybe himself. "Take the time," I tell him, "because you're worth it." Take the time to read and watch what happens. When you read, your brain does this metamorphosis thing and it becomes a sponge, wanting more, becoming smarter, becoming something better and bigger.

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To judge and describe another writer's prose as skillfully boring is to say that as technicians in the writing craft, they are grammatically and functionally correct, in terms of how they construct their prose. However, the actual story doesn't necessarily mean that they've strung together a series of words that make one tasty hill of beans. I call these stories skillfully boring. As I read them, I find the writing is gifted in expressing him or herself but in no way does their prose make me feel anything and I mean feel absolutely nothing... not even indifference.

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From an early age, I was indoctrinated into the world of superstitions because my mother had been indoctrinated as a child, and passed it on. When my siblings and I lived under one roof, there were known rules of conduct that had to be observed. The worst breach was in refusing to recognize one superstition when passing my mother on a flight of stairs. If she was coming down, you were ordered to return to the bottom step and let her descend first, before we could go up. I was mystified by this, nor could I at the time realize the impact it would have on me.

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I own this monster-sized hardcover book that must way close to 3 pounds, called The Secret Language of Relationships, co-written by Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers (copyright 1994). Their description in the prologue rang so true for me that I am compelled to share with you their three examples on defining what is a relationship, using analogues that deal with the physical and the metaphysical. So here it goes:

1. Physical vs. Chemical:

In a physical reaction, when two original elements are blended or ground together, they become one compound without being transformed, that is to say the newly created compound can still be separated back into its original elements. But with a chemical reaction, two elements are combined into one to create a whole new compound that cannot be broken back down into its original component elements. Relationships between two people are more like a chemical reaction in that the relationship has such a profound effect on both individuals, the partners almost become a newly formed compound.

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Worrying, that hopelessly stupid internal activity in our brains is a complete and total waste of time. Why then do we worry nonetheless? I've my own theories. The most logical explanation I can accept is that our brains are hard-wired to analyze and interpret and reflect and therefore our brains are incapable of remaining at rest continuously, unless we're dead. And if I broke down and categorized how much time was spent thinking and on what particular subjects, I'd not be shocked to learn that at least 10% of our time on this earth is spent worrying.

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Naturally, some posts compel me to digress into the nefarious areas of love and lust and all the in-between goodies that deal with delicious favours. It was an innocent conversation with another person that has inspired me to write this post. When do you blow your man's horn? More importantly, how often should you blow?

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I talk to the dead, rather than with the dead, because when I talk to the dead, this implies that I speak to them alone, rather than have actual discourse with dead folks. If the dead did in fact reply to me, I'd probably run and hide.

In my dreams, I have full-on conversations with loved ones who've passed and also with dead artists. I've had numerous encounters with Picasso in my dreams and they usually have something to do with his paintings or his penis or both. I don't seem to be fussy on which phallic symbol is being used, whether a c*ck or a paint brush. And these dreams got me to thinking about how nice it would be if I had the power to bring back even just three dead people with whom I could spend an afternoon. My choices are not what other famous people might answer when asked the same, to whom they would if they could talk to, such as Jesus Christ or Mother Theresa. I figure these dead persons are naturally profound and full of compassion but that wouldn't necessarily make them interesting. Nope. My list is better, if I may digress into a competitive posture for this post.

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The other day, I laughed my ass off reading material I'd written a while back, like years ago. This little stroll down memory lane made me think of one of my principal editors, who I shall Mister Editor, to respect his privacy, as he's not offering services at present. Can't say I blame him. Too often, I taxed his patience with my dog-awful writing, such as when I had flipped to him my first attempt to write a limerick, as part of a contest, put on by Irish Spring. At the time, and after thoughtful consideration, he returned my limerick to me, but not before he pulled out his sharp machete, to hack it to pieces. You see, when in between writing novels, I like to switch up what I'm writing (this blog as an example) bcus it's healthy to trick your brain to change gears, to keep the wheels well-greased. So, I wrote my first limerick, those years past, in between writing novels three and four, despite being uncertain what the hell I was doing. My first try was clunky and stupid and Mister Editor had kindly deconstructed my work with such velocity and skill that my head spun to the far corner of the room, where it hung for a bit, until I pulled myself together and started again.

