Yes, you've guessed it - I've spent a day at Mother's (arrgghhh!!) with my newly-widowed aunt, and we've actually had quite a nice day. I think my aunt manages to diffuse the normal family tension a little, which can only be a good thing. Though I do suspect that the older we get, the more we do become terrifyingly like Macbeth's witches. If the rest of the family start losing body parts and there's a cauldron brewing, they will know who to blame ...
Mind you, the journey down (two hours there and three back, thanks to the hold-up at the Dartford Crossing) was hell. Normally Lord H does it and I nap (well, I like to provide wifely support when needed), but I thought this was more of a girls' occasion so went alone. The last hour on the road was the worst - I had to keep telling myself to focus and singing songs to make sure I was still awake. There's something about the dark and the rain and the windscreen wipers that's ridiculously hypnotic.
Three interesting items from the witches' brew:
1. It's rare for a mother to know exactly what their grown-up children or grandchildren actually do for a living. How the Terrible Two long for the days when people were policemen, teachers or secretaries - you knew where you were then. My aunt spent about ten minutes attempting to explain what her eldest does for a living, then gave up and admitted she didn't really have a clue, as jobs are so much more complex these days. This prompted my mother to admit that she's never really had a clue what I do either, but she thinks it's something to do with new students. From there, we went through the entire family, and indeed the whole lot of them are a mystery to us. Much like Chandler in "Friends" - no-one ever knew what he did for a living either, not even Monica. Naturally, I didn't enlighten my mother any further as to myself - I like to keep an aura of mystique. It keeps the wolves at bay.
2. Uncle Leonard died before he could syphen off this year's wine supply (itself something of a long-standing witches' brew), and after much subtle persuasion and eventual wild laughter, we have convinced my aunt that it's better for society if she throws it away. It's a mercy killing, really. And apparently she never liked it much either. Ah, the suffering of wives, eh!
3. My mother will always tell me at some stage during a visit how good red wine is for the heart - even though nobody was drinking it today - and will ask me if she should keep the gravy hot on the stove or put it all in the gravy-boat at once. Bearing in mind that the gravy-boat is always too small for the amount of gravy made, this is a no-brainer. In fact we're thinking of having these conversations when I first turn up to save time and clear the way for other stuff.
Back home, I am attempting to superglue my eyes open and get some editing done tonight. And I wrote a poem yesterday:
swoop through the air
round the house.
We hear them laughing
and follow from window
laughing too -
our day's ungrasped
They leave behind
a scent of mown grass
and one small feather.
And a special thanks to Casdok who has just finished A Dangerous Man and enjoyed it very much - thanks for letting me know, Casdok!
Today's nice things:
1. Surviving the Three Witches' meeting!
3. Casdok's comments.
We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
Whatever their imagined source, the doctrines of modern religions are no more tenable than those which, for lack of adherents, were cast upon the scrap heap of mythology millennia ago.
Heck, I'm exhausted already, tee hee!
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