Noonan In The Cesspit

With the horrifying details of past cruelties and crimes in the Mother and Baby homes run by the Bon Secour nuns, among other orders, coming out in Ireland now, it’s only a matter of time before they may be shamed and forced to change the name of this new private hospital. But would the ethos behind it ever get changed? An excellent blog.

Cunning Hired Knaves

Today, Michael Noonan (more about him here) attended the opening of a private hospital facility in Limerick. Noonan is a former Minister for Health, and is the current Minister for Finance. The official Twitter account of the Department of Finance posted a photo of the Minister at the opening. Among other things, this shows how it is official government policy to promote the continued privatisation of health care.

Noonan is hardly the first minister from the Fine Gael government to endorse the opening of private health care facilities. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Leo Varadkar when he was Minister for Health have both done so, and for all I know, the current Minister, Simon Harris, may well have done the same.

You are unlikely to hear any Fine Gael minister saying that they actually support the continued privatisation of health care. They are more likely to say that the…

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The Trip, Part Two, and the Surprise…..

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Eileen looking wonderful in the pink light at sundown!

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The call to prayer is really evocative, and here the men gather at mid-day for prayers…the road is completely filled with men who couldn’t get into the mosque.
I’ve never been a fan of a solid 8 hour working day, and love that with breaks to meditate or just BE for a while, one can work on in the evening…and get the same amount of work done. The outdoor evening life in Marocco is vibrant and wonderful.

 

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In the Artisanal area, this young man was incredibly helpful….I had seen an English translation of an Arabic inscription, “Enter with blessings, serene people”, which I wanted in Arabic for my house, and for my Somali friends, and so we spent a fun time with my broken French, his broken English and a few mimes to show the feeling behind the words……it was also wonderful to watch him writing the two pieces…I learnt a lot from that!

 

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The remains of the El Badi Palace, with four sunken gardens, with orange trees, separated by pools…..apparently they are a majestic sight when filled, during the Festival des Artes Populaires in June.

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At the El Badi Palace there are lots of storks,with huge nests…seeing them flying with big sticks in their beaks is awesome!

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(I don’t know enough about storks to know what the two

on the left are doing!)

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Looking upwards brings wonders of painted woodwork…

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Photo: Eileen O’Toole

and the marble work, like delicate lace, is exquisite!

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We watched a young builder, working in the street on

renovations, and using an electric jigsaw to cut fretwork

like those above…so skilled!

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Photo credit: Eileen O’Toole

Centuries of artisan craftsmanship resonate in the totally

modern airport…


The following pictures show little shops with spices, scents, dyes and food stalls…we bought Myrrh, Jasmine, cedar wood, creams, pigments and spices…evocative scents for my house.


Not all the food we had in Marrakech was good…elements of Fast Food in the evenings at Jmaa el Fna, but the food we had in this restaurant garden was really good, and the atmosphere was excellent.
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Another group of photo’s, click to enlarge individual ones.

 

 

And now, for all those who’ve trawled through the photos to read of my Splendid Surprise! Nothing to do with Marocco, but one of the joys of WordPress, and a lovely Welcome Home! I came back to a comment on my WP blog, from a lad who’d seen my name and thought it must be me. He and two of his brothers had been fostered by me, when he was 5 years old, in Scotland. He remembered my house and things that had happened, and remembered me reading a book called Little Black Sambo to him…perhaps not so remarkable as he had never seen a black person back then! What was remarkable is that they were only with me for 3 weeks, 24 years ago…after which they’d gone to different foster parents, and to a children’s home. I was so touched that he’d remembered so much, and that he contacted me. And, thanks to my hoarding nature, I was incredibly happy to be able to dig out 3 photo’s of them…he had never seen, let alone owned, a photograph of himself as a child. Now we’re emailing our life stories to each other, and I have every hope of meeting him later this year…What a wonderful start to 2016!

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Home Sweet Home….and a splendid surprise!