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"I'm very scared," said Little Red Riding Hood as she tentatively knocked on the door of Mr. Wolf with her bread basket of warm, sticky pudding, hoping for the best. You just don't know what's on the other side of that door. One is meant to venture out into the world and discover new things, but knocking on the door of a wolf? How many would knowingly do so? Not many, I suspect. Not many because no one wants a wolf coming after them. It's like running into Dr. Lecter in a dark alley and asking him for directions. Maybe Dr. Lecter might point down the street and tell you that's where you should be headed, or maybe he just might decide to eat you with a nice Chianti and some fava beans (and no; this joke will never get old).

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Were you there that day,
when the saintly smell in the air
made me fall in love with you?

Coming inside me
a singular night, a broken heart
alone, I conjured.

When the lilac bud exploded,
that Spring, in your image I went to sleep
in the joy I felt.

COPYRIGHT © Patricia K McCarthy
Here's the skinny on hiking Machu Picchu, from my personal experience. My friend and I visited this remarkable historic site in 2016, as part of a low-impact, tour group. We numbered no more than 13, which is a manageable size. I'm going to offer my advice, a few key pointers.

1. Tours: There are a variety of tour companies that'll happily guide you safely to the top (this is the ideal bcus approximately 5 people die each year, falling off the MP mountain). The classic tour that everyone wants is the Inca Trail, which is the busiest, requiring you to book six months in advance. Then there's a lesser known tour called the Salcantay Trek, not as crowded, more remote and off the beaten-path, as they say; the one my friend and I took — trekking 50 miles in four days, going up and up the Salcantay mountain, utilizing switchbacks (cutting sharply from one side to the other) and sometimes having to climb down before climbing back up again), and this was even before having reached Machu Picchu. The kind of tour you end up choosing, all depends on what experience you're looking for — a Classic one or something lesser known.

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We've all heard the expression that there's no one happier than a fool, which in effect means a fool is lacking in the brain power to fully comprehend situations; hence, their reason for being happy. A fool doesn't know what they should be worried about and more to the point, a fool isn't even aware of the fact that they're not even aware. One could argue that a fool is free to live their life worry-free. Wouldn't that be something, to never worry?

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My X-friends, it is with a sad and weary heart that I say goodbye and good luck to my comrade, Tinny Peete, who very unceremoniously this past weekend had pulled up his tent pegs and left scribbled on a single piece of torn paper a poignant note with one solitary word, "Later." For those of you who knew the man Tinny that I knew; auteur, photographer, accomplished organist and purveyor of fine spirits, his presence shall be sorely missed, though not soon forgotten.

I remember the first time I met Tinny. It was an historic day, sitting on the Trans Mongolian railway, waiting for the conductor to wake up. I looked out the dust and dirt encrusted window and I spotted Tinny hoofing it over a hill with cat-like speed on a very tiny horse as a marauding tribe of Mongolian mad men were fast on his heels. He had barely made the train's departure in time, smiling like a crazed victor, laughing about having narrowly escaped a lynching. For you see, Tinny is a man of immense heart and love and he had struck up an innocent affair in the village with the local botanist, because, in his very own words, "Love cannot be selfish. Love must be shared to be real." However, the villagers didn't take too kindly to Tinny's notions of free love. I was just happy to have a companion for the three week jaunt over the bumpy plains of northern China, then through Kazakhstan. I had inquired as to Tinny's final destination and he said with a wink, "St. Petersburg, Russia of course... silly girl. There's a bowl of fine leek soup that awaits me." I had no doubt he would make it too, after I had witnessed how he expertly handled the rampaging Mongolians.

The train was unbearably hot and cramped with peasants and chickens and smelly goats. "Don't fondle the horns," Tinny would say to me, as he fed me raw potato peels and soft Arrowroot biscuits. And I listened to his sage advice. When I complained to him about my amoebic dysentery and the hassle of having to wash out the same pair of underwear for the fourth time in one day, Tinny smiled his boyish smile and whipped out an elixir to flush the parasites out of my intestines — a perfectly chilled 40 oz. bottle of Russian vodka. "How did you manage to conceal this puppy in your tote bag?" I asked Tinny, who replied, "Any civilized man traveling without vodka should be ashamed." He reached farther into his back pocket and brought out two blackberry gum drops, plucking one each into our metal cups, giving the vodka a decidedly exotic taste. Happiness doesn't adequately describe my joy. My stomach rumbled non-stop and I was forced to cross my legs for fear of soiling my drawers. But I was deliriously content to be in Tinny's company, listening to him speak to me about his days as a roving young boy and his rotund Aunt Bessie, who had taught him how to play the organ despite being totally blind.

