Saturday, May 8, 2010

Random Thoughts and Mother's Day 2010

Hello to all my friends and family (and, of course, those of you who have stumbled upon my blog). Today I was trying to rationalize and question my personal belief in existence, and how to live and how to deal with certain difficult situations life throws your way. Of this Francis Bacon once said -  "a little philosophy inclineth a man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." Now, as I get older and I look down into the deep well of my accumulated experiences and memories, I discover, after waiting for the plop of that pebble I tossed in, that the only things I really regret are the things I didn't do. And then I start to think how much longer I have to do them. Everytime I go into Chapters or Archambault's bookstore I come across titles like "1000 Places to Visit Before You Die" or "500 Movies You have to See Before It's Too Late" or "997 Things to Do While You Are Stoned" and think there is no way I'm even going to bother checking out the lists and see how many I have yet to see, watch or try! I'll console myself knowing that for everything I've missed, I have gained... something else. What is more important now is to live well and prepare for whatever lies ahead. Maudlin thoughts of my not too distant sunset years(!)pop up more often and I have visions of crossing the river Styx and being buried with that coin for the boatman Charon (unless I threw it down the well.), especially when I hear the Moody Blues sing "22,000 Days" ( Let me go onto tomorrow, One day at a time, Now I know the only foe is time - 22,000 days, 22,000 days it's not alot, It's all you got...22,000 days ). I immediately start counting backwards to 25-06-1950...Why is it that only an Englishman like me could say that "maudlin" ( I discovered it is a very early pronunciation of Magdalen) was a reasonable way to pronounce MAG-da-leen. We are constantly pronouncing things like WOR-CES-TER-SHIRE as "worstershurr" and all that. If we don't leave at least one whole syllable unpronounced, it feels wrong to us. I think we learned this from that period when we were ruled by the French, who resolutely refuse to pronounce the last syllable of their words. My English ancestors, not paying close attention to their overlords, shifted it to the next to last syllable! Anyway, I I was trying to allude to growing older I think we need to consider that how we grow old is far more important than how old we grow. I try not to associate growing old with loneliness - our very conception of what it means to be old is...isolation. Old friends move away or die, and whether we like it or not our memory reminds us of what we have lost or have failed to do. Hope and love, as well as faith, will be my key to successful aging! As to the aforementioned faith I'm trying not to become less dogmatic as I age and express less interest in the tenets of what the churches preach. I still acknowledge a power greater than myself and feel, in the past few years, I have a deepened spirituality.   So as I attend various services here in Montreal, whether at St. Patrick's or one of the many churches around us, I ponder anew my own beliefs...A few words about Saint Patrick's Basilica for those who might be interested: this great old church sits on fairly high ground in the city centre (Beaver Hall Hill) and once, when Montreal didn't have so many skyscrapers, had a clear view of the St. Lawrence River - but not anymore! When Marie and I first visited this beautiful structure it seemed lost among the other modern office buildings on Rene-Levesque Boulevard. (It's just a few minutes walk to Marie's new office) In the 19th century St. Patrick's was very important to the working-class Irish Catholics who lived in the rundown slums in the area - now it feels closed in, a little stained by over 150 years of pollution, although by all the scaffolding and piles of lumber I saw scattered about the main entrance this past month major renovations are ongoing. Everywhere inside the Basilica, in the vast space, you'll see beautiful oak wainscotting, stained glass windows made in Austria and NY, statues, pillars, gothic panels with over 150 oil-painted figures of the saints, marble plaques with 12 small crosses (denoting the consecration of St. Patrick's in 1906), pews of red Indiana oak from 1894, and tons of elaborate gold decorations. According to the pamphlet available in the Basilica it is "one of the purest and grandest specimans of the 14th and 15th centuries gothic style in Canada". Inside, if you look carefully (it's rather dim inside) you'll see both the shamrock of Ireland and the fleur de lys of France, evidence of the close association with the Montreal Irish . The organ which played during our service for Patrick was built in England, installed in 1852, and over the years has been rebuilt by local Quebec craftsmen. It's been just over 20 years since St. Patrick's was raised to the status of Basilica by the Vatican in Rome and classified as an Historic Monument by the Quebec Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Worth visiting if you're in town..
Yesterday Marie and I took in the exhibition 'Bodies' at the Eaton Centre - it was extended for another month so we decided if we don't go now we'd never see it. For those who haven't heard of it the exhibition was put together by a German, Dr. Gunther von Hagens, to help us better understand the human body by taking you through various galleries that provide a close-up look inside the skeletal, muscular, reproductive, circulatory and other systems of the body. All of the specimens - I kept telling myself that these were once real people! - have been dissected to show all these systems and preserved using a procedure known as 'plastination'. Not for everyone...
We also finally had the opportunity today to see the top apartment of our duplex as our tenant finally moved all her junk out. We have three weeks to make it presentable so we can move in but after going over it I think 3 years might be more like it! I'll be taking some before and after pictures so stay tuned. We are getting used to living here in Villeray, the Italian part of Montreal, and will be here until the end of the month... Tomorrow is Mother's Day (Monday in Mexico) so I want to wish all the mothers out there a wonderful and blessed day! Phil and I will be cooking dinner for Fernanda and Marie - that should be interesting! Happy Mother's Day to my own sweet mum and I hope you enjoyed the flowers! Love, gws