I’m just back from a wonderful,if all too short, New Year’s break in Marrakech, with a good friend, Eileen. She wrote about it so well: “We arrived in Marrakech on Dec 31st in the heat of the African sun. There was no Christian hoopla for the end of 2015. No fireworks, no party favorites. There was instead a piercing blue sky, red dust, the smell of unknown spices and mint tea. Plus the delicious weight of age that disregards the Gregorian calendar …….. “And there was colour…..Such beautiful colour. It felt like I was looking at something that was squeezed from the source.”

 

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The fountains in the inner courtyard of our hotel were a soothing aural backdrop, which were switched off around 9 p.m. (This reminded me about how Sellafield nuclear plant doesn’t have the usual alarm system, instead they have a constant background sound, and when that stops it’s an emergency…it is remarkable how much more one responds to instant silence.)

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The sounds of the fountains were often replaced by the sound of cats….there are cats everywhere in Marrakech, slim, but not scrawny or starving…great hoovers around the food stalls, not pestering people and very engaging.

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Photo Credit:Eileen O’Toole

Enticing alleyways can get you wonderfully lost…Moroccan people are very friendly and helpful, but you may want to decline graciously when they want to take you  to a relative’s shop, unless you have time on your hands….
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I was really looking forward to revisiting the Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden created in the 20’s and 30’s by french painter Jacques Majorelle, and later owned by Yves Saint Laurent. We should have gone early in the day, as it was like an ant’s nest of tourists, snapping away on their i-pads, which did not enhance the extreme tranquility of the gardens.

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Photo: Eileen O’Toole

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Photo credit, Eileen O’Toole

That blue was real! I bought Indigo and Majorelle Blue

pigments, and want to use them to decorate my wooden doors.

 

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Two more photo’s from the Majorelle gardens…

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Photo credit, Eileen O’Toole


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Photo credit: Eileen O’Toole

 


I don’t seek out coolness in Ireland, but in Morocco it is bliss!


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OOPS! I pressed Publish instead of Preview…but maybe this is quite enough to trawl through…Part Two will have the splendid surprise in it!

There Will Be Blood

A hilarious blog about the joys of parenting!

Punch Drunk Village

PsychoAllow me to set the stage for a recent Day in the Life story that occurred last week.

This took place during my “family vacation” – if by “family” you mean “lots of people crammed in one van,” if by “vacation” you mean “lots of people crammed in one van moving from one geographic location to another geographic location.” But call it what you like.

We were staying at a cabin on a lake near Minneapolis and decide to drive into the city to visit old and new friends. These old and new friends don’t know one another. But we typically like to make things more convenient for us them by awkwardly forcing everyone in a room together. One stop shop, if you will.

The Cast:

  • One family of four:  mom, dad, two young kids.
  • One family of five:  mom, dad, three young kids.
  • One male friend. Single by choice. Childless by choice. Works…

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Remembering Gaza, PalFest Ireland

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The monumental canvas of Handprints for Palestine has continued its world tour, after Paris, Bruxels, Berlin, Barcelona, Beirut, Alger, Tunis, Casablanca, Geneva…..just imagine these hands tearing down the apartheid wall!

 

A year has passed since the fourth massive and devastating attack on Gaza since 2006, from the Israel forces… I’ve always been an activist, driven by injustices in the world, and never more so than by the genocide being perpetrated on the Palestinians, living under siege in their own land, the borders closed, kept on a starvation diet by Israelis blocking deliveries of food, medical supplies, water, electricity, rebuilding materials, educational supplies… schools and hospitals being deliberately bombed…. this was not a war between military adversaries but a systematic genocide where the vast majority of casualties were defenceless civilians; the casualty figures paint the stark picture…in the 51 days of bombing last July, one Israeli child was killed, and 551 Palestinian children….one child killed is one too many, but the disproportionality of this conflict is devastating.
How do we live with the knowledge of what happened, and what continues to happen before the eyes of the world? (never mind that the strictly controlled western media does not in any way carry the full story). What do we do with the feelings of powerlessness, when we feel helpless….all we can do is add our voices, show our solidarity, spread the word.