We arrived in St. Petersburg and I knew Tinny and I would part ways. I was set to begin a job as a museum curator and Tinny was on another adventure, that he confidently pointed out would become the beginnings of an epic poem. As we stood on the station platform saying our goodbyes in the early hours of the morning, a mob of Russian thugs attacked Tinny demanding he hand over his clothes and passport. I was horrified; my heart palpitating in my palms. Surely, Tinny couldn't talk his way out of this dire predicament. Could I've been more wrong? Tinny undressed while the cold, Russian winds nipped at his heels. He was left practically naked, wearing only a pair of black, tight cotton jockeys and wool socks that reached up to this calves. I was terrified. Tinny waved my fear away with the nonchalant gesture of a young prince, to declare, "The only tools a man needs to survive are his dexterous fingers, a 48 mega-pixel camera, strong cigarettes and vodka." I felt relieved. I threw my coat over Tinny's shivering frame and we went in search of the nearest Russian Orthodox Church. There, Tinny would play the organ for clothes and food, he assured me, something he had done all throughout his travels, thereby ensuring he would never starve or go naked into the night.

And play he did, with an ever-present cigarette dangling from his mouth. Tinny played music of such melodious wonder that the titles of each song have been seared onto my memory: Mongolian Mad Men and the Answers to Our Prayers, A Basketful of Raw Fish and a Loaf of Bread, David Slays Goliath, Russian Leek Soup and a Bent Spoon and other timeless gems, all written for the organ. I sat in the church pew and listened with the priest as tears streamed down our cheeks. We cried all night as we watched Tinny play with steely eyes and deep passion. I snapped only one picture of him, which sadly I'm not at liberty to share, having sworn an oath of anonymity. However, I am able to share with you, my gentle readers, the image of his dear, long-deceased rat, given that these wee creatures don't live very long. Later that same night, as Tinny and I had wandered the barren streets of St. Petersburg, we came upon a kindly blonde woman named Svetlana and she took great interest in Tinny's tale of hardship. She invited us into her apartment and offered a barrel of vodka to drown our worries. Three hours later, I was as drunk as a racoon with numb fingers, and barely able to remember where or who I was. But not Tinny. He appeared stone-cold sober. Svetlana had promised Tinny that his clothes and passport would be returned by morning because her father had been a senior official in the KGB, in its heyday, and how her father only needed to make one phone call and all his possessions would be dropped off with her.

Svetlana was a woman of her word. That next morning, Tinny's passport was left at the doorstep of Svetlana's apartment. His clothes had been washed and pressed, and the Russian thugs left a note written in chicken scratch that said, "Most humble apologies. Come to the Ritz and we'll pay for your food bill for the entire week." I thought it curious that the Russians were able to pen a note in perfect English but Tinny was quick to remind me that this barren kleptocracy called Russia was also the same country that had produced the profound writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, he who penned Crime and Punishment, and that if only, as per Tinny's wise assessment, Fyodor had had the temerity to cultivate a shred of self-control, and was able to overcome his gambling addiction, that his most revered novel might have instead, and more appropriately, been called Crime and Pleasure.

In the restaurant, where mobsters and working young girls and boys alike were congregating, I ate leek soup with Tinny. And, afterward, I bid him a sorrowful goodbye. My curatorship was set to begin in the city of Volgograd and, as much as I was sad to depart my new found friend, we each had our own path to follow. Life is impermanent but vivid memories are the act of attaching feeling to a particular event, person or circumstance. I felt honoured to have been able to spend time in Tinny's presence.

Now, when the snow flies and I tilt my head up to the sky and stick out my tongue, I let the newly formed flakes melt on my warm appendage and I often fondly recall the organ playing of Tinny, with his cigarettes and his vodka and his boyish warm smiles. It doesn't get any better than this!
Poets especially will tell you that the sole purpose of existing is to be loved, to feel love, to give love to others. I've read the words of many poets, some Old English in style, others as modern as rigid plastic, and all have waxed philosophic on the travails of love as seen through their young, hopeful eyes. The older we become, or rather as I'm fond of correcting others, the more we evolve, the more our perception of love solidifies, often times into something that is pure cynicism and for the rare few an idyllic notion that is like everlasting hope.

Love is passion and love is hate. Love is not lust. I gave my two cents worth to a male friend, oh about three weeks back, when we last chatted by phone. He talked with great enthusiasm about the newness of love, that when he begins a relationship he adores the feelings the new love gives him when the sex is just starting out, in the beginning. Sound familiar? I had replied, rather indelicately, "I believe you're confused, my dear." I started. "You're in love with lust. And, the love of those feelings is in fact a misdirected desire for the physicality of the sex and, the feelings about which you speak so casually are in fact to me the definition of sentiment." True blue genuine love is the result of developing a concrete understanding with your new love, an emotional thread that attaches itself between you and your beloved. And the feelings as a result of this true blue love, on the other hand, are the hurts you endure when your love is in question or in pain. Feelings are the gut reactions your body emits when in the presence of your love. Whereas lust, that physical turn on which is experienced in the act of enjoying sex, should not be confused with love.

But then what the heck do I know? I've not been 'in love' in a while, and I mean in love with another who reciprocates my love, rather than confuse this state of being with unrequited love; you feel it yet they haven't a clue how deep your love goes. We all, at some point in our lives, are well acquainted with unrequited love, puppy-dog love and obsessive love. I've also known the intimacy of lust, which is fleeting and capricious and intense. But, I will damn myself to the fires of an erupting volcano if I wake up one day and hold a confused thought in my head that lust is bona-fide love. There are scads upon scads of quotes on the Uddernet, which deal with the subject of love. Here's one that resonates with me because it states the obvious that perfect love, the purest of love, will truly only occur once in your life.

"Each time that one loves is the only time one has ever loved. Difference of object does not alter singleness of passion. It merely intensifies it. We can have but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible." Oscar Wilde; Irish poet and playwright (d. 1900)

Someone currently in love would argue with this quote and I couldn't give a rat's ass if they did, quite frankly, because they'd be missing the point of Mr. Wilde's statement — that the greatest love you have experienced is the benchmark which defines your life and how you'll devote your life to chasing that same feeling. And here we come full circle again to that notion of feelings. I believe in the brutality of honesty when I discuss intellectual concepts like love. When I'm in love, I'm fecking miserable. I'm overly emotional, jealous, outraged, nit-picking and irrational. I hate myself when I'm in love. To me, love is a form of brain-damage. People will kill the supposed love of their life, if that person leaves them, betrays them, neglects them. How is that love then? Perhaps this explains why I gravitate towards poetry because through the hearts of poets, I'm better able to comprehend love. Most certainly, I believe that love fades, lust betrays and life is a game.

Yet, I will more than likely contemplate the concept of love up until the day I die. Or, I could be like cats who appear to have a limitless capacity for love, at least for feral populations. Cats have love to give, every day of every hour of every night or morning, when their biological bodies enter into heat. Love for them is like a waterfall that once turned on, hurls itself over the edge into the abyss. Cats never question their love or complain when it's taken away. They merely go about their business and wait until the next wave of love comes along. Humans could learn a lot from feral cats.

I will leave you now with one last silly thought, at the very end of this diatribe, but before this, I shall close off this discussion with the erudite words of Friedrich Nietzsche, "There is always some madness in love. But there is always some reason in madness."

Ask Elizabeth Taylor, were she still with us, what she thinks of love. She'd probably tell you that passion has been her greatest downfall... that and Richard Burton, given that she re-married him twice. And we all know that this late great British actor, who died in 1984, had a voice that could launch a thousand ships, and a schlong as long as an elephant's trunk. Well... now that's something worth loving, don't ya think?
It happened for me when I was young, barely two years old, I discovered the wonderful world of jellies and jams. It started with grape jelly, that wiggly, wobbly solidified mass of dark purple that came in an oddly shaped jar. I couldn't wait to knife out a globule and spread it across my burnt toast. Apparently, I was a master toaster at a tender age. Then the grape jelly became raspberry jam and soon this evolved into marmalade, though I didn't much care for the large pieces of rind. I ate it nonetheless if there was no grape jelly or raspberry jam.

Some jams can be counted on to infuse the taste with a minimum of twenty teaspoons of refined white sugar for every ounce, which for a wired lassie with unruly hair (yes, mine was a shocking bright orange like Pippy Longstocking), I couldn't wait to eat toast in the morning, a far preferred alternative to the slop of lumpy oatmeal, disguised as porridge. Thankfully, and most gratefully, my mother was industrious in the early years of raising her kids because she had to be, to make ends meet. Mom would jar her own jams, minus the ridiculous amounts of sugar, but these were not the normal offerings; hers were crab-apply jelly and red rhubarb (both grew wild behind our house). These tart tastes pinched the back of your throat with a punch, yet it never stopped me or my siblings from eating them, so long as a base of peanut butter was smeared thick across the toast to offset the tang. Mmmm... just thinking about these flavours takes me back to my blankie and koala teddy bear.