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Last Friday I travelled down to Dublin with my good friend Jackie McKenna, to take a very small part in the PalFest Ireland’s event “NO MORE – Dublin Remembers the Children of Gaza”

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The PalFest Ireland installation of 556 children’s vests, on Sandymount Strand, Dublin, in memory of the innocent Palestinian children killed in 51 days last July.

On the Friday night we went to a presentation by Dr Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who has worked in al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza over the last 15 years…a truly remarkable man. Those two hours were a roller coaster of emotions…it was inspiring, harrowing, uplifting, horrifying, heart breaking…the theatre was full, and not a dry eye in the house. What shone through was the dignity, pride, resilience and indomitable, steadfast courage of the Palestinian people…and the humanity of volunteers like Dr Mads, who go to help, to witness and to show solidarity with them.The following clip was a short talk by Mads after one of the theatrical performances for PalFest Ireland. Sadly, I wasn’t able to go to those, but this 16 minute clip gives a picture of his work there.


 Dr Mads has now been permanently banned from entering Gaza, and as he wrote in his new book, ‘Night in Gaza’, “When a pen, a camera and a stethoscope are seen as security threats, we know we are dealing with a regime that is afraid of the truth, and that believes power confers rights”.
No one can forget the images of seven small boys playing football on the beach in Gaza, and the deliberate Israeli shelling that killed four of them, from the one extended family. I won’t post the harrowing photos, just this iconic image from Amir Schilby, of Jewish Voices for Peace.

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The three friends who were playing with them,, and who were injured with broken bones and abdominal shrapnel wounds, are traumatised by their loss, and cannot go back to the beach…..In their words: “The beach was our favourite playground”…”We used to play on the beach and go fishing together. I don’t know what we’ll do now.” The traumas inflicted on innocent children will reverberate for generations.

On the Saturday, PalFest Ireland created a family Fun Football event to champion the right and freedom for all children to play freely on the beach…

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There was some beautiful face painting done by Katie Burkenshaw, and a wonderful magician and balloon man, Simon Toal, who captivated the children there……and me too, he was excellent!

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Jackie and I had worked with Manorhamilton children, making and decorating paper boats…boats to represent freedom, the right of Palestinian refugees worldwide to return to their homeland, and the international humanitarian aid boats that are still being prevented by Israel from reaching Gaza, and the boats of the fishermen prevented from making a livelihood by the Israeli gunships curtailing their rights to fishing fields.

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Gabrielle McKenna and Stewart Dowie….our wonderful hosts in Dublin x

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Stella by name, and a wee star by nature!

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Out of the mouths of children…

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A sweet wee lass who came to help make paper boats ….she reminded me of the wee Palestinian girls injured last year in Gaza, which we saw in Dr Mads Gilbert’s presentation …and their indomitable spirit. How can Israel ever justify the slaughter of innocents?

Black clouds were rolling in when we tried to launch the paper boats…the tide was so far out that we tried to float them on a pond, but the wind was blowing them over and capsizing them…

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…so we later took many boats to the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin.When we got there, we were approached by a member of the Public Works Dept, and feared that he’d stop us launching the paper boats for Gaza, but we explained what we were intending, and luckily Jackie had had the foresight to bring a fishing net to take the boats out afterwards, and the P.W. man gave us his blessing…and a good chat!

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Jackie with her fishing net!

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Stewart Dowie, a great help!


Once again, the wind was separating the boats and sinking some, and so the remaining 100 or so undecorated boats were taken to be decorated in youth workshops run by Stewart…..the word spreads.
This is a short clip showing the Family Fun day….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inzP7QxwsBI&feature=youtu.be

And lastly, but far from least, a Huge Thank You to Eimer Murphy, who brought me a piping hot coffee when my feet were totally soaked with cold sea water….a life saver! So many people working away quietly behind the scenes…every one a vital part of the event. We will never forget. Together we speak out.

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