Food is God, I swear, and jams are the scent of her breath as she exhales a sigh of joy in knowing the simplest of offerings are cherished. But wait! The Age of Pomegranate is among us, a specialty jam made by a French company called St. Dalfour, quite possibly my favourite source for jams; a tres cher line of jams for all cheese and charcuterie occasions. The jar label that recently caught my eye was Red Raspberry and Pomegranate. I nearly did a cartwheel in the aisle, so happy was I to come across this taste profile. Not all stores are able to move a wide range of products from the same company on a regular basis; hence, big chain grocery stores stick with what sells, typically the standard options, the big selling items like plain strawberry, raspberry, grape jelly, and marmalade. My love of jams and jellies means I'm forever on the look-out for new flavour combinations, and I've no issues walking long distances to health food stores and other specialty shops to find them.

Currently, my jam of choice is red-pepper jelly which I buy at Farm Boy, a popular chain in Canada that promotes their brand of products, like red pepper jelly, a fast seller. But the variety of jams and jellies goes far beyond my regular stomping ground for groceries. You can buy most anything online nowadays, if you don't mind shelling out coin for shipping. Myself, I prefer the gentle pastime of visiting specialty stores and craft fairs, when I'm looking for a varied gourmet selection in jams and jellies. To be sure, St. Dalfour jams have carved a place in my heart, having wormed their way into my taste-buds: Wild Blueberry and Gooseberry jams, Roasted Garlic and Lime Pepper jellies, Wild Grape, Fig Royale, Heritage Peach, Black Cherry and Black Raspberry, Orange and Ginger, Mango and Passion Fruit, Mango and Pineapple, Apple Cinnamon and Cranberry... all created to tantalize me — flavours not ordinarily sold at big-chain stores. These specialty jams are considered gourmet because they lack the deep canyons of refined sugar, and are sweetened instead with real fruit juices, often times grape juice, true to taste, organic and without additives. You'll spend more, of course, though you really do get what you pay for, high-cost for high-quality jam.

In today's day and age when change is the de facto standard, it's good to know that change brings me more jellies and jams. Now, however, my peanut butter is pure pumpkin seed butter sans sugar (thank you Farm Boy), and sunflower butter (warning: the L-Tryptophan in sunflower seeds will make you sleepy). Rarely, nowadays though do I indulge in almond butter (cost is atrocious; makes sense owing to the amount of water is takes to grow almonds). I keep multiple jars of jams and jellies in my fridge. My most recent find of red-raspberry and pomegranate didn't disappoint, smeared over top cream cheese on a toasted bagel! Damn yummy. I also splurged on a St. Dalfour jar of Plum and Kumquat (the name alone compelled me to buy it) and during the holidays I was gifted with a homemade jar of green tomato jelly, the perfect complement to my ever present red-pepper jelly. Bliss.

Show me a jar of jam or jellies and I'll show you an enthusiast, aka a hedonist, who'd happily smear jellies across her belly and lips, just to entice you with a flavoured kiss.
"For the face, I grant, I might well blush to offer but the mind I shall never be ashamed to present," said Queen Elizabeth I, the virgin Queen, the heir of King Henry VIII, who ruled England with determination and panache, heralding a new era of English literature. Queen Elizabeth I is one of my female heroes, along with Catherine The Great, the wife of the last Czar of Russia who at the age of 55, took young soldiers into her bed as lovers, several in fact in their 20s (puh-lease... no horse jokes).

To be queen means to rule in a world that is predominantly run by the penis. Yes, we are now full-on into the new year of 2024 and as much as I hate to admit, we are still coping in a man's world. But the power of the minx shouldn't be understated, and Queen Elizabeth exemplifies this fact. So, if I were made Queen for a day, week, month, Heaven forbid one full year, I would pen with great consideration and most thoughtful care a list of aristocratic decrees in black script on sacred parchment, tied up with silk, then cast them out my window, from the tower of my Scottish castle, and give them to the people.

Henceforth forever more shall these decrees be heard and observed:

a) All doggies and kitties are permitted to run free and wild and no more shall a pet-owner be permitted to drop off their beloved so that a vet can cut off, cut out or remove a perfectly good set of testes or a fertile womb. People who protest eating meat confound me, as they're paradoxically against feral populations, but in order to do so they have to knowingly mutilate what is natural.

b) Wine, spirits and chocolate shall pour liberally from running fountains in city centers thereby allowing the houseless and less fortunate to imbibe in the same manner as our politicians do so behind closed doors, metaphorically speaking — to plan the next tax attack on an unsuspecting public, always in the new year, always during the big fanfare of releasing a budget, while never actually balancing said budget. [2024 began on Jan 1st, but in Canada new calendar year budgets for the Govt take effect April 1st, so Jan to end-March is the last quarter of the previous calendar year for spending what's left. Our politicians don't waste the opportunity to waste every last red cent, and I say this while gritting my teeth. I've yet to hear of one single government that doesn't operate with a deficit, which represents the interest accruing on the total national debt].

c) Jeans, leggings, wide-legged slacks, comfortable clothing is any shape or form will be encouraged in the workplace vs closed-toed shoes, starched shirts and suits and ties, skirts below the knee, all of which shall remain as optional yet are no longer mandatory.

d) The five-day work week shall be shrunk to four days. If this means working until 7 PM at night, you should be given the option to do so because it's not a terrible trade-off. It's a luxury to be able to enjoy three days off each and every weekend. Meaningful decompression takes time.

e) All national holidays will be doubled for adults and all P.E. days (physical education, apparently) for pre-high schoolers and high schoolers will be cut in half, to teach them what it means for their parents to work and work and work, only to receive zero appreciation from their offspring for sacrifices made to give them a cushy life, while trying to get ahead in life.

f) A parade will be held in the streets every quarter to commemorate artists and their dreams. Life without art is tasteless, meaningless, lacking in grandeur and vibrant sound and colour. Every culture that is revered is known for its art and architecture, not for having waged war. Living amicably with Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, will be the real surprise for us all going forward.

g) Every billion dollar-plus corporation is obligated to cough up more in taxes. Getting these monster-sized companies to pay their fair share in taxes has been an exercise in deep-fake, thanks to the ease of being able to shelter hundreds of millions each year in profits into off-shore tax heavens. Slippery buggers.

h) Cashews and walnuts and peanuts shall be offered in abundance in parks for squirrels and chipmunks and groundhogs because these little critters are just trying to survive, like the rest of us.

i) Cyclists will be rewarded with an environmental incentive bonus, paid out quarterly. Biking to work, rather than driving, means less motorists who create more pollution. It's OK if the pace of life is slowed, to harken back to a period in the very old past when people enjoyed a picnic in a graveyard with the family. Take a moment to look at the gravestones, the next time you're whistling past a cemetery, and remind yourself that one day you, too, will be pushing up the daisies. Maybe if you're lucky, someone will stop at your headstone, point their finger and say, "Here lies quietly a really cool person who made plenty of noise when alive."

So endeth my decrees, which not surprisingly look an awful lot like ideals. But as I'm fond of saying, perhaps all too often, "Ideals are illusions."

To all who came before me, to all who come after me, follow me and I shall lead you to the Kingdom of Wisdom, wrapped up pretty like a chocolate truffle drop, sitting beside a sharp-tasting cider that is crisp, and poured to the brim. May you drink-in the new year in style.
In the beginning, your brain could barely string together two vowels or consonants, much less a complete sentence with verbs, nouns and predicates. In the beginning, your brain was at its formative stage, during which the gentle guidance of loving parents had taken the time to teach you right from wrong. The amygdala is the part of your brain that controls emotions like rage, lust, and joy and all the other super intense feelings that propel us to behave in a sometimes unpredictable fashion. For a baby― not yet fully developed physically, much less emotionally― is the prime example of a brain in its infant stage; hence why babies respond to stimuli with aggressive reactions like crying, throwing temper tantrums, spitting out food and yelling nonsense.

Then everything changes as you grow from baby to snot-nosed brat, followed by the unruly and all-knowing pre-teen, to be upgraded to the impossibly stupid teenager and eventually, assuming at this point your parents haven't disowned their offspring, you reach the fabulously wonderful stage of adulthood. At this point, all should be peachy-keen because by now your brain has grown to its full capacity, to be able to differentiate between the moral pitfalls of good and bad. Indeed, adulthood has its pluses and minuses; the pluses being able to walk into a store and fill your cart with as many booze bottles as your pocketbook can handle or engaging in adult behaviour like seeking out a squeeze to launch an 'adult-like' relationship based on a conciliatory attitude toward each other. But adulthood is not all smiles and glowing moonlight. The elements of adulthood are unforgiving, to my mind, because you can't go back in time to declare, "I wanna be a baby again, do everything differently...". On the contrary, you have to accept that being an adult means you must approach life's challenges and opportunities with precision, taking responsibility for your decisions, taking the reins to control your life to pursue your dreams, while taking care not to step on the toes of others and their dreams.

It all sounds so simple, doesn't it? It should be simple. In fact, however, and as we all know, it's anything but simple. The world of adulthood is rife with poor behaviour, whereby adults with a malformed amygdala can make your life a living hell. I keep this foremost in my mind: adults are efficient at stacking up lies like cordwood, especially in the business world, where deceit and backstabbing are often more quickly rewarded than honesty. Adults are duplicitous, and cunning, conniving, and selfish. The corporate environment attracts corporate sociopaths and narcissists. I need to also remind myself, at this point, that adults have a plentitude of good traits too.

Babies are loved because of their vulnerability and they represent the need for parents to nurture and protect. And then we become adults and suddenly our need to nurture is replaced with the need to murder: ideals and dreams, eco-systems and political beliefs, to name a few. You'd think the brain would self-destruct if it went off course and took down with it everyone in its path. Not so. In the insane mind of a serial killer, the base emotions promulgated in the amygdala react according to how it was designed in the first place — to please itself, to ensure its survival. Try teaching that reality to a baby before they become an adult. I've argued before with some friends that babies are not born evil. Babies are merely taught from the outset to believe what they believe, which is dependent upon whether their parents as teachers had embraced adult-like beliefs that are rooted in morality and equality.

The ol' argument of nature vs nurture has been disproven by top psychologists insofar that this myth is neither one nor the other, but a combination thereof. This means that if your environment was nurturing growing up, and depending on how your amygdala developed, whereby your brain doesn't worry about the consequences of your actions, as most of us do, you'll grow into a fine adult, who might pursue a high-risk career like deep-sea rescue, or fire fighting, etc., where the absence of worry works in your favour. And that means if your environment growing up as a child was anything but nurturing, and your amygdala, which is responsible for fear, had developed without excessive worry your life path will deviate towards more violence, carrying out acts of violence without concern for any consequences.

This life, at times, feels scary. That's why some adults find it soothing to immerse themselves in the world of fantasy, to ease the pain of being an adult who copes with the unpredictable range of different adults. I ask myself if all the above rings true, then why as children are we in such a rush to become adults? When I was 18 years old, I resented being called a kid until one of my parents was quick to point out that when I'd get older, I'd relish being called a kid. [How true!]. My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, and when asked about the stupidity of some adults, well past the stage of mid-life, would matter-of-factly state, "To be sure, that idiot is still finding themselves."

Behave like an adult but don't be an idiot-adult and surely, don't behave like a violent adult.
I let my coat drop to the ground. I spread out my arms wide and once more I was flying like an eagle, catching hot air, engaging in an activity what an ornithologist would call thermal soaring. I felt empowered, and at ease, tipping my arms and body to change directions and speed. That is perhaps the best kind of reckless flying, in dreams, in the realm of the subconscious, which apparently, and according to my dream interpretations book, is trying to tell me that I really want to escape, that I need to escape or whatever it is that my sleeping brain wants to avoid.

The second kind of flying is on manufactured wings, jets and propeller-driven planes, handgliders, and wing-suits for the mad and fearless, where you leap off the edge of a mountain. These by far are the more accepted forms of flying (and for some the most unnerving too). Hopefully, when flying in a plane you can rest easy knowing the auto-pilot is in full control, with bona-fide pilots for back-up. For sure, the food is sub-par and the people are often annoying, more so if kids are in tow. The flight attendants, too, may not bother to hide their annoyance if you ask for anything. Flying in a manufactured apparatus, with its obvious downsides, therefore cannot hold water to flying in a dream.

The third kind of flying is the self-conjured variety that eases you into a peaceful slumber, the kind of flying that comes to you on the tip of a man's tongue, pleasuring you like a form of body-flying. Your sense of well-being is elevated, you lift off, climax and land. If, however, you're alone, you still get to fly, only on the wings of imagination, to float in the realm of outrageous fantasy. I asked a friend years back what did she think about when she self-pleasured and her reply was succinct, bold. "Oh you know, the usual... I'm getting banged by a team of hockey players on centre ice..." Wowzers! That's what I call a high-flying fantasy, to answer only to yourself and imagination. No amount of porn videos can capture the same spirit of freedom. Porn hasn't been conjured in your mind, rather in the mind of a producer, nor is porn rooted in the depths of your imagination. Porn gets boring. Real fast. Whereas, an erotic fantasy that is born from the imagination costs nothing to conjure up at will or to reproduce over and over, or in whatever shape or form that best jives with your pleasuring set-points, at that moment in time. The high sky of fantasy is limitless and is it therefore superior to dream flying?

I live on the 8th floor. When I peer over the balcony railing, to look way, way down at the ground, a hint of vertigo can sometimes hit. Not ever though have I felt compelled to hurl myself over the edge. My logical sense of awareness understands that this isn't a fantasy. I cannot fly, much as I'd like to, no matter how hard I flap my arms. When I travel to exotic countries, I'll board the plane, having shelled out my hard-earned coin for a good seat, Premium Economy; a seating category on some airlines that comes between the best and worst. My pocket book is closely monitored, and sometimes I'll save for years before embarking on another adventure to a new country. I adore travel, which for me is like realizing a long-held fantasy of what a new country might be like, until I experience it first hand. This third variety of flying is therefore highly desired yet not necessarily engaged in as an activity that can be practiced on a daily basis. Fantasizing about the next trip and to where I'll go has its limits.

In the meantime, in between real-life travel, I can fly whenever I choose, in my imagination, a purposeful and directed fantasy or, there is the less controlled variety of flying - an errant dream that feels right and true and bloody-well as real as life, right up until the moment when I wake up.
The reddest red ribbon was tightly wrapped around the box, placed with delicate care next to the man, houseless, who was bundled up in a sleeping bag, on the pavement, of an apartment building in the downtown city centre, where the vent blasted out a steady supply of heat. I walked past the man and noticed the box because it stuck out like a sore thumb. My first thought was obvious, Santa has come calling before December 25 and I was impressed with his timeliness. Our temps dropped dramatically last evening and it surely feels like a crisp -18 Celsius (that's 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit). For some, the bounty of Christmas is a daily affair, what with their cars and food and clothes and palatial homes. For the less fortunate, however, Christmas came and went years past and no one gives a flying hoot.

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Quality of character is highly desired amongst the population of singles, and applicable too to those entering into a relationship. However, defining the ideal quality of character is what I call an intangible, something that can't readily be perceived by the act of touching, looking, or tasting. I think most could agree with that statement. I've observed one distinct difference: women look for the intangible in men, whereas men look for the tangible in women — physical beauty that comes with a welcoming smile and a willing spirit. We women are often regarded by men as complicated, whether this quality of character is indoctrinated into us or we're born with it is a statement that forever remains open to argument.

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The thing with depression is... well... it's very depressing. I'm repeating this glib statement with a grain of trepidation because I don't want to give more power to the matter of depression than is absolutely necessary. Many have fallen into depression's vice grip. But that is precisely the expression my mom used when I was a kid, "The thing with depression is that it's very depressing." Her take is a smarty-pants dismissive to diffuse a serious situation, a state of mind that some endure daily. As an author, I fall prey to depressive moods, after the completion of a novel. Once the first draft is in the can, and before handing off to an editor, a wave of depression comes over me that I believe occurs because my brain is no longer getting a dopamine hit from the act of creating.

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For when we love, we open our innermost selves and reveal our hearts, let those around us into that heartland of secrecy and change the landscape of our life. For when we love, we are more than just ourselves because our love escapes the confines of mind and body and is given elsewhere, to a person, an animal, a project, an activity or a sense of well being. Yet, love ultimately becomes loss. It is the inevitability of love to transform from bliss into a state of loss, either through death, separation, indifference or despair. The loss is the sting at the end of the scorpion's tail, reminding you that love has its price (like everything).

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My sweet niece, when she was all of six years old, would often switch up one word for another far more comical, which gave me no end of delight. Whenever she became sick, she would declare over the phone, "Auntie Patti, I'm dick," to which I'd reply, "Oh my! I'm so sorry my darling that you're not feeling well." She would then reinforce her reaction to her state of health, "I don't like being dick." Indeed, who does? My niece, like all kids, was very dick at times going to school and only someone who is dick can attest to the awfulness of being dick, which is how I felt for most of November, very dick.

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Would you allow a surgeon to cut you open to insert silicone breast implants, sew you up, all for the sake of having bigger boobs? The industry term is called augmentation. The reality is image brainwashing — women who feel they will be better loved or more beautiful if their bodies were only more perfect. As far as plastic surgery is concerned, 92% of all cosmetic procedures carried out in the U.S. are being done on women. Men seem to know better or are more grounded in their perception of their bodies and henceforth have greater self-esteem.

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Up high on the balcony
the wind took my words
when I tried to say,
I love you. I love you, my friend.

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And what do you see in this picture?
"Two rabbits and a woolly mammoth."
And would you characterize yourself as happy?
"I'm like everyone else, hidden emotions and sorrows,
par for the course, I reckon."

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Bluebottle fly
Eat my decomposed flesh
Remind me of my mortality.

I live to die
Am part of the food chain,
No matter

How privileged
Or poor am I
I shall see the end.

I shall. I shall
Escape the fires of hell.
After my depravity abates.

Copyright © Patricia K. McCarthy